Monday, December 29, 2008


I have finally reached the domain of recipe-tinkering in my Kitchen Skill Set (to slang around some corporate jargon). It feels so good! My journey to 100% scratch cooking has been in process for 4-5 years now - before that, I subsisted on bagels & cream cheese with cut-up vegetables, taco salad, the occasional baked chicken breast, and spaghetti. And restaurant food, when I wanted something warm and filling.

But no more: I can cook. I can bake. I know many of the rules therein. Looking at a recipe doesn't intimidate me like it used to.

And so, this past Christmas week, when we wanted waffles for breakfast, I tinkered with a recipe from my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman --- and ended up with a scrumptious masterpiece. I may be bragging, but they were definitely the best waffles I've ever eaten. Period.

Fabulous Whole Wheat Waffles

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups yogurt
2 TBSP honey
2 eggs, separated
4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  • Mix the dry ingredients
  • Mix the wet ingredients, holding back the egg whites
  • Mix wet and dry together
  • Beat the egg whites until you see soft peaks (I used my handy-dandy non-electric hand-mixer, where I actually turn the crank - it belonged to our beloved former Minneapolis neighbor, Wilburn. The amount of tools he bequeathed us is astounding, and we use them practically every day.)
  • Add the airy whites gently to the batter
  • Cook, eat, then smack your lips and ask for more

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nothing to see here

I have many things to say, but no time to write them up. It has been cold-cold-cold here, and it is so thrilling. The temps hover around zero, getting down to the negative teens at night. Everything is white. It is lovely.

My brother is on his way here as I type, to stay with us for the week. I'm looking forward to relaxed conversations, a dance party or two, and perhaps some new poetry. For Christmas last year, he wrote up a compilation of poems for each person in our family as well as the extended family on my mom's side. It was one of the best Christmas presents I've ever gotten. Memory and mood in written verse: what could be better?


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I expound

I realized today that my enthusiastic ravings about No Logo the day before yesterday might be overly vague, so I wanted to follow up with some thoughts.

I have always felt extremely affronted with the breadth and depth of marketing in our lives. It is everywhere. While I don't think it is wrong to sell a product, I do think that we have reached the maxed-out level of insanity where living in an ad-saturated environment is so normal that it doesn't even phase us anymore. Or, even worse, we don't know what life is like in any other climate than this. It is normal to be advertised at, so much so, that I think a lot of the population would ask, "What is the big deal?"

Klein talks about "branding", where the product companies sell takes second place to the allure of the image they are hawking. They are selling an aura - an essence - a lifestyle. The public is being sold a dream - the promise of greater affluence, beauty, intelligence, even creativity - by a carefully crafted media blitz. What they are selling isn't even tangible, which is what makes this book so terrific: it actually provides form to the mist-like vapor of the promise of consumerism in our lives. (Even the government tells us to spend more, as an act of patriotism.) This lie is extremely seductive for all ages and people, even those who are aware of it. No one is immune.

If you have any interest in this topic at all, No Logo is an astute cultural criticism and wickedly funny. I'm about half-way through and have found myself chortling frequently. It is well-worth the read.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Culture is as culture sells

Says I,

[As in, terrific! Wicked awesome. This woman puts lays out my inklings, theoretical hypotheses and observations I've tucked away, as plain as day. She puts into words many of my gut-instincts - the very instincts that make up my inherent distrust of the system and general misgivings on authority, or "what is". Flat out, she gives billowing form and extracts a tangible grasp on what exactly we are up against: ourselves. We, as humans, make up the marketing landscape. We design it; we sell it; we buy it: hook, line, and sinker.]

The book:
No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies - Naomi Klein

(Much thanks to my lil' bro, EDO, for pointing me towards it. I love that.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Diego likes to "tell time" these days. He'll look at the clock and say, "Oh - it's two-sixty-tuba" or "It's not late! It's only six-fifty-tuba!" How tubas got involved, I'll never know.

But wait: I do know. We have recently read Tiger Can't Sleep, and in it is a tiger who - you got it - can't sleep and is hanging out in a little boy's closet. He is extremely noisy and wild in there, doing everything from clicking the light bulb on and off and on and off to yes, playing a tuba. Oompa! Oompa! Oompa!

Oh my - I better get moving. It's two-sixty-tuba!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Locally produced foods

My SIL wondered how I got connected with our local food sources. This is just too good for a comment, so I am posting my answer.

