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Archive for December, 2013

December Harvest

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Celery root, carrots and red cabbage. Bonus points for spotting the sunchoke!

Yes, you read that right! Very excited to get a few things out of the garden yesterday and even more excited that there is more to come!

 

Lots of beautiful kale!

Lots of beautiful kale!

 

A bit of spinach.

A bit of spinach.

 

Arugula.

Arugula.

 

 

 

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Making tortillas

We made tortillas to use in our quesadillas the other night. Once again, it’s something that is remarkably easy to make at home and is cheaper and tastier when you do. Of course it  takes a bit more time and planning than opening a package, but it’s more fun, too.

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One of my helpers rolling out tortillas. Good help makes it much quicker!

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They’re almost round!

 

The recipe is really quite simple:

Flour Tortillas

Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon garlic or onion salt. Then add 2/3 cup water and knead until smooth. Make 12 small balls and roll flat. Cook over medium high heat. 

 

But why do it? I mean, quesadillas are supposed to be my easy go-to fast meal when everyone is tired and hungry. Is it really just about feeding the independent, stubborn streak in me that just likes being able to do it myself? Am I just making life difficult for myself for no good reason? No and no. The tortillas we find in the store here are all imported from the USA. That’s a whole lot of food miles. And they are name brands, big corporate brands, and our corporate system is my least favorite investment! Those are the real motivating reasons.

Slowly, I am trying to wean us off of corporate and imported food. There’s the garden, of course, and locally grown fruits and veggies, but I’m talking about the dry goods and stuff we can’t grow ourselves. I find it much harder to convince my family to embrace alternatives to the pasta, tortillas, rice, etc. that we use pretty often. As expats, it can be easy to want and buy familiar American brands of food, much of which you can get here if you are willing to pay the price. I’d rather not and the food miles really put me off.

Here’s a list of some of the things we like and some alternatives we’ve either switched to or I am in the process of slowly, unnoticeably converting to (don’t tell the girls!).

  • Tea – We mostly use teas that we gather or grow, like sage, lemon balm, and mint. I am trying to add more herbs for teas, and buy fair trade tea if we want some black or green tea.
  • Maple syrup – This was hard to give up! But the cost here is crazy and it comes from so far away. So, we use homemade jam instead. Two years ago we started making jam from wild plums and I think the girls actually prefer it now. The other substitute is dandelion honey, from foraged dandelions, of course!
  • Dairy products like milk, butter, eggs, cheese  – You can buy local dairy products easily, even in the big chain stores. But we get almost all of our dairy products from a local organic dairy called Biovavrinec. I started buying at the Farmer’s Market, but this dairy also has an e-shop. Several folks from my work joined together to place an order every week to save on delivery charges and now we can get these products all winter, too.
  • Pickles – We’re not huge pickle eaters, but we (my mother-in-law, actually) canned 11 quarts last year from our own cucumbers!
  • Tortillas – we’ll make them most of the time now. It’s really quite quick.
  • Pasta – I suppose I could make this, too, but there is a vendor at the farmer’s market that makes wonderful fresh pasta. My favorites are the whole wheat tagliatelle and the spaghetti.
  • Rice – This doesn’t actually grow here, so getting local rice is not an option. And we love risotto and sushi and stir fries, so what to do? One strategy is to use other grains. With our stir fires, we often have millet, bulgur or buckwheat. We like quinoa, but that comes from even farther away. For risotto, I’ve started using barley.

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