Sunday, November 8, 2009

Report from Mike Tilley on Kitchen Reorganization



We finally had our first "field trip" with Anne-Marie to the Farmers Market and it so happened that Chef Reto Biaggi went with us at the same time! We got to meet him while going through the Market with Anne-Marie and it was a fun and learning experience to visit the local vegetable and meat vendors. We got to sample at some booths and if time was available, we got to hear a little about the operations they run. I can tell you that there is a common denominator among all of the vegetable and meat producers and it is one of pride and enjoyment in what they do. What I mean is that when something is put out for sale, it is done with the confidence that it looks good, tastes good and is produced locally with the "old-timey" methods that the big producers can't and could not do in mass. And let me tell you, it is worth a little extra price for what you come home with...I mean I was excited about what each item was going to taste like!

We ended up with some sausage, hamburger, apples, lettuce,cucumbers,onions, garlic, field peas and a few of the prettiest whole turnips I've ever seen ( they were complete with the turnip attached to the greens...large and shiney turnips and the greens were dark green ). I grew up not wanting to eat those but these were just beautiful and immediately appetizing! I think all of us brought some of those home.

After the visit to the Market, we all went back to our house so Reto could go through our kitchen equipment and then do a preparation of something for us. He was OK with most of our cookware and suggested we get rid of some items that take up space and are never or rarely used. We found that some of his main items in the kitchen he likes to use are: a 12" skillet,a sharp Chef's knife and a large enough bamboo cutting board. We have the knife but went out later to get the skillet to be equipped. We still need to get a larger cutting board ( bamboo of course).

Reto sharpened our knife and then showed us proper and safe cutting procedures on the turnips he was going to prepare for us. He peeled and cubed them, let us do some of the same and then put a small amount of water, sprinkle of sugar, pepper and salt on the cubes and placed them in a skillet on medium heat. While that was going, he cut and mashed some fresh garlic, diced onion and bacon and put them in the large cooking pot on medium heat. Those items sauteed for a while and when ready, the washed greens were placed in the pot to cook down. When these two dishes were done, we snacked on them and all loved it!! In fact the house smelled so good from that for a few hours to remind us of how good and fortunate it is for our family to be involved in this project.


Well, sorry for the long ramble, but it seems to me that our family is excited and aware more and more about eating better. In fact, when I laid down with Cameron for him to go to sleep Sunday night, I asked what his favorite thing of the weekend was and he said : "Saturday morning shopping and cooking with the chef". I said " He's a pretty fancy cooker" and then Cameron followed with "You got that right". I surely did.

As we like to say in this business: Eat Well and Be Well !!
Mike Tilley

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kitchen Equipment with the Tilleys

Reto Biaggi, a personal chef and owner of Home Cuisine, one of our corporate sponsors has now gotten together with the Tilleys and spent time going through their kitchen equiment. We ended up with another clean-out session and some impromptu lessons in cookware and knife skills. Again, fun was had by all!

We started with a quick trip to the farmer's market just to get a feel for a quick lunch dish. We ended up sampling some great local meats and seeing that a fair amount of vegetables and apples are still available at the farmer's markets. There are fewer items in the winter months but they are not totally void and it is why we should learn to can and freeze summer produce for more winter variety.

I got some broccoli for us and then was shocked at how much Charlotte ate. Despite all my trying to be aloof about letting Charlotte eat what she wants and making some of the best foods available to her, I know that underneath it all she knows how badly I want her to try everything. When she doesn't taste things this is her exerting her own little measure of control. I get that, but as a mommy foodie it does drive me a little crazy. Mainly because my food is so delicious that I know she'd like it if she'd just try it. This last week she did try pomegranate and broccoli so I can't despair!

Anyhow, back to the Tilleys. We ended up getting some incredibly gorgeous turnips with the greens still attached and they were huge! Mike purchased a Belarus garlic bulb from the Cornerstone Garlic Farm out of Reidsville. Natalie Foster, the owner, gave us an incredible handout on how to plant garlic and grow your own. (Please visit her at the Greensboro Curb Market to get the handout as she says they are working on their web site and the handout will be up there later just not yet.) There is still time to plant some garlic. Planting now, depending on the variety will yield garlic from early/mid May on through June. So Mike is intending on getting outside and planting at least 2 - 4 cloves for the spring!

When we returned to the Tilley house, Reto got straight into digging through cabinets and work spaces. He reiterated the same thing to the Tilleys that he talked with the Richeys about, having clear workspaces and making sure everything that you use all the time is handy. He also noted that the revolving spice rack that seems handy and looks good on the counter is, in reality, not a good idea. Nothing destroys spice more than being exposed to UV light, so while this might look attractive, it's not the best option. I personally love any type of Lazy Susan, so if something like this would fit in a cabinet with a door then that really is the best place to keep it.

Speaking of spices, while I enjoy fresh herbs the most, I still have a plethora of dried spices and other seasonings on hand. I used to lament the lack of freshness dates on them because they don't last forever, but now those date markings are fairly common. Now being able to read them is a whole other story - get your reading glasses out. But pay attention because the more you cook the more you will only want to use the best. (I bought some organic Madagascar vanilla last night, but when I make my own ice cream you can really tell a difference between that vanilla and the inexpensive types.)

Tammy really wanted to reorganize her pots and pans so that is where the action took place next. Reto went through the Tilley's collection and pulled out about 3 peices that they admitted they never used and so these are now another set of Goodwill items. He talked about the sets of cookware we commonly buy and how we often end up with a few pieces of equipment we never use. His opinion is to buy separate pieces and buy great quality because they will be easier to use and hold up longer. It's like any sport - using top notch equipment can make the game more enjoyable and leads to better play - and cooking is no exception.

Brand-wise he extolled All-Clad and de Buyer. I prefer All-Clad myself, but I own a wide variety of things. I do appreciate cookware that can go from stove top to the oven as I do a fair amount of recipes that require this - like my frittatas, stews and other meat dishes including my Figgy Piggy Baked Chicken (name taken from a Gourmet magazine recipe that uses Cornish Hens, but my dish is a twist on the original.) I also enjoy my older cast iron skillets and so does Reto, but he lamented the fact that most don't have long enough handles for the weight of the pan.

