Climb Every Mountain
July 28, 2011, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Activism, The Movement

About 3-4 years ago, MonkeyMan and I were journeying to a reunion of his extended family in Colorado. We had anticipated camping for a week before the reunion, just spending some quality time fishing and hiking, but our estimated time of arrival was…off. We had reservations at a fantastic National Park near Rifle, Colorado…but we arrived a tad early and had nowhere to stay. ALL campgrounds were full, and we were a little nervous to pitch our tent in the wilderness. Animals and mother nature were no threat, we were more afraid of being ticketed by the local jondarms 😦

As a result, very tired and crabby, we settled into a horribly over-priced and under-maintained local motel. It was late, we grumbled a little to one another and fell asleep, and the next morning attempted to begin a new adventure.

Somehow, we were bemused by the idea that this is the town that housed the Columbine tragedy several years back. Instead, we happened upon another, even more grisly and upsetting discovery: mountaintop removal.

We noticed that several of the ordinarily picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful skylines were crowded with ugly machinery and what appeared to be — MINING devices. Now, I say this affectionately, but…my husband is any money-grubbing politicians worst nightmare. Not only is he as curious as they come but once he gets his  mind set upon something he is as persistent as an attack dog. His dedication to ‘get to the bottom of things’ is positively RABID. Thus, he just had to find out what was happening here, and even from our travelling limbo state — he began his inquiry.

People don’t like to talk about this subject, and the government REALLY ‘ want you to know it is a reality. Rather than place my own spin on things, I have decided today to impart the information that led me to my opinion, and let you decide for yourself. Here are informative links. Let me warn you, this topic became the gateway drug to my lust for eco-activism. I really hope it inspires you to take up the same addiction. The only negative side effects are hoarse throat from screaming, red eyes from crying, and irritated family members tired of hearing your endless rant. All easily treatable 🙂

That’s all I will say for now. Maybe tomorrow I will have a fluffy bunny story. Maybe not. Although I am simply mad about bunnies….


Well Hell I can do THAT!
July 27, 2011, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Recipes and Ideas


No no …not really! Yikes! Just quoting the brilliant White Stripes there, in rhythm to my reference to Hell. I guess it is devilish to go into grotesque detail regarding my newest obsession….if not grotesque than certainly terribly idealistic and foolishly narcissistic.

I am very seriously contemplating an attempt at trying…to go on a stupid reality show.

Ok that didn’t sound pessimistic or passive. And I totally lied the show isn’t stupid unless stupid really means totally AWESOME! First off, it is NOT (contrary to anyone else’s belief) Intervention, Hoarders, or Celebrity Rehab. I prefer to deal with my ‘issues’ in the quiet privacy of my own cluttered home, thank you. With a nice big glass of wine. Just kidding. What I am not kidding about is the fact that I with complete and utter certainty think, that I could succeed, at LEAST to Round 2, on FoodNetwork’s latest cooking hit, Chopped.

If you haven’t seen it, other than being incredibly addictive, its dead simple to follow. The concept is ingenious to we who cook. A random menage of sous chefs, restaurant owners, cookbook writers, whatever…people in the food industry who think they have a lil gastro panache, all fighting for the opportunity to be on an episode. If chosen they compete with –typically– three other contestants. The contestants are given a kitchen, stocked with staples, and…a basket. And in the basket are ingredients–that may or may not, go together. They are super random. There are three courses: appetizer, entrée, dessert. The basket is different for each course.

You must incorporate all the ingredients into your dish–no exception. How you do this is really your choice, but you must choose wisely…and FAST. The time for each, from diagnosis to completion is really short — in fact, I am not sure how long but –never really long enough. So everyone is racing around Helter Skelter trying to make something out of nothing. What could be MORE FUN!?????

I have been really confident (and harping to MonkeyMan) about my ability to DO this for months –but last night? Oh last night I was sitting STRAIGHT UP in bed, wide awake, rigid with anxiety, CHOMPING at the bit.

They had swiss chard and collard greens in the same show. And not a one single person used either ingredient to it’s full potential. In fact, two of the contestants WHINED ad nueseum about their inability to determine HOW to use it. And that when I realized what this schtick is allllllllllllllllllll about. Not really knowledge, not really skill, maybe not really even creativity. Welllllll creativity is pretty key. But no. Science my friend! A mysterious blend of science and adventure! And how the heck do you ‘learn’ that? Well it doesn’t suck being a housewife and co-owner of a natural food business…on a tight income. It doesn’t suck that I know how to preserve food, I know chopping technique, timing, and the structure of nearly every vegetable. I told my husband the other day, when you GROW food…you KNOW food.

