New Year’s Intentions, Part 2: What to NEVER, EVER Buy Conventionally (or What to Grow in Your Garden)

I was so excited about all the fancy words in my last post that I neglected the real meat/reason I wrote that post in the first place: to document which foods are best to buy organic and which are passable when conventionally grown.

During the summer, we hardly buy vegetables at all. We have so much growing in our yard that it’s difficult to eat it all at times. During the winter, though, we rely on others to grow our produce. The insane things we allow to be sprayed on our fruits and vegetables in this country totally freak me out, particularly now that we have a tiny, small being who loves fruits and vegetables in the house.

But the thing about buying organic or solely at the farmers market? $$$$. Really. I hate to say it, but $$$$. And also? Selection (at least at the standard chain grocery stores). And getting downtown to the weekly winter farmers market with a baby is just not always practical.

Dirty Dozen: The Environmental Working Group has a list of foods you should absolutely, never, OMG-you’ll-turn-green-and-die buy if conventionally grown. Strawberries are a really great one to grow at home instead (as well as spinach, snap peas, hot peppers, bell peppers, celery… shoot, just grow ’em all)!

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Hot peppers
  • Blueberries (domestic)

Clean Fifteen: Look how many of Willem’s favorite foods are on this list! SCORE!

  • Avocados (BABY FAVE)
  • Sweet corn (BABY FAVE)
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas (frozen) (BABY FAVE)
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Cauliflower (BABY FAVE)
  • Sweet potatoes (BABY FAVE)

Resolutions: Confessions of the Garden and Eating Variety

So this is kind of embarrassing to admit, considering I love my garden and all growing green things so much AND considering I work for an urban micro-farming/health and wellness/general “get awesome with your bad self” non-profit… but wow, have we ever fallen off the healthy eating wagon as of late.

My biggest intention for 2015? Get back into whole, healthy, organic eating. Period. As much as possible.

20141231. Good intentions for 2015.

It started when Willem was born. I had no energy to make much in the way of healthy food, and I was starving ALL THE TIME, breastfeeding Willem, so getting calories of any kind was more important than trying to piece together healthy meals. 

Add to that the fact that the garden itself was rather sad last summer (I was a little too preoccupied with general functioning and raising a wee babe), and so even during prime eating season, we weren’t eating super great. Then… in saunters winter. And everything falls to shit.

Willem eats wonderfully. He is very much interested in food, and at 10.5 months, he still has never had a jar of store-bought baby food. The problem? Willem eats better than us. By a lot.

Which brings us to my goal of getting more healthy, whole, organic foods back into our lives. We’ll be looking into a meat CSA again for the early winter/spring and going organic (and hopefully local) for our vegetables. It’ll get easier once our SUPER-AWESOME GARDEN OF 2015 starts producing this spring, but the next few months will be a good testing ground.

20140104. Garden planning, v.2015.

Also? I just got this amazing book from my in-laws for Christmas. So excited to curl up with this, a wee glass of whiskey, and watch the snow fly outside.
Day 71. Wonderful Christmas gift from my in-laws and SNOW and football. Ahhh, Sunday. #100happydays

The Baby (Food) Bourgeoisie*

The other day, Willem had a late harvest medley with deconstructed meatballs for lunch. Oh, yeah. We’ve reached a new level of fine baby dining.

Willem's dinner: chard, lentils, and some sauce.

What exactly is that, you wonder? I’m glad you asked. It’s actually pureed spinach and carrots mixed with ground beef, onions, and garlic I had cooked up for chili for the grown ups in the house. But it sounds so much more intriguing when described all fancy-like, doesn’t it?

The chard is as big as Willem.

I’m kicking myself for not planting some more fall chard. Willem loves spinach, and chard is basically like spinach on steroids, right?

The other day, he had chard from the backyard mixed with lentils and apple sauce from our trip to Andersen Orchard. And yes, I sampled it. Pretty delicious, I must say.

*NOTE: You know how I remember how to spell “bourgeoisie”? I pronounce it in my head “bur-gee-OY-zee.” Every time. One of these days, I’ll slip and say it out loud.

