Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wholesome{ish} Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was my family's official cookie and dessert baker growing up. Someone gave me a children's alphabet cookbook when I was about six and I was instantly hooked.

My saintly mother allowed me to destroy the kitchen almost as often as I wanted with my baking messes and was unwavering in her praise and encouragement of my efforts, which were ... humble ... at best. Cookies were my favorite thing to make and even though I've progressed in my baking skills quite a bit since that first cookbook, I still have a major weakness for a homemade cookie.

Recently, I went on a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Serious. Stuff.


So I tried a bunch of different recipes, looking for chocolate chip perfection. It had to be chewy and dense, but not mushy. It needed to have crispy, caramelized edges, but remain soft and moist at the center. It needed to contain the right amount of chips - too many and all you taste is chocolate. Too few and all you've got is a glorified butter cookie.

You can tell I thought about this way too much, huh? Yep.


At long last, I stumbled across this recipe over at Lovin' From The Oven and gave it a try. Oh, the buttery, vanilla-y, chocolatey perfection! Sooooo good!



So this week I gave this amazing recipe a little makeover. I substituted sucanat for the brown sugar and replaced half the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat flour.

Health food? Not really. But if you're going to indulge in a sugary treat, why not bump up the nutritional profile a little bit?

The white whole wheat flour worked so well in these, that I'm thinking I might use it exclusively in the next batch and skip the white flour all together. They definitely did not get heavy or dry the way some recipes do with whole grain flour.

I've read different things about using sucanat in recipes ... some sources say to use a cup-for-cup substitution. Some say to use slightly less or even to reduce it to 2/3 c. sucanat for every 1 c. of sugar. In the recipe below, I left the amounts of sugar as written in the original recipe. When I tested it with sucanat, I used about 3/4 c. of sucanat and just under 1/2 c. of white sugar. Experiment and see what works best for you!

Wholesome{ish} Chocolate Chip Cookies
 ~adapated from My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies at Lovin' From the Oven

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sucanat (or slightly less)
1/2 cup white sugar (or slightly less)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 - 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer fewer chips, so I use 1 cup)

Whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream together the melted butter, sucanat and white sugar. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Stir in the flour and mix just until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Drop cookie dough by 1/4 cup scoop onto greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets (You can make them smaller if you want - just reduce the baking time a bit). The cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown. Rest on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack.

Enjoy!!


Rebekah Pike 
Rebekah is happiest with her nose in a book and enjoys making the most of her pint-sized, apartment kitchen. After leaving work in media production to become a full-time mommy, she began exploring the sustainable living movement, reconnecting with the back-to-the-earth ideals of her hippie parents. She met her husband, Darian, in 2005, working as a camp counselor in Oregon's rugged outdoors. Most of their time is spent chasing after their two year old daughter, Ashlynn, and doing serious “research” at Portland's restaurants, coffee shops and markets.






Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Cup of Kefir A Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Here is all you need to make kefir: milk, kefir grains, and a jar to culture it in.

“All diseases begin in the gut.” This is a wonderful phrase coined by Hippocrates more than two thousand years ago and the more we learn, the more we realize just how right he was. If we are doing all we can to have a healthy digestive system our immune system will also be strong.  Fermented dairy products, especially kefir, are some of the best foods for our digestive system.

Kefir, a somewhat sour, yeasty, and effervescent lacto-fermented beverage is gaining enormous popularity!  January 2 of this year I began getting daily requests for kefir grains, which I just attributed to a few New Year’s Resolutions… however, those requests have not stopped and the grains are flying out the door!

Kefir originated in the Caucasus Mountains, in the former Soviet Union, and seemed to have been developed by shear accident.  The villagers of this area consumed the nutritious beverage in large quantities and were renowned for longevity, living long, healthy lives with little to no known disease. An active life span of over one hundred years was common for folks living in the region where kefir was cultured and liberally consumed as part of a staple diet.

