Too Much Food

We made a few mistakes at the Farmer’s market today that ended up with us getting too much food.  I guess we’ll be having small meals continuously all day because of it.

Just ignore my sewing mess in the background…

  • 1lb ground beef from Sweet Tree Farm
  • 1 half-gallon of reduced fat milk, 1 pint of chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 2 “egg rolls” (Challah), 1 french baguette and 2 prune pastries from Our Daily Bread
  • 2 Carnival acorn squash from Cornell Farm
  • 3 hydroponic tomatoes from Shushan Valley Hydro Farm
  • 2 apples from Migliorelli Farm
  • 8oz. fresh mozzarella and 1 small container of strawberry yogurt from R & G Cheese

The only thing we needed to purchase for a meal this week is the ground beef. We also bought untreated button mushrooms from Bulich’s at the co-op.  Otherwise, we already have everything in the house. Works and is cheap!

Dinners this week:

Sunday: Indian Mushroom Curry

Monday: Pasta Fagiole

Tuesday: Burgers

Wednesday: Puerto Rican Rice and Beans

Thursday: Leftover Split Pea soup

Friday: Eat out

We are eating SO MANY beans this week.  Watch out! That’s all right, it’s winter time and there’s not many veggies for us to partake in right now. Barber only had cabbage this week, and though Cornell had turnips and rutabagas, we passed.  We also got to the market too late because Madura Farms was completely out of spinach, boo.  But except for the burgers and rice and beans, we’ve got veggies built into our meals already.  We still have some carrots left over from our garden (they store really well in the fridge) and that combined with the squash will get us through the week.


Buddhapesto: just basil, pure olive oil, parsley, romano cheese, garlic, pine nuts, tri-colored and sea salt.  No preservatives.

Back to the food we bought this week.  We got a couple of egg rolls (I’ve called them that since I was younger, even though they’re challah rolls really) to eat for breakfast, and then wanted one of those prune pastries.  The vendor made a mistake and gave us 2 instead, we found out when we got home.  They were more expensive than we thought, no wonder why since we got double! Then we got some pesto, which I LOVE but it’s pretty expensive so I’ve never bought it (my mom bought it once when visiting us and I got to taste it.  Of course, with the pesto, we needed bread, so we went back and bought a baguette.  We bought the mozzarella and tomatoes because K was in the mood for tomato caprese (our 3 year old basil plant is still producing), so it looks like we might not even need to make dinner tonight with all the little snacks we bought!

Egg rolls with cream cheese and blackberry preserves

Broke out a jar of blackberry preserves and brought a little summer to the house!

Still working on some sewing projects, which hopefully I’ll be able to share soon.  Still not quite sure how to sew in a straight line. I’m a bit crooked. Maybe it’ll just take some practice. 🙂

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

I’m still going back and catching up on some FL posts I wanted to write while down there.

If anyone remembers that far back, the week before we left it was freezing down there.  Literally. We actually wanted to help with the sea turtle rescues, which we heard about down there, but weren’t able to find good info since we’re not really from around there.

Walking along the beach was a little sad. There were dead fish everywhere, the ones who didn’t make it from the freeze.  In one way, it’s mother nature’s way of weeding out the weak, but still, not altogether pleasant.  There were even starfish.

This is actually a millipede starfish – slightly different from the traditional starfish which has only 5 legs.

Instead of looking at dead fish the rest of the week, we took the opportunity to see lots of animal LIFE and headed to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  The Refuge is 140,000 acres and was created as a “barrier zone” between NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center  and the surrounding towns and city.  To be perfectly honest, I’m a little skeptical at how much of a refuge it can be when a shuttle takes off, disturbing millions of animals with the loud sounds, fumes, etc., but I guess since it doesn’t happen all that often, they’re ok the rest of the time?

We started at the Visitor’s Center and took a quick walk around the boardwalk there. So much to see in only about 1/4 mile!

The boardwalk

Did you know citrus trees are not native to Florida?

