Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Entries from July 1, 2008 - August 1, 2008

Entries from July 1, 2008 - August 1, 2008


The Armchair Traveler: Norway

Kristie is an American expat, married and living in Oslo, Norway. Her blog Culture Shock is about living in this beautiful, interesting, snowy city. A good place to begin exploring Norway through her blog is on the right, under Pages, click on “The Best Of”.

There is the now expected (by me at least) but always interesting post on the challenge of getting clothes clean overseas She comes at the challenge from a different angle. It is a fun post to read. I wonder if it is just Americans who have humongous washer/dryers. There is a funny post on how legislation effects pork prices, how to walk like a Norwegian and visiting the fount of all thing furniture (otherwise know as Ikea).

Reading through the archives, I found some gems. The post about the Persian pizza maker living Norway was one of my favorites. How Kristie solved her lack of realty TV problem was another.The world is a small place in more ways than one.

Kristie’s blog offers helpful information to anyone thinking of moving to or visiting Norway. I wish she wrote a little more about the food, I like reading about food.

Culture Shock is a fun blog to visit and get a taste (food metaphor) of life in Norway.


Marriage in the Real World: 25 Years Ago This Year

Ronald Reagan was president. Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister. (Thing were as they should be in my opinion)

Terms of Endearment won the Oscar for Best Picture (perhaps not all things)

Sally Ride was the first woman in space (finally)

M.A.S.H. aired its final episode

The Washington Red Skins won the Super Bowl

It was the Orioles over the Phillies in the World Series

Milk was $2.24 per gallon and gas was $1.24 (sigh)

Both Cabbage Patch Kids and Camcorders hit the American market.

My husband and I were married on July 23, 1983.


CSA Adventure: Pretty Vegetable Rant.

Elizabeth at Wild Onion Farms besides growing fantastic produce is also an insightful writer. If you would like to receive her e-mail that contains her insights and some recipes, in addition to a produce we lucky few will be receiving contact her at Wild Onion Farms.

After watching an evidently grocery store spoiled child of mine throw a perfectly good apple away because of a small brown spot this week, I think her rant is dead on.

We live in a super-sanitized world. Some might as well live in the proverbial bubble. Everything we eat, touch, use, or come in contact with is sanitized, pasteurized, homogenized. We douse every surface in our homes, every nook and cranny of our kids with germicidal disinfecting products. The very air in our homes, cars, offices is filtered, disinfected, atomized, humidified or de-humidified, and scented with ‘mountain fresh’ or ‘tropical breeze’ perfumes. The food we eat is no different, having been cleaned, treated, disinfected, bleached, powdered, waxed, polished, and bombarded with who knows what chemicals; sterilized, neutralized, and packed into convenient ready-to-serve eight-ounce re-seal-able bags. Don’t want to dirty your hands to wash your lettuce, crack an egg, or measure a cup of sugar? You can buy ready-to-eat salads (dressing packet included), eggs already beaten to be poured out of the container, sugar pre-measured into one-cup increments and neatly packaged in plastic boxes, for those who feel getting out the measuring cup is one chore too many. Cleanliness (and convenience) may be next to godliness, but we’ve taken it to a ridiculous extreme.

I’m not promoting a return to medieval hygienics, bathing a mere once a month, or eating rotten, grub-infested food. But we sorely need to lighten up a little. A few bacteria will not kill you. You are, in fact, covered with them, inside and out, like it or not. As the old saying goes, you’ll eat a peck of dirt before you die. (Whether that means you’ll kick once you’ve eaten one full peck, or you’ll inevitably eat a peck of dirt before passing, I’ve never puzzled out. Yep, these are sometimes the things I think about when out there hoeing, hoeing, hoeing for hours on end.) Either way, dirt won’t kill you. Germs are unavoidable. Bacteria are everywhere, some good, some bad. Bugs? There are more of them than there are of us. Sorry, you’re simply outnumbered. We have, as a race, persisted (and in fact multiplied like rabbits) for quite some time without our recent hysterical cleanliness.

