Agritopia Community Garden.

I was super stoked when my friend Vanessa asked me to share a plot at the Agritopia Community Garden with her and her mom. I have been dying to learn to garden and this was the perfect opportunity. The soil is what Vanessa refers to as "magical soil" AND the garden is strictly organic. I love the idea of feeding my family things that I was involved in from seed to plate, and not only that, but to share in that fun with a good friend!

You may remember Vanessa and her husband Jason from this post featuring some of their maternity pictures. Their little boy Lincoln was born on 10.10.10 and he is such a handsome little nugget! I got to see him last week and he is sooooo precious! I forgot what it was like to have a baby that small… and it hasn't even been that long. Oh boy.

Anyway, three weeks ago (the day before Vanessa's due date/inducement!) we headed out there and seeded our 20' x 20' plot.

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And thirteen seconds later, Lincoln was born.

About ten days later, Amber and I headed out to check on our little sprouts, and we discovered that we are indeed in business!

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I'm heading back out there today to check out the progress and see if anything needs to be done. I love being a part of something that fosters community and friendship and mutual support and healthful living. We are in very good company with other novice gardeners, urban farm experts, restauranteurs and friends, all who are willing to offer advice and share what they are learning along the way. It's so much fun and I hope my little girl learns a lot from these experiences in the coming years!

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Thoughts on Food, Inc. and a carrot massacre.

Yesterday we made carrots for Linnea- and boy, was it ever a mess! Our pediatrician warned us about this… but of course, the messier the feeding process, the CUTER the baby! It was simply amazing. Here's a video:

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We used a nifty little baby food steamer and processor that my father-in-law and stepmother dearest gave to us- it's fantastic! It's called the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker and although we steamed the carrots seperately (I jumped the gun- we'll try it with the next round of food!) it worked wonders as a processor. I got the recipe from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby and it was so simple. Next on the menu: sweet potatoes!

We watched Food, Inc. last night, and it was fascinating. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals a couple of years ago, and this movie sums up a lot of the ideas in the book. It definitely made me re-think the way our family eats and especially what we eat and where our food comes from.

One of the things we plan to do in our backyard is start a garden, but
we need to learn what we are doing first. There is a community garden
at Agritopia that I may look into to get a handle on what I'm doing-
and what a great way to learn! My dear friend Vanessa gave us some
zucchini, a red onion and parsley from her garden plot there and they were simply
delicious. I must say- any time we make anything from scratch with
home-grown or organic, locally-grown produce,it tastes amazing in comparison to the regular produce at the store! For now, we're starting small- we have some potted basil, yellow bell pepper and cherry tomatoes sitting on our front porch:

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We've already managed to kill a strawberry plant. The pot didn't have a hole for drainage… oops. It's a learning process!

I would love to hear from you about your family's eating habits. It seems as if healthy, whole food is not interchangable with a tight budget. Saving money is top on our list of priorities, but not at the cost of our family's long-term health. It's sad that a healthy lifestyle seems to come at a steep price in our society. So if you are feeding your family organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, and grass-fed meats, how do you make it work? Do you have any tips on how to save money while doing so? Do you grow your own fruits and veggies?

Appreciation.

I am so thankful for everyone who has been praying for my dad and who contacted me to let me know that he is in their thoughts and prayers. We went to the hospital today and he was awake and in very good spirits, and no doubt very thankful to be alive. We are all happy about that. He would laugh that I am saying this, but he truly radiated appreciation today. Renewed, I think- for life, for his loved ones, for his wife and his children and grandchildren. He's big and tough and ultimately a measly quadruple bypass can't keep him down. But he knows better than to go against doctor's orders, so he will do whatever it takes to get well soon. A CAT scan is in order to make sure we don't miss anything. And lastly, he is willing to have the surgery team go in to take care of the aneurysm the right way- whether that means they have to open his chest again, or go in through the artery in his leg. We're hoping and praying for the latter, and asking God to hold Dad tightly in His protective hands as we await the next surgery. So don't stop praying for him in the coming weeks. Our family is grateful for all you have done to lift up Dad already.