Even though people closely identify citrus with Florida, it’s not a native plant.  It’s thought to have been brought in by Ponce de Leon and his peoples during the 1500s. Still, it’s delicious!

Spanish moss hanging down

So this is what spanish moss looks like! Do you know how often I have seen it mentioned in books?  A little lesson on spanish moss below:

A member of the bromeliad or pineapple family, Spanish moss is an epiphyte, or air plant.  It uses trees only for support, but gets its nourishment from air, sun and rain.  The gray stems are covered with scaly, gray-green leaves, and the small greenish flowers are rarely seen.  It is often found hanging in moss-like clumps from tree limbs, and even wires or poles.


Commonly found in pine flatwoods, saw palmettos grow in dense thickets, usually creeping low against the ground.  The fan-shaped leaves are 1-3 feet wide, and 3-6 feet tall, and have saw-like spines along the edges. White flowers are followed by black fruits that are eaten by many kinds of wildlife.

We heard something rustling in the brush and what do we see?  An armadillo! Never saw one in real life before. I tried to capture it with my camera, but shooting quickly I didn’t do too well and focused on the foreground brush instead of that blurry brown blog you can just make out to the right of center.  Oh well.  This is what one looks like:


Some mulberries

I wonder what I could make with enough mulberries…more jam?  🙂

Elderberry haven't quite opened yet

Ooh, it would be fabulous if I could make some elderberry liquor like I drank in Woodstock, VT!

Our sojourn at the boardwalk ended with a nice view of an American alligator sunning himself in the cattails.  You can just barely make him out in the center of the picture.  We HAVE to purchase a close-up lens for our DSLR soon – things looked closer to the naked eye than they do in our photos!

After the boardwalk, we headed over to the Black Point Wildlife Drive, where we saw even more wildlife.  All those birds that leave our northern hometown in late fall? Yup, there’s all HERE!  I’ll save that for a part 2 though. 🙂

Disney World!

A week ago today (already, really?) the hubby and I went to “The Happiest Place on Earth.”  It was the first time we ever went together, and the first time I’ve been in more than 10 years.  My favorite ride, Splash Mountain, was closed, woe! 😦 Basically all the water was shut off (the “moat” around Cinderalla’s castle was empty, and the water at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was gone. I guess it’s all because this is the “low” season.  Still we had a great time, and this felt like the real beginning of our vacation.  By the end of the day we were exhausted, but feeling relaxed and romantic.  How is it that a place for little kids can do that? 🙂

Going in!

Minnie posed just for me when she saw my camera! Then she blew me a kiss! I felt so special, lol!  Then she did it for someone else and I just felt cheap. 😉

The Riverboat.

It’s 3pm at…

It’s a Small World!

Um…just what are Goofy and Donald doing?

I think Donald wants to break my camera after catching them. 🙂

Main Street lit up at night.

Me and the hubby in the front on our way out. It was cold at that point! Not sure how he was ok in shorts and a t-shirt at night.

At the end of the day there was the magic of the fireworks show!! So many nice pictures I had to share.  Looking at them again puts me back in the moment!

Sad Story

Catching back up on the local news here, I came across this story about a dairy farmer in the area that recently committed suicide.  It appears he shot approximately 50 out of the 100 cattle herd he had, all the “milkers” that needed to be milked twice a day or would suffer horrific agony.

A lot of the farmers commenting on this blog post seemed to think this was a wonderful thing for the man to have done, to save his herd from the pain of mastitis.  I ‘m not a farmer, nor do I have any family members who are farmers, so I don’t know enough to comment on whether it is or not,  but I will take their word for it.  He didn’t touch the animals that didn’t need to be milked or have significant care.  I think that means something.

