My Very First Time in the Can & It Ain’t Gonna Be Sweet

Posted by organicneedle in canning, CSA/ Local Food

Paid a little visit to Ma Needle in the South over the weekend & she hooked me up with all my canning needs. Isn’t mooching a beautiful thing?   So…now I have no excuse not to get my CAN in gear.  And because berry season will quickly be coming to a close I think I shall make preserves my first attempt.  (OK…it may also have something to do with the fact that my mother said the easiest, narcoleptic cat simple thing to can are jams.  She just ASSUMES I will take the easiest path. Geeeeze.  Soooo judgmental.)  So jams it is.  I grew up eating my grandmother’s trip-an-old-nun-to-get-to-the-last-jar-raspberry preserves, so I know I can get my hands on some killer recipes.  The problem?  Sweet sassy malassy with the sugar,  Granny Needle!  How do we not all diabetes and shares in a moo-moo manufacturing company?  Save a little cane for the rest of the continent.nn

Since I would prefer my children not to need dentures by the second grade…I would like to find  some recipes with a wee bit less sugar. Like none.  I also don’t want any artificial sweeteners.  And since  everyone gave me such great canning advice last time…why bother to do my own research.  (I am actually doing research…but there is nothing better then a tried and true recipe in which someone else has suffered through all the trying and a truing.)

Oh…and can you all be quick about doing my your homework; berry season is almost over here and I you forgot to get started in time.



Eco Confessions: Green Moms Carnival

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, CSA/ Local Food

This month’s Green Moms Carnival topic of eco confessions wasn’t too much of a struggle for ol’ Needle. I could write enormous volumes on the ungreeness that lurks in my home & life in general.  Some things aren’t the greenest because I don’t know how to find a better solution but am working on them…like some cleaning projects.  Some things are due to the needs/wants of other members of the family…like my husband’s insistence on Total toothpaste.  Some are due to lack of resources…like a lawn to grow my own food.  The list goes on.

But some… I just gotta own.

Hi.  My name is Needle and I am a French wine & cheese whore.   Now don’t get me wrong…I am not quite a lush…yet.  (A few more rainy days trapped in the house with my brood and we will see what happens.)  But if I am going to drink wine…it needs to not taste like Kool-Aid. And if I’m going to indulge in the fat and calories of cheese, it damn well ain’t gonna be for Velveeta.  I can’t really put a green spin on any of it.    Many resources are involved in its creation, packaging and travel.  I could find similar products more locally; Americans make wine & cheese too…but…well…it just isn’t the same. And no one has yet to die from brie or Sancerre withdrawal…that we know of.   So…no excuse…just pure selfishness…delicious…. delicious selfishness.

Perhaps being a vegan, tea-totaling, locovore would, in fact, be much greener…but so would being dead.   And perhaps there is some sort of Dante’s  Infernoesq punitive afterlife for lack of greenness.   I’ll take my chances… fully accepting that my personal hell will be filled with nothing but cans of Cheez Whiz and Fetzer chardoney.



Refurbished Phones: A Great Green Step That Needs A Little Push

Posted by organicneedle in reuse

I feel like I spend  just about all my free time finding places for unusable gadgets and goods.    We had a great and rather expensive office chair from Pottery Barn that broke.  They refused to fix it & refused to sell us the very unique part that would allow someone else to fix it.  After calling around to at least 1/2 a dozen shops and being told that without the iron swivelly piece they couldn’t fix it, we very grudgingly ended up putting it out on big garbage day in hopes that someone would come and take it for scrap.   Our microwave blew out about 6 months ago and we tried to have it fixed.  The entire computer board in the thing went wonky and Maytag said they would rather buy us a new one.  Disappointing…yes…but at least we found a few places that take old junked electronics for parts.   Our pedestal sink has a serious crack in it…can’t be mended.  No idea where that will go when the contractor drags it out.  Am I the only one who feels like even when you try you just can’t help but dump massive amounts of crap upon the earth?

