Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grow, Cook, Eat

For more on local eating, gardens, kitchens and farms around the world tune into my other blog, growcookandeat.blogspot.com.

I won't be updating this one til I return to my local eating home in Georgia in January, 2011.

Eat well, live well!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Two Salad Saturday Night

Tomato Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Arugula and Goat Feta Salad

**where noted, these ingredients came from local sources....read more about them at Athens Locally Grown (athens.locallygrown.net)

Two medium sized fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly (Italian Goliath variety from The Veggie Patch)
Handful of sweet Genovese basil, chopped (Veribest Farm)
Two cloves of garlic, chopped with the basil (Backyard Harvest)
4 oz of fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly (Atlanta Creamery)
Olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Handful of fresh baby arugula (my own urban homestead)
Ends of the tomatoes from above, chopped
2-3 T Goat feta cheese (Split Creek Creamery)
Olive oil
No more than a tsp of balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a circle and scatter the arugula around the edge. Top each with their respective toppings, drizzle the whole thing with olive oil. Sprinkle the arugula with a with the vinegar. Top it all off with pinches of sea salt and a grind of fresh black pepper.

Serve with fresh bread (Luna Bakery)


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Urban Homesteading

It's official. I'm an urban homesteader.

You wanna know how I know...? It wasn't the blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, figs and peach trees I've planted. Or the bean teepee with four different kinds of lima beans. Or the 30+ tomato plants in the raised beds. No. It's official because I invested in some chicken wire today.

I can't give you any specifics, because, as Joel Salatin knows and has written a book by that name, Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal when it comes to local food. All I can say is that there is some chicken wire going up in my backyard. Not saying what's gonna go inside it, but I think you're smart enough to put the pieces together.

As in most urban places, Athens outlaws "livestock" in the metro area. Chickens are included in the ban, but there are lots of folks looking to change that. I'm going to start convincing my neighbors of the wisdom of legalizing poultry as soon as I get a spare dozen of bribery material. I encourage you all to try this grass-fed approach to politics.

According to Rebecca and Iain, who will be house sitting for me when I travel abroad this summer, now is an especially good time to adopt some overgrown Easter presents. These two will be bringing their small flock with them when they move in, and so if any feathers are ruffled, I can pretend I didn't know. Yeah, right.

Wish us all luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two Breakfast Vignettes

1. A few weeks ago I bought, on impulse, some cereal at the grocery store. I know...I totally caved in to some kind of lightly sweetened, organic corn squares cereal just cuz it was sitting there looking yummy and I was feeling crummy as I walked by it. Well here's how those chickens came home to roost. I don't drink milk, cuz it doesn't agree with me, and Righteous Juice (a fresh squeezed juice company in Athens) wasn't selling almond milk. Soooo, back I went to the dumb grocery store and bought some organic soy milk so that I could eat my cereal. Next day, I cracked open a bag of frozen blueberries, loaded up a bowl with cereal and poured on some soy milk, thinking yum, what an indulgence! Turns out the soy milk was spoiled and ruined my whole breakfast right in front of my eyes. I dumped out the soy milk and the cereal and got out some of my homemade yogurt and ate it with my backyard blueberries like I shoulda/woulda/coulda done before I got seduced by Kashi (which is owned by Kellogg, by the way). Sigh. Sometimes even a die-hard locavore has to learn the hard way again that the illusion of quality and goodness in our food system is a lie.

2. This morning while cracking a couple local, free-range chicken eggs into a pan for a feta spinach scramble, I discovered an earring nestled underneath an egg. I love finding evidence of a human being on the other end of my food. A real person fed these chickens and picked, washed and packed these eggs for me. (My name is on the carton). The only evidence of humans that you'll find in a carton of conventional eggs is evidence of human greed, cuz it's likely to come in the form of salmonella poisoning due to the inhumane and unsanitary conditions conventional chickens must endure to produce eggs for us.

Buy local. Pick local. Make local. Eat local. Love local.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Paneer Makhani

I'm not Irish, so for St. Patrick's day, I ate paneer makhani. It was almost going to be a beer and popcorn night, but the raw m___ in the fridge needed to be made into something. It made lovely soft curds that soaked up the flavors beautifully. This was made entirely from local ingredients, aside from the spices, which ended up making it really HOT! I savored the fragrance, flavor and intensity of this meal while thinking about returning to India this summer. Richly colored saris, camels and cows on the road, cheerful temples, dust, sun and heat are beckoning.

