I’m Not Sure Why I’m Doing This, But Here I Go.

I’m looking over the pictures I took today on my phone and I realize I’ve done something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I’ve recorded, in photos, all the foods I ate today (except breakfast, I’ll do that tomorrow, if you’ve seen one bowl of yogurt with olive oil you’ve seen them all). I think I’m going to keep going and I’m planning to post them to instagram.

I have some ideas about why I want to do this. I get excited about food. Special food, dinners out, even fast food sometimes, I like it all. Also, I missed that part of internet history where people shared absolutely everything they ate. I mean I watched from a distance, but I was in grad school and there was no time for frivolity. It is sort of like sharing selfies. With selfies I’ve shared so many that I’m starting to get used to seeing myself in pictures. I’m no longer tearing myself down each time I see them. Maybe I want to get more neutral with food? I mean, this is the month where the diet rhetoric is at its highest. If I stay steadfast in my normal eating patterns then hopefully I can get through this month with minimal urges to restrict my eating. Also, it is scary to do and I want to face that fear and find out what happens. It might be fine, or it might be terrible. I won’t know until I do it. 

Perhaps all I know is that I want to. I’m trying to do more things that I want to do, so here I go. Follow me on instagram @nmstreettaste if you’re interested.

New Year’s Eve Hot Pot

A new tradition may have been started this evening at 4th Base, NYE Hot Pot.

I frequently ask Dave what he would like me to cook for one meal or another. His answer is usually pretty pat, “I like almost everythng you make hun” is the most frequent answer. There is also the dreaded, “Please don’t make X (usually whatever I’ve been relying on for a quick meal) again.” It is a very rare occasion when he has strong opinions, so when he does I get to finding a way to feed his craving. This is how we came to be having hot pot for our NYE dinner.

The Spread

I made a basic sukiyaki broth (1 1/3 C dashi + 2/3 C each of mirin, soy sauce & sake + 1 tbsp sugar), then cut and arranged the veggies and beef. Clockwise from the top we have firm tofu, shirataki noodles, baby bok choy, bean sprouts, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, onion, beech mushrooms, and beef. Each of us also had a small bowl of rice and an egg to mix for dipping. The beef is ribeye from the cow share we are still working on and the eggs are from our chickens. (Regarding our chickens: those nerds started laying eggs again when it got cold. I will never understand their chickeny ways.)

Beef, dipped in egg, on rice.

We ate until we were full, taking care to finish all the delicious beef. It was ridiculously fun to see what combinations each of us came up with. When we were full, which honestly didn’t take long at all, we threw the rest of the veggies in to the pot and let everything simmer.

That’s a lotta veggies!

This will make amazing lunches when we go back to work on Wednesday. (I can’t believe 11 days has gone by so fast!)

The finished product before boxing for lunches.

Happy New Year everybody. I hope that you and yours are safe and warm tonight. May 2019 be full of delicious food and joyful movement!

The Worst Easter Egg Hunt

Today, three days after waking up to major hail damage in my garden, I have a strange combination of Spring’s renewal and Fall’s decay in my little plot of earth.

Wednesday night I stood on our covered patio watching the hail come down.

It was fascinating, exhilarating, and extraordinary. Every sense was engaged. The sound was deafening. It was hard to process the pile of ice forming under the drain spout from the gutter. My skin was prickly with electricity, cold, and moisture. I could almost taste the cold and the dirt being kicked up into the air. But the smell was probably the thing that took me the longest to process. I smelled fresh herbs, cut grass, tomato leaves, and cucumbers.

When a copperhead snake feels threatened they release a hormone that smells for all the world like cucumbers. You might think cucumbers don’t have a smell until you are standing in tall grass nowhere near cucumbers and you smell it distinctively. I love the smell of cucumbers in my kitchen, or when I’m eating a big pile of cucumber salad, but out of context that smell tells me danger is around.

Well, we don’t have copperheads here in the desert southwest, or much tall grass for that matter, but the smell still signaled unfortunate circumstances. I was tempted to go out into the garden and see after the storm was over, but I went to bed. It continued to rain through the night and in the morning I woke up and decided to document my first look at the scene.

It can be difficult to see because on the video between my “unsteady cam” filming and the difficulty of differentiating the green from the green. (Trust me, there is plenty more brown now.) Here’s a few closer shots that might help, as well as a shot of our chicken coop, which will need a new roof now.

