goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Want Ice Cream on that NEW Apple Pie?

Back in the late 70s, my ex was living with a guy who had purchased some interesting hot dog buns…..they were U-shaped and would not break apart, like most buns can when you put the weiner inside, so they had a certain market appeal. Well, the roommate left them on the counter and there they sat, week…after week…..after week. It became an interesting thing to check to see if any mold was growing…..and the answer was no.

That was the beginning of my awakening of looking at food labels. But at that time, I was still trusting the FDA to be sure the food we were able to purchase was safe. Now I know better.

appleThe news hit that the FDA has now approved genetically modified apples. These GMO “Arctic Apples” will be red delicious and granny smiths, the two varieties most fed to children. Oh great, let’s introduce into our children’s bodies something that is untested.

What will this new process do? Apples will not turn brown when cut.  According to information shared by the Organic Consumer Association: “While most existing genetically engineered plants are designed to make new proteins, the Arctic Apple is engineered to produce a form of genetic information called double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). The new dsRNA alters the way genes are expressed. The result, in the Arctic Apple’s case, is a new double strand of RNA that genetically “silences” the apple’s ability to produce polyphenol oxidase, an enzyme that causes the apple to turn brown when it’s exposed to oxygen.”GMO_DNA_1bna_naba_ribbon

The FDA sees no reason to be sure it is safe.  Other scientific organizations disagree.  I don’t know about you, but knowing the manipulation is inside the genes changing things around and some scientists believe it IS getting into eaters’ bodies is enough for me. I will be asking my apple farmers if they are using this technology….and I will not eat this. Instead, I will continue to use the old fashioned way to keep apples from turning brown. Again, if Granny did not eat it, you should not. 24 Hours Later

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?—MLK Jr. Letter from Birmingham City Jail (1963)


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Is this Creative or just Crazy?

So, remember back when I was working as a farm hand for 3 months this past summer?  There was a LOT of time spent weeding which meant my mind was working, dreaming dreams, solving problems, making others.weeding

Did you know that 30% of the food we have here goes to waste? Think about your own kitchen. How much food gets stashed in the frig, only to turn some dark green color, dripping with slime?  I’m guilty. We cook too much, put the leftovers in containers and usually remember to eat as lunch the next day, but if we are out and about, they tend to migrate to the back of the shelf and then, when I realize I am low on storage containers, I look and there they are…..needing to be sterilized!

Well, on the farm there was waste also. Michelle Burger of Bethel Springs Farms has exacting standards for her customers, and rightly so. When we picked green beans only those that were perfectly straight and of course without blemishes made it into their bags. The rest were trashed! Well, not exactly. As we were picking, the curved beans got left on the ground. In the cleaning process, anything imperfect went into the compost. It all eventually gets returned to the soil as green fertilizer, but it got me thinking that much of it was edible. DSC_0009

I started taking the imperfect produce home. Lots of it. I got paid minimum wage but boy oh boy, I was bringing home tons more in food than I was earning in dinero. And so, I started canning. And canning. And canning. Buying more jars. Canning some more. Some recipes, like the blueberry barbecue sauce, were keepers. Others like the zucchini marmalade, not so much.canning July 14 2014

Meanwhile, back at the farm, I was also thinking about the Bethel Springs business model. When Michelle hired me she took a gamble with a 60-year-old arthritic chubbette, but she saw I could (almost all the time) keep up and what she also gained was all the insights I had learned from years of farm visits.  Seeing the many different ways small farmers tried to make their work as income effective as possible.

So, I suggested to her that I could provide her another income stream. I can take those cast off green beans, not ordered zucchinis, tons and tons of excess tomatoes and can can can can can for her. She’s intrigued. So are a couple of other farmers and one other approached me. 2014-08-22 16.56.32

I have to draw the line there for this coming season. I need to stretch my wings and keep it manageable.