Reto and I both agree that any good cook needs a 12-14 inch skillet with a lid, a 4-7 quart Dutch oven (depending on the volumes you cook) and lid, a 4-6 quart pot with a lid (if your Dutch oven is oval instead of more pot shaped) and at least one or two smaller 6-8 inch saute pans. We also talked about shopping at our locally owned and operated independent kitchen store The Extra Ingredient and buying things as they go on sale. I think Tammy was headed right out after our meeting to get an All-Clad skillet that was on sale.

After we went through the equipment we moved on to knives. Reto prefers Henckels or Victorinox but he really loves one of his Japanese knives that has a 15 degree sharpened edge, as opposed to most knives which have a 22 degree blade. Reto and I both agree that the most functional, must-have, knife is a good chef's knife of 8-10 inches and one extra paring knife for smaller jobs. A bread knife is another must have, but can be purchased later.

Reto went through the process of sharpening the knives with a stone versus using a standard kitchen tool for sharpening. Then we discussed using the steel to hone the edge daily. Sharpening needs to occur about every 3-6 months depending on usage. Never put knives in the dishwasher and never leave them to soak in dishwater. Use an appropriate cutting board, do not cut directly on the countertop. Always secure your cutting board with a couple of damp paper towels or a dish towel - this will keep your board from slipping around as it ages and gets less than flat. Move your cutting board to the edge of the counter to make cutting and scooping items off the board easier. Lastly, get a board that is at least 10 by 12 inches - a bigger board is easier to use than a small one, no matter what the job. Just make sure it isn't too big to clean easily.

When using a chef knife use a pincher grip with your thumb on one side and your fore finger on the other on the blade just above the handle. Curl your holding fingers under and into a claw position with thumb and pinky pulled back for safety. Please consult several of the online videos about knife skills or watch a professional to learn about proper positioning and cutting techniques. Once you learn to cut, chop and dice the right way, prep work becomes easier and more pleasureable. Always try to create a flat/stablizing side with your product first so that it won't slip and roll - safety first!

Lastly, Reto took that beautiful bunch of turnips and cut off the tops. Everyone pitched in (including Emma) and tore the leaves off into larger than bite size pieces. After we had a nice pile of greens Reto transferred them to the sink for a good washing off. Reto heated up the Tilleys' large enameled Dutch oven and then added about 4 slices of bacon that we had bought at the market. When the bacon was cooked almost crisp he added some minced garlic and then he dumped the washed greens in and they very quickly lost volume as the cells collapsed and water was realeased. They cooked for about 8 minutes until tender and delicious.

Reto also took the large turnips and let everyone practice their knife skills. First we cut off the root and top ends. Then, by gripping each side, we cut the turnip in half to create a flat surface. From there we cut the turnips into bite size chunks. Everyone tasted a raw piece of turnip. It was fun to see Cameron jump up off the sofa to grab a bite and remark how good he thought it was. Reto braised these turnips in butter, a touch of water and a touch of sugar, salt and pepper. After a nice low simmer for 12 minutes they were done and they could have been eaten as they were or they could have been mashed with some extra butter. Either way the taste was divine - fresh can't be compared to anything else.

Another great day at the market and in the kitchen.
Eat well and be well!
Anne-Marie

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kim's Report on the Kitchen Reorganization


Reto Biaggi, Anne-Marie, and Steve came by our house to take a look at our kitchen and how we store our food. Charlotte also came along to help keep our Miss Lily busy while we were busy in the dining room and kitchen. What resulted (in just a few hours): our large kitchen hutch was repainted (to preclude any exposure of old lead paint); all non-refrigerated food items were gone through and organized; our pantry & kitchen drawers were reorganized (and cleaned); and counter space was cleaned off and made available! The benefits of this have been innumerable so far: our kitchen looks more aesthetically pleasing (because it looks and is less cluttered); I have a kitchen hutch that I feel confident about storing food in & having Lily go into (no more worries about, “Is that peeling/chipping paint some of the old lead paint we were told about?”); and I can see what we have!

Allow me to expound on that last one a little more. Prior to the help of Reto, Anne-Marie, and Steve, we had a lot of food. Some of the food consisted of prepackaged snack items, while the rest consisted of baking/cooking staples. Well, we have lived in this house 4 ½ years & it is amazing what can collect on your food pantry shelves (and I don’t mean just the dust!) when you don’t do at least a yearly evaluation of what you have. For example, I threw out (recycling what I could) trash bags of food that were expired or we knew would no longer yield tasty items. For example, pastry flour is only good for a year (don’t ask how old mine was) as are other items like wheat flour and masa harina (Mike used it twice to make empanadas –they were good, but that was 5 years ago. We brought the masa with us when we moved from our old house. So, here’s a tip: When moving from one house to another, don’t wait another 4 years before reevaluating what you should have thrown out during the move!).


After doing that, Anne-Marie encouraged us to restock the hutch into an organized fashion: pastas/grains here, snacks over there, baking items on the bottom shelf, etc. We have done just that, which is a definite improvement from “just putting things where they’ll fit.” Now that things are less cluttered, I can see what I have. This is important in that, before, when looking to see if I had the ingredients I would need for a recipe, I’d have to pull down a small ladder to stand on and search through the pantry or pull things off the shelf to see behind the multitude of cans to see if I indeed, had one can of artichoke hearts. That process in and of itself is enough to make one call it quits when thinking about cooking something different! In addition, when you can see what you have, you know what you have, which means when you’re standing at the grocery store, you don’t buy extra cans of beans “just to be sure you have them.” Because you know what? When things are less cluttered, you’re more likely to notice that you already have 4 cans of black beans on the shelf.


Reto helped by helping my husband and me change how we view our kitchen and the logic behind how we store things. I think that my husband had already done a pretty good job of getting our kitchen organized when we moved in a few years ago, but Reto’s insight helped us change a few things. For example, he was able to convince me to move our microwave to another part of the kitchen to expand our counter space. Now, Mike had tried to convince me of that for the last few years, but I had always said no. Isn’t it interesting how advice from a non-spouse can help to motivate things a little?

Reto also brought to our attention that there were some kitchen items we just didn’t use and were just wasting space. So, to the Goodwill pile they went!

This is still a work in progress. Sometimes I have to ask Mike, “Where are we putting this now?” Or I discover that no, I wasn’t out of a certain snack food. It’s just they go there now, not here. All in all, we are pleased with what has been done & this inspires Mike & I to have more conversations about organization and cooking. Now, Anne-Marie, is there any way that we can do my attic and have it count as a part of the Locavore Makeover project?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kitchen Reorganization with the Richeys

Reto Biaggio, a personal chef and the owner of Home Cuisine (see blog post from Sept 28, 2009 for more on Reto and his business) , has become our second corporate sponsor!!


