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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Great Reading

Recipe: Matt's Flaky, Tasty Biscuits

Homemade Biscuit

We eat these all the time! It’s a good, hearty weekend breakfast.

Equipment.

  • Ungreased Cookie Sheet
  • 2 Dinner Knives (optional)
  • Large Bowl
  • Spatula
  • Sharp Knife or Bench Scraper

Ingredients.

  • 3/4 C Milk (you can also use buttermilk)
  • 2 C All-purpose Flour
  • 1 T Baking Powder
  • 1 t Salt
  • 2-3 T Cold, Unsalted Butter

Steps.

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Drop in the butter. This is the most important step! The goal is to get the largest pieces of butter to be the size of peas, with smaller ones more like bread crumbs. The challenge is to do this without melting the butter or allowing the butter to adhere to the flour and form a paste. Since your fingers may be too hot (thus causing the butter to melt), you probably want to cut in the butter with two knives.
  4. Add the milk all at once, and mix with a fork or spatula, just until everything begins to become moist.
  5. Lightly flour your hands. Then mix the dough with your hands, pressing it against the side of the bowl, to the point where the dough just adheres to itself. It should look like layered pieces of dough just barely held together. This is the second most important step, as you do not want to over-knead. (Over-kneading will take away the flakiness of the biscuits).
  6. Place the dough on a lightly-floured surface, and press it into a circle about 1/2” thick. (Still minimizing your warm touch to avoid melting the butter.)
  7. Cut the dough into quarters with a sharp knife or bench scraper.
  8. Place the biscuits onto a baking sheet, at least 1” apart. Bake until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.
  9. Serve with homemade butter and jam or …. Homemade Lemon Marmalade!

Makes 4 large, flaky, tasty biscuits.


Biscuits with Homemade Marmalade

Recipe: Matt’s Easy and Oh-So-Tasty Berry (or Sliced Fruit) Cobbler

Mmm...Tayberry Cobbler


We have had several tasty local meals this week, but I had to share this recipe. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert! YUM. Have I mentioned I love my husband? He has made this cobbler with peaches, berries, a mixture of fruits – and every time it has been divine. Enjoy…


Continue reading Recipe: Matt’s Easy and Oh-So-Tasty Berry (or Sliced Fruit) Cobbler

The Wonderful World of Staycations….And The Amazing New Variety of Berries We Found

Washington Berries


Staycation, All I Ever Wanted…


My sister and her husband are in town from St. Louis for the weekend. As we’ve been spending time with them, I realized this is really a vacation for Matt and I as well, even though we haven’t gone anywhere. We could call this a local get-away, or even a staycation or something else buzz-wordy.


Local Bean Farm


The general idea of a staycation is to vacation locally: avoiding excessive carbon emissions, high spending, and overall impact on the environment, while at the same time supporting the local economy.


Lori & Rob


Together the four of us have tackled our list of restaurants serving local, organic food, spent time walking through our garden, sat chatting over locally roasted organic coffee, and toured local berry farms. It has been a blast!


Mom Came To Get Berries, Too


Discovering The Tayberry


Far and above the most fruitful of discoveries this weekend has been the tayberry. Have you heard of it? I sure hadn’t!


The tayberry grows much like a raspberry, but has the leaves of a blackberry, and looks a lot like a boysenberry. But it tastes sweeter and more complex than any of those three berries.

 

Tayberries


Apparently the tayberry was first cultivated in Scotland 1962 (named after the Tay River), and is a cross between an Aurora blackberry and a black raspberry.


They grow beautifully, and can be trained in circles (to reduce overall growth space). Just like raspberries and blackberries, they produce berries on second-year cane growth, so they will not produce berries in the first year. But if you click on the photo below, you can see the amount of berries hanging on each cane – each bush produces around 14 pounds of tayberries! They are hardy to about -15F and aren’t particular about soil – they just don’t like wet feet (easily accounted for by planting them on a slight hill).


Tayberry Bushes


This morning we had yoghurt pancakes with tayberries on top (of course!!). And this afternoon Matt baked a tayberry cobbler for a potluck dinner we attended. Both were divine. These beauties will be going into our garden next year!