Meanwhile, as the fields are slumbering, I am doing all the groundwork. I went to a wonderfully timed convention this week sponsored by the Northwest Food Processors Association. Walking through the exhibition hall made me realize very quickly just how “small potatoes” this business concept is. When I talked to one vendor about a dehydrator I learned his best option for me costs $100,000.  Graham suggested a Kickstarter; I’ll wait a bit.  The family just pitched in to buy me a $250 Excalibur. That should last a year…maybe two. Next is the Better Processing School, and a whole bunch of legal things like state and federal licenses and certifications, including business filing. Amd Curt Chiarelli, a friend who is a graphic artist, is designing my logo, bless him!

Now, I COULD do all this from home if I was selling it all myself at a farmers’ market. Perfectly legal within a certain dollar amount. But by offering this service  to farmers who have no time to process their product this way and packaging it for their own label means I need to step up one notch to a commercial endeavor.

So, new venture and lots of excitement! If you want to share a scrumptious recipe you use, please do!!!

 


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It Could Be You

So many of us are living paycheck to paycheck, stressed to pay all the bills we have and concerned that something may happen to shake your world. Losing your job would do that. Getting seriously ill also would do that. Few of us have enough in savings to ride through months of being unemployed.  Taking a minimum wage part time job won’t help.

cant-pay-bills-on-timeSo then, what happens? You can’t pay your rent or mortgage, your power gets turned off after a few months and you manage to get it paid by going to one of the churches who has a Compassion Fund for things like that. You go to food panties to save on grocery costs and then to soup kitchens to get a warm meal as often as possible.

So then, what happens? You stop answering the phone because you know the calls are from debt collectors.  The day comes when you get the eviction notice.

So then, what happens? You can’t or won’t turn to family or friends.  Either your relationship with them are not healthy or they are as financially stressed as you were.  Or you do approach them and they welcome you, for a time, and it becomes a cycle of a few days on the couch and then you move on. Your appearance deteriorates as your emotional health is shaken to the core. It is just about impossible to think clearly to find your way out of this quagmire.

So then, what happens?  You retreat. You run and hide. You might be using drugs or alcohol to blunt the pain. You find yourself on the street.

You think it can’t happen? That everyone you see wandering the street pushing shopping carts full of their belongings muttering to themselves can’t be you?

Yes, some of the people on the street have mental illness. Yes, some are using drugs and/or booze to blunt the pain of their situation and the addiction adds to the problem. Yes, some are lost souls. But not all. In fact, not most.

All are people with a need to have some basics: shelter, food, and love….yes love.

We have places that in the name of “family values” are making laws to run the homeless out of town.  Those may or may not be the same towns that also had sunset laws mandating that all the “colored help” must leave the town limits by sunset. Fear and bigotry in the new age.

colddogI see a lot of postings on Facebook not to leave pets outside in the winter weather. A good, heartfelt warning to many people who own dogs but keep them tied up outside.  A reminder to people who feed stray cats but prefer them outside.  We feel for the helpless, the four- legged creatures who rely on us.

Find some compassion for the two-legged homeless.homeless-in-snow

There are solutions. Salt Lake City, for example, crunched the numbers and it became clear that the cost to the city per homeless person was running about $20,000 a year. When abandoned housing was converted into apartment space for the homeless, the cost dropped to $7,000 per person per year and reduced the number of homeless on the streets by 74% since 2005. New York City and many other cites have program to put housing first. THEN the social assistance programs to help with health issues, job training and more.

Here in McMinnville, there is an organization with the acronym of CWISH: Community Winter Inclement Shelter Help.  We heard about it last year but this year Graham has gotten involved as one of the three coordinators. Five area churches open their doors on a schedule to provide warm and dry shelter during the winter.

This morning in Portland, Oregon

This morning in Portland, Oregon

The current cold front started two night ago and so, one of the local churches has hosted 12 and then 15 people the last two nights. Families are welcome. Women and men are offered safe, warm and dry shelter.  They will continue to host tonight and tomorrow night and then pass the baton on to another of the participating churches. Volunteers are needed to be at the church in four-hour shifts from 8pm to 8am.

