Sunday, December 16, 2007

Declutter: December 02 tables and 50 items

Just a quick declutter update: The tabletops have remained clear!

And, I've surpassed the goal of "selling or donating 50 items:"

This is sew sewper, dewds :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ice, ice baby.

Such a pretty drive to work today...

It took me an extra hour to get into the office because I couldn't stop pulling over and snapping photographs. Everything was beginning to melt so big drops of water were falling on and all around me. Hearing and feeling rain, having the sensation of rain, without actual rain was pretty wild. And made me smile fabulously :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fresh Tofu Scrambler

Every good vegetarian has a recipe for a tofu scramble tucked in her or his apron. It's probably one of the very first dishes a new vegetarian learns to prepare, and puts to rest any misgivings one has about not liking tofu. My first introduction was about 17 years ago in a dinner lovingly prepared by mom using a Fantastic Foods mix and served on English muffins. A meal that is now one of my all-time comfort foods.

It's one of those perfect, reliable eats - a dependable friend during meal planning. Always there for you, like lasagna or a stir fry, willing to use up any veggies you need to move out of the crisper; always a complete source of nutrition and whole foods; always willing to be brunch (with toast), dinner (in a tortilla), a snack or anything in between; and, thanks to Fresh Tofu, always ready to show of its local flavor.

One of my favorite discoveries during One Local Summer, Fresh Tofu has been supplying the east coast with organic tofu since 1984 and is distributed throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I purchase mine at a local natural food store (Plumsteadville Natural Foods), though Whole Foods carries it as well. It truly is a superior product, living up to its name and consistently giving great texture and taste to my favorite bean curd recipes. If the gourmet mecca that is Horizon's uses Fresh Tofu, you can safely bank on it awesomeness. Besides, anyone with a flying block of tofu for a logo has got to pretty much rock, right?

Although creating and perfecting a great tofu scramble recipe is one of those must-experience kitchen intimacies, everyone needs a place to start. Vegan cookbook author extraordinaire, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's, version is a great place to do so and provides the base for my recipe below. Her spice combination is so colorful and the flavor can't be beat. If you're not vegan or vegetarian, that shouldn't stop you from honing your scramble skills. In fact, one of my favorite versions is a cilantro-heavy one made by an omnivore friend.

Tofu Scrambler
serves 4

1 pound organic Fresh Tofu, drained and pressed well
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped kale (or other dark, leafy green)
1/2 cup chopped peppers, carrots, and/or any other veggie in the fridge

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
hot sauce to taste

spice blend:
3 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high. Saute onions 3 minutes, until softened. Add mushrooms, saute 5 minutes more. Add garlic, saute 2 minutes more. Add spice blend and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Crumble in tofu and mix well. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much.

Mix in kale and other vegetables, cover for five minutes, allowing steam to soften them. Stir in hot sauce to taste. Mix in nutritional yeast.

Serve with toast (Bakers on Broad Complet bread was used above) and fruit for breakfast, or in tortillas with guacamole and salsa for dinner.

Although this is my standard recipe, it's really more of an outline. I can't say I've actually ever made the same scrambler twice. Everyone seems to find their own special ingredient, whether it be a spice or veggie or secret sauce, so don't be afraid to experiment!

> Cross-posted at

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I have the best coworkers on earth. This fact was most recently proven by the fact that I found these pictures in my email inbox early this morning.

Avery's art teacher is my coworker's wife, (got that?) which means that AC's latest art project, Rico the Sock Monkey, came for a visit to the office :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Declutter: December 01 computer armoire

As part of my overall mission to live simply and sustainably, one of my ongoing 43Things is to get rid of stuff. For almost a year, I've been removing items pretty consistently and have been really good at not bringing in anything. I've kept a donation bag in the closet to catch clothes that I no longer like or haven't worn, and a bag on the porch for miscellaneous household items. Recently though, I decided that I needed an opportunity to do a big purge instead of this slow and steady drib and drab removal of stuff.