And recently he spent a morning with me at the Richeys and helped transform their kitchen and clean out some cabinets. What fun it was!

Somehow, kitchen reorganization is one of those things that we all mean to do and it oftens takes the actuality of moving some place new to make us do it. (Or it happens if a "helpful" relative comes in and does it for us, which seems to be more irritating than helpful as you usually aren't consulted!)

Anyhow, we'll wait to see Kim and Mike's report to see if we irritated or helped - ha ha! Again, I was happy to think we helped.

We started the morning with a trip through the farmer's market to get some general advice and insights from Reto. As a professional chef with an eye on freshness he has traversed many a market and sees things that the rest of us might miss. If you have ever known a designer or an architect and appreciated how they see things through the lens of a completed project where we just see an empty lot or a room full of mess, this is how a chef sees the market. It is a bounty of completed dishes and tempting treats.

So, off to the market we all went. Reto was in search of some kale and Kim wanted some flank steaks to cook for friends. I wanted my regular CSA bag and whatever else caught my eye.

Then back to the Richey's house for a kitchen clean-out. Reto quickly observed that their kitchen had a lack of good counter space related to placement of the microwave and some other miscellanous items. We all have a tendency to let things find their place over time and then we just live with it. But for efficiency we need to rethink our spaces.


Where is the most ideal work space? Do you have a space that provides natural light? Looking outside a window while working is one way of bringing the bounty of nature into the kitchen. How is the space situated to the oven/stovetop, sink and refrigerator? Ideally, you want to minimize steps in your kitchen so having the things you use most often close at hand is the best arrangement. Reto identified the same space that Mike likes to do prep work in but it was crowded with the microwave and extra utensils and dishes that were more accessories than standard work items. So, we decided right off to move the microwave and clear out that space.

And then Reto started cleaning out all of the surrounding spaces starting from that spot outward: cabinets, drawers, shelves and counter tops. He is a big fan of getting rid of things that you don't use often. Kim had a large assortment of sippy cups and baby items that is akin to my nightmare of a "Tupperware" cabinet.

I literally have a dark hole of a cabinet that becomes a catch all for all of my plastic storage ware. I dream nightly that the Tupperware fairy will visit me and arrange all that chaos and create lids for the lidless and bottoms for the variety of lids that don't fit anything. My Tupperware hole is listed in Websters right next to the word entropy - the state of going from order to disorder. So I am throwing no stones when I point out that the Richeys kitchen had a fair number of entropy holes also. But Reto gleefully started asking questions and sorting and rearranging - it was like watching an episode of "What Not To Wear" in the kitchen.

So while Reto was tackling cookware I headed to the assorted pantry areas. The Richeys have two main pantry storage spaces and one is a shelving unit in the kitchen, mainly used for canned items, and the other is an antique cabinet that housed a ton of dry goods, wine, baking items, chocolate and other things. So I pulled all of it out and sorted it by category and type of food. We threw out all the outdated items or things we knew were just too old. There really weren't many of these, but it is always funny to find these things. Again, not to cast stones I just dug out a bag of double zero flour I bought in Italy last fall and I could have kicked myself for not getting around to using it!


We then ended up having Steve paint the inside of the cabinet as it was sorely in need of a paint job and Kim suspected it of having lead paint on it originally. It made quite a difference in the appearance and I think it will make it brighter, on the outside at least. There are several foods that are best stored in the dark: flours, oils, wine and spices to name a few. UV light can destroy nutrients in food and accelerate the process of rancidity so it is best not to store foods in clear containers on the counter, no matter how attractive.

So, in the end we kept the canned goods on the open shelves and organized the items that were in the pantry cabinet so they could be tucked back in after the paint dried. There was a large pile of stuff to go into basement storage for the next yard sale or Goodwill trip and while I felt bad leaving the whole dining room table still covered in stuff for the cabinet, it felt like a cathartic and refreshing experience.

Reto got the kale dish that the Richeys were bringing to a party later that evening all prepped up and talked Mike through the recipe. He showed Mike how to flip the microplaner over to catch the lemon zest in it so you can see how much you have and all the greens were washed and made ready for cooking.

It's small tips like these that I think help facilitate and inspire all this change. Remember we are going for slow and steady change. This was a rare overnight transformative process.

Eat well and be well.
Anne-Marie

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Corporate Sponsor!! Sweet Tempatations...

Great news - the Locavore Makeover Project has its first corporate sponsor!! Sweet Temptations, a local baker who provides scratch made baked goods and caters events locally in the Triad has agreed we are a perfect fit. The owner, Jessie Podair, is a good friend of mine and we have taught each other a lot since we have known each other - in both the baking and technology worlds! I think the project may even have a new angle here as we can try to source a few more local ingredients for her, all without compromising her high standards of quality!


Visit the Sweet Temptations website for more information about Jessie and her company. I have worked with Jessie on numerous projects and our philospohies and tastes are deliciously in tune. It will be a true pleasure for The Locavore Makeover Project to be working for this great baker/cupcake maker - couldn't resist the rhyme!

This is just the best news! We are all so excited that we need to go cook something. Make mine pumpkin cookies! Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where fresh home made baked goods were what kids got as Halloween treats?

Eat well and be well.
Anne-Marie

Monday, October 26, 2009

BIG changes at the Locavore Makeover Project!

Well, as many of you know, it's been quiet on the blog this month. Some of it has been due to my travel and some of it related to everyone being booked out in October when we started in September, but there is another bit of work that interfered as well and I would like to explain about it futher.

As some of you know I teach at a public university and, as such, my proceeding with a project such as this fell under some regulations that I was unaware of. (I am not a researcher so I don't know all the rules - my bad!) After spending much of the last month not working on the project, but trying to comply with the institutional paperwork processes, I decided it would be easier to officially disband the project in its current form and rebuild it in the future after the kinks have been worked out. So I did that today. The original Locavore Makeover Project has just died.

But, have no fear, revival is in the air! The positive responses we have gotten via e-mail and in person from everyone who hears about what we are trying to accomplish has been overwhelming and will not be ignored. The offers of help and resources from farmers, producers, educators, dietitians and chefs has been truly inspiring. And then there was Alice Waters, who told me, not once, but twice how important this work was and to never give up on it. I keep the picture of us at breakfast in my calendar to remind me of the mission "Help others build better health through stronger local and organic food economies now!"

