augggghhhh, coffee pot posts, critters, Local food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Real life has gotten a lot busier now. Classes begin tomorrow, and the new graduate students came in last week for advising and orientation. I have to say that I’m impressed with them so far. I love my job, as I say often! A large part is due to my co-workers, who have great personalities, compassion, and most importantly, are sane. And I say that with complete seriousness. You haven’t experienced misery until you get stuck in an office with a person with serious negative mental problems.

Speaking of that, on Friday I came home for an early lunch to drive downtown and buy some bread and a cinnamon roll at Simple Kneads, which is closing and its customers were rallying to try to save it at the last minute. Anyway, when I was at home two policemen showed up at my next-door neighbor’s house. This wasn’t very surprising, except that there were two of them, and I slipped inside to give them privacy. But the next day, her neighbor on the other side approached us and said that the sheriff had been there later that day and now he had not seen her outside or heard her, which is very unusual. He finally called her daughter, and it turns out that she was taken to a mental health facility for evaluation. I am glad that her daughter managed to facilitate this, because she was getting progressively worse and we were worried about her.

I just hope that they can keep her and do something to help her, because she doesn’t seem to be able to take care of herself. Her family has tried to “commit” her before and she refused help and was not deemed a danger to herself or others, but really, she is. I am not afraid of her but her state of mind does make me nervous that one day she might harm herself or decide that one of us is possessed by demons and attack somebody – conversations with her support this. Not that she would attack someone, but that demons are very real to her, and she lives in a very dark, sad surreal world.

My colonoscopy had perfect results, yay! Theo’s health problems have been heavy on my mind though. He finally stopped licking and biting himself obsessively only to come down with some sort of respiratory problem. I can’t imagine where he could have picked up a virus so I assume it is allergies. I’ve had cats with much worse physical problems but never a sneezy cat. His eye was watering a lot and he was snuffling and sneezing and I really, really, really did not want to take him back to the vet for a third time this month. A friend on Facebook advised Chlor-trimetron (her vet had advised it for her cat) and so yesterday I gave him a little less than 1/4 pill twice and it did seem to help.

This made me realize just how dusty and covered with cat hair the house has gotten. With my hand problems and a vacuum cleaner that needs repair it got way worse than usual. So we spent a good part of yesterday cleaning the front room down to the bones – moving the furniture out, cleaning the floors, baseboards, walls, and windows. Dusting and cleaning the upholstery. I love our old Victorian pieces of furniture from Sandy’s family, and our little collections of interesting stuff, but my God. Dusting them is a nightmare. It always makes me wish that we had chosen to live in a new house instead of a 1922 Craftsman with plaster walls. These houses seem to generate their own dirt. Sometimes I think about having the whole inside sheetrocked.

One reason why I haven’t written on the blog is that I’m very frustrated about the whole Friends of the GFCM situation (they have disbanded but still have final business to take care of) and so angry with certain people (not in the Friends) to the extent that I no longer want anything to do with the GFCM again. I’m just done. I don’t want to think about them any more. So I’m trying to put a positive spin on this for myself – it will be a new challenge to search out other venues of local food. My friends the Bettinis have a farm stand and the Rudd Farm has a farm stand near them with a lot of different vegetables. I think that I’ll cruise out that way and buy direct, and also check out the state farmers’ market on Sandy Ridge Road for the first time in a very long time. Other farmers that I like have farm stores or stands or other venues too. So it won’t be as consolidated and convenient, but it will be an adventure. I would love to order from Piedmont Local Food, but I don’t want to use their only public pick-up location in Greensboro for reasons of my own.

Sigh. Sometimes this buying ethically philosophy is difficult. I actually had someone admonish me this past week for standing up for my principles instead of “reality.” HA! I’m sure that those of you who know me know that he was barking up the wrong tree.

Today I’m going to finish up the living room – take all the things off the shelves and clean them and the shelves. Yuk. Then I’m going to stitch and work on binding another book. Yay. And I’m moving forward, despite the world around me, I will keep on truckin’.

Local food

The day’s news

Hooray! I missed the meeting, but I just heard that the Greensboro City Council, finally, finally, finally voted 5-4 to give the management contract for the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market to the only common sense choice, Greensboro Farmers’ Market, Inc., a proposed non-profit community-led organization who will keep the focus on local.

Ed summarized some of the meeting, but the televised footage will be archived on the city’s website, I believe.

I have to say that I still won’t feel good about this until a firm, no bullshit contract is signed and I’m very concerned about the city mucking this up again somehow, but this was the main hurdle.