Paneer Makhani

butter, ghee or oil
1/2 tsp each whole spices (cumin, fenugreek, mustard are my favorites)
chopped green chilis (1-3 depending on your heat tolerance)
chopped garlic (1-3 cloves)
1 T grated fresh ginger
coarsely chopped onions, red peppers or other vegetables, as per your taste
2 cups fresh paneer, cubed (see instructions below)
1/2-1 cup tomato paste (I food mill frozen tomatoes to make the paste)
1/2 cup cream, milk or yogurt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
powdered spice mix for paneer makhani (see note)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat your fat of choice in a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add the spices and heat in the oil/butter/ghee until they sizzle and are fragrant. Add the chili, garlic and ginger (avert your face!) and stir on high heat for about a minute. Add whatever additional vegetables you like and saute until soft. Add the paneer cubes and gently stir to coat with spices. Add the tomato paste and your dairy product of choice. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and lower the heat. Simmer until it reaches the desired thickness (thin for over rice, thick for eating with paratha or chapati) and season with spices, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top with cilantro right before serving. I ate this with fragrant basmati rice (a rare, not-local treat...), yogurt raita and sauted collard greens and swiss chard.

Heat 1/2 gallon milk in a large stainless pot until nearly boiling. Add 1-2 T of vinegar (more if the curd fails to break) as the milk rises, turn off the heat and stir with a slotted spoon until curds rise to the surface. Drain in a colander lined with cheesecloth (save the whey for ricotta if you like!) Toss the curds gently to shake out the whey and sprinkle lightly with salt. Gather the cheesecloth around the curds and form into a flattish ball. Press with a heavy-ish object (I used my full yogurt container) for a few minutes, or longer, depending on how hard you want your curds.

Note: I highly recommend checking out an Indian grocer for spices mixes. They are unbelievably flavorful and include things like ground green cardamom, mango powder, aesofetida, etc, that truly are the essence of deliciousness in Indian cooking. Failing access to an Indian grocer simply add powdered cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper to taste (and miss out on something special). You can also add microscopic amounts of nutmeg, cloves, mace and star anise, which would be in this spice mix. But don't overdo it!!! Do not, EVER, buy the generic "curry" powder in the grocery store. The spices will be bitter and old (like me someday!) and will not have any of the lovely "sour" and "sweet" notes of proper spice mixes.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pro-Life Wheat-Free Ricotta Tart

So, I was just encouraging y'all to get wheat out of your diet, and here's a a little yummy something to help you do it. My mom has celiac sprue, which is an intolerance to wheat gluten, so I think about cooking wheat-free a lot for other reasons. As it turns out, celiac is an auto-immune disease, which seems to run in our family. Her sister also has celiac, and I'm Type 1 diabetic, which is also an auto-immune malfunction of the endocrine system. No doubt, our common flaky immune system was caused by exposure at critical times in our collective development to endocrine disrupting chemicals, which were just beginning to be sprayed liberally in Iowa at the time my mom and her sister were born, and continued to intensify all over the Midwest as was I conceived and born in North Dakota. Read more about pesticides as endocrine disruptors here: http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/qendoc.asp. Also, see Sandra Steingraber's books: Living Downstream and Having Faith (http://steingraber.com/) for an explanation of the persistence of agricultural chemicals in the environment and their effects on fetuses. You can't be pro-life and pro-agricultural chemicals, folks. Pick one or the other, cuz the effect is pretty much the same. Or worse.

I digress.

So, my last local food adventure involved cheese making, and happily this one does too! I ripped this recipe off from Stonewall Kitchen Harvest (my favorite cookbook), but I added a few twists, like making my own ricotta. I have always wanted to make this recipe, but always loathed buying the dead ricotta in its plastic coffin in the grocery store. Thanks to cheese rebel R___, I have been inspired to make my own. So the basic recipe involves making a crust with thinly sliced high-starch potatoes. The highest starch potatoes are russets, but if you're a potato nerd like me, you can also use medium starch Kennebecs or my personal favorite, German Butterballs. I used Rose-Golds (low-med starch) because that's all I had, and it turned out great. Superlative, even. The filling of the tart is a mixture of garlic, greens, eggs and ricotta cheese. This recipe is great for making now when the winter potatoes are almost done and there are lots of spring greens in the garden and at the market (er, sorry folks, there are lots of spring greens in Georgia--the rest of yas will just have to wait. Or better yet, come visit.)

