buying local, Focus on Book Arts, Forest Grove, Local food, Marvelous meals, Oregon

Forest Grove, Oregon, 2017

Susanne and I love Forest Grove, a beautiful small college town in the middle of rolling farmland with the backdrop of the Coast Range on its west and only a thirty minute drive from Portland to its east. We discovered it through our three trips to the Focus on Book Arts conference we went to in 2011, 2015, and 2017.

The first place we went when we got there was Maggie’s Buns, which I’ve written about before. They had an abundant and delicious lunch selection. I had their veggie lasagna, which rivaled my own in texture and taste, and I am very snooty about my lasagna. I’d go back just for it, but we all tried each other’s salads and they were wonderful too.

I took a photo of the ceiling at Maggie’s Buns this time because if I’m ever able to look up long enough to do it (neck issues) I’d like to paint the acoustic tiles in my bedroom like this.

The Wednesday evening farmers market downtown is one of the things we love about Forest Grove. When we go, in late June, there are abundant fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and all kinds of vegetables. This time there was a baker, Slow Rise Craft Breads whose breads are made from local organic grains and wild yeast. Oh, the complex flavors from that bread. We bought some Face Rock Creamery smoked cheddar cheese from Urban Decanter to go with the Slow Rise rye levain and rolled our eyes in pleasure for the rest of our time there.

We didn’t make it to the King’s Head Pub this time, but we did buy Cornish pasties and almond shortbread from the Great British Bakery at the farmers’ market. The pasties were better than the ones I ate in Cornwall!

^^^Goofing around. We’re sitting on an old Cadillac seat at Waltz. Look closely and you’ll see that the photographer caught my beer just as it was spilling out of my glass.

Susanne talked to a street fiddler who invited us to a bluegrass jam that evening just a couple of blocks away at Waltz Brewing, a very small brewpub in a renovated garage. The garage door was up, there was seating on the sidewalk, and the weather was perfect. We munched on our goodies from the market, petted the local dogs, drank ginger ale and porter, and enjoyed the music. We enjoyed it so much that we skipped the conference lecture again the next night and went back to hear a blues guy play guitar and sing to a karoake machine. I bought a growler of Coffee Porter with To the Roots Espresso (from a local coffee roaster) to keep back in the dorm room fridge.

We were invited to a potluck on Sunday with a group of folks who are developing a co-housing community, which I was quite interested in, but we didn’t have time, it was roasting hot, and I can’t even think about doing anything like that for at least several years. I was curious, though.

Forest Grove has a community edible garden program. Plots with veggies and berries had signs that invited you to help yourself. One was in front of Forest Grove Community School, which also had lovely flowers and artwork.

On Friday evening, we went to a Hawaiian restaurant – a new experience for me but a trip down memory lane for Susanne, who spent a year of childhood living in Hawaii. At Kama’ Aina, Susanne had manapua (sweet bbq pork in dumplings), I had shoyu ahi poke. Poke hasn’t made it back to North Carolina yet, but my bet is that it is the next big foodie thing. Very much like sashimi, but with different seasonings. We also blew everyone away with our garlic breath the next day after sharing garlic furitake fries. Just when you think that you can’t make fries less healthy, somebody decides to fry them with butter and garlic and sprinkle them with sesame seeds and flaked seaweed. God, they were good.

We were sorry to leave Forest Grove, but not sorry to leave the dorm, which was not air conditioned and had no fans. The temps the last two days we were there got up to almost 100 degrees. Pacific University is a lovely campus, though.

^^^From the garden in front of the Forest Grove Community School.

Back Forty, butterbeans, buying local, consumerism, Local food, Market report, Slow Food

Back Forty Update and Market Report

It finally got cool enough for my butterbeans (or lima beans) to produce again. They will keep going now until a heavy frost.

My field pea crop is winding down. I prefer to eat them freshly shelled (not dried like this photo) with “snaps” – the immature pods snapped like green beans. This year they have been besieged by big black ants who hang out at the top of each pea and will run up your arm and bite you. You have to be very careful when you pick them. I don’t know what I’ll do about this next year. At least they are not fire ants.

The fig tree has gotten huge again. I’ll have to cut it down by at least half this winter. Again.

The last fig of the season is now in my stomach.

Market report:

Back in the early days of this blog, the focus was on Slow Food, especially on local food at a time when Greensboro markets and restaurants were just beginning to get on board and understand the meaning and implications of buying locally. I was a member of the board of the Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market before that volunteer group went through an weirdly political totally insane lie-based attack resulting in its dissolution. Since that time, the management of the market passed to a non-profit group who has brought the market back to a wonderful community again, which I am particularly grateful for since the insanity migrated over to Deep Roots Market. But that will be the subject of another post.