MotheringDotCommune has a Mindful Home Management forum under which a Decluttering, Organizing and Simplifying topic exists. I've been watching the group's monthly de-clutter challenge and decided to join in for December. Yay!
I'm linking this months challenge with one of my 43things goals, "get rid of stuff." I just love it when things connect like that Our goals for this month are:
  • Keep coffee table clutter-free for the month.
  • Keep dining table clutter-free for the month.
  • Clean out and organize armoire/computer desk; designate places for the stuff that keeps cluttering the coffee and dining tables
  • Finish dressing room organization (hang up vision boards, purge clothing) and trim work (crown molding, quarter-inch round molding, caulking, painting).
  • Donate or sell 50 items.
This is our first de-clutter challenge, and it’s hard to know where to draw the line. I don’t want to overestimate our ability, but at the same time, it is a “challenge,” right

Also, the clutter around the house is due in large part to organizational issues. We wanted to take a holistic approach and actually solve the problem, opposed to just the symptom. I’m thinking that it’s unreasonable to say “keep the tables clutter-free” without addressing the issues of why the tables are cluttered. The stuff has to go somewhere, right?

Okay… here we go Clutter be gone!
So far, I've been kicking ass. I worked from home on Tuesday and was able to take care of the computer armoire. It was actually a real nice balance going back and forth between the physical work of cleaning out, and my work work at the laptop on the dining room table. Here's a shot of the desk around 10am:

And then around 1pm:

I threw away an entire trash bag full of old papers and other nonsense and marked a few items to donate.

We've also done some work in the dressing room, I put a large box in the living room for donations and marked a bag for items to sell on Ebay. Though, I'm starting to wonder if I should just save everything for a spring yard sale instead. Giving away so much stuff seems a bit irresponsible financially-speaking, but listing everything on Ebay seems a little unreasonable. I'm open to any suggestions and opinions :)

So far, so good. It feels really great and to have this task complete and I'm absolutely motivated to get onto the next task!

Monday, December 03, 2007

My kids

The football-, lacrosse-, basketball-playing skateboarder:

The goes-with-me-everywhere, loves-to-visit girl:

Sigh. They're the best! :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Tonight, I quit smoking.

Oh, I know.

What a dirty little secret it's been, right?

What a tangled web I've woven.

Tell me about it. Le sigh.

About four years ago, I quit smoking a pack of Winston Lights a day. It was really, really hard. The detox was nothing like I'd ever experienced. I was literally out of my mind. Looking back, it all makes sense given, by that time, I had been inhaling tons of chemicals via 20 cigarettes a day for approximately a decade. The process took a few weeks and included a few relapses where I would go to the store, buy a pack of cigarettes, smoke a couple and then angrily crush and destroy the remaining cigarettes into a trash can. It was an emotional and physical war. I knew that I would never smoke like that again. Ever. And, I haven't.

What did eventually happen was this little habit I've come to refer to as the fucking monkey on my fucking back that won't leave me the fuck alone. Or, three cigarettes a day.

I smoke all-natural, 100% tobacco, organic American Spirits. I don't smoke in my house or in my car. I don't smoke in front of non-smokers (which means I usually smoke alone). I don't throw cigarette butts on the ground. I don't even have my first cigarette until after 4pm. These have been my rationalizations and reasons for not quitting.

All those scare tactics about 4,997,023,001 chemicals being added to cigarettes? Not doing it for me. My cigarettes are organic and contain nothing but tobacco leaf. I'm pretty sure they're free range, too.

Telling me that I'm being brainwashed by the man (aka Phillip Morris)? Cannot convince me to stop because the people that manufacture my cigarettes run a small company that practice sustainable agriculture, provide opportunities for employee growth and market their product responsibly.

SAVE YOUR LIFE! QUIT SMOKING NOW! propaganda? Seriously. I smoke three cigarettes a day. I exercise almost everyday. I eat a plant-based diet. Physical damage is being done, but all the studies and statistics are geared toward at least half-a-pack-a-day or more consumers, all usually living the Standard American diet and lifestyle.

I can apply this to the "Think of all the money you'll save!" excitement, too. My current habit costs me about $27 a month. After two months of not smoking, what? I can get a haircut?

These are the thoughts that have been justifying my smoking for the past three years. The bottom line is that, somehow, in my little psyche, I've managed to skirt the fact that, oh yeah, I DON'T WANT TO SMOKE.



I've been so busy poo-pooing anti-smoking proselytizing by altering my habit to suit that of a responsible smoker, that I've neglected to realize, THAT THERE IS NO SUCH THING.


