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CSA #9: Shared Risk

August 5, 2011
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I knew going in that there was always a chance for problems with this venture.  When you buy a subscription to a farm, you share in the risk as well as the harvest.  If a storm wipes out some crops, you get less in your weekly share.  If rain makes it hard to plant, you get a later start.  If rain disappears for a month or more, you get less because the plants are struggling.  So far, this farm hasn’t had to beg off for a week or anything, and almost every week the share has been more than I expected, but I keep waiting.  July was very dry.  Horribly dry.  Not like last year, but still very very dry.  When the paper is posting articles about how we might hit a new record for the driest month ever, you know everyone is aware of that.

Still, the basket arrived today, just a day late but plentiful for this weather.  The enclosed newsletter mentioned how dry their farm is, but that they’re starting to water.  I happened to arrive at home when the basket was being dropped off, and I talked to the farmer about the lack of rain.  She said they have a pond and a pump system set up so they can water their crops, but we both agreed that there’s nothing quite as good as Mother Nature.  However, when Mama is busy, sometimes we need to help her out.

Today’s basket had some new goodies and some old favorites too.  We got a pint of blackberries, some kale, a cucumber, 8 tomatoes, 2 peppers, a cantaloupe, and fresh celery.  Oh, and something called “All Red Potatoes”, which are supposedly red all the way through.  The kids are excited to try those!

The farmer included a recipe for a cold veggie pizza that sounded terrific, so I think I’ll box up the celery, peppers, some tomatoes, the cucumber, and see if my family at the reunion this weekend wants to enjoy that with me.  Lunch anyone???


Our “Cowboys and Aliens” Experience

July 30, 2011

Ah, free money.  I love getting free money!  OK, what we got most likely wasn’t “free” but it was completely unexpected and it’s a refund from payments we made to a telephone cooperative almost 13 years ago!  So, no it wasn’t free, but we decided to use it in the coolest way possible:  dinner and a movie!  For the whole family!

We took in a matinee of “Cowboys and Aliens”, the new Harrison Ford sci-fi thriller that just opened this weekend.  It was horribly predictable and very campy, and for a PG-13, was a bit more gory than we expected (a bit much for our 8-year old, but he told us after that he COULD have watched the whole thing without hiding his eyes, he just chose not to!).  But Daniel Craig is nice eye candy, Harrison Ford is always worth watching (even while playing a “good” bad guy), and Olivia Wild wasn’t bad.

My only problem with all “alien” movies anymore is that every movie shows aliens as naked.  Why is it that a species as technologically advanced enough that they’re able to send some of their kind to our planet to steal/scare/terrorize whatever, cannot be aware of their own nakedness enough to clothe themselves?  I can’t think of very many alien movies that show aliens dressed.  “V” did, but only when they were pretending to look human.  The apes in “Planet of the Apes” did, too.  But not many others.  Also, they’re portrayed as slimy too.  Can no other creature from other planets have smooth skin and clothing?

Anyway, one thing I noticed while sitting in the theatre surrounded by people munching on overpriced popcorn and drinking too sugary sodas (we skipped all food going in) is that it was freezing inside!  It couldn’t have been 65° inside.  It was near 100° outside, so it felt great when we first sat down, but my youngest curled up quickly next to me, and I welcomed his heat.  I supposed that when you are filling your face with hot popcorn and soda you need to be kept cool?

I think it was a great way to spend an evening, though, and while that movie isn’t for everyone, I do recommend it.  We visited a local pizzeria afterwards for homemade sandwiches and pizza and breadsticks, which only fit the “75 Days of Summer” plan by being local, but it was still a nice treat.  Wonderful service too!

McDonalds and Diet Food news

July 28, 2011

McDonalds announced recently that they’re going to be making changes in their Happy Meals.  They’re going to reduce the size of the fries in the meal, and include the apple dippers as well.  It’s unusual that a restaurant makes changes like this — we’ve all seen restaurants that make meals larger but rarely do they offer to make them healthier as a standard.  They have offered apples as an option for their Happy Meals for awhile now, but to just include them without being asked is quite an undertaking.  They also are not including the caramel dipping sauce.

They are claiming that the meal will be healthier overall, too.  Clocking in at just under 600 calories, that’s a 100 calorie drop in the “regular” Happy Meal.  With fewer fries, the sodium count will drop as well as the overall fat grams.  I personally think 600 calories is a bit steep for a child, especially since these are marketed to kids from about 2 years of age to less than 12.  But saving a hundred calories here or there is always better, right?