This morning at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, I bought the following:

Water buffalo cheese from Fading D Farm of Salisbury, NC. WHOA! And so good!
Buttercrunch lettuce, hydroponically grown from Tony
Stoneground yellow grits from Old Mill of Guilford
Small sweet peppers
Soap from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps
From Anna at Zaytoon:
Baba ganoush
From Rudd Farm:
Sweet bicolor corn, my favorite
Butternut squash
From Daniel at Nimby Farm:

Normally I also buy milk, meat and bread there too but I ran out of money this morning! I have a lot in my freezer, though.

I used to go to Deep Roots Market after the market visit to buy what I couldn’t find, but honestly nowadays I find most of what I need at the farmers’ market. I’ll go to Costco or Bestway or Harris Teeter or Earth Fare to find the rest of my needs until Deep Roots changes course, if it survives. I do still go to Deep Roots occasionally to buy things when they have the owner discount month to buy only products that are cruelty and GMO free. Today I’m heading to the other stores.

buying local, consumerism, Family, Marvelous meals

Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day

Pecan and pumpkin pies, by Lisa

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends like we did. We have four great Southern cooks in my family – Willye Kate, my mother, Lisa, my sister, me, and Brooke, my niece. Here are a few photos from our dinner. Note the cornbread dressing (only my mother’s is acceptable) and the many casseroles, butterbeans, and deviled eggs. This is how we roll in North Carolina.

Here are my two grand-nephews. Jake is the one modeling the gas mask. He has a great talent for antique and thrift store picking.

Zeke was lost for two years once. His human mama finally gave up and went to the shelter to adopt another cat. She saw a cat that looked just like him. The animal shelter worker told her that he was not adoptable because he was mean and he was about to be euthanized. The cat was Zeke. I’d love to know what his story was. Believe me, this is NOT a mean cat.

Today is Buy Nothing Day, a day that I used to celebrate here with much fanfare. Now I am more in favor of supporting small local businesses and supporting your local economy. But there is a lot to be said in favor of rejecting the travesty that the winter holiday season has become. Driven by sales, some people actually claim that they ARE spending family time by camping with the kids in front of Walmart or other big box stores on Thanksgiving in order to be first through the doors at midnight. This craziness is a family ritual that they want to pass on to their children.

People, let’s please not go further down this road.

The positive thing is that the Buy Local movement has spread and the Black Friday nonsense has gotten so nuts that I hear more and more that people are rejecting the pressure to buy buy buy for the holidays and returning Thanksgiving and Christmas to their original meanings. Of course you won’t hear this much in the news. There might be a token reference to the simplicity movement or the local movement. I hear this from friends and family and it makes me feel better.

Remember how the news media did their best to convince you that the presidential election was still too close to call when quite a few polls and trustworthy, impartial analysts indicated otherwise? It is in their best interest to keep the frenzy of consumerism whipped up in the same way.

The longer I live, the more I would like to get rid of most of my stuff and just spend my money on the essentials and experiences. Really, how much do we need? I live better than probably 95% of the world and I am probably considered to be lower middle class in the United States. If you’re thinking about giving me a present, please donate the value of my gift to a charity who will truly spend it to help the needy. I will be much happier if you do!

buying local, consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Buy Nothing Day today

If you’ve followed me for a while, and I suspect that there are VERY few of you left from the old days when this blog was mostly about food and voluntary simplicity and anti-consumerism, you know that I’ve celebrated Buy Nothing Day on the day after Thanksgiving even before I knew there was such a thing. I am NOT a shopper. I HATE crowds and traffic. I am, in fact, quite phobic about crowds, enough that I often avoid movies, concerts, plays, and even church because I don’t like sitting closely with a bunch of strangers. Vestiges of agoraphobia. For a long time I was a retail worker and the two days after Thanksgiving were the busiest days of the year. So you better believe that I will be spending the day at home and appreciating the ability to do so.

However, now that I am a member of a local artists’ co-op that desperately needs some sales, I am not pushing Buy Nothing Day today, even though I personally will be buying nothing because I am broke after spending all my money on house repairs and a Kindle Fire this month. I am asking that if you’re out there spending money, consider spending some or all of it with your locally-owned small businesses and restaurants instead of the chain stores and restaurants. I’ve watched so many of my favorite small businesses go down in flames this year. It has been very sad.

If we don’t support our small locally-owned businesses, we soon will not have any choices other than merchandise made in bulk and shipped in from countries who do not treat their workers or their environment with respect. The quality of goods continue to be lowered to meet the corporation’s ever lower prices, forcing us to replace our goods more often (such as this crappy HP laptop which is on its way out and is being replaced by that cheap Kindle Fire) and fill our landfills with more stuff. Our citizens will continue to go on long-term unemployment and pray for compassion to awaken in the hearts of our Congress.