What else is new? Well, our sweet guy is eight months old today. Consequently, getting his monthly pictures has gotten a tad trickier.

20141018. 8 months old.

20141018. 8 months old.

Love love love you, you majestic little creature, you.
Hanging with my favorite almost 8-month-old.

Our Freezer Has Never Witnessed This Level of Beauty

No, for real. Look at how pretty our freezer is these days! I could cry.

20140930. Our freezer is a magical, colorful land of baby food.

We’ve got carrots, pumpkin, apple sauce, black beans, berries, sweet potatoes, chicken noodle soup, peas, and spinach all in puree form… and some chocolate peanut butter ice cream for the grown ups.

Also, Willem had spaghetti (mixed with winter squash puree) for the first time today. I think he’s a fan.

20140930. Willem's first spaghetti (with winter squash).

In other “I like to eat things” news, here I am trying to teach Willem that eating grass is icky. It’s a work in progress. He IS quite small.

Adventures in EATING, Baby Edition

It is so strange to me that I get to witness another human being’s first time ever eating stuff. We like food over here, as evidenced by our garden (and our restaurant/takeout bill – up until last month when we decided we really needed to cut it out if we are going to be able to survive on one income). I was really hoping Willem would like food, too. General consensus? Does he ever.

20140726. New high chair. And our awesome kid.

No, really. I swear he likes food. This is just his well-honed Elvis impression.

Like, yesterday? Willem ate PEAS for the first time. Ever. In his life. And he was all, “Hey, it’s no big thing, I’m just eating PEAS. For the first time. Which, by the way, are REALLY GOOD, and CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME MORE? Right MEOW?

Half a year old today.

Beets are also a serious fave.

It’s also kind of amazing watching his little brain work. He’s at the stage where, if you put a Cheerio or overcooked piece of broccoli or green bean in front of him, he gets laser sharp focus on whatever is on that tray. First he rakes it into his fist. If he gets a good grip on it and part of it is sticking out (on the mouth side, that is), he’s in business. If not, he sucks on his hand, shoving as much of it in as he can in hopes of getting that little food morsel out. If not? Well, he drops it back on the tray and starts all over again. Baby development = super cool to see.

20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU? This is mostly for my own reference (and for times when I will inevitably feel uninspired re: Willem snacks and need a reminder of some faves), but here are just a few things our little guy has inhaled. We haven’t had to buy baby food yet – just made this stuff from fresh and frozen produce:

  • Sweet potato sticks, green beans, and broccoli (cooked soft so he can feed himself)
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup
  • Peas, spinach, and lentils
  • Banana and pumpkin with a little pumpkin pie spice
  • Beets!
  • Peas!
  • Carrots and apple sauce
  • Broccoli, carrots, and spinach
  • Black beans with just about anything
  • Lentils with just about anything
  • Peaches and blueberries

So we’ve got eating down. Now if we could just figure out how to not end up with sweet potato or spinach up our nose and down our sleeves.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #1: ON EATING

Too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream.* I’ve been turning this particular idea over and over in my head lately in terms of parenting. As a new parent, especially at the ripe old age of 35, I feel like I’m redefining who I am quite a lot these days. I’m suddenly doing the doggie paddle in the deep end of the pool, and I’m surprised to find I’m a whole lot more conservative than I thought I’d be in terms of parenting… although maybe it’s all relative.

Let’s back up. Pre-Willem, I was a working girl with lots of hobbies and passions; I wasn’t exactly interested in “climbing the ladder” work-wise, but I had been successful at growing my career and had consistently been able to support myself since grad school (it IS possible to survive on $1000 a month). These days, I’m no longer supporting myself, putting money into my retirement fund every month, putting away savings… That last sentence cannot be emphasized enough. It is extremely weird to go from being a very self-sufficient person to being dependent on another person and bringing in just a little extra salary from my very part-time (yet very fulfilling) job.

100430. fancy hotel room. (i did not use the tub).