It is my personal mission to help as many people as I can to eat fresh local foods. I want to help our family farms stay intact, to thrive and to convert to more organic and sustainable agricultural methods. I want to use taste re-education as a method of showing everyone what a delicious revolution this is. Good food that is good for our health and the health of the planet - the time has come, we can't keep handing our well being and dollars over to the multinational corporations. The change may be slow and steady but we can make a difference.

Remember consumer demand drives the food industry - that's how we ended up with the "light, sugar-free, low-fat, high fiber, fake fat, whole grain enriched, pre-cooked, frozen, microwaveable, miniaturized, over processed, artificially flavored and neon colored" fake food we have now. We can demand something different once we know what to ask for. It starts with a committment and with education.

So I need your help envisioning and creating the next step. I now know how to better structure the project so that it becomes even more of a community education resource than I had originally planned. I will add more elements to the site and make it more dynamic and interactive. I am like the project - an organic process in the making - slow and steady. Stay with me...

But, most importantly, I will be looking for an outside sponsor for the project. As soon as I can identify who that is and work out a mutually beneficial relationship I can revamp the project and I will be back with all you great friends of food. We'll be locavoring again before you know it. Write to me at amlocavore@gmail.com with any ideas about sponsorship and let's get a fresh start on the road to great food for all!

Eat well and be well!
Anne-Marie


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Organic Foods in Denver at the ADA Conference





Hello!
Sorry for the long dry spell. I went to a great session on blogging at my conference and I know I have to feed the machine regularly, but I have been overwhelmed of late with travel and catching up, and oh by the way we buy a house tomorrow. No big thing! Yikes!




Actually, we can't wait to close tomorrow as we are itching to get right over there and transplant all the winter veggies I have in pots on my back sunporch. Steve wants to sheet mulch, but needs a truck to pick up the additional compost we need to do more than just the basics. We won't get all that far with the limited amount we already have on hand. He also wants to build some sort of plastic tenting system to protect those young, seasonal plants over the winter and/or a cold frame to try to start some seedlings that will be ready to plant in the new garden by Spring. I'll let him tell you more about that as the plans coalesce.

Right now we have broccoli, yellow onions, kale, arugala, spinach, sage and a few other herbs to put in. Not a ton, but getting something in the ground will feel great. After three years of not being able to grow anything but acorns this will be so much fun! I hope to have some friends/family over to help out this weekend, weather permitting. We'll make sure to get some pictures of the laborers whenever we get started in earnest!

My talk on Organic Foods in Denver went really well. We were booked into a 5000 seat auditorium and my slides were up on three megatron screens - giant chicken pictures! Our audience was only about 600 or so, but what a venue. Suze Orman did the key note address the day before in the same space so I tried to channel her energy - ha ha! The audience was very receptive and I was pleased to be presenting such a positive message to my fellow dietitians!

Well, the dog is off to the vet next and I have to figure out what to take over to the new place tomorow. I promise we'll be getting back on track with the formal project real soon!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black walnut update and a chuckle...

About a week and a half ago, Anne-Marie reported here that she had stumbled on what appeared to be a treasure trove of black walnuts while riding through the Starmount neighborhood here in Greensboro, and she promised an update on our processing of same into some delicious, very local and free food. I think the suspense has gone on long enough, though, and since the result was both comical and enlightening, I felt it time to tell all.

I remember her strolling up the sidewalk that Saturday a week ago, proudly carrying a bulging sack full of these potential delicacies. To the uninitiated, these walnuts are about an three inches across in their outer husk, which must be removed to get to the good stuff. Although the contents of the sack appeared to me at first glance to be in various stages of decomposition (these were nuts that had already fallen from the tree rather than being picked), I didn't really know doodley about them myself so decided, along with Anne-Marie, to investigate further. A quick trip online revealed a multi-step process to get to the aforementioned good stuff, but what we read also held great promise. "The flavor of black walnut lends a gourmet touch to cookies, breads, cakes, and other baked goods. The nutmeats are expensive and difficult to locate; discovering an available crop of black walnuts is a real find." As we came to find later, however, we weren't yet aware of Rule #1 of found food: If it's already on the ground, it might well be there for a very good reason.

A suggested method for removing the husks involved drilling a hole in a board about the size of the nut in the shell, then pounding the whole thing through the hole with a hammer, stripping off the outer husk. An accompanying warning, though, was that "Hulling walnuts, removing the husk, can be a difficult and messy task. The indelible (my italics) dye from the husk stains hands, clothes, tools and work surfaces." What followed can only be a testament to that truth. Well, that truth and the fact that this batch of walnuts was, indeed, already well on the way to rotting. Out of about 35 or so in this batch, only three made it to the next step which is curing for two weeks. So, we went from here...........to here :



I managed to stain my shorts, my T-shirt, my legs and even a spot under my chin as a result of some vigorous hammering and related splashing of walnut juices. Many of the husks, upon stripping, also revealed evidence of what we could only assume were "walnut weevils and husk fly maggots" as described in the online article. Yum! The final test was to submerge the thirteen (a prescient number?) husked nuts in water and to retain only those which sunk to the bottom - the three you see below. Unfortunately, you can't even compost the removed husks. As the online article we consulted stated pretty clearly: "Do not compost walnut husks. Juglone, a naturally occurring chemical released by all parts of black walnut trees, can have a toxic effect on many vegetables and landscape plants."

And so it seems that there is no such thing as a free lunch after all. That won't deter us from more "fun with food" experiments in the future, however. We made a mess, we learned a lot, but we will press on. And that brown spot under my chin is just about gone. Indelible? I don't think so.

And as Anne-Marie is headed off to Denver we won't break into the edibles until mid-week next... stay tuned for the final outcome!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Food For Thought

Wow - what a week! I will be so happy to have the American Dietetic Association meeting over. I have been working hard to get ready to go to Denver, where it's SNOWING! Don't you hate how hard you have to work to get ahead before leaving town and then you still have to work extra hard when you return, sigh. Luckily my hotel has internet and maybe I will find time to keep up some and get a blog post out.

