If it looks different around here you're not crazy...

We've updated our website! It only took us a few years but please welcome us to the 21st century. There's more of an emphasis on our social media presence (as we encourage online stalking) and our blog (since we want people to know what we're up to). It's all part of our ploy to be transparent and encourage interaction from our online friends. We love talking about food. How we grow it, prepare it, store it, think about it, and eat it. Your comments are always welcome!

It's Possible to CSA Your Whole Life

CSA (community supported agriculture) is that fancy thing you keep hearing about where customers pay up front for a weekly subscription of farm produce. This helps the farmer get his/her money up front and guarantees you as the customer are getting the best selection of items each week. The idea is that you like veggies and are willing to get some odd ball items you've never tried. The CSA concept has been around since the 80's and has taken off in the past 10 years. But now you can get all kinds of things in a CSA, not just veggies. 

1) Traditional CSA with add ons

Many CSAers are now getting the choice to add dairy products or value added items to their CSA shares. You can add eggs, fruit, jam, and even frozen items. 

2) Meat

Not a vegetarian? Me neither. You can join a CSA that offers eggs, chicken, lamb, pork, and beef usually in a monthly subscription that you pick up frozen.

3) Popsicles

Need your sweets? Our area has a popsicle CSA. Once a month you pick up your box of frozen pops.

4) Beans and Grains 

Rancho Gordo has the biggest one of these where you get a quarterly delivery of beans. 

5) International Flavors

Not so much "local" in focus but each month you get a basket of goodies from a specific location. i.e. France, Italy...etc. 

6) Milk

If you have the good fortune of finding a herdshare in your area you can get a weekly delivery of fresh milk. Pay the initiation fee and then once a month your membership fee and get your milk. 

7) Clothing

You read that right. You can be in a clothing CSA. Fill out the questionnaire online about your size and style preferences and then get a box of clothing delivered to your door each month. Keep what you like, send back what you don't, and pay for the items you keep. 

8) Underwear

Get a 10 pack of patterns and sizes sent to you or join the club where you automatically get the "underwear of the month." 

9) Makeup

Not into trying to decide about colors and brands? Get a box of samples sent to you each month so you can try out all the newest products.

10) Nailpolish

For true nail afficianados only. New colors sent to you every month to ensure you're always wearing the newest "it" color. 

11) Shoes

Nothing is a as beautiful as a pair of shoes. And you can get ones sent straight to you every month. 

12) Doggie treats and toys

Don't forget Fido! He can CSA his way to entertainment and snacky bliss by getting his own box.

13) Crafts

If you don't have time to get to the craft store you can get the craft store delivered to you. All the supplies you need to feel like you're winning the Pinterest wars.

14) Dinner

The hardest part of making dinner is deciding what to make. So let someone else decide. Get a box with ingredients and recipes sent your way. 

15) Wine

I need to join one of these pronto. Pick reds, whites, or both to be delivered each month. And try not too feel too badly when there's more month left at the end of your wine.

16) Razors

Never get stuck with a dull blade again! Get regular deliveries of razor blades and shaving cream. 

17) Books

Looking for new titles or reading inspiration? Editors select the month's book, send it to you, and you can choose to join the online book club to discuss what you're read.

18) Coffee

I don't go a day without a cup of coffee.  A coffee club lets you try new flavors every month!

19) Household Staples

Paper towels, laundry soap, dish detergent, toilet paper, spray cleaner...and all of those items that are a pain to buy but you seem to be buying constantly. Just set up an installment delivery of all the things you regularly use and never go to (Target, Walmart, Drug Mart) ever again. 

20) Beer

Get your beer delivered from myriad small breweries around the US. 

What have I missed? Because I'm pretty sure this covers my entire life. And if I set up automatic bill pay I'll never have to leave my house to buy anything every again!

Why We Eat

Ever been to an amazing restaurant and you think. "Oh. My. Gosh. This is the best ______ I've ever had?" Of course you have. But do you remember what you thought after that? Perhaps not but I'm guessing it wasn't a desire to eat a dozen of whatever it was. When the pleasure sensors in your brain go off it makes you slow down. Kind of like an adrenaline rush makes time move more slowly. You savor the moment. Remembering what was so fantastic about it. A subtle spice, the way the flavors expanded as you ate, the combination of textures in your mouth.

Food that is truly transportive, that's so good you almost can't stand it, is food we tend to eat in small portions. The flavors, textures, and yes, nutrients, are so dense in these items that you don't need to eat gobs of it to feel good. If I'm eating cheap pasta I need to eat half a box. A quality pasta requires just an ounce or two to feel happy and satiated. Because really, we're all eating to feel better. We might not be actively sad but we eat as an act of fulfillment. We're hungry, or angry, or depressed. Either way our brains know that food changes brain chemicals and eating will change how we feel. Every time. Even if you're 100% happy and everything in your life is momentarily perfect you still have to eat. 

To make sure you're eating the right thing for the right reason consider the following.

