Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Most Frightening Part Of Halloween...

Happy Halloween! Time for tricks and...treats? 

It's a shame that most Halloween candy is basically poison, and ingredients like chocolate are not fair-trade. This can especially be a bummer for kids. Here are some good alternatives that you can fill the trick-or-treater's candy bags with that will keep them smiling:

    Beware of tricky treats!
  • Here is a great website for organic candy! They also have categories for fair trade, vegan, gluten-free, and many other options!
  • How about dollar store toys?
  • If you live in a friendly community where everyone knows you, you can also make your own treats. 
  • mini pumpkins
  • snack sized savory treats like organic chips or popcorn. 

Have a fun and SAFE Halloween! 

Happy Halloween!

Make sure the corn syrup for your popcorn balls is GMO-free, y'all! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How To: Talk To A Farmer

This new lifestyle of eating organic, local food can seem a bit daunting - it takes a lot more work than just walking into a grocery store and coming out with neatly packaged foods. But it can be especially scary to introverts, like me, when that means you can't just walk through a grocery store checkout where a couple grunts are satisfactory to accomplish the mission of getting lunch. You mean...I have to talk to people??


Start mentally preparing yourself to crawl out of your caves to interact with your farmers. I promise, you'll be glad you did.

First off, why do you need to talk to your farmer? 

Walking through a farmer's market is often "what you see is what you get." But not always. Developing relationships with your farmers is the best way to find out what they have to offer throughout the year, or get first pick of a limited crop, or get free stuff, or find out ways to invest in their farm to ensure they stay afloat and successful and keep providing your food...etc, etc.

This is my sister, Alexa. She is a farmer, and she's super badass.

Farmers are people, too. 

For whatever reason, our society has looked at the people who provide our food in almost the same way as robots: we go into the grocery store, set all our food on the conveyor belt and we may not even look at the person who is bagging our groceries. Interacting with a farmer brings us back down to planet earth and reminds us that we are dealing with real people. These people work hard to provide us with beautiful vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs and meat. Unless you've actually worked or volunteered on a farm, you have no idea how much work goes into producing your food. Talk to them and find out all the work that goes into everything. Heck, go volunteer on a Saturday morning to experience it yourself! You'l be much more appreciative of who they are and what they do.

Hi, my name is...

It's your first time at the farmer's market. You check out the scene and walk up to a booth that looks like they have a good variety of things you like. Introduce yourself and tell them what you are looking for. Ask them where they are located. Ask them what they specialize in. Ask them how long they have been farming. Is it a family trade? See, talking to farmers is easy! 

Now get the goods. 

So, are you going to the farmer's market with a dish in mind that you are wanting to make? Or are you looking for inspiration there? Farmers always eat what they grow. Ask them for recipe ideas. Ask them what they make with kohlrabi, or those heirloom potatoes. The only dumb question is the question unasked. They're not going to look at you like you're an idiot if you don't know what that funny looking root is. They'll happily tell you what it is, what it's for, how to cook it, and they'll most likely even give you a sample.

Also, farmers network. If you are looking for a specific item, one farmer may not have it, "But So-And-So Farm has that variety. Here is their number..." If one farmer you are familar with doesn't have what you are looking for, ask if they know of someone else who does. 

Certified Organic? 

This is also a good opportunity to find out the practices and beliefs of those who run the farm. Unfortunately, it is not easy for small farms to get certified organic, due to endless paperwork and fees. So there are many practicing organic farmers that are not certified. Developing relationships with these farmers and investing in their businesses can help them eventually get the certification. And when it comes to animal handling and butchering, farmers who have nothing to hide will tell you exactly how they treat and process animals and what they feed them. 

So, do you feel more confident and prepared? 

Farmers are here to help and serve you. They want you to buy their products and support their business, and they are PASSIONATE about what they do. Don't forget, farmers are like doctors - you need to find the right one for you. Shop around and get to know all the farmers in your area and create a lasting relationship with a few where you will mutually benefit. 

How To: Find Local Organic Food

So, you could be living in the inner Portland area, like me, where there are 30+ weekly farmer's markets in your could be living in Middle-Of-Nowhere Texas. How are you going to find fresh, local, organic food? Well, the internet is a magical, wonderful resource to find anything your heart desires, including good food!

One of the best resources I have found on the inter-web is Local Harvest. You can put in your area code to find everything from farmer's markets to butchers to CSAs. Each locale is given a description of what is offered. Check it out! You could be surprised by how many great resources are located near you! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How To: Cook A Pumpkin

One of my favorite things I see this time of year are pumpkins! Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pastries...pumpkin everything! But how do you get from a monstrous pumpkin to any of these tasty treats? Seems a bit daunting, right? Here are the super easy steps of how to get the perfect pulp from a pumpkin you picked out at the pumpkin patch:

  1. Saw off the top of the pumpkin, with the stem, like you are going to going to carve it. Toss it.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds with an ice cream scoop or heavy spoon (Reserve the seeds for toasting later!)
  3. Cut or scrape off any excess strings from the inside until it's clean
  4. Cut the pumpkin into quarters or large chunks
  5. Bake the pumpkin at 350 F degrees for about 1 hour or until the pumpkin meat is very tender
  6. Scrape the soft meat off the pumpkin skin and run through a food processor or food mill to make it a smooth consistency, add water if needed! 