I always get excited about this national meeting, as I love to socialize and talk with people from all over the country. This time I am excited about meeting my fellow Hunger and Environmental Nutrition colleagues. I am co-presenting the article on Organic Foods that I co-wrote with Chris McCullum-Gomez. I call Chris one of my organic heros as she is truly a champion for sustainable agriculture and protecting the enviroment and people's health.

Speaking of health, one of my goals for 2010 is to start making or buying more environmentally friendly cleaning products and healthy body care products. I have just spent some time looking at the Environmetal Working Groups Skin Deep web site. They classify and report on tens of thousands of everyday products and give you a rating score on each item's health and safety. I think I average about a score of 4 (on a 0-10 scale)  on my cumulative products. But I was surprised by some of the ratings on items that I thought were more "pure" products. My sister, Susie, has made some homemade cleaning products and I have asked for a basket of these goodies as my holiday gift this year.

Well, I see that Steve already stole my thunder about the new house. But I was so busy this week making 10 batches of croissants, canning apples and finishing work projects that I gave him the opportunity to release the news. We are super excited about this next venture. We are considering it Phase II of the Locavore Makeover Project. The re-making of a house and yard into a nirvana of "In the City, Off the Grid!" While I love this current house and my incredibly great neighbors, I can't garden here - not even in pots! Of course, the idea that I am only moving about 5 houses away is a huge consolation to leaving my neighbors and this charming home. Lucky for us, I have been told we can still attend the block parties! (Everyone on the block is an incredible cook so I know they want me and not just my food; ha ha!)

The new house is functional and needs some work, but it's really the 1/2 acre lot right on West Market Street that we are so excited about. We envision an orchard out front and vegetable gardens in the back (with the chickens.) There are mature muscadine grape vines in two places in the back part of the property and I am excited about tapping those next year. I have never tried wine making, but if I can brew beer, I feel confident I can try my hand at wine.

Our ultimate goal would be to produce enough food to have our own Community Supported Agriculture program with about 3 or 4 other local families. We will intend to blog about the whole experience and let everyone know about how we got started and where we succeed or fail.

Lastly, I read about another food blogger who lives just a couple of streets over. She has some great recipes on her site and I included her on the Blog Roll - look for Mod Meals on Mendenhall. Whew, it's early but I am ready to hit the hay! More news and more work to come. The families are rolling along and everyone is in and out of town and busy with scheduled things, but I know they have been introduced to some new concepts that are sinking in and we'll have a lot to add in the near future!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall garden preparation and planting - I have been to the mountaintop!

As the acorns plunk and rattle down the roof along with a gentle rain this evening, it's becoming clear that the inevitable change of seasons is at hand. Steve here to share a bit about Fall preparation of the garden and planting and to deliver some other news as well. I'd give myself a handle like "Tiller of Soil" (to go along with Builder of Coops) except that I spent last Saturday at Charlie Headington's excellent workshop on permaculture gardening and learned that tilling is not really the way to go if you want to create a sustainable year round garden to feed yourself and your loved ones - and maybe a couple dozen more folks too if you garden like Charlie does.

Charlie has turned his small lot in the College Hill section of town into a veritable edible Eden over the last ten or so years, complete with vegetables, fruit trees, two ponds (yes, two ponds) and even bees. His garden represents the epitome of the locavore culture. He's growing it all right there in his own back and front yards and the rewards are delicious (he served a tasty lunch as part of the workshop with much of it coming right from his lovely garden).

This is part of what we would like to create with the Locavore Makeover Project as well. We've wanted to garden here at our home ever since we moved from Chapel Hill where we had some amazing success with just a small strip of dirt in our townhouse courtyard. Our lot here, though, is almost 100% shaded during the growing season. What to do? I guess this is the news part. Anne-Marie and I have purchased another home, only a block and a half from our current residence in Sunset Hills, but with twice as much land and lots more sun.

The big plan is to really "go locavore" on this new lot, starting with some bed preparation and limited planting this Fall and, hopefully, expanding like crazy in the Spring, and getting the Tilleys and Richeys involved along the way. Oh, and yes, there is a house on the new lot, too. And we kind of need to sell or rent our existing home (soon!) so we don't bankrupt ourselves in the process, but that's just details, right?

So, if we want to get started on this garden, it sounds like we'd be in for a lot of tilling and turning of soil starting in a couple of weeks when we close on the new house. Not so fast, Charlie would say. At his workshop last weekend he introduced us to the concept of "sheet mulching", a relatively quick and easy way to start your garden beds right on top of your existing soil, even on top of a lawn.

The idea is that you are imitating nature's processes, but intensifying them to quickly create nutrient rich soil and get your garden off to a great start. Yes, there are additives (it's not magic, you know) including pelletized lime for magnesium, green sand for potassium, bone meal for phosphorus, and a nitrogen source like fish meal fertilizer or an organic liquid source that you can dilute, but the steps are easy to follow and the results are much faster than nature would provide unaided. Also involved are layers of newspaper, leaf mold (available from the City for about $20 per pickup truck load if you can haul it yourself), some pine or wheat straw, and, of course, water. I won't go into all the steps right now, but we are excited about trying this approach and introducing it to the families. We will continue to report on our progress as we make it.

Another great thing that sheet mulching does is that it creates a great environment for worms that are already living in the soil below. Having built and populated a worm box myself over last winter, I can attest to the wonderful work worms do turning one's garbage into wonderful rich soil. Worm castings (their poop, essentially) make a fantastic natural fertilizer and they love leaf mold almost as much as they do your table scraps. They naturally aerate the soil, turn rotting food waste into wonderful compost, and generally can be a gardener's best friend. (By the way, a great local source for worms and more information about worms is Betsy Buhrman at Betsy Lou Worms. She can be found at Greensboro's Curb Market most any Saturday). And while worms "work" the soil, they do it much more naturally and productively than does mechanical tilling. Tilling releases nitrogen much faster than is desirable, kills otherwise helpful soil micro-organisms rapidly as they are exposed to the air and it also exposes previously dormant weed seeds allowing them to flourish more readily. 

There's much more to it all than this little taste, but it's late and I think I said I was going to talk about planting, too. I guess that will be next time after we start experimenting with tenting and cold frames to try to start some winter plants. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Report from the Scott's

We had friends over for dinner Friday night to celebrate the end of one of two of my huge work projects. My guests had asked if they could bring anything for dinner and I said bring the dessert. My friend replied that they would be sure to bring something sealed in plastic and processed and I said, in that case make sure it has colored sprinkles too. So in all seriousness I was in peals of laughter when they pulled Mini Moon Pies with sprinkles out of the bag!! Luckily they also brought some Ghirardelli brownies doctored with my favorite additions: dried raspberries and white chocolate chunks - YUM!

