Back Forty, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Food activism, Local food, Reading, Slow Food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I can’t upload to Flickr right now and I’ve been worried for a while about the change in ownership of the platform. I have so many photos on it – over 10K – and over the years I have linked here to my photos stored there. I would be wrecked if the platform changed its code or went bankrupt and dumped my photos. Anyway, I’ll just move along and deal with it later, since it is much too beautiful outside to fart around on the computer. I am writing this on the front porch on my laptop, but I will lose power soon.

One thing that I am trying to be more conscious about these days is my use of plastic. Once you start paying attention, it is stunning how much plastic is in almost everything we use. I don’t have time to avoid it completely. That would require me to commit to buying almost all my food directly from the farmer, and only certain ones at that. I’d almost certainly have to stop buying dairy and meat products. There are some packaged foods that don’t use plastic, but you kind of have to figure it out by buying them and keeping it in your head. Sandy and I decided to start eating vegetarian at home a couple of weeks ago once I cook what’s left in our freezer. However, I don’t think his resolve will last long. He’ll go out and buy something to eat if he doesn’t feel the urge to eat what I’ve cooked.

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Repository for Lost Souls

I really loved the look of Leslie Marsh’s studio when I went there for a book workshop earlier this summer, and my friend the fabulous Zha K was getting rid of most of her possessions to sell her house and get the hell out of North Carolina, so she gave me a lot of baskets and cigar and wine boxes and candy tins. I’ve slowly been transitioning my studio storage over to these boxes and baskets and, most importantly LABELING THEM, and I’ll give the plastic bins to Goodwill or Salvation Army or wherever. This is mostly an aesthetic feel-good action, but I’ll take my feel-good where I can get it these days.

My depression has lifted, THANK GOD, and I hope that I won’t see it again for a while. Or forever, but I’m pretty realistic about the fact that it’s probably something that I have to deal with for life. That’s not to say that there has been an absence of stress or sadness in my life, but depression is not about that. I can cope with stress and sadness when I am not depressed. People who have depression will understand this.

I’m going to work on my tapestry diary this afternoon on the porch. I finally came up with a simple design for June and July that reflected my main focus, although looking at it now makes me realize that I need to reduce the size. Otherwise it will overpower the rest of it. We removed the swing from the porch to make it less crowded. A front porch swing is lovely in concept, but we seldom used it and it divided the space. Now there will be more room for company on the rare occasion that we have more than one visitor.

The groundhogs are back now that the tree removal is over. I’m still getting plenty of tomatoes, especially the ones inside the wire cages. Figs are ripening on the tree, but the few that have ripened so far have been nabbed by the birds. Reflective tape and all. I’ve been buying bicolor corn from Rudd Farms every weekend, enough to eat some and freeze some. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some eggplants have gone in the dehydrator. The squash overtaking the back forty turned out to be tromboncino. I’ve got to start putting markers in the garden. These photos are from a week ago so the tromboncino is in the tomatoes now. I should pick the flowers and try cooking them. I’ve never done it.

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Soon we will hear if our solar panel installation will be approved by the Historic District Commission. I will be surprised if it is not, but usually there is some caveat that is expensive to add. For example, we have wanted to replace our front door for a long time and our certificate of appropriateness for that has expired because we haven’t been able to find a door that fits and satisfies both of us and the city staff that we can afford. So we still have this wretched hollow 50s ranch-style door.

If and when we get that approval, it will be hooked into the meter so that it should provide all our electricity and we will only have to pay a meter fee to Duke Energy. The cost is not much more that our current electric bill (we pay an average amount monthly on a budget plan). In a few years, if the price goes down for whole house batteries, I’d love to go off-grid totally.

I finished reading Salvage the Bones this weekend. A very difficult book, but I persevered through the uncomfortable content and was swept up in the story. At one point I did not think I would be able to finish it. I’m glad that I did because it is brilliantly written. I found her afterword about her experiences growing up and her experience going through Katrina to be helpful in my understanding of the culture and why she chose Medea of Greek mythology to be a touchstone throughout the book. It also reminded me a little bit of my childhood growing up in rural N.C. even though my black friends were not so poor, my best friend’s father was an alcoholic that raised his family in a falling down house with junk cars and stray dogs all over the yard. The black family I tried to hang out with (the parents on both sides were not pleased) had a Skeeter, and I was reminded of the disconnect between our cultures.

This was an accidental photo but I like it anyway.

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Okay, time to cook and freeze corn and weave tapestry on the porch.

