Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas, the Local Foods Way!
This year's local foods Christmas gift.

Each year Chris and I make food baskets for our family and friends and like to tie in our love of local foods.  Part of the fun is brainstorming ideas for our basket, and this year, we decided to share homemade mulberry syrup and pancake mix made with organic locally grown wheat.  Every year isn't successful, like the year we made homemade pasta and due to lack of proper drying time, the jar was filled with mold by the time it reached Chris's grandmother.  (Yes, you need to start early for some of these projects, which we don't always do!)  Yikes!  Well, at least we had a festive colored package, even if it wasn't supposed to be green!

I wanted to share the process we went through, okay, Chris went through, to make part of the gifts this year.  The mulberry syrup was an extra special project that expanded my food knowledge.  Here's the process...

Of course, every good local gift begins with the harvest.  Here are a couple pictures of the May mulberry harvest we enjoyed over the summer.  Yes, Clara helped :)

and she enjoys feeding others as much as Chris and I do.

Chris began the syrup process by thawing, boiling and mashing the mulberries.
Once they were adequately boiled, he cut up an old (but clean) shirt and tied them up to drain all the sweet goodness out of them, and to remove the skins and seeds.
We put what we didn't use in the compost bucket, which made me a little sad because I like to use EVERYTHING if we can.  What could we have used this for?  Fruit leather?  I figured the flavor was mainly gone, so I didn't put up too much of an argument to save this compost.  Chris said it's hard because there are so many seeds.  And really, as compost, what is seen in this picture will become tomorrow's nutritious garden soil and our yummy tomato.
Before packaging, Chris reduced the mulberry juice, added sugar, corn syrup, salt
and a couple drops of lime juice.
When I finally got to taste the syrup, I was ecstatic over the flavor of the syrup.  As I described it to Chris, I said the flavor was really "quick" or "short."  That maple syrup has a much longer, milder flavor but this syrup, this was powerful and wonderful.  He confirmed that people in the foodie industry do use the terms "long" and "short" to describe flavors, which was new to me but made complete sense after tasting this mulberry syrup.
Now, for the pancakes, the less interesting (in my opinion)  process included milling the flour.
Once he milled the local flour, Chris added a few necessary ingredients like salt, baking soda and cream of tarter (our own aluminum free baking powder mix), etc.  Then it was time to package.
We hope everyone who received a little part of Kansas this year enjoyed it.  I know I sure do (thankfully, we've got some syrup left over!)
From our lil' family to you, hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Heritage of Local Eating...and a Surprise!!

Clara helping Daddy prepare to start seeds in March, 2012.
If you're a regular blog follower, you know Chris, Clara & I said goodbye to the garden we planted in the spring, and moved to a new community in June.  We're incredibly pleased with our new home (although, there is a TON of updating and work to do to make it ours, which will take YEARS!)  Friendly faces surround this community, and we already run into people we know regularly.  I felt a little as if we are local food failures this year, but then I began to take account of the winter pantry we built.  Smaller than previous years, but still plentiful.  This year we:

*Picked mulberries, froze.
*Picked June berries, froze.
*Picked apricots, froze.
*Picked apples, dried and froze.
*Picked pears, dried.
*Grew a ton of butternut squash that we are using consistently and squirreling away for the winter.
*Enjoyed a ton of homegrown watermelon.  Gpa's farm grows the best watermelon!

We also planted two grape vines, a pear tree, and a couple apricot trees on our new property.  And of course, we always have our stash of local, organic wheat berries to grind for fresh bread, crackers, pasta and other grain foods.

This summer, while watching Clara (now 20 months) help us harvest various items, I've pondered how there really is a heritage to local eating.  I want to share some pictures of the heritage we are building into her life and the lives of those around us this summer.

This is my little cousin, picking June berries and, according to his father, eating them "like candy."  His mom is an avid gardener and says she doesn't get any strawberries in her house in the summer because he is out there picking and eating the ripe red jewels. 

