A few weeks ago we dined with both sets of grandparents at Bleuroot restaurant in downtown Dundee, IL.
I have been so delighted to have Bleuroot as part of our local restaurant scene because Bleuroot’s mission is “To provide our community with a unique locally sourced farm-to-table dining experience where there food is always fresh and you leave feeling like family.”
Not only did we feel welcomed and comfortable dining near the flowing Fox River, but all of our dietary needs (vegetarian, egg free, gluten free, dairy free, and paleo) had fresh, delicious, and locally sourced meal options to choose from.
We left satisfied on ALL of the levels. Eating well is an important way we connect to nature and the Earth. If we are mindful of where our food comes from, how it is grown, how it is lovingly prepared, how we consciously choose to consume it, and with whom we dine with, we can do a great deal to change our bodily health, our community’s health, and our environmental health. Turns out, that eating lunch is no small affair. Thanks to Bleuroot for providing delicious and sustainable options.
Our daughter Penelope has wanted a pet pig for years! We have done all of the research on small, indoor breeds etc. When she realized that pigs are as demanding as human toddlers, she decided to get a guinea pig, instead.
The guinea pig is a great pet. Plus, we are able to visit the real piggies, a heritage breed, at neighboring farm, All Grass Farms.
This drawing is of a young pig we encountered on our farm tour so many weeks ago.
This is my last post about the farm BTW, which is fitting since we definitely ate some breakfast sausage from the farm store. The sausage was spiced with ginger, which I had never had before, and it was delicious!
As the story goes, the farmers cooled the cans of cows milk in the chilly waters of the Spring Bird creek, back when it was a dairy farm, a century ago.
With the cows long gone, forest has flourished, but you can still get fresh milk from All Grass Farms not far from Spring Bird.
We were able to meet the cows and a couple of their calves during our farm tour. The dairy cows, all with adorable names like “Daisy”, are productive ladies that are herded twice daily to the barn for milking.
In between milkings they are free to munch on fresh grass, since they are moved each day to new pasture.
We were careful to step over cow pies, which I was surprised to see were pie sized - or even larger - as we stroked the backs of these large ladies, occasionally swatting the pesky flies from their faces with the backs of our hands.
They were a highlight of the tour, for me, anyway!
Have you ever tried raw milk? I hear it makes the best cheese!
Did you know that Spring Bird’s neighbor is an amazing pasture farm called All Grass Farms? Just across Rt. 31, they raise dairy cows, chicken eggs, meat chickens, beef cattle, pork, and turkeys. All animals get fresh grazing land as needed and live happy, healthy lives until they are processed for our consumption. The dairy cows being the exception, of course.
All Grass Farms also has a farm store attached to an enormous red dairy barn, where you can purchase fresh produce and locally sourced food products in addition to the milk, eggs, and meat that All Grass Farms produces.
The farm has a free tour on Saturdays at 2:00 PM, and this past Saturday, Patrick, Penelope, and I hopped on the flatbed for a tour with Mike driving the tractor and guiding us through fences and over cow patties.
On the tour, we were able to meet and greet all of the animals raised at the farm, learn about how the farm takes care of them, and what life is like for these beautiful, healthy animals. More on that in subsequent posts.
For now, here is a drawing of the exterior of the farm store, which is open Monday through Friday 10:00 - 6:00 & Saturday and Sunday 9:00 - 5:00.
So, if you are coming to Spring Bird for a retreat day in the woods, you may want to stop at the store for some tasty treats. I quite enjoy the kimchi that they sell there, and their pork sausages are truly delicious. No time to stop? At the very least wave to the cows as your turn into Country School Rd.
In my opinion, there is little that you can grow in your Summer Garden that is better than a tomato! They just don’t taste any better grown anywhere else!
Garden tomatoes represent so much of my childhood and the best parts of Summer. My Mom would trade them with neighbors, family and friends. There were tomatoes of all sizes and colors. Bags would appear at our back door. A neighbor couldn’t leave without a couple as large as her hands.
They were canned, carved, deseeded, sliced, diced, and pureed. My favorite tomato eater was my Grandma. She would eat a bowl of cherry tomatoes at every lunch. It was her standard Summer lunch.
I find myself eating almost as many beautiful tomatoes that Pat has grown at Spring Bird. This year he grew these dark chocolatey tomatoes, yellow, orange, grape, and plum. I can’t get my fill! I eat them with fresh mozzarella, crusty bread, basil, and lots of salt! It’s so satisfying to just revel in a bowl of tomatoes, and when they are ripe, you need to eat as many before they spoil!
Do you grow tomatoes in your Summer Garden? What is your favorite variety?
Those of you who are subscribers to Woolgathering might remember my piece in the Fall Issue about stuffed pumpkin. For those of you who aren't subcribers or don't remember, the following is an excerpt:
"A few years ago, we heard about stuffing a pumpkin on an NPR piece about Thanksgiving foods. The recipe, French inspired was developed by Dorie Greenspan for Around My French Table. This elegant dish involves scooping out the seeds of a pumpkin and filling it with stale bread, garlic, bacon, gruyere cheese, thyme, nutmeg, and heavy cream, but you can insert whatever ingredients you have in your fridge like other vegetables, greens, sausage, or rice. Once stuffed, you return the top hat of the pumpkin and bake the entire pumpkin until the squash meat is soft. The outside skin gets a deep orange and is soft and pokable. You then scoop out the gooey innards with a metal spoon scraping the insides to retrieve the pumpkin flesh along with the cheese, bacon, and cream.
It’s delicious and comforting yet elegant and special. For those of you preferring savory to sweet, this is a brilliant way to enjoy pumpkin. Furthermore, it’s a dish that encapsulates quite literally the bounty of fall while embodying the spirit of the season so perfectly. At the very least, it’s an alternative way to consume pumpkin in a more elevated way as opposed to the myriads of products that pumpkin has found its way into such as: cereals, coffee, and just about every other processed product on market shelves. But there is something more than a delicious meal, here. There is something magical about a hollow pumpkin, or perhaps more accurately, something magical in its ability to transform into something else. "
This past Saturday, after a day of soccer games in the cold and wind, we warmed up the kitchen, ourselves, and our spirits by stuffing two homegrown pumpkins, plucked from the kids' fairy garden. This is the actual recipe!
Below, is our interpretation.
The kids planted the pumpkin seeds at the beginning of June. Pat pulled these two from their shriveled vines in the middle of September. They were the first two pumpkins harvested, and we have four more in storage for either pies or more stuffed pumpkin!
We cut the tops off, just as you would to carve a pumpkin. Don't throw them away! Then, scoop out the seeds. (Keep the seeds, too, if you want to roast them with olive oil salt and spices. )
Once the pumpkins are emptied, season the insides of the pumpkins and the caps with salt and pepper.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.