Tag Archives: natural foods

Ode to Eggplant

2 Sep

Even a hot droughty summer must be good for something!

Turns out it’s eggplant!  As corn crops wither in the fields, eggplants are thriving.  One of my favorite CSA farms is even calling in the gleaners to harvest the eggplant overload.  Other members of the nightshade family – like peppers and tomatoes – are also doing well this hot dry summer.  But this is a blog about my love for eggplant…

The farmers market is overflowing with eggplant.  And the big purple Italian variety is just the beginning! Continue reading


Saps Making Syrup

16 Mar

As the cold Midwestern winter gives way to crisp spring chill, the sap starts flowing and the saps make for the maple forest.  Maple syrup season is a fleeting spring fling!  Too cold, the sluggish sap won’t flow.  Too warm, bacteria grow and stimulate the tree to start heeling its wounds and close up the sap taps.  So in just a few short weeks between afternoon highs reaching the 40s and climbing to the 60s, the maple farmers have to make the most of their sweet time.  This year is warming up fast!  And the beautifully balmy spring days are cutting the sap season short!

I got a brief chance to spend a short weekend in the woods helping my family harvest sap from my uncle’s Ohio tree farm.  (Ironically, the “Pancake” tree farm was named for the nearby road years before the idea for a family-run maple business ever occurred to the Berg family.)

It’s a family affair!  The Berg family takes to the woods as a trio (or more when they can convince friends and family to help).

The serious sappers:

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Life is just a bowl of…

5 Aug

mmmm fresh Door County Cherries!

Cherries drip from trees during the peak of the season.

It’s cherry season on the coasts of Lake Michigan.  I just wanted to share a few quick juicy tid-bits from a fantastic  weekend in Door County – Camping at Peninsula State Park and picking cherries at a little farm nearby.

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Eating well on a hungry planet

21 May

It’s Saturday morning, and I’ve just returned from my weekly excursion to the farmer’s market.  It’s a favorite weekly ritual.  I get up early enough to beat the crowds and crave the coffee and bakery treats at my favorite booths.  I have favorite goofy old farmers in overalls.  I tend to shop by color and end up with a wonderful variety that’s a little different every week.  This year I can tell the climate is odd because we’re weeks behind – just getting into asparagus and I’ve yet to see a garlic scape!

Colorful produce of the Madison farmers' market.

As I loaded my greenery into the fridge I recalled recently seeing an exhibit showcasing the photo art from Peter Menzel’s and Faith D’Aluisio’s book “Hungry Planet: What The World Eats”.  The photos were beautiful – and thought provoking.  The simple picture of a family’s pile of groceries says so much about culture – how we spend time with family, what we enjoy, what we value.  I passed along the wall of photos:

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The mighty morel hunters

12 May

We duck into the underbrush at a point that looks just as good as any.  Sweat beads on our faces on this first muggy day of the season.  Blackberry brambles trap our ankles.  Buckthorn rips at our arms.  The ticks and mosquitoes compete for our blood.  Oh yeah! We’re a couple tough broads delving into the woods in hunt of our prey.

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How my PhD taught me to eat

5 May

There are two critical parts to this story:

1) PhD programs can get a little stressful. No, really. Right around my qualifying exams, I realized that, in the you-are-what-you-eat reality, it just doesn’t work to quell stresses with on-the-run bites of junky comfort food. I am still learning a lot about managing stress, energy, and body with healthy whole-foods cooking.

2) My PhD program just happened to be in Madison, WI. The confluence of fertile land, family-farm culture and friendly Midwestern mentality makes Madison a Mecca for the local foods movement. There is a great appreciation for the linkages from earth to farm to table and a vast availability of organic farm shares, farmer’s markets, natural food grocers, and inspiring locally sourced gourmet restaurants.

Now I’m in a great place in the world to create colorful things with fantastic produce, and in a great place in my life to experiment with healthy cooking. So, my creative side and scientific side have joined forces to concoct delicious meals and tinker with recipes until I make them treat my body right.

I love to eat well.  I love to cook.  And I love to share.  Hope you enjoy some of my recipes.