Here's Clara on one of our many harvesting adventures.  Even at 14 months she loved helping pick mulberries.  Now, anything that looks like a berry (Holly berries, etc.) she picks, so we have to be careful because some of those berries can be toxic if eaten.

Here's Clara helping her Daddy make apple cider to take to a local butchering party (note her shoving the apples into the juicer).  Yes, the butchering party is another blog post to come.  Building community over slaying chickens - gotta love that!

I hope you enjoyed your local foods season, and if you were able to store away like us, or plant a fall crop I hope you're still enjoying it!  If there are young ones in your life, I encourage you to begin building into their lives a heritage of local eating.  By doing that, they'll know potatoes don't come from a box, but from the rich ground.  We'll for sure continue to do this, and if you haven't heard, we'll be doing it with another new life beginning late January...


Friday, July 13, 2012

A "Smokin' Awesome" Apple Pie for my Sweetie Pie

Fresh from the oven!

This week we picked apples from my grandfather's green apple tree.  Apparently, when you don't pick them soon enough, they start to turn red and begin to taste mealy.  "Can we do anything with the mealy ones, make pie or something?" I asked Chris.  "Nope," replied my chef husband.  My Mom, an ol' country gal who follows the horse around and tastes what it eats, figuring if it doesn't kill the horse, it won't hurt her (yes, that's really true) said, "of course you can use 'em."  So this week I made an apple pie out of mealy apples for my sweetie pie.  How'd it taste?  The rave reviews ("smokin' awesome") from my chef indicated that apple pie is a great way to use overripe apples.  Here's how I made it:

Pie Crust (makes double pie crust)
I looked for a recipe in my cookbooks, but couldn't find one as simple as what I made as a child from my Mom's battered, beaten and faded "Christian Home Cookbook".  So, since we now live only 10 minutes from her, I paid her cookbook a visit.  Here's the simple recipe:

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup lard or shortening (gasp, yes, I know how this impacts cholesterol, but it has the opposite impact on my taste buds!)

Mix the flour and salt.  Cut in the shortening.  Slowly add approximately 2/3 cup water until dough is a proper consistency for rolling into crust.  I used about 2/3 of the 2/3 cup of water on the day I made the crust.

I'm not an expert pie maker, but my mother-in-law is pretty close.  From her I learned it's important to chill the dough before you roll it out.  Chris says the reasons for this are:  1.)  It allows the fat to harden which helps to create a flaky crust, 2.)   It allows the water to distribute and become homogeneous and 3.) It allows the gluten to rest so the pie crust doesn't shrink (mine didn't shrink at all - first time for that!)  The resting/cooling down process is so important, I've even heard of people chilling their rolling pins.

Apple Pie Filling
I looked in my cookbooks for a recipe, and many of them used an egg.  Apples and egg together didn't sound appetizing.  I found my recipe in "Whole Wheat Cookery, Treasures from the Wheat Bin," a cookbook I picked up at a used book store a few years ago.  Here are the details:

3/4 c. brown or white sugar (I used white sugar)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
8 c. tart apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced (I like the nutrition of the apple peel, so I left it on.  Plus, these apples were not sprayed with any chemicals, so it wasn't a concern to leave on the peel.)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. butter

Combine sugar & spices.  Add apples, stirring until well coated.  If apples are extra juicy, sprinkle on one or two tablespoons whole-wheat flour, tossing well.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Roll out half of pastry to about 1/8" thickness and fit into buttered 10" pie pan.  Pile apple mixture into pastry shell, mounding apples higher in center.  Dot dabs of butter over apples.  (I forgot to dot dabs on the apples, so I put them on top of the crust.  Chris thought there was butter in the crust.)  Roll out remaining pastry.  Place over apples.  Seal edges & cut steam vents.  Bake in preheated 425 deg. oven 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 deg. and bake about 35 minutes longer or until crust is golden.  I use our toaster oven for baking when the air conditioning is on.  Since the oven tends to burn edges, I left the pie covered with tin foil until five to ten minutes before it was finished.  My crust was beautiful and didn't heat the entire house by using the large kitchen oven.

