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QUENCH

 

HANDMADE GATHERINGS

 

A YEAR OF PIES!

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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  • When your afternoon involves chilling inside the Asheville Salt Cave with 7 of your nearest and dearest and your collective 4 kiddos, and your night involves celebrating one of their birthday's with a fajita feast and @glennbenglish's phenomenal spring sangria (with watermelon and strawberries and honeysuckle blooms that I picked), then you know that today has been an extraordinarily good day.
  • Spicy pork dumplings from @ganshanstation, I love you. While everything I've tried here has been seriously stellar, @procain's dumpling situation is worth the visit alone. So, so good!
  • Here's what I did today: hopped in the car, drove about a mile over to Hominy Valley Organic Farm, and got down to strawberry-picking business. I filled a flat for $18 (at $3/pound). If you live in the area and are looking for delicious, organic, U-pick strawberries, come see Farmer Tom Monday-Friday after 2 pm. Tell him I sent ya! Now, on to jam, and Popsicles, and pie, and galette, and pickled strawberries, and more! ??????
  • Pretty much ANY time is a good time for pickles, especially now that I've added @foodinjars delicious Quick Pickled Strawberries to the mix. Sublime!
  • You're in my heart, you're in my soul.
  • A testament to the power of social media: saw @holedoughnuts post an image of their Buttermilk Cardamom Black Pepper donut this morning, ate lunch, and then made the 20 minute drive over to enjoy some in person with @glennbenglish and Huxley!  Completely worth it. So, so good!!!
  • It's not a significant thing, nothing major. Just a walk down the driveway to gather the mail. But when I do it with Huxley, and we stop to say
  • Hominy Creek, doing its spring thang. || View from our mailbox.
  • Attended my first ever handmade/homemade swap yesterday, at a friend's sweet home in Black Mountain. SO much goodness, all thoughtfully and lovingly made. Huxley came with me and ran around with the kiddos while the swap took place. I contributed these little jars of rosemary honey, which @glennbenglish artfully topped with straw-blown watercolorings. Such a great afternoon with like-minded friends and fellow mamas! Thank you so, so much for hosting, Amanda!!!
  • Saturdays are for French toast on the porch with @glennbenglish and Huxley Wild while rain showers wash over the cove. || Used @farmandsparrow's Heritage Corn Bread and @oldworldlevain's Double Raisin & Flax Bread to make cardamom French toast, served alongside butter, maple syrup, and Hominy Valley Organic Farm strawberries, all washed down with hibiscus iced tea (our warm weather cold beverage go-to).
  • A visit today to farmer Tom Kousky of neighboring Hominy Valley Organic Farm yielded: flats of flowers (geraniums, celosia, and marigolds); starts of pickling cukes, zucchini, and yellow squash; 12 basil plants; two bundles of asparagus; a bunch of spinach; a bunch of radishes; two bunches of beets; and two pints of strawberries. The obvious way to celebrate all of this goodness was to blend up some strawberry milkshakes. Happy weekending, everyone!
  • Happy Friday, friends! New

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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Signs of the Times

Ah, yes. Spring has sprung. And although it is hovering around 49 degrees today, and although Huxley and his Papa and I all wore hats and sweaters and turtlenecks and wool socks out to have breakfast with my cousin and her family this morning, and although hot beverages and flannel blankets are still the order of the day, spring is definitely here.


There’s proof everywhere I look on our property. From the hellebores, cold frame seedlings, flowering quince, budding tulip and forsythia and apple tree blossoms pictured above to the buds on ginkgo and dogwood trees, purple martin nests in the birdhouse, and wisteria sending vines up onto the entry porch, spring is definitely here to stay in this forest abode.

To see more springtime hints chez English, check this out.

Give It Away Now


Two fantastic (and generous-thank you!!!) websites are currently offering giveaways of my books. Check out Katy Wolk-Stanley’s Non-Consumer Advocate (good through 9 p.m. tonight, PST) and Amanda Formaro’s Craft Gossip (lasts until midnight tomorrow, CST) for “Homemade Living” freebies!

Digesting the Reader

Huxley and I both had doctor’s appointments today. We’re seeing the same physician, Dr. Polansky. She’s perfect for us. She’s SO Asheville, which is to say, she has big chunks of fire engine red streaks in her otherwise brown hair, has chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling of one of her examine rooms (as well as a plug-in electric water fountain tucked into the corner, next to the vase of forced dogwood blooms), wears neo-hippie clothing (flowing skirts, floor-length cardigans, and clogs) in lieu of the routine staid white lab coat, and has banners with positive mantras festooning the room.


