Fearless Scottish Ale from a can

Fearless beer at Neighbors Market

Fearless Tasting

This review is on the “Fearless Scottish Ale” from Fearless Brewing. I put this beer at a slight disadvantage by sampling two other beers before it. But it holds up well. The other two beers, also quite good, did more to introduce this beer than to dilute it’s enjoyment.

Scottish Ales character, according to CraftBeer.com: “These ales from the Isles tend to emphasize malt sweetness over hop bitterness. Hops are difficult to grow in the north of Scotland and Ireland, so the alternative was to use a variety of roasted malts to enhance flavor. The exceptions are the well-hopped English bitters and pale ales of the south of England. The ale yeast used in these beers produces spicy and fruity characteristics.”
And according to RateBeer.com “Scottish Ale
Scottish ales are very malty, full-bodied, lightly hopped brews. Some are not fully fermented leaving behind residual sugars and malty.

Some Scottish Ales to look at:
McEwan’s Scottish Ale
Road Dog Scottish Ale
Beam Me Up Scottish Ale”

According to Moi: “Lovely to look at, and offering some of the spicy and fruity character of the Scottish RateBeer suggests, it’s light on the smokey or peaty character I’d expect and perhaps a bit sharper in the hops than the Craft Beer guide would suggest. I had this from a can, at home, and I think it would definitely be worth the carry on a backpack trip. I think this is a great end of day sort of beer and would probably be right at home with a plate of fish and chips.”

Foodborne Illness

Just was reading an article in Scientific American (April 2012) that reports the U.S. sees 48 million illnesses, 128, 000 hospitalizations and 3000 deaths each year from foodborne organisms. The European Union had 48,964 cases, 46 deaths in 2009 related to foodborne illness. A google search indicates the relative populations were 405 million for the U.S. and 399 million for the E.U. in 2009.

So, the U.S. has 2.61 times more hospitalizations and 65 times more death. Shall I repeat that shocking comparison? The U.S. has more than twice as many hospitalizations and SIXTY-FIVE times more death from our food systems. Where do you go with that sort of statistic? Our food system is not safe, in the U.S. This is certainly a result of the limited processors and the mono-cultures of big-ag. But it’s also more of the problem that no one is going to jail for killing people. From the CEO, maybe even the board of directors on down, of these big corporations, we must have accountability and people punished when they violate health standards.

At the same time, a greater education of consumers has to happen. Rather than the mantra of “eat healthy”, we need to emphasize “eat local, from farmers you know”.

Sweet-tea from Sweet Leaf

I have fond and strong familial emotions around the topic of sweet tea.  In my southern childhood, sweet tea was an every day beverage, as essential to the day as, well, as water.  More so perhaps.  Here’s one thing non-southerners don’t seem to grasp about making sweet tea: you have to mix the sugar into the hot tea water.  You can’t add the sugar after the fact, it just won’t turn out right.  And don’t even think you can have sweet tea with artificial sweetener.   Uh-uh.

While I can go on about good tea and maybe later I will reminisce about tea, today I want to talk about why I have added Sweet Leaf Tea to my product line up.

Since I didn’t have time to track down a local store and try them out, I went strictly on the information on their website. It’s a good story and since they appear to still be an independent company with sustainable values, seemed like a risk worth taking.

When the product got here, I opened up the peach flavor tea. I probably would have gone with the straight up sweet tea, but the distributor guy says the peach is a big seller. So, that’s the first one I tried. The other is the mint. Now, from way back, we drank sweet tea straight. No fancy-pants extra flavors. Not even mint, although considering how well mint will grow in the south, that’s kind of a surprise now.

The peach Sweet Leaf is tasty and the peach flavor does remind me of the sweet flavor of a tree-ripened peach of my childhood. For that, I say “Bravo! Well done!” On the other hand, over this last year of my food journey, I’ve learned to be skeptical of, well, everything. On their ingredient list they say “with the rich flavor of peach” and their ingredient list says “natural peach flavor” which is not the same as “flavored with peach juice” or even “peach juice concentrate”. And having learned that what labeling laws will allow to be called “natural” versus what I consider “natural” can be starkly different, I’m not sold on that tag either.

I’ve sent an email and left a voice mail to get clarification. In the meantime, I’m going to presume innocent until proven guilty and figure that mostly this is a good product from a good company and worthy of being in my store.

Changing the habits of thought

Our culture seems to have gotten the habit of thinking of all foods as always accessible.  Our government reinforces this idea of seasonless eating with the admonition to have fresh fruits and vegetables daily.  Seasonless eating can occur only in a global distribution system.  A non-sustainable, unjust global distribution system.

Our habitual thoughts about what’s for dinner, what lunch looks like, and even access to snacks, are just that: habit.  Our habits, like many habits, are replacements for active thinking.  I propose that everyone who eats will benefit by putting some conscious effort into what healthy and seasonal eating is.

Try this:  Pick one day a week (really, I’d love it if you always ate in season) to eat only what’s seasonally appropriate for your location.  A general rule of thumb is that the food in season provides the best nutrition for the season.  Certainly, any given food bought and consumed locally will almost always have higher nutrition than one picked and shipped.  An additional benefit of buying local and from a small farm is that you are likely to find an interesting diversity of the foods. In some locations, the most seasonally appropriate foods are going to be foods harvested and preserved earlier in the year.