This is a band aid but efforts are being made to come up with a better solution. Once again, I am glad we chose to move here. This is a town with a heart.

What are you doing?

 


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Eat At Your Own Risk

In a world where few people seem to take personal responsibility, in a world where it appears our government is no longer working in our best interest, in a world where conflict seems to be increasing, we have to change our ways. Each one of us.

The food found in American supermarkets has been full of chemicals for years.  Auto-immune diseases have been increasing. Correlation? You betcha.

So increasingly, shoppers have turned to organic foods but not only is it generally more costly, the group that defines what is organic and what is not has been diluting the value of that label.  So it is no longer the safety zone we first depended on.

Agent Orange being sprayed over VietNam

Agent Orange being sprayed over VietNam

 

 

Today the news came out that despite Congressional voting and despite a majority of the people in the country arguing against the use of 2,4-D for use as an herbicide, it was approved for use and GMO crops will be resistant.  Why fight against it? Well, 2, 4-D is one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange, the chemical that was used extensively to defoliate VietNam during the war.  It has caused cancers and other illnesses and deformities in the Vietnamese population for several generations. And now, in order to deal with weeds that have adjusted to the prior chemicals, this will be sprayed on  OUR food.Vietname defoliated

Food you will eat. And so, 2, 4-D will move inside your body.  With unknown results….but we only need to look at VietNam to see what it can do.

Generations after the war, birth defects are still happening.

Generations after the war, birth defects are still happening in VietNam.

The other recent news is not new but has been shared for several years. The increasing use of antibiotics in the normal feed of most meat animals means our own bodies are getting low doses when we eat supermarket meat.   Remember the little sticker on your pill bottle of antibiotics? It reminds you to take your entire dose. That is because if the bacteria is not killed, it will only weaken and then it adapts. That end result is that the antibiotic is no longer effective against that bacteria. We are quickly moving out of the magic age of antibiotics and back to a time when an infection can kill you.Antibiotic resistance_0The government asked the meat industry to voluntarily reduce the use of antibiotics. Yeah, right. When animals are crowded together in the ways they are in those factories, disease spreads so they feed antibiotics all the time, whether the animals are sick or not.

And you eat that meat. And so, small amounts of antibiotics move inside your body.

FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH IT IS TIME TO MAKE A CHANGE!!

I have often written KNOW YOUR FARMER! What does that really mean? You get to know a farmer in your area who produces food in a way that will not expose you to these chemicals.  You do that because it is better to spend a bit more on healthy food now than to pay for medicine and health care later.know farmer

If you do not know how to find a farmer go to http://www.localharvest.org/ and put in your zip code. No excuses.  There are options to the supermarket near you!!! Value your health.  If not, you eat at your own risk.

 


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The Right To Know

Two states have tried to pass public referenda on the issue to label food that contains genetically engineered ingredients.  Both California and Washington State failed to pass their attempts at labeling, but the votes are getting closer and closer as fewer residents get confused by the big money thrown at them by the GMO proponents.  This November voters in both Oregon and Colorado will deciding if they want food available in the grocery store to be labeled if any ingredients have been genetically modified.top_ten_genetically_modified_foods

You may be unaware that much of the food you have been eating since the the late 1990s have genetic modifications. Some of those are to permit herbicides and pesticides to be sprayed on what you will eat without harming the food as it grows. There are health issues that have increased since that time and because testing is blocked, there is only circumstantial evidence that these new chemicals in our food are the cause.     The government has run no tests on these foods, saying the companies who produced the modifications to the original food should do it, but testing is not required.  Many countries around the world do not permit foods with genetic modifications to be sold.  GMO lab results

There is a huge group of companies that are fighting the referendum, saying everything is safe.The big players arguing against it are involved in the production of the seeds or the grocery store trade association.  They do not want the referendum in Oregon and Colorado to pass because it would mean they would need to label food with genetically enhanced ingredients and once they identify this, they are afraid of a loss of income.

