Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grab a Twig of Rosemary and... Paint!

I'm super excited to share with you an event I went to at the Mattress Factory on Saturday. It was an art lab specifically focused on using herbs in pieces of artwork; the title of the lab was called "From Herbs to Art." Imagine my excitement when I found out about this event!! So many !!!!!!.

While not quite what I thought it would be (we didn't get to wander in the herb garden on the grounds because it wasn't in bloom yet; we used herbs that were bought from the grocery store instead), I'm glad I went. It was fun to use herbs as inspiration for artwork and not just as objects in a still life, but as actual implements used to create a piece of art, to be touched and felt (and smelled!) and included as an active, participatory agent in the creative process. I also had been putting off going to this exhibit on water, the artist of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing speak about her present work in Larimer. So, in addition to leaving the museum feeling refreshed from some herb-centered art play, I walked away with a honed, revamped appreciation of water.

I can't wait to experiment more with herby artwork. More layouts, more herbs, more colors, more chaos. Endless possibilities! Here's a sample of my first experiments to leaf you with. ;)

What you're looking at: a print of a rosemary twig with separated leaves on the sides, and smudging in the bottom corner that was made using sage leaves.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Time to Till the Sill

Spring is coming. It may be crawling on its way, but we've jumped the clocks forward, had a couple nice days here and there, and the sun is gracing us with its presence here in the Burgh (although as I pick up writing this post, it's foggy and the sky is a thick dustgray here!). Despite last year being a disappointment with the growing aspect of this project, I'm going to give it another go this year. So, it's time to brush off my bag of seedling soil, roll up my sleeves, and... well, just wait for the sun to settle in.

One nice thing about doing an indoor growing project is that there isn't as much labor-intensive preparation involved as there is with outdoor growing. In fact, there is relatively little for me to do this year by way of preparation. For those of you who have been following along since the blog's inception, you may remember that my growing space--my large window sill--was shamefully cluttered. Not so this year! I've managed to keep the sill clutter-free, even with the early termination of the growing and through the long winter. For most people, this may not seem like a big deal, but I've had a running problem with clutter, which the photos from the sill this time last year certainly testify to. Perhaps this little herb project helped me clean up my act!

All the space needs is just a quick clean with a soapy rag.


That is how you till a sill.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Link Dump (Every Blog Deserves a Good One)







Tuesday, February 19, 2013

There's Something About Rosemary

This is a continuation of my previous post about rosemary. After writing that post, rosemary really got into my head: I wondered if there was anything to my observation of feeling a little pick-up from my unexpected aromatherapy session and if an infusion of rosemary would be enjoyable. To sate the first curiosity, I consulted my herb reference books. Sounds like rosemary is good for a host of ailments, including fatigue, memory (it symbolized remembrance in days of yore), and migraines. After reading this (particularly that it might help relieve migraine symptoms), I was definitely going to try out an infusion. Plus, I had some leftover rosemary from a meal I had made, and I wanted an easy way to use up the remaining rosemary.

Result: delightful! I made the infusion with a tea ball first and then tried it out using the infusion mug pictured above. If you're going to give this a try, I definitely recommend the infusion mug. The result is much crisper and flavorful. I for one have enjoyed starting my day with a rosemary infusion; it's a nice change from tea or the occasional coffee. I hope you find this alternative morning beverage a pleasant way to usher in the day as well!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rosemary in the Morning

Today I discovered a new favorite way to start the day: mincing rosemary. No, I wasn't doing this on a whim, rising with a roaring urge to mince rosemary just for the heck of it: it was part of a new breakfast/brunch recipe (it was friggin' delicious, btw) I found to make use of some pearl barley and sweet potatoes that have been camping out in my cupboards for far too long. It wasn't so much the chopping part I relished in, but the invigorating tickle of the sharp, woody aroma released from the freshly torn rosemary leaves. With each deep inhalation of the peppery-pine fragrance, I felt myself perking up, enjoying an alertness that usually only comes after my first cup of coffee or tea and one that is hardly ever as focused and balanced as this rosemary-induced lucidity.

Moral of the story: mince more rosemary in the morning. What's your favorite herb to start the day with and/or incorporate into breakfast/brunch recipes? 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CSA Debriefing

I'd like to revisit the CSA and do a little debriefing on my experience with it. The season ended the last week of October, so I've had ample time to do some reflecting on my participation in the program. I know it's not directly related to herbs (I did get garlic in some shares though!), but it's all related: knowing where your food is coming from; how it's grown/produced; and being more connected to the land and those who work it to provide sustenance for others.

I'm going to do a little pro-con list to start things off. 

-fresh, locally-grown, seasonal organic produce every week
-items are distributed loose in a reusable bag (This cuts down on the amount of packaging and subsequent garbage that is often a byproduct of buying produce at the store.)
-exposure to new items or items I might not normally buy
-veggie consumption taken to a new level
-feel more connected to the people that produce your food (a letter written by different farmers would be included in the share each week)

-sometimes it's hard to keep up with using everything in the week's share
-lack of freedom when planning meals (i.e. wanting what the week's share won't allow you to make)

As you can see, the Pros clearly outweigh the Cons. It really was a great experience. It felt good to be eating even more veggies than I normally do and making new recipes with them. I'm relatively new to cooking, and I feel like the CSA experience really helped me to master certain techniques as well as expand my repertoire.   This cultivated confidence coupled with the items in each week's share served as inspiration for leaving the comfort of recipes and conjuring up my own dishes. I was also very impressed with the amount, variety, and quality of produce that was in each share. I know some people have had CSA experiences where either the variety was lacking (green beans every week) or the quality of the produce wasn't the greatest. There was only once instance where I received an item that I had to chuck immediately (a rotten cantelope) and variety was never a problem, other than a few weeks where I felt inundated by potatoes (but they last forever anyway). And finally, learning a little more about the people that are growing my food was a delight. I didn't even take full advantage of this: the CSA puts on various events throughout the season at the farms where you can meet the farmers as well as other members of the CSA.

I'd like to speak more on the two Cons though because one isn't really a Con and the other is only a Con when you have a certain mindset. As for not being able to keep up, a lesson learned from this is to try to freeze more things before they go bad, either on their own or used in dishes that can be frozen. My mom recently hooked me up with some sweet freezing/canning glass jars, so I'll be prepared come next season! I've already used them for a lingering butternut squash with favorable results.

And on the lack of freedom in meal planning. I think this is an interesting response, and deserves some analysis. I found a sense of restriction arising more toward the end of the season when gourds of myriad sorts were aplenty (again, freezing will help with this too), and I was feeling pretty squashed out. Stepping back to observe this reaction, I realized that it was a.) steeped in ego and b.) a remnant of my grocery-store habituated food choices and practices. CSAs and eating locally/seasonally can be soul-challenging in this way: I never anticipated that I'd be doing some serious introspection as a result of signing up for one. Body AND mind nourishment!

So, am I going to sign up for next season? You betchya! I'm excited to see what the new season will bring in both food and creative/spiritual bounty.