I never said I was quick, but I think I'm on my way to figuring this one out.

So, three weeks ago, my mom and I signed up for a Freedom from Smoking program at a local hospital. As expected, we were met with a bunch of the scary-but-"educational" pamphlets and pictures and What to do Instead of Light Up lists. I ignored those and instead focused on my tendencies and habit. I did a couple questionnaires, determined what kind of smoker I am (a mix of Pleasurable Relaxation-er and Handler; sounds kinky!) and made a list of reasons why I want to quit. Really, these classes have been to force me to actually pick a quit day. To stop volleying between thinking about quitting and justifying not quitting.

And that's where I'm at. I threw away my pack in class tonight, saving one which I smoked around 1opm. Then, I remembered there was a loose one on the back porch, which I hungrily inhaled in under five minutes. But now, they're all gone.

I'm done.

I'm hoping, and truly believing, that this will not be anywhere near as hard as it was a few years ago. At the same time, I want to stay real and aware and know that there is a possibility that I will slip up on occasion. This is a process. I will get in it and I will enjoy it. Baby steps :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All hail the reusable bag!

If you're one of the many whose holiday shopping officially began this weekend, would you do me a favor? As you're loading up that credit card debt, pretty please don't also load up a bunch of throw-away bags. Before you hit that next amazing sale at the mall, check out the great deals at Even better, skip the mall and purchase some reusable bags to give as gifts. But go now, because a lot of the sales end today!

My top favorites and recommendations:
  • Reisenthal's Mini Maxi (pictured), which I'm pretty sure is the best ten bucks I've ever spent on a shopping bag. They're even cheaper if you buy two or more. Mine is red, and the cashiers are always surprised at how compact and stylish it is. They have a solid-color line, as well.
  • Organic cotton produce and grain bags for $2.95 (discounted when you buy four or more). Seriously. Do we really need plastic bags for out plastic bags? These are super lightweight, come in two sizes and can be thrown in the wash.
  • The Heavy Duty Classic Hemp Shopping bag, on sale for $22.95 (reg. $24.95). This truly is a a heavy duty bag! Lightweight version is available also for $7.95.
  • A classic shopping set in lightweight organic cotton; eight bags for $19.95. Or the hemp version; nine bags for $39.60. This is a fabulous gift. I got my dad a set of the latter in black for his birthday this year, and he loves them!
  • And, it's not a bag, but since we're talking about the vileness of plastic, check out the Guyot stainless steel water bottle, on sale for $17.95 (reg. $19.95). I use this bottle everyday, all day. You might want to consider adding a splash guard for a few extra dollars.
Of course, if you want to save some cash and are handy with a sewing needle, you can always make your own bag.

Helping people understand the evilness of plastic bags and the absolute ease of utilizing reusable bags has become one of my missions in recent years. I often give sets of bags for gifts, gently point out the wastefulness when shopping with family and friends, and recently, wrote an article for my CSA's newsletter. If you still need convincing to change your disposable bag ways, maybe this will help:
So, you've switched to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, invested in wind power through your utility company and buy your food locally. Think that's all you can do to lessen your impact on the demand for oil? Think again!

Just as omnipresent as the news about our unhealthy dependence on petroleum products, is an item that requires and estimated 12 million barrels of oil per year to manufacture. Oddly, as present in our lives as they are, we almost never consider them.

Plastic bags. They're convenient, they're free and this year, the U. S. will goes through 100 billion of them. Worldwide usage estimates are as high as 1 trillion. That's a lot of bags, and although "free" to the consumer, their impact is very costly to the durability of our planet.

The production of plastic bags requires petroleum, which we all know is a non-renewable resource that increases our dependency on foreign suppliers. In addition to the 12 million barrels of oil needed to make our bags, the energy used by the bag manufacturing plants and transportation and distribution companies use even more resources, creating even more global warming emissions. Prospecting and drilling for all these petroleum resources results in the destruction and disruption of ecosystems across the globe. Consider too, the pollution produced by the toxic chemical ingredients needed to make plastic.

All these costs for just the production of our beloved plastic bags. There are further costs associated with the use and disposal of bags, as well. In fact, plastic bags have become so costly that retailers like Ikea are now charging customers for them, entire countries have introduced a tax on them and the supervisor of San Francisco has completely banned them from the city!