Further Reading


More about the origins of the tayberry

How to Make Tayberry Liquor

How to Grow Tayberries (PDF)

Farms that grow tayberries in Puget Sound and more in Washington and Oregon

More about cultivation

Growing Tayberries in the UK


Where To Find Tayberry Canes in The US

(Please feel free to share sources you know in the comments!)


Raintree Nursery (Thanks, Kristi!)

One Green World


Have You Vacationed This Summer?


What do you think about the idea of a staycation? Is it something you’d consider?



Recipe: Polenta With Tuscan Seasonal Vegetables

Polenta With Tuscan Vegetables


I promised Eco ‘Burban Mom I would post a polenta recipe weeks ago, so here it is finally! If you’ve never tried to make polenta, just go for it. It’s a lot easier than you think…

Continue reading Recipe: Polenta With Tuscan Seasonal Vegetables

Local Summer: Local Meals Don’t Have To Be Gourmet

Yoghurt & Strawberries


That’s it: the whole shebang! This is my featured meal for One Local Summer this week. And WOW was it good. Local yoghurt with local strawberries. Plus locally roasted coffee that was organically grown in the shade, fair traded, and then roasted using green power. All you who aren’t in the northwest, I’m sorry you can’t partake in our mouth-watering strawberries… in the 15 or so years since I lived in Seattle, I often daydreamed about these little beautiful pieces of fruit. A sweetness unmatched by any other… sublime...


I usually post recipes for this challenge, because I like to share the love when I – or most likely Matt – finds a good recipe. But in truth, it’s not the gourmet recipes that seem to be continuously searched for on Google or passed around the blogosphere. It’s the simple ones: Roasted Vegetables. Bread. Custard. And Pancakes. Yes, pancakes! Since I don’t come up with a totally original recipe very often, I am very proud to say my yummy pancakes have made their rounds around the blogosphere: Green Bean, Eco ‘Burban Mom, Arduous, Heather, Beany, Carla… all have made them, enjoyed them, and passed them on! (Note Chile has also tried them and called them “very tasty”, but also said she can do better… mmm hmmm… Somehow, someday, we’ll duel it out. And when that happens you’re all invited!)

 

Style vs. Content

 

All bragging aside, I’m serious here. There is a lot of pressure to make local meals beautiful, but they don’t have to be. What matters is not the stylization of food. Flavor, nutrients, and caring about what goes into your body – these are what matters. What goes into our bodies should reflect who we are and how we want to be. Our ideals should be as pure in our minds as they are when running through our veins as proteins and nutrients. By eating anything, we are making choices about how we interact with the world and how we interact with our bodies.


So, when you’re shopping for groceries, I encourage you to go beyond shopping for your one weekly local meal. While you’re shopping, find a product you use every day, and seek out a new local source. Or if not local, organic. If not organic, seasonal. If not seasonal, small business… you decide – whatever it is that you believe in. In this way you will slowly start stepping into the world of eating conscientiously, and eating sustainably.


Last year Matt and I cooked close to every meal using mostly local ingredients. For several months I wrote about them every week. Most of those meals weren’t gourmet meals, but they were tasty! (Most of them were tasty, that is!) So if you need some inspiration, check out posts like this one, this too, and even this.


If you haven’t yet taken part in a local food challenge because you’re intimidated, stop being intimidated! This is not about the showiness, it’s about the content, it’s about taking another step toward living a deliberate, sustainable life.

 

Organic vs. Local?


I go back and forth about which is better: organic or local. I try my best for both, but if that is not an option, I try to calculate in my head:

a. whether I really need it;

b. which of my options would have the lowest impact on our planet; and

c. which one would have the most positive impact on my body.

It’s an individual choice. When Matt and I drink wine, for instance, we prioritize organic over local because of our experiences. As long as you are making a conscientious decision, whatever you decide will be the right decision for you.

 

That’s My 2 Cents. What About You?


What do you think about the whole debate between organic vs. local vs. who cares? Do you try to eat locally-sourced foods? Are you having a hard time finding them? Are you growing your own? Or do you not have enough time in the day to deal with it?

 

Local Summer Recipe: Homemade Pesto, Beans, & Potatoes (Trenette Genovese)

Trenette Genovese

Continue reading Local Summer Recipe: Homemade Pesto, Beans, & Potatoes (Trenette Genovese)