Monday, August 17, 2009

Blog Intention

I just wanted to take a minute to restate the intention of this blog. What I truely intend this blog to do is to get the information out there and talked about for what it means to eat locally in Wichita, Kansas. Please, those of you growing and preserving your own food, give us insight into the size of garden you keep, the hours you spend grooming, harvesting, and storing. We are beginners, so we primarily exist off of the farmers' markets. We do not can yet, but intend to once our tomatoes are abundant; and, the only thing we have ever frozen is corn off the cob. Let this be an open forum about when, and how much to preserve to last throughout the year.

It would also be great if this could become a place where people come to share excess. If you are growing or preserving too much, but don't have a farmers' market booth or a tax number to sell as a vendor, connect with people that would rather buy from you than from the store. I am sure this is all very touchy as far as legalities go, so approach it from a barter standpoint online as opposed to a sales transaction. There are laws surrounding the way we exchange food, and I understand that these are in place to help protect us from potentially harmful foods, so be very careful about the way information is exchanged on this website for the sake of the co-op. That being said, I see no other way for people to keep in contact about exchanging goods.

Basically, what I want this blog to be is an open exchange of ideas and information pertaining to rehabilitating the way we eat and the way we think about and interact with our food system. Let's all group together to form one stop shop for eating locally. Let's list vendors, farmers, where we get things, how things can be done better, resources to help us get what we need the way we want to get it.

Two of the pressing issues on my mind are how to go about getting the things that do not come from here, and what is the best way to eat in the winter months. I think buying fair trade and working with small farms internationally is very important, the only issue is how to make it the best situation possible. International co-oping is an option, though I am not sure how feasible. The only other I know of would be buying from massive importers who do things ethically. As far as out of season eating, I think there is a lot more we could do to produce more locally. We just need more growers, we need our growers to collaborate their efforts and diversify, and we need more people harvesting in winter months. If you are trying to make a go of being a produce farmer, please read Four Season Harvester by Elliot Coleman. He makes it seem so cheap and easy. I am not trying to say that it is, because I have a hard time with my small gardens, but for those of you experienced producers it may be exactly the answer you are looking for for year round profit.

Most of all, we need more farmers! Less than 1% of the human race are farmers. Please get in your schools, work with kids, start up community gardens, extra-curricular activities, do whatever you can think of to spread the word about farming as a way of life, and let our younger generation know that it is a career option. I don't even think kids think about it anymore. It is up to us, the people, to reform the way agricuture and trade are being done. Where the demand is, so too will be the future, and everything else will become the past.

Please talk, and together we will form a solution.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Local Gardening

Local Gardening

It is great if you have a garden going. And even greater if you actually reap something that you have sowed. There are a lot of ways to garden, a theory to go with every personality, and an abundance of consumer opportunity in every store you enter these days. Over the past few years with my gardens I have tried different ways to buy, and this year I think I am accessing some of the most Earth friendly and thrifty ways of obtaining garden supplies ever!

Potting soil can be one of the biggest expenses. When I was doing all container gardening it was ridiculous how many store bought bags I would go through. The expense and the waste plastic were very discouraging. This year we followed a recipe for potting soil we found in Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman. Take a large trash can with a lid. Mix 8 quarts compost, 8 quarts peat moss, 4 quarts Vermiculite, and one cup of organic fertilizer. Keep going with this recipe until your trash can is full, then use, and cover when finished for dry storage. It is amazing how cheap this is! Huge bags of peat moss and Vermiculite run less than $20 and can be found at any garden center, and a bag of organic fertilizer is around $10-$20. The fertilizer could be substituted by worm castings which are totally natural and won't burn plants. Really, really use this option! And please buy from Nana Jane's. They will give you complete help with your worms, are great with advise, and so nice to talk with. Worm castings are also sold at Johnson's Garden Centers and at the farmers' markets through Nana Jane's Worm Farm (they sell worm castings, tea bags for liquid fertilizer, worms, composters, and more. and 542-0221). All of these will take you pretty far. I would say that if you get the biggest bags you can get of peat moss and Vermiculite you should be able to fill up your trash can at least two maybe three times, and this is equivalent to about 5 bags of potting soil a fill. Organic potting soil from Miracle Grow runs $6.47 for 1 1/2 cu. ft. and $4.77 for 1 cu. ft.. If you are not doing organic, I beg you to start. You are doing yourself and your land no good by using synthetic materials. Once your soil has become accustomed to the harsh chemical additives, and pesticides, it takes a long time to rebuild the healthy, natural habitat that once existed. The soil can be worked with, please don't take its natural growing and pest control capabilities away from it.