I left the board of the Friends of the Market in frustration over the way we have been treated by the city. By one particular councilperson and one particular staff member especially, and by that yellow rag I saw everywhere blasting out lies about our group. What they didn’t realize is that the more they abused us, the more determined we grew not to give in to their unreasonable demands. I could not BELIEVE the way this group of kind-hearted volunteers were harassed and vilified.

Also, I took Theo to the vet today and had his anal glands expressed. Somehow, it feels like this news is related to the above. We both certainly feel better.

No comment on the debt ceiling legislation. I am boycotting the national news until I can discuss it without screaming. This may be a long time.

Local food, Soup

Greens Galore!

(cross-posted at www.gfcmarket.com)

tuscankaleGreens galore! This is the time of year when CSA bags are stuffed full of them. Some people love ‘em, some hate ‘em. I kind of walk the line – I like to have some collard or tendergreens now and then, but they wear out their welcome soon for me. I love to grow Tuscan kale in my backyard garden over the winter, but the critters in our neighborhood love it too. And Lucy, our produce inspector that you can see in a photo a couple of posts ago, is nuts about turnip greens. I always have to give her some for her to leave me alone so that I can prepare them for the human eaters of the house.

So. My CSA bag from Handance Farms has had lots of greens each weekend. What to do? The tender young collard greens were excellent cooked with a splash of olive oil and chopped garlic, using just the water that clung to them after washing. Since we are trying to cut our cholesterol in this house, I use Liquid Smoke to get the flavor of traditional Southern hamhocks or fatback without the fat, but sometimes I buy certified humanely-raised bacon from Deep Roots Market.

Kale is good cooked the same way, and white navy beans makes the dish a meal. My favorite, though, is Kale Chips. I’d read about them, but didn’t try cooking them on purpose. Instead, I set a saute pan with the barely cooked kale and garlic on the back burner over my oven vent when I was baking something. Ten minutes later I noticed that the kale was crispy. Hmmm. One taste and I was gobbling them up. So if you don’t think you like kale and would like to get it into your diet, try drizzling a tray of kale pieces with olive oil and chopped garlic and bake them in a low oven. That’s what I’m doing with this week’s kale, and for the first time I am looking forward to it!

For lunch, I decided to make an improvised soup with the turnips, mixed greens, and shiitake mushrooms in my CSA bag. I can’t promise that these are the exact amounts of ingredients. You’ll have to taste and experiment – make sure that you have some sweetness to offset the tartness of the greens. My husband and I both found that this was tasty.

1/2 chopped large sweet onion
2 smashed minced cloves of garlic
1 cup of chopped little white turnips
A couple of big handfuls of torn, destemmed mixed greens
1/2 pound of chopped shiitake mushrooms (save those stems for stock later!)
Corn scraped off a leftover cooked ear (save that cob for stock!)
6 cups of chicken stock (4 cups were fake chicken stock)
Egg noodles
1 teaspoon five spice powder
Splash of Asian fish sauce
Splash of tamari sauce
Salt and pepper
A little cornstarch

Saute the onion and garlic in oil (I used olive) on low heat. Add the next four ingredients, turn up the heat a little and cook a few more minutes. Add the stock and cook until the turnips are tender. Add the seasonings, then the noodles, and cook until the noodles are done. Mix about a tablespoon of cornstarch with some hot broth and add to the soup during the last minute of boiling.

It would be even better with chicken, but I was using what I had and this low fat healthy soup was delicious!

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.

augggghhhh, coffee pot posts, fiber art, Local food, political activism

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I wonder if anybody in this country is happy with our government right now. It seems to me that the Republicans have the ethics of hyenas and the Democrats have the ethics of jellyfish. I have finally gotten so fed up with politics that I am finally doing what I have threatened to do for years – I have filled out the form to change my party to “unaffiliated” and it will go into the mail today. It may not seem like much, but I am a firm believer that small actions do matter, especially if taken up by many. Landslides are made up from many individual rocks, you know.

I’m sick of Obama’s lip service to change and his appointments of Big Ag and Monsanto shills to important positions in government. I’m sick of the Democrats’ groveling and whining and I’m sick of the Republicans’ hatred and bullying. I’m sick of hearing about the magic filibuster-proof number and the partisanship. I’m sick of people expecting Obama to fix eight years of the GOP’s economic destruction in one freaking year in office. I’m sick of people who are not only unwilling to do the right thing, but who don’t even have the human compassion to know what the right thing is. I’m sick of corporations being in charge of this country. This country is not a republic, it is an oligarchy. The only politicians I like right now are Al Franken, Dennis Kucinich, Pricey Harrison, and Don Vaughan. I’m ready to emigrate to Canada.

Rant over. I’ll still write letters, emails, and sign petitions. I’ll still vote in all elections and primaries. But I’m done with the political parties in this country. Done.