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

Forest Grove, Oregon, 2017

FOBA 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.

Table at Maggie's Buns in Forest Grove, Oregon

Maggie's Buns ceiling

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.

At the Wednesday Farmer's Market

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!

Goofin' at Waltz Brewing

^^^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.

Waltz Brewing

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.

Forest Grove, Oregon

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.

Forest Grove, Oregon

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

consumerism, Deep Roots Market, Food activism, Local food, Slow Food

New studio space and Deep Roots news

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Slow Turn Studio

The studio is all moved in to the house on Wharton St., except for odds and ends that will probably always float back and forth between there and home. I spent a good part of this past weekend there, and I think that Susanne and I will both be happy with the situation. I feel comfortable.

We both are joining a few other fiber artists from Greensboro in an exhibition called “The Fabric of Our Lives” at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. The show will be up from mid-January through Mid-March. I won’t have anything new to show, but I’m dusting off a few framed tapestries and fabric works and mounting the “Flag of Me” for the exhibition. More details later.

I’ve spent some energy in the last few months with an owner group from Deep Roots cooperative to convince the board of directors that there were some serious problems they were not addressing, as well as that they were taking the cooperative in a direction that was miscommunicated to the owners. We had some satisfaction in the last couple of months. The general manager resigned and five of the board members (from 2015 and before) announced that they would leave at the end of the year. They could not compromise with the newly elected members and our group was going to the meetings, emailing, speaking up, and holding them accountable.

The financial situation is still a bit murky and a whole lot dire, but at least the digging of the hole has stopped and we hope that with the 2016 elected members and their new appointees we will see a change for the better. Certainly there is a sense of relief in the store itself. There should be fewer closed meetings (a.k.a. “executive sessions”) and much more transparency and outreach to the owners of the cooperative. Democratic governance is a cooperative value that cannot be dismissed, and the remaining board members understand that.

I hope to see the store change its food policy back to one consistent with our original sustainable, ethical values, but whatever happens, I feel confident that the owners will have a say in it this time. I can live with that. Hopefully the most egregious of the food-like and factory-farmed products, like Hormel canned ham and Armour Vienna sausages, will be removed from the store. It’s highly embarrassing for a “health” food store and killing our brand that we built for 40 years. Patience is not one of my virtues but I’m going to try to have faith in the process. I know Joel and Betsy will be good guides for us.

Now counting the days until I am off for the winter break. We don’t plan to do much for Christmas, but we have decorated the front porch for the first time. I’ll have a lot of days to relax and do art and read. I really don’t want to do much of anything. Our family got together at Lake Waccamaw for Thanksgiving.

Reading right now: “Down All the Days” by Christy Brown, of “My Left Foot” fame. Wow.

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.

Fig tree shadows

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

The last fig

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
Okra
Soap from Carol at Mimi’s Soaps
From Anna at Zaytoon:
Baba ganoush
Tzatziki
From Rudd Farm:
Sweet bicolor corn, my favorite
Watermelon
Tomatoes
Butternut squash
Eggplant
From Daniel at Nimby Farm:
Onions

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.

Back Forty, Local food, Slow Food

Lambsquarters

lambquartersbeansI’ve written about cooking lambsquarters before. They are easily foraged if you can find a place that isn’t sprayed with herbicides or other pollutants. This article from Mother Earth News is informative about other uses for this “weed.” I have some growing among my black-eyed susans right now and I’ll pick them for some nutritious tasty greens and beans tonight.

Here’s a post from back when I was food blogging and participating in an international Eat Local Challenge, back when almost everybody, including the Greensboro restaurateurs, didn’t understand the local food movement: https://slowlysheturned.net/2006/05/08/elc-day-seven-lambs-quarters/. I cooked them with white beans and garlic and a little liquid smoke to get that hamhock flavor. Of course you can cook them with bacon or pork…at the time, I couldn’t get local or humanely raised pork.

Also, I should point out from my article that I no longer support Gann and Faucette Farms, who are no longer at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market after a prolonged public battle about enforcing market rules that required vendors to grow what they sold. It is likely that the beans and mushrooms I referenced in the article were not actually local. And sadly, Deep Roots Market, while still a good source for organic foods and supplements, has changed their business model to the point where I consider it to be a different business using the DRM name. I’m still an owner, but I’m unhappy with the changes. I have some hope that the new board members and owners voting with their buying decisions may bring it back to its former mission.

My, how things have changed after ten years. Pretty amazing.