Compost can be obtained at any garden center in bags, but this is the expensive, non-local way to obtain your main ingredient. There are some compost distributors around town. Schutte's Dirt Works (655-1067) on 47th St. S. and Greenwich has great compost from horse manure, sawdust, and straw for $17 a ton. He also sells topsoil and topsoil/compost mix for $10 a ton. Delivery options are available and vary with distance and weight. Hancock Excavating also sells a topsoil/compost mix for $20 a ton. They use a cottonseed hull compost. Delivery from them will range from $30-95 depending on distance. They are located at 63rd Street South and Broadway and can be reached by phone at 524-0900. Making your own compost can be very rewarding. There are a lot of ways to do it, and, of course, in this age of options and information there are tons of tools out there to help. For those of you with limited space I would highly recommend the worm composters. They are the fastest, smallest, and least smelly. This will give you more of a fertilizer than a compost, though, so I would mix some of this finished product with some topsoil to make a compost like substance. I would say about 1 to 1 ratio. Also, there are other systems that are cheaper, but bigger. Lots of build your own models out there for those of you with land and patience. We have a tumbler, and it is great. It keeps the smell down, and makes the composting go a lot faster. The tumbler advertises 2 weeks to full compost, but we just keep adding to ours, so this doesn't apply to us. It seems like 2 tumblers are the way to go, so you can stop adding to one and have finished compost in 2 weeks, while starting to fill your other tumbler. If you just leave your compost in piles, you can plan on waiting about three years for complete compost. A good place for composters is at Garden Supply Company online ( But, if you decide to go with a worm composter, please call Nana Jane (542-0221). This is a great system for homesteaders with lots of leaves in fall, grass clippings, and animal droppings. I definately recommend the straw bale construction outlined in the Four Season Harvest, and elsewhere. The way my grandparents composted their scraps and integrated organic matter into their soil was to simply toss their scraps into the garden. This will serve as a kind of weed suppressant, and soil conditioner. There is a ton of information out there about how to compost, so good luck! If you have questions feel free to ask, because we have done a lot of reading and tried quite a few systems ourselves.

All the information you ever wanted to know about vermiculite can be found at I would like to know if vermiculite could be replaced with ground up styrofoam. Any thoughts?

Here is a good brief on what peat moss is, is it sustainable, etc.:

What is Canadian sphagnum peat moss?
Canadian sphagnum peat moss (CSPM) is partially decomposed sphagnum moss. Sphagnum’s large cell structure enables it to absorb air and water like a sponge. Although peat moss does not contain nutrients, it does adsorb nutrients added to or present in the soil, releasing them over time as the plants require. This saves valuable nutrients which are otherwise lost through leaching.

Is it true that it takes several thousand years for sphagnum peat moss to form?
No. Peat forms at a rate of 1 to 2 millimetres a year. According to a recent study by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada), harvested peatlands can be restored to ecologically balanced systems within 5 to 20 years after peat harvesting.

Isn’t there a shortage of peatland in Canada? Isn’t harvesting peat moss depleting these areas of wetlands?
No. There are more than 270 million acres of peatlands in Canada. Of that, only one in 6,000 acres (or .016 percent) is being used for peat harvesting. Canadian sphagnum peat moss is a sustainable resource. Annually, peat moss accumulates at more than 70 times the rate it is harvested. Harvested bogs are returned to wetlands so the ecological balance of the area is maintained.

