To market, to market…

The popular nursery rhyme would have me finish that with “… to buy a fat pig”. What fits better for me is to end it with “… to lighten me up”. I’m referring to the local Farmer’s Market, which has become my Saturday morning adventure almost every week this summer. At first it was tough for me to make the transition from being a CSA member to a Farmer’s Market shopper. As part of the CSA community, I had a hand in growing and harvesting the produce alongside my fellow members, and came home every week with a huge basket of my share of that week’s yield. When I decided to switch to farmer’s marketing this summer, it took me a while to find the markets and vendors I felt most comfortable with in terms of their growing methods and quality of their food. Yet, each week has been a new adventure and I have found that I absolutely get LIT UP when I go to the Farmer’s Market.

When I’m at the market I lose all sense of time and become totally present to whatever I’m involved in – selecting produce, talking with the grower, running into people I know, or just basking in the summer bounty of it all. I feel lighter, less stressed, more vibrant. Then there’s the health benefits to buying and eating so much fresh, local produce – my body composition is tightening up and lightening up – and I love that! And for me, this year, it has lightened my load in terms of the work required to grow the food, even though I miss that part. I had other things I had to focus on this summer and yet I can still enjoy local, fresh produce and take the time to prepare it.

Today I came home with curly kale, rainbow chard, broccoli, parsley, zucchini, green and wax beans, yellow pepper, watermelon, and plums. While we were there, we enjoyed our apple cider slushies, which hit the spot on a sunny and steaming hot September morning in Michigan. Tomorrow I’ll be making up a big steaming pot of fresh vegetable soup to freeze for those not-so-far-in-the-future cold Michigan days. I’ll add some of my own home-grown tomatoes, garlic and herbs to what I picked up at the market today – here’s my favorite recipe (thanks to the Bizer/Larson family).

Minestrone Soup

Veggie bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon Brand – no msg)
Garlic – entire head
1 bay leaf
2 medium potatoes
3 carrots
3 small zucchini
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (or use fresh peeled tomatoes)
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried basil
pinch of oregano and parsley
1/2 cup cooked peas or kidney beans (I often substitute green beans for these)
handful of rotini (I don’t add this either, because I’m gluten free)
salt & pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese

Make 3.5 quarts of stock by adding 14 cups water and the corresponding amount of bouillon (see jar for amounts) in a large stock pot. Peel an entire head of garlic and add the whole cloves to the stock, along with one bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Discard bay leaf and remove garlic cloves (side note – I crush this garlic, add it to softened butter, spread this on fresh Italian bread and put under broiler for a few minutes for the best garlic bread ever!).

Cut potatoes, onions, carrots and zucchini into bite size pieces. Saute these in a large kettle in olive oil until onion is soft, then add stock and herbs. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, peas/beans. Simmer another 15 minutes. Add pasta and cook until “al dente”. Season with salt and pepper, serve with parmesan cheese.

(Double this recipe for a big pot with leftovers. I often let it cool and then freeze it in small containers for those days when I need a super nutritious pick-me-up and/or warm-me-up.)

Now this is my kind of “Marketing”! How about you – what is your favorite way to market?

sharing my light,

nancy

3 Comments

Filed under Community, Food Sources, Recipes

Now We’re Cook-In’

So, when we started our Community Cooking Events a few months ago, we struggled a bit with what to call them and finally settled on Cook-Offs. After a few months of holding these fun group cooking adventures, we felt a name change was in order, so from this point forward, we are referring to these events as Cook-In’s. The premise behind these events is to encourage people to just get cookin’ their own food in enjoyable and doable ways. To us, the word cookin’ sets a tone of “I-can-fit-this-into-my-life-and-have-fun-in-the-process” and that’s what we’re lookin’ for. Besides, it’s all about cooking IN rather than relying so much on eating OUT. So, without further ado, let me invite you to participate in our upcoming Cook-In’ …

Breakfast for Dinner Cook-In'

COOK-IN’ BREAKFAST FOR DINNER
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
6:00 – 10:00 p.m. EST (or whatever works best for you)

September typically marks a time of “getting back to the routine” after the slower and more leisurely pace of summer. In the spirit of ensurin’ ourselves some time to relax in the midst of the month, we’re settin’ the stage for some “Sunday Brunch” kind of energy in the middle of the work week. So, kick off your shoes, get into your PJ’s if you dare, and cook up your favorite breakfast/brunch (eggs? pancakes? cinnamon rolls? fresh-squeezed juice? fresh fruit salad? ever had a mimosa?). Have your friends join you to keep the workload manageable and catch up on what’s happenin’ in each other’s busy lives. You might even want to grab a good old-fashioned paper copy of the newspaper and sit around leisurely readin’ the comics. Whatever you do, we hope you have fun.

