Herbal Kitchen Spray … For a Chopping Block?
June 30, 2011 at 6:00 am
I’m never entirely sure how to clean and sanitize my chopping block.
There is the salt method, and the lemon method. And the salt-lemon method.
There is probably the scrape-off-the-stuck-bits-and-stop-fretting-method.
But my favorite new method is the herbal spray method.
I saw some herbal kitchen spray at a garden market and decided to take a shot at making my own. Utilizing vinegar and the power of herbs, it is great for kitchen disinfecting. I’ve been using it on my counters and chopping block, and thinking of Thanksgiving.
Herbal Kitchen Spray
Dried herbs — Rosemary and Thyme (for their sanitizing and germ-fighting properties) and Sage (it is purifying and traditionally has been used to cleanse away bad energy, and who wants that in their kitchen)
Vinegar — Distilled White Vinegar is fine and encouraged!
A Spray Bottle
Add at least 3 tablespoons of each herb to your bottle. Add 3/4 cup vinegar and allow to sit several hours or overnight. When the vinegar starts to smell like herbs (Thanksgiving-y herbs!) add water to fill up the bottle. Spray away grime, germs, and bad juju.
We *Heart* Farmer Jan
June 29, 2011 at 6:00 am
I wanted to share with you some photos of the treats I brought home this weekend after a trip to our friend Jan’s farm.
Jan is an amazing teacher, and grower, and beekeeper, and chicken wrangler. My kids adore her. (Even more than they adore her brood of hens and the babies she recently hatched in her second-grade classroom.)
I was reminded again this past weekend of how very lucky we are to have Jan in our lives. And it is not just because she sent us home with a fresh-picked bucket of strawberries, and more than two pounds of local honey and a dozen giant, colorful eggs.
It’s not even because she gave us rhubarb pie and homemade iced tea.
It’s because Jan gives us something we want so much in our lives — a chance to connect with where our food comes from. A little peek inside her life. A goal. A dream. Friendship. Mentorship. A chance to play farm.
We can’t have backyard chickens right now. We have two little strawberries plants that have given us four tiny berries. And frankly, I am absolutely terrified of bees.
But I love visiting (from afar) J
Talking ‘Tapped’ and bottled water
June 28, 2011 at 6:00 am
Maybe I would rather be blissfully ignorant, I told them. ( I wasn’t entirely joking. My worrier personality had a feeling what was in store.)
We were talking about the movie Tapped — a look inside the bottled water industry and its myriad of problems, and not just the ones most of us already know about.
Sure, lots of us know that bottled water has a serious downside. The most evident issue, of course, is the bottles themselves. They end up in landfills. They end up in oceans. They end up in lots of places where they shouldn’t be.
But Tapped succinctly connects the other issues too, from the health problems related to plastics (both for the people who drink out of plastic bottles and people who live near where they are manufactured), to the problems with the water itself, to the ugly true story of how a lot of the bottled water is sourced.
Tapped addresses whether municipal water is as “safe” as bottled water, which is an interesting question to answer because most of the time bottled water is essentially the same water that flows out of the tap, although it might have been snatched from a unsuspecting municipality.
In many circumstances, however, it may not be as thoroughly tested, because bottled water, it turns out, is darn hard to regulate. (Although at the time of documentary was filmed, 1/2 of a person at the FDA seemed to be giving it a shot.)
Tapped answers many of the common question associated with bottled water, and rights several myths as well. It also raises a lot more concerns, but I am still glad I watched it.
My friend told me that after viewing Tapped she would always request tap water instead of bottled.
After viewing the film, I am with her 100 percent.
Have you seen the movie? How do you handle bottled water in your family? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Monday Morning Organic Journal
June 27, 2011 at 6:00 am
What my world looks like this Monday morning …
Whoops. We got a little crazy this weekend and reorganized the kitchen.
It might be great. I am not sure yet. It is a little like walking into a natural food store. I can see everything, which might be inspiring, but then again, everyone else can see everything too.
The good thing is, it freed up some cabinet space to do this:
How cute are those little mugs on hooks?
A Simple Sunday
June 26, 2011 at 6:00 am
Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
A Very Good Week
June 25, 2011 at 6:00 am
Farmer’s Market Friday — The Strawberry Situation
June 24, 2011 at 6:00 am
Homegrown and farmer’s market strawberries are one of our favorite summer treats.
But last year, when we joined a CSA, we learned something important — the strawberries you can find at small farms are very different than the ones you find at a supermarket.
They are grown for flavor, not portability, our farmer friend told us.
That means that farm-fresh strawberries often don’t last as long and need to be processed right away. When we were picking buckets each week last year, we would wash and freeze a lot of the berries right away.
We would eat some too! But another simple recipe we created allowed us to enjoy that fantastic taste of fresh summer strawberries the afternoon they were picked.
Give it a try, and add your own ideas for strawberry recipes in the comments below!