Another comment on that blog wrote about the money problems of farmers, especially dairy farmers, and how the “little guys” are getting squeezed out by the large dairy conglomerates.  Yet another commented:

I am heartbroken for this man and his family. It is absolutely true that you get up every single morning worrying about being able to get by, how you will pay for ever more expensive necessities with an ever shrinking milk check. It is tax time right now and I am sure plenty of farmers have a tax bill sitting on their desk like something radioactive, glowing in the back of their minds like a nightmare…waiting for them to figure out how to deal with a bill that will probably take more then two milk checks, which are already needed for grain bills and power bills and last year’s crop inputs. etc…

I had never heard of his farm, and it’s quite a bit south of us, as we are in the NW part of this region, but I immediately thought of the farm I get my milk from and gave a little prayer for the deceased farmer, his family, but also for the ones I get my food (and milk) from.  I’m hoping the money they get from me is enough (with others, of course) to keep them going for the long haul.

I’m grateful for those who do the dirty work of growing my food, who don’t get much money in return, but slog away because they love it.  I wish the man had been able to reach out to someone, anyone, to stop him from giving the pain he felt to the rest of his family for all their lives.  I do think suicide is a selfish act, but that doesn’t stop me from having compassion for what this man must have felt to have chosen this outcome.

Someone else (who did not know the farmer) wrote:

The saddest part is that he may have thought that no one cared anymore. I did.

It’s true. I didn’t know him either, but I cared about the work he did.

Back to the Grind

We’re home from Florida!  Man, that exclamation mark should NOT be there. It’s wonderful to go away from the cold and dreary upstate this time of year, but it’s so hard to come back to it.

This is what we left…

At least it’s not snowing here.  At least, not until Tuesday.

We got to the farmers market this morning, to stock up on a few things for the new week.

  • 2 half-gallons of reduced-fat milk and 1 pint chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1 half-gallon of apple cider from Migliorelli Farm
  • 1 dozen eggs from Coopers Ark Farm
  • 1/2lb of spinach from Madura Farms
  • 1 Copenhagen pastry from The Placid Baker
  • 6 apples (3 Empire, 2 Jonagold, 1 Fuji)
  • 1lb stew beef from Sweet Tree Farm
  • 1 loaf of apple bread from Naga Bakehouse

The Copenhagen was a new pastry to me. I think it’s another form of a danish – and ours had almond, custard, and currants, I believe. It was REALLY good, washed down with some chocolate milk.

The apple bread from Naga Bakehouse probably has a formal name, but I didn’t get to ask the vendor.  This was our second time trying them after the blueberry/ricotta bread we got in November that K didn’t really like.  But he wanted to try them again.  He liked the apple bread much better. You can really taste the smokiness of the wood-fired oven in it.

So…back to the grind.  But maybe my sunburned arms will hold on until the sun peeks out sometime in May/June here! 🙂

I have a number of Florida-related posts to get to, and they will come out sometime this week!  Gotta show what we did during vacation!

Welcome to Florida

I can see why snowbirds exist.  Leaving our 25F degree home for some 77 degree temps here in Cape Canaveral seems like the best idea ever!!

The hubby and I are taking a well-deserved vacation at the IL’s condo in Cocoa Beach.  It’s already soooo relaxing.

This morning, we slept in, and then went for a lovely walk along the beach.  The waves were pretty choppy, but the sun was out for the most part and the breeze was warm.

Today is January 17th??  And I’m here???  Awesome. 🙂

Recycling Holiday Cards (and others)

My friend Sally Anne has been going ’round telling everyone about this great thing that St. Jude’s does that helps in several different ways.  You can send them your “used” holiday (and other occasion) cards and they will “recycle” them by taking off the backs, adding new ones, and “reselling” them to earn money.  Everybody wins!  The cards get reused, St. Jude’s kids get some money and less paper is wasted overall.

If you’re like me, you probably still have holiday cards lying around the house.  If you’re not like me, you got rid of them on January 1st.  Actually, if you’re like me, you probably have 3 years worth of cards lying around the house.  So, pretend you’re not like me and bundle them up and mail them to :

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program

100 St. Jude’s St.
Boulder City, NV 89005

They will take used holiday, birthday – any occasion cards from now through February 28, 2010.

