A Food-centric Life

Food.  Everybody needs it.  In this season of harvest and abundance I feel blessed to have so much amazing, healthy, life-giving, soul-nourishing food.  It is hard for me to accept that there are people out there who are hungry, or who fill their bellies with junk-food.

I’ve been noticing lately how much of my life revolves around food. I grow it, preserve it, cook it, eat it, play with it, read about it, and talk about it.  My social life always involves food, and my business is to teach others how to grow and preserve it.

I just finished hauling in the carrots and blanching and freezing the kale, and I’m already thinking about what next years garden is going to look like.  I revel in making food for Graysen that is tasty, nutritious, beautiful, and balanced.  I pour over recipes and develop my own to fit what we have on hand, fresh and abundant.  I made a chocolate beet cake twice in one week just to get the recipe perfect. (And because it was so delicious.)

Although Matt loves to cook and does most of the hunting and fishing, I consider it my role to feed our family.  We used to talk about how we didn’t buy into traditional male-female roles in relationships, and now he is the hunter and I am the gatherer.  He brings home the bacon and I take care of baby.  Somehow it just works out that way, and I relish and thrive in my role.  How lucky am I to be able to stay home with Graysen, grow a huge garden and feed my family better food than money can buy?  The women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s fought hard  to free women from the home, and I’ve designed my life to return to it, taking meaningful work with me.

A few weeks ago I went to a food security workshop at UAA.  All the food big-wigs were there to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the food system in Alaska.  Farmers, mariculturists, representatives from the state and federal government, non-profits, universities, and business people. I was invited because of my work at the Williams Street Farmhouse and the Alaska Food Challenge.

We formed working groups and brainstormed projects that tackled different aspects of food security, from production to accessibility.  The Rasmuson Foundation is offering funds to a project that would increase food security for Alaskans.  Ideas ranged from funding farmer training programs to creating local currency thereby encouraging people to spend more of their food dollars locally.  It was wonderful to be a part of the community putting our heads together to come up with positive solutions that could actually happen.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I invite you to think more about your food. How secure is your food supply? Where does your food come from and who grew it?  Were people or the environment exploited to get it to your table?   Is it nourishing for your body or just empty calories?  Was it prepared with love and shared with good company?  Did you fully appreciate the flavor and texture of each bite?

This is also a good time to consider those who cannot afford time or money to put nourishing food on the table.  How can you become part of the solution?  Share your excess food, time, or donate money locally or globally.  Your dinner might just taste even better knowing someone else is nourished as well.

Chocolate Beet Cake

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups cooked pureed beets
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a large springform pan.  Cream butter and sugar together in large bowl.  Add yogurt, then eggs, then beets and vanilla, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir just to combine.  Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 for 35 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/4 beet puree
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese, beets, and butter.  Add enough powdered sugar until it reaches desired consistency.  Let cake cool completely before frosting.

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