Can the supply of peat moss be completely depleted?
No. The bogs that are being harvested will be restored to functioning wetlands. In addition, there are millions of acres of bogs in national parks and other preserves that can never be harvested.

What is the CSPMA Preservation and Reclamation Policy?
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) members agree to abide by the reclamation policy for all new bog development. It includes:
Identifying bogs for preservation.
Leaving buffer zones of original vegetation to encourage natural succession after harvesting.
Leaving a layer of peat below harvesting levels to encourage rapid regrowth.
Returning harvested bogs to a wetlands ecosystem, or, if that’s not possible, to other wildlife habitats or agricultural production.
For more information on this topic, please go to the Preservation and Reclamation Policy.

What is Sportrichosis and does it come from Sphagnum peat moss or Sphagnum moss?
You may have read about a fungal disease call Cutaneous Sporotrichosis, a chronic infection identified by skin lesions. The fungus which causes this disease has been found in several kinds of organic material and, because in extremely rare cases this disease can cause death, gardeners are rightfully concerned about protecting themselves from contracting it. Unfortunately, however, some of the information circulating about how gardeners can contract this disease has been inaccurate. It confuses two separate products; one of which is known to carry the fungus and one of which does not.
One of the materials know to carry the sporotrichosis fungus is sphagnum moss. This product is frequently being confused with sphagnum peat moss, a soil conditioner used by gardeners. The difference is an important one. While there have been cases of sporotrichosis resulting from handling sphagnum moss, There have been no cases as a result of handling sphagnum peat moss. Sphagnum moss and sphagnum peat moss are not the same product, as many avid gardeners know.
Sphagnum moss is the living moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. The fungus sporotrichum schenckii is known to live in this growing moss.
Sphagnum peat moss is the dead material that accumulates as new live material grows on top and exerts pressure on the peat moss below. The fungus is not known to live in the levels of a sphagnum bog where peat forms. Harvesters of horticultural peat moss remove the top few inches of the live sphagnum moss and only harvest the peat from he lower layer.
"Living" sphagnum moss is used in the floral industry to make wreaths and to line hanging baskets. Workers in the industry have been warned to protect themselves with gloves and heavy clothing to avoid puncture wounds or scrapes. Gardeners wishing to use sphagnum moss to create their own baskets or for other uses should simply follow the same advice: Wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent coming into contact with the dried moss.
Gardeners worldwide use sphagnum peat moss as a soil amendment because its unique cell structure enables peat to:
Aerate plant roots by loosening heavy clay soils;
Add body to sandy soil; and
Save water by absorbing and holding moisture
Peat moss is not only effective, it’s organic and safe to use.

Now that we have soil we need to grow something. Of course most of you know that seeds are going to be much cheaper than transplants, but growing time is longer and survival is not always guaranteed. For the first few years of my gardens I used transplants only, and these can be bought at the farmers market, or just about anywhere else. Prices range very little. Of course, for this website, we recommend the farmers' market buys. Also, I would suggest that you look into heirloom varieties. There are some good organizations out there promoting biodiversity by selling some less used seed varieties. Seeds of Change and Seed Savers Exchange are both really great companies that offer vegetable, fruit, and herb seeds. Seed Savers Exchange can be accessed online (, and Seeds for Change can be purchased at GreenAcres in Bradley Fair, or online at Both of these places also offer transplants. Also, the book, The Self-Sustaining Life and How to Live It by John Seymour has great references for where to buy seeds, as well as anything else you ever wanted to know about homesteading. The book Seed to Seed teaches you how to save seeds from what you grow for just about everything. In my opinion, saving your own seeds should be the ultimate goal for any gardener trying to make a difference. It will extremely cut cost, and also, your seeds will become acclimated to this climate and soil, and over time your soil and your plants will need very little input. There will be better drought, heat, wind, etc. tolerance that will develop. Just everything about this system seems great. We bought all of our vegetable seeds through Seed Savers Exchange this year, and just looking through the catalog is so fun. Never before have I seen such beautiful variety. I hope one day it will be that exciting to walk through our garden. A great way to get a jump start on your seeds is to do some indoor transplanting. Just put your seeds in some potting soil and leave in a window that gets good exposure to the sun. To keep them as warm as possible you may want to build them a little home with a clear cover, and some people use grow lights to get them growing faster. Mike and I built a makeshift transplant system for outside this year, and it worked great. We used some old windows as the top, and built a box to suit those, then filled with soil, seeded, then watched them grow. This is amazingly self sufficient. It stays warm and moist inside. There were frosts and snows, and our seeds were fine with just this little bit of protection.

