Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade Tiramisu

You've got your mascarpone cheese ready?  If not, please see my previous post and you'll learn just how easy it is to make this delicious Italian cheese.  It is native to the Lombardy region of Italy and is used in dessert dishes like this tiramisu recipe, or in savory foods, as I did with the crostini recipe in the mascaropone cheese post.
This is a pretty simple recipe, and you know you always order it when you eat at an Italian restaurant, right?  My daughter wanted me to buy a whole tiramisu at the store the other day.  I decided then and there we were going to make one and know the nature of the ingredients in our dessert!


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages ladyfingers
  • 1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur like Kahlua
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate
  1. Place egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler.  As with making your mascarpone, you can create a double boiler by placing a stainless steel bowl over a pan of water, just make sure the bottom of the pan touches the boiling water.
  2. Over low heat whisk constantly for 10 to 15 minutes until they reach 160F.  You'll know the eggs are ready because they'll begin to thicken.  Remove from the heat and whip the yolks until they are thick and bright yellow.
  3. Add your freshly made mascarpone cheese, whipping until well mixed.  
  4. In a separate bowl whip the cream into stiff peaks.
  5. Blend yolk mixture into the whipped cream.
  6. Split the lady fingers and decide if you're making individual desserts or a large dish for presentation.  Brush the ladyfingers with the Kahlua (or amaretto if you don't like coffee). Place at the bottom of the dish, spoon part of the cream mixture on top, place another layer of brushed lady fingers, and more cream. Layer as necessary.
  7. Sprinkle the top with cocoa powder and chocolate. I have a cheese knife that I use to do this, but other people grate their chocolate, or make more ornate curls with a vegetable peeler.
  8. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Do not soak the ladyfingers in the liquor, they will become a very soggy mess.
You can use any liquor you desire.  Some people make their tiramisu with Amaretto or Grand Marnier.  Try different ones until you find your favorite.  Mine's probably the traditional coffee liqueur, but I'm open to suggestion.  Guess that means I'll be making several varieties of tiramisu in the upcoming weeks. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

I'm on a roll here folks.

Once I figured out that making ricotta cheese was easy, I set about looking for answers to my other "cheesemaking" questions...and here's another seriously easy cheese for you to make.

Start with 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in the top of a double boiler.   If you don't have a double boiler, use a pan of water on the stove and a stainless steel bowl that will fit into the pan and touch the water. Bring the water in the pan to a boil.

Place the bowl of heavy whipping cream over the boiling water.

Whisk gently until your cream reaches 120 degrees (Fahrenheit).  You don't want to do this fast, it should take 15 - 20 minutes.

Whisk in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (don't use the stuff in a bottle, please...) Continue to gently whisk over the heat until the cream reaches 180F.  Everything will thicken and coat a spoon. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then remove the bowl from the pan and place it on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.

Once it has cooled, pour the mixture through a strainer lined with 4 - 6 layers of cheesecloth. You can also use a coffee filter instead.  Because you will be straining overnight in a refrigerator, your strainer needs to fit inside a bowl, and the entire contraption has to find room in your fridge! Cover it with plastic wrap.  I place it directly on top of the "cheese" so minimize any oxidation.  Once the cheese has drained to your satisfaction, store it for up to 4 - 5 days.

Quick use: Mix half a cup of mascarpone cheese, half a cup of parmesan cheese, add a pinch of Marjoram, salt, and pepper, spread over sliced Italian bread, broil until golden, and you have yummy crostini!  Perfect for serving with soup or just a glass of wine.


You can immediately make tiramisu...that's the next post...stay tuned!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I'm all about finding things that I can make at home.

Part of the motivation behind the hunt is simply to take the mystery out of things.

Today's find is how to make homemade ricotta cheese.  You can use ricotta in lasagne, on pizza, in stuffed shells (remember my trick of putting pumpkin in with it!) on bagels, on top of baked potatoes...and the list really does go on...cheesecake...

