Day 177

Yesterday we spent the afternoon with a friend in Columbus, my favorite food town within short driving distance.  I've been meaning to check out Dinin' Hall for a while, and this seemed like as ideal a time as any.  If you haven't heard of or been to Dinin' Hall, it is basically an old warehouse where food trucks can set up (usually two), you can order, and then eat your meal inside at their tables.  Check out the preceding link to check the process out.  It's really a very cool idea!

So yesterday's trucks were Bab's Down Home Cookin' and Green Meanie:

I had the namesake: The Green Meanie: Panko-crusted chicken croquettes with all sorts of veggie goodness, all piled into Navajo fry bread!  I have to admit, the fry bread is what sold me, and it was all delicious!

My daughter, who has never been know to turn down shrimp (unless it's really spicy), had the garlic and lime shrimp with rice, and a side of mac 'n cheese (another dish she rarely turns down).  The shrimp was conquered in no time!

The best part of the meal however may have been this:

I have no idea how or why this happened, but I'm sure glad it did.

And of course, on a hot, steamy day, one must make a trip to Jeni's!  

Oh yes, it was delicious.  As always.


Day 176: Postlude

I picked up some lovely produce from Stubbs Family Farm stand today, and earlier posted a photo of the lovely berries I picked up.  Then I made dinner.  Here is the result, using the other produce I bought from them today:

 Pan-fried green tomato stacks layered with cheese and fried egg, garnished with a zucchini, yellow squash, green tomato, and mint salsa.

Red raspberries with lemon syrup and cream.

Day 176: Hooray Fruit!

We have some lovely berries growing in our garden right now, but they need a few more days to ripen.  Thankfully, the farm stand right around the corner from our house had these fragrant beauties, which I plan to consume in a greedy manner:

Day 175

It's the end of the month, which means I am trying to responsibly use up all the little bits of things left in the fridge so I can attempt to keep from blowing our food budget completely out of the water.  Between all this baking and my weakness for collecting foodstuffs, I have been grossly unsuccessful.  Sigh...

Anyway, I had several odds and ends hanging out, and I needed to put something together that the dear husband could tackle while we were melting away at track practice.  So, we had waffles.  Oat, peach, rhubarb, bacon, buttermilk waffles to be exact.  So take that leftover bits!


Day 174: A Break from Food; the Importance of Being a Cheerleader

Today I got to take a break from baking, but that doesn't mean I took a break.  Today was the second day of the Junior Olympic qualifier meet in Cedarville, and Hannah was set to long jump this morning.  Let me tell you, for a nine-year-old who has never done any of these field events, run in an organized manner, or known anything about lanes, spikes, or fouls, she has come a long way in a few short weeks, and we are so proud of her!

She made it to the final round today, and just missed qualifying by two places.  She was pretty disappointed, especially since she didn't receive a ribbon, but she jumped her best today by 10 inches, a phenomenal improvement.  We did our best as cheerleaders, telling her to shake it off when she fouled, to run fast and jump hard.  And when the disappointment came, we hugged her, telling her just how proud we were of her accomplishments, encouraging her to focus on the vast improvements she's made in such a short time.

  Yesterday, however, she placed fifth in the javelin, earning her a spot in the Region 5 Junior Olympic Championships, another qualifying meet for the National Junior Olympics later this year.  So, I guess this mama will be making a drive to Michigan in a few weeks, to coach, encourage, chide, hug, and love.

Days 171-173: Market Days!!!

Yeah, so I know it's cheating (slightly) to combine three days into one post, but honestly, all I did for these three days is prepare for farmer's markets.  It may seem a simple thing to have a post for everyday, but when your blog is so subject specific, it can be really difficult since even for me, not all of life revolves around food (just most of it)!

I spent literally all day Wednesday and Thursday (and he first half of Friday) baking, packaging, and labeling   (with a lot of help from my Gary!).  This feat alone is newsworthy in my world considering, until the last several weeks, I would never had considered myself a baker.  But, since baking is where I need to start on this food-business journey, baking is what I will do.  I also made candies, fruit roll-ups, and preserves, all in preparation for my debut at the Vandalia Farmer's Market and the Downtown Troy Farmer's Market.

Friday night was hot, but the people were friendly and the business was decent.  I did pretty well, got to meet some other vendors, and also was able to spend some time with my lovely sister-in-law.  All in all, a pretty good night.

Once I finally got home thought, I had no time to rest.  I was informed (thankfully the night before) that I would need to list my product weights in grams as well as ounces.  So, we sat on the basement floor and hand-wrote metrics on every package.  Yeah we're done!  Oh wait...

I also realized that I had left some other required info off of our labels, so Gary ran some emergency ones that we tacked on.  Not the prettiest sight, but it worked.

Saturday morning was an early one for all of us.  Gary and Hannah were headed to Cedarville for a big track meet, and I was headed up to Troy to market with my brother.