In this post I wrote how students rejected fruit because it was imperfect.  Turns out Chris and I were the same way, so we learned a lesson this year, and will for many years down the road use our mealy apples for "smokin' awesome" apple pie (and yes, that's now written in pen next to the recipe in my cookbook. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Onions for a lifetime.

They're not pretty, but they sure are tasty.

If you are a regular blog follower, you know our little family moved into a new home.  There is a lot of work to do, including adding a garden, fruit trees, berry bushes and the like.  The old owners liked plants, but didn't seem to care for edible plants, except onions.  We have wild onions for what feels like could be a lifetime.  Onions in the front yard, onions in the back yard, onions on the side of the home.  Strong onions, onions I cut standing out on the patio so I don't shed onion tears.  Yes, we're using onions, and boy are they local!

Happy 4th!!  
Celebrate your Independence this 4th of July as we did for "Food Independence Day" a couple years ago.  Here's our local menu from that celebration.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Aunt Sue's Mulberry Rhubarb Pie

Fresh mulberries and frozen rhubarb make 
an excellent combination for a tasty pie.

Earlier I blogged about the mulberry pickin' we've been doing - what a great season for mulberries!  A couple years ago my Aunt Sue she said most of her family, including her son's new wife, have the same favorite pie.  Last week all I could remember about the pie from our conversation was that it included mulberries.  Considering the plethora of mulberries we have, I decided to call her up and investigate further.  Turns out the pie is mulberry rhubarb pie, and luckily, we have a bunch of rhubarb in our freezer from earlier this season.  I've never heard of mulberries and rhubarb married up together, but the sweet and tart combination makes sense.  So, we tried it.

Aunt Sue's Mulberry Rhubarb Pie
(Okay, it might be someone else's recipe, but to me, it's Aunt Sue's)

Sue usually uses frozen fruit.  As it thaws, the juices come out of the fruit.  I used fresh mulberries, and the juice from 1 1/2 cups of frozen rhubarb was enough to make this recipe.

2Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 c. juice from the thawed fruit

Add each of the following to the above, mixing a little between each addition:
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp almond extract
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. mulberries
1 1/2 c. rhubarb

Bake at 400 degrees in a double pie crust with butter, sugar and cinnamon on top.  Bake for 40 minutes.  The edges of the pie crust may need to be covered with tin foil to protect it from burning.

When Chris and I first married, I did a sewing project and obsessed because it had minor flaws.  Chris said something I have never forgotten, "Are you a professional seamstress?"  Me:  "No."  Chris:  "Well then, don't worry about it."  That realization allowed me to give myself grace and let go of a little perfectionism.  Why would it look perfect if I only sew occasionally.  The same goes for pies, while the picture of the final pie isn't the prettiest, it sure tasted good, which is perfect enough for me.  And, yes, we did enjoy a little vanilla ice cream melted on top!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kansas Wild Edibles Trek

Hiking is a great time to forage for local food.

One activity I've blogged about before that Chris and I enjoy is hiking.  Combine hiking with local foods, and we're totally excited.  This combination of our interests exists on the "Wild Edibles Trek" in Americus, Kansas on Saturday, May 26th.  

Apparently, there are many wild edibles and medicinals along the two mile hike near the Santa Fe Trail.  The advertisement for the trek indicates there will be instruction on Vitamin C in the woods, plants for fishing and starting a fire, water from a grapevine and even Kansas bananas.  Wow, Kansas bananas?  Now, that would be better for the environment than the 1600 miles the bananas travel that I blogged about in this post.  Kansas bananas are a new concept for me, and they totally peak my interest.  There's also a visit to an earth lodge.

If you're up for learning more on the Wild Edibles Trek, organized by Shepherd's Valley in Americus, call them at 620-787-2380.  They can email you more info, or email me and I can forward the document they sent.  You can also visit this blog post created by a past Wild Edibles Trek attendee.  