For those of you not familiar with our Southern Classic Moon Pie - it is basically two round graham crackers with a layer of marshmellow fluff substance in the middle and then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. They are one of my Dad's favorites of days gone by. Steve leans heavily towards his childhood favorite from the Northeast, something called a TastyKake. My weakness in this "grocery aisle of the past" was Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. Of course, my absolute weakness to this day is doughnuts - I can't even have them in the house. What is your favorite snack from days of old and has it changed since then? (The Moon Pie certainly has!)

We did pull out one of the moon pies because my daughter, Charlotte, has a weakness for sprinkled anything. But generally she pulls the sprinkles off of whatever the product is and just eats those. But my philosophy of eating states that no food is taboo. If I bring it in the house it is fair game that Charlotte can eat it. Hence, I stock the house with fresher foods, only rarely have frozen (though organic) french fries, and no chicken nuggets. If they are not here I can say that's not a choice for a meal or snack - period, end of discussion. We adults must be in charge of the food decisions in our own homes.

But I have always allowed Charlotte to eat what she wants and when and how much. We have had home made organic ice cream for dinner, spaghetti with ketchup for breakfast and a fair amount of peanut butter with dark chocolate chips as a snack favorite, but in general, she is a kid who would rather have organic milk and carrots than cake, cookies or juice. At Halloween and Valentines I let her open every single candy and eat what she wants. Without fail, because her palate is not used to these foods and because a lot of them don't really taste good, she will taste one after another and discard 95% of them. 

Taste re-education is, in my opinion, the slowest part of the process of converting to locavorism. It happens in waves and when you least expect it. Eventually the processed food you've eaten in the past becomes distasteful and you notice more of the chemical nature of ready-made foods. You notice the funky aftertastes that don't happen when you eat whole foods prepared in classic ways.

So dinner last night was a local meatloaf (half beef and half mild pork saugage from Bradds Family Farms) made with our eggs, organic carrots and garlic, Italian Reggiano Parmesan, fresh parsley, Quaker oatmeal, organic local milk and some McComick dried sage - it was a Mark Bittman recipe. I made mashed potatoes from local potatoes and butter and Daisy sour cream (I prefer the organic sour cream but it doesn't last as long as the conventional and between that recent complaint and my forgetting to specifically write organic on the list it was Daisy that Steve bought - see? even we forget sometimes!) The great thing about local organic potatoes is that you can eat the skins without worrying about pesticide residues and this is where some of the best nutirents are found. My other side dish was fried green tomatoes. Outside my building at work there is a volunteer/rogue tomato plant that grew by the loading dock and no one was harvesting any of the tomatoes so I went along and picked the remaining 9 small to medium green tomatoes and fried them up with organic rice flour and my favorite Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Seasoned Salt. These were a tasty dumpster treat!!


Speaking of road food, I was driving through the Starmount neighborhood yesterday and a woman was collecting and giving away black walnuts. They look like giant green tennis balls and smell wonderfully citrusy. They require some special handling to gain the tasty treat inside and I will document this later and give you the scoop on my other free food find!

This weekend we got our first bag of Winter Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) goodies from our buddies at Handance Farm. We recieved arugula, a mixed baby greens assortment, a pint of cherry sized tomatoes, 1 pound of peppers, 1 1/2 pound of eggplant (which I can fry in the leftover fried green tomato olive oil I have left on the stove today!), 3/4 pound of yellow squash and about 4 good sized shitake mushrooms. The winter farm shares is only a 4 week program, but well worth it when you have a severe withdrawl from all the summer harvest glories!

Now, a new work week is to begin and I have another doozy of a week. I have this other big project to finish. I am getting ready to go to Denver for the National American Dietetic Association meeting where I am doing a talk on the Organic Foods article I wrote over the summer. And I have some other big news coming up that I will hold out on for now. It will be my reward for getting through this week! All this work stuff hit at the right time. All of the families, mine included, are crazy busy with other pre-planned October activites. So, everyone is absorbing the impact of what we have learned so far and we will be planning for a much more active November, although October holds some fun stuff yet!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Report From Tammy Tilley

Yesterday, Mike took McDonald’s cheeseburgers (probably double cheeseburgers) to school to have lunch with Cameron and Emma. Busted!!!! A few teachers noticed this slip in our journey. At breakfast, I tried to convince him (and them) to get Subway, but they were having withdrawals from their favorite fast food menu. I was a little embarrassed, but I need everyone to know that this whole changeover process will take time for my family. We have definitely decreased our drive to Friendly Shopping Center for our quick fast food meals, but we are not there yet. I also believe that too much change too fast will only make my kids less receptive to the changes. So, if you see us “being bad,” please call us on it, but know we’re going to get it all together (well, maybe close, anyway) with time.

Tammy

Report from Kim Richey

The day before the ground-breaking for the Edible Schoolyard, there was a picture of Alice Waters in the News and Record. We had already prepped Lily for attending the ceremony by saying that we were going to meet a “famous chef.” We showed it to her and she said, “She doesn’t look like a famous chef!” How little does she know! Isn’t it amazing how children equate someone having “importance” with that person having a certain look about them? When Lily, my husband, and I initially arrived at the ceremony (albeit late; parking was a bear!), even I scanned the people at the front thinking, “OK. Which one is Alice Waters?” Admittedly, I was immediately able to dismiss the men, but there were a few women up front that I was watching so as to figure out who was who.

When Alice stood up and talked, I thought “What a sweet voice she has!” And then I thought, “What passion she has!” To me, it is interesting to hear someone speak about a topic that you know little about. This “farm-to-table” movement is brand new to me (almost as new to me as having met Anne-Marie)! You see, growing up, my mother worked 2nd shift. She cooked the food each morning before she left the house, which my younger sister and I would then heat up in a microwave when we got home from school. Not being around when my mother cooked limited my exposure to cooking. In addition, because of the pressure on my mom to cook a meal before leaving the house, she used canned and frozen foods (just as many women of her generation and mine were taught to do). My mother disliked cooking, though. So, when she was off work, we often went out to eat. So, even on her “off” days, my exposure to cooking was somewhat limited. Thankfully, I did observe my grandmothers cook a bit, but the point I am trying to make here is that if Anne-Marie can make a difference in my cooking perspectives and abilities, then she will have influenced me to “break the cycle” and do differently by Lily.