So when my cellphone pooped out on me I was pretty much at the end of my consumer rope.  I went on to AT&T’s site to see what freebies I could get.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how many refurbished phones they offered.  Cool I thought…the full cycle in action.   Finally!    I found several that would suit me just fine…went on to read the specs.  Then something caught my eye that sadly shut down the whole deal for me.  90 day warranty!  WHAT?  So I am going to take a used phone and only get 1/4 the warranty you will give me for a new phone?  Considering my track record with cell phones,  that is not a risk I can afford to take.  Being me, I couldn’t just let it go.  I called AT&T to discuss the options.  The representative could not have been nicer about it and actually totally agreed and said it is an issue for them too because the refurbished phones weren’t really selling because of the measly warranty.  So great green idea…that falls pretty short if no one can use it.  I feel like there is potential here to REALLY make these companies take some responsibility for what they put out into the world.  They already have a system to do the work that needs to be done.  The next logical step is to annoy the bejeebies out of phone manufacturers until they actually stand behind their green ideas.  Who is with me?

Alas…so many people to annoy….so little time.



Pesto Magic!

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, recipes

Don’t you hate when every recipe on TV is all about every single ingredient needing to be the freshest thing in the world? Well…that is great on CSA/farm market day #1 or#2…..but how about day #8?  Sometimes life happens and we don’t all eat our green leafies in a timely fashion.  So what to do with that somewhat soggy bag of spinach?  That gamey garlic?  That half a pack of wrinkly almonds?

PESTO MAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!

ANY dark green that you would eat raw makes a good base for pesto.  3 that I use regularly are: basil, spinach, and my favorite…arugula.

ANY nut you have on hand can work. I have used traditional pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds.

ANY hard nutty cheese: traditional parm, asiago, or go for a local hard cheese.

ANY  type of garlic…even the scapes.

Salt…I prefer sea or kosher…but whatever you have will do the trick

GOOD Olive Oil…I always use extra virgin because that is what I like and buy in bulk, but if the price bothers you I’m sure no one would explode if you used the cheaper stuff.

As far as measurements…I don’t really use them.  I start by pureeing my greens with just enough olive oil to make them liquefy with my immersion blender.  [If you do not have an immersion blender stop whatever you are doing and go get one.  Yes…you will have to buy new because no one in his/her right mind would ever give it up unless it was broken and/or possessed.  Do not trust a person who says she/he simple didn’t need it anymore.  They are insane…and probably dangerous.] Then I toss in whatever cheese I am using…a handful or whatever nubs I have left.  If it starts to get too pasty I drizzle in a little more oil.  Then I toss in the nuts.  Then the garlic- one clove/scape at a time-tasting as I go.  LAST I add the salt.  You want to wait on the salt to see how much intensity the cheese and garlic are bringing to the pesto party. And trust me…it is a party.

PESTO is MAGIC because it will keep many a forgotten green from your trash.  It can be frozen in cubes in your freezer for a tatse of sping in the winter.  Your unsuspecting kids will wolf down lbs of spinach will enjoying alien brains-ziti with pesto sauce.  Oh…and guess what…no matter how you do it…it will taste really amazing.



Taming Evil Celery: Rhubarb Cake

Posted by organicneedle in CSA/ Local Food

In general I way prefer cooking to baking.  Why?  Because I am fairly sloppy about measurements…and lazy about doing things just so.  I like to just go with my instincts and toss stuff together that seems like it would be good.  Great for cooking…but a real disaster for baking.  Every once in a while I come across what I call a cook’s baking recipe… meaning it is fairly fool proof and has many opportunities for tinkering.  This particular recipe for rhubarb cake came off of my CSA farm’s website and I thought I would pass it along to  those out there who are trying to figure out what to do with their own evil celery.rhubarb cake

Now…here comes the fun part…the tinkering.  Next time I make this I am going to reduce the amount of butter by at least 3 tbs for both health and flavor reasons.  The butter/fat in the cake felt like it coated my tongue…dulling the natural thrill of rhubarb’s tartness.  Also…the cake batter had no sweetener in it and I felt it could use it.  I am thinking a little local honey action.  My third tinker would be to reduce the amount of sugar added to the rhubarb and add a naturally sweet fruit…like berries…if I can ever manage to wrangle a few away from the fruit bats I am raising.  I had considered the whole wheat option to increase the nutrition but honestly think it would make it too heavy.

