Come Home!Shop & Eat Local
One of the most important ideas I try to impart here at Green Gal of the Midwest is to buy responsibly—to buy local and green whenever possible—and to choose carefully when products come from far away. There is a greater impact on the world than you might think when you speak with your hard-earned dollars. And, of course, buying less big stuff and spending more on simple and healthy gifts from local artisans, business people and my wonderful farmers is echoed all the time in these posts—but particularly at this time of year when the shopping frenzy reaches an all-time peak and grasping for the best deal, not matter what the cost to your health and wellbeing—not to mention the planet’s wellbeing—can be downright toxic.
I often wonder if the next generation will take up these causes because, let’s face it, I’m old. This Earth and these rights I’m fighting for belong more to the next generation than they do to me at this point. So when my friend Sasi asked if I would share my activism with his Environmental Anthropology class, how could I refuse? Of course, the first thing I did was bake up some Granola Bar & Pumpkin Pudding Squares because food closes the generational divide pretty quickly, in my opinion.
My new friend Sasi, who is originally from Sri Lanka, has a garden full of hot peppers. So when I offered him a ride to a class we are taking together, he paid me back with a bag full of little bright Birds Eye chilies, Indian cayenne and serranos. There is only one way to repay kindness, repaying kindness…create kindness again. What could be kinder than cabbage?
We are big fans of Tex-Mex food. And we love those classic stuffed poblano peppers with cheesy potatoes that you can find in good Mexican restaurants. There are enough meat and vegetarian versions to keep both me and my hubby satisfied. So when my market farmers started showing up with big green and red poblanos….well, you know we are headed to the border via my kitchen.
Don and I have lived in our house in Edwardsville for 20 years this past June. We have always felt so at home here. We have great neighbors, dear friends, woodlands and quaint shops within walking distance. From nearly our first year on Grand Ave. we’ve also had “house guests”. The furry kind that live a life apart from us but intersect with our lives on a fairly regular basis—a pattern known as breakfast and dinner, for the most part.
I’m sure if you asked Jackie Mills, owner and main operator of The Family Garden in New Douglas, IL, what she does for a living, she’d tell you she farms. But when I visited her a couple of weeks ago and took a tour around her property to see all the projects she has going, I could swear she was conducting a symphony.
Ahh…summer! Ahhh…swimming pool! Ahhhh…cocktails on the porch! Ahhhh…Ah-chu!
It is true. Cold and flu season may be on vacation, but it’s not a symptom-free ride for many of us during the summer. And what could be worse than summer colds and allergies that keep us indoors on bright , sunny days?
The idea for this flexible summer salad has a couple of inspirations. For one thing, the ingredients are primarily local to the Midwest and are available throughout late spring to early fall, more or less. For another thing, the preparation of the beets—the idea of cooking them intact with their greens attached—came from an episode of my favorite show, A Chef’s Life, starring Chef Vivian Howard. Chef Howard interviewed a local person, Matt from Crooked Fence Produce, who swore that beets would have a better flavor if they were boiled with their greens attached, rather than cutting the greens off and using them in another way—something both Chef Howard and I have always done.
The Land of Goshen Community Market—my farmers market—has been open two weekends already! Even though we’ve been lucky enough to have that once-a-month winter market during the off season, nothing beats hopping on my bike and riding “home” to the real deal. I smiled so much my face hurt that first Saturday.
There was a cold rain, and we stood in a damp barn, alongside a muddy pasture. And it was one of the best Saturday mornings I’ve spent in quite some time. My daughter Heather and I paid a visit to Tracy Riddle, owner and operator of The Shepherd’s Wife, a sheep farm just outside Hamel, IL. Tracy raises sheep (among other critters like Pac Man the Alpaca) and practices the ancient arts of spinning wool, dying yarn, and producing handcrafted soaps and lotions.
So what were Heather’s top picks for her birthday dinner? She loves the Creamy Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese I make, so that was on her list. Since we were trying out some gluten-free Jackson’s Honest Chips from the Blogger Box, I offered to make a new dip. And Heather, while a longtime vegetarian, does love an occasional fillet of grilled wild-caught salmon, so I splurged. But her final request sort of took me by surprise: “You know what I’d really like to have?” she asked. “Remember Grandma’s green beans, when she used to make them in a big pot for an entire day? I’d like those.”