Well, consider that you could be making your own lunches at home.  You could be buying freshly made bread using local organic ingredients, and making sandwiches with fresh ingredients.  You could be peeling and chopping your own apples (and add in some carrots too).  Include a small baggie of whole grain tortilla chips and fresh salsa, a bottle of water, and I’m betting your calorie count would be considerable less than 600 calories.  Plus, no chemicals, no colorings, no HFCS and no silly toys that get broken as soon as they’re opened.  Much better choice!

In other news, there’s a new trend in diet foods called ultra low-calorie foods.  Artic Zero is making and selling a pint of ice cream that clocks in at 150 calories per PINT.  Not per 1/2 cup serving, but you get to eat the whole thing for that amount.  Tofu Shirataki makes a package of noodles that claims 2 servings at 20 calories each.  Eat the whole thing yourself and you only have to log 40 calories!  MGD 64 has many commercials showing the size difference between their full size (12 oz) bottle of beer at only 64 calories comparing it to tiny glasses of martinis and wine.

Are these really food items?  The ice cream is primarily made from whey protein and the sweetness comes from monk fruit.  The noodles come from mixing tofu and konnyaku, an Asian yam.  These are mere “food like substances”, not really foods at all!  More processing to make them ultra low in calories, and our bodies will surely pay the price.

What these manufacturers are thinking, though, is that genetically, we are designed to be gluttonous.  We still have starvation fears in our genes so our tendency to overeat whenever possible can be “fooled” by these low calories food substances.

What our real problem is is that we no longer move or live like we did even 100 years ago.  For thousands of years, we had starvation fears that were absolutely real.  If we didn’t work the garden, the fields, the farm, the animals, we’d not make it through the winter.  We worked hard, so we were able to eat a lot.  Over the past 100 years, all we have done is make our life more convenient.  We do not have to work to provide for ourselves over the winter because we can just call Domino’s to deliver whatever we crave.  We have not year adapted to our new leisure lifestyle, but we’re obese because we’re eating as if we wouldn’t survive!

Much food for thought these days…

CSA #8 and Garden Harvest

July 28, 2011

CSA Day!  Love this day of the week!  No delays today, the bag arrived as expected and was plentiful again.  I got sweet corn, mini Asian corn, a zucchini, a yellow squash, 2 cucumbers, blackberries, potatoes, and green beans.  Oh, and an eggplant!  The kids are actually excited because I mentioned ratatouille!  I’ll have to find a recipe and give it a try.

I’ve got quite a harvest going too on my own!  A full bowl of tomatoes, including golden jubilee, roma and beefy girl.  Another bowl with peppers, salsa peppers, and green beans.  I bought a sauce maker and am hoping it arrives soon so I can start making sauce.  Love putting sauce in the freezer for winter uses!

Peach Jam

July 26, 2011
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I had about a dozen peaches just going to waste in the fridge so I decided to make jam.  I could only eat them so fast myself and didn’t want to waste them.  I’ve never made jam by myself before, and I don’t have any of the ingredients that are normally needed (agar, pectin, wax), nor do I have a canner.  But I wanted to make jam, so I set about trying to find a recipe that would work.  Luckily, I found one!

Chunky Peach Spread

7 peaches
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water

1. Drop peaches in boiling water for 1 minute or until peel has softened. Immediately dip fruit in ice water. Peel and chop peaches. In a large saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Mash peaches. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, or 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand for 2 minutes. Remove peach mixture from the heat; stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes. Pour into jars. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

The jam came together very easily, and even though there is only 1/3 cup of sugar, it’s plenty sweet.  However, so far, it really hasn’t set up as I had hoped.  It might become a couple of jars of peach sauce instead of jam, but at least it’s made and won’t be wasted.

CSA #7

July 21, 2011
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Today’s delivery was on time, but much lighter than usual.  It’s the first time I don’t think I got the full money’s worth, but the heavier weeks we’ve had make up for that, I’m sure!  Today we had 4 ears of corn, 2 cucumbers, a zucchini, a candy onion, 6 small peaches, and a bag of roma beans.  I’ll add to the corn and have that for Friday’s dinner, and the cucumber can go in my pasta salad.  The beans will likely get blanched and frozen.  Peaches might go into a crisp!

I’m still enjoying these deliveries, and can see no reason not to continue.

CSA #6

July 18, 2011
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Late drop-off this week, but that’s all part of the process.  The risks associated with farming get passed on, meaning if there are no pickers, the delivery is late!  But it did come and was plentiful.  Blackberries, zucchini, beets, kale, new potatoes, 2 types of green beans and more.

I’m still amazed at how excited I get each week when it’s time for the delivery.  And how easy it is to incorporate these foods into my meals.  I would have to say that this is one of the best investments I’ve made.  I really hope this farm continues for many years to come so I can continue to subscribe!

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