Here is one link from Eggs on Sunday blog where she makes ricotta cheese using whole milk, cream, salt, and lemon juice. Browse through her blog and find ricotta cheesecakes, and ricotta stuffed mushrooms.  Yum!

Then I heard that you can make ricotta cheese from milk and buttermilk. This is not quite how ricotta is traditionally made, which is made from the whey that is left over after making cheese, like buffalo mozzarella or pecorino.  Because most of us don't have the luxury of these raw ingredients, and it is easier than most cheesemaking techniques (except making yogurt cheese) so you should try it at least once.

Keep in mind that your cheese will taste and smell like the milk products you use to make it with, so use fresh milk and buttermilk. Consistency is fully controllable as well.  For softer cheese that is creamier, watch carefully and stop draining as soon as you reach the desired consistency.  For drier ricotta, drain it for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix equal quantities of whole milk and buttermilk.  If you want to make 4 cups of cheese, use one gallon of each.  For two cups of cheese, use half a gallon of each.

Mix both milks in a stainless steel pan with a thick bottom and put over med to med-hi heat. Stir frequently so the milk doesn't scorch, stopping once the milk becomes hot the curds will rise to the surface.

While the milk is heating, line a colander with 5 - 6 layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl, or you can use the sink if it is more convenient. (You'll make less of a mess.)

At 175 degrees, the curds and whey will separate. Carefully ladle the curds from the pan into the lined colander.  Be fairly gentle with this process. You'll discard the remainder of the whey.

Gather the cheesecloth edges together and gently squeeze from the top, but don't squeeze the cheese directly. Drain until you have reached the desired texture for your homemade ricotta cheese.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  Use within 5 days.

I'm curious to know what you've decided to use your fresh ricotta on!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Health Benefits of Juicing

I've discovered juicing, but in a slightly different way than you would think.  I love all forms of juicing, however, when you juice and extract only the liquid portion of the fruit or vegetable, you are throwing away all that healthy and valuable fibrous material that scrubs your arteries clean of cholesterol.

I'm not an affiliate of Vitamix, but there certainly is a lot of evidence that this machine is the real workhorse of the juicing industry without sacrificing all the good health benefits of the fibrous potions of the fruits and vegetables.

Whether  you opt for the Vitamix or another high-powered blender that is capable of pulverizing just about anything you put in it, you will begin to see immediate changes in your health, your skin, and your overall energy levels.

The blender comes with a recipe book, and there are hundreds of additional recipes available on the internet.  Here is one site, Healthmad, that has 10 free juicing recipes for you to try.

Even my kids have taken to making "smoothies" as a replacement for meals...meals that they would likely have skipped otherwise.  What's even better, is there is no added sugar to these smoothies because when you use fresh, ripe fruit and vegetables, the natural sugars do the sweetening for you.

What's even better, this machine makes the absolute best whole food daiquiris and margaritas! Do you need any more reasons to look into a better alternative to just juicing?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Using Your Dishwasher is Environmentally Friendly

At long last, I feel vindicated!

I have argued with people for years that using your dishwasher actually uses less water and is more environmentally friendly than handwashing everything.  Finally, here is a post from a new site I just found, Living Green Tips. They also have a free ebook available that you might be interested in to help you live a little bit "greener" life!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Salads as Main Dishes

I'm a huge, HUGE fan both of eating a salad as a main dish...and of Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman Cooks...If you haven't been to her site, or read her new cookbook from cover to cover, you really need to!

Here's a link to that wonderful section of her site called Salads as Main Dishes.

We all need to eat more salads and more veggies, and this is as tasty a way of doing it as I can think.  I'll certainly be posting more recipes for Salads as Main Dishes myself, but I figured you could get a jump start on these four delicious recipes!

Please visit Ree's site.  Her recipes are packed absolutely full of step by step instructions and photographs of every step.  I think she's an up and coming photographer.  Maybe that'll be her next book.

Let me know your favorite Pioneer Woman Cooks recipe.