Kefir is probably the easiest cultured milk beverage to make at home, easier then yogurt because it cultures right on your countertop – no need to find a warmer place to incubate it.  Whereas yogurt can be cultured from previous batches of yogurt, kefir can only be cultured using kefir grains.  Kefir grains are self perpetuating, increasing in volume with each batch you make, and therefore need to be divided over time.  If you ask around I’m sure you can find a local source – perhaps a friend with some extra to give away.  Kefir grains are not a grain at all – just initially labeled that because of their appearance and granular structure.  They are created through a dynamic association of friendly lactic acid bacteria, vinegar-producing bacteria and healthy yeast strains.

Identical as well as adorable twin sisters Cathy and Connie live nearby and culture about five gallons of raw milk into kefir each week in order to maintain strong immune systems.

As their cultures grow, they keep a steady supply of kefir grains coming my way – and I am able to pass them on to others all week.  Given that they drink more kefir than anyone I know, I asked them a few questions regarding their experience with kefir.

They each drink about 1-2 cups daily of kefir, drinking mostly in the morning but Connie and her husband enjoy a tall glass in the evening, too.  They, like me, find that it can be an acquired taste – they recommend getting used to the flavor gradually, perhaps adding maple syrup, raw honey, frozen juice concentrate or fruit compote to soften the sour flavor at first, and work your way up to being able to drink it plain if you choose.

It gets sourer and healthier the longer you leave it on your countertop – I leave mine about 24 hours, Connie ferments hers about 36 hours and Cathy cultures her about 48 hours.  I guess I’m the wimpy one of the bunch!

Initially, Cathy and Connie started drinking kefir in order to add beneficial probiotics to their diets to strengthen their immune systems, and they also chose kefir because it is the easiest of the cultured dairy products to make - you simply add kefir grains to a jar of milk and place it on your countertop to culture for a day or two.  It’s also a good idea to cover it with a towel to protect it from nutrient damaging light.

Cathy and Connie both credit kefir with preventing illness and for strengthening their immune systems immensely in the past few years.  Cathy used to get every passing bug and it would take weeks for her to recover from them.  As of today she has not been sick in a year, even though her husband has brought home a couple very nasty illnesses. 

Cathy also used to suffer from several food intolerances and breaking out in hives was a common occurrence, but since beginning kefir consumption hives are now a very rare occurrence.  Connie enjoys not having to worry about being exposed to others’ illnesses, confident her strengthened immune system will fight it off and additionally, she is now free of previously annoying digestive problems.  These two ladies are very trim and fit and Connie credits her figure to kefir being such a completely nourishing and satisfying food.
Simply place one or two of these kefir grains in a quart jar, fill with milk,
and place on counter top with lid loosened for 24 hrs. until thickened

Charlotte Smith
@champoegcreamry
www.champoegcreamery.com
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which are also teeming with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3 and a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So You Want to Be a Farmer?


A few months ago when Bethany asked me to be a contributing writer on her blog, my first thought was, "What could I possibly write about?" I was expecting my 6th child, and we were really busy on our farm. I agreed to write if I could wait until my baby was born. That also gave me a little time to think about what to share.

I sat down and made a list of some of the questions people have asked us over the years. The most common questions we get asked are about why we became farmers, and how someone else can get started.

I'm not surprised, since we used to ask the same questions to the farmers we used to buy from. We also read any farming book we could get our hands on. For us, we finally made the decision to move to the country and buy a cow when we were sick and tired of being sick. I began dreading going to the store when I thought about the frustration of reading labels and knowing I really didn't have much control over what my family ate. My husband and I used to take shifts staying up at night with one or more of our children when they were suffering with chronic croup. Something had to change!

We began our farming adventure in the city by ripping out our front lawn and planting a large garden.

We bought a few chickens and rabbits for meat and eggs, but it was no longer enough. I wanted to raise my own beef, milk my own cow, make my own cheese. We wanted to provide all these things to other families as well!

When people ask us how they can become farmers, the answer really depends.

We encourage people to read a lot. Especially all of Joel Salatin's books.

The first step, we believe, is to know why you want to farm. If it's just a hobby for you, then when you've had a really long, rough day, only to finally sit down at 10:00pm, and then realize your pigs got out, you have to have something to remind yourself it really is worth getting up and herding them back to their pasture. For us its our health, and the health of our customers. Almost every single one of our customers has told us that our food has helped cure an ailment that they or their children have been suffering from. What could be better than that?

So you want to be a farmer?

