Sunday, June 30, 2013

Avocado and Tomatillo Guacamole

I love free things. When I see a folding tray table with a plate of fruit or a bowl of dried vegetable sticks in our grocery store, I can’t believe my luck. “A free grape! Score!”

Does everyone share my enthusiasm for free samples? I assume society is divided. Half are as excited as I am. Everyone else is totally grossed out by how many people have touched that piece of Pirate’s Booty™ aged white cheddar puffed rice (only $2.59 this week!) I just consumed.

Even though I love free samples, as a marketing tool I don’t find them that persuasive. I rarely stray from my grocery list. This is not as much from personal willpower as OCD, but this summer a free sample convinced me to override the all-powerful grocery list.

A fresh guacamole with tomatillos has continually been featured this summer at our co-op grocery. It was so delicious that I wanted to take some home. Rather than buy it, I looked at the package and bought the (four!) ingredients to make a batch at home. We’ve been eating it weekly as a snack with tortilla chips, on tacos or as a salsa for homemade tamales.
Here is my super easy version of the recipe:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Homesteading Baby Shower

Ten years ago my sister and her husband began building a life together. “Building a life together” may be a trite figure of speech, but no other phrase better describes their relationship. Building, literally, has been one of the most important parts of their life. Together they have established a landscaping business where they specialize in constructing walls, patios, water features, and fences. At home, they are busy converting their five acres of land into a sustainable farm with gardens, fruit trees and bushes, chickens, and hops for brewing their own beer.

The one part of their life together they did not plan making was a baby. Since childhood, neither felt a desire to become a parent. This suddenly changed last year, and they are now excitedly anticipating the birth of their son.

When planning a family shower for J & S, Amanda and I decided that the party should focus on the ideals they strive for in their life. The party also seemed a great opportunity to introduce their families to their lifestyle as “homesteaders."

The artwork of Nikki McClure, an artist in Olympia, Washington, was used to decorate the party. McClure creates intricate paper cuts celebrating the joys of simple living and the beauty of nature. The decorations included greeting cards and two framed prints which could all be reused after the shower.

The menu was built around seasonal foods we could purchase from local sources or harvest from J & S’s or other family member’s farms when possible. All the food was prepared from scratch .

  • Sweet Pea Guacamole with Corn Tortilla Chips is one of the most popular appetizers at a local restaurant, FARM Bloomington. The recipe can be found on Earth Eats an Indiana Public Media podcast that focuses on recipes using local ingredients and sustainable agriculture. 
  • Watermelon with Honey, Ginger and Lime
  • Kale Chips
  • Sweet Sunflower Seeds are a quick snack made by toasting 1 cup of sunflower seeds with 1T of sugar, 1/4t of salt and 1t of lemon zest.
  • Cucumber and Radish Sandwiches with Herb, Cheese Spread on Homemade Bread are a variation on a previous sandwich we made using a denser, homemade bread.
  • Corn and Summer Vegetable Salsa 
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Blueberry Pie
  • Homemade Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Buttercream Frosting 
  • Homemade Shrub Syrup Soda is an acidulated beverage made of fruit juice, sugar, and other ingredients mixed with carbonated water. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a means of preserving fruit long past its picking.
  • Homemade Lemonade
  • Stinging Nettle Iced Tea

We reused the decorations for a second shower with friends. The menu was adjusted for lunchtime.

  • Black Bean Sliders with Avocado or Cherry Tomato Relish
  • Watermelon Feta Salad
  • Potato Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
  • Sweet Pea Guacamole with Tortilla Chips
  • Sweet Sunflower Seeds
  • Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Tahini Frosting
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Stinging Nettle Iced Tea

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Nursery Rhyme Baby Shower

Ezra, Amanda and I will become a cousin, an aunt and an uncle for the first time in the next couple months. Both my sister and her husband and Amanda’s brother and his wife are becoming first-time parents, and we can't wait to meet these two new babies.

We are also excited to host baby showers for both families. 

The first shower is for Amanda’s brother and his wife. The party is based on the theme of the baby’s room, nursery rhymes. 

The party was decorated with reproductions of vintage nursery rhyme illustrations from artists such as Blanche Fisher Wright Kate Greenaway, and Eulalie Banks. 

The menu was a simple afternoon tea including: 

  • Radish, cucumber, and watercress sandwiches
  • Cranberry bread topped with a soft farmer cheese
  • Scones
  • Cheeses
  • Humpty Dumpty sugar cookies
  • Gingerbread men and women (decorated with an “xx” or “xy” since we did not know the sex of the child)