For those of you intimidated by the thought of a garden out in the yard, or the inability to do so, are not left out of the culture of growing your own food. There are hanging garden containers (bought and homemade), container gardens, raised beds, and bag gardens for you to dabble in. Hanging garden containers are easy enough to find. Topsy-turvys are sold on infomercials, a nicer looking version of these is sold at the Garden Supply Company, and some people have made some out of drilling a hole in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, filling it with soil, and hanging it by the handle. Container gardens can utilize anything that will hold soil that you find. This is a great way to reuse old things, and a really fun way to design your garden. The only thing I can think of to inform you of for container gardens would be to make sure your soil can drain. If your soil does not drain well mold could become a problem. You could cut holes in the bottom of anything that doesn't already have holes, or you could put a layer of rocks between the bottom of the container and the soil. Also, make sure not to over water. Raised beds could be created out of anything that does not rot. Cedar planks are great and are not very expesive at Star Lumber. They also have scrap pieces that you can use as the corner posts for free. Hedge wood would also be great for this, or stones. Bag gardens seem to be the newest thing I see talked about. People are doing potatoes, lettuce, herbs, everything in bags. You could just cut off the top of a bag of potting soil and use this as is, there are also garden bags in Garden Supply Company, or you could make your own out of any old rags sewn together. I made a bag for our late plant potatoes out of burlap, but have not planted in it yet, so I don't know how is works yet.
The best advice I can give you about planting a garden is to suppress the weeds before they come. This greatly decreases the amount of manual labor involved in organic gardening. Container gardens and raised beds don't have much of a problem with weeds, but for our gardens we use mulch or straw around our plants to keeps weeds under control. Torn newspaper also does the trick. We also planted a few of our gardens with plastic this year, too. You simply cut holes in the plastic where you are going to put your plants, then fill the hole with potting soil and your seed or transplant. This is the best prevention method, but I don't know if it is as good for keeping your area wet longer like straw and mulch.

Well, I think I have exhausted the amount of gardening information I can share in one sitting, so I wish you good luck, good fun, and good harvests.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Farmers' Markets Have Begun!!!

Well, as many of you along the same path as us know, we have plenty of lettuce! It is so nice to have some fresh local produce! The Kansas Grown Farmers' Market started last Saturday at the Kansas State Extension Office over on Ridge and 21st. I was so excited thinking there were going to be lots of people with asparagus, but this did not turn out to be so. The market was full of delicious baked goods, meat, eggs, transplants (I loaded up on Aloe plants in week one), and lettuce. For now that is pretty much the local offering.

Also, there are some great things growing up in the wild I am sure. I haven't seen many dandelion leaves that look great. They either look too small or too big. I found one plant in the shade over at our land that was perfect, so i picked it and had the leaves as part of my salad that night. That was the first time for me to have wild dandelion, and it was good. Of course, I was a little nervous, just because you think, "if I should be eating this why don't more people do this?" But, that is simply a non-question, people don't do a lot of things that make perfectly good sense. I am not an expert in the wild food arena, though, so if anyone knows anything more about what is out right now, and when to pick things, please write about it! My friends Jon and Marty have a lot of chives sprouting up in their front yard, so we picked some of those to use in a dip the other day, and they have some onions coming up too. I think the people that lived there before them had a very funny way of treating their lawn. It seems they scattered bulbs all over the place just to see what would come. It makes for nice surprises.