I made ricotta out of a certain illegal substance, that shockingly, was still fresh and sweet smelling in my fridge in spite of being a week away from the cow and horrors, not p______. The news coverage on TV in Atlanta regarding the raw m___ seizure in Athens highlighted the deleterious side effects of drinking said substance. Their bulleted list included "spontaneous abortion," which is bogus political speech alluding to the fact that some bacteria present in ALL milk can cause an infection, which, like all bacterial infections, might be bad for a fetus's chances of survival. I am pretty sure that the right-wing boneheads who put that segment together actually meant "miscarriage" but why waste a political opportunity? I certainly don't. I wish there was a warning label on conventionally produced foods that would give y'all a politically loaded headsup about what you were consuming and the consequences of that action.

The production of this food has been proven to cause spontaneous abortions in women all over the world, and has the potential to cause serious endocrine disruption, including sterility in men, cancer and birth defects.

I think we could just stop with causing sterility in men. That might get the attention of some of the overwhelmingly male decision-makers in our food system. Maybe. They make enough money to buy all organic food, and why should they care about whether the Colombian banana picker or Mexican migrant worker can have kids or not? Surely the poison pushers at Monsanto know what this does to our bodies? They pay the EPA and FDA to look the other way, in the form of fast-tracking approval of pesticides, after all.

I digress.

So I made ricotta using whole milk and vinegar--just like when I make paneer, and sadly it turned out a little bit more like paneer than ricotta. But, it was still tasty. I think the milk, being a little less than fresh, needed less "starter" than I used, and we all know how much raw m____ likes to be cheese! So, it was a little lumpy but fresh and delicious. See this site for more information than you'll probably ever need to know about making ricotta. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/02/how-to-make-fresh-ricotta-fast-easy-homemade-cheese-the-food-lab-recipe.html
Enjoy--this guy loves him some curd.

Instead of swiss chard, which Stonewall Kitchen calls for, I used spinach and arugula, cuz that's what I had. I should also mention that this took just under an hour to make, which included preparing the ricotta and picking and washing the greens while the milk heated. I also didn't have parmesan cheese, which the recipe called for but subbed some local feta instead. Cooking with what you have is sort of an important basic principle of eating locally. You can't always get russets, but that doesn't actually matter. What matters is that you didn't contribute to destroying someone's ability to have children or their ability to eat certain foods or their ability to carry a child to term. You do not have a right to eat whatever you want when that right interferes with someone else's basic human rights. In the over-privileged hemispheres of the world, we certainly do have the privilege of eating whatever we want, and we should never forget that it comes at the cost of human life everywhere, even and especially those that are yet to live.

So, do something pro-life. Make your own ricotta. Buy some local potatoes. Enjoy.

Pro-Life, Wheat-Free Ricotta Tart (makes 1 tart in a 7 X 9 inch-ish pan)

1 1/2 pounds greens (arugula, spinach, swiss chard)
1/4 + 2 T butter, melted (make your own...see earlier blog post)
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 large potatoes (high starch preferred, but will work with just about anything), unpeeled, and scrubbed
3 tsp chopped fresh thyme, oregano, rosemary (I also used dried thyme...use what you have)
1 cup feta cheese (or cheddar, or mozzarella or whatever you have)
2 large eggs
2 cups ricotta cheese (start this right before the rest, it takes about 10-15 minutes)
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean, trim and chop the greens. Heat 2 T of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add half the garlic and half the greens. Add more garlic and greens as they cook down. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off any excess liquid.

Slice the potatoes very thinly and of uniform thickness. Create a thin layer of potato slices on the bottom of your pan and overlap them slightly to make a crust. Slide a few up the sides to make an edge. Drizzle the remaining melted butter over the crust. Sprinkle salt, pepper, herbs of choice and cheese of choice over potatoes of choice and/or availability, as the case may be.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add the ricotta, more herbs and cheese of choice, salt and pepper. Gently add the greens and mix well. Spread the cheese-greens mixture over the potato slices and press lightly.

