Tag Archives: slow food

Vegetarian Round-up

I post a lot of newsy things I come across on Facebook, so I thought I would try to, every so often, gather those things here on ye ol’ bloggo. I’ve done it with my kitchen hates a few posts back and have decided, in the spirit of hating Thanksgiving, to do it with food consciousness.

The first link I am depositing here is for a brilliant NYTimes.com Op-Ed by Gary Steiner.

Gary Steiner: Deeply Philosophical

The slow food movement has given way to a kill-your-own mentality as a feel good way to know your dinner, as if slaughtering the animal yourself somehow makes taking a life for your supper unproblematic. Steiner confronts this much neglected moral dilemma, which has fallen out of fashion amongst thinking eaters. His piece, Animal, Vegetable, Misserable, can be found here.

PETA serves up an impressive Thanksgiving grace in it’s current Thanksgiving ad campaign:



You may have noticed that I am still working on my sidebar links. Did you see the new blog linked under Edibles: Scott Winegard? Scott is a real life NYC veritable vegan chef and has lots of fun food stuff going on in his life.

scott winegard

How Very: Hubba Hubba



Jessica Claire Haney’s Washington Times Op-Ed had some Facebook friends all in a dither about the merits (or lack thereof) of processed vegetarian food touted as healthy alternatives to meaty school lunches. Sure, I get the point, but if one sees nutritious choices as a continuum of bad, good and better choices, as opposed to a dichotomy of good and bad, then I don’t see the problem with Michelle Obama’s soyburger idea. Again, check out Steiner’s piece and add ethics of eating to the discusson.

Finally, I want to clue you into two things that are not necessarily related to conscious vegetarian living/eating (wow, that sounds so hokie pokie!) but, in the way I live my life, totally related. Like, totally.

Stephen Bezruchka’s Health & Capitalism addresses not health care necessarily but rather the issue of taking car of one’s health. I especially appreciated his appraisal of the role of the stay at home parent: way important. Thanks, Stephen, for giving us SAHM’s props.

Taking that idea and Googling it, here is a link estimating the monetary value of stay at home mothers. Sure, depending on how you look at it, it can be either right wing Christian or post-feminist. Hey, whatever gets you through the day.

Lately, I have been basking in my stay at home mom-itude (yes, based on the word “servitude”), despite not having a new kitchen. Hopefully I will post soon on the sheer pleasure of my son’s recent birthday party and all the warm happy fuzzy mommy realizations the event spawned in me.

Feel free to add your vegetarian friendly news finds in the comments section below.


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Human (Made) Billboard

Happily, my “Human Made” shirts arrived and are here!

Unfortunately for me, the issue of choosing colors for the ink and tee was just that, a real issue. There are just so many choices; the double edged sword of capitalism. Brown with pink ink? Brown with gold? Charcoal with chartreuse? Cranberry with tangerine? Or the tried but true navy shirt with white ink. As you see, there are as many possibilities as there are pantone colors.

I decided on a brown shirt with tan ink for reasons which are probably way too over-intellectualized. Since the text is all about humans, I reasoned that tan on brown would be appropriate because they are flesh tones. Nerdy, I know.

The shirts are short-sleeved Fruit of the Loom, available in sizes XS (youth large) thru XL. All you have to do is PayPal me $11.99 (+ shipping) and you can be as cool as me. Possibly even cooler.

Have a strong aversion to browns? Feel free to leave comments about what you think would have been a good combo for the next go around of shirts. All attempts at over-intellectualizing your color scheme are truly welcomed.


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Sometimes I ask myself whether or not I really want to do this. Make jam.  Sell jam.  The whole jam business thing.