In other words, when you hold a seed in your hand, and you place it in the ground, and educate yourself on how to make that seed live, thrive, grow and produce flowers and fruit, you watch its evolution and become one with its process, and its progress. When it has reached maturation, you harvest it (correctly) you bring it in the house, inspect it, wash it, slice it (maybe) dice it (perhaps) and either store it, preserve it, or cook it. All of those procedures only induce you –almost by accident — to learn more about the food that you are cooking and become more acquainted with what happens to it when it is steamed, fried, boiled, mashed, frozen, etc. You also get super adventurous. You try things…things a student in a culinary institute would never try. I have eaten a lot of raw stuff, right off the vine. I have learned what NOT to do– real fast. And with a variety of subjects. We grow a ton of different types of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Things some people find foreign, and things that aren’t always used in a typical kitchen application.

So whaddya think? Am a just dreamer? Yes. And I always will be 🙂

Whaddya know
July 26, 2011, 7:21 pm
Filed under: The Movement

Time for a wee bit more political ranting.

Earlier today MonkeyMan showed me a pretty cool article on NHNE (New Heaven New Earth) about how 270,000 farmers are suing Monsanto. That takes a lot of courage, but I will say one thing: organic farmers are NOTHING if not courageous.  One thing I have discovered since entering this realm of consciencous consumption is that it becomes a core fiber of your being– you cannot go back. Once the knowledge –the TRUTH–behind commercial farming and commercial food production is revealed, it is almost impossible to back down from the fight. That’s really exciting (to me) –I just hope that we win. Personally, I don’t give a real fig about what some people want to place into their bodies– I am more concerned with preserving our right to feed ourselves and our communities the way we want to. I would love it if everyone educated themselves towards universal change, but they simply cannot do that if we aren’t free to produce food our way…which, incidentally is the natural way 🙂

Yesterday I was playing around on Care2, doing a little research and improving my daily vibe by refreshing my mind and reassuring myself that there is more good in the world than evil, and I happened upon a little quizzzzzzzz.

I love school. I love education. I love reading and learning. Every day on my morning drive I wistfully cruise by the state university where I did all my undergrad work and received my Masters degree. And I wish I were one of those hopeful newbies, laden with books and starry eyed enthusiasm, brains like sponges ready to soak. Preferably I would like to be one of the stellar cute awesomely dressed Asian exchange students, but I digress.

So finding this quiz my interest was piqued, especially since it was about our food smarts. I cracked my knuckles and set in for victory– despite the fact that the quiz was developed by Oprah Winfrey. Not dogging the Queen of Talk but….ok forgive me. Rich celebrities frost my non-existent balls (that phrase is way funnier when spoken by one with existent balls). All I can think about is what could be done with gobs and gobs of money! And I am soooooooooooo NOT talking about mansions and diamond 18 carat baby rattles and Hummer limousines and ….Lord knows what else. I am sure she is a nice lady and all but I am not exactly one of the billion housewives lining up in the grocery store aisle to ponder her latest narcissistic magazine venture.

Howevvvvvvvvvvvvvvvver, I was really impressed that she challenged readers to take this quiz and also to become interested in this tumultuous food issue. She has the persuasive powers of a sven gali so — I have to be grateful she uses some powers for good instead of evil.

Here is the link to the quiz.

 It’s five questions…take it. But then, if you get some wrong– or right even– probe further, open your eyes, and dip a toe into our pool. The cold may shock you at first, but don’t be afraid. The more you know, the more warrior you will find within yourself to join the good fight.

And more onions (the part 2)
July 25, 2011, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Saving the Harvest

It may be glaringly self-evident that the post I just added was actually written last week; my onion picture snafu-d everything and I had to terminate typing and just publish the post…and that made me crabby so I said screw it and took a breather.

But this weekend was truly a weekend to beat all weekends in terms of food storage. Good grief. I spent Friday night, Saturday and Sunday most of the day putting up greens and onions. We magically discovered as of yesterday (by accident) that a great many of our carrots are rarin to go…and so add to that a big bag of freshly scrubbed carrots. MonkeyMan has been a weeding fool the last two weeks (we do everything by hand) and thus the beds, Nader and Gore respectfully– look amazing. I have to move my mint patch as it has crept into the collards in Nader, and the basil floweth over, so we bestowed a small bundle to our neighbors. Even my rasberries are taking off.

I have never had the greenest of thumbs–save for my beets and carrots. Therefore when my sister in law gave me some cuttings from her rasberry bushes several years ago, I was reluctant that they would take. You see, my sister in law (who is a really beautiful and amazing person in every respect) also grows beautiful and amazing rasberries. Every Christmas we anxiously await her homemade rasberry jam that she gives out to all the adults as a gift. I love homemade gifts, especially food, and its become a really cool tradition in my husbands family to share our talents and the gems of our garden post harvest.