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes. The potato crust should be brown and crisp and the filling should be firm to the touch. Let cool about five minutes before cutting into wedges. Enjoy with a green salad or braised carrots. Add a frozen fruit-yogurt-honey dessert to finish it off!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hot Salad

Today, I wanted a light lunch, but was feeling chilly. I took my favorite salad fixings (spinach, chard, feta, pecans and carrots) and sauteed them with garlic and salt. Turned out great!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

So-Called 30 Minute Mozzarella

I promised y'all that the next time I posted something about pizza that it would have homemade cheese involved. With a little help from my friends that is now being delivered. The objective was to get some creamy contraband from across state lines and try out Ricki Carroll's 30 minute mozzarella recipe. I'm not sure we actually believed mozz could happen in 30 minutes, but what was going to be a little afternoon road trip and fun in the kitchen turned into a 12 hour celebration of life, food and chance. Like all things local, relationships, knowledge and in this case, a little daring, were key to making this happen.

Best girlfriend R__* spurred this project on by attending and being, um, rather inspired, by a cheesemaking session at the recent Georgia Organics conference held in Athens. Armed with veg and non-veg rennet and "starter" we converged at an undisclosed location and proceeded to make a certain illegal purchase. The purchase of the illegal substance was pretty anti-climactic, and sort of underscores the ridiculousness of legislation around unpasteurized m___. What could be more uncontroversial and normal than visiting a farm and taking home a substance frequently described as the world's most perfect food? As I have pointed out before, this was a regular feature of my childhood and I'm still here to talk about it. It is ludicrous to imagine that it might have been more legal to transport wine (another heavily regulated perfect food) across state lines.

On the way home I noticed a man leave a gas station not more than a few miles from the farm we visited. He was carrying a gallon of milk. I mused for a moment on the thousands of miles, the countless gallons of petroleum and uncountable tons of carbon dioxide that were racked up, used up forever and released into the atmosphere in the supply chain for that particular gallon of milk. That customer has the option, but probably not the knowledge about the option, a few miles away to purchase a gallon of milk that has a supply chain of approximately five feet. Why can't we have more of this?

I think cheese, actually, is the world's most perfect food, and over the course of the day, I realized another reason why raw m__ is so scary to the dairy industry. That's because raw m___ WANTS to be cheese. Really really really badly. The ease of which cheese is produced from raw m___ should strike fear in the hearts of all dairy processors and they should immediately run to their state legislator and demand further restrictions on the rights of citizen eaters to purchase and process whatever life giving substance they want. The should also, while they are there, request further rights and privileges to support the waging of war in the name of cheap energy, to create permanent climatic destruction and to drive trucks around the planet mindlessly and purposelessly. All for the sake of a greasy buck. That's dumb. (Utah Philips, my favorite anarchist, said that, and I'm proud to repeat it).

After enjoying a lovely meal at a local restaurant we took a little break to enjoy the gorgeous weather and reconvened for some seriously subversive and illegal activities later in the evening. The basic process of making cheese is to add a starter, which is anything that will "sour" the milk and can include vinegar, citric acid or buttermilk. Then add rennet, which is a coagulant derived from the intestines of very young cows... (Vegetarians, if you don't want to think about that too much, you should try the very easy process of making your own cheese out of veg rennet. We did!) The next steps involve varying forms of cutting, kneading, heating, salting, etc, etc, to create the kind of cheese you ultimately desire. Our mozz required nuking the curds in a microwave, and kneading and stretching the resulting ball of fragrant yumminess.

Our cheese turned out delicious, but a little bit squeaky and rubbery and not exactly solid. It was ultimately fantastic melted on spinach, sun-dried tomato and garlic pizza which we enjoyed around 10pm with several glasses of wine. But that's not the most important part. The important part was that we were using recipes designed for pasteurized milk, and you all know we were using something else!!! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Timing is everything in making different kinds of cheeses, and when we added the starter, our milk instantly curdled. That should have happened when we heated it... But we pressed on and ended up with really gigantic curds that we then proceeded to process to a rubbery, squeaky mass. We concluded, perhaps, smugly (?) that maybe raw m___ doesn't actually need all that processing to make really nice cheese...? Or maybe we just don't know what we're doing? Maybe both.

We can't wait to experiment and we'll let you know how that goes too! That is if we aren't arrested the next time we smuggle the good stuff across state lines! Wish us luck!