And don't think those paper bags are any better. Known as a "global warming double-whammy," in addition to the manufacturing and transportation costs to our resources and environment, paper bag production requires forests (major absorbers of greenhouse gases) to be cut down.

What can you do to help our society's addiction to "free" shopping bags? offers many ideas on their Take Action page at, including tips on how to wean oneself from plastic bags, links to form letters for your politicians and ideas on how to advocate.

The fastest and easiest way to make a difference though, is to simply stop using disposable shopping bags. You can increase your family's "MPG's" right now by purchasing reusable bags online or at your local market. Happy shopping!


Finally, as a veg*n, I should also mention the fact that plastic bags are contributing to the destruction of ocean life. Both directly, in that sea creatures choke and die as a result of mistaking bags for food; and indirectly, as plastic bags pollute ocean animals' habitat.

You know that if there's a flick'r group, it must be a revolution: All hail the reusable bag! :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Savory Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Local vegan for Thanksgiving: so good! That's because I've been hoarding sweet potatoes and shallots from my CSA share since September.

I found that the most efficient way to deal with the abundance of produce each week was to preserve whatever preserved easiest, so more often than not, each week's potatoes and onions were put in the dark. My stockpile of sweet potatoes and shallots finally met the light of day on Thanksgiving morning as Jason and I created a smash for our vegan dinner with friends later that night.

While pulling the recipe together, my only objective was to stear clear of the traditional sugary and sticky sweet potato recipes. One of the most valuable lessons eating locally has taught me, is that simply is the very best way to cook and enjoy vegetables. Local food just tastes better; there's little reason to doctor it up with loads of other ingredients. Think I'm overstating? Do a test of your own. A bite of local sweet potato vs. a bite of store-bought sweet potato. No contest. Be sure to note the incredible color difference while you're at it, too!

Additionally, always considering a local vegan diet when preparing meals, things like marshmallows and white sugar don't please either side. In avoiding a lot of ingredients, shallots and thyme seemed like a great way to impart a bit of simple savory loveliness into our dish.

Savory Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 8

4 pounds of sweet potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and quartered (Blooming Glen Farm CSA crop share - 5 miles)
1/4 pound of shallots, chopped (Blooming Glen)
1 tablespoon dried thyme, crushed (Blooming Glen)
1 tablespoon olive oil (not local)
1 tablespoon kosher salt (not local)
1/2 cup soy milk (from Westsoy - 91 miles)
1/4 cup vegan buttery spread (from Earth Balance - 117 miles)

Add sweet potatoes to boiling stockpot and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots and thyme to the oil and cook five minutes or until soft and fragrant. Drain potatoes, score skins (so they don't get caught in your masher) and smash. Stir in two-thirds of the shallot mixture, soy milk and Earth Balance. Serve with shallots and thyme mixture sprinkled on top.
On top of being delicious, the simple ingredients mean super quick preparation. We had this in a serving dish and packed up in under 30 minutes. Maybe I should have started this post with "Local vegan for Thanksgiving: so good, so fast and so easy!"

> Cross-posted at

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 24

Sniff, sniff.

Well, here it is. The last Blooming Glen Farm CSA pickup of the season:

I just don't understand how it could be over. What am I going to do without all of this super-tasty, local, fresh, healthy produce in my kitchen every week? I've totally taken this season for granted. I don't even think about how to use the produce anymore. When I get home, I preserve (usually freeze) whatever I won't be able to use within the next week or two and the rest gets incorporated into meals with barely a second thought.

Well that was on the good weeks anyway. There may have been an occasion or two... or maybe several, when something were deposited half-rotten to the compost bin because I couldn't use it in time. But actually, that brings me to an excellent point.

The quantity of produce for the price of a share has been unbelievable. It would be interesting to see an actual price-per-pound, though just a quick glance at the photo album could assure anyone that $780 for 24 weeks of produce is a great deal. I split my share each week with my sister. There are four adults and one child between the two homes, and we were able to stuff ourselves with fresh veggies and fruits every day, and still have enough left over for freezing and canning. It's hard to imagine, but we'll still be enjoying this season's bounty throughout the winter.