But I do not kid myself into thinking that I would have the luck of rasberries myself. In fact, it really intimidated me, and so maybe I didn’t try so hard to make it work.

However, that is where MonkeyMan swoops in and saves the day. He is a stubborn Taurus and –like a bull– took the situation by the reigns and planted me a deep strong row of rasberry bushes, once again from his sister’s cuttings. Tomorrow I will be sure to include a picture.

We also have –every variety of onion you could ever imagine, including delicious sweet little pearl onions. This weekend I remembered to clean some and pickle them. You can pickle them exactly the same way that you do the beets, and then you either eat them plain of incorporate them into a Gibson. A Gibson is just like a martini except you substitute pickled onion for the olive. Icy cold gin or vodka ( I never use vermouth-but you can) strained into a stemmed glass and annointed with the onion speared onto a toothpick. Very cool– especially if you serve at a party where you can explain that you are using homegrown onions.

MonkeyMan and I realized the other day that the amount of meals we are eating that are over 50% from our garden or local trusted chemical free vendors — its growwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwing (no pun intended). This is an amazing feeling and it only makes me want to get more crazy and pure with my eating habits. Its a lot like becomming a vegetarian and then realizing that the transition to vegan isnt that hard, it feels natural and exciting.

I told MonkeyMan the other day that I must be a weirdo because I find cleaning and putting up onions (we freeze them) to be fun. Or maybe I am just the most boring person in the world….but perception….really IS 9/10 of reality. And sometimes it’s the whole hog.

My onions can beat up your onions-Part 1
July 25, 2011, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Saving the Harvest

No posts the last two days….work has me swamped and its taking a toll on my nerves. Luckily– its Thursday. I am seriously thinking that Saturday might wind up being another ‘blueberry pancakes in bed praying for Real Housewives of New York marathon’ morning, but who is to say. Sometimes my blues magically disappear at the start of a sunshiney summer weekend.

I am hereby declaring Fridays my ‘tackle important issues’ day, like the activism I am involved in, the political causes I support…all of them truthfully surrounding environmental issues…wildlife preservation….food…etc. But it sorta looks like everything else I write is going to be about eating local chemical free food, and self sufficient living. I only last week (don’t laugh) realized that my husband and I are more or less part of the locavore movement (I hadn’t known what that meant) and so that changes things, opens up my access to information and researching topics that directly effect us as a home and business.

So…in respect to local food, I am going to impart the events that took place last night. When I arrived home after work my husband was busy putting up more onions, as this is our first year growing onions and discovering either they are insanely easy to grow, we are really good at it, or both. The groovy thing about onions too is that they are natural pesticides when grown along other plants — they discourage the presence of the cabbage moth for example…which as collard growers, the nasty bugger is very destructive. Well — last night we had about –golly …this many onions:


I don’t belong here.
July 18, 2011, 4:54 pm
Filed under: How I got Here

Stranger in a strange land. That phrase always makes me think of heavy metal icons Iron Maiden…but really, it couldn’t pertain more to me, and my feeling of utter displacement in corporate America.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel very fortunate to have a solid, reliable good paying job in this economy. MonkeyMan and I need our biz gigs to be able to sing the good old song of freedom at home. I admittedly do a fine job of wearing the mask and playing the game five days out of the week, but it feels so wrong to my body and soul. I cannot even see outside in the office I occupy, there are no windows. I know they do that to discourage wanderlust but geeeeeeeeeeeez. It only intensifies my whole rat-in-a-cage clausterphobic nightmare.

You know I don’t want to come across as a pessimist, I understand there are all different kinds of people out there. I just happen to like to run free and wild out of doors. I prefer the slow and steady rhythm of accomplished tasks and physical labor. I am not that great at it, but I kinda find my niche. Luckily my husband is a real man’s man and loves to get his hands dirty and DIY the sky…but I am just as happy to calmly plant seeds, or harvest beets and carrots, wash them tenderly and put them up for winter.

For five years as a child, I lived on a farm, a ranch really, in Minnesota. I thought it was paradise, after I got over the whole concept of releasing myself from the comforts of the city. There wasnt always hot water for a bath, and absolutely no such thing as fast food. I had always been a really hard-core fruit eater as a small child, and I loved vegetables, so my stomach was more than happy with country life. Better yet, we had 350 acres that were mine for ample unsupervised exploration…complete with two ponds and endless forests of wild berries. I spent every summer day totally free of boredom; if we werent catching turtles and riding bikes we were swimming and making hay bale forts. I could have as many pets as I wanted and go anywhere I wanted…country kids are set out on a very long leash.