  • Vegetables: Farmers' Market. I started talking to the main vegetable vendor at our local Farmers' Market, as a precursor to stocking up. When I realized they sold from their home garden, I looked her up in the phone book, called, and set an appointment to come pick up my produce. I visited their farm twice - picking up carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage, and green peppers. She even gave me a liter of honey "because you've been such good customers" the last time I was there. This will be my root cellar back-up in years to come, after we've drained our garden's supply.
  • Beef: Small family farm in the area. My in-laws are neighbors to the farm's grand-daddy (he ran it himself before he retired and moved "to town").
  • Ham: Small family farm in the area. Ditto. The ham we ate for our Early Christmas dinner was part of a pig that they bought earlier this year.
  • Turkey: Family farm, via networking. A lady I know through a Midwifery Advocacy group sent an email letting the group know that her brother had turkeys available for Thanksgiving. I pounced on that one!
  • Real milk: Area dairy, with jersey cows. The same lady from the Midwifery Advocacy group referred me to them, after I inquired about area milk sources. I am still in the investigative process on this one.

The prominent pattern in this list: networking. Going to Farmers' Markets and talking to the vendors is probably the most important. When I lived in Minneapolis, I took it for granted - there were so many vendors that I didn't even bother talking to them much. But as I shift in my paradigm of what food is, and where I want to get it, mixed with our current locale, I can't afford NOT to network with them.

This is something Barbara Kingsolver advocates in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as well. Get to know the vendors at your Farmers' Market. Buy from them. But more so, why not stock up for the winter? If you have a chilled attic space or a cool basement space, you can do it. [Read Root Cellaring by the Bubels] If you don't have either of those options, invest in a freezer. These points were a revelation in my mind (granted, I read them in conjunction with moving to a house with a root cellar, glory be). Yes! Why not?! It tastes better, you are supporting a local economy, bucking the factory-food system, and more than likely, lessening the chemical-load in your system. It is a win-win-win situation.

Online, an excellent resource is Local Harvest. You can enter your zip code on this site and get an entire list of local growers and farms. Canadian provinces are included.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Decompressing, Local Foods, Billie Holiday, and My Sweet Boys

Who would have thunk it would take me a week to recover from Thanksgiving? Granted, we did have a Holiday Blow-out and celebrated Thanksgiving, Winter Birthdays (four of them), and Early Christmas in two days, complete with large feasts of turkey and ham. And, I suppose, we did have an extra five people in the house for 3 1/2 days - ages 10-15 - but that was fun! We enjoyed our company thoroughly. I guess I've been decompressing this week. Plus, the boys came down with colds and it has been a chill 7 degrees outside.

Both the turkey and the ham for our holiday meals came from local sources. I'm starting to make real connections in this realm, which means a lot to me. I always thought it was easier to get connected to this stuff in the city (as opposed to commodity-crop ridden SW Minnesota) because there are so many organized groups, established co-ops, and glamorous farmers' markets to choose from. To me, this area felt like a barren wasteland for the first year we lived here (and we've only been here a year and a half).

But slowly, slowly I've been establishing connections to local growers: vegetables, meat like cows and pigs, the turkey, and most recently - real milk (from jersey cows, no less). I'm going to make my own butter! Sour cream! And even more thrilling, I'll have whey to work with. I can't wait to ferment my own vegetables [think pickling, only raw]. I am pleased with our progress in the realm of locally-produced foods. We may never be 100%, but are working to exist more on that end of the scale. It is all a process, right? (Why is that so hard to remember at times?)

I've also been fostering a devoted affection bordering on obsession with Billie Holiday. Everyone who has gone before me is saying, "Doi!" in unison, but man! that woman was amazing. I can't get enough of her. She is terrific. So creative - and I can finally understand how someone could get so "into it" that they could forget the crowds as they were singing. The things she does...amazing. I think it takes active listening to truly savor her greatness. A lazy listener (as I have been in the past) might never connect. I have especially enjoyed listening to her in the car [errrr...minivan] - I can almost imagine myself in a dimly-lit club surrounded by suits as I'm rolling down the road with my tots in tow.

Speaking of...both my boys have been providing me with "Awwwww!" moments the past few days. I've been trying to slow my mind down and savor them:

  1. Truen loves to dance - he always walks around be-bopping with "mom-checks" interspersed, where he toddles back to me for a quick hug before teetering off again to dance.
  2. Baby T has also given me a couple of extremely insistent kisses the past few days. I had been trying to avoid them so I wouldn't catch their cold (too late), but he cupped my huge face in his little hands and followed my mouth with his until firmly planted. I resisted, but it was hard...
  3. Today I had to run out to the chicken coop to make sure everything was properly secured during a sudden wind-storm that blew in. I took the baby out with me, but had Diego stay in the house (much safer, much faster). He watched me the whole way and had the door open for me when I came dashing back. His sweet thoughtfulness is enough to break a mama's heart.
  4. Then, walking back inside, I saw that he had hung his coat up on the hook all by himself (we had made a quick trip to the library to pick up ILLs). Just like he takes off his boots every time we go to Grandma & Grandpa's house. Awww!!!