We have also started on the new adventure of designing our own clothes and having them made locally. There is a lady at the farmers' market that crochets and uses some local yarns. She is absolutely amazing! We took her some sketches for a dress I would like, and a pair of pants for Mike. She warned that it will not be cheap, but that is kind of the trade off once you start down this road isn't it? The price of fresh produce, whole grains, natural meat, sustainably farmed food, and fairly traded goods is definately something you make a commitment to on principal, not on frugalty. The payoff comes after the initial investment. Better health, closer community, learn to grow your own food, and save your seeds, and as for the clothes...we just won't have as many. A few well made, versatile pieces is all one needs to have a great wardrobe. I have also sketched and begun to pin some pieces that will come from things I have bought at thrift stores for their fabrics. The catch here is that I will either be the one sewing these things (and I don't know how well that would go, or how long that will take), or I will pay someone to do it (the last I heard seamstresses were running about $15 an hour). Both of the options leave quite a bit to be desired in the feasibility realm. If anyone reading this sews and would like to charge me on a per article rate instead of an hourly one, that would be most gracious. :)

Anyway, looking forward to this weekends' farmers' market. I am anticipating a little more variety, and May 8 is the starting day for the downtown farmers' market. The difference between these two, in case you don't know, is that the downtown one is open to any vender with any goods that would like to come. The one at the extension office (and other places around Wichita) called the Kansas Grown farmers' market is for Kansas grown or produced goods only. Kansas Grown website is and the other is Check both of them out for events and schedules. There is a farmers' market in and around Wichita about everyday come summer, so know your rotation.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Taking Some Things Into Our Own Hands

Well, the lack of produce and the guilt from buying it are starting to wear us out! We have started some lettuce in the AeroGrow counter-top hydroponic system. This was not really the smartest thing to do since it grows tomatoes too, and we could technically have our lettuce outside in some low tunnels right now, but nonetheless, it is going ok. I think hydroponic is definately very weird, and a big drain on energy. There are flourescent lights constantly on, and the way the nutrients come to you must be a big drain of resources to break everything down. Not very sustainable, or natural, but we had some wedding money to burn, so I thought I would see what it was all about.

We also started sprouting mung beans. Doing your own sprouts is a very simple and practical thing to do. Mung beans are a pretty good source of a lot of different nutrients, and protein. Alfalfa sprouts are good for helping your body assimilate nutrients. Different sprouts are good for different things, just read up. The start-up is very inexpensive. I got everything (a sprouting jar and a bag of mung beans) at Whole Foods for less than $15, and the bag of beans will last a long time. You could also do it with a mason jar and cheesecloth. Look it up online and, of course, you will find plenty of assistance. This was a nice fresh addition to our diet last week, and we started more yesterday.

As well as having sprouts, we got a lot of pureed food. My brother was in an ATV accident and broke his jaw, so my sister came up and made him a lot of homemade babyfood. He did not eat it all, so I brought home the leftovers and incorporated them into a few recipes I found in Jerry Seinfield's wife's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. It is such a good cookbook! So creative! We had just gotten our co-op order of bran and cracked wheat, so I was making substitutions left and right. Here are the recipes:


1/2 C. Rice (I used cracked wheat. You could also use wheat berries)
3 tsp. olive oil (We still have some in the cupboard. You could sub any oil here)
1/4 lb chicken cutlets
1 1/4 tsp salt (Salt is a tricky one. Technically it comes from Hutch, but is shipped accross the country for processing. Maybe this is one of those things we will just not worry about, ya know? Choose your battles, right?)
pepper to taste
1/2 C. Sweet Potato puree (We used carrot puree)
1/4 C. Cheddar Cheese (local cheese can be purchased at Whole Foods, GreenAcres, and the Wichita Food Co-op)
1/4 C. Buttermilk (Jako Inc.)
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 C. Spinach, broccoli, or butternut squash puree (we used butternut squash_
1 1/2 C. bread crumbs (We sliced some local bread into small cubes, threw it in the oven at 350F, left it for about 10-15 mins, then took out and crushed with a mortar and pestol)

1. Place the "rice" in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low and cook until the rice is tender, 30-40 minutes. You can also use your rice steamer.

2. Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medum-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 teaspoon oil. Aprinkle the chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt and the pepper, and cook until no longer pink in the center, 4-5 mins./side.

3. Cut the chicken into chunks and place them in a food processor or blender. Add the "sweet potato puree", cheese, 1 tsp. salt, and the buttermilk, and blend until smooth. Transfer the misture to a large bowl and stir in the cooked "rice." Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on a sheet of waxed paper or aluminum foil.

4. In a shallow bowl beat egg and "butternut squash puree" with a fork. Put crumbs in another bowl. One at a time dip the rice balls into the wet mixture, then the crumbs to evenly coat them.

5. Coat large non-stick skillet with cooking spray on medium-high heat, then when pan's hot add rice balls. Cook 5-7 mins. Rotate often to cook outside evenly.


2 C. old-fashioned oats (we used cracked wheat)
1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. sugar (honey)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp baking powder (you could maybe substitute cream of tartar here)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 C. butter
1 C. low-sugar blueberry preserves (we used the blackberry jam we got with our co-op order)
1/2 C. spinach puree (we used a pea and a strawberry puree)

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Coat and 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. (We used a much longer one, so we had thinner bars.)

2. In a large bowl, comine the oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, and sir to mix well.

3. Add the butter and cut it quickly into the dry ingredients with two knives untile the mixtue resembles coarse meal and is no longer powdery. Do not overmix---bits of butter will still be visiible.

4. Set aside about half of the oat mixture; press the rest of it firmly into the pan. Bake until lightly browned at the edges (but not fully baked), 13-15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, mix the preserves with the puree in a small bowl.

6. Spead the blueberry mixture over the partially baked oat layer, then sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture. Bake until the topping is slightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.

I also did her Gingerbread Spice cake, but I am not going to share the recipe. It is basically a pumpkin bread recipe with 1 1/2 cups of vegetable puree added. I think this is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your foods. The only complaint I could make would be to say that I don't know how much of the vegetables' nutrients are going to make it through the initial process of baking to puree, then a second cooking in these recipes. Some vegetables and fruits can be pureed fresh, so this is not a conflict. If you must bake them, I would suggest cutting them into the smallest size you can, and steaming them, or baking them at a low temperature for as short a time as you can. they only need to be a little soft, cause you are going to add liquid and put them through a food processor. Always keep in mind that less cooking is ideal for your produce. Some light cooking is ideal, because is makes the work your digestive system is going to be doing easier. This is quite the discussion in the food world, and one that has good merit. I agree with the raw foodies, saying not to heat things above 120F (this temp varies depending on your resource), but I am not a purist, and especially in traditional baking this is not possible.

I also had the great opportunity of going to New York this weekend. I went with my friend, Terrie Grillot, who is in the process of planning a green community in Bel Aire, and we want to put an agricultural outreach center in the community, so we went to one in New York to get some ideas. (By the way, the community soon to be part of our prairie home is called Tierra Verde and a sketch can be found at Be excited, it is exactly what we need here, and if you are interested in investing get in touch!) The place we went to visit is called Stone Barns in New York. It was beautiful! They raise a lot of their own produce and animals. We took a tour of the farm, then ate in their restaurant. The goal of the place is simple: educate. They do not worry too much about organic, self-sustaining, etc. They are interested in know where their food comes from, so they are all about relationships. New York is in FULL SWING with the local food movement! They have magazines, stores, and restaurants. I stayed with one of my friends in Brooklyn, and she was filling me in, and there were at least 5 restaurants there doing local, seasonal menus. I did not make the trip to any to eat, sorry for the lame let-down, but it is great to know how much interest there is in back to basics.