Here are the details:
Cost:  $10 per person or $20 per family.
When:  May 26th at 1:30 p.m.  The two mile hike and education time is approximately 2 1/2 hours.
RSVP:  Make reservations by calling Flint Hills Technical College.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Mulberry Time! But are they worth eating?

My baby girl knows local foods are my favorite!

In our nutrition obsessed culture, I am saddened when people ask if certain foods are even worth eating because they "are so low in nutrient content."  To me, taste ranks very highly as a reason I eat, with a bit of nutrition thrown in.  If a food is incredibly nourishing, but doesn't taste good, I'm not eating it!  I once read a study that said people absorb more nutrition when they enjoy what they are eating.  Does that mean when I thoroughly enjoy my ice cream sundae I absorb more calcium than my Dad does when he chokes down a glass of blue skim milk?  Hmmm, something to ponder.

You may have noticed it's mulberry time again.  Chris, Clara and I are picking mulberries to preserve and the free fruit is decreasing our produce bill.  As we talked about picking mulberries this week, Chris asked, "I wonder if they have any nutritional benefit."  My thought, "it's a plant food, of course there is benefit."  But, as a good dietitian does, I looked it up on the USDA Nutrient Database.  Below is a bit of the info I found.  If you'd like the complete nutritional breakdown for mulberries or blueberries, click on the fruit names below.

Mulberries, 1 cup raw                                   Blueberries, 1 cup raw
60 Calories                                                  84 Calories
2 g. Protein                                                 1 g. Protein
13 g. Carbohydrate                                  21 g. Carbohydrate
55 mg. Calcium                                        9 mg. Calcium
2.5 mg. Iron                                              0.4 mg Iron
25 mg. Magnesium                                    9 mg. Magnesium
53 mg. Phosphorus                                 18 mg. Phosphorus
272 mg. Potassium                                 114 mg. Potassium
51 mg. Vitamin C                                  14 mg. Vitamin C

There are differences between mulberries and blueberries, and you can see that mulberries are actually higher in many nutrients.  Now, taste?  There are ways I prefer to eat blueberries, and ways I prefer mulberries.  For fresh eating, I prefer blueberries, although straight off the tree mulberries are pretty tasty.  In a crisp, I really like mulberries.  Yes, fresh from the oven with a little ice cream melting on top...and if the enjoyment study is true, I'm sure to be absorbing some major nutrition from that dessert!

Now, why don't you head out there and find a mulberry tree!  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Beginning again...

"Que Bella!"  Asparagus, fresh mint, strawberries and chicken eggs.  
Breakfast ingredients all harvested from our little plot of land in Wichita.

Since everything worked out as planned, we moved away from the beautiful ingredients you see in this picture last week.  They have now become the love of a new family...lucky them!  (Well, all except the chicken eggs that is, we got to keep those :)

I have a lot of questions about our future, one of which is what to call this blog.  Since we won't be living in Wichita anymore, I feel a bit like I'd be lying by leaving the current name.  So, do I change what this site is called, or just leave it since we are only be a half hour drive from the city?  We'll use many of the same producers that we have used in the past, and will actually be closer to some than we were in Wichita.  Do I become "Love local food near Wichita, Kansas," or "Love local food around Wichita, Kansas," or just add a couple words, "Love Local Food in and around Wichita, Kansas."  Right now, I actually like the last one the best.  Hmmmm, any suggestions?

If you're an email subscriber (which most of you are), let me know what your great idea is by sending me an email at localfoodies@yahoo.com.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eating Local on a Dime

Groceries cost less when we grow our own.

With the cost of food these days, it's always nice when you can find a bargain.  Many people think it costs more to eat local, but there are ways to make it affordable, and even less than shopping at a discount grocery store.  Here are a few to get you thinking.

Volunteer.  A previous issue of Mother Earth News reported that their Assistant News editor volunteers for a farmer every Saturday at the farmers' market in Lawrence.  She gets paid in leftover produce, and enough seconds to supply her with canned goods for the winter.