Please let us know you’ll be joinin’ us on September 21 by replyin’ below or by RSVPin’ on our facebook page. Postin’ comments and/or photos on our wall durin’ or after the event allows everyone to see who is participatin’ and what they are doin’.

See you at the Breakfast/Dinner Table!

love,

nancy

6 Comments

Filed under Community, Cook-offs, Cooking

How is “Now We’re Cooking!” going to accomplish their goals? (Third in a series)

In order to spread the word about cooking, break the ‘convenience’ spell our culture is under, and have some fun while we are at it, we are doing several things to try to catch people where they are at.

Obviously, first, we are using social media (facebook, twitter, and a website & blog) to stay in touch and share ideas. Second, we host monthly, themed “community cook-offs” (the next of which is coming up on Wed., Aug 17th – please consider yourself invited to join in the fun – see below.) And last, but most ambitious, is the documentary movie – Now We’re Cooking!, that we are making to hopefully reach a broader audience with more in-depth and dynamic coverage of our ideas & inspiring examples of people coming together to cook, a brief evolution of the food industry to help us understand how we got where our society is today, and a primer on the rebirth of Local Food Systems.

We won’t go into much detail on the social media, except to make sure you have the access information in case you want to follow us there, and/or share the information with your friends – please help us spread the word:

facebook page (please ‘like’ our page) – Now We’re Cooking! – the movie

twitter (please ‘follow’ us) – @NWCmovie

website & blog (please ‘subscribe’ to the blog) – www.nowwerecookingmovie.com .

Regarding the monthly community cook-offs, we are now into our fourth month

Cooking Together

Let's get together and cook!

of hosting these events. This coming month’s theme is Farm-To-Table. These are all about gathering some friends and cooking together. Usually on the third Wednesday evening of the month you participate wherever YOU are, and can make it as simple, or as elaborate, as you wish. Other groups will be having their events at roughly the same time all over the country (and the world) creating a virtual community. We encourage groups to check in via facebook or twitter with updates and/or pictures of their parties, and to see what everyone else is up to. If you can’t make it work on that Wednesday night, do it some other time during the week that works for you, then send us a message and/or pictures whenever you can. It’s all about getting together, having fun, and maybe trying something new. Check the events tab on our facebook page to see more information on this coming event and past events.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=191990604194368

Because the movie is such a big part of what we’re trying to do, we think we’ll do a separate post to discuss this one more. Of course, we’re always looking for more ideas of ways to wake up the world and spread the word, so please let us know any ideas you might have, or inspiring examples of ways people are coming together to cook. This is, after all, a community we’re building so we welcome your comments, ideas, and support! Thanks again for being part of our growing community!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Community

What is “Now We’re Cooking!” up to, and why? (Second in a series)

Food, Eating, & Cooking are common threads running through each of our lives, cultures, and generations, but how we each experience these things is very personal. We all have our own unique preferred tastes, tools, and techniques. We all have unique motivations for the specific choices we make regarding the food we eat (physically, emotionally, financially, socially, etc.).

Our primary goals in creating this adventure and community are simply “to get people back in the kitchen and cooking” and through that “to become more conscious about the food we’re eating”. While we’re at it, we also hope to encourage the development of stronger local food systems.

Every meal comes with a story – what ingredients were used, how were they raised/created, where did they come from, who prepared them and how, did they taste good, did they look appetizing, where they good for us, what impact did they have economically, politically, environmentally, etc.

We’ve become so busy and reliant on the widespread availability of all kinds of food that we rarely stop to consider the answers to even the simplest of these questions. We take for granted the food will satisfy our immediate needs, and the food industry is more than happy to provide us with convenient solutions. The food industry is making all the important choices to the questions above – usually in ways that suit them best.

Making the decision to get back in the kitchen and cook puts you back in control. Cooking opens the doors for you to have as much, or little, control over what goes into your mouth – whether your decisions are based on convenience, health, taste, seasonality, adventure, etc. We want to help our supporters make well-informed decisions.

The rebirth of local food systems (local organic farms, farmers markets, community supported agriculture, community & school gardens, food banks, etc.) gives individuals local, healthy & affordable options for feeding themselves and their families. Money spent locally stays local, and the relationships built from buying direct from the source also help build stronger local communities.