I have also been researching the Edible Schoolyard. For anyone interested in a project, try to get this going in a school near you. There are tons of grants out there for this right now!

I think I have left you with enough for one session. Thanks for reading, and until next time be thankful and excited for the soon approach of Spring.


Dani Rae and The McCoy Boys

Monday, February 2, 2009


Starting into Month 2:

We are still very much meat, cheese, eggs, and bread. We are continuing to go to the store for all of our produce minus apples. Oh, apples...applesauce, apple juice, raw apples, apples and honey, apple pie. It's a good thing Elijah is only one and doesn't really complain yet, and that Mike and I are fairly easy to please. I mostly just wanted to get on to let everyone know what there is out there to buy locally.

At Food For Thought today I found local bread that uses local flour. This comes from Spring Creek Ranch in Willowdale, KS. Norm Oeding is the farmer of the wheat used in the bread, and also the main guy to talk to for the Wichita Food Co-op. Very local, very good. Food For Thought also had some bulk White Winter Wheatberries. I got some and am soaking them overnight so that maybe we can have hot cereal in the morning! Maybe even cook some apples and honey to put in it :) They also had some eggs from Norm's farm. The lady that I talked to there got my hopes up saying that sometimes they have local hydroponic tomatoes and Spinach. Not the case today. Also, she thought there would be some local cheese, but there wasn't.

GreenAcres offered a few local cheeses, two brands of local bread (Delano bakery, and Solomon's). Elijah cheated and got some goat's milk and yogurt, and, we all cheated with some produce. At the checkout we talked to a lady that gets local raw goat's milk, but with my feeling not at all good, I didn't even think to ask her where! Duh!

I know Whole Foods carries local cheese, but have not been in this year to fully browse their selection.

Dillons has local honey and Mama Lupe's tortillas are made within a hundred miles of Wichita.

The whole prepackaged food option seems like cheating to me, because not all of the ingredients in those foods are local, but, nonetheless, it is better that nothing. We aren't hard core yet, so we still indulge. We would really like to get ourselves away from buying bread and into making our own, but Mike, the bread machine, and I have all proven to be terrible at making bread. I can't figure out what the problem is, but I am definately going to blame the yeast, and try another time with a new package of yeast. How sad that such wanting souls to be self-sufficient homesteaders can't even bake bread? One of God's many unfunny jokes.

I know that all of the grocery stores will carry local produce come Spring, so either look for signs or ask around. Also, the farmers' markets will be going on. For a schedule go to or These are both farmers' markets, they are just run by different people. The Kansas Grown Market only allows Kansas vendors, and the Old Town Farmers' Market allows anyone who wants to come. Both better ways to support small farmers directly.

Other ways to tap into what is offered around here as far as buying local goes: -- this is our local co-op. you can order online, and pay when you pick up. there is a rendez vous point downtown on the third tuesday of every month, i believe. we will be recieving our first order this month. -- here you can find csa's to belong to and local farmers of all kinds. -- this is a website my friend, caryn, showed me. it is a really good concept, but not a lot of Kansas participation yet.

As always, any questions, etc. we would love to hear from you.

Happy eating,
Dani Rae and The McCoy Boys

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ok, a little chat with my friend, Tatro, got me thinking I should investigate this baking soda/ baking powder matter further. So, here we go...