I never set out to do a business. Last year I just made much too much strawberry jam.  The local Hare Krishna farm, Gita Nagari, had way more strawberries than anyone could use. And they were gooood.  I’ve never tasted strawberries so sweet.  I couldn’t handle the thought of them rotting in the field so I bought some.  Alright, I bought a lot. Maybe 15 gallons total.
Towards the end of the summer I realized just how difficult it would be to go through all that jam within a two year period.  Even with all the jars I was giving away as gifts.  My husband, Madhava, suggested I sell some.  Friends were bothering me to buy some.  So, I set up a rough blog and sent out an email.
And that’s where fate stepped in. Of course I sent the email to family, thinking that even if they didn’t want to buy any of my jam they would at least be happy that I was trying to sell some.  My cousin, Laura Levitt, then did something that was so Laura. Only she didn’t tell me she was doing it.
Laura is more than a cousin to me.  She is my familial link to feeling like I belong.  Which in my case of  being the adopted oddball, makes my position as the black sheep of the family seem even more out of place. But with Laura as my cousin, I feel like I have someone else to not fit in with. Together we can wear our black–or chartreuse or patchwork or lame’ or handloom ikat–wool and we match.  At least with one another.  In a mixing prints kind of way.
In the early 90’s I lived with Laura while attending Temple University. She opened my eyes beyond the bore, I mean, core curriculum and introduced me to a world of feminist studies, identity politics and just really good teachers.  Basically, she assisted my transformation from erratic to radical.  And she even understands how being a Hare Krishna fits in with that.  I just love Laura.
Laura is the kind of person who is actually happy for other people’s successes.  Honestly, I don’t know too many of them.  So, being Laura, this is what she did.
Laura forwarded my email to Dana Cowen, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine. I met Dana years ago when I was about seven and attended her undergraduate graduation from Brown University, where she and Laura were not only roommates but best friends.  So without knowing that Laura did this, I received an email from Nick Fauchald, Senior Associate Food Editor at the magazine. He was asking to get a sample of my jams to try them out.
Now, the idea of this was totally off my radar but still, when introduced, had a great amount of appeal.  At that point I didn’t have many varieties, and it was all pretty basic stuff: Strawberry Jam, Elderberry Syrup (yum), Chili Pickle.  I had just bought a bushel of local peaches for home canning and that is when, through Divine Inspiration, Saffron Cardamom Peach Jam was born. And Vanilla Bean Peach Butter. And let me tell you, they’re good.
So I discovered a place where I could buy pro jars, got some bo-bo labels printed and mailed off the jam to Nick.  After a few weeks he wrote back that they really enjoyed the jam.  Okay.  Then what?  Well, they didn’t have a spot in the magazine for it at the time, but he would keep it in mind.
Was he serious, or just being nice?  I’m not sure.
But anyway, that is how the business got started. Kind of by forces beyond my control. Maybe that’s how it should happen.
So I advertised on Chakra, a Hare Krishna news site, and tried refining my blog along the way.  Surprisingly to me, I started getting orders. And not just from friends and family but people who I had no idea of their existence prior to our encounters of the jam kind.  People googling “best peach jam” or looking for quince jelly for their Thanksgiving turkey recipe.  Whatever the case, they found me on the web and I was selling them jam.
The Food & Wine thing was really a push and I started thinking about making my jam operation more pro. I considered selling my jam at the newly opened Farmer’s Market in Carlisle, but the booth fee coupled with the winding, stomach churning, one hour drive over the mountain made me think twice about it.  Besides, it’s not like there is such a huge population in Carlisle anyway (although it is a really cute college town).    It didn’t seem worth the endeavor, or the time away from my kids.
Then, on the darkest and dreariest of winter days, we decided to move to Alachua,  Florida so that our kids would have more of a life than they would growing up in the middle of nowhere in Central Pennsylvania (no offense to anyone who feels Central PA is located elsewhere).  I had mixed feelings about the move, which meant leaving behind my truly functional and fabulous custom kitchen with the 40″ soapstone sink and twin faucets.  My gardens, full of gooseberries, mulberries, crabapple, pear, raspberry, roses and other edibles, would stay behind.  And the Amish farmers, the Brummers and the Pennsylvania Backyard Fruit Growers.
I started looking into possibilities in Florida.  Or more accurately, obstacles.  I contacted the Florida Dept. of Ag and found out that Florida was not as small business friendly as Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, I am sure due to the Amish, one could process food at home and be legal. In Florida, regardless of the size of your business, you must use a profession kitchen which meets all the legal requirements.  As far as fruit goes, most of the fruit grown in Florida gets shipped to fresh market in New England and the Northeast.  Because of the growing season, Florida growers can get top dollar for their fruit since it comes in early.  That explains why when I visited Florida a month ago, the limes I bought at the supermarket were imported from Mexico.  And then there was the issue of jars. I think I found a place in Atlanta to source them from, but still, that’s about 5 hours away and I’ll have to pay for it.
But with all this discouragement, I still found hope. Friends were very supportive and I realized Florida had something which PA lacked: easy access to distribution.  The other day I called Ward’s Supermarket in Gainesville to get the pricing on their sugar.  Twenty five pounds of cane is ridiculous but the turbinado is well priced. Anyway, once the man heard I made jam and was into the whole local thing, he just short of promised me that Ward’s would carry it when I got down there.  Now, that’s more than just hopeful.
But still, I ask myself, is this what I want to do. Is this how I want to spend my time.  Jam making is very time consuming.  Taking this into consideration, it makes sense that it is made in a factory.  Except for the fact that factories are gross and use substandard ingredients.  I mean, there’s other stuff I would like to do with my time, like become a foreign aid worker, learn an instrument, learn a second language.  So what if most of these things are unrealistic? I mean, what is the likelihood of a dumb American like myself learning a second language?  That dashes my desire to attend graduate school, which would also require some kind of competency outside English.  Okay.  But there are some things I would like to do within my limited realm called my life: service at my temple, hanging out with my kids, exercising so I don’t feel like I’m 63 instead of 33, writing and cooking stuff other than jam.  Or things eaten with jam.
So while I try to keep this blog updated with my fascinating jam life and while I try to get a media kit together so I can try and drum up some press for Sabjimata, I’m also burdened with 
the existential question of whether or not jam is worth it.  

So…..what do you think?  Really, I’m interested.


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Chickasaw Plum

Life just got very exciting. This is the kind of thing that does it for me. In anticipation of our move to Alachua County, Florida, and while I try to usefully utilize my time while I am stranded in State College while my children attend preschol (that’s right…preschool! I’m nuts…), I googled “Gainesville, Locavore.” Some really nice stuff came up, which I am adding to my links at the bottom of the page. But this chickasaw plum really has really gotten my fruit juices going. This is the kind of stuff I live for: edible, wild, native growth. And tart. Oh, so good.

The inspirational plum, I look forward to our meeting.

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