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

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?