I’ve been so busy lately, I barely have time to write! I actually have several posts half done – hopefully I will get something out soon – because we leave for Florida on Saturday! Woot!


To-Do List Update

Second week of the New Year and I’ve already made some good progress towards some of my goals:

1. Finish hard-cover books.

1/6 are done.  Finished Peter the Great because I didn’t have that much left to read.  It was ok, nothing to write home about.  Interesting because I love history. I’ve also read some more of The Puerto Ricans, and am starting to finally really like it! After 1/3 of the way through it.  I finally entered the 20th century and it means a little more to me now.  It’s interesting because I really have no interest in 20th century American history, so why do I like 20th century PR history? They’re both *my* history.  My grandfather didn’t come over to NY until 1949, though I am really imagining how my family was living while reading about the 1928 hurricane and things like that.

2. No reading while I eat.

I’ve maintained it for a week.  Dude, it’s hard.  But I really think it’s good for me.

3. Lose 5% of my weight.

My “official” weigh-in is tomorrow, which means the day in which I stand my body on the bathroom scale.  I’ve rocked the eating and exercising this week, so I’m hoping to see a good loss.

4. Wedding cross-stitch

Absolutely no progress. 

5. Sewing machine

Well, I made this last weekend! I’m really proud, although the stitching isn’t particular straight. 🙂

Can’t wait to use this new beach bag on the beach in Florida next week!

6. Get house organized

All week I wanted to get started on this, but I decided getting to the gym was a higher priority.  Hopefully I’ll get to this soon.

All in all, not bad.  Here’s to the second full week of the year!

The Cost of Food

I think yesterday was the first post I’d written here in which I included food prices.  To be honest, I felt a little weird about doing so.  So many people judge the amount of $ people spend on local or organic food.  I know at least part of my hesitancy came from that.

But you know what? Never mind that.  I think the state of our food culture in this country is ridiculous.  We have the cheapest and most abundant food supply in the world, and the reason why is because of factory farming and agribusiness.

In 2005, Americans spent less than 10% of their disposable income on food.  Disposable income isn’t extra income like you might infer from the name, but what you take in after taxes are paid.  Only 6.1% out of that 10% is spent on groceries, the other 3.9% is spent eating out.

That’s the lowest percentage compared to any other country in this world.  Even the U.K., which is also really low, is 2% higher than the U.S. at 8.3%.  Germany is at 10.9%; Japan and France are pretty much tied at 13.4% and 13.6%, respectively.

“Second-world” countries are much higher – Mexico at 21.7%, China at 28.3%, India at 39.4 % and Indonesia at 49.9%.

I always love looking at those pictures that show what another family in a different country eats for a week.  Check out these pictures that show the huge differences between the developed and less developed countries.  Even Italy and Poland eat so many more fresh fruits and veggies.

Now, I’m not suggesting that 1/2 our income should be spent on food, but in a world where the average American spends 25% of their income on their dwelling – 25% doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to get good, wholesome, QUALITY food.  Instead, we live in a country where it’s cheaper to shop off the $1 menu at McDonald’s than buy fresh produce.

In addition to this, the amount of food farmers get back today is less than $.20 of every dollar paid by the consumer.  The rest goes to the processors, the wholesalers, and the retailers.  In 1950, they managed to get $.41.

Of course, the major reason for this is agribusiness, which uses the most modern equipment, hybrid genetically-modified seeds, tons of fertilizer and pesticides on all that food we eat.  But when you produce so much mass, you can afford to make only $.20 on the dollar.

But small farmers can’t.  They don’t have 1000 cows, and they don’t have all that fertilizer and pesticide, so they can’t grow as much, and to me, that’s a good thing.  When you have hundreds and hundreds of acres (and by you I mean multi-national conglomerates), land so vast you can’t possible walk it all, you NEED all those pesticides.  When you have 1000 cattle confined in a tiny feedlot you NEED those antibiotics to keep them upright.  If they don’t have room to even turn around, they certainly don’t have room to groom themselves and keep clean.

