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Summer 2013 Newsletter

Sumer is icumen in,
Loudly sing, cuckoo!
Grows the seed and blows the mead,
And springs the wood anew;
Sing, cuckoo!
Local, organic and in season
Growing in the Garden (photo by Sienna M Potts)

Summer is surely a-comin' in, and if the sunshine holds out the garden here at the Gatehouse will soon be filled with abundance. There's nothing more satisfying (or tastier!) than our own home-grown veggies. If gardening isn't for you, the season has begun for most all local Farmers Markets. This year, their early offerings are astonishing -- this may be the first year we can eat entirely out of our neighbors' gardens without resorting to food from afar. Find a Farmers Market near you by visiting localharvest.org.

Ever wonder what's growing fresh in your neighborhood and where to go and get it? Before going shopping check out this site and find out what is really fresh in your neighborhood. Purchase those veggies and fruits at the peak of their ripeness and nutrition. EAT LOCAL!


Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: animalvegetablemiracle.com

I love books, and so audiobooks enrich my busy life. While traveling I can enjoy my adventures taking long walks, driving, in airports, and flying accompanied by the sound of a good book. I take paperbacks along, but often find audiobooks reward me in a different way. A narrator can become almost as important as the author; quite often, the best audiobooks have the author reading her own book. An author's voice communicates her special love and passion, with just the right tone for specific words and important ideas.

My current love in literature is listening to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle -- it's the story of the year she and her family decided to eat only what they grew or that could be found within their own community. I simply love this, the idea, the challenge, the book! I read it first when it was published in 2008 but somehow I skimmed over it. Recently I decided to go back and give it my full attention as an audio book, and since downloading it, I have immersed myself in the Kingsolver family and their year of living locally off their land and neighbors' farms. At a time when food comes from increasingly far away in ever more refined forms, their commitment to only eat simply and locally, with only rare and considered exceptions, is inspiring.

I'm enjoying Animal, Vegetable, Miracle so much the second time! Barbara's style is lighthearted, humorous, educational and informative, rich with tips and recipes for novice back-to-the-landers, gardeners, and anyone who wants to eat more locally -- I'm betting that includes everyone reading this newsletter. Barbara, her husband Steve, daughter Camille, and even their youngest, Lilly, share their perspectives on time with nature, growing your own food, and nurturing inner and outer gardens. I learned about asparagus, baby chickens, Italian men, food politics . . . and adapted some new seasonal recipes from their companion website: animalvegetablemiracle.com.

I seldom find myself smiling with every sentence, but listening to Barbara recount their adventures I often catch myself grinning from ear to ear. Their many homespun stories offer lessons on eating, growing, storing, and sharing their farm's bounty. Barbara is a gifted writer, and I happily lose myself in their adventures, and her pitch-perfect choice of words. Her telling of their long-awaited trip to Italy paints vivid pictures of a culture immersed in the sacred art of eating -- I want to buy a ticket right now.

"Eaters must understand, how we eat determines how the world is used."
-- Barbara Kingsolver
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Eating locally saves resources and besides it just plain tastes better."
-- Brenda

The book's 'eat local' message is clear. I, too, treasure my reconnection to offerings from farmers with first names. Corporate conglomerates, factory farms, and large scale agriculture alienate us from our food, and this book is all about reclaiming control of what we put in our bodies.

The entire Kingsolver family shares chapters. We may have heard Steven's more political discussions of our nutritional crisis and genuinely toxic food supply before, but his concise delivery is refreshing. Camille offers meal plans and recipes. Young Lilly tells about her entrepreneurial escapades in the egg business as she saves for college.

By removing food from the Filling Station and reassigning it to the Recreation Department, a subtle, life-affirming shift gets made. Food is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not merely pumped into the tank. It runs more than engines: food nurtures precious lives. Most of us are unlikely to feed ourselves simply from local sources for a year, but Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a convincing case that we all benefit from increasing the fraction of our sustenance that's in season and sourced locally. Mike and I find ourselves fed most thoroughly, on more levels, when we take responsibility for growing our food, for buying as much of the rest as we can from people we know and trust, and for taking the time to prepare it with care and love.

Rawsome Creations Progress

Things are humming along here at More than a Nut Milk Bag headquarters. New opportunities abound. Through the Spring we have been bursting with the energy we conserved all Winter.

We are so pleased with our newest release, the Template. It's a very special purpose tool for folks who make rounds with their Excalibur Dehydrators, and we heard that a demonstration might help. So Mike took up the camera (well, the iPhone) and produced, with a little help from Editor Michael, a short video of me answering the question "How do you use the template?" You can watch it on YouTube:


Our Balinese development team has been busy with private label orders and samples of our newest products. Meanwhile, I'm busy here at home developing three exciting new outlets featuring Rawsome Creations products, starring, of course, the fabulous More than a Nut Milk Bag:

Williams-Sonoma, the culinary tool emporium is riding a new wave of Do It Yourself food preparation, and has selected our More than a Nut Milk Bags to be part of their new Agrarian line of home DIY products. The bags will be featured beside antique milk bottles in "make our own milk" kits debuting in online sales and moving into their catalogs for the holiday season.