Not to mention the fact that the variety of produce was unbeatable and everything was grown naturally and sustainably. By people I know. Oh, and did I mention that we enjoyed fresh flowers more than half those weeks?

Belonging to a CSA definitely requires a bit of extra time and energy, as does any new method or way of doing something. Once that habit is formed though, it really does become second nature. This was my second season at Blooming Glen and already I’ve learned and changed and incorporated so much! Things like…
  • how to cook daikon, watermelon, French breakfast, black and regular radishes
  • that Swiss Chard on a sandwich is quite tasty
  • that yes, children actually can get sick of pick-your-owns
  • and yes, so too can parents
  • the differences between a sunshine, blue hubbard, delicata, bon bon and butternut winter squash
  • that freezing string beans and summer squash is ridiculously easy
  • though freezing sweet peppers is sinfully easy
  • Trish's secrets to keep flowers producing in the garden and looking beautiful in the vase
  • that beets and carrots keep quite a while as long as you remove the greens
  • that chopping it up nice and fine and adding it to macaroni recipes is an easy way to get kale into my son's diet
  • that there are perhaps a bazillion different varieties of cherry tomatoes
  • and that Tom knows every single one of them
  • that my family simply cannot not eat an entire head of cabbage before it goes bad
  • that watermelon looks just as good in yellow as it does in pink
  • what to do with celeriac
  • the mystery and romance that is an heirloom tomato
  • that simply is the best way to prepare fresh vegetables
  • that soccer moms, DINKs, single parents, singletons, yuppies, hippies, teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs, Women Builders, EMTs, corporate CEOs, nonprofit workers and retirees all belong to my CSA
  • that green tomatoes are great in stir fries, relishes and salads
  • that my sister and I are so literal at times
  • how to put up tomatoes
  • that greens like turnip, beet and collards are really, really tasty and can be used in everything
  • that my son can be bought not only with sweet potatoes, but also sunshine winter squash
  • that there are some pretty adorable cows in Perkasie
  • the differences between scallions, onions, sweet onions, garlic, garlic scapes, leeks and shallots
  • that no matter how hard I try, I will never like radicchio
  • that stir fries and scramblers are a CSA member's best friends
  • to not peel root vegetables if you can help it
  • there is nothing on this planet that tastes better than a just-picked ripe tomato
Surely, there are more. Perhaps I'll add to this list as the winter months creep in, our preserved CSA food supply dwindles and we can barely remember the feel of humidity on our skin as we pick quarts string beans, strawberries and basil.

Sigh. Missing you oh so terribly already, Blooming Glen!

Would you like to get melodramatic over produce, too? Find a CSA farm near you at Local Harvest!

> Cross-posted at

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 23

This week is the second to last pick up of the season. How sad!

Looking at that incredible harvest and all those vibrant colors, it's so hard to believe that in just a few days, we'll be receiving the last share of 2007.

Blooming Glen has some great cheerleaders and received fabulous press and publicity, which all seems to have contributed to a flood of requests for 2008 CSA subscription registration. What a wonderful testament to the farmers' hard work, dedication and passion - and too, to the supporters and members of the community. Knowing that so many families, when given the choice, prefer naturally grown food from a local farm is reassuring and smile-inducing. I do hope that Blooming Glen's continued success and their neighbor's continued support inspires the CSA model to grow in this area.

As they say, "If you build it, they will come!"

> Cross-posted at

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 22

We got some pretty cool radishes this week. Our choice of Daikon, watermelon, or the mysterious Nero Tondo, which is described as “round, black, hot” by our farmers.

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

My sister thought the kale was looking especially happy this week, and I have to agree!

> Cross-posted at

PS: The cows were very interested in us this week. These pics by Avery:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cooking together: Beet, Barley and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons

Ms. Kelly and I were recently discussing ways in which we could encourage one another to try all the sure-to-be awesome recipes in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It's not like we don't like to cook, and it's not like Isa's recipes are ever less than brilliant. It's more about that bit of extra planning and time trying new recipes calls for. We just needed to come up with that little extra push. Choosing and cooking the recipes together seemed like a perfect solution, but the little bugger abandoned me for the big city a couple months ago. We're not terribly far away from each other, though it's far enough to be a pain in the ass.

