june 12, 2011

I know it’s late, but here are the highlights from my birthday. Jason bought me these beautiful red flowers.

We went out on a hike to Lake Julia in Dupont Forest, and we saw this little box turtle on the way.

First, we should talk about the dinner that Jason and I had for my birthday. It was absolutely unbelievable. It’s called Curate, it’s just opened in Asheville. Go check out the website.

Also, to plug another Asheville business, Allie & Bryan bought me these chocolates at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

Okay, in this box, starting from top left, there is pomegranate ginger, vanilla bourbon, fresh raspberry, theros & orange & fennel (this one was weird), strawberry balsamic and maple smoked salt (that’s the one with the bite out of it). These are amazing.

That’s my birthday, in a very small nutshell. It was just lovely.

raspberry jam

One day last week, I had to work all day, so Jason picked raspberries without me. I love having fresh picked raspberries, but ohmygod, I hate picking them. They’re very delicate and take forever to pick. After about ten successful raspberries, I start to get bored and every time I pull one off the plant, it somehow gets lost on its way to the bucket. Don’t ask me how. It’s very strange. Although I always leave raspberry picking very full and satisfied (and in need of floss), I’m inevitably sad the next day when there are no raspberries in my refrigerator. It’s good that Jason did it by himself this year.

I decided to make some raspberry jam. I’ve just embarked on my canning adventures, and I’ve yet to attempt anything except fruit jams. Here’s how it went:

This is me mixing the mushed up raspberries and the sugar and pectin.

Taking a jar out of the boiling water canner. Ignore the weird faces that I’m making in all these photos.

Filling jars with jam.

I’m fishing jar lids out of simmering water with my handy magnetic wand thing.

Here, I’m wiping off the threads on the outside of the jars. It’s surprisingly hard not to grab the jar with your bare hand while you’re doing this. It was just sitting in simmering water. It just had boiling jam poured into it. It will burn you.

Tightening the bands on the lids.

This thing is cool because it makes it pretty easy to get the jars in the water without knocking them over.

See!

Putting the last jar in. Then you just close it and boil the jars for ten minutes. Canning is one of those things that seems really complicated and scary (um, botulism?!) but really, it’s not all that bad. As long as you don’t do anything stupid, and make sure that a jar is sealed before you eat anything out of it, you’re probably going to be just fine.

Here’s the finished product:

The one on the right is the (already opened) raspberry jam, and on the left is my first canning adventure, strawberry jalapeno jam. I’m really excited about this hobby, it’s like urban pioneering, I love the mix of nostalgic mason jars (but actually using them) and making my own food. Also, I love the raspberry jam because Jason picked the raspberries!

I just got a flat of these adorable jars, but I’m still deciding what to put in them. I’m thinking some kind of chutney (maybe peach while they’re in season) and giving them as gifts because they’re really just one serving. It should be something special.

family farm tour

This weekend was the Family Farm Tour in western North Carolina. My roommate Lane and I went to several farms near her hometown of Celo and in Marshall and Mars Hill. Check out these photos for the Reader’s Digest version…

The first farm that we went to was Green Toe Ground Farm. It’s out in Yancey County, about a mile from the inn that Lane’s parents own and operate. (The Celo Inn, highly recommended.)

Here are some baby basil beds at green toe ground:

Next, we went to a place that’s also close to Celo, called Mountain Farms that is a lavender/blueberry/goat farm. Why these three things, you may ask? I’m not sure, but I had a feeling it would lead to blueberry lavender goat cheese. It did! And blueberry lavender goat milk lotion, and various combinations of each of the farm’s products.

When we arrived, they had lavender lemonade out for visitors and I was tempted to take the whole cooler and run. Anyway, to the goats. I will warn you, the rest of this post is mostly goats. I really love goats.

There were people feeding them.

So naturally, we got involved. This is my goat. They are surprisingly insistent and if you put your fingers too close, they may also mistake those for bottle nipples.