Monday, October 25, 2010

New Mexican Red Chile Sauce Recipe

My sister wrote to me yesterday asking for my red chile sauce recipe.

See, I told you that chile is addictive.  She lived in New Mexico only for a couple of years, but she still enjoys the wonderful food from that state.

For those of you who don't know, both red and green chiles come from the same plant.  The green chiles are perfectly ripe and ready when they're bright green.  However, if you leave them on the plant a little longer, they begin to turn red and develop more color.  In New Mexico, red chiles are stored by stacking them along a length of rope into what is called a ristra, which is allowed to air dry, preserving the chiles.  This is a very common sight in New Mexico, numerous red ristras hanging outside the front door as the chiles dry in the autumn.

Here is the simplest and easiest Red Chile Sauce Recipe, it is made from powdered red chile:

2 T. oil
3 T. flour
4 T. red chile powder
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt

Heat oil in a skillet, add the flour and brown very slightly. Add the red chile powder, stir, then add the water and whisk until all lumps are dissolved. Add garlic and salt. Simmer 10 minutes.

Serve this as an enchilada sauce, over eggs, potatoes, with cheese, with pinto beans, etc.  It is delicious and a true staple in our household.

For those of you who want to make red chile from the dried red chiles either from a bag at the store, or perhaps you have an authentic red chile ristra!  I don't have a picture yet to show you, but once I do, I will repost this.

Here is a link to a truly delicious Red Chile Sauce Recipe from Simply Recipes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kate's Organic Living is Listed with Technorati

Just want to put a new post up to let Technorati know that Kate's Organic Living is ready to be found.

Autumn in Northern Michigan

Autumn always makes me look back on my life, and see how it shaped me into who I am today, because our path is responsible for where we end up.

This video is very short, but pulls at the heartstrings. Autumn in Northern Michigan.

Red leaves of autumn, returning nutrients to the earth.
 I used to live in this beautiful area of Northern Michigan when I was in school, before college, when time, for me, was something different than it is now.
Nothing as as beautiful as sunlight filtering through autumn leaves.
 I remember those days with great nostalgia and a hint of sadness. Life was slower and easier then.
Autumn leaves tinge the air with a sugary sweetness.
 I think that autumn does that to us...makes us remember, times, places, and people of our past...
Autumn in its absolute magnificence.
 We do think about times past, and I wonder if that might not be why nature puts on such a beautiful color show for us, to help us lighten our hearts and raise our spirits.
Colored ivy on buildings brings to mind my time at college.

Autumn in the mountains brings me back to my young childhood, and my life as an adult when I returned to the mountains.

Autumn colors take many forms.

And many shapes, far away or up close, they never fail to amaze.

Where is your path taking you?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cafe Justo

Hello everyone,

In keeping with my philosophy in Kate's Organic Living, I'd like to talk about a project that is fairly close to my heart.  At our church, we have recently begun a program of selling Fair Trade Plus coffee once a month.  This is where we get the beans grown in Chiapas, Mexico by a cooperative of families.  This is the "Fair Trade" portion of the coffee.  The Fair Trade "Plus" portion is that the coffee is then roasted in Agua Prieta, Mexico.

Most people don't realize that most of the money in coffee production is in the roasting process.  By supporting an organization that both grows and roasts coffee near their homes, we are supporting groups of people who have struggled to make a good enough living to stay on their family lands and live together. Many people in Mexico have had to seek employment in the United States, forcing them to leave their families, sometimes for years at a time in order to support them.

By supporting Fair Trade Plus Coffee sales from Just Coffee, we are supporting families and communities. You can help too by visiting their website and ordering coffee directly from them.  They have many varieties of coffee, from the basic and heavily caffeinated Robusta coffee to the delicious Arabica bean, to the premier Marago bean that brews a coffee that is so buttery, chocolatey and delicious it shouldn't even be called coffee.  It is not flavored coffee at all, it is the nature of the bean that changes the character of the coffee.  If you have never tasted Marago bean coffee, you should do so at least once in your life.

