Thursday, April 5, 2018

Floral Book Review: "Brunch is Hell" by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano

floral book review for "Brunch is Hell"

I saw someone (I can't actually remember who) that I follow on instagram was reading this book.  So naturally I looked it up, thought about how much I love dinner parties, and promptly ordered the book.

This book is funny. And ridiculous at times but I loved it.

So basically they are saying that brunch is taking away from the art of the dinner party. Why have a dinner party when you can just gather between the hours of 8 AM (Whoa early bird!) and noon on Sunday to eat a prepared meal that you don't have to A. cook B. clean and C. day drinking is totally acceptable? Well in theory no one but in reality it should be everyone! ....with the occasional brunch thrown in because breakfast food so delightful.

But dinner parties are something I am incredibly passionate about for two reasons:
1. I find them to be fun, fulfilling, and inspiring (my friends Jenna and Matt are dinner party professionals...role models if you will for the rest of us)
2. I truly believe with all my heart that the way to save the small family farm is not through more markets, or subsidies but by hosting dinner parties and more importantly bringing back the family dinner. Bring back home cooking and save the family farm. A dinner with in season produce sourced either directly from a farmer or a grocery store that sources locally and a vase brimming with seasonal local flowers to boost your mood and brighten your home and finally locally sourced meat and if possible (sorry interior countries) local seafood.

For the floral portion of this review I wanted to do a still life with bounty and abundance: fruit, flowers, butterflies, prepared food.  I am drawn to classically painted still lifes. When you think of it they are kind of the "staged instagram" photo of way way back in the day.

In the arrangement you'll notice cheese and olives (fat and salt) mentioned in the book, dessert, bread, and since you're never ready on time for guests to arrive (right, Rico and Brendan?) I put "guest number 1" to work making the salad and the roast chicken was still baking at time of photograph.

Rico and Brendan (I'm not using their last names...wayyyy to long to type) early in their book write, "Far from their frivolous reputation, we realized, dinner parties, properly thrown, can serve as the very CORNERSTONE OF A HEALTHY MODERN SOCIETY, because they create happy and empathetic humans.  And leftovers. Which, yum."

To the above I say "Yasss!!!"

And to set the scene here's how they feel about brunch, "Brunch. Adulthood's booby prize. After brunch, any chance to use the day fruitfully had been drowned in hollandaise. Slouching out of the bacon hall long after noon, we are tired, heavy, and limp, like an overdressed side salad. That screenplay you were thinking of penning? It has been preempted by a Bloody Mary - fueled food coma. That hike with the kids you thought you gonna take? Yawn - you'll do it next weekend. (That is, if you're not seduced by another freaking brunch.)"

The two then go on to write about what a dinner party actually is and in their mind what the requirements.  Rule number 1 is that at least some (most really) of the food must be homemade (remember what I said about cook at home and save the family farm....Thanks Brendan and Rico for promoting home cooking!).  They write, "A proportion of the food at a dinner party must be homemade. Not cooking for your own dinner party is like DJ-ing a dance party with the radio. As clearly stated in our MANIFESTO, the point of a dinner party is to revel in unique, gloriously imperfect humanity. Your humanity. Expressing your taste, your style, and your essence, with food you prepared with your own hands, is part of what makes this deal so important." 
Can I get an Amen!?!

They also mention, for any items you do buy to remove the packaging. This reminds of my grandmother who we affectionately called "Joan Stewart" because she wouldn't even allow a ketchup bottle on the table at Sunday dinner...ever! 

Their book boasts a series of recipes for food and drink as well as how to set the table.  I agree with pretty much everything in this book except the part about only keeping flowers on the table before dinner and then removing them to eat.  This is a great opportunity to use a low arrangement.  Yes, I agree you don't need 5 foot tall branches in the center of the table nor to you need a 3 foot tall cascading wedding arrangement either. 
Keep it low. Keep it creative. A succulent box perhaps? Airy bud vases? But flowers are a conversation piece and with a group that doesn't know each other it's a happy neutral thing to start conversation.  Especially when you include kumquats in the arrangement (see below). Saying the word kumquat loosens everyone up...that an 3 glasses of Tommy's Margaritas (recipe in book on page 111).  

After covering etiquette on how you should act as a host and in turn how you should behave as a guest you make it to Chapter 5 entitled "The Main Course."  Brendan and Rico open beautifully by saying, "The food is the least important part of the dinner party." 

I hear so many people say, "I don't cook." Well A. you should try to learn and B. trying is half the battle.  Cooking is fundamental and I realize that some folks just have no interest in certain things. I have no interest in skiing. It's true. If I live my entire life with out skiing I'll die a happy woman. I also have no interest in sky diving, swimming with sharks, and paragliding. But those things aren't life fundamentals.  Food should be interesting to everyone since it is necessary every single day of your life from your first day through your last.  And by sharing it with others you can boost your confidence and your conviction to cooking at home.

To close I'll leave you with this quote from the book (mostly because I love the word gruel. I actually call my morning oatmeal gruel), "Now, this is not to say you should serve your guests gruel. You are a good/sane enough person not to plan a menu which consists of a bowl of unpeeled onions. Your food must be palatable and nonpoisonous and demonstrate that you put in a modicum of effort. But anything beyond that is gravy." 

So go that dinner party! Or better yet host family dinner (unless you already are a family dinner cooker in which case both hugs and kudos to you!)...starting small with once a week. And see how it feels to create something delicious (yes, you can do that!) while relaxing in your home and supporting a family farm.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Market CSA Shares Available!

These past few weeks we have been busy in the greenhouse planting all of your favorite things: beefy red tomatoes, peppers, husk cherries, greens and more!

Our Market CSA Enrollment is open for sign ups with spots still here's a little more information about our CSA system.