Maybe you don't want to move to the country and milk cows. Maybe you just want to grow your own tomatoes? Maybe you want to raise chickens so you can have fresh eggs? A lot of people are keeping honey bees in the city.

You can too!

Find something that excites you and try it! So what if you don't know how. Check out a book from the library and ask a friend to try with you! What if you fail? So what? Try again, or find something else to try. One of the best feelings in the world is the satisfaction of knowing that you can do something new to provide for your family. Try it and see!

A while back when we were more than usually busy and my house was more than usually messy, I asked myself why am doing this, and I decided to write down a list of all the new things I've tried and accomplished since becoming a farmer over three years ago.

It was very encouraging to know that even though I don't seem to ever have sparkling bathrooms, I have learned to make kombucha, several kinds of cheese, butter, yogurt and much more. I've learned how to milk cows, detect a heat cycle in cows, raise sheep, pigs, turkeys and a little about honey bees.

I've learned what kinds of fencing will keep a pig in, when to plant clover in your pastures, what kind of potatoes grow well here, marketing, how to nurse a baby in a sling while stirring dinner with one hand and answering emails on my phone with the other.

I've discovered it truly is better to give than receive. We've become surrounded with some of the most wonderful people we could have ever dreamed of meeting. The best part is we get to spend our days as a family, taking care of animals that will help heal the people in our lives! I can't imagine anything better than that!

I believe one day I'll look back and not care that my house was never spotless, and I'll be happy that I've learned so much about providing for my family! I encourage each one of you to start with something and see how much you can learn!

Sincerely,
Genevieve
Pokrov Farm

Genevieve Cruzwww.pokrovfarm.com
Genevieve and her family moved to a 35 acre farm in Sandy, Oregon to improve their health and begin providing others with good food, too. They specialize in grass fed/finished beef and raw milk. She is a stay at home mom who began researching health and nutrition about eight years ago which led them to become farmers in 2008 and begin selling raw milk in March of 2009. She's learned many things while living on a farm and hopes to continue learning more. She loves having people over to visit and cook for them!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Kombucha - The Brew of Champions

Wanting to ward off those nasty lingering colds from this winter? Maybe you are looking for an alternative to coffee &/or soft drinks? Or maybe you are looking for a new choice of “juice” for you littles, instead of feeding them the pasteurized liquid sugar from the super market. 

Whatever your reasonings may be, Kombucha deserves your attention and a try.


Kombucha has become a new emerging drink in your local grocery store but has actually been around for hundreds and even thousands of years, finding it’s origins in the heart of Chinese and Russian cultures.

The most inexpensive and nutrient packed version of this wonder brew can be made quickly and easily right in your own kitchen!

The Science Behind the Fizz

Kombucha is an effervescent drink formed from ancient fermenting techniques of using a “culture,” often times called a “Scoby,” which means “Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.” This scoby looks like a light brown pancake, and actually digests the sugars in the tea to produce a whole host of organic acids, vitamins, enzymes, and amino acids. Antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral properties are all included in your homemade kombucha as well.

“...The Kombucha mushroom (which is actually a symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria) acts on sugar and tea to produce not only acetic and lactic acid but also small amounts of a potent detoxifying substance called glucuronic acid. Normally this organic acid is produced by the liver in sufficient quantities to neutralize toxins in the body, whether these are naturally produced toxins or poisons ingested in food and water. However, when liver function becomes overloaded, and when the body must deal with a superabundance of toxins from the environment, certainly the case with most of us today, additional glucuronic acid taken in the form of kombucha is said to be a powerful aid to the body’s natural cleansing process, a boost to the immune system and a proven prophylactic against cancer and other degenerative diseases.” - Nourishing Traditions


Glucuronic acid is naturally produced in the body, but kombucha gives you an extra boost of this detoxing wonder. The Glucuronic acid binds to environmental and metabolic toxins so they can be excreted through the kidneys.
“Glucuronic acid is also the building block of a group of important polysaccharides that include hyaluronic acid (a basic component of connective tissue), chondroitin sulfate (a basic component of cartilage) and mucoitinsulfuric acid (a building block of the stomach lining and the vitreous humor of the eye).” - Weston A. Price

A by product of the glucuronic acid is glucosamines, which have had their own share of the health news lately. These “structures” have been associated with joint, cartilage, and collagen health. Also produced is Gluconic acid, not to be confused with the above mentioned Glucuronic acid, which can greatly help those suffering from yeast infections such as candidiasis or thrush. It is shown to protect against stress and improve liver function. 

