Saturday, June 30, 2012

Strawberry Beet Salad

2 fist sized beets (*roasted)
1 lbs of strawberries
4 (or more) ounces of fetta cheese
1/4 (or more) cup of roasted walnuts

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp agave nectar

* To roast the beets, set them in a oven safe dish and fill the bottom inch with water cover and bake for an hour or until the beets can be easily poked with a fork.  Let them cool and rub the skin off of them.  They are ready to be used.

Place the walnuts in a dry hot pan and "fry" on the stove until the skins darken and they are wonderfully aromatic.  Remove from heat.
Chop the beets and strawberries into equal sized pieces. Put on a bed of arugula. Since arugula is a peppery green, use as much or as little as you like.  Sprinkle with the feta and walnuts.

Prepare the dressing.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, agave nectar and add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dressing over the salad.  Toss and enjoy.

Well, it has been a crazy month full of fun and family.  I wanted to get this quick salad I created written down before I forgot about it.  Today we are going to have a lazy day. We are going to eat our breakfast, load up in the stroller to walk down town and purchase fresh vegetables at our farmers market and then we might just visit the library before we mosie back home to water plants and collect our eggs.  I wish everyone else a joyful Saturday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Camp Deep Creek - June 22nd - Week 1

I feel fortunate to have a found a community of stellar parents since moving to Missoula a few years ago. They are vibrant, passionate, talented people who are raising children with love and laughter and creativity.  Sure, raising kids can be tough and often entire days, weeks and months have their unique struggles, but in those times a support network of parents has it's greatest advantages.  It is nice to know that most struggles are universal and that we all get through them in one way or another.  We bitch, we listen, we share ideas and help when we can.
One of the most rewarding aspect of being a parent is that we get to share those things that we love with our children and hope that our passions might in some way ignite interests of their own.  Whether it is walking in the woods, drifting down the river, growing a garden, baking bread, curling up with a good book, creating music, or simply spending time with friends we want our children to discover those little things that give our daily lifes fulfillment. It might just be this desire that led some of the moms (and dads) to band together and create Camp Deep Creek.  

For our first camp we went on a wild flower walk.  Sylvan insisted on walking the whole way and gleefully pulled the flowers off of their plants.  

While the two of us dawdled behind,  Ivory was, often lost to me, some where ahead on the trail with another parent.   Those parents that knew names of plants offering the information to the rest of us, while some of us new to the area, were disappointed to find out that those pretty little flowering plants that magically appear in our flower beds every spring are actually unwelcome invasive species.  After our walk we gathered on blankets for a picnic lunch. 

Then we tucked our flowers and leaves in between pages of newspaper in neat little stacks to be pressed. 

We all drove home with our flower presses tied up tight, to be opened and plants identified at a later time.

For me, Camp Deep Creek  is filled with fun and friends, but is also in a way an admission that as a parent I'm not wonderful at everything and that I am willing enough to admit my short comings and surround my children and myself with other adults that can teach us the skills we might be lacking.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cultivating Pleasure

The sun is shinning.  It is warm and humid.
We woke this morning to birds singing and the ever present humming of the cars driving by just out of sight.  The view of farm fields and little farm houses tucked between the rolling hills visible from the windows of our room belie the proximity to town. 
We are all still a little tired after arriving at my father's house in the wee hours of  Wednesday morning.

My father proudly gave us a tour of the yard, coffee cups in hand, and we admired his strawberry plants, tomatoes, peppers, squash, onions, fennel, peas and beans.

His yard is something to which I hope ours will someday aspire.  While I have been raging war on the sod in our yard, here there all ready are well established garden beds, filled with beautiful perennials, interspersed with plots of edible plants.  There are covered walkways and sitting areas over which thick stemmed grape, hardy kiwi and wisteria spread their bows.

The roses here are in full bloom, back home the blush of the petals is just becoming visible.  Everything is a little taller, lusher, farther ahead than the plants in my garden. Summer came to my dad's yard weeks before it reached ours.

Before we left, I finished constructing the bean trellis, pulled the persistent blades of grass that keep  appearing around our new strawberry plants, planted all of our cucurbits and filled in gaps in rows with beet and kale seeds.  As I have been swinging a pick ax and carting buckets full of rhizomes and grass lumps across our yard, our next door neighbors have been seeding grass, buying sod and diligently watering their lawn in spite of rain.

I have been wondering why exactly I do what I do?  Why do I have the need to pull up perfectly good lawns were every I go?  Oh sure, I could justify my actions with an ideologically based rant on food miles, the importance of eating local, organic foods, my fear of GMOs and my belief that reclaiming our food system is an important mechanism for delivering power back to the people, and while all those reasons are important on a social, political and ecological scale, it isn't what draws me my out into the garden.
What keeps me going outside to dig in the dirt is pure simple pleasure.
The pleasure of transformation -  of watching a bland and boring yard into something that flowers, smells and tastes delicious.  The pleasure of discovery - of watching my kids find bugs and worms and carry them around the yard and watching their faces when they finally realize that those strawberry plants are STRAWBERRY PLANTS!!!! when the first few hard green fruits appear.  The pleasure of a sharing - of being able to share our experience, our abundant harvests as well as the freshly sealed jars that line our counters at the end of the growing season.
I want my children to love vegetables, to grow up eating healthy food and to become adults that make good food choices.  I want to have thick stemmed grape, hardy kiwi and wisteria wines in my garden when my children are raging their battles against their own lawns.
So for now, we visit goats and chickens, pick mint and putter around the yard cultivating pleasure.