And this for me is connected to something I said to Tina Firesheets, “When you have a child, and they’re so young and pure, you want to do better about feeding them food that doesn’t have preservatives.” As a mother, I think about Lily’s little body: her pure lungs, her (hopefully) unclogged arteries, her little limbs that run so fast and jump so high. And then I let her eat a hamburger from McDonald’s? (She has actually only eaten 3 McDonald’s hamburgers in her entire life, but you get my point). And all of this “purity” (if you will) started as she was growing within my womb. That’s not necessarily because I was the best eater when I was expecting, but because of how I’ve come to notice how nature tends to take care of the little ones when they are still in utero. (BTW, I am a nurse and I work at the only free-standing birth center in NC. So, more references to pregnancy and birth are still to come, I’m sure).

As a wife, I feel incredibly grateful. I have been married for 10 years to the best man that I could have ever met and loved. As his wife, I want to be sure that he (as we say to one another) lives forever. What better way to do that than to change how we eat?

So, yes, Anne-Marie, if you can give me the tools to do better in the garden and in our kitchen, then you will have impacted 2 generations of our family - and not just 2 generations, but the lives of the 2 people I love most.
Kim

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shrimp Industry

We had several comments about a caption, under a picture in the Greensboro News and Record article on Sunday, September 27, that referenced antibiotics in frozen shrimp from outside the United States. The reference was not made off-hand nor without a basis in fact. Here is an excellent report from The Solidarity Center on "The True Cost of Shrimp" - look for it about 3 reports down on the right. It is in a PDF format and lengthy (40 pages of big print and color photos) so please read it online and save your paper.


This is a clearly laid out article about how we in America can eat inexpensive foreign produced shrimp that is now so widely distributed. The article draws on information from many excellent sources. The report lays out the truth about the exploitation of both children and adults by many in this industry, the destruction of the environment and the use of banned antibiotics and other chemicals that permanently damage the health of the workers and cause longer term consequences for all of us. It also includes a list of grocery chains in this country that carry these shrimp and several are here in NC.

As a result of what I learned about the shrimping industry, I have committed to only buying shrimp that I know is Wild Caught (and preferably in NC waters) for use in my own home. Matt Barr, a UNCG film professor, has an excellent documentary about the NC shrimp industry called "Wild Caught" (see the trailer here.)

One of the purposes of this project is to show that while our inexpensive food may come cheap, it's often at the expense of many other lives and environments including, ultimately, our own. Unfortunately, we are often driven to poor food choices by its low cost, the immediate gratification factor and a lack of information as to the methods by which much of this cheap food is actually produced. We've put ourselves in a "pay less now, but much more later" bind that we really can't afford to ignore any longer.


We can make changes, and once informed it is hard not to. I was in the exact same place a few years back, eating the same cheap Thailand produced shrimp and thinking how great it was that I could include seafood in my diet. I can no longer eat food grown and gathered on the backs of poorly treated workers, including children, some of them the same age as my own young daughter, so I can have a "heart healthy diet." I hope once informed you will feel the same.

Eat well and be well!
Anne-Marie Scott

Monday, September 28, 2009

Report From Tammy Tilley

Tammy sent me this blog to report:

"Wow. A lot has happened since my last entry. The Edible Schoolyard ground-breaking ceremony was very interesting. I was impressed with the garden at the Children’s Museum already. Children in summer programs had worked on getting the garden started. The use of bamboo for staking running plants was interesting. Bamboo is a nuisance in my backyard, so I was glad to see an option for making it useful. We’re always looking for ways to rid ourselves of it. I got to meet Steve Tate from The Goat Lady Dairy. He talked to Kim and I about gardening and was willing to answer our questions. He will be a big help. Alice Waters was wonderful to meet. She was so excited about our project which just made me realize even more the importance of it all. I bought her book and have already started reading. It is a very practical book. Thursday was on the hot and steamy side. Cameron checked out the garden but had more fun climbing on the trees.


Mike, Cameron, and I headed to Carrboro and Chapel Hill this past weekend. I had my 20th dental school reunion and Cameron and Mike had a scout outing on Saturday night. We checked out Weaver Street Market in Carrboro. It was fascinating.

Organic was definitely the word there. I think I could have gotten plenty if I knew what to do with the food when I got it home. I did buy some granola which is delicious. I’ve shared it with the girls at the office. I also went to the local farmer’s market in Carrboro. It wasn’t as big as ours here but had plenty of fresh meat and veggies to choose from. I bought a couple of eggplants. We’ll see what I do with those. My goal is not to let anything I buy spoil before cooking it. This is a major goal. I have grown some remarkable mold in my refrigerator in the past.

Trying to be healthier,
Tammy"

Note: Steve Tate has offered to show us how they make their Goat Lady Granola with grains from the Lindley Mills.

Reto Biaggi of Home Cuisine

As I said last Wednesday, I met up with Reto Biaggi because he has volunteered to work with The Locavore Makeover Families a couple of times over the course of the next year. I couldn't be more ecstatic because he is a "real chef" and I am a really good cook! His input will give us all an even deeper lesson in home economics and kitchen organization. Actually that is one of his first goals, to get Kim Richey more organized in her kitchen space. In order to introduce him without missing any of the details I lifted the following from his website about his personal chef in-home service.

"Cooking is my passion, I have been involved in professional kitchens since the age of 14. At age 12 I had decided to become a chef, and my dad sent me to work in a restaurant kitchen every summer.

I was born in Bern, Switzerland, where my mother was the Service Manager for the 5 star Du Theatre hotel. She loves to entertain and always involved me in the frequent parties she hosted at our house.

My international travelling started early as well, as we moved to France when I was still a child. I was fortunate that my parents loved to travel and to eat at excellent restaurants. I was exposed to sophisticated dining around the world through my teen years, which set my standards high.

I graduated from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland, the world's premier hospitality management school, and hold a business degree from the University of Lausanne also.

My international work experience includes, the Plaza Athenee hotel in Paris, the Bath Hotel in Bath (England), Disneyland Hotels in Paris, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

In Greensboro, I have worked at the Green Valley Grill and the Grandover Resort.