We encourage people to cook together, at least once in a while. Cooking together is fun, it builds relationships & community, and it helps us share accumulated knowledge across generations & cultures. And that’s what we hope to accomplish with our project!

1 Comment

Filed under Community

What is this “Now We’re Cooking!” all about? (First in a series)

We’ve been here a couple of months now posting a mix of great tasting healthy recipes, cooking tips, stories & profiles of local food champions, and invitations to cook together with us, but it occurs to us that many of you probably are not aware of the bigger picture of what we’re up to, why we’re doing this, how we hope to accomplish our goals, who is involved, etc. So, for the next several days we’ll be posting brief answers to all these questions.

We do need your help to spread the word to your friends & families, coworkers, and neighbors. As you learn more about us over the next several days, please consider sharing or recommending our page with at least one other person you think would benefit from eating better/smarter. Thanks, as always, for your participation and support. – Mike & Nancy

1 Comment

Filed under Community

I love when that happens!

So I’m driving over to my sister-in-law’s new home to pick the blackberries she recently discovered growing on her property, and I’m talking to my son who is telling me about the delicious zucchini pasta noodle dish they made and enjoyed last night, when I happen upon a roadside farm stand that I’ve never noticed there before. I stop and pick up 4 beautiful fresh and local zucchini and now I’m ready to make my own farm-to-table zucchini pasta. Desire appears and then the means to satisfy that desire appear. I love when that happens!

I also buy some garden fresh tomatoes and cherry tomatoes at the farm stand. I had been to Whole Foods the other day, a treat for me since I don’t live near one, and forgot to buy tomatoes. I’ve been craving them and those from my garden are not quite ready yet. Instead of getting upset with myself for forgetting to buy them, I just set the intention that I’d find some great ones right out of the garden. And there they were today at the farm stand that popped up out of nowhere. I love when that happens!

These things are enough to “make my day”. I just love garden fresh food and I just love picking fruit off the vine and I just love supporting gardeners/farmers who are lovingly growing good stuff on their own land. I’ve been studying for my nutrition class so much this weekend that I was beginning to feel a little fun-deprived. And in one little hour, I was able to replenish my soul with this little adventure of mine. I love when that happens!

With all these local fresh fruits and veggies so accessible, I’m feeling very inspired for our upcoming cook-off, Farm-to-Table. Right now the menu formulating in my head includes zucchini pasta and blackberry dessert. And who knows what other fresh food treasures await me over the next week – the menu could change several times between now and then and it will all come down to what presents itself to me on Wednesday, August 17. This keeps things very simple for me. I love when that happens!

I’m wondering what kinds of fresh local food experiences you are all having. You can let me (and all of us) know by just replying below – then I’ll get an email that alerts me that you’ve responded. And, I love when that happens!

love,

nancy

2 Comments

Filed under Cook-offs, Food Sources

Fresh perspective on cooking…

It’s August in Michigan (in a few hours), and that means fresh food everywhere – farmer’s markets, farm stands, u-picks, backyard gardens, even local produce available in the grocery stores these days! For me, cooking might be as simple as slicing up a garden fresh tomato and washing up some green beans from the garden. And it might mean slicing and dicing lots of veggies into a pot of soup to freeze for winter (which comes too soon in Michigan, if you ask me)! It could mean whipping up some fresh fruit smoothies or tossing together a salad. When I “cook”, there may be heat involved, or not. It may take a chunk of time, or not. I used to see cooking as a more formal, gotta-follow-a-recipe-and-know-what-I’m-doing kind of process. Somewhere along the line I liberated myself from that and now I just go with what I feel like eating and what is available. And right now in Michigan, there’s a lot to choose from.

And so, in honor of the abundance of fresh, local food these days, our next cook-off theme is FARM-to-TABLE. To get in on the fun, gather with a few friends on the evening of Wednesday, August 17, and together, cook and enjoy the freshest, most locally sourced meal you can create.

If you have people bring their own ingredients and recipe, the only thing to do before the event is to gather the food – harvest from a garden, shop at a local farmer’s market or farm stand – whatever way works for you!

Our community continues to grow and it’s exciting to have so many people cooking together in so many locations at (roughly) the same time. Together we are having fun, expanding horizons, sharing ideas, making new friends – all while doing something we need & love to do anyway – EAT! It’s a beautiful thing!

Please post your pics and comments on our facebook wall for all to see and/or email us your pics and stories at blog@nowwerecookingmovie.c​om.

