Friday, July 23, 2010

Farmers Market

I visited the South Wedge Farmers Market yesterday (as I do every Thursday) to pick up my CSA share and some other items. Man, is it ever the season of abundance! The tables were loaded with produce! Here's what I received in my CSA share:
Swiss chard
Green beans
Summer Squash
Green tomatoes

Some other tasty items I saw available:
Sweet corn
Sour Cherries

If you're in the Northeast, look for these items! They're all in season right now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pickled Beets

I've gotten a bunch of beets, two weeks in a row, in my CSA share. I'm not a huge fan of beets, but I do like them pickled (feel the same way about cucumbers), so here's a seasonal recipe for pickled beets:

2 bunches of beets (5-8 in each bunch), sliced into thin strips
1 head of new garlic, roughly slice each clove
1 quart white or cider vinegar
1/2 quart sugar
1 heaping tsp. salt
1 tbsp. pickling spices
Small handful of chopped dill, if you like it

Fill 2 sterilized (read: just out of a HOT dishwasher) quart-sized mason jars with sliced beets and garlic. Bring vinegar, salt, spices, and dill to a boil in a pan. Remove from heat and add sugar. Then, pour it through a cheese cloth (read: a thin dish towel if you're not Martha freaking Stewart) into the jars of beets. Now, at this point, you can just throw a lid on the jars and keep them in your fridge if you'll eat them within a few weeks (but wait 24 hours before cracking them open).

OR you could seal them:
-Get some NEW lids and rings--you can reuse lids for fridge pickles, but new is essential for making a seal.
-Boil a giant pot of water, dunk the lids and rings in it for a minute or so, then put them on your full pickle jars.
-Then submerge the jars in the boiling water for 10 full minutes.
-Take them out with canning tongs (or regular tongs, carefully), and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. You might hear them pop as they form seals. You should NOT be able to get the lids off by hand, without a can opener.
Now, you can eat them immediately or store them in your pantry for up to a year. I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe if you plan to seal the jars. It's not really worth the trouble unless you make a decent sized batch.

(Hopefully my lazy ass will upload some pictures of these beautiful pickles soon).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Eileen Cleans...herself

A few recipes for self-care items:

1 part baking soda (a deodorant)
1 part cornstarch (an antiperspirant)
20-30 drops tea tree oil (antifungal)

At this point, you could call it done and use it as a dry, powder deodorant. Or you could add a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and spoon it into a used, empty deodorant container. Let it sit for a day or two before using. I've found this works better than store-bought "all natural" deodorants.

Just mix some baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Add 10 or so drops of essential oils for scent if you want to get crazy. If you bought tea tree oil to make deodorant, throw that in. Remember, it's antifungal, so it cures dandruff. It's also a good insect repellant, so you probably won't get lice, if that's a concern of yours. Put it in a recycled container and use like regular shampoo.

Mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and use after shampooing. I'm still figuring out the best application method for this. I use a spray bottle currently, but I think one of those ketchup/mustard bottles with a skinny squirt tip might work better.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Eileen Cleans

or, An Ode to Vinegar and Baking Soda.

I am a bit hesitant to branch out into topics beyond eating, but I've had a few requests, so I'll address some ways I extend my food philosophy to other areas of my life. I figure, if I'm not eating it, but I'm breathing it in, slathering it on my body, spreading it around my home, or pouring it down the drain, the Food Rules should still apply. After all, this philosophy isn't just about protecting my health or my taste buds, or the environment as singular interests. It's about acknowledging that all life exists in relation to all other life.

So am I eating whole, local, sustainable food and cleaning with manufactured chemicals? Heck no. And why not? Pick your reason:

-They're toxic to me.

-They're toxic to the rest of my environment.

-They're not produced in an environmentally safe way.

-They're freaking expensive.

And what about "natural" cleaners? Well, they're still a steep and unnecessary expense. Plus, there's no universally accepted or regulated meaning to the word, "natural," so the first three reasons may still apply as well.

I only use two main ingredients in cleaning: vinegar and baking soda. I mix 2 parts white or cider vinegar (which I buy in bulk) with 1 part water in a spray bottle. I use this to clean a number of things:

-kitchen and bathroom counters



-windows and mirrors (it doesn't leave streaks)

-anything metal (great at removing rust)

-floors (in mop water)

If you're concerned about the vinegar smell, it's completely gone by the time it dries.

I mix baking soda (which I also buy in bulk) with a few drops of an essential oil for scent (I like lavender) in a shake-able container. You could reuse one of those plastic Parmesan cheese shakers or a mason jar with holes in the lid. I use this as an abrasive on things that really need scrubbing, like:

-counter tops

-stove top and burners

-dishes with stuck-on food

Just sprinkle on some baking soda, scrub with a wet rag, and wipe away. I also sprinkle it on carpets before vacuuming to deodorize.

Some other miracle uses?
-softens laundry in place of fabric softener
-works the same in place of hair conditioner
-can be used in place of "Jet Dry" in dishwashers

Baking Soda
-cleans hair in place of shampoo
-can be added to dry dishwashing or laundry detergents to stretch their use
-deodorizes shoes, couches, and bodies

More on these uses later. For now, what do you clean with?