Diets and Strawberry Shortcake

A couple weeks ago, my cousin was married at dusk, in a garden ceremony, speckled with candles and rosy-colored orchids. In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, she lamented to me that she couldn’t wait till the wedding was over. Her strict diet was taking its toll and she was desperately hungry for a substantial meal, including dessert.

As I watched her glide down the aisle on her wedding day, looking quite lanky and lean, I determined that there was no way I would be able to go without dessert for months on end, even if it was for the noble cause of fitting into the perfect wedding dress.

Lately, I have a handful of friends who are on pretty serious diets. Some are doing it right, smaller portion sizes, exercising, cutting back to one glass of wine a night. While others hold a convoluted idea of what true nutrition is. Eating 600-700 calories a day, mostly of low-fat diet crap, is called borderline anorexia, not a diet inspired by a school nutrition class. (And, yes, I actually witnessed this with a friend!)

I hope the people who come to my table are ready to eat. If you want just a little taste, so you can zip your pants, I understand. If you are here to play martyr and be commended for your righteous act toward your waistline, jump off the cross, Mary, we need the firewood. You can wear your diet as a badge of honor, but know that the look in my eyes is one of pity because you are missing out on some amazing meals.

Recently, I was in Los Angeles and was able to spend some time at a farmers market in Silver Lake. A small market, with probably 30 stalls, half of which were packed with endless folding tables of fresh produces. Vibrant green swiss chard with rich red and golden yellow stalks. Piles of citrus fruit, with taster slices cut of ruby grapefruit, blood oranges so brilliantly rubicund, and such a vivacious orange, it was the shade of a Mario Batali clog. Turnips. Carrots. Root veg galore. A sea of garnet colored strawberries two tents long.

I bought three pints of strawberries for $5 and toted them home to Arizona. With such beautiful fruit, there is only one perfect dessert that came to mind. Strawberry Shortcake.

I’m not an expert. But I do know that if you consume less, you weigh less. So, I roll the biscuits a little thinner and cut them a little smaller. I don’t add as much sugar to the berries (they’re actually perfect on their own and don’t need much sugar). Go easy on the whipped cream. Why deny yourself? Life’s too short.


How to Procrastinate Like a Champ

I have been doing everything possible to avoid the spring cleaning my house has been demanding. Toasting up a batch of granola. Breaking in my new boule baskets by baking fresh bread. Preserving some lovely blood oranges and meyer lemons in a jewel-colored marmalade. Dinners out. Dinners in. Hiking Pinnacle Peak. Planting seedlings for planters I haven’t built yet. Testing cheese recipes. Drinking lots of wine.

My friend M. took three days off work to clean her house. We ended up hiking, having breakfast, trying out some new restaurants and grabbing drinks. Her house is still a disaster, and the only positive stride I took was to clean eight bags of clothes out of my closet for Goodwill.

So, in honor of my procrastination, and hopefully yours, here is a list of the other things I’m planning on doing, before cleaning my house.



1. Watch every episode of Eureka on Netflix direct.

2. Eat ice cream for dinner, and tell myself I deserve it because I’m actually going to clean tomorrow.

3. Have potluck girls night with ::drum roll, please:: The Girls!

4. Drink more wine.

5. Pull all the boxes out of the closet with the intention to clean them out. Clean out one. Get bored. Go to the movies instead.

6. Make Tony a pie. What?! I promised him months ago I would bake him a pie, and now seems like a great time.

7. Go to Breadfruit and drink 4 mojitos (all other procrastinators, meet me there!).

8. Buy potting soil and all the lumber for my planters.

9. Sit on the porch, drinking a glass of wine, while staring at lumber for my planters.

10. Eat cheese.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?

Happy Fall!

I think fall may be my favorite season (grapes, squash, apple cider, crisp air, comfy sweaters, fat pappardelle in meaty sauce, colorful leaves – though not in Phoenix). I'm heading back east for a few days…Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania. Check back for photos of my trip, but until then, enjoy fall!


Fall planting

I've been hanging out at The Simple Farm lately, getting a little taste of the farm life. These are a few pictures I took last Tuesday, while Lylah and I planted beets and lettuce. 

There is some talk of a possible CSA with The Simple Farm. If you're interested, contact Lylah via twitter @TheSimpleFarm. 





Woolly Pocket

I have posted before about Woolly Pockets, but now there is a chocolate brown Tina Island on it's way to me, as a present to myself for getting my kitchen organized. If I get my closet organized, maybe I'll reward myself with a Lil'Meadow to plant all my herbs (the legal kind) in.

I'll post pics when I get my Woolly Pocket and plant in it. What should I plant? Basil? A fern? Flower?



The Simple Farm

I'm head-over-heels crazy about The Simple Farm. The only thing that I dislike about The Simple Farm: it's too far from my house. 

