Thursday, September 22, 2011

it was high time for high efficiency over here.

While we weren't quite to this point, we were quite willing to upgrade our laundry system when our old washer needed replacing.

Oooo. Shiny.

And it doesn't put rust spots on our whites, which is always nice.

At first I was hesitant because the wash cycles are so long, but I'm finding that the spin cycle is so thorough, the clothes require less drying. Score!

Plus, each wash only uses 1 tablespoon of my homemade laundry soap, which costs mere pennies.

Someone is happy around here.

Extra bonus: I asked the delivery guys if they had any extra boxes, and they left us this one from a refrigerator!

Two someones are happy around here!

Monday, September 19, 2011

And into the city: A Farm and Food Tour of Detroit

Farms. Urban. Food.

Those are three of my favorite words.

Put them together with a charter bus; some smart, sweet friends; and a crisp autumn day; and I just might start to purr.

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of participating in a research project for a Wayne State University urban studies/environmental studies student in the form of a tour of four different food sources in Detroit.

The first stop was a non-profit fruit and vegetable store called Peaches and Greens.

Its owner was as cheerful as the store's bright yellow and green interior, and her sweet and strong spirit was catching.

Despite being surrounded by broken down homes and liquor stores,

Peaches and Greens is thriving.

It even operates a fruit and vegetable truck that makes its rounds similar to an old-fashioned ice cream truck.

Next stop was an extensive urban garden tended by Earthworks.

I'm not sure if I was more impressed by the charming winter squashes hiding under the vines, the massive compost pile, or the person wearing plastic bags for pants that was handed a hoe and told where to start weeding.

I'm sure the main gardener was saying really wise things to the rest of the group (I did catch a couple of "sustainability"s and a few "cold-hardy greens"), but mostly I just couldn't help but gaze upon the rows and rows of food growing right in the middle of blight. I mean, we passed the Heidelberg Project, twice.

Our third location was next door at Gleaners Food Bank.

We learned that hunger in the area is so pervasive that despite distributing more than 36 million pounds of food in 2010, only 12% of the hunger need was met. Yikes. I know how hunger can make people cranky. We walked on the pristine floors of the food bank, stepped inside its 2 degree freezer, and heard about their educational programs. Good stuff.

Lastly we headed over to Eastern Market.

I would have been overwhelmed had my lovely family not just taken me there for my birthday.

I love all the sights, sounds, and smells.

As all this talk of gardens and food deserts was making us hungry, we quickly found a soup cart and were delighted with the Moroccan Chickpea Soup it offered. This warm soup counteracted the cold facts that despite being in the Motor City, only 1/3 of Detroiters have a car. And because 500,000 of Detroit citizens live in a food desert (meaning it takes twice as far to reach a full grocery store than a fringe store, such as a liquor or convenience store), that makes it hard to get to healthy food. That, combined with the colder reality that many African Americans worked closely with food production (plantations) and preparation (kitchens) during their history in the South, and now are very removed from food in its natural state.

That just doesn't make sense. You know how I love solutions that make sense and the idea of using what you have on hand. So the fact that there are about 1600 urban gardens around town just tickles my heart. Detroit has vacant land. Detroit has hungry people. It just makes sense to plant a seed and grow your own lunch.

I love this idea so much that I've got a little project brewing over here. Within a month or two, I'll be able to share more...

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Out of the garden

Shade. Weeds. Bugs. All these banded together to make a less than stellar growing season in our little backyard.

Or so I thought.

Despite all that, look what my trusty little garden is gifting us these days:

A bit of backyard protein, soybeans!

Some volunteer gourds, and cheerful sunflowers.

Scarlet runner beans, pink girl tomatoes, green zebra tomatoes, bell peppers, and basil

These paired up with some smoked mozzarella from the market to make this surprisingly gourmet array of foccacia.

And who says you can't have foccacia for dessert? That last one is covered in apple butter!

Thanks, garden!

Monday, September 12, 2011

By The Pound

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that summer was racing to a close and, even though we had done some very summery activities like the waterpark, the Alpena trip, the bus ride, Camp Create, and berry-picking, there was still one field trip that remained on my Summer List.

In my quest to reduce our trash and recyclables, I had come across the recommendation of a little mom-and-pop bulk store called By The Pound. It's in the next town over, not particularly on the way to anything in my day to day, so I really had to make a point to get over there.

But it was worth it.

I took my own jars and it didn't even cause me to earn myself a nickname.

They had lots of flours, nuts, beans, teas, snacky things, spices, oats, mushrooms, dried fruit, and some other stuff that I'm forgetting. The owner helped me navigate the scale.

Because I was just checking out the place, I didn't do any earnest shopping. But I came home with some fun treats just the same.

For the kids: some pretzels and chocolate covered peanuts.
For our home state: some Michigan dried cherries.
For me: some falafel mix.

It looked so pretty in the glass jars that for a brief moment I contemplated tearing the doors off my kitchen cupboards and going bulk for absolutely everything. Just to see it in jars.


But I'm definitely headed back to By The Pound. On the list is oats, nuts, barley, lentils.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Breakfasts around here.

We take breakfasts seriously around here. Seriously, we love breakfast.

Usually we have whole wheat oatmeal pancakes or some sort of egg. But occasionally we get creative. Then appear crepes, waffles, or bacon.

Recently we made the Egg McMiddaugh.

First toast 2 pieces of wheat bread.

Scramble or fry up an egg. When it's cooked, flip it onto a cutting board. Cut the egg and toast with a big, circular cookie cutter.

Layer the toast and egg with a piece of cheese or ham. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Hooray for a fun, full, finger breakfast!