Archive for June, 2010

photo by Cody Bralts

While I do love hanging my hat here in Urbana, IL, it’s not the only place I’ve ever lived. I was born in New York and lived there for a few years as a small child; I lived in Maine for a short time, also when I was small; I did high school and college in Minnesota.

I also lived in central Florida for several years, as a young girl, and I lived on Florida’s so-called Emerald Coast from 1978-1981.

I tweened in northern FL. I boated in its bays, waterskiied in its bayous, I romped on its various beaches, I adored its UFO house. Just being in, by, or on the water was huge there – beaches and boats were massive, but there were also pools. I never knew another kid who couldn’t swim. Most of my friends had boats and many of them skiied. I left just before things got fun for everyone. And now… wildlife and an economy are being slowly destroyed, a local culture sputters.

A good friend from that time (he now lives in CA) wrote this on his Facebook wall last week:

I keep thinking of all the late nights, all the make -outs, all the parties, all the spring breaks, all the bikinis, all the us guys trying to out-cool each other in order to impress the wearers of those bikinis, all the fun we had, Mikey and the lifeguard stand, beer in every imaginable cooler- to hide the fact that it was beer,Jason’s boat, surfing (badly)… that and SO much more that took place right there on that sand… all of it. Gone.

It makes me unspeakably sad and angry.

Read Full Post »

Stay Golden

Not that I’m one to talk that much about the weather on the blog, but I have to say the last couple of weeks have been remarkable with the rain/sun/rain/sun thing that’s been happening. It’s been hot, too, so this cycle ensures incredible, book-ruining humidity, but it is weather that rules for the garden. LOOK AT MY BEETS. They were so good, too on the grill. I’ve also harvested a lot of lettuce and a lot of peas, and the beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, basil, and onions all look good. My cute little apple trees are growing beautifully. The flowers, when they come, will be SO ORANGE. The asparagus, which will not be ready for two more years, is up, skinny and babyish, ferning out in the cutest, most immature way. The chard, which I call the cockroach of the garden because nothing will kill it, is out of hand, however; I’m cutting it way back and feeding it to the SKRS chickens. Take that, chard.

That would be the SamKarenRyanSarah chickens. They live behind me and are delightful and were the inspiration behind this week’s In My Backyard segment, which is about people keeping chickens in Urbana, IL. It’s been 4 years since I’ve had my own girls, but I really enjoy the neighbors’. They eat anything I throw at them and can be quite chatty while I’m out working in the garden. The piece airs Friday, but is on the web Thursdays, with luck.

Cody comes home in less than two weeks. I am anxious to see him.

I am wondering when I’ll have the time and/or the money to do some traveling, to take some time off. I’d really like to go to Portland, OR, to NYC, to northern CA, to Athens, GA, to Sweden, to France, to New Zealand, to Egypt, to Kenya, to China, to Peru. It’s not as easy as just doing it, though. We will need a new car soon. And a refrigerator.There is work that needs to be done on the house. No, it’s just not that easy. But when the hell did it get so difficult?

Here are my open tabs. Dig it.

One of the first genetically engineered crops being grown in Europe in a long time. IN SWEDEN. Waaah.

I do love and appreciate Cynthia Connolly’s work even more now, especially Banned in DC

This piece on sustainable food and privilege was fascinating, especially the comments – much to think about

“Edna could tell a cake was done just by listening.”

You can enter Saveur magazine’s farmers market photo contest!

Urbana, IL chickenfolk have their own listserv

My friend Jessica’s podcast is called Hit It Or Quit It, just like her zine was

I found parts of my old blog, Madame Insane, on the web. Hi, 2002 – 2004.

My friend Zach told me I should listen to this radio program – I think he’s right

Read Full Post »


Last night our friend Ed and his wife J came over bearing a little keglet of Oberon for the hockey game, so we fed them an awesome spaghetti dinner, made by Jim, in return. The conversation turned to gardening, as it often does, and we all realized that the same time that this is the part of the not-yet summer where everything suddenly starts going bonkers in the garden: it’s June.  The beans came up so fast that we didn’t have time to build a fence before the rabbits ate most of them (we fenced; I replanted). The sunflowers are growing visibly overnight. The basil is suddenly (and thankfully) HUGE. New supports still haven’t been built for the tomatoes.