They have begun to pour millions and millions of dollars into advertising to convince voters it is a bad idea. The main argument is that any change in labeling will cause the price of the food to increase “by hundreds of dollars a year.”  What they don’t say is how often they already change labels.

This is just one example of how a food company changes packaging with no change in pricing.

This is just one example of how a food company changes packaging with no change in pricing.

The side fighting the labeling is pouring millions of dollars into both Oregon and Colorado to try to block the referendum. They are concerned that the consumers’ right to know what they are eating will affect their profits.

No matter how you personally feel about GMOs in your food, labeling should not be a problem for you. The public’s need to know about chemicals in the food has been approved again and again for other items. The food labels just got revised again to make serving sizes easier to read, in the hopes people will stick to them. For health reasons, many people want to avoid this unproven technology.

What’s in YOUR dinner tonight?GMO LetMeDecide


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Breaking the Model

Unless we make an effort, we do what we have seen as kids. It’s one reason I took parenting classes, but that’s another story.  I did not want to be the kind of host my mother patterned. She was so nervous that things would not be perfect enough that life was a bit intolerable in our house the day of a dinner party.

In my prior marriage with Sam’s daddy, his best way to pitch in was to help clean the house and then take the kiddos out for a couple of hours so I could do the food prep without any “Mommy, I need you” kind of distractions. That worked for us.father-and-children

With Graham, we split the tasks nicely.  We clean first, often to music.  The house is straightened and cleaned, altho perhaps not to my mother’s standard. It is clean enough that our guests will not contract any disease or illness eating at our table. Black_and_White_Cartoon_of_a_Maid_Whistling_While_She_Works_clipart_imageHe is a pretty darn good cook, so he tends to do the entree and side while I prepare another side and the dessert. Today I am also preparing the appetizer.

strawberry ice creamThe ham is in the oven. The sides (baked tomatoes and a corn strata) and appetizer (baked brie with smoked blueberry jam I canned) are prepped and ready to pop into the oven at the right time. The dessert (strawberry-rhubarb pie with strawberry ice cream) was prepared yesterday.

It is a truly wonderful thing to break bread with friends. Try it sometime. Pizza works just as well as this home-cooked meal. Do not let your concern over your cooking skills keep you from entertaining your friends at home. It is a lovely gift of friendship.Hospitality-is-not-about....-682x1024


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America’s Shameful Legacy

Imagine you have been travelling overseas for a while and you wander into a local supermarket in Europe. As you shop for your dinner you encounter the foreign food aisle in addition to Asian or Latino foods, there is a section for American foods! This is what you see.american-food

How sad. This is our gift to other cultures. That and

Mc Donalds restaurant in Parisand KFC in China

There may be some Americans who thing this is great…they can eat the food they are used to when they travel to Paris or Beijing. Personally, I enjoy eating authentic French or Chinese food and when I travel I want to eat food prepared well and native to that culture.  I sure wish the people in those countries would not be thinking that processed food and fast food is what we eat……but maybe it is for most people. What a shameful thing we are teaching others about us.


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Playing with Food

It’s so much fun trying a new recipe. Of course, that statement first starts with the understanding that I enjoy most foods. There are very few I dislike. (Liver will NEVER cross the threshold of this house.) And being a fairly decent cook and baker I can read a recipe and imagine how the flavors will mix, thereby getting intrigued to try something new.cookbooks

Many people are not like that, though.  Years ago I worked in an office with 17 men. I was already 50-years-old so it was no big deal; I could handle them. All except the boss, who I generally refer to as a challenged individual.  Because of the way he tyrannized the work environment, I went out of my way to make things nice. For example, when it was someone’s birthday I asked them what kind of cake they would like and baked one for all to enjoy during the day.