And then, once again, the internets, specifically the Google, saved us.

We can cook them "together" using GTalk. Sweet!

We don't actually have copies of Veganomicon yet, and decided that we could warm up using a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, Isa's first book. Kelly and I both had an abundance of beets on hand from our CSA shares and with that in mind, she smartly chose the Beet, Barley and Black Soybean Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons recipe.

Smart, yes, but really... ew. I thought it sounded gross. I can honestly say that even if my pantry held nothing but barley and black soybeans and my fridge nothing but beets, I never would have considered making that recipe. Ever.

In the name of collaboration and our goal of trying new things, I played along.

The choosing, planning and prepping went well, as did the first half of cooking time. Somehow we became unsynchronized and she ended up eating 30 minutes before I did, but other than that, everything went really well.

Even better, the soup turned out awesome. The color was to die for and the light texture offered by the barley didn't weigh down the bowl. Most importantly, the relatively small list of ingredients allowed the fresh beet and dill flavors to take the lead in a simple broth of tamari and water.

Huh. Who knew I was a such borscht girl?

About half of the ingredients were local: beets, onion, dill and garlic from Blooming Glen, and pumpernickel bread from Bakers on Broad. Non local ingredients: black soybeans, barley, tamari, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (all organic and purchased at independently-owned health food stores) taragon leaves, pepper and salt.

We had fun, accomplished our goal and determined the venture a success. Yay, us! Hopefully, we'll be doing cooking together again soon :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A peck of pickled... cucumbers!

To supplement my garden and CSA tomatoes for canning, I bought a box of tomatoes from the Shoemaker's road side stand.

A side note here, that the link will take you to the Shoemaker's machine shop. The family has run their welding and machining business and lived on Leidy Road since the 1950's. It's been as long as I can remember that they've sold their garden crops out front. Out here in the 'burbs, among all the McMansions and age-restricted townhome developments, there are occasional glimpses of realness that reflect the area's agricultural, small town roots. The several front yard road side stands in town are probably my favorite of those reflections :)

While I was there, I couldn't pass up a few delicious-looking cucumbers. I don't usually see cukes so late in the season, and my mouth was watering at the thought of a crispy cucumber sandwich.

Shortly after, when my tomatoes and I headed over to my dad's for canning, I was surprised with a bunch of local kirby cucumbers. Thanks pops, but yikes - what to do with them all? Naturally, pickles seemed out best option, though neither of us have preserved them before.

Thank goodness for the Pickle Preservation Society (seriously, who knew?!). They have several recipes on their site, and I copied the one we used below. We went with an easy, traditional kosher recipe that required no hot-packing, and also one that utilized local ingredients we had on hand. The recipe called for dill and garlic, which I received in my CSA share that week (though the dill was not flowering as the recipe recommends). Man, I just love it when things work out like that!

Kosher Pickles: The Right Way
From Mark Bittman, New York Times

1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
2 pounds small Kirby cucumbers, washed, and cut into halves or quarters
5 cloves or more garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large bunch dill, if desired, fresh and with flowers OR 2 tablespoons dried dill and 1 teaspoon dill seeds, OR a tablesoon of coriander seeds

1. In a large bowl*, combine the salt and boiling water; stir to dissolve the salt. Add a handful of ice cubes to cool down the mixture, then add all remaining ingredients.

2. Add cold water to cover. Use a plate slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl and a small weight to hold the cucumbers under the water. Keep at room temperature.

3. Begin sampling the cucumbers after 2 hours if they are quartered, 4 hours if they are halved. In either case, it will probably take from 12 to 24 hours, or even 48 hours, for them to taste "pickly" enough to suit your taste. When they are, refrigerate them, still in the brine. The pickles will continue to forment as they sit, more quickly at room temperature, more slowly in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 30 pickle quarters.
*We went with pickling in one of those giant industrial-food-sized jars instead of bowls. We tried the bowls, the jar was just way easier to manage.

These turned out quite garlicky, so next time we'd probably use only three or four cloves. I can totally see how people get into making their own "special recipe" pickles. With slight adjustments to so many different and easy-to-find ingredients (garlic, hot pepper, peppercorns, mustard seed, onion, celery, sugar), there are endless taste possibilities. This is definitely a project we'll be doing again next season!

