Local food, Slow Food

Not Campbell Soup

20151206_155807_resized

We Southern cooks love our casseroles with cream of this-or-that soup, but since I moved to eating organically and locally as much as possible several years ago, I’ve adapted some of my favorite casseroles to using a cream sauce with whatever. I make faux condensed cream of mushroom soup by making a thick white sauce with fresh mushrooms cooked in the butter. That is what went into the broccoli casserole this afternoon instead of canned soup. Yes, it looks gross but it is SO much better.

It only took a few minutes to do it, although I’m not perfect and sometimes I keep a can or two of the processed stuff in the cabinet for when I feel super lazy. This one isn’t completely local or completely organic, but it is a combination of the two.

I can’t give you a recipe because I stopped measuring on this casserole years ago. It’s like a crustless quiche, with more cheese and less eggs.

I went to church this morning, the very liberal Presby USA one around the corner that I attended around the same time I began this blog in 2005. They are between ministers and Mark Sandlin, whose writing I adore, is filling in for several Sundays. I’m basically an atheist, but I respect a lot of different spiritual traditions, since I believe that any faith that helps you be a better person and encourages you to be compassionate and kind to others is a good thing. I don’t often admit to being an atheist…maybe a searcher would be a better label, but there isn’t really any label that describes my beliefs. I’ve explored a lot. So be it.

Tonight this broccoli casserole goes to my friend’s Hanukkah dinner where I get to be an honorary Jew again.

Blessings to you all.

critters, Local food, Marvelous meals, Visual journal, Visual journal 2013

Visual journal, December 12, 2013

IMG_3954

Flounder roulade with oyster stuffing and roasted brussels sprouts at Josephine’s Bistro. YUM.

IMG_3951

I’m trying to find the owners of this beautiful friendly older kitten. S/he likes to follow people and play and it is very cold outside. I feel pretty sure that s/he belongs to a neighbor but when you live near a college campus at the end of a semester, you never know whether a pet has been abandoned. I’ve seen this cat twice, and I worry about her safety.

Asheville, dyeing, Local food, Marvelous meals, Western North Carolina

Asheville/Black Mountain weekend

State Street Black Mountain

Continuing the tale of the past weekend:

Of course, we spent too much money, even though we spent two nights in the Super 8 motel in Black Mountain. It isn’t bad for the price. Our first stop was at Nice Threads Fiber Gallery on Cherry St. in Black Mountain, where I showed Leslie several of my small tapestries. She is taking them and two scarves on consignment through the end of August. At that point, I hope to figure out somewhere else to foster them, if they don’t sell.

We had drinks and ate at Black Mountain Ale House. I had an appetizer of fried eggplant sticks, mmmmm, and Sandy had shrimp and grits. Someone at the bar steered us to Pisgah Brewing Company that night to hear Hyrider, a Grateful Dead/Phish tribute band. They were really good, the beer was organic, and a cute guy with dreadlocks flirted with me. The cooks in Lovin’ Tenders, the food truck, let me sample a grilled turnip slice. It was pretty good! So that was a pleasant evening.

Lovin' Tenders

Sandy wandered around on his own while I was workshopping with Dede Styles. He bought a dulcimer kit in Black Mountain. We went to the Wedge Brewery after the workshop and enjoyed their craft IPA outside in the best weather possible.

One reason we love Asheville is that it was a Slow Food place before most places started paying attention to local food, so there are lots of places to get wonderful local meals.

We ate a marvelous meal at Chestnut on Biltmore Ave. near Pack Place. Again, I forgot to take photos. I’m such a bad food blogger these days. Sandy had molasses glazed pork loin and I had cream of broccoli soup and a salad with roasted beets and goat cheese.

This morning we had brunch at Louise’s Kitchen in Black Mountain, in an old house with a big wrap around porch, perfect for sipping coffee and easing into Sunday. They had a couple of rooms for rent upstairs for office space, and I actually took a semi-serious look, even though I knew I’d never make the three hour drive on most weekends to make it worth the cheap rent. I said to Sandy when he gave me that look (you know the look), “When opportunity knocks, you need to at least open the door to see who’s there.” That made him smile. We can’t afford it when you add in the gas and time, but it is fun to daydream about renting a room in the area.

louises-kitchen-brunch

Then we went to a street art/craft fair in Black Mountain where the artists were starting to pack up in anticipation of a line of thunderstorms heading east. I bought a pair of earrings from a young woman making very attractive jewelry with recycled magazine paper beads. Another mixed media artist used tubes wrapped with different papers and fibers in woven-like structures and collage. Resolved: will take an old National Geographic, some straws, and a tube of white glue to work for slow days.

Back to Asheville, where I abused my credit card at Earth Guild by buying a variety of mordants, along with madder root, cochineal beetles, and indigo. I ordered thiox (a color remover) and a digital scale from Amazon today, since I missed that I needed the thiox for indigo dyeing, and the scales at Earth Guild were more than I can afford right now. I’m quite tempted to buy a used turkey fryer with a propane kit to dye hot baths in, but I am a little bit afraid of cooking with gas. My first apartment had a gas stove and I called the gas company every time the pilot light went out. I’ll make do with an electric burner for now.

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’.