So today, I ask you to either Buy Nothing and enjoy the company of your family and friends and Self, or to buy local if you must.

book arts, buying local, critters

Local food exploration, caterpillars, lungs

Another caterpillar stitch across the spine (see the holes between the blue butterflies) and a closure and this one will finally be ready for the gallery.

There were many tests and xrays of poor Miss Lucy’s put-upon body this week. This one of her lungs finally nailed the problem: severe asthma. We are still having to force feed her today but she did get up on the bed on her own last night and stayed there for a long time before retreating under the #$%^@ bed again this morning. This is getting old.

I didn’t have my camera this morning when Sandy and I visited the North Carolina Farmers’ Market on Sandy Ridge Rd. off I-40. Brunch at the Moose Cafe – finally there is a place that serves organic free range eggs. It was a little pricy but when you consider that they buy from local farmers and was very good, it was worth the price. I wonder why they didn’t pick a North Carolina animal for their name? When’s the last time anybody saw a moose around here? And why Quaker grits instead of Old Mill of Guilford? There is another one in Asheville, so maybe we’ll have breakfast at that one next weekend.

We bought butternut squash, free range chicken and grass fed beef from Peterson Farm this morning. Also my favorite marinated goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy, and then I spread my money around the farmers that looked local: Cherokee Purple tomatoes, bicolor corn, cantaloupe, and blueberry cider (from Whiteville, NC). Very expensive sea scallops from the Chesapeake (I guess that it is the boat’s home), “river” shrimp from Sneads Ferry ($$$, but I just ain’t eating that cheap crap from Asia) from the seafood vendor there.

He said that they served imported shrimp at the recent shrimp festival there and all the local shrimpers are furious. I also learned recently that many restaurants at Calabash and area do not serve local seafood. You can only buy Asian shrimp at the Food Lion, a large southern US grocery chain, at Sunset Beach. (I asked and was directed to one of the seafood vendors set up on the highway. Really? Food Lion can’t support the local economy?) One bright spot: Fishy Fishy Cafe in Southport, one of my favorite places, is dedicated to supporting local fishermen. Apparently they survived the landfall of Irene right there with no problems because they are open for business according to their Facebook page.

Next weekend we’ll be in Asheville, NC which is a wonderful locavore and craft brew town.

buying local, consumerism, voluntary simplicity

Buy Nothing Day

Buy Nothing DayIf you’ve known me on the Web for a while, you know that I am an advocate of Buy Nothing Day, which is celebrated in the United States on the day after Thanksgiving. I try to live frugally and make careful choices about what I buy. That means that I have tried to purge those items and activities that I have to come to realize that I only buy or do because I am expected to, not because I need or particularly want them. This is why I have been able to do a lot of traveling and I don’t bitch about the cost of healthy food. I drive an old car when I need to drive, I wear my clothes until they are worn out, and I don’t have a large fancy house, and it is usually a mess because I consider my time and energy more valuable than money. I seldom watch TV anymore and I buy used and handmade items when possible.

Black Friday, so-called because it is the frenzied day that will put some businesses back in the “black,” is a dark day to me because it focuses on what dismays me about this society – our priorities are all about stuff and how to get more money to get more stuff. In fact, we are told that to be patriotic, we must participate in the rampant consumerist mindset of this country. I am not alone in my disgust for this focus on money and stuff during the holidays. I know many others who say that they will not be in the stores on Black Friday. And a few very wise folks turned the tables on Black Friday to make it an official holiday for us who are not consumed by the thought of hitting the sales at 3 a.m.: Buy Nothing Day.

This year, I noticed that another day has been established: Small Business Saturday. That’s a shopping day that I can support. Small businesses are in danger of becoming extinct in this country. If you must shop for the holidays, please consider the positive impact that shopping locally has on your community.

Our family decided a few years ago to not exchange presents for the adults on Christmas, thank God. When I do give gifts, I try to give handmade.

The First Friday Indie Market will be downtown Greensboro again on Dec. 3 from 4-9 pm, in conjunction with Greensboro’s Festival of Lights. You’ll find lots of unusual and beautiful gifts at the market and in the shops on Elm St. Please save the money that you would have spent on Buy Nothing Day, and bring it to downtown Greensboro on December 3rd!

buying local, coffee pot posts, Local food

Saturday afternoon coffee pot post

Yes, it is cool enough here that I can stand drinking coffee after noon! What a beautiful day – highs in the low 80s, low humidity. We seldom have a summer day like this around here, and certainly not lately.

I spent Sunday-Wednesday fighting a bad cold. The human body’s ability to sneeze so much always shocks me when this happens to me. Getting sick does explain why I was in a super depressed mood last week, though. Today I feel great!

Last night I set up a space at First Friday Indie Market in downtown Greensboro, and it was a delightful time. I had been dreading the heat, since this takes place in a parking lot and the high reached the high 90s. However, the humidity was low, there was an occasional breeze, and the organizer put me in a place where I had a little bit of shade to sit in. I barely broke a sweat.