> Cross-posted at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

CSA crop share 2007 21

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

And an extra view this week:

> Cross-posted at

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My one and only. Like, EVER.

I was reading through the forums at the MotheringDotCommune website (the online forums for Mothering Magazine) and came across an interesting thread titled "Any Moms of an Only Child." I was intrigued for two reasons. Number one, because I have an only child, heh. And Number two, because I've found my only child scenario to be very different than those of my closest friends (both online and off) who either have several children or none.

Now that I think about it... I don't think I know any moms of one. Huh.

Anyway, finding this thread prompted me to add my voice, which kind of caught me off guard. Not the adding my voice part, that's rarely a problem, but the adding my voice to this particular subject. Considering, apparently, that all my friends are either one extreme or the other, one would think the topic would've come up. It almost seems taboo, or at the very least, to be a sensitive subject to approach.

But why?

We're talking about such a basic topic here. Maybe it falls too close to sex and/or religion and/or politics? Even so, the reproduction of the human race greatly effects so much of this planet and society, how can we not talk about it?

At any rate, clearly the thread got me thinking. Too bad for you, eh?

There were so many reasons why the moms chose to be moms-to-one: sustainability of the earth; having the ability to travel said earth more easily; experiencing a difficult pregnancy or infertility issues; not having the resources (time, money, energy) to afford more children; just plain wanting one kid; and on and on.

Of course this is all one-sided, and what would be really interesting (to me, because I'm selfish like that) is to hear why people choose to have more than one or none. Obviously, I can relate pretty easily to the moms about having an only, and it's nice to find a tribe of ladies in a similar situation as my own, but hearing differing opinions and thoughts makes for a way richer head trip, don't you think?

And so, in conclusion (that was for you, kah)...

Really though, in the name of self-awareness, honesty and mindfulness, I'm copying my reply posted to the forum, and placing it here on my blog. It's neither long and detailed, nor very opinionated, it's just more than I would normally put here, and for no good reason. Important topics are sometimes hard to talk about. Like MPG's and plastic bags and veg*nism and chocolate. Wait chocolate isn't hard to talk about. Though it's VERY important!

By the way, for all this disclosure, you can thank St. Francis and OMSH for their recent inspiration.

Hi, everyone!

I'm a single momma to a 10-year-old monster. There are lots of reasons why I've chosen to have only one child, all of which have evolved and changed over the years. Currently, my primary reasons involve sustainability and durability of our planet. No explanation needed I'm sure, as I see many of those reasons listed here

Of course, I've found being a single mother affects my decision greatly, as well. Becoming unexpectedly pregnant as a teenager determined that my son and I would be faced with some unique challenges, and that things might not be as easy as they could've been had I done things in a more traditional manner. Overall, I love being a mom and I don't regret a single moment of it. That's not to say that things haven't been nearly completely overwhelming (financially, emotionally, spiritually) many, many, many times over the past ten years. Though I wouldn't want trade any of it for a second, and I know that my son and I have an amazing relationship because of it, I certainly don't have the desire to repeat it

I appreciate the general sense of control and manageability that comes with one child, which is also something I've seen mentioned here, and is especially important to me not only as a single parent, but one who works full time out of the house. I can't imagine having to not only shuttle two kids around to lessons, practices, etc., but also afford everyone's interests. And in the middle of it all, still have the energy, time and money to hit the gym and cook healthy meals. In my house, I feel like we're already using all of our resources and adding another life would cause something (like sanity?) to suffer. I'm in awe of how parents make it work.

Also, I'm pretty sure fighting with one kid about bedtime/homework/showering/incessant texting/picking scabs at the dinner table/et. al. is just plenty for me. We all know what a mess one kid can make, I don't need to experience the carnage three or four little monsters could cause on a daily basis. I mean, isn't it generally a good idea to not be outnumbered?

It's funny because I absolutely love when my house is full of kids. I enjoy the loudness and energy and happiness and even the mess I just don't think I'd love it every day.

Eh, who am I kidding? The real reason why I'm not having any more children is because the one I already have is my favorite. We're not supposed to have favorites - I mean, really, what kind of mom would I be if I had another?!


PS: I do know two other mommas of one - Amy and Leanne, AC's bro's mom (bro below)!