*all names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kale and Sweet Potatoes

I worked at Athens Locally Grown last Thursday for the first time since last summer when I was "laid off". For one reason or another, I was sent home with armfuls of vegetables. Now, some of my nearest and dearest know about my secret bachelorette habit of eating popcorn and drinking beer when I should be eating kale and sweet potatoes. I know, I know. But I come by it honestly...just ask my dad.

In my mind, the whole point of cooking and eating is sharing. So, cooking a lovely meal for myself and sharing it with approximately no one makes me feel more lonely than I already was feeling before I started cooking and made a mess of the kitchen. Guess who is going to clean that up? At least popcorn is something I can share with my hound dog--Ksanti--who finds the project of catching flying popcorn endlessly interesting.

To remedy this sad state of affairs, I've been having friends over for dinner once or twice each week. So when I brought home cauliflower, potatoes, spinach, carrots, collards, cream, milk, etc, etc, I knew I needed to cook for somebody(s), or all this loveliness was going to go to waste. Looking at a gallon of milk I couldn't dream of drinking by myself and two adorably little and lacy heads of cauliflower, I couldn't help but think of paneer makhani (fresh cheese in tomato cream sauce) and aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower). Best girlfriends, Regan and Erin, were more than happy to assist with dispatching the yumminess, and even volunteered to sample my ever-evolving attempts at making paratha (stuffed Indian flatbreads).

I am always impressed with how Indian cuisine lends itself to the produce available here, and everywhere but at the Arctic Circle, really. Regan pointed out that Indian cuisine just does a good job of working with vegetables, which is a really good point. Other cuisines tend to have wheat or other grains as an essential base. Italian has its wheat, Mexican its corn and Thai its rice. Indian food obviously has rice and wheat breads as an essential part of the plate, and you probably won't go anywhere in India without seeing one or both on a thali (platter of three or more main dishes complete with breads, dessert, salad and condiments, served family style).

Having said that, you could eat a plate of potato subji (vegetable dish), paneer (cheese) or gosht (meat) masala, sauteed greens and dahi (yogurt) and never miss the grains. Which is what I just did. And it was delicious. As a diabetic, I've never been too worried about whether I was eating wheat or potatoes--it's all carbs to me. I think this is an important strategy for local eaters to adopt. It's next to impossible (as I've railed about before) to get grains in local markets. Forget local, organic grains grown by small-scale farmers. Unless you're Amish (who do this for their communities) you won't be able to produce a large enough volume of grains to make it anywhere near affordable for people to buy...I think the buying and selling of it is actually the problem here...but I digress.

In an otherwise fiber rich diet (read, a base of fresh fruits and vegetables) the complex carbohydrates from grains aren't really that necessary. Regan related some statistics about vegetable consumption in the United States, which are actually too horrifying to repeat. Suffice it to say that the CDC is concerned enough about this to launch a whole new campaign of research and outreach around vegetable consumption as disease prevention. When I expressed some concern about my popcorn habit and my long term health, she said in reference to the meal I had cooked for her last week, "You have kale and sweet potatoes in your life. You're fine". Whew.

So, just a little bit of advice and encouragement--support your local farmers and don't worry about what you might be missing by not eating grains. They are overrated anyway, as Marion Nestle points out in her book, Food Politics. The FDA/USDA tells us what to eat with their cute little pyramid according to who pays them the most money. I guess if I had that kind of money, I would try to pay the government to tell you to eat local. But I don't. I just have this blog, so thanks for reading and get some kale and sweet potatoes in your life. You'll be fine.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I know I've been neglecting my blog responsibilities lately (and there's a good reason...) so bear with me as I catch up. Right now, I need to take a moment to give some belated thanks for old friends, new farmers and my family.

After almost a decade of Thanksgiving dinners in Maryland with my Dad and his wife, I elected to travel to Minnesota to visit old friends and family on my favorite holiday. Words fail me in describing the gifts of love, forgiveness and hope that I received on this trip. It was probably the most important road trip of my life.

But what I really want to tell you about is the turkey.