Some people initially experience a detox effect from the natural cleansers in this powerhouse drink, mistakenly considering it an “allergic” reaction or adverse effects on their pre-existing health ailments.... Don't fall into this trap. 

Understand that if your body is toxic it is in need of purging; start drinking this slowly and gradually increase you amounts. This will allow you to bypass some if not all of the “detox” symptoms, which include, but are not limited to:
muscle ache’s and pains, head ache, lethargy, loose stools, etc...

(I am not a doctor, so please be wise about what your symptoms may be and see a medical professional if you are concerned about any persisting symptoms.)

Making Kombucha at Home

Teas to use: Black, Oolong, Green. White and Red are permissible to use, but recommended that you use them in conjunction with a black, oolong, or green. Because of the fermentation process, Kombucha requires real tea, not herbal tea. You also want to be careful of using any tea that holds strong fragrant oils, such as bergamot in Earl Grey. You can used bagged tea or loose leaf.

Where to purchase a scoby: The cheapest way would be to find a friend who has one to give, but if you have no such luck... You can grow one on your own, although I will not cover that here. But purchasing one is a good way to get a healthy scoby if you can't find a friend. 

Here are a few options and sites to purchase a scoby from and that I have found helpful in my journey of experimenting with kombucha. You can also purchase jars and other items helpful in making kombucha at most of these sites.
Kombucha Rediscovered by Klaus Kaufmann is a good resource as well

Here are quick general direction on how to make Kombucha. There are many recipes out there and anyone who has brewed for a while will have their own personal secrets and tips, so go experiment!

You can choose to do continuous brewing vs. batch brewing. I explain the batch brewing method here. Continuous brewing has great benefits although I have found for experimenting and learning sake, the batch method has been most convenient for me. But, experiment and see what you like best. 

Kombucha Brewing Instructions:


This is for one gal of kombucha. You can make several batches at one time, you just need a very large pot for boiling the water. During my research I have found some recipes that use only 3-5 cups of boiling water to add the tea to, then add cold water on top of that. This allows the tea brewing process to be faster because you don’t have to wait for the entire liquid contents to cool off. I have not used this method (although I will personally be experimenting with it) I will continue explaining the instructions with the method of boiling all the water.

Boil 3-4 quarts water, mix in 1 cup organic sugar and place 4-6 organic black (green, white, or oolong) tea bags in the tea. Let sit until room temp (this is the only thing I use sugar for in my kitchen, so I just keep a large glass jar full, and ready for adding to each new batch). You can also use raw honey, or agave, but both have slight variations to the end product, so if you are new, I would stick with the sugar initially.
Once cooled:
Remove tea bags and mix in 1-2 cups of the previous batch of kombucha into the room temp tea. Pour into a glass jar (I use gallon sized jars, but half gallon works great too), place kombucha mushroom (scoby) gently in tea, with the light colored side facing up. Stringy brown particles are normal to find on the scoby, you will mainly see them on the bottom.The top side may be very smooth as well. The new “baby” scoby will begin to grow on top as the kombucha ferments.

You may find specific instructions to start a new scoby if purchasing a starter kit, so follow the instructions you receive with it.

You can leave your kombucha to ferment anywhere that is warm and away from direct sunlight. Cover with a light towel, napkin, or paper towel, so it can still breath. Let sit uninterrupted from about 7-12 days. During this time the scoby will “eat” up the sugar during the fermenting process. I usually find that the best taste comes with leaving it for 10-12 days, but this does depend on the time of year and the weather. If left too long it will basically turn into vinegar.... not that I would know from experience or anything...ahhem. :)

Kombucha can be very hardy, so feel free to experiment with length of ferment time and types of tea to use. Some say that the kombucha has finished “eating” up the sugar when a sweet smell becomes noticeable from the jars.... I have left mine after smelling this with great results, it may also become more carbonated the longer you leave it.... SO experiment with what you like. Once you decide your kombucha brew is done, remove the scoby and then strain the kombucha through a mesh strainer into a clean jar. Use approx 1 cup of this batch to add to a new batch of cooled tea, place the scoby on top and you have begun a new batch. You will have two scoby’s now because each time your ferment your kombucha, a by product of the growing scoby is a new “baby” scoby that grows right on top of the original one. You can separate these, but I have found that leaving them together and allowing them to grow larger(thicker) and keeping a couple scoby’s in each batch produces a better flavor. Again, this is very dependent on your location and weather.

