Today’s Harvest

The weekend is my prime time to harvest and process food from my garden.  Here’s part of what I harvested today:

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena for Tea

Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena for Tea

I also harvested Basil.  I made this from the Basil:



We’ll be having this for dinner tonight, served on zucchini noodles.  I’ll post a recipe later this week for the pesto, and the meal I’ll be making from it.  I had enough basil to process 5 batches of pesto.  I’ll show you how I preserve and use the extra in the recipe post.

The Lemon Balm and Lemon Verbena were loaded into the dehydrator to be dried for tea.  In a few days when they are done, I’ll show you the results.

Later today, I will engage in battle with the ants that are herding aphids on my precious artichoke plants.  My plan of attack is to wait until dusk and then hose the plants down, washing as many of the aphids and ants off as I can.  I will then release ladybugs under all the artichoke plants.  The nursery told me they won’t fly away if I release them at dusk.  They’ll wake up and see all the yummy aphids.

The second phase of my attack is to mix some Borax and peanut butter for the little devil ants to take back to their nests.  Do not try this in areas where small children or pets have access.  Queen Bartifah and Muffie Stuffie Sucker do not access the front yard where the artichokes are.

If anyone else has any other organic/non-toxic suggestions for dealing with the ant/aphid issue, please comment.

Posted in Coming Attractions, Food Preservation, Harvest, Natural Pest Control, Suburban Homestead | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life’s Passages Continue

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.  James Taylor

It’s been a long time since I have had the time and space to put my thoughts down and share them.  Life has continued, and I have continued to journey through many transitions and passages.

The past several years, I have been working on a very challenging and difficult project at work.  I hadn’t realized how difficult it was until it ended.  After a few weeks, I felt like I was starting to get my brain and creativity back.  I started to think about writing this blog again.

Several times during the past few years, I toyed with the idea of just shutting down the blog.  TMOTH encouraged me to keep it going.  He felt I’d have something to say again.  He also thought I was doing many interesting things that I should share on the blog.  My response to that was that if I had to take the time to document the things I was doing, I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do them.  I felt it was more important in the maintenance of my sanity during this stressful time to do.

Another catalyst to getting back to blogging was reviewing my blog stats for 2012.  In 2012 I had 6,941 views.  The last post I published was May 27, 2012.  This year, I’ve had almost 5,000 views, and this is the first post of the year.  My most popular category appears to be my recipes and food experimentation.

So, what have I been doing all this time anyway?  When last I left my five loyal readers, I had evolved into a low carb, paleo, locavore.  Since then, I have added permaculturalist, and suburban homesteader to the repertoire.

We have been evolving our yards into permaculture style food forests.  I have begun experimenting with preserving our harvest.  Some of the things I have been doing include pickling, fermenting, dehydrating and pressure canning.

Moving forward (at least for now) the focus of my blog will be the progress of developing our food forest, recipes for using our harvest, and my food preservation activities.  I’ll post when I have something to show, or say.  I’m aiming for one to three times a week.

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Coming Attractions, Locavore, Musings, Permaculture, Recipes, Suburban Homestead | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Interesting (Yet Disturbing) Food Industry News: Paleo Diet is on the Multinational Food Company Radar

Because of my job, I subscribe to several Food Industry, web-based newsletters.  Last month this article was published.  I’ll quote bits of it, but you should also take the time to read it.

The gist of the article is that Unilever R & D has started a three year project to “identify nutritionally valuable varieties of fruits and vegetables from the past, in order to produce natural food ingredients for the future.”  The project will be focusing on five plants which the team feels has the most potential.  These are mangos, apples, onions, bananas and tea.

The article goes on to state the Unilever has been studying the Paleolithic Diet in its lab for several years.  As a result of these studies the researchers have “recently realized” that the plants that our ancestors thrived on were nutritionally different than the inbred, high yield crops that most people are currently eating.

Unilever plans to identify ancient, or heritage varieties of various plants which have a better nutritional profile than the modern varieties generally in use.  These “Paleolithic” foods will then be incorporated into Unilever products which will be sold as natural, Paleo foods.

I had really mixed reactions when I first read this article.  On one hand, it shows that the Paleo Diet is being viewed as a nutritious, healthful diet in the mainstream. The R & D teams at multinational food companies are very skilled at identifying and capitalizing on the latest food trends.  The Unilever R & D team started looking into this several years ago.  They have decided to put a lot of money into developing Paleo Processed foods.    This strikes me as the ultimate nutritional oxymoron.

It appalls me that in a year or two the multinational food companies will be marketing these Paleo Processed Foods to the masses.  They are gambling that people eating the SAD will have heard that the Paleo Diet is healthy, and will incorporate these new and improved Paleo “food” products into their family’s diet.

