Thursday, December 20, 2012

Busy sitting down

Like many of us, I spent my twenties moving through a series of office jobs trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a living.  Most jobs revolved around my interests -- education, community organizing, or political change -- but the setting was always the same: some version of a room with a desk and computer, which I sat behind dutifully.

For a long time I was unhappy at work and I always thought the job was the problem.  Invariably after a year or two, I would polish up my resume and head for greener pastures.  Rewind and repeat.  You get the picture (and may even find yourself caught up in it at the moment).

In my early thirties, I found myself in the job I had been working towards, directing a small, scrappy advocacy organization that was working for social change and finding success.  But there I was, behind the computer, moving in and out of meetings, the sun and sky and outside world in a window hanging on my office wall like a picture.  And I had a jarring realization -- what if it was working in an office that made me so unhappy?  That was a lot harder to change than a job.

A recent NY Times article about the sedentary routines of our modern life made me think about all of this again.  The article was mostly about obesity, but linked that growing epidemic to a much larger problem -- the western "sedentary life-style that is colonizing the world".  Research studies noted that almost 45% of American's are caught up in daily routines that are almost completely inactive, failing to walk or be active a minimum of twenty minutes a day.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Breaking ground

They key to healthy vegetables is healthy seedlings. This past year we did everything we could to nurture our young plantings... but nothing beats the temperature control, sunlight exposure, or humidity control of a greenhouse.

42" deep into the 1st foundation hole
Luckily for us, a very friendly neighbor gave us a disassembled Lord & Burnham Imperial Evenspan with a curved eave greenhouse. He had it stored in his barn for years, above his sheep stalls and high up in the rafters. He got his hands on it from another neighbor, who got it from another neighbor, who salvaged it from a rooftop on a flophouse in New York City's Hell's Kitchen in the '90s. And even more luckily for us, our neighbor who salvaged it wrote every single part number on every single piece, and we managed to get our hands on the 2-inch thick stack of plans and papers and blueprints for the structure that have been passed around to even more neighbors.

Just this week we broke ground. We are sourcing some local locust for foundation poles and will build the 3-foot foundation the plans require, hopefully before the ground freezes or snow gets in the way.

And this is all in the name of healthy vegetables.

Kinda what our greenhouse will look like

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Recipe with corn

Corn souffle

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients: Corn, onion, butter, sugar, salt, cayenne, cornmeal, milk, eggs, cream of tartar

Preparing: Melt 4 Tbsp butter. Add finely diced onion and cook until soft. Then add 2 cups sweet corn kernels (we used frozen, so be sure to drain out excess moisture). Cook until onions and corn have browned, about 10 minutes (when using frozen corn). Add 3 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, cayenne, and 2 cups milk. Bring to a boil, then turn off, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. In the meantime, whisk together 1 cup cornmeal and 3/4 cup milk. Immersion blend the corn mixture and reheat. Once mixture is boiling, whisk in cornmeal/milk mixture slowly and cook a few minutes until thick. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400F now. Once mixture is room temp (and oven should be heated by now), whisk in 3 egg yolks. In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Fold in egg whites into corn mixture, one-third at a time. Put in well-greased (I used crisco) 1.5 qt souffle pan and bake for 45 minutes.

Eating: Serve immediately out of the oven, but it's also delicious reheated the next day. When serving at the table, just spoon the souffle out. I like this as a substitute for cornbread, which I often find to be too dry.

Dish history: We had friends over who had supplied us with all of our sweet corn, so we had to showcase the vegetable.