If you like a more fruit flavored drink or more carbonation, you may also want to try “re-fermenting” for a few days....

Many folks enjoy this drink specifically for the wonderful natural carbonation that it provides. To the dismay and chagrin of many first time kombucha brewers, you may find yourself with some batches that are less carbonated than others.

Here are a few tips to help get the carbonation just right the first time:

A healthy scoby that will grow all the way to the edge of your jar, will help “seal” the kombucha in the jar, so that the lack of oxygen underneath is allowing for further carbonation. 

If you notice small or large bubbles in your scoby, this is most likely the natural C02 trying to escape. 

If this does not quite do the trick for you, there is hope... 

Secondary fermentation can enhance the carbonation, if you do not get the desired results after your determined length of brew time. During this secondary fermentation you want to achieve what is called the anaerobic fermentation stage. This part of the fermentation is done “without air,” so you want to take up as much room in the bottle as possible, with the kombucha and fruit. This allows there to be as little oxygen as possible so that the yeast and bacteria will produce bubbles. 

After removing your scoby and straining your kombucha, you can bottle your concoction into a flip-top style, airtight container (see pictures, I have found this style to work best), add a bit of “sugar”, fruit (fresh, frozen, dried), honey, molasses, or refined sugar, all work just fine. Each will vary just a little bit in brew time and amount used, so keep that in mind. 

I have read in places that raw honey is not advised to use because it contains its own natural bacteria that could interfere with the growing kombucha, but I have never had a problem with using it. 

There are some noticeable differences, but those will change with type, location, temp as well. Again, just experiment. 

Ginger makes a great fizz (don't ask me why, because I don't know), and I love experimenting with different flavors of tea and fruit. 

Allow the airtight bottle to sit at room temp for a few days. I find that mine do best anywhere from 4-7 days. Your time frame may be very different though, depending on your location, time of year, and temp in the room. 

Kombucha is a living organism and will vary in taste and consistency depending on its temperature and location. BE CARFUL.... sometimes they become very carbonated and some can have the tendency to explode like shaken soda if left too long. :)
HAPPY BREWING!

Thanks to Madey Edlin for the fabulous photos!
madeyedlinblog.com



Kelsey Willard
Kelsey's Health-Food-Courses
www.lifeatthewillards.blogspot.com
Kelsey is a firefighter/paramedic with Clackamas Fire and a dedicated homemaker who has successfully tackled health issues through alternative cooking. Kelsey shares her love of wholesome food with others through small scale health food courses and friendly conversation. She is dedicated to living well and staying fit, and she and her husband are in excited preparations to grow their family through adoption.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Real Food Realities: Celebrating Small Changes

Every once in a while, I start to feel a bit nostalgic … oh for the good old days, when I would go to the grocery store and purchase cheap meat and generic packaged goods, with nary a thought for any health or social concerns! I believed, as many people do, that if all this stuff is for sale at the grocery store, then surely it must be safe and wholesome. In fact, I thought I ate a very healthy, well-balanced diet.


Why the nostalgia? Well … because to be honest, the way I shopped and ate back then was easier. A lot easier. And even though I’ve learned the little tricks for saving time and money while still eating well, it can all be a little intimidating at first.

The way I thought about food began to change after I found myself spending most of my time at home with a new baby. I started browsing through blogs. A lot of them. And although I became convinced that the way we ate needed to change and I was inspired by the wealth of recipes and strategies and ideas and tips - I was completely overwhelmed. I was reading about sprouting grains, baking your own bread, making yogurt and cheese, cooking absolutely everything from scratch … I tried to envision doing all these things, as I alternated between newborn feedings and diaper changes all day long. It all felt pretty much impossible. I imagine that a lot of people who want to change their food habits feel the exact same way.