Let me begin with the fact that you can actually get a Thanksgiving turkey for free from a chain grocery store as a kind of brand loyalty marketing strategy. I understand the symbolic importance of turkeys and sheesh, they are expensive, as they are danged long-lived... It's harder to shorten the lifespan of a turkey (as opposed to a chicken which can be raised in a virtual nano-second these days) to extract as much profit as possible from it's short(ish) miserable life, but Tyson, Purdue and the like do their best to force farmers into selling themselves and their livestock for the lowest possible price. The fact that these birds are given away free by grocery stores who pocket all the profits from the sale of Cheetos and the like is a slap in the face of (no, actually, it's a dehumanizing act of thievery against the) honest hard work and sincere efforts to make a living by the working poor. Having said that, I appreciate the fact that a family who otherwise would not be able to afford a T-day turkey can get one free by buying all their groceries for several months from one store in exchange for a free one. Yup. Got it. But still. I don't want one of those.

I will not particpate in trading farming livelihoods for profit mongering.

The fact that I have the luxury to do so is a troubling and problematic reality. It the height of injustice that the very essence of life--food--pits the consuming poor against the producing poor and leaves healthy food to those who can afford it. I don't want to participate in this system either. But still, my family needs a turkey, or it's not Thanksgiving. My vegetarian nieces would disagree, and I'll give them that too. Next year, it's T-day at my house where carnivores, omnivores and herbivores will get their fill, and where local farmers are the biggest beneficiaries of our happy tummies.

But we really didn't do so bad this year on the local farmer score.

So, my first call home about my trip was to my dear friend Kristi, who farms with her husband in western Minnesota, and for whom reconnecting on this trip meant everything to me. Did she have turkeys? Did she know anyone who did? Turns out she didn't but her good friend Jessi had some. Was Fed-Exing my deposit going to be fast enough to get the last Bourbon Red in the flock? These birds had led pampered lives with free-run (notice, not free range--free RUN) of the farm all summer and were huge, healthy and semi-feral. Without going into two much detail, there was a smidge of a logistical and geographical problem associated with retrieving the bird on Saturday when it was available (and when I was in approximately po-dunk nowhere between GA and MN in my car) and Thursday when the bird was supposed to be on the table in all its roasted glory.

All logistical puzzles aside, retrieving the bird and it arriving on the table, involved being delivered into the arms of loved ones and loved landscapes again and again, which ranged from being smothered in embraces by five year olds to driving in silence through stretches of prairie visited only by the sunsets. Real life and real love showed up and danced to the song of life and death, and it was rich.

On the way to get the bird out of Jessi's freezer Kristi took me to the grave of her infant daughter--Nora--her daughet Anika's twin sister. We hugged while Anika played by the grave, and I felt a tremendous, devastating loss that can only be cliched in comparison to the grief of Kristi's family. It ain't right. No. It ain't right. But what are you going to do? When we got to Jessi's the spade-foot hogs were out and helping themselves to grain from the silo. Jessi shrugged when we pointed it out and said They're happier that way. I wrote her a check for more money than I ever thought possible for poultry and sat on the couch with Jessi and Kristi's kids while they told me about life.

I ask you...has this ever happened and will this ever happen to you on your way to get your free turkey from Giant?

When I left for Duluth the next day, after Kristi and I said a heartfelt goodbye, I got in the car with my heart in my throat...and a niggling feeling I had forgotten something important. Um, yeah, the turkey was still in Kristi's freezer. Later, with the turkey safely in a cooler, a half of a pig for my BFF Becky in Duluth and a leftover meatloaf sandwich (from Brad and Kristi's pigs and cows) in my pocket, I was ready for more adventures in love and eating.

In Duluth Becky and Brad treated me to grilled pork chops the best mashed potatoes ever, more hugs and kisses from young ones and long talks into the night that stretched into the morning when we walked through the woods and talked about how farming really is the answer to life. Becky sent me "home" to my brother's house with a bag full of red potatoes from her garden and I cooked up a kick-ass brine for that bird while she and Brad put the kids to bed. Rosemary from my mom's garden, garlic from Becky's garden and love wrapped up in it all.

Reuniting with mom, step-father, brother, sister-in-law (Tracy-didi, in hindi is so much sweeter, I must say) and grown-up lovely nieces, Taylor and Alexis and step brother Travis (the comedian) made all the driving worth it. We feasted on a golden delicious bird and more of the best mashed potatoes ever, sweet potatoe souffle, brussel sprouts, pie, etc etc.. It was superlative and especially so since it was enjoyed in miles of love that we came to after traveling through acres and acres of pain.

There is more. I wish I could share it all here, but let me just say that sincere efforts to do the right thing will always be rewarded with richness, healing and love.

You can't get that at Giant.