Another work trip, another fancy bath tub I’ll never bathe in.

100408. just another day at the office.

The candy ring signifies that SUPER IMPORTANT WORK is being done.

201404. Urban Times Article.

And my current work (in addition to being Willem’s mom).

And back then? I did ALL sorts of stuff. You know, just for fun. Whenever I felt like it. Oh, the luxury! Knitting and gardening and canning and baking and reading and and and… ALL sorts of stuff. These things are still high up on the priority list for me, but by necessity, they must fit around my primary new role: mom.

Baby K has arrived.

That one time Willem was born.

Yup. Mostly these days, I’m a mom to a wonderful little human who gets cooler and cuter and more amazing every week. Sometimes every day. It makes my heart hurt to think about it too much. In a good way.

This guy.It’s even weirder, though, being all old and stuff and suddenly trying to figure out where you fit in this entirely new world of mom-hood. The only thing keeping me going is the hope that every other mom is probably trying to figure out the same damn thing – where they fit, who they relate to most, and how to navigate this new terrain. Even if they’re fronting and pretending like they’ve got it all figured out.

20140816. Visiting grandma and grandpa.I was going to document some of the extreme views I’ve heard come out of people’s mouths lately re: parenting, but I realized two things: 1) that’s way more negativity than I want to perpetuate in my life and 2) I don’t really want to give their words more power than they have obviously already had over me.

So instead I give you the first installment of “being a parent” thus far, a la Chris, Christie, and Willem, aka “too hippie to be mainstream, too mainstream to be hippie.” I’m guessing many parents fall into this category, but, just like bad talk radio, the extremists on one side or the other drown us out with all their shouting and fervent insistence.

IMG_2763

ON EATING: Baby led weaning? Not exactly for us, not yet, at least. In theory, it’s awesome: teach your babies to chew before swallowing, feed themselves, eat what you’re eating, etc. In practice? Not so much. It turns out Willem is very, very good at shoving food into his mouth. Giant chunks of food. After the first couple of tries led to immediate gagging, coughing, and (yesterday morning) puking, I’m sticking with purees and some very limited feed-himself options (green beans and super soft sweet potato sticks are big hits so far).

He also REALLY REALLY likes food, and he totally gets the whole spoon in mouth thing. He opens his mouth wide like a little baby bird any time the spoon comes near, and it’s adorable. I want to celebrate the fact that he’s interested in trying a lot of new flavors at this age and not place limits on that because he’s too busy dropping his food on the floor, choking on it, and getting frustrated because he would actually love to EAT EAT EAT.

Lunch yesterday was some green beans, sweet potato sticks, and a pureed beet/spinach/lentil medley. And he loved it.

ON BREASTFEEDING: Dudes, breastfeeding is awesome. It really and truly is, and I am so glad I had help getting through those first 2 weeks 10 weeks of utter, toe curling pain and exhaustion. With that said, I cringe when well-meaning breastfeeding professionals make off-hand comments about “how I’ll handle the disappointment if so-and-so gives up on breastfeeding.” Like it has anything to do with them, you know? I lived through those first horrible months, and I can tell you it was sheer will, stubbornness, nipple cream, and a lot of encouragement that got me through. I totally, totally wanted to quit and almost did, like, 20 times. I have absolutely zero judgment for anyone who decides breastfeeding is just not working for them, I guess is what I’m saying.

The takeaway? Mamas, just keep doing what you’re doing and don’t feel bad for not being “enough” of anything or to anyone. Probably no one’s even paying attention to how you’re feeding your baby, and if they are, screw ’em. If it’s working for you, go for it. In the end, your way IS the best way – for you and your baby.

NEXT UP: SLEEP. Or lack thereof. Oh, yes. We’re going there.

*Stolen from my brilliant friend, Nikki, who’s in the same boat, parenting-wise.

Farm-to-Fork? More Like Farm-to-Face

Willem is eating FOOD, guys! I’m not sure why I’m so excited about this, but I am. I mean, it was inevitable that the kid would eat food at some point, right? He’s not going to survive on breast milk forever.