DSC_0010One of the older men had had a heart attack, so I made everything low fat and no one complained. But one time when that man ask me if he could eat the cake, another guy overheard me tell him it had eggbeaters and margarine. (Yikes, have I come a long way with food since then!!)  The second guy, when he requested a cheese cake for his birthday said I better not make it low fat. Of course I did and of course he loved it.

But it was the request for a chocolate cake that was the best. It was end of the summer and the zucchini had been growing well. So, to make something fun, I made a chocolate zucchini cake. The guys chowed down quickly, stuffing it in. Until one guy said, “Hey! What’s the green stuff?”

Funny how people are. Once they know that something different is in the yummy dish they were enjoying, they suddenly have second thoughts. Do you?

Zucchini Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

For the cake:
1 pound zucchini
2 tablespoons sugar
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon flour

For the glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I use liquid tapioca)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions

For the cake:
Adjust rack to center position of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously coat a 9- to 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan with baking spray (the kind that includes flour).
Using a box grater or food processor, grate the zucchini (you should end up with approximately 3 cups). Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and place in a large colander set over a bowl. As you prepare the rest of the batter ingredients, the sugar will draw the moisture out of the zucchini. Occasionally press down on it to squeeze more water into the bowl.
Finely chop unsweetened chocolate, place in a bowl, and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds; stir. Heat in additional 15-second increments, stirring after each one, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together eggs, sugar, melted chocolate, melted butter, applesauce, and vanilla until smooth. Mix in drained zucchini. Turn mixer down to low and stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by all of the sour cream and then the remaining flour mixture. In a small bowl, toss mini chocolate chips with tablespoon of flour. Add to batter and mix until just incorporated, taking care not to overbeat.
Evenly pour/spread batter into prepared pan, place in preheated oven, and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow it to rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before turning it out onto the rack to finish cooling.
For the glaze:
In a small pot, melt butter over low heat. Remove pot from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until they are melted and combined with butter. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour glaze over warm cake, gently spreading it so that it trickles down sides. Allow cake and glaze to cool completely before slicing.Zucchini-Fudge-Bundt-Cake-with-Chocolate-Glaze-or-Chocolate-Zucchini-Bread-by-Five-Heart-Home_700pxZoom

 

Recipe from FiveHEARThome

http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/07/12/zucchini-fudge-bundt-cake-chocolate-glaze-or-chocolate-zucchini-bread/


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A Different Kind of Smart

Just about this time of summer 20 years ago my mother-in-law asked me to go on down to the garden to pick some green beans for supper. I was a Yankee living in Nashville, and my in-laws loved me but the gaps in my education confused them. That afternoon one huge gap was apparent. I carried the baby down to the garden and placed him on a blanket. Not a crawler yet, he could enjoy the shade of the warm southern day as I looked at the garden.

NOT a photo of that day, but a trip taken to Memphis within a month...just showing the cutie.

NOT a photo of that day, but a trip taken to Memphis within a couple of months…just showing the cutie.

My father-in-law loved to plant, but he did not care much after that….care in terms of the kind of maintenance needed to get through a hot summer, like weeding and watering. So he planted a LOT and we harvested all we could before the weeds choked the plants and then everything would wither in the heat;. Summer thunderstorms just did not provide adequate amounts.

On that day I felt unsure…..never having seen a bean plant before. I recognized the squash plants. And the peppers were obvious. The tomatoes were  a no-brainer. So, by process of elimination, I headed over to the near row.

To my amazement I did not see any beans. I looked high. I looked low. Lots of green there but beans? Nope.

A_green_beanAbout that time the dear sweet next door neighbor wandered down to play with the baby, and then casually got up, baby on her hip and wander over to the plant next to me, and reached over and picked a very obvious bean. I could have sworn she did some magic and they all appeared at that moment!  She winked at me and gave me hug, and welcomed me to the family in the best way ever. And she never told.

In the garden my dad grew each summer in suburban New Jersey we never grew beans, hence my lack of knowledge.  We did have fresh tomatoes and peppers and more, but no beans. Those came out of cans or, later, freezer bags, all commercially prepared and purchased on a supermarket.  So, I had no connection between the plant that produced it and the food I put in my mouth.