Strawberry Aqua Fresca
A handful of strawberries
A few leaves of fresh mint
A bit of agave
A squeeze of lime juice
A few ice cubes
Mix ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust sweetener to taste. garnish with more mint.
Amounts listed or not exact, of course, but you want sort of a thin slushy consistency. Experiment a bit and see what appeals to your family!
Happy Summer Sipping!
Canning Some Jam
June 23, 2011 at 6:00 am
I’d like to talk to you about the most harrowing day of my life.
It was a nice, hot summer day, sort of like today. We woke up early and went strawberry picking.
And then we came home, and I lost my mind. While trying to can jam for the first time.
I realize now that I made some rookie errors. First — I tried doing this whole thing alone with two little kids who desperately wanted to help.
Frankly, I was scared they just weren’t sterile enough.
I think that was my second problem. I was very, very worried about giving my whole family a horrendous illness.
I realize now that people have been canning for a very long time, and it was way before dishwashers, or special tongs or soap that smells like apricots.
But it wasn’t until I heard that nice little ping that I felt the stress headache start to dissipate. And it was weeks later before I felt like maybe I had been a little bit nutty about the boiling and clean towels. The 9 clean towels.
My final issue was the recipe. When I saw the insane amount of sugar, I almost gave up all together.
It was like a great snowy mountain of diabetes and tooth decay.
So next time, I am going to take a deep breath, worry a lot less about the possible microbes lurking in the slots in my spoon, and just have a little fun. I’m also picking a much healthier recipe like this one.
Although all that sugar and fear sure made some tasty first-timer jam.
Do you do any canning? What are your favorite recipes for preserving?
Recycled Bottle Bird Feeder Project
June 22, 2011 at 6:00 am
In our family, we try to use reusable water bottles and cups as much as possible. But there are times (not very often, but those baseball games and festivals require factory-sealed bottles) when we are away from home that we buy a bottled beverage.
Our resident ornithologist came up with this cool bird feeder that you can make from a used bottle and a few twigs.
The kids and their dad used a drill to make the holes in the sides of the bottle and in the cap (for the hanger).
The birds love it. It draws grackles, chickadees, robins and one very brave squirrel.
It also draws two young children, who love watching the wildlife in our backyard.
Finding Home at a Micro CSA
June 21, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am so excited to share with you today a guest post written by my good friend Rebecca Kiel. Rebecca is an amazing like-minded writer-mama, who today is sharing her experience of working on an organic micro CSA with her family and friends …
When my husband was offered a job out of town, it was a tough decision. After a couple of
soul-searching days, we took the risk to leave our rural surroundings, beautiful home and large garden, and moved back to the Chicago suburbs. It was a very fast move. Our daughter barely had time to finish her first half of the school year and we skidded into a rental house ten days before Christmas.
As the snow thawed, we began exploring the ground around. Our goals to live sustainably did not have in mind this cramped patch of dirt beside the house. Will it get enough sun? Is there any more broken glass under there? And as I surveyed the forest of sprouting weeds, I doubted if even John Jeavons could live off this patch.
As our kids foraged for rocks, my husband and I looked at each other and whispered, “Did we make the right decision?”
We were too afraid to answer.
Twenty minutes west of here lives our dear friend, Mark Wunderlich and his family. In a little
cul-de-sac tucked away from the bustle of our new suburban life, sit their three mostly wooded acres. It is on the cleared ¾ acre that our answer sprung.
For years, Mark dreamed of expanding their organic garden so they could grow enough
vegetables to live for a year. The last few years, they have given it their all. The food they have grown is amazing – healthy and flavorful. But with two children, both parents working, elderly family for which to care, they needed a little help. Between our need for community and dirt, and their need for extra hands is where the mini CSA was created.
With a commitment from us and even more from our friends, we are now bringing our children to “the farm” where rows of garlic reach for the sky, an inexpensive greenhouse provides shelter for seedlings, and my husband pounds away with his hammer on the newest project.
When his daughter’s class hatched eggs and the chicks needed homes, Mark’s micro CSA
grew. Now on every day we can, my husband is helping to build a coop, my children learn
that our food comes from work and the generosity of our earth, and we all have a deep sense of community.
While Mark dreams of fruit trees, my son dreams of more chicks. As my husband relishes
outdoor work, the girls plant potatoes. And as we join for dinner after a hot day of work, we all say a blessing for the earth, and above all … friendship.
Now when my husband and I ask each other if we made the right decision, we simply smile.
The answer is completely obvious.
You don’t need ¾ acre. In fact, any size garden can feel unmanageable with play dates, lessons, work schedules, etc. What ideas do you have for sharing work with others?
Rebecca is a writer and mother of two young children. Check out her blog at: http://
rebeccakielpages.blogspot.com or her Facebook author page Rebecca Kiel.
To read more about the farm, visit Mark Wunderlich’s humorous and practical blog http://