Part of it is that, oh, holy crap, he’s already eating food. At this rate, he’ll be learning to drive before we know it.
20140724. I'm ready.

The other part is that so far, his first foods were lovingly made by ME last fall. With every messy bite, I’m brought back to that time, when I was so full of excitement and big dreams for this little creature I was anxiously waiting to meet. And now? Now he is here, and he gets to eat that excitement and those big dreams with every spoonful. How cool is that?

Sweet potatoes (or were those yams?) from the garden last fall…
20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

And straight into the gullet. The kid, he likes his sweet potatoes.
20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

Our annual trip to Anderson Orchard last September:
20130914. Anderson Orchard.

20130914. Annual Anderson Orchard visit.

Apple sauce making:
20130914. Old school is new school again.

Apple sauce eating. Verdict: apple sauce is GOOOOOD.
Apple sauce!

I honestly don’t see us ever buying baby food from the store. This is one-ingredient goodness right here, and it doesn’t get much closer to home.

Why I’d So Much Rather Live in Indianapolis Than Portland

I love this! Check out this video from Crafted Spoon, all about the Indy food scene, featuring Growing Places Indy and Amy Matthews from South Circle Farm, where we got married, among many others in our community. Chris and I had talked about moving somewhere like Portland or Asheville (and the latter may still happen at some point – hello, alpaca and bee farm in the Smokies), but in a place like Indianapolis, you aren’t preaching to the choir. There’s room for so much growth, and I think this video does a nice job of highlighting exactly how much room for growth there is.

(Sorry, you’ll have to click on the video to view it on Vimeo):

FarmCity from Craftedspoon on Vimeo.

Fast forward to 17:30 to meet Amy, the farmer at South Circle Farms who is the hardest working and one of the kindest women I know. Or fast forward to 19:40 to see the Indy Winter Farmers Market and my boss, Laura. 🙂

Seriously, this video makes me feel all the feels about my little pocket of the world.

Nesting and Knitting

Nesting
The absolutely frigid weather this week coupled with a lack of motivation to make real meals made me realize that, hey, come baby-time, it would be so super cool to have some good food on hand, just waiting to be thawed and nommed. So this weekend, I made three different soups in three days. Is this what they mean by “nesting”?

We now have a veggie-rific vegetarian chili, homemade chicken noodle soup, and broccoli-pea-asiago soup (that is reminiscent of that famous scene in The Exorcist) clogging up our freezer. Chris professed the chicken noodle soup to be bested only by a concoction he had sampled as a kid at some church, made by a bunch of old ladies who even made their own noodles. Being in the same league as those little old ladies? I call that soup success.

20140112. Homemade chicken noodle soup.

So if anyone has other healthy meals that freeze well, please share! I also started the sweet potato slips yesterday. Let’s hope we get another great batch of sweet potatoes growing this year.
20140111. Starting the sweet potatoes.

Nesting Some More… with the Help of the Farmers Market
Speaking of food, I also made a much-needed trip down to the Indy Winter Farmers Market yesterday. I went for honey sticks, but I walked away with crusty sunflower seed bread, freshly made honey peanut butter, radishes, and red raspberry leaf and lemon balm for tea.

Even better than that crusty bread, though? I got to spend the morning chatting with some wonderful people – a much-needed break from my computer and the shut-in feeling that built over the last week. And this is coming from someone who really, really loves fresh, crusty bread.

All the goodies! Crust bread, radishes, herbs to drink, honey sticks, and freshly made honey peanut butter. Thanks, Indy Winter Farmers Market!

Knitting
A couple of winters ago, I joined up with an awesome group of ladies: the Indy Pub Knitters. We like to say we’re drinkers with a knitting problem. Every other Sunday, we meet up at a different area pub or micro-brewery, and we knit and chat. I look forward to our get-togethers very much.

Anyway, today turned out to be a two-cupcake day because, wouldn’t you know it, the ladies surprised me with an impromptu baby shower! I love how many handmade blankets, booties, hats, wash cloths, bibs, sweaters, and pants this baby is going to have. Thank you for making me feel so loved and special, ladies.