It’s the same sort of thing that happened when the Low Carb diet was trending and all the major food companies had low carb line extensions.  Unilever has identified an emerging food trend and hopes to capitalize on it.  I expect the other multinationals will also have Paleo offerings in their lines.

I’m concerned that when these “Paleo” products hit the grocery store shelves, they will create confusion about what the ancestral or paleo diet really is.  This low carb, paleo locavore is going to continue spreading the word that everyone should be eating real food:  unprocessed meat and vegetables, grown in close proximity to where they are eaten.

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Getting Into the Groove: 4/23/12

Hi all!  I’m hanging in.  I walked for 30 minutes yesterday.

I’ve not been inspired to write anything.  I’ve been very busy with cooking, work and family things.

I developed a yummy recipe for Paleo Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with a Coconut Milk White Sauce.  I created it Sunday whilst cooking a turkey dinner.  I was too busy cooking to photograph it.

I’ll have to make it again (I don’t think TMOTH will complain) so I can properly blog it.

Posted in Coming Attractions, How Julie Got Her Groove Back | 2 Comments

Getting Into the Groove: 4/18/12

I walked 30 minutes.

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Getting Into the Groove 4/17/12

Did one set of calisthenics and hiked for 1 hour and 9 minutes with TBB (The Beach Babe) at Annadel State Park.  I am really enjoying the social activity and the stress reduction that I get from hiking after work whilst chatting with TBB.

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Getting Into the Groove 4/16/12

I walked 30 minutes.

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Brunch on the Farm

Last weekend I had Sunday Brunch at Tara Firma Farms, the farm where most of the food TMOTH (The Man of the House) and I eat comes from.  The brunch was a fund raiser for Tara Firma Institute, a non-profit which is being started to provide education about the farm and sustainable growing practices.

We were served a tasty, locally grown meal including pastured eggs, sausage and bacon.  We sat on hay bales.  The other guests at the meal were varied and interesting to speak with.

The speakers at the brunch were Tara Smith (owner of the farm) and farm activist, Joel Salatin.  Both were articulate, amusing and very passionate about their topics.  They were preaching to the choir.  Everyone there was there because they believe in the importance of having locally grown, sustainable, real food available.  If you are interested in viewing the talks, the event was videotaped and can be viewed from the Tara Firma website.

It’s an unfortunate fact that most people don’t give too much thought to what they eat.  If they did, the Standard American Diet (SAD) would be very different.  My friends and acquaintances view my dietary shift and interest in nutrition as an eccentric phase.  I am a proud low carb Paleo Locavore.  It’s not a diet or a phase.  It’s a life-style that evolved as I passed through a series of changes.

Joel Salatin mentioned in his talk that as more people begin to change their behavior, eventually a tipping point is reached and that behavior then becomes the norm.   I do my part trying to change the behavior of those around me by feeding them delicious locally grown foods, or by inviting them to join me at the Farmer’s Market.  One thing leads to another.  Eventually, bit by bit, person by person, we may reach the tipping point that makes food grown locally by family farmers a hot commodity.

It’s not easy to make a living farming.  Tara Firma Farms was started three years ago.  Tara Smith said that the farm is currently feeding more than 600 families.  This year is the first year that they are breaking even.  If we want to have locally grown, sustainable food available on an ongoing basis, we need to vote with our dollars.  We need to request locally, sustainably grown food items from our local grocers and restaurants.  We need to let the commercial establishments in our area know that we want to buy these kinds of products so that they will begin to carry them.

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From the Internet: Make Shi(f)t Happen

I read a very interesting blog post this morning from Dean Dwyer of Make
Shi(f)t Happen (formerly Being Primal).  Dean’s post really resonated with me.  In it he discusses that the key to health, happiness and life is not Paleo, but change.  Paleo is a tool that can be used to get there, but in order for it to work, the person must make broader changes in his or her attitude, thinking and way of life.

I have found this to be very true for me.  My journey with Paleo has truly been a life passage.  I started with the goal of weight loss, but as my journey progressed so did my goals and my life as a whole.

Dean recommends five books in his post.  These are not Paleo books.  They are books that illustrate concepts about change and growth.  In the post he outlines the way that he thinks a person can most effectively absorb and utilize the information in the books.  I plan to work my way through them.

If you are interested, here’s a link to Dean’s post.

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Getting Into the Groove 4/13/12

I walked 30 minutes.  Today (Saturday) is my rest day.  I did apheresis at the blood bank this morning.  This afternoon I go in for some routine maintenance:  mani, pedi and eye brow wax.

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