Don and I are pretty lucky when it comes to colds and flu. We are rarely sick, and when we are, the miserable feelings don’t seem to hang around for long. Of course, Don will tell you that I am a constant nag about the benefits of healthy, organic food, plenty of rest and moderation in all things “fun.” He exaggerates, but, perhaps, he also speaks the truth. While it is important to trust and heed the direction and advice from our chosen healthcare practitioners, there’s a lot we can do to keep ourselves healthy, none of which is very expensive or complicated. So here are some of my Green Gal favorite home remedies to get us through the rest of winter.
While watching this particular Nature episode on arctic wolves, I was also feeling a little sorry for myself. It’s doubtful my husband and I will be doing much traveling this year. Our decisions about less paid work and more family time—which I will never regret—have left us with less expendable income for stuff like vacations. So PBS may be my only brush with what is truly wild… or maybe not.
I stood in an empty pasture, staring north toward a stand of trees. It was a sunny day, cool but no wind. The quiet of the rural landscape was pleasant and disarming. In the distance came the pounding—at first a vibration—then sound like thunder rolling in from a...
Blaine Bilyeu is a beautiful, statuesque redhead, with enormous blue eyes and flawless porcelain skin. She could have been in high fashion, but she chose, instead, to be… a pig farmer.
This peaceable kingdom is the honey bee farm of my friend John Accornero. John is my friend who always brings me back to sanity when I get all riled up by the ways of the world. And having visited his farm, I can see why he is able to do this. A bee farm runs by balance, respect and equitability… I guess the way we’d all like the world to run, with a sense of fairness and a adherence to personal responsibility. Bees seem to have this all down; we are—at best—catching on.
Clearly wilderness had been under siege for a long time, and defending it now seemed unlikely. Yes, I was a raging torrent of opinion and blame when I first sat down to write.
Don and I have spent Wednesday nights this spring and early summer at Biver Farm, the guests of Frank, Rosi and Keith Biver. Wednesday night is CSA night at the farm, when subscribers to the Biver CSA program pick up their weekly bag of farm-fresh goodies.
My recent road trip to Daydream Farm and Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, IL offered more than the sweet, tender asparagus and rich artisan cheeses that went into my Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Quiche. These visits left me reenergized and feeling highly connected to the food I put on my family’s table and to the wonderful folks who provide that food. We all need that—connection to nature and moments of calm, but how often do we find it? The once-a-year vacation? The weekly trip (maybe) to the local farmers market? A family meal with everyone at the table—how many times a week does that happen?
Two weeks ago, I was out with my husband Don, my good friend Rosi Biver and her neighbor Christine on a journey to Daydream Farm in Greenville, IL. Daydream Farm is owned by my CSA farmer Bruce Haas, but in all the years (Could it be more than 10?) I’ve been his CSA member, I’ve never been out to see the source of all my glorious food.
When my daughter was in elementary school, we spent more mornings than I care to admit in a heated battle over breakfast. I was insistent that she eat a “good” breakfast, maintaining that breakfast was truly the most important meal of the day. She, on the other hand,...
Toni’s 10 Bean Soup Mix is a beautiful array of lentils, green split peas, pearled barley, black beans, black eyed peas, red lentils, navy beans, red chili beans, yellow split peas and cranberry beans. The package also includes a spice packet of dried herbs, dehydrated veggies and spices, with no artificial anything. They help you make the most of your bean mix by providing an easy-to-prepare soup recipe, requiring just a couple extra ingredients from you. But I saw a blank page just beckoning me to get creative. And I did! Here’s the Green Gal take on this Women’s Bean Project best-seller.
I ended 2016 in a blizzard… of sugar, flour, coconut and pistachio dust. But it was not a harrowing experience. It was a labor of love. And at the end of the storm were, I think, my best cakes of the past year.
In the silence of a snowy December morning, Sylvia sipped her tea and watched with trepidation the weather on the other side of the kitchen window. She had planned this shopping day for more than a month… one day to get the presents for her six little ones....