1. Am I actually hungry?

Sometime the answer is no and I think that's ok. Just don't lie to yourself. If you're eating because you're angry and the piece of chocolate will calm you down, who cares? Eat the chocolate. I do. Because I know that dark chocolate boosts serotonin and will make me feel better. Don't waste time justifying your choice. That takes all the joy out of it anyway.

2. Is this worth eating?

I love sweets, especially chocolate. But there's some terrible chocolate out there (I'm looking at you Hershey's). I will often take a bite of something, realize it's garbage, and put the rest down. If I'm going to eat I want it to be the best thing ever. Not just whatever is on the potluck table. It's not about "being good" it's about choosing the best for myself. Because I, and you, deserve the best. 

3. How much of this do I need to eat? 

If you decide it's worth eating you then have to determine how much. You'd be surprised at how little you actually need to eat. I try to follow the, "you only need one" rule. And you really do. One slice of pizza, one glass of wine, one brownie. 

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A note about self-control. There are some things that I've tried to completely swear off. Foods that I cannot be trusted around. These are my items that are truly verboten.

1) Soda.

It gives me a stomach ache and I always want more after I drink it, which makes no sense. Maybe I've given it up out of confusion. 

2) Potato Chips.

I cannot be left alone with a bag of potato chips. I will eat the whole thing. Not a snack sized bag, I'm talking full sized bag. And not over the course of time, I'll eat the bag in one sitting. Once I pop I can't stop. I have to not eat them ever.

3) Anything out of a candy dish.

Every office in the land has a candy dish in the reception area. It's always full of cheap sugary stuff that seems so enticing, and it's free! But if I have one I'm wanting them all and I feel horrible once I've eaten it. It's easier to say no to all candy dishes than try to be selective. 

I sometimes think about the meals I've eaten. The peach cobbler I had at the Flying Fig, a multi course meal at a winery in Virginia, a cappuccino at Klein's in Vienna. The food takes me to a place which takes me to a time and lets me relive some awesome memories. No muffin scarfed in my car has ever done that. 

How to Make Butter

Note: Butter-making does NOT require a butter churn. Well, it kind of does, but not the type that you think. You don't have to stand in corner with a bucket and pole agitating the cream a la Laura Ingalls. Use the modern equivalent...the stand mixer. Here's how the modern homesteader can make like a prairie dweller and make butter from scratch.

1) Get thee some cream. 

You can buy cream at the store or separate raw milk yourself. We separated our own and were left with this bowl of skimmed milk. aka skim milk. 

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2) Pour thy cream into the Kitchen Aid.

Use the whisk attachment and set the spinning magic on level four. Walk away. 

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3) Do not let thyself be distracted by the whipped cream.

The first stop past plain cream is whipped cream. At this point the hubs turned off the machine and started eating the whipped cream. "It doesn't look like butter but it tastes really good!" Of course it does, it's dessert. To get to butter keep that machine running. 

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4) Congratulations. Thine butter is made. 

Butter will tell you when it's done. The stand mixer will start making a different noise and the butter will clump up into the whisk on its own.  Smash out any remaining liquid by squishing the butter into a ball in your hands or mashing it into a container. Refrigerate.

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Ma Ingalls would be proud. 

How To Plant Peas

Since we've had some spring-like weather we were able to get in the ground last week. Peas are the first major crop that can be planted super early. All you need is a dry day and a bit of sun and you can put them in the first nice day of the year. It's a great way to feel like spring is actually happening. Finally!

Our favorite peas are sugar snap peas. If you are attempting a garden of any size you should add these to the list. The variety we chose for this year is a "bush" variety which means we don't have to trellis it. After years of untangling, setting up, tearing down, and storing miles of pea fencing we finally got smart and said "forget it." I'll let you know how they do but if they are even quasi acceptable it's worth it. Pea fencing is annoying. And you know I have some opinions about fencing

Onto the technicalities of planting!

Get your stuff together. We do a 5 pound bag of peas with inoculant. Always use the inoculant! You get much better germination. It's a small baggie of magical black powder (not to be confused with floo powder) that you add to the peas before planting. 

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3/4 a cup of water plus the bag of inoculant and mix into a bucket. Once it's mixed it looks like something from a sewer and you will turn black if you touch it. You've been warned.

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Next step, till that field. Our 5 pounds of peas gets us about 4, 50 foot beds with 2 rows of peas in each bed. Math, math, math = 400 feet of peas. 

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We use a wheel hoe with a spade attachment to make the rows in each bed. You just push it along and it makes a trench for the peas. Since peas are planted so close together, only an inch apart, it's faster to make a whole row that drop each seed into it's own hole. 

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Add the peas to your inoculant bucket and swirl it around so all the peas turn black. Then get your spouse to plant them so you don't get dirty. 

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I did the hard work of covering up the peas. Which involves 800 feet of raking dirt on top of the rows we made. I clearly got the better task. 

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In perfect conditions the peas will be ready in about two months. But since we put them in early and the soil temperature is still pretty cold it will probably take longer. I'll let you know when they're up!