This was the mama goat, her name was Aurora and we fed her some clovers.

Then we went to Spinning Spider Creamery in Marshall, NC. I’ve been a fan of their rosemary fig goat cheese since I discovered it, and became a fan of lots of other kinds of cheese today. The farm is run by a family, and one of the sons is really into herding dogs. They use them to herd goats, but they also go to herding competitions, so they got some sheep so the dogs would know what they look like. They did a demonstration.

The rest of the pictures are goats from Spinning Spider. They had a lot of babies, and this one was chewing on some guy’s (human) baby carrier.

In this photo, they are in the milking room, where they had just been herded by the border collie and are about to get milked by machines.

After the creamery, we went to Wild Mountain Apiaries to see some beekeeping in action. Unfortunately, I got way excited and forgot my camera in the car. I’m very disappointed about it now. I learned about bear fences and honey beehive keeping. Very cool. I’m sorry there is no visual here.

Instead, I’ll leave you with this:

I got really excited about the idea of farms today. There’s something so romantic about being able to do something with your hands, be it milking goats and making cheese or growing vegetables, and live off of your work. I also think it’s really wonderful that people around here try so hard to make sure that small farmers can keep farming and supporting themselves. I want to become a farmer? I don’t know of what, or where, but I hope there are goats!

Posted in wnc

my garden

This is me working in my garden, just for future reference. Jason lived in this house three or so years ago, and he built this garden, which ended up being very convenient for me! Little did he know, he’d be helping me pull poison ivy out of it a few years later!

Here he is, being very sweaty and uncomfortable while dealing with the compost (I’m very glad that they exist, but earthworms still give me the creeps):

The little fence around the garden (the one that is far too short to keep out deer…) was designed to ward off this most pesky pest:
I’m just kidding, he’s the least pesky thing alive. His name is Jack, he lives next door and comes over at least twice a day and stands on the porch breathing loudly until I come outside to scratch his butt. He loves that. However, he also likes to crush baby plants. The Jack fence has worked well in years past, but the day after we transplanted my veggies, I looked out the living room window and he had his front paws inside the fence and seemed completely baffled. He had no idea what to do next. This is as far as he’s ever gotten.
The plants are bouncing back from their late-season transplant, so as long as the Jack fence stays strong, we should have veggies soon!

2,900

First, read this article.

I wrote my senior thesis in History on this exact topic, sterilization in the state of North Carolina. This sentence from the article particularly sums up what I argued with my research: “North Carolina’s law stood out for the wide net it cast.”

I think that it is remarkable that the BBC was able to capture the thing that set North Carolina’s sterilization practices out from those of the rest of the United States. Their short article is one of the best assessments of this shameful story that I’ve ever read.

Next week, on Wednesday June 22, 2011, thirty-two years after the state of North Carolina finally abolished the Eugenics Board, the state will hold a hearing that will determine whether living victims will be offered restitution in their lifetimes. What I did not know is that there are an estimated two thousand nine hundred people who were sterilized in North Carolina and who are still alive today.

Then North Carolina governor Mike Easley offered an apology in 2002 to victims of sterilization. Many other state governors did the same. However, the effort to make right on what happened to living victims ended there. North Carolina is the first to take the next step.

I’m attending the hearing next Wednesday and I am very much looking forward to hearing the stories of those sterilized firsthand. I can’t say I’m not anxious, but I am glad to be able to watch my fellow North Carolinians move toward a real resolution to this shameful chapter in our state’s history. I’m not sure exactly how I became interested in this topic, and I don’t know exactly why it happened when it did. I do know, however, that I am going to be a member of an audience full of people whose lives have been and will be touched by the legacy of North Carolina’s eugenics program. There is a chance to attempt to repay the 2,900 living victims of the program, and I cannot wait to be there to see their suffering acknowledged. As I head to North Carolina’s capital next week, I can’t say that I’ve ever been prouder of where I come from.