I’ve been using a neti pot twice a day for the last week, the last resort in trying to clear out this sinus infection. Man, do I HATE getting water in my nose. It took a long time for me to learn to swim because I hated it so much. As much as I hate it, it does seem to make me feel better. This infection is persistent but not severe. It has been going up and down in intensity since September, when I took two courses of antibiotics. So I think that antibiotics may not be the answer. The main problem is that after this long, I am very run down, although I take a good multivitamin and fish oil every day. I missed some work this week and I spent a lot of time asleep or watching Hulu or reading.

Speaking of which, I finally finished Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which turned out to be very good, despite a slow start. I thought that it could have been edited back in size by about a quarter, but once I got about a third of the way in I was hooked. Now I am reading The Book of Salt by Monique Truong. I have so many good books to read now, all either gleaned from the free shelf at Ed McKays or given to me by a retiring professor.

And on Hulu, I highly recommend a one-season show from 2007 called Journeyman. Yes, that’s Owen from Grey’s Anatomy. Why is it that so many well written shows are cancelled after one season? I was sorry to see the last episode because there were so many directions where it could have headed. At first I thought that this is just a knock off of Quantum Leap, but it was richer than that because it dealt with his family and present life as well.

Other than that, I’ve been working on my lemon embroidery and I’ve been cooking more. Today I’m making a pot of beans with onions and garlic and tomatoes and Tuscan kale and chicken curry sausage that I bought at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market last weekend. We ate some of this sausage with scrambled eggs (wonderful double yolks from another farmer at the market) earlier this week. It is so good and lean. The dried beans are from Deep Roots. I soaked them all day yesterday and cooked them with chicken broth that I make a couple of times a year with the bags of frozen collected vegetable scraps and the bones and broth from a whole chicken in a slow cooker. The tomatoes are frozen stewed tomatoes from the garden and I just picked the Tuscan kale fresh. Tomorrow I’ll make some beef stew from Rocking F beef in the slow cooker to eat over the week ahead. The carrots and herbs will come from my garden.

And yes, I did get the new plumbing fixtures put in the bathroom and kitchen. This has made me so happy that I wonder why I waited SO LONG to do it. Sometimes it is the little things that make a difference.

Local food, Slow Food

The definition of Slow Food

Slow Foodies are often asked to define Slow Food, and it can be difficult to come up with the perfect “elevator” pitch. There are many misconceptions about Slow Food. It is definitely NOT vegetarian, as a fairly recent TV news story implied. It is not about cooking or chewing your food slowly. It is not even about organic or “health” food, although we think that food produced in this way is healthier for our bodies and our cultures. Here is a good, concise definition of Slow Food from an article about Carlo Petrini in the Independent:

From producer to plate: What is Slow Food?

Slow Food – Petrini’s term – is used to signal awareness of a food’s origin, on the part of the producer and “co-producer”, the movement’s name for the consumer. Slow Food shies away from the word “consumer” because “by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process”.

Promoted by members of the organisation, the term stipulates that the food should “taste good, that it should be produced in a clean way which fully respects the environment, human health and animal welfare” and that “food producers are paid a fair wage”.

Slow Food is necessarily regional, promoting and protecting local produce. Its aim: “To counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how food choices affect the rest of the world.”

coffee pot posts, critters, Local food

Saturday soup bowl post

Can’t do a whole pot of coffee this morning, although I did have one cup with lots of milk and sugar and fair-trade organic cocoa mix in it. So I’m substituting a bowl of homemade soup. This is the post where I write whatever comes to mind until I finish my pot of coffee bowl of soup.

My stomach is stating its objections to the loads of meds that I have been taking in the past six months for pain and sinus infections and allergies. Seems like my physical problems just go on forever, but I’ve still got the proper perspective. It’s not unbearable, and one day I will feel good and it will be fantastic because I will know the difference!

I’m going out later to get some good probiotics to take daily – I eat yogurt every day but this has been recommended to me by several folks whose opinions I trust. My main dietary concern this week was Sandy’s, since he has developed gout and was told that he is pre-diabetic. I should be on a pre-diabetic diet myself, since I’m overweight and there is a lot of diabetes on both sides of my family. Now that my hip is better I am walking more and I could step up the exercise.

So, Mr. Theo. He’s a character. The other cats have accepted him now, except for Miss Jazz who hasn’t yet accepted Guido who came here 13 years ago, so that’s no surprise. He would much rather be with one of us, though. He has become quite attached to the “cat-free” room, so this weekend he’ll be weaned away from it. At first he wouldn’t eat unless I put his dish in there, so now his dish is just outside the closed door. And he is quite a talker. Lots of vocabulary. So far the only down side is that he wants to lay on my pillow and I wake up in the middle of the night with a face full of orange fur. This is not acceptable.

