Category Archives: farmer’s market

When in Doubt, Part 5: Bake for the Office

Part 5 of the “When In Doubt, Do Everything At Once” series on Taste Life Twice. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

This series of “When In Doubt” posts will deal specifically with how to get happy when you feel like you’re drowning in more questions than answers. I have frequently been in dips like this, as you can see from many of my posts. Sometimes I work out a problem on the blog here with you, but often it is expressed in activity in another sphere. Here is where I’m showcasing those other activities, and how I deal with uncertainty every day.

cupcakes in the office

Baking

Baking is one of the activities that used to show up here more often, but hasn’t features prominently of late, because I’ve been focusing on life hacks and confronting challenges. Baking. How does baking fit in with self-improvement, going after your dreams, pursuing your passion, etc? you ask. Ah.

Well, it has a lot to do with the subjects of two recent posts: my most recent guest post on being alone, and one here about just trying something. I am a definite lover of sweets and baked goods, but a few years ago when graduate school ended, with its free-cookie-mentality, I was on my own for meaningful food experiences, something which I had taken for granted.

That is when I started cooking. And baking. It was convenient that I then found a job with an office where people appreciated baked things, because it became a ready experimental forum for my creations: a captive audience! There were plenty of things in my life at that point that were uncertain, annoying, boring, BUT I did have time, and I did have a kitchen, and I used that time and that kitchen to learn how to make stuff, and to share it. Hmm…

Treading Water

So I guess what I’m offering here is the thought that even if you don’t yet have a clue which direction you want your life to head, there’s always something you can do to tread water and keep your mind in training for its next mission.

Cooking and baking led me to food blogs, and some great restaurants, and the world of DC farmersmarkets. Food blogs led me to happiness blogs, which led me to self-improvement, productivity, and other fascinating themes. And now I’m headed out into that great blue yonder myself, chasing after the dream of running my own business, doing things I love! So you see how things start.

start small, but start

In what ways are you treading water? What activities have you started in the past that led to surprising results?

And in case you want to see what I have been baking lately, check out these crispy oatmeal laceys or this cranberry gingerbread (more like a red wine than a sweet treat!). Have fun baking for the holidays, and merry Christmas!

Photos via CookingChannelTV and MarketingDeviant

Food, Glorying in Food

This blog is about trying new things, right? And while we may say No to certain things because we have all we can deal with at the moment, we want to make sure to say Yes when it is only fear holding us back. Case in point:

Fancy Foods Show, DCI got an email from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a… you get the point. The note was hoping for some cheap labor to help staff the booth of a vendor at the Fancy Food Show at the Washington DC Convention Center (2 blocks from my door). It would be near me, it would be about food, and I could do the weekend shifts: I gave an enthusiastic YAWP– I mean, YES, and excitedly arrived at the show on a  Saturday morning in June.

I was at a wholesalers’ booth where they featured other companies, and so got to meet several vendors even as I was working, shoving ‘all-natural’ mini-bottles of energy in front of people’s noses. I worked on my sales pitch, I tried some networking (#fail), and I learned a good deal about product marketing, candy manufacture in Denmark, and two types of chai from their producers, one stationed on either side of me.

PLUS, I got to spend a few breaks and an extra hour after my shift trotting around the show, sampling, asking questions of artisan producers- I mean, heaven, right? Well, not exactly. America is after all the land of manufactured demand… but there were also international booths as well. It was a feast for the explorative soul as well as the hungry mouth. The few that made a real, positive impression I pass on to you here. I wish I was an affiliate for these folks! :-)

Mackie’s of Scotland

Oy, you knew there’d be a Scottish company here when I said international vendors, didn’t you? Well, after not deigning to try the Haggis potato crisps when I was in the Culloden museum cafeteria, I did try them here. They were fantastic.

Wheeler Sugarworks, Inc.

I had an extensive conversation with the proprietors of “Jed’s Maple” and they were a delightful family operation from an area of Vermont near where I visited on my road trip last year. They exuded local knowledge and craftsman’s pride, and I would love to visit their farm if I get a chance to drive up there this fall.

Big Picture Farm

What an interesting idea- goat milk caramels! The caramels themselves were something special, but the intensity of care this outfit shows for their goats (all their names were listed on the table card) was evident too.

Moorenko’s

This local ice cream outfit not only specializes in outrageous flavor combinations, but keeps its ingredients as whole and natural as possible, inevitably leading to a very high-fat product. Don’t be deterred. Personally, I’ve thought of organizing a group to tour the facility in Silver Spring to see how they do it- wouldn’t that be awesome??? Shoot me an email if you’re interested…

and of course let us know what YOU’ve been able to say YES to lately, too!

Late to the CSA Party

I feel like a latecomer to the CSA party, but perhaps haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid yet either? CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and a CSA is an arrangement between a farmer and a consumer that the consumer will buy a certain amount of food per week (a ‘box’) for a specified growing season.

Farmer Market Haul

A weekly hoard from last fall- love my farmers’ market!

Season lengths vary, products in ‘the box’ vary, distribution arrangements vary, and of course price varies, but CSAs have the consistent benefit of exposing the consumer to locally farmed produce, which improves both its freshness and its carbon footprint (shorter transport). As a consumer, I like to think of it as a game where there are occasional ‘Challenge’ rounds: “What is this vegetable? What can I make with it? Go!”

I have been a proponent of farmers’ markets since I was a wee thing, but only really understood their social value as an adult making my own meals and planning the week around leftovers, evolving ingredients, and utilizing the freezer.

Trader Joe's Haul

I can also hunt for delicacies at Trader Joe’s, but that involves a different set of benefits…

After a few years of wanting to make the leap into the more committed status of a CSA but hesitating on the grounds of cost, quantity (sometimes the farm can not scale back their boxes for a household of one and it would then go to waste), or pick-up point (I wanted to be able to walk to my pick-up point every week), finally, this spring, I did it.

There was a sign at National Geographic Society’s courtyard, but the only thing I could find online was laconic. A coworker and I investigated, and decided that Orchard Country Produce‘s offer sounded like a great deal- and it is! Their CSA is great for single people since you can purchase a share or a half-share per week, and the half-share is manageable to consume in a week. You can add on eggs or meat or other delicacies on offer as you like.

The only thing that has not yet been figured out is how to handle when you have to miss a week, for example, for travel. However, the way the Kecklers have arranged their growing season into 3 mini-seasons of 7 weeks means that I unsubscribed for the middle of the summer when I knew I’d be traveling, and will likely resubscribe for the fall. In the meantime, visiting the farmstand on Tuesday mornings when I can is the highlight of my day, and I really appreciate the opportunity to connect with the people who grow my food, whether through a CSA or the regular ol’ farmer’s market.

If you’re interested in trying out a CSA, it can be difficult to start mid-season, and some popular ones even sell out by mid-winter! But a good place to start is always at your local farmers’ market. Say hello to a vendor and ask if they offer CSA subscriptions. What can it hurt? Be adventurous!