Caring Consumer?

Living in the world we do, it's difficult not to be a consumer.  I know that personally, I was raised under the assumption that things were disposible, and throwing money at things can make it better/go away, etc.
I do my best now to be a thoughtful and conscious consumer.  I recycle, shop at thriftstores, grow veegies, and repair instead of replace.

I found this neat website that can help bring the price of enviromentally and animal friendly products down to earth.
Check out Caring Consumer, from PETA.  There is endless info on compassionate products, and COUPONS!
I love me some coupons.

Summer Fun.

Okay, okay...that's enough.
I took a few weeks and enjoyed the summer weather.  Back to business....

Ever wonder what an $11 beer looks like?
Here ya go-
I have a feeling it may have tasted sweeter if the Phillies won, and I wasn't standing out in Dodger stadium in my red flannel.  


True Beans

Slacking? Maybe.
Well, I'm back to posting, with the help of a great cup of coffee.
Whole Foods makes a point to carry local products, and that's where I found TRUE BEANS coffee.
I read that they roast right here in Long Beach, so they made it into my cart.  
Call me easy, that's fine.
I was excited at the chance to find a locally roasted coffee that doesn't smell and taste like it's burnt.  I appreciate the old school roaster on 2nd street does, but that doesn't always translate into a good brew.
Well, beside the fact that True Beans are in town, they actual roast a mean bean.
They roast in small batches, and only all organic Rainforest Alliance Certified  and  Fair Trade Certified™coffee beans.  
Heaven in a cup? Yes.
Their artisan expertise came through to me- it was smooth, flavorful and really hit the spot.
The company is only 2 years old, but I expect them to be around for quite some time.
If you don't see them on the shelf at your market, ask for it.
Otherwise, shop online and enjoy free shipping on any order over 5 lbs....


It's the Jam!

My sister blessed me with some figs fresh from her garden.
To be honest, these are the first figs I have ever touched. So, the idea of a jam sounded like a safe intro, especially when strawberries play a supporting roll.
It's almost sinful how easy it is to make preserves/jam/jellies.
The most important part is sterilizing the jars/lids, and then processing the filled jar to avoid any nightmares.
I used 3 cups of sliced strawberries and figs (1 1/2 cup each) and brought it to a boil.  In goes a packet of nature no sugar added fruit pectin.  Instead of introducing cups of sugar, I used 1 cup of white grape juice and a tablespoon on honey- also into the boiling fruit.
Once it's all combined and boils for a few minutes, use a funnel and fill sterilized jars.  Leave 1/4 headspace.  More space would cause it to discolor, and less would lead to fireworks and jam on your ceiling.  Seal with lids and process in simmering water bath for a max of 10 minutes.
Last step:  Enjoy, and don't forget to share the love.


Pumpkin Progress.

Crossing my fingers for miniature pumpkins by Halloween.
These are the "Jack Be Little" variety, with 90 days maturity to 3 inches in size.
The flower comes first, then we should start to see something that resembles the main attraction.
Stay tuned.


Yes, it's summertime!
Today's winner- cucumbers.
They will soon be considered pickles- lucky guys!
The fundamentals of pickles are simple- pick good vegetables, use flavors you enjoy (I opted for fresh dill and garlic in addition to the vinegar+spices), and have fun.
There are hundreds of recipes online, so I'll spare you my fumbley, imperfect science.
You can make refrigerator pickles that don't require brining or hot baths.
I went with the canning method since I was making multiple jars.
I'm happy.

Okie Dokie.

My garden continues to be a source of insight for me.
Today's lesson; don't give up.

I was confidently growing an artichoke in my front yard.   
The progress made in it's growth was exciting- it was very leafy, about 10 inches tall, and had a small 'choke developing.  Within a few days it went yellow and brown, and the leaves all dropped off.
I pulled the plant from the ground over a month ago.  It was completely dead, or so I thought. I tossed it into a planter bed on the side of my house, neglecting it completely. I was sad but quickly filled it's spot with lavender, and it has been doing well.

Today I noticed the little artichoke that could.  I picked it up since it had been laying on it's side, roots exposed.  It has now been replanted in that bed, and I gave it love with the herb cuttings and some compost.  
So, moral of the story....don't give up on the sad looking plants in your garden.  
A little TLC can go along way.


My "Cloud Nine" white eggplant is coming right along.
It's meant to mature in about 75 days- 
About 15 days have passed since it started to flower,  and it looks like we're in business.

My Assistant

Patsy is very interested in the potatoes.
Thankfully she is sweet and gentle.  
She hasn't tried to fuss with the plant, but she's been curious.
I wonder what makes her head for that plant, vs. all the others? 


Call Me Simple....

It only takes $2.99 to get me exited.
New toy: magic wavy cutter thingy.
My veggies just got a whole lot cooler.

No Lemonade for You!

Have you heard about this?
 A mother and her 7 year old daughter set up a lemonade stand at a craft fair in Portland last week.  A city health inspector came by their booth and asked for a copy of their business license.  Since they didn't pay the daily $120 fee, the option were pay up, get a $500 fine, or closed up.
They opted to close and now the city has issued an offical apology.
 The best part?
Local activists are setting up illegal lemonade stands all over town.


The Ol' Squich and Lick.

I heart you, Natalie Dee.

Fullerton's Restaurant Week

Me too.

Fullerton is a day into their first annual restaurant week!
Through August 7th, you can enjoy
 special meals and prix-fixe menus with price points ranging from $5-$40 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  
The inaugural event was organized by the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce.
Below is a list of the participating restaurants.  Click a link for information on their restaurant week offerings! 
I highly recommend Mulberry Street.  The food is great, they have a fantastic little bar, and you can often catch live music or watch the locals sing karaoke.  

Brownstone and Cafe Hildago are in the beautiful Villa Del Sol.  Brownstone has a fresh and seasonal menu, and a great happy hour.  They did a great job of catering my our wedding!  Cafe Hildago serves satisfying food from Spain, Mexico and Latin America.  Both have great patio seating.

And of course there is Bourbon Street, the owner is a family friend with amazing taste.  They have a great New Orleans atmosphere and menu.  You can find live music or a radical DJ nightly. Restaurant week is a perfect opportunity to pay her a visit!

All of those spots are in downtown Fullerton.  Walk that meal off in the neighborhood and admire the old town charm.  If you make it down on Thursday night, there is also a rockin' farmers market downtown as well. 

In the full spirit of nepotism, I must mention The Summit House.  My cousin works in the kitchen there under the direction of Chef Timothy Plumb.  If you're looking for a fine dining experience with a great view, drive up the hill.  Menu items range from Oak Wood Rotisseried Chicken to Eggplant Crepes! OMG.

    Let's Celebrate!

    It's National Farmers Market Week!
    Straight from the USDA's website:
    "Farmers markets are an integral part of the urban/farm linkage and have continued to rise in popularity, mostly due to the growing consumer interest in obtaining fresh products directly from the farm. Farmers markets allow consumers to have access to locally grown, farm fresh produce, enables farmers the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their customers, and cultivate consumer loyalty with the farmers who grows the produce. Direct marketing of farm products through farmers markets continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide. As of mid-2009, there were 5,274 farmers markets operating throughout the U.S."
    Many vendors will be making special offers this week.  The olive oil booth I run is giving free jute market bags with any purchase.  Show your support and shop at a local market.