Infinite Blogging

Tales of love, fertility and nourishing food.

Top 20 Food Trends for 2010 March 1, 2010

Filed under: Food,Health,Local,News and Blogs — Annette @ 9:29 am

Our food environment is changing. Check out this year’s Top 20 Food Trends, as reported by the National Restaurant Association. Overall, these are really, really good things.

  1. Locally grown produce
  2. Locally sourced meats and seafood
  3. Sustainability
  4. Bite-size/mini desserts
  5. Locally-produced wine and beer
  6. Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes
  7. Half-portions/smaller portion for a smaller price
  8. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
  9. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
  10. Sustainable seafood
  11. Superfruits (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen, purslane)
  12. Organic produce
  13. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)
  14. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor
  15. Nutrition/health
  16. Simplicity/back to basics
  17. Regional ethnic cuisine
  18. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)
  19. Newly fabricated cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, Petite Tender)
  20. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
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Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food February 12, 2010

Filed under: Food,Health,Local,News and Blogs — Annette @ 8:56 am
 

Columbia joins the ranks of chicken-friendly cities. February 2, 2010

Filed under: Bees,Food,Growing,Local,News and Blogs — Annette @ 3:11 pm

Until yesterday, the ruling in Columbia was that you could have 1 chicken per 0.5 acre of land. This meant that on our urban lot, we could have 0.36 of a chicken. I’m not sure the neighbours would go for that, what with the carnage and all.

Yesterday City Council passed a new chicken ordinance, so now you can have 6 chickens per tract. This is a pretty big deal around town, because Columbia is a pretty progressive place and a lot of people are looking for ways to grow their own food, buy locally, etc., and chickens are a part of that. But, Columbia also has its fair share of people who are not supportive of such efforts (or bicycles, for that matter), so it became quite a contentious matter. The good news, though, is that now we can have chickens in the city. Yay!

So will we be getting chickens? The answer to that would be a big fat NO. @charlietriplett has ix-nayed this idea from the very beginning, whether the chickens were legal or not. Man.

It’s probably for the best, though. Animals require work and your being there to take care of them, which is why we don’t believe in owning pets. Except the worms. The worms are very low maintenance pets.

And hopefully next year we’ll get bees. I am buzzing with excitement.

 

Beef! December 21, 2009

Filed under: Food,House,Local — Annette @ 7:24 pm

Oh, the excitement! We have half a cow in our freezer. AND the crazy thing is the freezer is still half full with a large block of ice that we froze inside it to help keep things cool. Which means we could theoretically put an entire cow in our freezer. Oh, the possibilities!

After talking with Mike K. about how they had purchased grass-fed beef in bulk, I decided I wanted to do the same. This was soon after we had plugged the 1951 freezer in again and it worked, which meant that storing meat was actually a possibility.

I found a local guy who raises 100% grass-fed beef and has actually had the nutritional analysis done on his beef to show the omega-3 content, which I think is very cool and very smart. I initially wanted to buy a quarter of a cow, but then found out that he only sells them by the half. After realizing just how much meat was in a quarter, I decided that just splitting a half would be too much.

I eventually found three other people to share with me, and we started the process. We were able to have it processed to our exact specifications, which meant that I had to learn about the different cuts of meat. I’m still pretty clueless but after some coaching from the seller I was able to place our order.

We picked it up tonight and all 241 pounds of it is now safely sorted and packed away in our 60-year old gigantic freezer. Very exciting.

So, the numbers. Part of the reason I wanted to look into buying in bulk was because I had been buying local grass-fed beef from Hy-Vee anyway, and it was $5-6/lb. That’s pretty pricey, but still manageable for us since we don’t eat a ton of meat. This stuff, which took maybe 4 hours of my time to research and coordinate? $2.92/lb, including processing. Without processing it was $2.35/lb. That seems pretty cheap to me.

I just did a quick Google Shopping search for ground beef, and it looks like grass-fed beef is going for upwards of $7-8/lb on Amazon. Ouch.

And this isn’t just ground beef, either. We each got 21 lb of ground beef, but the other 40 pounds of our share is steaks and roasts. So considering everything, and especially that it’s nutritionally better AND locally raised, I’m pretty happy with our purchase. 🙂

 

Aaaand we’re back. November 13, 2009

Filed under: Bees,Composting,Food,Growing,House,Life,Local,Love — Annette @ 9:03 am

I am amazed that after such a long lapse, my blog stats are still decent. Who are you people, and why do you keep coming back?

Things have been pretty busy work-wise since we got back from the Feast. This is peak farm trip season for us, so I spent 5 days driving out to Lexington to Fahrmeier Farms. If you’re in KC and looking for a cool place to hang out (or buy some fantastic local veg), this is it. Winery, MU games, the whole deal.

We’re looking into applying for another grant to fund a similar pre-K program called Early Sprouts. It has more of a gardening component and allows the pre-Ks to experience six target vegetables with all of their senses before tasting it. There’s cooking in the classroom, plus sending ingredients home so the parents get involved, too. It’s a very cool program. I hope we get the funding.

I’ve applied to present at a conference in Alabama in April. Plus there’s the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in May in Detroit, and I definitely want to go to that. Hopefully I can have a poster. And I’m also presenting at school health conference at the Lake in December. I’m working on trying to develop a presentation that doesn’t suck.

Our grant funding ends at the end of this academic school year, so we’re exploring how we can integrate my program into our existing statewide programs. There are still a lot of questions up in the air, and I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. Hopefully for the best.