The book on the Amazon ad is their book about Cafe Justo, or Just Coffee.  It is a wonderful story about how they came to be and will answer any questions you may have about the organization.  Many churches are realizing that something as simple as changing the coffee we buy to drink on a daily basis has the power to change lives.

Fee free to contact me if you need any further information!

Arugula Recipes

Hi everyone, I have a really quick post for you today about recipes for arugula.

I've gotten a fair amount of arugula the past three weeks in my organic produce share, and was running out of ideas on how to use this lovely green.  I just happened on this site, Mariquita Farm, and they have enough arugula recipes that I'm afraid I'm going to run out of arugula before I try all the recipes.  How's THAT for a problem?

But, just in case you need a couple more ideas, here are a handful of arugula recipes from The Seasonal Chef.

A Quick Tutorial on How to Clean and Store Arugula
Arugula is something that I call a "sturdy green". It can be eaten either raw as in salads and pesto, or cooked much like you would cook spinach. Cooked arugula has a more sturdy texture than cooked spinach does, so be prepared.

Tastewise, arugula has a peppery taste, more pungent when it is larger than when it is harvested very young. When selecting arugula, you want dark green leaves that don't have any yellowing or wilting leaves.

As soon as you get home, remove the tough stems and throw those into the compost.  Arugula cleans best in a large bowl or tub of water so that you can swish the leave around and remove every trace of soil that might be clinging to the leaves. Lift the leaves out of the water. If the water is especially dirty, you may want to do a second washing to avoid any grittiness in your salad or dish.

I prefer to spin my arugula in a salad spinner in order to dry the leaves. Arugula is best used within about three days.  If you need to keep it longer, gently roll your cleaned and dried arugula in paper towels and store them in a plastic bag, just don't seal the bag.  They will keep up to a week this way.

I must run for now, but let me know how you like any of these arugula recipes...I'm going to make the arugula pesto today and probably the arugula and goat cheese pasta sauce.  I'll let you know how they turn out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Autumn Musings - Time for Nuts!

I can't think of anything that immediately makes me think of home, family, and holidays any more than a big bowl of fresh, unshelled nuts.  We have always bought nuts in this form, and part of the tradition of cracking them open and separating out the meats that broke from the ones that stayed whole was just a step in the process.

You see, the whole meats would be carefully placed at the bottom of the fruitcake pan so that when the batter is poured on top, it is baked, and then turned upside down, those carefully placed nuts become part of the decoration of the cake.

It didn't matter too much if the meats were broken, because we needed to chop nuts for everything else, like pies, adding them to date nut bread or pumpkin nut bread, or to our secret family fudge recipe.

My son now collects nutcrackers, mainly because I shop for one for him every Christmas.  My daughter danced in the Nutcracker ballet. Nutcrackers have always enchanted me, and I never knew if it was because they were so unique and enchanting, or because they helped to extract the nut meats from their sturdy shells. Truth be told, I never wanted to use a beautiful nutcracker to crack nuts.  I rely on the old standby, the basic metal nutcracker and pick to remove the meats from the shells.

For more detailed information about different types of nuts, go to my article "Nuts about Nuts" at Acreage Life Magazine that is linked to this posting, I have two really nice and easy recipes that you might want to try.  One is for sugared nuts that you can eat just as a sweet, or you can put them in salads.  The other is an almond and goat cheese spread that you can eat on toast or crackers, or use as a sandwich spread.

No matter how you use them, nuts are a very healthy food, and while they do contain a lot of fat, it is a good and healthy type of fat that your body will thank you for.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Santa Fe Green Chile Chicken Stew

Hatch Farms, Inc. Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, Med, 14-Ounce (Pack of 12)
I know that for those of you who haven't lived in the southwest as long as I have, this may not be a treat, but if you've lived in New Mexico for any time at all, you have probably become addicted to green chile.