Trade something.  I've written before about the fresh baked bread I make.  One local farmer and I traded our products, my bread for his produce.  A friend of mine fixes equipment for a man who pays him with unlimited garden produce.  Consider your skills and how they may benefit a local producer.  Maybe you've got great marketing or computer skills, and a farmer could use your help to grow their business.  As Chris always says, "it's free to ask."

Split a share of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription.  I''m happy to say CSA's are beginning to grow in our area (here's a list of the ones I know of here).  If the cost of a CSA subscription is too much for you, consider finding a neighbor coworker or friend who wants to split a subscription.

Grow your own.  With the price of food these days you can save a ton of money if you decide to grow your own local food.  You don't have to turn half your yard into a garden, as we did.  Just fill a pot with some soil, and plant away, or join a community garden (see the list of those in Wichita here).  Think of the possibilities, local herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and more.  This method is especially money saving if you typically purchase organics.  Rebecca over at the Sedgwick County Extension Agency blogs about the money that could be saved on groceries with their real world Family of Four Garden.  Check out her final post of the season to see how much money they saved last year.

Think like your ancestors - hunt & gather.  Chris and I have picked fruit from a tree outside of a local McDonald's, mulberries on public property near our home, and dandelions in random places where they grow.  One day my Mom and I spotted an apple tree at an apartment complex, apples falling to the ground and rotting.  We each filled a bag (okay, two) with some incredibly wonderful apples.  Keep your eyes open, there are free local foods to be found and gathered!

Can you think of other ways to get local foods on a dime?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Welcome back email subscribers. It's time to make your Mother's Day plans!

First, welcome back to all of my email subscribers who, unless you've been visiting the website directly, have missed out on blog updates for many months.  Unfortunately the Feedburner blog notification system stopped working, and I've replaced it with a Mail Chimp system.  So, enjoy getting your Love Local Food in Wichita Kansas updates again this season!

If you haven't already made a plan for the special woman in your life on Mother's Day, or Mom's, told your kids what you'd like to do, let me suggest the Prairie Harvest Mother's Day Brunch.  It's a yummy way to support a local business that sells and serves local foods.  Here's the delicious menu:

Mother's Day Brunch Menu

Saturday, May 12, 9:30 a.m.   
Pomegranate sparkling beverage 
Local seasonal vegetable quiche

Main Course
French toast with blueberry syrup
Local breakfast sausage
Fresh fruit

Chocolate raspberry torte
Coffee & tea 
By reservation only.  $12.00/person; tax/gratuity not included.

A brunch with dessert...I'm in!  If you are too, here's their contact info.

And, if you don't have a mother, just grab the closest woman to you and head that way!  Every woman is a mother, whether it's to a pet, a plant, a neighbor ... an iPhone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's All Yours

Old Town Farmers' Market - Photo from FairsandFestivals.net.

As you're perusing the local producers list and other lists on this website, please remember that "it's all yours."  I'm now a mom, finishing a masters degree, and moving my entire home in less than two weeks.  Sadly, I don't have the time to research if the info on the local producers list is up to date and accurate for this year (and I know it's not, for farmers' markets at least.)  So, as you're contacting producers and looking up info on the list, please email me (localfoodies@yahoo.com) or leave a comment if you see something that needs to be updated or added.  I'm happy to make changes.  Just as it was created, by input from my readers, it will need to be updated that way as well.

Natalie over at the Our Local Food program has a list of some of the markets that are now open.  These markets are members of her program, so there may be others out there open that are not her members.  There are some new markets this year, one I could walk to from my current home but, well, we're moving!  Here's the list.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I've waited three years for this.

Three years ago I married my dream man, and the first crop he wanted to plant in our garden was asparagus.  If you're unfamiliar with the growing habits of asparagus, you'll be interested to know that it's best to wait three years to harvest asparagus.  So, as we near the celebration of our third anniversary, we got to harvest our first asparagus and enjoy it for dinner that same evening.  It's such fun to walk twenty feet, from the garden to your kitchen, and eat what you just picked.  Such fun!