I have gone from seeing him as a reincarnation of Squirt to his own being, which is similar enough to Squirt’s to make me incredibly happy, but pretty darn good in the differences too. He is an excellent cat.

I’ve been working on the finishing touches of my Journalfest journal all week and will post a few pictures of some of the pages.

I did get to the farmers’ market this morning, and bought a French pumpkin among my normal groceries of milk, hydroponic lettuce, soap, beets, turnip, garlic, and potatoes. I’m looking forward to making pumpkin soup. Last year I bought these pumpkins and they were incredibly delicious. I’ll save the seeds and try growing them but my property is not ideal for any kind of squash.

Since I still can’t make paper I’m going to finish my journal and paint some pages today. I have LK’s Point and Shoot class prompt to do also. But my next move (after I remove a loving Theo from my lap) is to go to Leon’s Beauty School and get this shaggy head trimmed up.

coffee pot posts, Local food, Marietta

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Sitting out in the gazebo this morning. I’m telling you, when it is not muggy and warm this is my favorite place other than Lake Waccamaw. Which was kind of the point when I bought this contraption last summer – I needed a beautiful place to hang out that was screened to keep away the skeeters, and the only place that I had to go like that was three hours away at Lake Waccamaw. I was afraid at the time that I wouldn’t be able to go there much anymore, so to soothe myself I bought this 9X12 screened gazebo on clearance, and paved it with cardboard, landscape fabric, and then cement pavers. I think that it is one of the best purchases I have ever made.

Right now I am reading the news and getting ready to finish binding a book then do some more painting paper covers. I have some excellent old free books to play with too – also three record album binders that I’m mulling over how to alter them.

Yesterday’s yoga was interesting in two ways. One was that I made it through the whole time period because I am in terrible shape. I had a couple of times when I just had to take a breather because my arms wouldn’t hold me up any more or I couldn’t get balanced. The class used easy poses but we moved continuously from one pose to another to live music, so it was a mild work-out. I highly recommend it and I plan to go back. They need participants and it is by donation. Grow Yoga – Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. above the Green Bean in downtown Greensboro. I’ll probably go on Thursday nights because Saturday mornings are fairly sacred as Farmers Market and grocery shopping times.

The second interesting thing is that there is a small possibility of renting the place with them as a co-op of artists with the same kind of lifestyle interests. It is a beautiful space with a kitchen and hardwood floors with large windows facing the street. J and C said that it is possible that it will be rented to someone else and that they may only have use of it for the next few weeks. I told them that if they could get together a few more people I’d be interested in renting it with them for a studio/gallery space, if it doesn’t get rented to the other person.

This has been a dream of mine for a long time, but it seems to always fall through, or I’m not able to afford it at the time. I have rented and shared a studio before and I got an enormous amount of satisfaction and work out of it. Then it flooded and that pretty much settled that, since I lost a lot of supplies and early artwork to water damage and mildew.

I’m trying not to get TOO invested in this idea since there is more than a good chance that it won’t happen, but I have to wonder if this is falling into my lap because I called it to me. I have told others many times that I would love to have a space where I could not only work on my art but show and sell it and teach lessons. This place is close to my house and is perfect as far as I can tell. It’s just that it’s expensive and would have to be split by at least 5-6 people for me to begin to afford it.

book arts, Local food

A wonderful weekend is coming to a close. I cooked fresh green corn shucks with soda ash to make paper with Susanne in her well-equiped paper studio next weekend. I hung out over there for a couple of hours and saw their new vegetable and herb garden.

The fabulous ZhaK came by with an awesome book on ballooning that she found on the free shelf at Ed McKays. You would have to see it to understand how cool this book is, with lots of vintage ads and posters.

I tested and tweaked the Etsy store today, and I should be able to announce its opening this week.

I froze butterbeans with okra today, but I’m not happy with the butterbeans. They looked past their peak, for sure. The okra, however, was mostly tender babies, less than two inches long. I bet I’ll end up eating the okra and tossing the beans.

I’ll try again next week because if I can get some more of that corn from Clapp Farms, I’m all over it.

I picked a double handful of barely ripe figs to put inside. I hope that they will ripen after picking. If this works, I may be deliriously fig-happy for a while.

We went to Fishbones tonight and splurged on dinner. Yum! It really is one of Greensboro’s best kept secrets. I was selfishly thinking about how I shouldn’t mention it any more because I don’t want it to get overcrowded.

Peaches and pears will have to be dealt with tomorrow night. I’m taking it easy for the rest of the evening.