Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The 'Rise of the Locavore' article

Came across this great BusinessWeek article validating the local food movement over at

One of my favorite items is that after a century of decline, local farms have increased by 20% in the past 6 years!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Backyard Salad Foraging -

For dinner tonight, I took a stroll around the wild backyard gardens to see what I could harvest for a salad. Since my schedule the last year or so only allowed the most limited gardening time, much of what is out there is left over from last year (only this weekend have I finally gotten some seeds in the ground!), much of which is currently flowering.

I, therefore, opted for a bitter greens, herb and flower salad. Perfect for today since I hope to pull out the bulk of the bolting, blooming things tomorrow.

Tore up the leaves into bit sized pieces and separated the flowers from their stems and/or calyxes as appropriate. Added a bit of store-bought, organic Romaine to temper the strong flavors, drizzle on a bit of sweet, balsamic vinaigrette and, wallah! Fresh, foraged veggie goodness.

(Safety tip: Do not talk on the phone and snip chives with very sharp kitchen scissors at the same time if you are too hungry to multi-task!)

[Salad ingredients:
Greens- watercress, lemon balm, chives, marjoram, creeping gold oregano, climbing spinach, baby swiss chard, rustic arugula, sorrel and some spicy Chinese greens.
Flowers - borage, pinks, thyme blossoms, corn salad, violas, johny-jump-ups, calendula, arugula, chervil, sweet cicely, bok choy, and rosemary.]

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chicken update -

A few weeks ago, they looked like this:

Now they are looking like gawky adolescents -

This is the blue-lace Wyandotte on the far left of the above picture (with a suspiciously large comb for a supposedly sexed pullet.... hmmm.....)

Here's the auracana from the center (the flat heads always feel a bit reminiscent of buzzards. Or dinosaurs. Or something not so chickenish...)

And this is also (supposedly) a blue-lace Wyandotte - although at the moment, I'm hard pressed to believe it. They are still being fostered with some other chicks at my POBL friend's coop - where they have all the needed amenities until they are large enough to move to my backyard (where the coop and run are a still a work-in-progress).

This punk-mohawked, silver-laced Polish is not one of mine - but I thought s/he was hilarious -especially at this stage before her head feathers grow fully in...

By sometime next month, they will be large enough to live with me, and well on their way to their mature, adult plumage...

If you want to see a gorgeous, ridiculous, mind-blowing, photographic expose on the wonders of this decorative fowl, check out "Extraordinary Chickens", by Stephen Green-Armytage.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

...and speaking of flowers...

Eating flowers is one of my culinary delights. I try to grow pretty much every variety that I know you can eat (90% of what grows in my yard is edible or medicinal). With our current heat wave - the news dubbing it 'from March to August in less than a day' - flowers seem cooling and refreshing.
Last night's dinner consisted of a fruit-filled green salad with a sweet balsamic dressing, and herbed spaghetti squash (above) garnished liberally with just-picked borage, thyme and rosemary blossoms.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The weather made me do it!

Bok choy from Lake Forest Park Farmers' Market waiting to be cooked.

This past Sunday was opening day for Lake Forest Park's Farmers' Market. As you can imagine, it wasn't bursting with produce yet, but there were lots of good greens, as well as some onions, potatoes and apples. Tasted some lovely goat cheese (yesterday's milk, today's apricot & almond cheese - yum!) that I will buy next time, and bought some fresh mozerella from Golden Glen Creamery and some tayberry jam from Blue Cottage Jams and some wild plum jam from Tiny's Organic, and the bok choy above from Full Circle Farms. I also bought some mustard flowers and arugula flowers from them. Sunday night I stir fried the bok choy with some garlic, a little sesame oil, the mustard flowers and buckwheat soba noodles. So good! And very simple, too.

Good start to the week. But then I came down with a nasty cold. Made it very difficult to want to cook anything, so we ate a lot of takeout this week.