I did a little less business on Saturday, but made up for it with new business prospects, meeting other vendors, and getting some great advice from people in the food business.  Everyone was so nice and helpful, which made me feel so much more at ease.

So, evaluation time.  All in all, a good weekend. I learned a lot and I have hope for the future.  Not too shabby.

My humble little set-up at Vandalia.

 Coffee roasted by my brother, pottery by my sister-in-law.

 My preserve labels.

 Great photos of area landmarks taken by our friend.

 Mugs by my sister-in-law


Day 170: The Most Dangerous Substance on the Face of this Earth!

...or at least in your kitchen...

I am making sea salt caramels today.  The directions call for a 4-quart pot and clearly instruct you not the substitute a smaller one, as this roiling sugar magma will triple in size as it boils.

Of course I used a smaller pot.

The largest pot I have (without going completely overboard with a Dutch oven) is a 3-quart.  I really need a 4-quart, as my nerves are objecting to all this fate-tempting with an inadequately sized vessel.  If only I had an extra hundred-some dollars laying around...

Anyway, I watched my pot like a hawk, praying that it would help me out and just boil politely without going all gang-busters and spew forth all over my stove and cause me burns which would require skin grafts.

So I watched, and I watched, and I watched...For someone with my personality, waiting for sugar to come up to the appropriate temperature is akin to torture.  I like to be doing at least four things at one time.  These directions, however, I know need to be followed.  Whilst boiling sugar for candy, one should never leave the stove unattended.  This is not the time for a bathroom Solitaire break.  Bad things will happen.

So I waited and watched.  I will be patient with this one.  Because the results will be so worth it.


Day 169

These little cuties are homemade fruit leather! Just like the rolled "fruit" substance you can get in a box, only completely different as these are soooooo much better!  Local strawberries, local honey, a little salt, and a little lemon juice!  I think will be popular with kids and adults!

Day 168: Little Pies!

Little hand pies!  I have become a crazy baker!  I made these in strawberry, rhubarb, and blueberry.  The crust is rather delightful, if I do say so myself.


Lost Days: 165, 166, 167

I can't stand it when I feel sick.  All my projects just sitting around, waiting on me, piles of things adding up, no progress made...

For those of you who live in the allergy cesspool otherwise known as the Miami Valley, you know exactly to what I am referring.  This weekend was especially bad, a tidal wave of symptoms that are always crashing, but reaching tsunami status the past few days.

So, everything was put on hold as I coughed and head-ached my way through the weekend.  I've spent a lot of time in Divine conversation the past few days, asking for mercy so I can function.  

I went out to peek at the garden this morning, and it is nice to know that despite (or maybe because) of my lack of plant/human interaction, there are things growing!  Blossoms galore!  Well, at least something productive happened this weekend...

 Sweet-meat squash

 Snap pea




 Alpine strawberry




Day 164

We enjoyed another Rebekah request tonight:
Tea-brined fried chicken (here drizzled with honey and hot sauce), peach and ginger muffins with rhubarb beer jam, backyard garden salad.  Almost all homemade or homegrown.  Yes, it was really good.  I am looking forward to cold chicken leftovers tomorrow!

Day 163: First Fruits!

Tiny little tomatoes!


Day 162

Night two of Rebekah's meal choices: we dove into our fresh stock of Innisfree hamburger and grilled burgers and potatoes!  


Day 161: I Love My Sister

My little sister is staying with us this week.  For those of you blessed to know her, you can attest to the wonderful miracle that she is.  When I'm with her, I find myself going out of my way to do things to make her happy.  You see, she takes so much delight in everything that is just feels so amazing to make her happy.  Her thousand-watt smile and infectious laugh could make the toughest among us melt.

So yesterday, before I went to the store, I sat down with her and let her pick this week's meals.  Tonight was fried rice and egg rolls!


Day 160

Warm asparagus and green bean salad with smoked turkey.  Mmm....


Day 159: Supporting Your Local Producer

What are these little happy bundles, you ask?  I will tell you: 65 pounds of local, pastured hamburger from Innisfree on the Stillwater, the farm business owned and operated by my brother and sister-in-law.  Why should you care?  

So many people say they want to buy local, support local businesses, buy better products, eat food that has been "raised right".  Well, here is a beautiful opportunity, one that some of you have already taken: buy beef, chicken, eggs, and coffee from my family.  They still have  a lot of hamburger left, and the effort needed to get this delicious product in your freezer is really not that taxing.  Contact me, and I will point you in the right direction.  

You can also check out my newest venture, Grubb-Shop Provisions, where I am starting out in the cottage food industry with plans to expand as soon as possible.  Stay tuned for more info as to where you can buy, or you can contact me directly.

So many of you want to help.  We are planning big things, and would love all of you to be a part of our future ventures.  As specific opportunities arise, I will be posting, emailing, Facebooking, texting, whatever, so that you can help.  Stay tuned!

Day 158: And We Eat!