It's a proven fact that the stuff is addictive! REALLY!

This is a very easy dish to make, warms you inside and out.  A real taste of good Southwestern "down home" cooking at its best.
"Almost heaven..."

We've recently moved away from NM, and while we've had a few friends make sure we don't run dry in the fresh/frozen green chile department, we do have to ration ourselves.  Tonight we're getting ready to make Santa Fe Green Chile Chicken Stew.

Start with raw chicken and veggies.  Save bits of stalks from other veggies, keep them in a big bag in the freezer and toss those in whenever you're making broth.  Really ups the vitamins!
You start with a pot of water and some chicken. This time we're using just breasts, but if I find a few whole chickens on sale, that'll work too.  Throw in some carrots, celery, onion (with the skins on to maximize favor and color), a little bay leaf and some pepper and start the cooking process.

Yep, you're going to throw away all those cooked vegetables because you've extracted all the yummy nutrients. This is a nice tricky way to get your kids to eat more nutritiously!
It really helps if you have a great stewpot like this one my hubby got for me. When I'm ready, I just pull up the handles of the strainer part, let it drain, and all the brothy goodness is still in the pan!  Great idea.

Pull the chicken off the bones.  You want to make sure you don't overcook the chicken.  Put the bones and skin back in the pot and cook for another hour or two. Be sure to refrigerate the chicken that you pulled off the bones until you're ready to put the stew together.

Once the chicken's cool, shred it and hold it in the fridge until you're ready to add the meat.
Here's what it looks like after the second simmer session.

Not lookin' beautiful yet, but the broth it has made is to die for!
Time to add the roasted green chile.

Anyone who has lived in New Mexico for any period of time recognizes this sight.  We buy BUSHELS of green chile and freeze them to use throughout the year!  This year we had some wonderful friends who supplied us with our yearly stash!

Taking the charred skin off...don't rinse all of this off as you want some of this roasted flavor!

If you're new to chile, you might want to wear gloves for this part.  Whatever you do, do NOT touch your eyes...or any other sensitive part of your body for that matter.

This seems like a lot of chile, but I'm making a BIG batch!
Make a roux of flour and butter, brown it just a little.

Melt butter for the roux, or you can use vegetable oil.

Add the flour, salt, and pepper...I think we added a little green chile powder too, it IS a bit of a strange color, but don't worry, it'll do the job just fine.

Add to the hot broth and whisk furiously until it returns to a boil.  This is lookin' pretty yummy!

Add the chicken meat back in.

Remember, you don't want to boil the chicken meat to death, otherwise it will be tough and tasteless.

Add the green chile that's been cleaned and chopped.

Warm up some tortillas and settle down for some down home New Mexican goodness.

15 seconds on each side on a hot griddle is all it takes.

Top with shredded cheese....or onion...

...or both!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Apple a Day...Dixon Farm Apples

An apple a day may or may not keep the doctor away, but it is certainly an excellent bit of advice.

We just received a fantastic gift from some of our friends back in New Mexico.  Dixon Farms near Cochiti Lake in New Mexico is the home of the best apples in the entire world.  Yes, this is my own personal opinion, naturally, but anyone who has tasted their Champagne apples knows what I am talking about.

I used to buy bushels of these yellow apples and made homemade applesauce for my brand-new baby.  He's 23 now, so he must have thrived on that applesauce.

One of the biggest reasons for making my own applesauce is that I was in total control of how much salt and sugar was in the end product. By making my own baby food (and canning it) I taught my child to learn to taste the natural flavor of the food.

Did you know that salt is designed to make you eat more. It is certainly a taste enhancer, but it causes people to actually eat too much.  If you've been told to lay off the salt, do so for both your blood pressure and your weight.

The easiest way to make applesauce is to peel the apples.  (When you use organic apples, you know that you can place peels and cores in your compost pile without any concerns for lingering pesticides.) Remove the core and cut the apple into chunks of about one inch.