We work differently than most CSA's:
We don't pack boxes. We used to pack boxes and it wasn't very fun for you or us. With the Market CSA system you shop everything that we have that week and get what you want, in the quantity you want.

How does the money side of it work?
Your account works like a debit type account. Each time you shop we subtract that amount from your account. We'll send you an account balance email every 2 weeks.

Free MONEY!?!
What is that? I get free money on my account? Yes! Yes, you do! It's a little thank you for joining our CSA. We like to call it fun money!
So you pay in $200, your account starts at $212
You pay in $300, you account starts at $330
You pay in $350 and your account starts at $395

So treat yourself! Grab that bouquet of flowers or that succulent or even use your "fun money" to try something've never tried a husk cherry? Well grab some in late July.

No commitment to shop each week: 
Shop when you want to and spend as much or as little as you want on each visit. This is great for both of us because you don't have to remember to tell us you're going on vacation and I don't have to remember that you are on vacation as with pre-boxed share system.

Why join a CSA?
Really it's a way to help your friendly, freckle faced farmer lady with capital. In farming the most amount of capital is needed when there is no money coming in the door.  So in supporting a CSA (ours or anyone else's) you're helping them have the necessary capital to get the ball rolling and grow some really great stuff for you!

Sounds interesting? 
Go check out the CSA Share page: HERE

Monday, March 26, 2018

Floral Book Review: "Trespassing Across America" by Ken Ilgunas

The Keystone XL Pipeline gained a large amount of press and our nations attention when the Native people of our country, farmers, homeowners, and your basic clean water drinkers protested the pipeline cutting through their land.

I haven't ever really posted anything even remotely political on this blog or any social media outlet both personal and business.  But as I slowly penguin walked my way though the isles of Barnes and Noble I saw this book.  "Trespassing Across America" by Ken Ilgunas appealed to me for two reasons: first I was interested in learning more about the pipeline and second I love a good adventure story.  So I am going to review this book from more of a facts appreciation than an opinion.

For the floral review of this book...I instantly thought irrigation pipe! And then I thought black like the tar sands of Canada.  This was a favorite of mine to review floral-ly because it's not just flowers sitting in a vase on a nicely staged table (don't get me wrong...I love flowers in a fun vase on a nicely curated table). It was just an opportunity to include irrigation pipe in my design which let's be honest...may never appropriately happen again.

"Trespassing Across America" Floral Book Review

I really enjoyed the book because I was surprised by so many of the facts he many things I had no idea about.  I enjoyed his commitment to only walking. I really enjoyed how many people took him into their homes for a warm meal and an even warmer shower.

I most appreciated the feedback he got from the people he met about climate change, the pipeline, and that precious resource, drinkable water. 

Ilgunas hiked by foot from Hardisty, Alberta Canada to Port Arthur, Texas which is 1,915 miles. Once he enters the US his route went through: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The Keystone XL portion is actually an add on to the Keystone Pipeline. The proposed XL will run through: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska. 

Ilgunas writes, "SO even though the XL's path would lead me over the Great Plains, the "flyover" states, and what I frankly saw as the middle of nowhere, with the fate of the warming world at stake, I thought of the XL as the center of the universe - and I wanted to be there to learn everything I could about it." 

Here are some points he makes through out the book that A. I didn't know as I mentioned above and B. thought them to be quite captivating....

So I'll start with the fact that I found most mind blowing:
"The jobs would be few - and around five thousand for a couple of years as the pipe was being laid and a mere 30 permanent ones afterward. And despite all the claims that "We need oil!" it may surprise many people to learn that we actually export more oil than we import. In 2011, America's biggest export was fuel."  I thought that 30 permanent jobs was unbelievable!

The Plains:
"The plains cover about 1/5 of Canada and United States, making it the second largest ecosystem on the continent after the boreal forest.

Rallies and Water:
Ilgunas went to a rally about the pipeline where both pro and con folks had gathered. He wrote of the crowd, "but most of the crowd was made up of farmers, ranchers, and plain old Nebraskans deathly afraid that this pipe might - whether through climate change or contaminated water destroy their lives." Yes, the pipeline will run over a portion of the Ogallala aquifer.

Pipes...lots of Pipes:
Ilgunas writes, "I didn't know this at the time, but there are 150,000 miles of oil pipelines in the US alone. Add gas pipelines, and we have more than 1.7 million miles of pipes.  These are our veiled veins, silently moving fossil fuels beneath the ground like blood beneath the skin."

Oil Users:
As I mentioned above I was fond of the thoughts from the people he met while traveling, whether they were pro pipeline or against it...they were all striking. However this quote from a pair of guys on route to Edmonton was the most thoughtful to me, "He said that anyone who uses oil shouldn't complain about oil."

As he nears the end of the book I love this quote, "There's a saying on the plans that goes something like this, "Once you wear out a pair of boots, you wont' want to leave." On my hike I wore out three pairs of boots. I'd often find myself looking west to our great forgotten land, our Heartland of stars and skies and grass, where a chorus of denial there are sill calls rebellion, where the cow roams and the buffalo are coming back, where one of the great environmental fights of the twenty-first century took place."  Interestingly enough he now lives in Nebraska so I guess the saying is true?  

He ends what I think is a nice thought on a tough issue, "the stationary person is vehemently defensive about conserving his way of life, as if protecting how things have always been is the noblest of virtues when, truly, our fossil-fuel-powered economy is but 150 years old. But any hiker knows that what can be done in 150 year can just as quickly become undone. And when I thought of climate change, I couldn't' predict what the future had instore, but I felt an odd comfort in know that if the land, animals, and climate can change so can we." 

Black and white bouquet prior to being placed inside a piece of irrigation pipe

black and white bouquet