Huxley loves her and she sets us both enormously at ease. And she smiles, a lot, which wins her big points in my book. I like smilers. I’m a smiler. And I come from a long lineage of smilers. We’re huggers, too.

After our appointment, I swung by my old workplace. I’d yet to take Huxley to meet the staff and figured it was an ideal time, as we were just down the road. Once inside, one of my old work buddies said “You know you’re in this month’s Reader’s Digest, right?” They pointed out the mention to me (posted above-I’m #5) while my jaw dropped in incredulity. Crazy to think that RD is mining the likes of Design Sponge for content, but, there you have it! They must have come across my post on DIY Cleaning Products and liked the sound of it.

Fine by me! Thanks, RD, for the love!

Much Obliged

So, here I was, on a drizzly Friday evening, eating pickles and sharp cheddar, drinking an Anchor Porter, and chillin’ with my men when I get an e-mail from my buddy Sarah up in Brooklyn. “Um, your recipe for ‘Honeyed Prawns & Polenta’ is the recipe of the day on Epicurious” she wrote.


Epicurious is the online home of Bon Appetit and (the no-longer-in-print) Gourmet magazines.

Holy moly. What an honor. Thanks, Epicurious!!!

*Image by Lynne Harty

The Great Debate

My comment that the “jury is still out” on the use of sunscreen over at Design Sponge has caused some concern amongst readers. As such, I’ve decided to itemize the reasons this debate rages as listed by the Environmental Working Group, examining each of their points:


1. There is no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent cancer. The fact is, after reviewing the scientific research, the National Cancer Institute concluded that there is no evidence that sunscreen reduces melanoma. “It is not known if protecting skin from sunlight and other UV radiation decreases the risk of skin cancer. It is not known if non-melanoma skin cancer risk is decreased by staying out of the sun, using sunscreens, or wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, sun hats and sunglasses when outdoors” (NCI 2009) Skin cancer rates have actually gone up with increased use of sunscreen.

2. There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people. The fact is, studies have shown that people who regularly use sunscreen have reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma, a slow growing tumor that is easily treatable, but studies have also shown that people who regularly use sunscreen have a significantly increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It is theorized that the reason that regular sunscreen use actually increases your risk of melanoma is because it blocks your body’s ability to produce vitamin D, which protects it.

3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they’re better. Studies have found that people using higher SPF sunscreens had even higher exposure to harmful UV rays, not less, so “The user is left with a burn and a significantly higher “body burden” of sunscreen chemicals.”

4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is of epidemic proportions, and it has risen directly with increased usage of sunscreens, which inhibit the body’s natural ability to produce it. According to the research, 7 in 10 children in the US are now vitamin D deficient. Among other things, D protects against a number of cancers.

5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer. According to an FDA study, vitamin A greatly speeds the development of skin cancer, and 41% of all commercially available sunscreens use it.

6. Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen. “Sunscreens can help reduce UV-related free radical damage by diverting the radiation from the skin, but the ingredients themselves can release their own free radicals in the process. When the sunscreen molecules absorb UV energy, diverting it from the skin, the molecules dispel this excess energy by releasing free radicals.”

7. Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors. The hormone disruptors in many commercially available sunscreens are a serious problem. Nanoparticles in mineral (titanium and zinc) can pose dangers as well, but according to the EWG, they are a much safer choice.

8. Europe’s better sunscreens. American commercial sunscreens are on the whole much worse at UVA protection.

9. The 33rd summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations. The FDA has been floundering on guidelines for decades. Laboratory studies indicate that some common sunscreen ingredients are seriously toxic, and even cause pre-cancerous cell damage. A study (Schlumpf 2008) found the presence of several toxic sunscreen ingredients (octylmethoxycinnamate, octrocrylene, oxybenzone, 4-MBC, and Padimate O) in women’s breast milk, which raises serious concerns about toxicity to the gestating fetus and breast feeding baby.

Ultimately, you have to make the most informed decision that you feel is right for you and your family. I’m never one to tell folks what to do. I simply have examined the information available and come to my own conclusions about the safe use of sunscreen.

Thanks!