I want those little farms to stay around because besides thinking that my meat is “happy,” frolicking on pastures and whatnot, I like knowing it is healthier for me.  The meat I eat isn’t fed antibiotics or other artificial drugs or genetically modified foods.  Nor are they made into cannibals – since cows in feedlots are often fed the ground up remains of their own species.

The manure produced from those small farms I patronize is usable fertilizer, unlike that from CAFOs.  So many cows equals SO MUCH manure it’s a human health risk.

And most of all I like contributing the money to my community. I already volunteer my time for causes I believe in, I donate to charity, and I try to interact with my neighbors, especially in this new way of living I’ve been introduced to slowly over the last couple of years.  I love keeping my money in the general local area where possible, contributing to the well-being.  When everyone in my community is doing well, I do well too.

So all those reasons are why I’m willing to pay the extra money.  It’s expensive, and we know it’s expensive.  It’s forced us to only buy around a pound of meat per week, because at $6 (or more) per pound, it’s more of a luxury.  But the $.99/lb meat I can get in my supermarket doesn’t seem like such a deal anymore, when I know what the real costs are.

I’m not a purist, there are times in the last year when we’ve had to run to the supermarket and buy things because we couldn’t get to the farmer’s market that weekend or something, but we really don’t like doing it that much anymore.

And I know that not everyone has the disposable income we do and can afford to do what we do.  But we’re not rich either.  We just have different priorities.

So, in the end, I guess I still feel kind of defensive.  But I’ll admit it – we spent $60 on a 6lb smoked ham the week before Christmas.  We got 8 meals, and cups and cups of split pea soup out of it.  And it was SO DAMN GOOD, I want another one.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait for next Christmas. 🙂

Farmers Market…A Little Late

This week’s loot.  We’re not going to be here next weekend or the weekend thereafter so we picked up extra milk and bread.  Also check out the lettuce we got from Barber! I’m guessing it’s a product of the high tunnels they must have since we’re getting fresh lettuce in January in upstate NY! Sure it’s a little small, but we got two heads of lettuce for the price of one – and did I mention this? – in upstate NY!!! In January!!!

K also picked up a pound each of ground pork and beef from Sweet Tree Farm to make more meatballs this week.  We only have one more quart of canned sauce and meatballs – woe!  It’s only January too, we clearly need to can a lot more next year!

Even though we love the meat we get from Sweet Tree, K and I are going in on a half-CSA share with friends of ours, G and A from 8 O’Clock Ranch.  We’re getting 100% grass fed, Heritage breed Hereford Beef, Suffolk lamb and Pastured Yorkshire pigs from a family-owned farm that is about 200 miles from here.  For three months (we’re not going to do longer until we try it out first) we’re going to get 10lbs a month for the 4 of us – so really only 5lbs a month for each of us couples.  Since we only buy about a pound of meat a week this will be fine for us.

Here’s what we’ll typically get each month:

  • 2lbs Fresh Ham Roast
  • 1 Pork Bone-in Shoulder Steak
  • 1lb Sweet Italian Pork Sausage links
  • 2.5lbs Beef Shortribs
  • 1.25 lbs Beef Porterhouse Steak
  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 4 Lamb Loin Chops
  • 1lb Ground Lamb

This averages about $7/lb which sounds very expensive if you’re not used to it, but is really reasonable considering what you get. On average we spend about $6/lb at the farmers market, generally on stew beef or ground beef! So for only a $1/lb more we’re going to get porterhouse steak and lamb chops and roasts!

Unfortunately, our CSA won’t start until March so we still need to make it through the winter.  We just finished up the smoked ham we got the week before Christmas. This made multiple dinners, lunches and then lots of pea soup that we just finished up yesterday.  That smoked ham was SO GOOD!!! I want some more already.