Fill a stainless steel pot with your apple chunks and turn the heat on medium-low. As the apples begin to heat they will sweat.  Cover the pot to retain all this fluid.  Cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the apples are completely softened.  Different varieties of apples take different amounts of time to cook until the apples are soft.  Some people like their applesauce totally smooth, in which case you need to run the cooked apples through a Foley mill.  I recommend this if you intend to use the applesauce for baby food.

Otherwise, leave a few chunks in the applesauce and it will look a little more like this:

When making applesauce, you can add a tiny bit of cinnamon, but I prefer to make my applesauce completely plain, and that way everyone can add cinnamon to their own taste.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Potato and Kale Soup Recipe

Potatoes and Kale...I'm thinking SOUP!
Here's one of my family's absolute favorite soup recipes:

1 pound sausage - I use Jimmy Dean sage, but you can use your favorite.
4 cups cubed boiling potatoes, make sure to wash well and leave those skins on
1 bunch kale, washed well, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 quarts organic chicken broth
1 can evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage in your soup-pot.  (We're looking to make this as easy as possible!) I let the sausage caramelize a little bit at the bottom of the pot so that I can deglaze with some of the chicken stock and it makes the broth a rich brown color.

Add the potatoes and the remainder of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are just beginning to be tender.  Add the can of milk, more water if necessary to keep everything covered up.  Add the kale and stir into the hot broth.  Cook an additional 15 minutes to soften the kale.  Season to your taste.

It can be served this way, or you can thicken it with a roux if your family likes a little bit more robust soup.

Brown 4 tablespoons butter with 4 tablespoons of flour.  Stir constantly, and pull from the heat just as this begins to turn a toasty color.  Immediately whisk this into the hot soup.  It will thicken almost immediately.  Allow to simmer another 2 minutes, and then serve with good crusty bread.



Pretty much every culture in the world uses potatoes in some form or another. They are a very healthy part of any diet, and contain vital nutrition that our bodies need.

See my Spuds article from Acreage Magazine, September 2010 issue for more information about the origin of potatoes and how they came to be that tuber we eat today.  There are a few recipes included in that article that you might want to try

Personally speaking, I think that the potato has been given a really bad rap.  What with the recent advent of "low carbohydrate" diets, people have been turning away from the potato because they believe that its starch will be unhealthy for them.

On the contrary, the potato is an especially healthy food, and should be incorporated into your daily diet
Some of you may have heard that green potatoes are dangerous. This is true.  Because the potato is a member of the nightshade family, its leaves are poisonous.  Potatoes that are left in the light for an extended period of time will begin to turn green.  This green color is due to the development of solanine, which tastes bitter and can make humans sick. If you have a potato that has a green portion, simply cut off that potion.  The rest of the potato is absolutely fine to eat.

Although there are thousands of varieties of potatoes, there are essentially two types of potatoes:
  • Boiling
  • Baking 
Baking potatoes are usually longer, and have a very thick coarse skin.  These potatoes become quite fluffy when they are cooked, which makes them exceptional at baking, but causes them to break apart when you try to use them in a soup or stew, or for potato salad.
Baking potatoes are often called "Idaho" potatoes.

Boiling potatoes can be elongated, or they can be mostly round.  Their skin is thin and waxy, and they retain their shape when they are cooked, making them perfect for adding to soups, stews, and for making potato salad.

Yellow-skinned white boiling potatoes
Red-skinned boiling potatoes
Boiling potatoes can be elongated, or they can be mostly round.  Their skin is thin and waxy, and they retain their shape when they are cooked, making them perfect for adding to soups, stews, and for making potato salad.

I've often been asked if you can grow potatoes from the ones you get at the grocery store.  You certainly can.  However, these are often sprayed with a chemical to prevent eyes from erupting, which is how the potato begins to grow.  If you use organic potatoes and a few of them begin to sprout eyes, you might consider trying a small potato patch.  Cut the sprouting potato into chunks with 2 - 3 eyes per chunk and bury them a few inches beneath the surface of well turned soil. Growing potatoes is a really great activity, and it is especially fun to get your kids to help with the process.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Desert Roots Farm

I figure I will tell you a little bit about the organic produce co-op that I joined that sparked this adventure.  It is Desert Roots Farm in Queen Creek, Arizona, just southeast of Phoenix.