Chris made an incredible meal, to which I exclaimed, "that's a blogable meal!"  It's almost completely local...from the steak that was pastured by my uncle on my grandfather's land and processed by a local meat company, to the egg yolks in the hollandaise sauce from our backyard chicken eggs, and, of course, the asparagus.  Isn't it beautiful?

I posted previously that our house, and our asparagus patch, are on the market.  We accepted an offer on our home last week, so it's sweet that we were able to actually enjoy the first asparagus crop before we move.  Apparently, the buyer is excited about the organic vegetable garden that we created, and we're sad to leave it all but hope our next move is into our forever home where we'll plant asparagus again, wait three years, and then enjoy the harvest for many, many years to come.

Hope you've found some locally grown asparagus to enjoy this year.  Trust me, it's incredible straight from the source.  As hubby says, "very sweet."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our $25 Per Week Will Impact Wichita

I love the "garden" at Exploration Place!

Last year I blogged about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and the programs available in the Wichita area.  This year, take some time to check out Fiat Farm and their CSA program which is new to our area.  I found their post titled "Why Community Supported Agriculture" to be an accurate and motivating description of why a CSA subscription is a great idea.

Plus, I've added a new page to the blog called "Community Supported Agriculture."  You can find all the programs in our area on that page.  Please contact me if you know of others, as always, the pages on this site are community created pages - I need you!

While Chris and I would love to get a CSA subscription, our future is not certain enough to actually purchase one this year.  Meaning, we hope to move to a smaller community in this area, and am not sure a subscription in Wichita is a good idea for us.  (By the way, we've got a great house with an organic garden, asparagus patch, grape vine, and area for chickens on the market - just in case you know someone who is looking ;)  Rather than a CSA, this season we've pledged to spend no less than $25 per week on local foods.

Why $25?  Because of this post I wrote last year which drew a lot of attention, especially from those of you who feel guilty that you can't or don't spend more money on local foods.  The truth is, $10 per person per week will make a huge impact on the local economy, as I wrote last year.  So for our family of 2 1/2 (yes, we're considering our 1 year old a half person), we're spending $10 each locally, and I plan to blog about what we purchase.  So, if you need a little extra motivation, join the challenge with us and spend $10 on local foods each week this season...and share your purchases with me as I share mine with you!

Here's to a great local foods season!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Really? Local honey is a cure...does that really work?

"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."  
-Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 BC

At the state fair a couple years ago, a man was selling local bee pollen and honey, claiming they helped with seasonal allergies.  I didn't pay much attention to him because I hadn't dealt with seasonal allergies since I was a child, and yes, as a child I took bee pollen capsules.  They weren't "local" bee pollen capsules, we didn't know the value of the word local at that time.

Fast forward to the last couple weeks.  I've been dealing with major...MAJOR...nose problems.  Allergies.  My allergies are back.  Coupled with a deviated septum which I'm due to have repaired March 20th (no horror stories, please), I've been pretty miserable the last couple weeks.

I posted a note on my Facebook page, hoping for a cure.  Local honey...local honey...local honey.  That was the response I continued to get.  Huh, how did I miss that one?  In the (very) limited amount of research I've done, it appears that there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that allergies are alleviated by the regular intake of local honey (along with hangovers, afternoon fatigue, and anxiety). I read there is only one "official" scientific study which doesn't support the use of honey and states it has a placebo effect.  So, I have to go with anecdotal evidence but I'm really okay with that since, well, I love local honey!  And the more local the better - I gotta get those back yard bees.

How about you - anyone out there in blog land want to give me some positive anecdotal evidence that honey works for allergies?  Tell me your story.  What is the "dosage" that works, or worked, for you?  Please leave me a comment or email me personally at localfoodies@yahoo.com.

Yummy, yummy, honey in my tummy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

We love local food, but we also love traveling and partaking in new experiences.  Chris and I traveled to Italy three years ago and had an incredible culinary and cultural experience there.  

