Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health Care Reform: Crop Shares

Crop Shares: my solution to soaring health care costs. This is what I found when I opened my box today. Look at these colors!

And this is what I made from it.

And this...

Our friends, Mark and Carolyn, are on vacation this week. As they had signed up for a Crop Share (of course it is organic) for the summer, they offered it to me (Lee is away) for the week. My only responsibility was to show up between 4 and 6 at the Deli in Kenwood with a couple of bags and look for a box with their name on it. From there, I opened the box, feeling like a five-year-old on Christmas morning. I had no idea what would be inside. And with the way I've been feeling so strongly about good, beautiful and healthful food lately, it did not disappoint!

I am eating alone tonight (sadly, Isabelle would have loved this) and as I finish the last of my salad with the most delicate lettuce topped with fresh tomato and parmesan shavings and a side of just picked this morning green beans and broccoli blanched in water, oil and salt, I don't know whether to be joyous or depressed. If we all ate like this most of the time (not even all of the time) we would not be a country where 1/2 of the adults and 1/3 of the children are obese. We would not be as sick as we are. And our health care would be the better for it. Has anyone thought of this to control health costs? This is a no-brainer. It is good for people, good for the soil and the planet and good for our health care costs. Why are they jumping through congressional hoops to fix this?

I don't want to hear that it is expensive to eat this way. (Besides, this food would be a lot cheaper if more people ate it. And you wouldn't need to eat so much because it is so satisfying.) Health insurance is expensive. My 23-year old perfectly healthy son left his job for three months - to go train for Teach for America. He had no insurance during that time. (Could the government maybe cover kids doing service work for the country?) His COBRA payment (the price of keeping his existing health plan) was $464 per month! For a 23-year old! For a healthy kid! How many 23-year olds have that kind of money that you know? Especially when they are making NOTHING because they are "in training" for something that helps the country!

I swear...what we call food in this country is really sad. It comes in boxes and bottles and plastic. For a long time, as a mom, especially - my rule has been - eat as close to god (or the earth) as you can. If god made it, it is probably okay to eat. If humans messed with it, beware.

Blah, blah, blah. Now back to my gin and tonic and to find a piece of chocolate. I am so depressed.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My new sofa

Sorry this is dark - that pesky iphone camera doesn't adjust for light.

Since I moved half of our furniture to New York last August, I have been living with an empty living room. As a designer and "nester," I felt discouraged every time I walked into my apartment here in Minneapolis. I didn't want to have friends over....where would they sit? I had to do something - and on the cheap.

In January, I said I wanted an Italian sofa - the Flexfrom Lifesteel model was what I had in mind. Never mind that it would have never fit into my apartment without a forklift through the window...never mind that it cost $9000. But it soon became quickly clear that it wasn't going to happen this year - you know, the economy and all. So I settled on one from the Room & Board Outlet store with that "Italian look." (Quite the downsize, I know.) But, it gives me a chance to try this uber modern look on for size in my uber-traditional apartment without breaking the bank.

Could use some color in pillows or a throw. But, I like it. I'm turning into a modernist, after all.

Summer Fare

Peach Cobbler from Alice Waters - The Art of Simple Food.

Our dinner last night - Thousand Hills local beef, heirloom tomato, Wisconsin spinich. I like my burger on an English muffin. I grill it lightly on the oiled griddle where I make the burgers. Wisconsin cucumber salad - maybe our favorite salad. Recipe below.

Cucumber - Feta Salad (For 2)

Peel and slice a cucumber.
Toss in about 1/2 cup crumbled or sliced feta. (I prefer French Sheep's Milk feta - the quality does make a difference.)
Add 1 - 2 slices of red onion (depending on your preference for onion) that has been cut into quarters so that you have slices of onion rather than little chopped pieces.

Add about 2 T Brown Rice vinegar.
Add olive oil - I just pour - but it is probably about 2 -3 T.

Add pepper. Usually, the feta is salty enough that you don't need salt.

Buon apetito!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Slice of Heaven at Two Pony Farm

Anna's pasta with fresh Swiss Chard, garlic, onion (all from the garden) and bacon.

Lisa made fresh goat cheese that day. She was babysitting some goats.

Mango and avocado salsa for the rosemary toasts.

The working table when I arrived.

Gate to the flower garden at Two Pony Farms

After a week in the architectural desert known as Colorado (or at least North Boulder and most of Denver and its exurbs, and, no nasty notes unless you can prove me wrong, please) foraging for my own food from watering hole to watering hole (which I get really sick of) my longing was finally sated last Thursday night (for both food and architecture) when I was invited to my friend Anna's farm in Long Lake, MN. I had heard about "the farm" from a few people I admire. And, of course, Anna had told me about it - as a place she still loves, even though she now calls Manhattan home. Anna's mom, Lisa Ringer, owns and farms the land organically, raising vegetables and flowers, which she sells to local restaurants. She is known for her Heirloom tomatoes. It is a treasure and it is known as Two Pony Farm.

Anna was in town last week visiting family and she invited me to dinner. It is a 20 mile drive, the last few miles on a dirt road past the gardens and tucked away where no other homes can be seen. (Ahhhhh, sweet bliss.) I arrived to the smell of onions cooking on the stove, wafting out the screen door. Anna was there at the stove cooking when I arrived. I walked into the farmhouse and almost wept - it was so beautiful and authentic. Furniture was old and worn, some of it covered with throws and lots of down-filled cushions. The old farm dining table was set for five with a lovely small bouquet of flowers. The working kitchen table was piled with a basket of fresh-picked Swiss Chard and lettuces. Next to that was a jar with wildflowers. I set down my wine next to a wooden bowl with the makings for mango salsa.

Now, don't get me wrong. It is nice and fine and a privilege and all that to eat out, but I get really sick of it when I have to do it day after day. I get really pissy about the quality and quantities of food and I get really irritated that I have to spend a chunk of change for this food just to feed my body. I LOVE home made food. I love food that is made with love. I love food that is slow and picked fresh and not fancy, just real. It is how I grew up. On a small family farm. And I can't get enough of that kind of eating. Or that kind of place. A barn, a garden, a concrete floor for wintering over the plants, a good stack of cookbooks, a massive screened porch with swinging beds hung on chains, a stack of snowshoes and good, good company.

So here are some images from the dinner at Two Pony Farm. Just a slice of heaven. And thank you, Lisa, for building this beautiful place. More photos to the right.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What inspires now?

Snap out of it, Alecia. You have been sooooooo introspective lately.

Well, there is nothing like a hour with my Australian Vogue Living or World of Interiors to bring me back to planet earth. So, I did that recently and here is what inspired. Just off the charts! From Australian Vogue Living, the home of Carlo Mollino, now a museum in Italy - Casa Mollino. Not sure I would have liked the man, but love his sense of exoticism.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tell me, please.

Is it possible for a human being to be happy, headache-free and deeply satisfied sleeping on a hard foam pillow?

I am miserable and crabby and sleepless after the past four nights of it; I was on "vacation."

Really, I'd love to hear your comments.

Now, I am going to tuck into my bed with cotton (NOT a poly / cotton blend) sheets and four feather pillows. Grrrrr........hoping I wake up cheerier.