A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Guest Post: A Dark and Stormier Dinner Party

I'm Racheal, guest posting for my older sister, Eron. I live in Pittsburgh, teach public speaking while working on my doctoral degree in rhetoric, and only cook on occasion.

Eron has an amazing talent for integrating cooking into her everyday life. She cooks with a sense of ease and grace, as though it's no big thing.

But nothing could be further from the truth for her. Preparing meals is, in some ways, the biggest thing. Food is the sustenance of our physical bodies, but it is also sustains the community created in the act of breaking bread together, traditions and cultures, and our planet. Eron’s kitchen is a hopeful one, at least in part, because she has faith in the practice of preparing food: I can make a meal that means something for myself, and for others. Cooking is significant, an act of love and responsibility.

As inspiring as I find this, I can’t say I manage to integrate this sense into my own daily life. I’m pleased when I cook anything from scratch. I made myself a BLT the other day and told people about it. I was that proud. So when Eron asked me to be a guest blogger, I happily agreed, and then spent the next week obsessing over what I was going to cook. And of course, if I’m going to cook, we may as well have people over to share it. My boyfriend invited two of his friends over, and I started making a menu.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ode to Eggs

lovely, mustached Ameraucana, a blue egg layer
This post should probably be called 'Ode to Chickens'.  I never liked eggs as much as I do now that I know some lovely hens that produce eggs daily.  The eggs are beautiful: brown, speckled and blue, the yokes are huge and deep orange.  Delicious.  And the chickens make me happy.  I could watch them for hours: little fluffy clowns.  They also come running up to me whenever I approach the coop.  This is a result of feeding them snacks such as persimmon ends, kale and cherry tomatoes...but I'd like to think it's because they love me (which I'm sure they do).  Backyard chickens are so 'in' right now -- urban chickening is all the rage.  Rightly so!  They are so easy to care for, quickly make their way into our hearts, and are a productive member of the family -- laying eggs, consuming yard and food scraps, turning and fertilizing our garden beds.  Don't have chickens of your own to watch? Watch the interesting array of chickens they have at the LifeLab garden in Santa Cruz via their live chicken cam.

Anyway -- on to eggs! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mystery squash

Keeping up with what was going on in the new greenhouse at work was difficult last spring with 9 staff, an incomplete irrigation system and hundreds of small children, community members and volunteers cycling through.  After rearranging greenhouse tables several times and lots of lost plant markers, nearly all the squash and pumpkins were mysteries.  I was frustrated that I'd lost track of some heirloom seedlings:  Lakota squash and giant pink banana squash specifically.  The mystery squash plants sat in the greenhouse longer than they should have, until a motivated staff member cleared a weedy section of the garden near the road and planted all of them (thanks, Justin!).  During the summer many of them thrived and we harvested great Cinderella, sugar and Howden pumpkins, lots of spaghetti squash and delicata.  After the big harvest day, all the squash were piled up in our outdoor kitchen for distribution and admiring.  Three unfamiliar squash were left abandoned back by the road, where I drove by them numerous times before stopping and lugging them to my car.   While I never found the giant banana squash,  I finally got what I believed to be Lakotas -- two of them.  Strange-looking to harvesters that day, these were two of the abandoned, lonely squash.  The last was an unidentifiable, smooth-skinned, oblong, orange 16-pound pumpkin-like squash.  What are you?  I wondered.