You might be saying…wait a minute Needley…why are you saying this is a good recipe if you pretty much have decided to revamp the whole thing?  It is a good recipe because it CAN be revamped and still come out looking like a rhubarb cake.  You pretty much CAN”T screw it up…unless you add arsnic in it or something.  Heck…it would still look good- just wouldn’t be a big hit at the school bake sale.



Garbage Soup Is The Tops

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food, recipes

Last night I looked in the fridge and saw a shelf of tops: turnip tops, beet tops, radish tops.  This is definitely one of the challenges of being in a CSA. Off season, most of us buy our root veggies post haircut and never have to deal with their less popular parts. Last year we had the worms to deal with any veggie tops that didn’t quite make it onto the weekly menu…but this year we are on our own. Since reckless food wasting just plain makes me feel dirty…we will be trying to eat everythingpot this year.

So…what did I do with nature’s fuzzy little hairdos? I also happened to have the pitiful remains of a chicken devoured by my offspring… which usually means soup night. (Especially as we defend ourselves against the evil and ever present piggie flu.) So I boiled down the chicken bits in some leftover veggie stock, added all the root tops cut up, tossed in a little tamari and tofu and turned what I would have previously viewed as a pile of garbage into a very tasty and nutritiously kick-ass soup.  (This could easily be made vegan by totally skipping the fowl.) In fact, I made a giant stock pot full and by time my crew got done with it there was hardly enough left for a lunch today.  Not bad for a pot of garbage, hey?



Audie’s Day

Posted by organicneedle in family

My baby isn’t quite a baby anymore…but is still my little ball of joy.
Audie, you are such a gift! To know you is to adore you and to be with you is to smile.  Happy birthday and thanks for being my little guy!



Better Late Than Never: NYC CSA

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food

As I stuffed my radish hole with the first week’s bounty I realized I completely dropped the ball about reminding you guys to check out Just Food to find a CSA of your very own. (Because I ain’t sharing, folks.  Not one tiny turnip.) Fortunately, it seems some CSAs still actually have openings for you latecomers.

Why join a CSA? Well, rabbit, I’m glad you asked. Joining a CSA is a FANTASTIC way to support local food and to support the kind of agriculture that meets your standards. We chose one that we can walk to the pickup location, except when the big melons come in (yes…I said big melons…get over it) and whose mattproduce comes from an organic farm, Golden Earthworm. By supporting this organic farm we are ensuring that farmer Matt, seen holding his turnips, can actually be a full time farmer and spend his time and energy making sure things are done right, which means a whole lot less chemical gets dumped into our area. Win-win, no? Plus, you will be getting to know your local crops and that crazy and forgotten concept of seasons. Oh…did I mention the food? Sweet sassy molassy…it is good stuff. Seriously…the difference between something plucked from the field the same day and the vegetable shaped stuff you find petrified under the plastic at your local Stop&Rob is unbelievable. It is like comparing a perfect bottle of Sancerre to a moldy box of Boones.

So, if you haven’t taken the plunge…see what you can find. If the one you want is full, make sure you get your name on the contact list for next season. Ours closes out almost immediately with very few openings for new members so you need to be ready to pounce to get hands on the goods. If you are worried it will be too much produce…think about splitting with a friend for the first season. Pretty mush guarantee you will want your own share the next season. Heck…I have my own full share and I still think about stealing other people’s radishes while their backs are turned. But that would be very wrong. Very tasty…but very wrong.



CSA Is Back!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by organicneedle in csa