Most people may be surprised to know that the first modern grocery store was a Piggly-Wiggly in Memphis in 1916. Until that time people who needed to purchase items they did not grow or trade with other people they knew went into a shop and presented a list to the man at the counter. He would go into the back area and box up all the requested items. Clarence Saunders’ concept of self-service selection of food items took a while to catch on, and now the supermarket is the primary food source for most people.piggly1

It sure is convenient, no question about it. For many of us we can drive there, park nearby, and purchase food, cleaners, paper goods and toiletries all in one place. But now that we know we have choices, do we go there just because it is our habit?  supermarket-wont-tell-promo-456cs012109

Choices exist, particularly during the local growing season. The popularity of farmers’ markets has exploded, with the USDA listing over 8100 markets in their current National Farmers Market Directory, up from 5000 just  five years ago! Markets can be found in small towns and throughout large cities. The closest one may be held once a week, but there may be several others within a half hour drive  on other days.  Another website, Local Harvest, also lists markets and farms and more!FG farrmers market

In addition, food from local farms can be available through various buying opportunities, ranging from online ordering and delivering to your door like  Yamhill Valley Grown, purchasing a share at the beginning of a season for a weekly box or basket full of produce which is a CSA, or a farm nearby may have a farm-stand where you can purchase their freshly picked produce and maybe some other goods from the area.

My  CSA share, early June

My CSA share, early June

And if you are truly fortunate, you live in a place where some very passionate people worked hard to form a store, an indoor year-round local food market.  I was involved with Huntington, West Virginia’s Wild Ramp Market and have been working with a group of people in Forest Grove, Oregon who are in the midst of the planning phase.

Inside the new Wild Ramp Market,  August 15

Inside the new Wild Ramp Market, August 15

The Wild Ramp recently celebrated its second anniversary and much is made in their public communication how the market is a community endeavor. The community wants it. The community made it happen. The community supports it with their energy, their volunteer effort and their patronage.

The same can be achieved anywhere there are enough people who enjoy freshly picked ripe produce, the taste of which can not be found in a supermarket. People who know that the breed of animal raised and the food it is fed makes a huge difference in the taste and texture of the meat on your plate. People who understand that supporting local farms and a local business means the local economy is stronger.

Are you in a routine…..or passionate?


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Find Balance With Abundance Through Exploration

How much is too much? Well, this time of year if you are growing zucchini, live near someone who grows zucchini, or belong to a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture), the abundance of zucchini is borderline glut. There is a joke about never leaving your car unlocked this time of year or you will return to find the back seat loaded with zucchini.DSC_0011

So, knowing this inundation was coming I have been searching the web for interesting ways to preserve the vegetable. My best one, I think, has been zucchini ice cream. Before you scoff, other than the green you never would know. It was vanilla with cinnamon and nutmeg and I said it WAS because it is long gone and so is the second batch. Yum.

The latest new recipe came from one of the many cookbooks I have.  A vegetarian cookbook, it is superb for finding new ways to prepare veggies.  Try this and you, too, will enjoy zucchini, like my son Dan who popped in tonight in time for supper.

2014-08-21 17.51.01

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters

From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, adapted by Beth Rankin
Reminded me of latkes, so you KNOW it’s going to be great!

Serves 4-6

2 pounds zucchini or yellow summer squash, coarsely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 bunch scallions or equivalent amount of anything oniony
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram or basil
1 teaspoon chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

• Lightly salt the grated squash and set aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.
• Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients together except for the pepper and oil.
• Rinse the squash and squeeze out excess liquid, then stir into batter.
• Taste for salt (it had more than enough for me) and add pepper
• Heat a thin layer of olive oil in skillet.
• When hot drop in the batter. A ¼ cup makes a 3-3.5 inch fritter.
• Cook until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side
• Serve hot.

BE BRAVE….TRY A NEW RECIPE!!!