I suppose I may have been programmed in those years that life was meant to be lived a certain way. I grew a real affinity for simplicity and deep seeded love of animals and nature. One summer I taught myself to bake pies, and every day I made a different pie. My mother never placed restrictions upon me in the home or on our acreage…there was no reason to. Everything was perfectly safe, and the timeline was ours. Things got done when you finished them. Television was replaced by conversation, storytelling, reading, and imagination. No one was pumping me full of any agenda that was not of my own making, and that fed my independance and my character.

Because my current home is so similar to my childhood dwelling, there are days I wish to stay there, safe and autonomous in the quiet green forage of our enormous yard….forever. When I glimpse the outside world it feels clinical and cold, mechanical and rigid. I wonder what would happen..what will happen…if our ‘devices’ are taken from us, and we are forced to think and fend for ourselves. Part of me embraces that revolutionary doomsday, if it were not for those I love who would surely perish.

Today I play over the events of the weekend in my mind with a certain melancholic nostalgia, as I do most Mondays. I miss the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and the soft damp of the grass beneath my feet. I miss the varieties of bugs and critters whom have made their home on our little spot of land, because we do not use any chemicals to treat our plants or lawn which would harm them. I see their presence as a sign of happiness, acceptance, and God. I miss the quiet routine of rote tasks to better my life; chopping vegetables and baking bread. My husband spent the entire 99 degree day weeding our garden by hand, and yet he did so with such pleasant was inspiring. And the garden looks so open and clear, its amazing. The plants are thriving from his efforts.

Often MonkeyMan and I laugh about the truth that we were born in the wrong time. Perhaps the 1800’s would have welcomed us…or maybe we did live then and we cannot shake the acclimation. I do not know how many thirty eight year old customer service representatives in America are dreaming of digging in the dirt right now, or feeding chickens. I guess each and everyone of us has that part of them that feels absolutely right, doing just the right thing, for only themselves.

Bless this Mess
July 15, 2011, 6:04 pm
Filed under: Home Sweet Home

Last night I was taking some vegetables bits out to our compost heap, which MonkeyMan built in the far back end of our yard. Its discreet, and functional (aside from the dogs occasionally trying to eat from it– blecht) and from it I got a real good look up at the house.

I adore our home. Its spacious, old, rustic, and luckily — MonkeyMan has allowed me to decorate it just to my specifications — so its very ecclectic and shabby chic. We have the same taste in that respect.

When I came back into the kitchen, my husband was making us dinner and the cats were playing on the floor, the dogs sprawled out relaxing, happy to have us home. I told him how much I love our house, how I really do consider it my dreamhouse, and he kinda looked at me like I had antenna but that is ok. This morning when I came into work I was a little bummed because he is at home cutting collards for market tomorrow and I sort of wanted to stay home too. That made me begin to think of blessings, and the things in life I am so grateful for.

If certain legislatures gain heft, our country could be in a position to severely restrict the amount of freedoms we Americans have to grow our own food. That scares me half to death. It means that the way that my family live could be in serious jeopardy, and more importantly, that the liberty we enjoy to eat healthy food could be stripped away. Depending upon the government to feed us is a devastating proposition, and we have never been more in danger of it becomming a reality.

I do not consider the right to choose local, chemical free, naturally grown food a priviledge, I consider it a right. That means that I while I am no less thankful for it, I believe that I should unquestionably be given the option to produce what nourishes my body. But that also got me to thinking about how fortunate I feel to be in a moment where that right is being reserved. We are in a moment right now –where we can CHOOSE correctly. We are not forced to eat genetically modified, chemically laden poison. And yet– how often do Americans choose to do — just that?

I cannot begin to go into the struggles I experience daily with trying to find ways to get this message across. MonkeyMan and I have endless discussions on why it is so difficult for some people to see the importance of this issue. And yet, those of us living this type of life, a life centered around healthy food and nourishing our communities have no choice but to spread the word. Education is the key. I am not afraid of annoying anyone with the facts that support my opinion, and I relish that I have the freedom to do so.

It is not with bittersweet sadness that I look upon my home and wonder when the sanctity of my freedoms will be stolen, it is with zealous fight. My husband is at our home right now, our sanctuary, living the words I speak to you now. It is not an easy life toiling the soil, especially in the city where your endeavor is uncommon, and at times even frowned upon or ridiculed. We have been called hippies, and dirty, and extremist, and even crazy. I respect the right of those adverse opinions to be expressed freely for we will never change.

And perhaps someone who never thought about the food they ate before, maybe they will come to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow and happen upon my husband. He will tell a tale of collards, and they might buy some and take them home. It fills my heart with joy to see parents buying our leaves to feed to their families. I see the children of our future and I know eating these fresh natural vegetables now will impact their future. Home can be a house, but it’s love can also be extended to the world in the little things that you do. That is what our crops mean to us, and they signify the gratitude we express to share them with our community, and to bring a little of our home to your table.