Susanne joined me and put some of her colorful blank books and marbled papers out for sale. Between her friends and my friends visiting, we had a marvelous time. Our work goes well together because we do the same thing in completely different styles. And we enjoy each other’s company a lot – we are very much alike in personality, and we energize each other.

So I have already applied to do October First Friday by myself, and Susanne and I have applied for a tent in November and December.

I’m not really worried about having enough to sell anymore since I don’t sell much anyway! It’s nice not to be focused on the money. Now I can do some fun stuff, and either I’ll put it out for sale or not – makes no difference and my work will probably improve for it.

I do want to make some small inexpensive books for the kids. Whenever I sell a book to a child, my heart fills up with the thought of what they might do with it.

I went to the farmers’ market and came home in a much more positive mood. Simply put, I’m just not studying those negative people. I bought a CSA share for the month of October from Handance Farm, marinated goat cheese for me and to take to the department party next Friday night, apricot/pecan/cream cheese spread and organic whole wheat pita bread from Annah at Zaytoon’s table, corn from Clapp Farms and Vern Switzer’s farm, milk from Homeland Creamery, salad mix from Flora Ridge, hamburger from Rocking F Farm, and red onions from Faucette Farm. I scoured the red and yellow onion skins from their baskets to include in the next batch of paper. The red skins will be awesome!

Sandy and I will take advantage of the gorgeous weather to put down pine needles over the cardboard mulch that I have spread out, weed, and prune. The willow and Carolina Sieva butterbeans are just now producing. They are mostly vines and leaves. The Henderson bush beans were very productive this summer for such small plants. I might plant more of them next year, although I do appreciate the verticality of the pole beans. And peppers – wow, so many different kinds of peppers. The tomatoes seem to be done.

Now I need to tear up and soak some paper for recycled pulp to mix with the cotton pulp left over from last Sunday. I gotta use it – pulp doesn’t last forever, and I filled up my freezer space when I realized I was getting too sick to deal with it. I’m thinking blue for this batch, with red onion skins. The skins will probably turn the paper purple around them. Yeah.

buying local, coffee pot posts, Local food

Saturday morning coffee pot post

With Theo in my lap. He is one hot kitteh. Yesterday I called him Goldilocks in the ruse that we were searching for a mattress that was just right for him. We found one, and we now have TWO real beds in our house! I guess this means that we have risen up in ranks. Theo responded by throwing up a hairball on the comforter.

As a result, I don’t feel like I’ve been pummeled with a bag of bricks this morning. Instead, I feel like I’ve been pummeled with a bag of old tennis balls. I hope to reach the point when I feel like I’ve been pummeled with a bag of mashed potatoes.

I gazed out upon the mess that is the Back Forty this morning, and noted that the fig tree is nearly 20 feet tall. I think that we’ll need to cut it back by half this winter. My second crop of field peas will be ready to pick this week, and I’m getting a few okra to toss it with them.

This morning I plan to make some woodcut prints, some on handmade paper and some on Stonehenge paper. I have some rubber block prints that I’m going to make some cards and bookmarks with too. I decided that if I set up in September’s Indie Market I want a few less expensive items for sale. I have a couple of woodcuts that I’ve never made prints from, and some prints that I made a couple of years ago that just need mats.

I still have a bucket of cotton/corn shuck pulp so depending on how my hands feel I may pull sheets of that today too.

One thing that I’ve been working on a little at a time is the Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market website/blog. Others have been entering the information and I’ve been monkeying around with the format and structure and links. Please link to it if you have a blog or website. We need to raise our presence on search pages. After I finish here, I’m going to try to figure out where to put some meta tags on that site.

Yesterday, Sandy and I went to the market and bought corn from two different vendors, milk, boiled peanuts, watermelon, walnut/pomegranate spread, pita bread, ground beef, and a Cherokee Purple tomato. We ran into old friends there, and Sandy remarked as we walked out what a great social place it is. One of the reasons that it is so special is that people are so friendly – it really is a community of like-minded spirit. Mornings like this make me doubly proud to be a part of the Friends group.

Based on one of our interactions yesterday, we are visiting some good friends in Summerfield for dinner late this afternoon. I’m bringing corn on the cob and I made whole wheat pita crisps yesterday to go with the walnut/pomegranate spread (both from Zaytoon’s table). If you are doing an Eat Local Challenge this month, as I know that a lot of people are, and you are suffering for crackers or chips, pita crisps are easy peasy. Buy your pita bread from a local baker or whip it up yourself from local whole wheat flour. Then divide it, tear or cut it into pieces, drizzle it with olive oil, and bake it on a metal baking sheet at 350 for 10 minutes.

Okay, since I just winged away to post the last paragraph on Facebook, which also has a Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market page – please join – I guess my coffee pot post is over. Have a great day, y’all. I plan to.