I have been a personal chef since 2004 and without a doubt this is the happiest and most fulfilled I have ever been." http://www.homecuisine.net/

His wife is a Greenboro native (to bring it all back to local connections) and his family lives within my mythical 3 mile "zone of comfort." He's considering getting chickens and when my egg supply goes back up I will bring him a few of mine to sample.

Reto chooses much of the food he prepares for his work by going to the Curb Market downtown in addition to some other local sources and he will share all of that when we get together next.

Just wanted to introduce him and share my enthusiasm for his volunteerism with the project.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Opening of the Greensboro Children's Museum Edible Schoolyard Events

All of the events are wrapping up and the excitement is ebbing away from the extreme high of Alice Waters' visit to Greensboro. I had the opportunity to attend three of the events over the last two days and each had its own flavor. (Some would say it was a pork flavor as that was served in one form or another at almost every event - which fits in with our local food palate - we are all about some hogs in North Carolina!)

The first event I was able to attend was the official groundbreaking at the Children's Museum. I brought along my daughter, Charlotte, as she loves the museum, and we went early so she'd get a chance to play for a bit first. She loves all of the interactive exhibits and I love the safe and creative environment they provide. Close to 4 pm we all moved outside for the ceremony and speeches.



On Thursday, the day of the Groundbreaking we had a sudden shift in the weather and it was 86 degrees and about 90% humidity. It was muggy, sunny and hot, Charlotte was antsy and I ended up sitting next to a beam in the barn area where I was attacked by a swarm of the tiniest ants I have ever seen crawling over my skin, so even I got squirmy. Luckily, my parents were on their way into town so they showed up right before the end of the speeches and took Charlotte back into the musuem to play. I was free then to mingle and talk with many of the grown-ups.


Both of the Locavore Makeover families made it to the event. I was able to introduce Kim and Tammy to Steve Tate, owner of The Goat Lady Dairy. Kim had met Steve's wife, Lee, at the Farmer's Market the weekend before so it was a great time to talk. Steve is such an incredible farmer and advocate for local and sustainable foods. He was one of the founding leaders of the Piedmont Triad Slow Food Convivium (they call them Chapters now, but I still prefer convivium!) along with my other permaculture hero, Charlie Headington.

Alice graciously agreed to a book signing, which was housed back in the air-conditioned museum (Thank God!). I had purchased another copy of Alice's The Art of Simple Food for my sister and was able to get it signed. And both the Locavore families got their picture made with Alice. The Museum photographer, Abigail Seymour, got those shots and hopefully we'll have them posted (and framed) later. I was able to give Alice the briefest idea of the project at the book signing table during the photo op and she said she'd look forward to hearing more whereupon I said I would see her on Friday morning at the Farmer's Market Breakfast event.
Friday morning dawned and I was up and out at 6:55 am to meet Betsy Grant, the Children's Museum Director, for the Breakfast. We were all alone setting up tables in the greyish, reddish dawn. We just knew it couldn't rain on our parade! The caterers and volunteers started arriving just before 8 am for the 9 am breakfast. We had coffee from a new local coffee roaster (he has a stall at the downtown Curb Market and I have lost his card in the mess that has become my car and home), bread from Simple Kneads, granola made by the Granola Lady who also sells at the Curb Market, cheese spreads and goat yogurt provided by the Goat Lady Dairy and local NC apples mixed with goat cheese and wrapped in locally sourced apple smoked bacon and grilled onto skwers provided by the Ganache Bakery. (This was the start of a porkie day!)
Alice sat right next to me during the breakfast portion of the event and I was able to give her a copy of the opening page of the blog with the link on it. I was able to tell her more about what we are doing. She was thrilled with the idea and made a comment that it is projects such as ours that will help change the whole system. Admittedly, I was without a recorder so I am paraphrasing here, but she was saying to me how important it was that we were actually doing something and not just talking about it. I was very touched and I thanked her for her supportive words. I was also able to talk with Marsha Guerrero, the Edible Schoolyard Director in Berkely, CA. She also got a copy of the blog page and it is so fantastic to think that they may follow what we are doing or tell others about it! They are both inspiring leaders who are setting the example of doing instead of just talking.

I then went to work and found out about an immediate project goal that I will have to meet. It will interfere with a bit of my progress on the project for the next week or two, but I have lots of editorial blogs (I write in the middle of the night when I can't sleep) to keep you entertained in the interim and I have been planning to include more recipes and rearrange some of the tips to make the blog easier to navigate anyway. So, you won't be left without new content.
My day ended magically as I was able to attend the fundraising dinner that evening at the Levy's house in Greensboro. I met some great Museum supporters and got to see old friends like Michelle Novack and Margaret Neff, both with the Piedmont Triad Slow Food Chapter. The food was fabulous and local. The menu was dominated by a slow cooked smoked Ossabaw pig which was served in the traditional Southern pulled pork style. The richness of the smokey overtones and the tenderness developed in a pasture raised pig made this easily one of the most unique and delicious pork dishes I have ever eaten. I also indulged in more than a few bacon wrapped goose breast appetizers (ramaki), NC wild caught shrimp with a variety of NC tomato salsas and gazpacho shooters. There were corn husk appetizers filled with a corn pudding and cucumber tadziki style sauce that were eaten by sqeezing and sucking. I had some divine pickled okra - a true NC delight! There were local cheeses from both the Goat Lady dairy and my friends at Celebrity Dairy. The wine was organic and biodynamic, but from Spain and France, which surprised me, but it was wonderful. Other local beverages included Natty Green's Beer and Foggy Ridge Pippin Apple Brandy. I know Diane Flynt, the cider maker from Foggy Ridge - (note to self: that would be a great field trip!).

We all left with a collection of index card sized recipes of some of the selected items served and thanks to all those involved in making this Alice Waters visit so wonderful. But attached to the card collection was a linen wrapped item and I just opened it this morning. Inside are two dirt/clay balls that I feel certain must be from the Children's Musueum Groundbreaking, but I will ask Betsy next week and let you know. Either way I have some clods of dirt to remind me of the mission - all our food comes from the earth and we need to respect it and treat it well!

I didn't manage to talk further with Alice at the evening event and I was fine with that as there were so many people at this dinner that weren't at the other venues that I felt I should let them have their turn. It was enough to be in the presense of so many people who believe in the value of eating locally and teaching our children how to feed their bodies and spirits with real food made from scratch. I am still relishing the moments... but now on to those other work projects... or maybe I should start by making a quick local lunch instead.

Eat well and be well!
Anne-Marie