After the documenting the scene and my own reaction I commenced salvage operations. That’s when I found myself crawling around lifting up tomato branches and feeling for fallen tomatoes. The feeling was oddly familiar and I found myself gripped with nostalgia. That’s when it occurred to me that I was engaged in the worst Easter Egg hunt ever. Along with tomatoes that had been damaged or knocked off the vine I also found okra that had been split straight down the middle, groundfall peppers, holey chiles full of rainwater, dented eggplants looking like bruised swollen golf balls, and exploded cucumbers. I filled my big basket three times.

The miracle of the day was that my single ripe Black Krim tomato was unharmed. There are several green Krims still on the vine, but they ripen so slowly. I think it would have been devastating to me to lose this one precious piece of fruit.

I’m still picking damaged peppers, but the okra and cucumbers have started flowering again. The tomatoes still on the vine are ripening, but I’m not seeing flowers or new fruit. The beans are also a question. I’m sure the squash and the greens will recover. I’ve got a LOT of canning to do this weekend to make sure all the salvage fruit goes to good use.

Meanwhile it is time to plant peas for fall and in a month it will be time to plant garlic. We’ve essentially got two to three more months of growing season left ahead, so anything could happen. The wheel turns, shit happens, gardens are resilient, and there is great abundance.

COUSINS!

In a few weeks I’m travelling to see some of my extended family, including my youngest cousins who are very young indeed. They’re the kids of my first cousin, so I think that makes them second cousins, or something like that. Either way they’re my fam and I want them to feel comfortable and happy around me. Their mom suggested the coolest idea to help them feel comfortable around all the family that they almost never see. She asked that each household make a quick video to introduce ourselves. Dave and I made a very awkward, poorly lighted video on the fly. We talked about our cats, cooking, juggling, spinning poi, gardening, and probably a few other things. The important thing, though, is that they saw our faces and heard our voices so that maybe, just maybe they’ll want to give us hugs when we meet them.

Onion Braiding: Oldways

So much of my inspiration for living my wonderful life comes from the folks at Sunflower River. As a part of their Rhizome Network, 4th Base Farm and the denizens of 4th Base benefit immensely from their wealth of knowledge and frequently excess produce, eggs, and poultry guts. In turn we give them labor (skilled and otherwise), things we make with their excess produce, and sometimes tidbits of our own knowledge. Of course there’s tons of shared laughter and experience too. I love being a part of a rhizome.

Recently Jenny and I decided to teach ourselves to braid onions together on a sweltery night in the SR barn. No cross breezes were to be had lest we unleash the peacocks on the farm at dusk and potentially leave Elliot lonely once more. Since peacock escapes were not an option we left the door closed and did a whole lot of sweating. Fortunately the work was fun, the company was fantastic, and we learned a ton very quickly.

The bundle on the left is our first one. It is a little hard to see just how sloppy it is because it is so messy. The one on the right is our second and you can tell it is much better. Like I said, we learned fast and, honestly, I remembered how braiding works.

Here’s the detail on one of our prettiest ones:

Once we had all the ones with long enough leaves braided we hung them out to dry.

Here’s Jenny carefully spacing them so that they get enough airflow:

And there they still hang today. Probably making all the dust smell like onions, but that’s a farm for ya!

Doll Head Trail

Some parts of the outskirts of Atlanta, GA are decidedly more rural that urban or suburban. The area surrounding Constitution Lakes Park is definitely what I would classify as rural. Google Maps led us astray several times on our way due to low signal and rural road oddities. Also, the parking lot for the park is not where the Googs thinks a person should go to reach the trail. Unfortunately they send you to some guy’s driveway and he is NOT happy about all the visitors. That being said if you search for Constitution Lakes Park you will get directions right to the parking lot.

On the way to the Doll Head Trail be sure to follow the boardwalk portion of the trail all the way to the end going right. There you’ll find a crystal clear pool that people have apparently been dumping their freshwater aquarium fish. It is FULL of lovely cichlids. I wish I could have gotten a picture, but without a polarized filter it wasn’t possible.

Constitution Lakes used to be a brickyard. Like many defunct industrial sites the area became an illegal garbage dump. When it became a park it seems that not a whole lot was done to clean up the area. One artist began making sculpture from the trash they found along a trail. That trail became a draw to other artists, art appreciators, and hikers. Over time new works were added and now the trail is a veritable sculpture garden of the strange and slightly disturbing. If you go and you find yourself inspired to create an addition to the trail remember this one rule: bring no new trash. Beyond that you are welcome to create to your heart’s content, or just enjoy the trail.

Here are some pictures of what I saw the day I was there. Of course it could all change and the things that caught my eye may not catch yours, so really, if you find yourself in Atlanta, then you should definitely go check this out.