Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

Archive for April, 2009

How to Save the World in 10 Easy Steps

Yes, it’s Earth Day, at least for a couple more hours.

The Unicyclist and I participated in the Valley’s Bike to School/Work Day today; he biked to work, and I biked off to my errands after we both enjoyed a complimentary breakfast together that the local Whole Foods sponsored.  This biking business isn’t new for us.  The truth is that I gave up my car-owning ways in 2004 and he gave his up in 2006 shortly after we met.  Our bikes (and his unicycle) have quite a few miles on them as a result.  That’s all right by me, as my bicycle is the closest an object can ever be to embodying freedom itself.  Simple, cheap to operate, efficient, fun, and easy to maintain—it doesn’t get much better.

Also, it’s blue and goes zooooooooom!

Which, point of fact, brings me around to something else that’s blue and goes zoom.

The Unicyclist and I have recently taken the plunge and supplemented our forms of transport.  For a whole bunch of personal reasons I won’t go into, we just bought a 2007 Prius, Toyota’s well-established gas-electric hybrid.  It’s a wonderful car and very fun to drive, but there’s some angst that goes along with giving up a slower lifestyle, a lifestyle based in our home, a lifestyle where we have been forced to simplify.  You see, I like home.  I like simple.  I like slow.  So today, on Earth Day, I’m mourning a little.

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The Attack of the Root Vegetables: Garlic-Dill Roasted Carrots

Lurking in our fridge, buried deep in the crisper, huddled between bags of salad greens, you will find them.  Or at least you would have up until yesterday.

Several weeks’ worth of root vegetables had very nearly taken over our fridge.  Between the farm visit and our regular CSA pickup, our stash had grown significantly without us really noticing.  When we did finally realize we were outnumbered six to one by turnips, it was touch and go for a while there. Fortunately, we are stout and hardy folk, and we managed to quell the veggie uprising with some seriously dedicated roasting this weekend.  I scrubbed, sliced, cubed, and roasted three pans worth of turnips, sweet potatoes, beets, and carrots.  It was all delicious, but I confess that I really fell hopelessly in love with the carrots. These are the carrots I had wanted to make a couple weeks ago but had to forego due to my undersized dill plants. However, it’s been in the 80s and 90s here, and I have been a faithful hydrator. This weekend, my patience was rewarded.

Not only were these carrots gorgeous, but did you catch the part where I mentioned there was dill involved?  And lemon.  And garlic. Holy yum.

It was a beautiful thing.  It was so beautiful, in fact, that I’m sharing it with you.  Without further ado, here is a recipe for some Dang Fine Carrots.  You can eat them hot, cold, or tossed on top of a salad.  Whichever way you eat them, I hope they make your eyes roll back in your head with delight and your toes curl with bliss. Best of all, it’s one of those simple, non-recipes that don’t require you to blow any gaskets about measuring.  The basics are here—you just work with those!

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Michelle, Michelle, Quite Contrary…How Does Your Garden Grow?

I neglected to mention in my former post that CREDO Action is sending MACA a love letter to invite them to kindly lay off the Obama’s garden.  If you want to sign, just click through to the petition.

Whether you are of the opinion that chemicals should never be used in agriculture or just that we use far too many of them for the health of ag workers and consumers…or if you just want to preserve choices for all people, take a minute, click through, and add your own note to the letter at MACA.  CREDO Action currently has 97% of its goal in signatures.  Here’s an excerpt from my comment:

The Obamas have access to highly experienced gardeners that will no doubt make a smashing success of their naturally-grown garden.  To encourage them to adopt what will certainly be unnecessary chemical applications is wasteful and irresponsible in the extreme.  I had hoped that, in the current era, we as citizens would be moving away from excessive and thoughtless consumption…towards more thoughtful, longer-term, healthier solutions.

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MACA Takes on Michelle Obama

If the president sneezes, the country gets a cold…or so the saying goes.