More Than A Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection & bags from Rawsome Creations

Boxes and boxes of More Than A Nut Milk Bags make Brenda Hinton very happy!

We always prefer that insiders like you buy your Nut Milk Bags directly from us, because we always offer you the best prices (and we get to share a bigger slice with our charities) . . .but Amazon is the 500-pound gorilla of online marketing, and our new presence there will reach out to many new retail customers who might never see us. And so if you look, you'll find the Nut Milk Bag there.

Buyer's Best Friend is just what it says, a place for buyers in food and specialty stores to go online to find the new products they need to keep their stores fresh and current. At the Natural Products Expo in March I met some of the great folks that are building Buyer's Best Friend. This start-up is already "the nation's largest online buying platform for artisan products." Producers, even little ones like me, get their own BBF web pages, and (I am assured) the attention of thousands of buyers we might not ever reach otherwise. They'll be taking our More than a Nut Milk Bags to the Fancy Food Show in the Big Apple at the end of this month.


About Our Charities

As Rawsome Creations grows, and we remember the good feeling we get when we donate to Bumi Sehat and Yayasan Widya Guna Orphanage, we are beginning to look around for charitable opportunities closer to home. The Balinese projects characterize the kind of help we want to give: better lives for less fortunate through loving care and good nutrition. Those are the qualities we seek here in North America, where we know that there are many who need help. If you know of any organizations that care for children by improving their care and bettering their food, especially if they are near us in the North Bay Area, please send us an email nomination.


Hodo Sofritas
Mariah and I at the Hodo Soy stand
Mariah and me at the Hodo Soy stand

You may remember my discovery of Hodo Soy, a wonderful artisanal soy beanery and my enthusiasm for all things Hodo. I've been a fan for a few years and watched as they've expanded -- more markets, new packaging and products. Recently, not having planned ahead, I found myself in urgent need of food. Knowing I could get some fresh veggies at the local Chipotle, I stopped for a late lunch. On the buffet line I saw something I didn't recognize, and asked about it. "That's our new tofu mix," the server told me proudly. I asked for a sample, tasted, and said thank you. With soy products, I'm a skeptic. 80% of the soy in the US is laced with Monsanto genes, and I'm all about organic and non GMO. When I got home, there was an email straight from Hodo Soy, mi familia, excitedly announcing their inclusion of their 'Sofritas' product -- "Hodo tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices, can be added to any burrito, burrito bowl, or taco" -- in Bay Area Chipotle restaurants. I was SO excited!! Finally, choices within mainstream fast food for those who think outside the box.


On the web

My refrigerator is over-full most of the time -- mostly bags full of greens. I couldn't manage the overflow without my Green Bags from Debbie Meyers. These work really well, and I love her new packaging.

Wondering if what's in the fridge is still edible? Here's a handy site stilltasty.com where you can check up on "freshness in the fridge" experiments. Perhaps it's a little conservative, but in my book it says "Better safe than sorry."


International Raw Food Day

The third annual International Raw Food Day is July 11th. With our gardens in full swing and warm weather inviting us for salads, energizing soups and smoothies I bet you can do it without much extra effort. Join me! Let's go 100% raw for one day.

Celebrate International Raw Food Day: Monday, July 11, 2011 -- Go Raw for the day !!

This year, raw food coach Karen Knowler, the originator of Raw Food Day, plans to debut the first issue of Go Raw! her online rawfood/lifestyle magazine. Karen has all sorts of magazine experience as the original founder of Get Fresh! magazine in 2009.

If you plan to be in the Napa Valley on Saturday July 13th you're invited to join me for a Gathering at The Gatehouse for a raw food potluck to celebrate the day -- send me an email and I'll send you details.


Recipes

Our garden is still producing some hearty winter greens, and yellow squash is just coming in, here's a version of a green soup that works any time of the year. Creamy Garden Soup can be made as it appears here, or infinitely changed, depending on what's in your garden or available from local farmers.


More Than A Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection -- click for the Online Recipes
Reader Recipe additions:

For those readers of the More Than a Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection eager to capture some of those wonderful summer flavors from your garden and put them into your 'rawsome creations' in the kitchen, this month we've added Minestrone and Asian-Thai Inspired Soup to the Online Readers Library of full page PDFs that you can print for your binder or load onto your tablet. In addition, for the cheese lovers out there, we've added the nacho cheese, cheese nips and parmesan cheese variations to the Cashew-Brazil Nut Cheese recipe.


Summertime

Standing in the garden this afternoon, I swear I saw the yellow squash growing. Soon, in late July, zucchini and tomatoes will jump into my basket by the armloads. Summer after summer, these garden miracles amaze me. Can you imagine what it's like for farmers who've done this for generations? It helps explain the passion and tenacity we see in them at Farmers Market. The love we share from garden to table thrills me to my core.


Thank you for reading. Remember to Eat Your Veggies!
And . . . See you in the garden.
Brenda

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