Before we moved to Phoenix, I had been introduced to the idea of joining an organic produce co-op by a neighbor of mine back in New Mexico, unfortunately we were already well into the "moving" process, and I could only enjoy some of her "share" vicariously.  Every now and then she would bring produce over that her family couldn't eat and we enjoyed it tremendously.

Once we moved to Phoenix I kept the idea at the back of my mind, but being that we lived in the middle of the desert, I simply wasn't sure if it were a possibility.  Through my brother-in-law's girlfriend, I discovered Desert Roots Farm.  This was exactly what I was looking for.

I have several reasons for wanting to join a local organic agricultural endeavor such as Desert Roots Farm.
  • The food is organic and pesticide free.
  • It is locally grown so I am supporting local business people.
  • The produce is picked the day it is delivered to me, so it is as fresh as possible.
  • Food that is picked at the peak of ripeness tastes best.
  • Its nutritional value is also at its peak.
  • There is greater variety in the produce because a farm is not limited by what they can grow based on how well it will ship long distances.
  • I believe in soil conservation, and an organic farm will build up their soil rather than deplete it as many commercial endeavors do.
  • Buying locally also decreases energy costs because the food is delivered locally.
  • Buying locally provides much needed jobs for people in my community.
I'll be sharing a whole lot more about Desert Roots Farm in my blog.  My only relationship with them is I am a customer and a friend of one of its workers.  This is not an advertisement, but a testimonial about how every one of us can look more carefully at our food buying choices and see if we can make choices that will make a difference in our communities.

If you live in the Phoenix area, check out their website and learn more about their philosophies and see if you might want to participate in "eating locally".

If you live outside the Phoenix area, check out the website anyway to get ideas for your own community.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

My "Share" of Organic Produce

I decided to make a change in our lives.

You know, when you're young, you believe that your health is always going to be with you. When I look at pictures of me in my youth, I can understand that mentality.  I was a very healthy young woman, I exercised as easily as breathing.  I avoided most bad food. I enjoyed the benefits of those activities.

However, as time goes by, you aren't quite as vigilant.

One chocolate milkshake, and you think it's no problem. One leads to two...because it tastes good.

I never ate french fries, potato chips, or onion rings...until I got married and my new husband wanted me to share in these wonderful gastronomic creations.

You guessed it, time goes by, weight begins to pile on, slowly.  Add a pregnancy or three to the mix and you begin to give yourself excuses for continuing to gain a little bit of weight.  Still more time goes by, and suddenly you are carrying enough weight to make you tired, grumpy, and wondering how in the world that healthy, young, vibrant girl turned into that tired and sickly looking woman in the mirror.

Before this insidious event, I'd always been one to be on the lookout for good food, nutritionally sound, and preferably organic in nature.  But, as with all families, life gets in the way, and all of a sudden you're not eating right, you're not feeling right, and it takes something to bang you over the head and say, "Hey, you idiot!  You've gotta change something in your life!"

For me, it was stepping on the bathroom scale.

Once you go organic, it's tough to go back!
We've had a wary relationship for the past number of years.  In my younger days, I never worried too much about my weight, but after having children, and then just that "getting older" phase, I discovered that it was no longer comfortable buttoning my jeans.  And when I DID get them buttoned there was a bit of a "muffin-top" going on.

So...what changed is that I decided to participate in an organic farm's co-op opportunity.  You purchase a seasonal "share" of organic produce and it is delivered to you once a week.  My brother-in-law's girlfriend works at the farm and we have been talking about her work (because I'm fascinated with gardening), and the concept of a weekly delivery of such good and nutritious produce.