[In the 10 years or so that I’ve been growing things, I have NEVER EVER found a satisfactory tomato support system that was affordable and ready-made, so I think we might spring for unaffordable DIY. This is great, but the tomatoes, they aren’t waiting.]

But it’s also the part of the not-yet summer where everything else starts going bonkers, too. Their daughter is leaving in 6 weeks for almost a year in Mexico and Cody returns in just a couple of weeks, so both family units are preparing themselves. The Stanley Cup has been won, but World Cup soccer is on, and so is Wimbledon. The neighborhood pig roast’s date has been set. The Solstice approaches. Work, write, garden, hang out with friends, lather, rinse, repeat. O, June!

Last weekend I had a fantastic Sunday morning. I put on my chicken dress and my cowboy boots – because… why not? – and headed out to lovely Sidney, IL to visit with a couple of friends/sort-of colleagues – colleagues in the broad sense of the word, since we all work in food. On the way out there I stopped and picked up a Sunday New York Times, which I then brandished at Terra as she emerged from the house to greet me, as a very positive review of her book, The Seasons on Henry’s Farm, was within. I’ve never had the experience of seeing a friend the day after a glowing review comes out anywhere, much less the NYT. We had an excellent, most chatty time.

OK! Time for me to get ready for work! Just a few tabs open on the desktop this week:

My pal, the newly-retired Wes Jarrell, in Chicago Business last week, talking about mainstreaming the local food movement

Beware Star Wars geeks: the Stormtroopers 365 photoset linked here will eat up a bunch of your time

The written versions of my radio pieces for WILL are now running at Smile Politely the week after they air

Cherry cake, cherry cake, cherry cake, it’s all I can think about, probably due to all the fresh cherries in my life

The end of plastic grocery bags in CA? Can we do that here? Please?

Read Full Post »


Poof! I’m now the mother of a high school graduate and a sixth grader.

I’m all worded out, so instead here’re a few photos before I head off to bed. I have to get up early for work tomorrow.

Read Full Post »


It dawned on me this afternoon that I should probably update my blog today, given the fact that some people might wander over here from the webpage the nice folks at WILL made for the little Friday segments I do over there. This work for WILL-AM 580 is my new free-time project, a way for me to talk about the interest I have in food projects and microagriculture, in cooking and preserving, in neighborhoods and works-in-progress. WILL approached me a couple of months ago about this, and I said yes as fast as I could, before the shock wore off and I talked myself out of a great opportunity to do something really, really fun.

A long time ago I wanted to write a book (haha! Oh, dear) about the concept of hidden things, how so much goes on beneath the surface of everything we do – one of the first games we play as babies (or with babies) is “peek-a-boo”. I still have an affinity for the hidden in the everyday, which can then kind of make things exciting, and this is why I’m talking about these things. That I get to do it on the radio is fabulous to me. I do my writing, I get it approved, I do my own recording at home and I email them the files for production. Eventually I’ll move into produced pieces – maybe sooner than any of us think. THIS IS SO COOL, you guys! I am so lucky.

From my backyard a couple weeks ago. Cody says he misses rain.

Open in tabs right now:

From Michael Pollan, out next week. Definitely worth the read if you’re interested in figuring out where does food go now? Might be further than you think.

Tom Philpott’s response is awesome.

Fresh peas are in season.

New report on the impact of local food systems.

Calling all rebels.

My old pal Jim DeRogatis (O, MPLS 90s) is now a professor and blogs here after an illustrious career at the Sun -Times

I didn’t watch the LOST finale, nor do I care about the show that much beyond watching it with my husband on DVD, but I was intrigued by the idea of someone who used to work on the show offering up their take on what happened.

Thought of Gezellig Girl when I saw this recipe.

First Avenue’s stars are getting a makeover. How many shows was I standing outside, smoking, from 1984-1991, with those stars as my backdrop?

I do not know Katie Allison Granju, but had read her work off and on over the years and knew we had boys roughly the same age. Sad and heavy.

Read Full Post »