I’m very interested in developing some actually functional Spanish-speaking skills. I took three semesters of Spanish at Queen’s in undergrad, but it’s been a long time. In a couple weeks I’m going to be starting a Community Spanish course at our local career center. I’m looking forward to that. It’s a bonus that I get to do it on work time. I think having Spanish skills would be a huge career asset.

The garden has been put to rest for the season, but I did plant garlic. We had our first frost on our predicted first freeze date of October 17, which I thought was fairly coincidental. After that, though, the temperatures warmed up to be quite lovely and now I have some top growth poking out of the soil. That’s not supposed to happen until spring, so I hope it doesn’t affect next season’s garlic crop.

I did also build a small outdoor compost pile, using Eliot Coleman’s method of using straw bales for the walls of the pile. That meant that I got to buy overpriced straw at our local hardware store, which made me feel very farmy.

Speaking of composting, I also recently ordered another pound of red wigglers for our vermicomposting system. The half pound I purchased originally just wasn’t enough to keep up with all of the scraps we have. We do have some great-looking castings, though, so I’m looking forward to using those on the garden in the spring. Since I have a 5-tray vertical migration bin, I’m hoping to just use two trays at a time and alternate feeding the two trays.

I think, though, that either the delivery man didn’t knock on our door, or we didn’t see the worm box on our porch when we got home last night. That means that the worms sat out on our front porch all night. I didn’t find them until this morning. 😦 I don’t think it got too cold last night; it was 46 when I checked at 7 this morning. The worms don’t like temperatures below 40, so I hope they’re not a gooey mess when I get home.

A couple nights ago Charlie and I were talking and I mentioned something about having bees. I lovingly harass my husband about having backyard ducks or chickens, but he always says no. I’m only allowed to have animals that take care of themselves. Like worms. When I mentioned that people in France keep bees on their apartment roofs, though, he said, “We could have bees.” Are you kidding me?! We can have bees?? I never thought that he would let me keep bees. So now my new thing is learning about how to keep backyard bees. Did you know you can get 100 lb of honey from one colony of bees in one season?! That’s amazing!

As it turns out, there is a local beekeeping association that offers a beekeeping basics course here in town. It looks like the course is in January, and as much as I would like to take it and have bees in the spring, I think I need to reign myself in a bit. There are so many things that I want to do and so many things that I’m interested in, but I keep having to remind myself (my husband does a good job of that, too) that I can’t do them all at once. So I think for the next growing season I will focus on a) adding another garden bed, b) planting a couple fruit trees and c) building cold frames for next winter. Then the next growing season (2011) I’ll put in the last raised bed and get myself some bees. Yay bees!

House-wise, we have been focusing on trim and doors. Charlie installed four new interior doors a few weeks ago, and since then we’ve been painting the doors, painting the frames, painting the trim that goes around the doors and installing it. It’s starting to come together. I’ll post some pictures later.

Charlie’s been very busy with freelance work, which is a blessing financially but also means that it takes us longer to get things done on the house. But, on the other hand, it does help fund some of the house projects. So maybe we do need both.

Oh, and he’s taking me away on a mystery anniversary vacation in December. I don’t know where we’re going, but I know it’s within the US, we’re flying and we’re going to be away for about five days. How exciting!

 

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food October 13, 2009

Filed under: Food,Growing,Local,News and Blogs — Annette @ 7:44 am

In case you missed it, a few weeks ago USDA launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer

This is a pretty big deal for the local foods movement, and has potential to have some real impact in developing local food systems and supporting small family farms. It’s also impressive that USDA a) acknowledged that people are interested in local foods and b) are actually considering cashing in on the opportunity. From what I know of the food system, this is a rather large departure from past agricultural policies. The initiative also plans to promote farm-to-school projects, which just so happens to be what I do for a living. Keep an eye on this. Hopefully it will be a worthwhile project.

 

Eating seasonally. August 18, 2009

Filed under: Food,Growing,Life,Local — Annette @ 8:41 am

I’ve been enjoying the creativity and new experiences that come with eating seasonally. “Well, we have a whole bunch of tomatoes right now. What should I do with them?” I don’t have enough to can for salsa or spaghetti sauce (which is my hope, eventually). Because I’ve been focused on eating what comes out of our garden and what’s available at the farmer’s market, we’ve had basil pesto, pico de gallo, and now bruschetta. I’ve never made any of these things before, and they’ve all been amazing.

The bruschetta is up there with the pesto on one of the best things I have ever made. I wish I’d taken a picture of the pesto, but I think it didn’t even make it out of the food processor. I ate half of it before Charlie even got home, and we polished the rest off with dinner.

I’ve recently introduced butter into my cooking. I know, how unusual. I never liked the taste of butter while I was growing up. Maybe we just always had low quality butter at home (sorry, Mom), but it just never tasted that good. That, combined with the saturated fat issue, and I became more of a margarine person. (Only the NO TRANS FAT type, of course, for those who think margarine is the devil. We can have this debate at another time.) Anyway, Charlie refused to give up his butter, so we always had some in the house. And now that I’ve tried cooking with it a few times, the margarine is gone.

Last night when I was cooking up the bruschetta (with lots of butter, oh my), Charlie was like, “Who are you? Where is my wife??” And the buttery bruschetta was totally amazing. BUT, not something that we should eat every day. All in moderation.