As our family came together at the hospital, anxiously waiting for good news from the surgeon, I realized that there are so many wonderful things about each one of these people that I hope Linnea sees as shining examples of love and character as she grows up. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing what each of those qualities are in individual blogs dedicated to those who are closest to my heart through thick and thin and who have shown love unconditionally in spite of my flaws. These are the people I want Linnea to look to when she questions humanity, because God has blessed me tremendously with amazing people who love her as much as I do.

So anyway, this is just a quick post to say thank you. Near and far, friends and those merely passing through my little site- thank you. God hears each and every one of your intercessions on my dad's behalf, and I will never forget what you've done for us. When I told my dad that there are countless people praying for him- strangers, even- he smiled brightly and said, "That's wonderful. Tell them to keep it up."

Food and memories.

After Mum Mum passed, my family and I spent a lot of time sharing some of our favorite memories of our time with Mum Mum. There was a common theme running through many of those memories: food. I had this epiphany that so many favorite times- anyone's, not just our family's- are centered around food and delicious food traditions. Sometimes you spend an evening with family or with friends, and you share conversation over an amazing meal that is simply unforgettable. My mom is so good at this, and so is my Amma! When it came to Mum Mum, our family- especially my nephew, David- always looked forward to her amazing baked beans every Christmas. This is a tradition that I am sure will carry on, and I would share the recipe with you except my mom wants to keep it a family secret 😉

In light of this, I am going to be more intentional about not only sharing my own favorite recipes that are beloved by my family and friends, but actually getting my butt in the kitchen on a regular basis to COOK those recipes!

Before this blog, I had another one that documented many things- my political opinions, buying a house, getting a second dog, and also my journey as a new vegetarian (I'm not gonna try to fool you into thinking that lasted long- I succumbed to the amazingness that is Liberty Market after only six months. But it was good while it lasted). In the months after Cody and I got married, I was obsessed with all things kitchen gadget-y and learning to cook was at the top of my list of things to do. Take, for example, this post, dated 6/23/08:

I swear to you, I can't surf around 101 Cookbooks or Smitten Kitchen
without uttering the words, "ExCUSE me?!" at least seven times per
visit when I look at their recipes. Because who wants to eat Amazing Black Bean Brownies
really? I should be offended by this. And then I totally want to eat
them. Why this is appetizing is beyond me. But I am sure that blogs
like this inspire me to spend as much time in my kitchen as is humanly
possible.

Also, when I walk into stores like Williams Sonoma or
Sur La Table I can't help but get a thrill at the thought of a huge
kitchen filled with every cooking gadget under the sun, and me
inventing culinary delights so ethereal that the heavens open wide and
the angels sing upon my creations.

I think the world might
actually be coming to an end. I want to do things like sew, cook, and
plant a garden. When did I become a vegetarian, chocolate-obsessed,
weird brownie-baking, lentil-consuming, Martha Stewart wannabe who
actually wants to eat the aforementioned ingredients… all in the same
recipe?

On another note, I made Cody
eat a whole steamed artichoke the other night, and it was *nearly*
disastrous. Not quite cooked all the way through, but not entirely a
loss for a first-timer. All in all, a thoroughly weird experience. When
he got to the part where he had to slice and dice his way through the
furry mess to the heart, he sat there with a very concerned look on his
face, staring at what was left of the artichoke, and said, "I think I
just ate a wombat."

Thank God my poor husband was adventurous and patient enough with me to live through my experiments… fuzz and all.

The health of my family and my own health is very important to me, and I want to be sure that Linnea is raised not only with wonderful memories of delicious food, but also with good eating habits. I wasn't off to the greatest start considering that all I ate when I was pregnant was Nesquick and hot fudge sundaes from McDonalds (that's like the epitome of processed AND sugar! What!) but we're gonna work to turn this train around. This doesn't mean that I am going to be The Food Nazi and never let her have any treats- for goodness' sake, the peanut butter brownie recipe I found and made a couple of years ago was a little slice of HEAVEN!- but we'll simply have to do things in moderation.

So… since you're probably dying to have that recipe yourself, I'll post it tomorrow for you to try over the weekend. It's an old post but a fun one, and the brownies are simply divine!

Wish me luck with that whole health thing- clearly I'll need it (see above picture).