And in case you hadn’t guessed where I’m going with this, that all applies to the food you eat as well. I sell at two farmers markets per week for the better half of the year, and it never ceases to amaze me watching people pick over what’s offered, watching people pass up or toss back perfectly good food. I’m guilty of picking over piles of produce in a supermarket or farmers market as anyone else is. But I hate to waste food. My husband tells me it borders on obsession. He calls me the head of the Ketchup Conservation Association every time I turn the almost-empty ketchup bottle upside down in the refrigerator to get the last dregs down to the bottom, then dilute the remaining tablespoon with water just to make sure it ALL comes out of the bottle. I may be a little touched, but I’ll never go hungry. Is half the tomato spoiled? The other half is still perfectly good, just cut it in two.

I don’t expect everyone to go to such extremes. But let’s face it. We are obsessed with appearances when it comes to choosing our food. Appearances lie. What a vegetable or fruit looks like does not necessarily indicate it’s flavor. Blemishes or imperfections do not mean it’s bad, rotten, inedible. Do you judge your children, your spouses, on mere appearance, ignoring their character? I should hope not. Just because a tomato is not worthy of gracing the cover of Gourmet Magazine does not mean it isn’t incredibly flavorful. A slightly bruised peach might be the ripest, juiciest to-die-for little orb of heaven you ever sank your teeth into. A little dirt on the surface can be brushed off, people.

I grow real food. Not picture-perfect, sanitized, pasteurized, tasteless chunks of cardboard. That real food grows outside, in the dirt. It grows amid bugs. It grows in the rain, dust, mud, and sunshine. I don’t spray it with chemical poisons to kill off every bug, mite, or worm. I clean it after harvesting, though some may not believe me, for the sake of conforming to widely held standards. I do not have industrial pressure washers and cleaning equipment to remove every last particle of dirt from each and every leaf of lettuce. I don’t have 48 hours in each day to scrub each speck of grit from every last scrap of baby spinach. I don’t believe in throwing away a perfectly good tomato simply because it has a crack or a spot on it. Can you swim in the ocean without getting wet? - potatoes and carrots grow in the ground, in the dirt, and so they will have dirt on them, the same as you will have water on you after going for a swim. Cantaloupes accumulate a little grit and dust in the nubbly surface of the rind. An egg, at the risk of being indelicate, comes out the back end of a chicken, and that end isn’t always spotlessly clean. A hen isn’t quite as obsessed with cleanliness as we all are. And despite all that, you can buy supermarket industrially cleaned and packaged greens, tomatoes, fruit, peppers, and still buy tainted food. After so many food scares, why do we all still persist in thinking pretty means good?

But it goes beyond dirt. We want perfectly evenly sized produce; each and every cucumber or pepper must be the exact same size and shape as the next one. We want seedless fruit (I’d never even heard of a seedless blackberry until a few weeks ago; I’m still not sure they really exist). Heaven help us all if anyone should have to work around the seeds in a watermelon, cut the tip off an ear of corn if a worm’s been nibbling at it, or eat a cracked cherry tomato. Seedless fruit? Fruit, and most vegetables, come from seeds, and the fruit that contains the seeds are nature’s way of producing more fruit for you. A seedless anything is a result of genetic tinkering. One can even grow corn that’s been genetically altered to resist earworms. You can eat frankenfood if you want to, but I won’t eat it and I won’t grow it.

Do we even taste our food anymore, or do we just show up at the table three times a day and shovel down what looks pretty?? I hear parents tell children to look with their eyes, not their hands. Taste with your tongue, not your eyes.

Or maybe the recent heat has just made me cranky.


Hands Down this is an awesome video

Not a big youtube fan,but my resident techno geek showed this to me and we both thought an interesting performance of Casting Crowns- Who am I.

The Armchair Traveler: France

An American in Paris is a fairly new blog about life for an American woman just moved to... Paris. You can quickly read all of Melanie's posts in a few minutes.

The posts are brief but interesting. How to find a phone number, how many hours in a legal workweek, when are the sales? It sounds like it might be easier for an American to get a job working in France than say in Greece or Italy.

Basic information, informative and well written, visit Melanie at An American in Paris.

Where in the world has The Armchair Traveler been to date?



Saudi Arabia

The Armchair Traveler would love to see more of the world from the comfort of her living room. If you have a favorite blog from somewhere else, please leave the address in a comment.

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