Lylah and Michael are darling, goat-loving, organic farmers who run The Simple Farm, located on 3 urban acres in North Scottsdale. In the 10 months since they've started to work their little plot of land, they have made huge strides, planting around 50 fruit and nut trees, numerous heirloom tomatoes, large boxes of different kinds of veg, flowers galore, a huge melon patch, beautiful squash (complete with golden sunburst blooms aching for some ricotta and a tempura fry bath), 5 goats, and around 40 hens. 


We started the day with a little french press and some of my cinnamon-raisin bread. Merissa from North Scottsdale Farmers Market @nsfarmersmarket and Stephanie @skinnyjeans joined us in our coffee chat and goat milking. 


(She's ready for her close-up!) 

One of the things that Lylah and I have bonded over is raw goat milk. I am a huge proponent of raw milk, as long as it is handled properly and comes from animals that are treated with great care. 

It is illegal in the state of Arizona, currently, to sell raw milk. There are so many points where the milk can become contaminated, from the extraction and handling of the milk, to diet of the animal, to care of the animal (general health and hormone shots, but also think allowed to roam and feed on grass vs. being corralled in tight quarters for the majority of the day and fed grain and soy). With too many variables, it makes sense that dairy farms are made to pasteurized their milk, especially when the milk is lower quality from farms that take shortcuts to beef up their milk production. 

Here is my problem: I, as the consumer, am suppose to pay for substandard milk from animals that are jacked full of hormones, fed a diet of grain, soybeans and cottonseed meal, and illy treated. They then take the substandard milk and pasteurize it (obviously, because it's NOT drinkable otherwise). 

On the flip, I could be purchasing fresh milk from a small local dairy with healthy animals and drink the milk raw, because it's such a higher quality (and so much better for you). I get that the laws and regulations are not in place to monitor dairies that are producing raw milk, but it just seems a bit ludicrous that we accept crappy pasteurized milk instead of really high quality raw milk. To me, it's like wanting a burger and going to a fast food restaurant for a greasy, round of compressed meat bits of a unknown origin. Down the street, though, is a local place that makes thick, juicy burgers from kobe beef. 

Anyway, I have digressed. I love goat milk. It's so good for you and I've never had raw goats milk, so this was a treat. As was getting to milk the goats. There is something very connective to seeing where your food comes from, let alone actually gathering it. Yes, we plant and collect herbs or tomatoes from yards or kitchen planters, but to gather your own milk or eggs? I love that feeling of seeing how my food was raised and where it came from. You have a great deal more respect for it. 

Back to the gorgeous goat girls. First, you need to heard the goats. Easy, because they follow you around and try to escape. Not in a prison break kind of way, more like a "please, take me with you."



Next, you clean your hands, put on gloves and clean the udders. 


Then you take a little test milk sample. It cleans out the tip of the udder and allows the milker to make sure the milk is good (no lumps in the milk, something wrong, etc.).


Once milked, the goats get some animal crackers and we weigh the milk. The milk weight is recorded, to keep an eye on the goats and make sure that they are healthy. The numbers fluctuate, but if for some reason they are drastically different, Lylah and Michael know that something is wrong and they can better care for the goats. 

Here are a couple things I've learned about goats:

1. Goats love people. Lylah was telling me that when they first got the goats, early in the morning (think 3am) the goats would cry out and Michael, would come and sit with them to calm them. They just wanted a little people love. 

2. Goats hate change. They freaked out about an irrigation ditch they had to cross to get to the milking shed. I was pretty sure Michael was going to have to carry them across. With animal crackers and some patient coaxing, the goats crossed the plywood board.

3. Goats love animal crackers. They freaked out like my niece with a krispie treat. 


Within minutes of milking the goats, the milk is strained into a sterilized jar and chilled in the freezer for an hour. It is then placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, where the temperature is the coolest. 

Fresh. Creamy. Clean tasting. Not barnyard-y, which is what I thought it would taste like. If you have the chance to taste raw milk from a reputable farm, please try it. Even if you aren't a milk person, try it, because it is amazing how different it tastes from the garbage on the grocery store shelf. 

The last adventure on the farm were the chickens. I have a thing for chickens. A dream really, that I'll be able to go out to my adorable backyard hen house, get fresh eggs for ice cream, mayo, macarons or poached eggs. Then use all the chicken poop for fertilizer for my garden boxes (which I have yet to build – it's really big dream with a lot of construction). I really want to have chickens and there are lots of urbanites who do, but my HOA is not into them like I am. So, I will live vicariously through Lylah for the time being. 

The Simple Farm hens are stylish, living in this french country style hen house. 



Come out to the North Scottsdale Farmers Market to support Lylah and Michael of The Simple Farm. These are the people you want growing your food. They love what they do and they take great care in doing it. Please support our local farmers. 




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