So how do we make real food a little less scary?

I think this is a really important question and I’ve been heavily influenced by both Michael Pollan (specifically by his book, In Defense of Food) and Mark Bittman on this point. I’ve been leafing through Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook as of late and I’m impressed with his creative solutions for wholesome, simple eating. His approach feels doable – something that a busy family could reasonably accomplish.


This is my variation on a recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook ... Pure├ęd White Beans with Tons of Fresh Herbs. Easy and delicious!

In my own journey towards more sustainable eating, I’ve come to terms with both my strengths and limitations. I’m really not good at being in my kitchen all day. I occasionally still feel a twinge of guilt when I think of all the things I’m not doing that I know are excellent and ambitious endeavors. I don’t make my own yogurt, although it's on my list of things to try – I buy Nancy’s Organic. I bake my own bread occasionally, but I usually buy a sprouted, whole wheat loaf from Trader Joe's. I have made chicken stock in the past, but it’s not a weekly (or monthly) project for me. I buy boxed, organic stock and I don’t let myself feel too guilty about it. I’m interested in the idea of making my own fermented foods, but I haven’t been brave enough to experiment with them yet.

These compromises are reflections of my circumstances, my temperament and my current stage of life. We live in a small apartment, with a very small kitchen. One of the first things I realized when we moved in was that our new fridge was several inches shorter than our old one! It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you need to maximize your food storage capacity, every inch counts. We have no real pantry area; just a few inches of space between the cupboards and the ceiling, where I stow non-perishables and an odd cupboard in our bedroom where I stash canned goods. This means that my bulk dry goods purchases have to be limited and carefully considered. We have no basement and no garage. This means no additional freezer space for bulk meat purchases.

The bottom line is that you have to make the best of what you have and not get discouraged by the imperfections. Baby steps still count! Instead of worrying about what I’m not able to accomplish at the moment, I try to focus on the things I can do right now to improve the health of my family and the greater community. This looks different for everyone, but here are some goals that my family and I have set over the last few years.

1. Higher quality meat and fewer meat-centric meals
For us, this was not simply a question of health, but also of budget. In order to afford better meat, we had to eat less of it. There was no way around it, especially with our lack of available storage for bulk meat purchasing. We currently eat 1-2 meatless dinners per week and our dinners that do include meat often utilize small portions of inexpensive cuts, like bone-in chicken thighs and beef stew meat or flavorful options, like bacon.

2. Prioritizing sustainably produced luxury foods
Primarily, this means coffee and chocolate. I do everything I can to hunt down organic, fair trade luxury foods and I don’t mind paying a little extra for them. They are definitely more expensive than the conventionally produced brands, so we don't have them all the time.

3. Shifting toward our local and seasonal food economy
Back in the day, I would think of something I wanted to eat and go buy the ingredients, without a second thought. These days, I rarely bother with any recipe calling for, say, fresh tomatoes, unless it’s summertime. I shop the farmers’ market in the spring, summer and fall and whatever I come home with is what we eat that week. In the winter, I make friends with root veggies and hearty greens, even though they aren’t as familiar and take some experimentation.

4. Gaining confidence with food preservation
I’m not going to lie … canning still freaks me out. But I push through my paranoia and do it every summer and fall, because it creates interest and variety in our diet, especially during the winter months. I also devote some of my precious freezer space to salsa, berries, beans, corn and pasta sauce.

These are not big things by themselves, but they represent an overall shift in my family’s attitude toward our food system.

Thoughts on baby steps toward more sustainable eating? Please share!


Rebekah Pike 
Rebekah is happiest with her nose in a book and enjoys making the most of her pint-sized, apartment kitchen. After leaving work in media production to become a full-time mommy, she began exploring the sustainable living movement, reconnecting with the back-to-the-earth ideals of her hippie parents. She met her husband, Darian, in 2005, working as a camp counselor in Oregon's rugged outdoors. Most of their time is spent chasing after their two year old daughter, Ashlynn, and doing serious “research” at Portland's restaurants, coffee shops and markets.

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