I guess it follows that if the First Lady plants an organic garden, the country might just go all Joni Mitchell (“Big Yellow Taxi”) on us.

That’s apparently what the Mid America CropLife Association is afraid of. Jill from La Vida Locavore reports that MACA recently sent around an e-mail plea urging their supporters to flood the White House mailbox with missives encouraging the first family to grab a sprayer and hose down that dirt patch of theirs. (Just to give you a bit of context, their officers and board of directors include representatives of such familiar household names as Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont, and Syngenta.  Do click through those links, by the way.)

The bit that baffles me is this:

Did you hear the news?  The White House is planning to have an “organic” garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama’s and their guests.  While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.

Such horror!  She shudders!  Because, lard knows, if an organic garden takes root, it could go horribly, catastrophically wrong.

As someone who knows a whole lot of diddly-squat about gardening, I’ve had an organic garden or two go wrong in the process.  You know what happens when you don’t do it right?

Your plants get holes in them.  Sometimes, the fruits are puny or funny-looking.  Sometimes, some plants shrivel up and die.

The end.

Shall we talk about what happens when chemical dousing goes wrong?  (Follow the chemical company links above if you don’t already know.)

Of course, I’m deliberately being ridiculous.  I know full well that with the easy access to resources and master gardeners that the Obamas have, the chances that the White House garden will crash and burn are awfully slim.  MACA’s fear is not that Michelle Obama’s organic garden will fail miserably, but rather that it will succeed.

Who are you rooting for?

(Thanks to Captain Mommypants for the tip.)

Farmer Frank and the Artichoke Forest

If you didn’t know where to look, you could drive past it every day and never know it was there. Yet sandwiched between the interstate and some industrial storage lots in Phoenix, hidden from the view of the endless stream of commuters, farmer Frank Martin and his crew have created an oasis in the desert.

Last Sunday, Crooked Sky Farms hosted a farm day for its CSA members, inviting us to come out to the farm, learn how it was run, pull our own carrots from the ground, clip the last of the salad greens and the first tender artichokes, and meet the people who made it all happen.

Which is why, today, I’d like to introduce you all to the man responsible for my beautiful sunset-colored carrots.  Everyone, meet Farmer Frank.

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Coming Soon…

…a tantalizing tale of dirt, gluttony, and freaky, blown-out alien life forms.

Either this afternoon or sometime tomorrow, I’ll have a full exposé on our Sunday shenanigans.  Stay tuned…


From the Experimental Kitchen: Creamy Carrot Soup with a Side of Baby Chard

Vegetables are amazing. I mean, there’s kohlrabi, which looks like nothing quite so much as a purple and green UFO camouflaged with a few leaves in order to lurk in your home gardens and probe the tomatoes and eggplant undetected. There are lumpy and bumpy and spiny cucumbers, amazing zebra-striped tomatoes, tenacious snap peas, and, of course, the artichoke. The artichoke is a testament to human ingenuity, as I am still baffled as to how anyone ever figured out that the artichoke bud was edible. In addition to all the oddball shirttail relations of Veggieland, however, there are the gorgeous cousins, like these sunset-hued, violet-red carrots.

We took home a bunch each of the last two weeks from our CSA, which meant that it was definitely time for carrots for dinner at our house. My first inclination was to roast them with some of my wonderful WildTree lemon-infused grapeseed oil, salt, and maybe a bit of dill, but it turns out that the little dill babies the neighbor gave us last week are still a ways away from being bulked up enough to provide dinner. I decided to roast the carrots anyway, though with an alternate ultimate goal: a delicious, creamy carrot soup. I had been wanting to experiment more with vegan versions of creamy soups, and the carrots seemed to be just the ticket. I had made some cashew milk (just like my almond milk, but with cashews) the day before, and I still had all the thick, creamy cashew pulp in the fridge. Perfect, I thought. (Actually, it was more like, “Eh, what the hey,” but that’s sort of how I roll in ye olde kitchen.)  Carrots and cashews seemed like a wonderful combination.

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