Just like from the can! You can can (Can Can!) this pumpkin to hold for future recipes or use it right away. Now you never need to buy canned pumpkin from the store again! 

What are you going to make with your pumpkin puree?

Best & Worst States for Eating Locally

Check out this article on the best and worst states for eating locally. Where does your state stand?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

October: What Is In Season?

It's my favorite time of year again! Leaves changing colors, we get a break from the heat of summer and add a couple more layers of clothing, time for pumpkin patches, corn mazes and Halloween - Autumn!

It's also when some of my most favorite fruits and vegetables come into season! Here is a list of all the produce that will be available this month. Head to your local farmer's market for some tasty new additions to your meals:


brussels sprouts
green beans
shelling beans
sweet corn
winter squash

Fruits & Nuts

asian pears
kiwi berries
plums & pluots

Meat & Seafood

albacore tuna
heritage turkey
wild salmon



Wild Things




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How To: Make Mozzarella

What is more delicious than fresh mozzarella? Pair it with heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic for a refreshing Caprese salad!
Make some marinara sauce, bread it and deep fry it for some mozzarella sticks! Or make a perfectly simple pizza with garlic, truffle oil and mozzarella slices!

The possibilities are endless. And how much better would it be if you made it yourself?

Well, it's so much easier than you'd think!

Here is what you need...


  • large colander
  • slotted spoon
  • two large bowls, one with a lid
  • pot for boiling water
  • measuring spoons & cups
  • thermometer

  • 1 gallon of the best quality milk you can find, preferably raw
  • 1 1/2 tsp citric acid - dissolved into 1/4 cup of cold, distilled water
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid vegetable rennet dissolved in 5 teaspoons cold distilled water OR 1/2 tablet vegetable rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup cold distilled water
  • 2 Tbs kosher salt
  • Any desired herbs and spices! Herbs like oregano, thyme and basil are super tasty! 
1. Place the milk in the stainless steel pot and bring it to 55 degrees Fahrenheit over medium heat. When the milk reaches the proper temperature, stir in the citric acid mixture.

2. Continue to cook the milk until it reaches 88 degrees Fahrenheit, about 5 minutes (at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the milk will begin to curdle). Add the rennet mixture, and stir with a slotted spoon until it just starts to separate, about 30 seconds.

3. Continue cooking the milk until it reaches 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the heat and leave the pot undisturbed until curds begin to form and pull away from the sides, about 5 to 10 minutes. (The curds should look like thick yogurt, and the whey should be nearly clear. If the whey is still milky, wait a few more minutes until it clears.)

4. Start boiling a stock pot of water, about a gallon. Fill one of your bowls with ice and water. 

5. Use the slotted spoon to scoop the curds into your collander. 

6. Rinse the curds in the colander with warm water and then knead them with your hands, breaking the pieces apart until you have no curds larger than the end of your pinky finger. 

7. Place the kneaded curds into one of your bowls, add salt and any other spices you may desire and knead again until they are well mixed in. 

8. Pour the boiling water over the curds, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and wait 2 minutes. 

9. Take your slotted spoon and pull out about half a cup of the melted curd. Place it in your hands and start forming balls by folding the cheese into itself underneath. Keep folding until it forms into a smooth, round ball. The place it in the ice water immediately. Continue this step until all the curds are used up. 

10. Your mozzarella is ready to eat! Keep the mozzarella balls in the water in an airtight container. 

What are you going to make with your mozzarella? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Vintage American Kitchen

Why Vintage?

Modern civilizations pride themselves on the new "food technologies" of genetically modified organisms, adding hormones, CAFOs, etc. But, we are working against nature. Our progression in "food technology" has actually become a regression in human life and health of the planet.

So, maybe in this case, our progression will come in regression - going back to what has worked for millennia - hunting, gathering, naturally growing and butchering our food within our local communities.

We are all familiar with the movements against this that have come from inspiring books and films, such as Food Inc. and Fast Food Nation. Those crucial influences have educated us on the dangers of the direction our foodsystems have been going in. But what can we do? How do we reverse it?

Vintage American Kitchen is a resource to show average Americans how to live sustainably, eat locally, organically and independently - the way we used to 150+ years ago.

I'm going to show you everything from making your own cheese and charcuterie, to preserving methods, to how to connect with local farmers. Make this your one-stop information guide for all the skills and resources to equip you to become the change you want to see!