And then today, the temperature hit over 80 degrees! After months of nothing over 60 (and that was a heat wave), sun and heat! It's amazing. I feel so energetic, and everyone seems in a good mood. And the desire to eat fruit and vegetables nearly overwhelmed me when I went to the Yakima Fruit Market this afternoon. So, (and I blame this all on the weather) I filled up my basket with produce from California. Zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries - even some peaches. I just couldn't stop myself. It was all too good to resist. And I can't wait to dig in. I feel like I should feel guilty about this, but I just don't. Guess I'm still caught up in the hot weather fever.

Strawberry blossoms on my balcony!

Spent some time out on our balcony with the cats and my little garden this afternoon too. I used to hate our balcony, because it overlooks a major freeway so it's really quite loud. Now, because of my little garden, I love it and find that I enjoy sitting out there watching the plants wave around in the breeze, and the cats seem to enjoy it too. The photo is of one layer of my strawberry pot. Look at all the future berries!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Local Food of the Month Dinner

Lately it seems that when I get together with my friends, I often cannot contain my enthusiasm for local and real food. Fortunately, some of my friends have found my unchecked ramblings interesting enough to catch their interest as well, and this past Saturday evening a few of us gathered for what we hope will be the first of many local foods of the month dinners. We had a really great night.

Being early May in western Washington, the themes for the evening were rhubarb and asparagus, which are abundant right now. And we tried to keep all the ingredients as local as possible too. For the most part we did pretty well.

It was all very yummy, but my favorites of the evening were the starters of roasted rhubarb & honey and goat cheese/pear compote and goat cheese on toasted whole grain bread, and the asparagus, baby greens and pear salad pictured above. My contribution to the evening was a rhubarb & red lentil dal, and a rhubarb & apple crisp for dessert. I also brought a bottle of Cave B Sauvignon Blanc which went particularly well with the asparagus dishes. Another friend brought a bottle from Mt. Vernon Winery. We are definitely not lacking for good local wine.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day for my Garden -

My family knows what I like. And want. Crocs for working outside in the garden (I hate tying shoes!) and an air pump for my wheelbarrow tires!

Yesterday, we went to Country Village (where I used to teach drawing classes) to shop and check out their Mother's Day Flower and Garden Show (complete with a Neil Diamond tribute band playing in the courtyard). They had a nice selection of local and native plants, along with heirloom varieties of vegetable starts. If it would start warming up here, I would get these poor tomatoes in the ground!

My deck herbs don't seem to mind the lingering chill. I have four planter boxes and 5 or 6 pots of herbs going most of the time. Everything I use for tea or cooking is right off my kitchen door. Much of it is still harvestable through our mild winters. Am just awaiting temperatures to climb above 50 degrees at night so that I can pot lemon verbena, basil and lemon grass.

Maybe by Father's Day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thanks Angela.

After discussing our mutual local-food interests, Angela and I agreed it would be useful to share a space to discuss our attempts at more healthy and sustainable eating and to share resources since we live in such close proximity. So THANK YOU for allowing me to use this venue (and to be able to keep these topics from spilling all over my art blog. Which, incidentally, several of the most recent posts apply here - from backyard spring soup, to imminent backyard chickens!)

Local Friends

Marlowe is very interested in all these new green things on the balcony.

Just got back from my friend Tara's house, and more to the point, her garden! She had a bunch of herbs out there and gave me a box full of seedlings to attempt to grow on my balcony. Thank you, Tara! I am also inviting her to join me as a contributor to this blog. We live about 5 miles from each other, and we're both getting into this whole local food, real food thing, and we're both learning so many things that we thought it might be a good idea to pool our resources here.

And a few weeks ago I received a wonderful surprise package from my friend Ellen, who is also trying to live more in tune with the environment. (You might remember her from this brilliant post.) In it was a box of Chuao chocolates from Tuscan chocolatier Amedei. Wow!!! These chocolates are truly amazing! She also included this Food & Wine article about the company, which is a great read, and a true testament that the best business practices can also be those that are best for the planet, the workers, and the consumers. Thank you, Ellen!

These women also happen to be wonderful artists, and you can see their work here and here.