20140112. Hand knitted gifts from the Indy Pub Knitters.

On the knitting and nesting front, in addition to making ALL THE SOUP, I’ve also been knitting up a storm for this baby. A small, recent sampling: a sheep pillow…
20140108. Sheep pillow.

One of many bandana bibs…
20140108. Bandana baby bib.

A cozy cabled blanket…
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Some cozy baby pants…
20131222. Kanoko pants.

A sweet little vest…
20131112. Pebble vest.

And what baby doesn’t need a pixie hat?
20131007. Pixie hat for the sprout.

I’m 35 weeks today – hi, baby!
20140112. 35 weeks.

TREAT YO’SELF!

Last week, I did my first ever multiple day juice/veggies/fruits fast. Day one was a complete juice fast, but the rest of the days I incorporated raw and cooked veggies and fruits. Finally, I threw eggs back into the mix. I don’t think I eat horribly in general, but I wanted to reset how I look at food and move towards a more conscious way of eating. And, frankly, I have wanted to break the hold of processed foods, fried foods, and CHEESE for a while.

Dear baby Jesus in heaven, do I ever love cheese.

But get this – I felt fantastic this past week. It was hard, but not in an “I’M SO HUNGRY I COULD IMPLODE INTO MY CONCAVE, GROWLING, SHRIVELED STOMACH” sort of way. A few things:

  • The greatest difficulty I had was getting over my own head. I found myself getting up from my computer during the work day to make some tea, and the moment I was standing in the kitchen, my head switched over to, “What should I grab to munch on?” I hadn’t realized how strong that pull is.
  • The longer I went, the harder it was to put anything remotely crappy into my body. This, of course, was the desired outcome… so that was pretty sweet.
  • I also started thinking a lot about the whole concept of treating yourself. One of the main reasons I typically treat myself food-wise is because I feel like I’ve “been good,” which, in actuality, means that I feel I’ve been depriving myself or something is missing. But what if you looked at everything you ate as treating yourself? Example: fresh squeezed kale/pineapple/orange juice is DELISH, and it was not a stretch to think of it as a treat and to savor it. I tried to appreciate what I was eating and look at every bite as treating myself – treating myself right, that is.

By extension, then, what if you viewed your whole life as episode after episode of “treating yourself”? What would be possible then? I understand that cleaning the toilet will likely never feel like treating yourself. Your boss may occasionally be a hideous hose beast. Commuting in bumper to bumper traffic will probably never be elevated to “I’m totally treating myself right now” status (although a great album coupled with some inventive car dancing routines could perhaps ALMOST get you there).

20130209. Beaker's first egg.

Simple pleasures: cracking Beaker’s first giant egg to see what’s inside.

But if we make an effort to live our lives with a sense of levity and work to make more and more of what we do every day feel like a treat… what then? Think of how differently we would look at the world and each other. Think of everything we could do.

In honor of all this seeking and reaching, I give you this song: Cloud Cult, “There’s So Much Energy in Us.” I heard the captain say, “We’re so close to it. So very close to it. We still have energy in us.”

So far today, I have treated myself with the following:

  • Made (and ate) a delicious curried egg salad out of hard boiled eggs from my backyard tenants, aka the chickens.

20130209. Beaker and her giant egg.

  • Spent a good portion of my morning in the basement under the bright, clear grow lights, transplanting my beautiful seedlings, thinking about nothing… then friends and work and life and trips and to do lists… then nothing again… Just enjoying being with green things and dreaming of how they will grow.

20130209. Thank goodness for green things.

  • Hung out with my best feathered friends in the sunshine and relative warmth.

20130209. Backyard with the chickens.

  • Went for a long walk in the fresh air with my best furry friend, laughing as she ran through puddles and chased water droplets flinging off her paws, admiring her floppy ears and happy-puppy gait.

Birdie values inter-species relationships. Bean does not.

How did you treat yourself today? And, more importantly, what parts of your days are always a treat?