Baking Powder: "Baking Powder was introduced in the mid-1800s as a
leavener, or rising agent, for baked goods. It was created by mixing bicarbonate of soda (baking soda, an alkaline) with a mild acid, such as tartaric acid (cream of tartar). This was "single-acting" baking powder and created a rising action through the release of gases produced by the interacting acid andalkaline substances. It was called "single-acting" because the leavening gases were all released at one time—upon contact with the moisture in the batter. Today’s baking powder still contains baking soda as its alkaline ingredient, but uses a combination of acids, which creates a "double-acting" effect in which leavening gases are released once on contact with moisture, and again during baking. This "double-acting" baking powder is the only variety commercially available today." (
Most companies add sodium aluminum sulfate to their baking soda to delay the reaction time between the powder and the water. This is unnessecarry, and over-consumption of aluminum may interfere with phosphate metabolism (, but this is a very small concern for the average person. Oregon State University gives it a reading of "no known toxicity" ( It does not seem to be awful, but does give acidic readings in water (, so as with anything that may acidify your body, I would keep it on the low intake list.
There are "all natural" baking powders out there that are "aluminum free" meaning they have not added the sodium aluminum sulfate and they are also called double action baking powders. Do a google search on "natural baking powder" and you will be presented with about 4 or 5 brands that make it. Some are also registered Kosher. A very helpful site to know exactly what's in your purchased baking powder is It lays out a few different brands and tells you what's in them. Bob's Red Mill contains sodium phosphate, baking soda, calcium phosphate, and cornstarch. Frontier contains monocalcium phosphate, baking soda, and cornstarch. Watkins contains Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, baking soda, cornstarch, and monocalcium phosphate.

Make Your Own Baking Powder:
If you have run out of baking powder you may be able to make a substitution by using the following:
For one teaspoon baking powder = mix 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
If you are not using immediately, add 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch to absorb any moisture in the air and to prevent a premature chemical reaction between the acid and alkali.

Baking Soda: "Baking soda is found in its natural forms in mineral deposits found around the world. Sodium bicarbonate is actually a naturally occurring "substance" that you can find affecting all living creatures and things by maintaining the ph levels and carbon dioxide throughout the world. The use of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, was not founded until the late1840's after the first deposits of sodium bicarbonate had been discovered." (

This website gives an article about Arm and Hammer testing their baking soda on animals, and suggests you buy Bob's Red Mill Cruelty-Free Baking Soda:

This website gives an article about how synthetically produced baking soda could help clear some CO2 emmissions:

I guess what I have learned from my research on baking soda is that some is mined and some are created synthetically in a lab. I don't know which is morally superior, but I still think we will try to use as little as possible because we can't grow it, and therefore it is not a sustainable resource for us.

Corn Starch: "What is cornstarch made of and what exactly is it?
Cornstarch (called corn flour in Britain) is made from corn. First the corn kernels are soaked and the outer covering is removed. The embryo - the center of the kernel that would become a new corn plant if the kernel were planted - is also removed.What's left - mainly starch - is dried and ground up into a very fine powder. Starch is a long-chained carbohydrate that is produced by green plants through the process of photosynthesis. Other grains, like wheat and rice, and tubers such as potatoes, also store large amounts of starch that the plant uses for food."

This seems simple enough. I still don't know how to do it on my own, nor do I plan to try. Also, keep in mind that a good majority of the corn grown today is genetically modified, and reducing our reliance on corn would be a good way to counter the mono-cropping the world round.

Cream of Tartar:
"This is a powder made from the crystalline residue found inside wine casks and is refined from the brownish deposits into a white powder.

The acidity of cream of tartar helps add volume to egg whites while they are being whipped as well as adding stability to the egg whites after they are whisked.
ream of tartar is also used as the acid component in baking powder to react with baking soda to act as a leavening agent."

This one is definately naturally in abundance with how much wine is brewed in this world. Go for it consume it up! Wait, I take that back, it is an acid, so use moderately :)

1 1/2 c. sugar1/4 c. lard1 egg1 tsp. vanilla1 tbsp. cream of tartar1/2 c. can milk
Mix all the above ingredients together. Add self rising flour to make a stiff dough. Roll on floured board. Cut and bake. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes until light brown. Makes 3 dozen.

"Cream of tartar is best known in our kitchens for helping stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It is the acidic ingredient in some brands of baking powder. It is also used to produce a creamier texture in sugary desserts such as candy and frosting, because it inhibits the formation of crystals. It is used commercially in some soft drinks, candies, bakery products, gelatin desserts, and photography products. Cream of tartar can also be used to clean brass and copper cookware." (

CONCLUSION: Well, now we know. Now we can consume consciously.