Here we are outside The Roman Coliseum.

In Italy, the grape vines and countryside are breathtaking.  I snapped this picture of an Italian farmer tilling his grapes.  Because I grew up on a Kansas wheat farm, I found the Italian method of weed control interesting and familiar.

As I looked through our Italy pictures I wanted to do a whole food post for you, like I did when we went to Hawaii, but that will have to wait for another time.  For now, most of this post will focus on an Italian experience we found right here in Kansas!

What I never expected is that I would harvest grapes not in Italy, but right here in my home state of Kansas.  Amazing.  Last summer we received an invitation to KMUW's Grape Harvest Gathering at Grace Hill Winery north of Wichita.  Who knew such a fun, ecotourist experience was waiting for us less than an hour from our home...and is waiting for you to experience too.

On the morning we arrived at the Grace Hill Winery there were plenty of grapes to harvest.

So our family of three got started.  We were immediately introduced to our picking tools, which I must say, made the process incredibly easy.  By sliding the stem of the grape cluster into the "v" on the tool, the two blades easily sliced it off the vine.

Once the grape cluster was sliced off the vine, it went into a large, yellow tub.  You can see a stack of them behind Chris in this picture.  Because we harvested for the entire morning, there were many, many tubs filled to the brim and ready to be made into wine.

In order to save grapes from the birds, a "cannon" is set up in the vineyard and used when needed.  Sometimes I think I need to invest in one of these for the big black birds that overtake our street in Wichita!

Once the day's harvest was complete, the group went into the event area for a lunch and wine tasting provided by the winery.

The Chambourcin Grapes we harvested that day would eventually become the "Dodging Tornadoes Silver" wine.  We got to taste this wine, and many others that the winery makes from other types
of grapes they grow.  
Tasty, very tasty.

Then we got to see some of the Chambourcin grapes we picked in their first stage
of the wine making process.

We also learned about the process which turns them into tasty wine.

It was a great experience, something I never expected to get to do, or even realized happened so close to our home.  Would you like an Italian experience right here in Kansas?  Contact Grace Hill Winery and volunteer to pick grapes for a few hours one morning.  I'm sure they would love to have the extra help, and you'll love the experience and tasting the local wine.

Not into grape harvesting?  Plan a free wine tasting of some great local wines.  Just contact the winery for more info.

Here's to more exciting local food experiences this year - Love Local Food!

Friday, February 17, 2012

&*$#@!...I Hate Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

These impossible to peel hard boiled eggs are 
looking beaten up - but taste yummy as egg salad!

Lately we've been thoroughly enjoy egg salad sandwiches.  Hubs, the chef, does the cooking on the weekends, and most recently when I asked for this little joy he responded with, "I hate peeling hard boiled eggs."  I was a bit surprised, my husband is not the complaining type.

So, as with everything, we used the "Google machine" to look up easy ways to peel hard boiled eggs.  How do you do this?  Use old eggs...what!  There are no old eggs in our house.  We go out to the coop, grab the eggs, and use them within a short amount of time.  (Once we were out of eggs, and I got a hankering for cookies, so we went to the coop and there sat the exact number of eggs we needed.)  No, our eggs don't take time to be packaged, shipped, sit on  the supermarket shelf, travel to our house, sit in our fridge...and then get hard boiled for a breezy peeling process.  Our hens have been champion layers this winter (most likely due to the mild temperatures) and we have gotten 1-3 eggs daily all winter long.  A blessing, but to my chef, it's sometimes a curse!  Although, I think next time we may try the bicarb soda method suggested by this blog.

FYI:  Readers who are subscribed via email are not currently (and haven't for quite some time) getting updates via Feedburner.  This is a huge frustration for me, and something this techy-challenged blogger is working to figure out.  Once I've gotten the problems ironed out, and have a new system in place, I will send out a message to email subscribers to restart your subscription.  So sorry for the delay, oh, how I wish it weren't so!