For more information on our cook-offs, click here.

click here to find a farmer’s market near you

Keeping it fresh,

nancy

3 Comments

Filed under Community, Cook-offs, Cooking, Food Sources

Reminder: RED, WHITE & BLUE Cook-off this Wednesday night

Just a quick note from Mike & Nancy at Now We’re Cooking! – the movie with a reminder that our RED, WHITE & BLUE cook-off is coming up on Wednesday night! Hoping you’re still planning to gather the family/friends to cook together “with” us. Check in on Wednesday on the facebook page to see what our other groups are doing, and tell us how your event is going. Now Let’s Get Cooking!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Community, Cook-offs

And the answer is, COOK!

Okay, let’s play Jeopardy for a moment. The question goes something like this –

In the midst of rising rates of obesity, heart disease, and depression, what can one average person do to reverse these trends, especially when they feel limited by time and circumstances?

I recently listened to well-known chef Dan Barber being interviewed by Krista Tippett (recorded in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 5, 2010), and here’s what he had to say:

“The answer is, cook! Because when you cook you are opting out of the kind of food chain that’s cooking for you. And when a food chain is cooking for you, it’s usually processed, it is usually of lesser grade ingredients, which means it’s usually degrading the environment. Because it has less flavor, it has less flavanoids, which means it has less health benefits. All of these things are attached to when when you’re not cooking. When you ARE cooking, you are engaging in some type of direct communication with that fresh ingredient that’s not heavily processed, and if you can get that locally, you’ve done tremendous amounts to give your contribution to the betterment of the world – besides a more pleasurable dinner.”

Dan is all about being driven by pleasure, driven by flavor – and he loves to note that when you do allow flavor to lead you, it also turns out to be best for the environment. Hmmm, reminds me of my buddy Joseph Campbell, who suggests that we “Follow Our Bliss”. I wonder what the world would be like if we trusted and loved ourselves enough to give ourselves what truly tastes good?

Just some food for thought!

all you need is love,

nancy

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food Sources

What’s Red, White & Blue and tasty too?

To solve this riddle, COME JOIN US for our next community cook-off on Wednesday, July 20. Maybe this current holiday weekend will inspire you to create your own unique solution to the riddle!

Now We’re Cooking! a RED, WHITE & BLUE dinner

WEDNESDAY, JULY 20

Join with a few friends and, together, wherever you are on that evening *

Celebrate the FREEDOM of cooking your own food, in your own way!

Have FUN interpreting what a red, white & blue meal means to you!

Bask in the FRIENDSHIP of those you’re cooking with – let everyone’s freedom ring!

Likely the red and white parts will be easy – here’s some BLUE food for thought – bleu cheese…chicken cordon bleu…blueberries…blue corn chips…bluefin tuna…blue moon ice cream…blues music fest…blue-suede-shoes…blue-light specials

And just in case the picture above entices you, here’s a healthy R, W & B Parfait Recipe from the Mayo Clinic. Ahhhh, and with fresh, seasonal, local berries – the anti-oxidant count is probably off-the-charts so just kick back and enjoy!

Help us get AMERICA cooking again! We’ve had 7 of our 50 states represented in our cook-offs thus far. Let’s see if we can add to that count, and let’s see which state wins the title of most-locations-simultaneously-cooking. Of course, we have to know you’re cooking in order to add you to the stats, so please communicate with us:

Let us know you’re coming
– either reply “I’m attending” on the facebook event page (easiest way for us to know you’re attending), send us a comment below, or email us.

and/or

Let us know you’re cooking – either during or SOON after, post your pics and comments on our facebook wall for all to see and/or email us your pics and stories at blog@nowwerecookingmovie.com. Tell us where you are, who participates, what you make, how YOU solved the riddle, and any other fun thing you want to share.

* 6-10 pm EST is the official “group cooking energy” event time, and if you can’t join us at that time, just do so when you can and let us know what you’re cooking!

And while we’re on the subject of holiday color schemes in July, I cooked myself up some Christmas-In-July-Eggs this morning. Imagine lightly sauteed onions, broccolini, asparagus, tomatoes, and spinach, scrambled in with a few farm fresh eggs and some feta cheese! YUM! Red, White & Green little gifts in every bite!

love,

nancy

p.s. There are as many solutions to the riddle “What’s Red, White & Blue and tasty too?” as there are groups who join us. Just remember that taste is not limited to the food you put in your mouth!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Community, Cook-offs, Cooking, Food Sources, Recipes