Blue Eggs Yellow Tomatoes – A Beautiful Life

June 1, 2008 in cookbook, Local Food, photography, review

blue eggs yellow tomatoes cookbook

Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden

Eating homegrown food is not only good for you and your bank account but it can be fantastically tasty and quite photogenic.

I recently received a review copy of “Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden” by Jeanne Kelley (published in April 2008 by Running Press Books). Kelley has decades of experience writing for Bon Appetit, Cooking Light magazine and many of her recipes have been published in LA Times Magazine, Natural Health, Islands and Spa Magazines.

Her professional life and her home life come together in Blue Eggs Yellow Tomatoes as she writes about how she raises some of her own food (chickens, vegetables) at her suburban home in Los Angeles and shares recipes that yield simply delicious concoctions that should satisfy anyone, whether you are growing your own food or if you go to the farmer’s market.

The book includes a charming mixture of fantastic food photography and the author’s own photographic glimpses into her family and backyard. She is not a professional photographer but her images are candid and enjoyable.

egg still life

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce Studios All Rights Reserved)

She covers various topics not necessarily found in your average cookbook, from how to garden in your own backyard to growing chickens to how to compost.

Nascent gardeners are given plenty of reasons to start growing their own food – 150 delightful recipes that span the range from salads to desserts in 10 chapters.

  • Appetizers and Small Plates
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches and Tartines
  • Pizza and Pasta
  • Fish and Poultry
  • Meats
  • Vegetables and Sides
  • Desserts and Sweets
  • Breakfast and Brunch

I found her salads chapter to be particularly enticing. They are quite beautiful and diverse, many interesting ingredient ideas. My attraction to the salads is also fed by a hankering for the veggies that have not even sprouted in my garden.

I really enjoyed the craftsmanship of this book. It is a large book (3.8 pounds) with bright white pages mixed in with country-home pages featuring a sunny palette of colors. As I mentioned before, the food photography is quite enticing.

egg - soft lighting

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce Studios All Rights Reserved)

Other attractions include a guide on pantry stocking and equipment choices, a kitchen garden primer, a section on how to use a recipe, and a guide for chicken keeping.

I am obviously biased positively toward anyone making an effort to grow their own food (veggie and animal). We have our organic garden, a flock of layer chickens, and a growing herd of dairy goats.

I would recommend this lovely cookbook to anyone who loves food and who is interested in pouring love and nurturing into their cooking.

Red bowl, egg, still life

(Copyright 2007 Nika Boyce Studios All Rights Reserved)

Product Details:

Local Food: Goat Milk

April 26, 2008 in Local Food

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Getting set up)

First I want to thank all of you who have gone to the trouble of doing the egg price survey in my last post. I am going to post up a map with prices (from around the world!) and talk about some of the numbers and comments.

Today I am going to share some scenes from around our little growing homestead. We are shooting for full food independence this year and milk is a huge part of this.

As you know we have two baby goats and we also have one momma goat (named, Millet, Wheat, and Torte, respectively).

The pictures in this post show Q and KD milking Torte. We have since set yup a stanchion in the wood shed where the milking goes better. We get about 1/2 gallon of milk a day.

Enjoy the photos!

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Cleaning the teats)

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Cleaning the teats)

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Cleaning KD’s hands)

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Q milking Torte)

Local Food: First milking for KD

(KD milking Torte)

Local Food: First milking for KD

(Feeding the unweaned babies Wheat and Millet)

My mom got me a pasteurizer for my birthday (thanks mom!!) and I can not wait for the babies to be weaned so I can start making some chevre!

Eggstravagant or worth it? Whats your price point?

April 13, 2008 in Local Food

eggs - test shot

(Homegrown eggs)

This is a question I honestly want your opinion on and I thank you all ahead of time for your time and answers.

Considering the rising costs of all foods and transportation, issues with food safety and such, what is a dozen of free-range brown eggs worth to you?

Click Here to take a short survey I made just for this post. Thanks for you help!

First, let me know where you are writing from (eggs will cost different amounts across the world), what sort of store you buy your eggs in, how much they cost you last time you bought (were they brown? White? Here in New England stores charge MORE for brown eggs even tho there is no difference between them). I have seen estimates of 28% to 45% INCREASE in egg prices overt the past few months to a year.

Do you usually buy factory farmed eggs or the organic or cage free “upscale” ones? What is the differential in your store from today’s prices and those a year ago?

I can’t tell you what eggs go for here in central Massachusetts because its been so long since I bought them. I can tell you that milk is simply astronomical (closing in on more than $4.50/gallon I think). This milk price coupled with the massive gas prices and having a baby who is tolerating cow’s milk now has pushed us to buying the milk at our convenience store where it is sold as a “loss leader” at just under $3.00/gallon. The gas is something like $3.40/gallon.

Soon we will be getting our milking doe and so we will be unhooking from the factory teat.