If our eating and therefore, cooking, becomes more attenuated to our food regions and the real foods that are in season so many things would change.  We affect our world and our community with every food purchase we make.  The closer to home we eat, the greater good we affect.

For my neighbors in the Pacific Northwest, The Seed Ambassadors have a good link about our winter vegetables.

Simple Pumpkin Soup

To begin with, I’m not a master gardener nor a particularly accomplished cook.  So, when I read pumpkin, I think that can be squash too.  I think the biggest difference is winter squash versus summer squash and I think pumpkin and winter squash are fairly interchangeable.  That’s what I think.

I found this recipe in the “Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook”.  It’s called “Smokey Pumpkin Soup”. Please note – the instructions are not verbatim.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bacon (We carry Applegate)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (Organic Valley, unsalted)
  • 6 cups peeled cut-up pumpkin (our local farms, in this case Hunters Greens, rouge vif)
  • 6 cups soup beef or vegetable soup stock (I used Edward and Sons Not-Beef boullion)
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Cook 6 slices (Applegate) Bacon, diced,  until crisp and pour off the fat. Or pick out the pieces and leave the fat in the pan.
  2. Add the pumpkin and sautee about 15 minutes, stirring so the pumpkin cooks evenly.
  3. Pour in the stock and simmer covered until the pumpkin is very tender, about 30 minutes.  Take from heat.
  4. Add the Marsala, thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. Process the soup – meaning, blend it until smooth.  I used my handy dandy Braun Handheld Blender and did it right in the pot.  Whatever you do, be careful because the soup is hot.
  6. When the liquid is all smooth, stir in the bacon and simmer about 10 more minutes.

Then it’s ready.  Garnish with toasted pumpkins seeds.  Or some tasty micro-greens (from Backyard Bounty).  I also found a spoonful of sour cream stirred in was very good.

 

Dinner with Farmers

Recently I had the pleasure of a simple potlluck with a few of the farmers that supply the store.  It was an interesting mix of farmer age, experience, and attitude.

On the one end, a farmer couple that has been farming here for over 55 years.  They use chemical sprays and fertilizers and they’ve managed to hold on to their farm lands as the city encroaches upon them.  On the other end (literally, at the other end of the table that night) was a farmer that is just beginning her second year of farming.  She and her husband are using organic and sustainability as the goal to their farming.  In between were farmers that have been farming between 3 and 20 years.

One of the topics we touched on was the future of small farms.  The older farmer feels small farms will continue disappearing because our culture doesn’t support people knowing or caring about real food and food preparation.  The opposing view, of the organic farmers, was that the trends are leading to people actually looking deeper into what they are eating and making a more deliberate effort to eat real food and cook more ‘from scratch’.

There’s evidence to support both views.  What’s yours?

Raw Milk Questions Answered

I want to share one of the posts I like best for beginning to learn about raw milk: Raw Milk Merits and Safety.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that raw milk has been safely consumed by humans for thousands of years.  While things that have been done for thousands of years don’t necessarily make them good or healthy, it is something to think about, especially for food consumption.

Who should decide what you choose to eat?  Control of our bodies and minds are the most sacred of our human rights.

Who benefits by laws that restrict access to raw milk? (Yes, I’m suggesting big milk industry and industrial agricultural interests).

 

We’re all on the same side

is this an open letter to someone?
we’re all on the same side
we all want a high quality of life for ourselves, our family, our community
we can work toward the goal individually
or we can join efforts and accomplish more
pay attention to what’s important: the end result
so what if I did it first or you did it better. It’s not us, but we.

I am

Tonight I joined I don’t know how many people at the Kiggins Theatre for a presentation of the documentary I AM . I was quite moved and heartened. For me, part of the movie affirms what I am doing by having Neighbors Market open.

I was glad to see so many people came to the theatre, especially knowing that it took so much effort on short notice for several people to pull this together. It underlines the meaning of “community”.

An added twist for me is that I am reading Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell. And just the night before, the section I’d read includes this:

  • “…people have begun to take the existence of their supporting social orders for granted, and instead of aiming to defend and maintain the integrity of the community have begun to place at the center of concern the development and protection of the individual…”

I think this documentary addresses the disconnectedness and selfishness and the consequences of society not being a community.  The film gives hope by demonstrating that we are connected and affect each other and that we can create more good in the whole world with the simplest of good acts each day.  I guess another level was throwing off the illusion that money equates happiness.

Making vinegar from cider

I’m kind of excited about this opportunity to take some raw apple cider and make vinegar.  I’ve read the internet and, of course, went to my Nourishing Traditions cookbook to learn what to do.

jar of apple cider

Vinegar-in-waiting

Finally, I got courage from one of my local farmers, Matt, and did what he did. What was that? Put some raw apple cider in a jar and forget about it. Now comes the hard part, being patient.

As a beer brewer too, I’m eager to see if the cider moves into a ‘hard cider’ phase on it’s own. I haven’t brewed any beer lately, but now that I know that beer can be turned to vinegar too, I’m motivated to make a batch. Well, in addition to just wanting to make some beer.