Last night we had another meeting-of-the-minds, so to speak, eating great food and making real plans for our collective business future.  There's not much that can't be accomplished when passion, motivation, and a great meal are involved:

Sausage gravy (with biscuits) by my sister-in-law.

 Asparagus and goat cheese hash by my younger brother and sister-in-law.

Asparagus and artichoke risotto by my younger brother and sister-in-law.

 I grilled chicken wings and small sausages with my homemade victorian barbecue sauce (with a rhubarb base).

 Grilled cabbage with lime cilantro dressing.

 Grilled peppadews stuffed with melty smoked mozzarella.

 Rye and rhubarb scones, one of my baking projects.

 Deviled Innisfree eggs, with homemade bread and butter pickles.

Limoncello cookies with candied lemon wheels, another one of my baking projects.


Day 157: "Still Not a Baker"

Imagine to the tune of Big Pun's "Still Not a Player" (The "clean" version...)

"I don't wanna be a baker no more.
(I'm not a baker I just bake a lot.)"

Although this massive order from Amazon betrays me...
I am a cook.  While I enjoy baking and really enjoy eating baked goods, I simply don't get the same satisfaction from mixing and rolling as I do from chopping and browning.  But, baking is what I have right now, and so I must...

Day 156

Look!  I have made brown sugar!  Ok, it's not as exciting as fire, but it will save you money and spare you the inconvenience of sending your husband wandering down the baking aisle at the market for another bag while you wait ever so patiently (HA!) at home wondering if he will make it out unscathed with the proper organic light-brown sugar (Oh no, I have never done this...)

People, this is such a taxing and detailed process, so pay really close attention.  Are you ready?

  For light brown sugar, add 1 tablespoon molasses per 1 cup of granulated sugar (I use organic molasses and organic evaporated cane juice because I am a crunchy contrary libertarian.  It's even fair-trade.  You can stop rolling your eyes now.  One must have convictions.).  Stir it together until well blended.  I used a fork which seemed to help the blending process.

If you need dark brown sugar, add two tablespoons molasses per 1 cup sugar.  Use same mixing process.

Store brown sugar in an airtight container.  So...that's it.  Really.

And oh my gosh IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!  

Yes!  Two movie references in one blog post, plus a tutorial.  My work here is done.  You may now go about your day.


Day 155: Failure

Well, sometimes an idea seems great, and then you enter the implementation stage, and everything just sort of, well in this case, crumbles...

I was making a lovely blueberry-rhubarb bread and didn't want to use a regular loaf pan (After all, they're just so boring!).  Instead, I tried using my mini bundt pans to create a more unusual shape and size.

Well, um, it didn't work.  Bundt pan fail.  The flavor was great though.  I will just have to try something else.
My biggest frustration lay in the fact that I wasted all those ingredients (including fresh-picked rhubarb from our garden) and time, a very precious commodity in this busy household.  Ah well, hypothesis tested and debunked.  There's probably a homeschool lesson in here somewhere...


Day 154: Like A Kid

Sometimes, I just want to eat a fast food kid's meal. Of course, I am way too principled these days to engage in such dangerous, reckless behavior.  That doesn't keep me from occasionally craving chicken fingers and fries.  And that's what we had for dinner.  Of course the chicken fingers were from the DLM deli, and the fries were made from organic potatoes...  Hey.  I have standards.


Day 153: A Few of Her Favorite Things

Sometimes, it is really hard to be a nine-year-old.  Mom and Dad are constantly on your case: clean up, pay attention, take the dog out, clean up, pay attention, finish your math, practice piano, go take the dog for a run, pay attention, work harder, change your attitude, change your underwear, be respectful, clean up, DO BETTER!!!

My dear, beautiful daughter, we love you.  We love you more than anything, to the moon and back.  That's why we push...

There are times when I realize that I am pushing too hard, that maybe I'm expecting a little too much.  A perfectionist trying to raise a highly dramatic perfectionist can sometimes spell disaster!

Sometimes as parents we just need to pause and take a reflective look at the amazing body of work our children have accumulated.  Our sweet daughter has accomplished so much.  She is a musician, a scholar, and a budding athlete.  She is full of life, full of emotion, and full of fun.  She makes me cry out of frustration and exasperation, but she also makes me shed tears of joy and pride.  I laugh at her antics, at the funny things she says.

She is always on my mind.  Even at the grocery store, and later the kitchen, where I subconsciously put together a meal of three of her favorite foods: rice, corn-on-the cob, and oh my goodness, is that PINK shrimp?!  Yes, yes it is.  

I love you precious girl.  I always will.

Coconut milk steamed Basmati rice with cilantro and lime zest, wild American shrimp in garlic, butter, and lime juice, corn-on-the-cob.


Day 152

I have all manner of leftover bits from canning preserves last week.  Instead of chucking them, I put them in little containers for later use...in cocktails!

Vodka, ginger beer, and jam syrup.  Tasty.