Kids, I have to tell you one last thing. Do you remember that car accident I had and all seemed well? Not so fast. My lovely car is moribund and not safe to drive on my commute. So now I am faced with getting another car. I am working this week to reach out to local restaurants to see if I can get their non-hydrogenated frying oil.. and then I think I am going to convert a diesel (VW?) to a grease car for my commute. In any event, I am going to have to find the money to get another car, this seems like an opportune time to take this plunge.

Do not forget to drop me a comment or email about your egg price point for local sourced farm fresh free range eggs.

Sex Addicted Genetic Einsteins, or how meat might bring the world to its knees

April 5, 2008 in Local Food

Bacterial Conjugation

(Bacterial Sex – public image – wiki)

Now, just because we have grown up eating seemingly innocuous chicken, pork, and beef bought from the grocery store, a practice handed to us by our own moms and dads, it doesn’t mean that we have provided knowing consent for the development of massive fecal lagoons on factory farms that greatly outsize even the most ambitious pool or swimming pond.

Never heard of fecal or manure lagoons? I love this description by Al Franken in his 2003 book “Lies And the Lying Liars Who tell Them”

“I want to draw you a word picture of a lagoon you may remember from Gilligan’s Is­land, where a caged lion or an Indian in a canoe might wash up just to get that week’s episode rolling. This lagoon is a rectangle the size of three football fields, lined with 40-mil high-density polyethyl­ene and filled, to a depth of thirty feet, with pig shit.

Now imagine that, at the bottom of the lagoon, pebbles have punctured the liner, allowing the liquefied pig shit to seep under and ferment. A bubble is growing. The polyethylene liner rises like a creature from the brown lagoon. It breaks the surface, spilling a pungent stew of untreated feces and urine into a nearby creek. An undocumented Guatemalan worker is ordered to puncture the liner with a shotgun blast. Retching, he fires. The swollen liner re­treats into the fetid depths. Mission accomplished.

The next day, however, one of the most magnificent sights in all of nature, a shit geyser, explodes into the afternoon sky. Those working nearby watch the pillar rise ten, then twenty, then thirty feet above the lagoon. It is as though the Earth itself is afflicted with a virulent case of projectile diarrhea.

Hold that image in your mind.” (Borrowed for educational purposes)

We do not usually visualize the high throughput nature of our meats – chickens, pigs, cows – all packed into densities that REQUIRE the use of antibiotics just to keep the animals standing long enough to make it to market. If there were not for rules requiring a standing animal (a characteristic of a supposedly healthy ENOUGH animal to eat) then the high throughput factory farms would likely push for genetically modified legless animals they could warehouse sorta like that scene in the Matrix where Neo wakes up in his bioreactor.

If nothing else, all body plans above aquatic sponges have evolved for mobility. Lack of mobility = compromised metabolism and reduced ability to fight off infection. Just look at your average 4th grade class and the obesity to see the effect of poor mobility on the body.

All of these things may not get you in the gut, I know that.

You may be forced to feel it in the gut soon though because there is now direct measured evidence of bacteria that THRIVE on antibiotics.

You heard me right kids – George Church – a world renowned geneticist at Harvard, reports in Science Magazine this week that they have identified, unexpectedly, bacteria sourced from soils exposed to manure from cows that have been treated with antibiotics absolutely LOVE to eat those same antibiotics.

See “Scientists find host of antibiotic-eating germs”

This is the link to the scientific article but its pay-per-view, sorry.

Antibiotics, those that are almost pumped into our dairy and beef cows, are now the food of choice for some bacteria.

You might say – well these are JUST soil bacteria – and you would be wrong in any sort of assumption that this means that we are safe.

Bacteria are nothing if not promiscuous.

Think of the soil bacterial ecology, exposed to manure with impossibly high levels of antibiotics. That ecology is like a testing ground filled with billions of little genetic Einsteins who each have a serious sex addiction. Brute force genetic selection leaves behind not only the resistant bacteria but also those who prefer to eat antibiotics for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Its unexpected yeah, but in no way was this an impossibility.

And that sex addiction? There is so much genetic cross talk that the bacterial genome is almost a meta-community. This is part of what makes them so successful. Not only can they pass their advantageous mutations to their downstream descendants, they can share these changes with their neighbors.

The sooner we move away the massive bacterial lallapallosa genetic testing grounds in and around and downstream of factory farm crap lagoons the sooner we can protect our children and theirs.

There once was, at the beginning of last century, a movement to have a small dairy in each small town. Think of it, a distributed milk model versus the concentrated distillery dairies that were pushed on America by city planners and those who wanted to profit from feeding the putrid effluent from big alcohol distilleries in and around big cities to cows who barely survived that toxic waste.

It would be fantastic if we could go back but we have been a bit too efficient ourselves in the genetic Einstein department.

I can not really say what the answer is for all but I can promise you that the bacteria will not be waiting around to find out.

Eating local, sustainable, rational, humanly produced meat is not just about taste kids, its about survival.