Join us for Super Spring Break Adventures this week

ImageKids can explore the web of life from 9 a.m. to noon, March 31-April 3 at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. Visiting experts and museum staff lead this exciting class for kids in grades 3-5 featuring walking field trips, art lessons, and science experiments.

“We want kids to really understand ecosystems including the one they are part of,” said museum education coordinator Selina Danko.
Students will build a terrarium, create a doomsday vault, clone a plant, build a mini-greenhouse, study leaf pigments and conduct a plant-feeding experiment during the four-day class.

Daily walking tours feature Wenatchee’s urban landscape and river areas. Students will examine mud near the riverbank in search of footprints left behind by nocturnal animals. Water samples from different areas of the river will be collected for microscopic study.
“We will draw, paint, walk and conduct experiments while learning to use all of our senses to learn about the world around us,” Danko said. “This class will be loads of fun.”

Cost of the program is $20 per day for museum members, $25 for nonmembers. To attend all week, cost is $70 for members and $85 for nonmembers. Call 509-888-6240 or visit the museum to pay for classes.

Join Us For The Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band

ImageThe Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band along with Dave McClure presents a Foggy Dew Western Review with full on cowboy comedy, western music and hilarious family friendly humor at Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, Wenatchee. The fun starts at 4 p.m. and tickets $15.00 at door or in advance at the museum.

Since 2000, Horse Crazy Cowgirl Band have produced five award winning albums and performed across the United States and Canada. The group’s latest recording “My Horse Knows The Way Home” hit #2 on the Top 20 Cowboy Western Music Playlist and remained in the Top 20 for 18 months. The band performed for Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, airing on more than 500 NPR, PBS, and Armed Forces Radio stations. Lauralee Northcott leads the charge with frontline bass, throaty vocals, and songwriting prowess. Jennifer Epps brings stirring vocals, yearning Harmonica, and evocative percussion. Judy Coder seamlessly adds award-winning yodeling, vocals, and swing guitar. The blend of three talented musicians creates a sensation and nostalgia that keeps audiences yearning for more.

Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind performance on March 23 at Wenatchee Valley Museum. Call 888-6240 for more information or visit www.horsecrazycowgirlband.com.

Making Progress … But Losing Tomatoes

Much to my surprise and delight my garden is coming along great!

Except for the tomatoes. They’re not doing so hot. In fact they’re dying. There … I said it.

I’ve lost two plants so far and two more are looking quite peaked. I started my little garden with four robust-looking specimens I was very excited about. One was called a “gold medal” and another “Japanese Black.”

I wanted to see what those look like! 

Alas they died the first week.

Minor setback,” I said and replaced them. I also got three more from a friend’s mom. So now I’ve got seven plants altogether and they’re all in varied states of what looks like a slow, wilting, trudge toward certain, shrunken, grimy, death.

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. They get at least eight hours of sunlight a day and I water my garden extremely well!

I chalked the first, and even second, fruit’s demise up to my roommate’s extremely annoying, untrained dog, which I let Twitter name Mr. Darcy (another story) and his proclivity to urinate all over my tomatoes.

But now it’s undeniable. I’m the Ted Bundy of tomato growers. My plants are dropping like flies and it’s all my doing.

HELP!

In other news this basil’s doing very well and the photo above is of my very healthy-looking arugula.

To be fair, arugula kind of grows like a weed and basil’s a hardy plant as well but hey – I’m chalking it up as a win.

In addition to that my wild flowers are coming up nicely and the cucumbers are coming up at a steady pace as well.

I’ve also got carrots, which are going to look pretty ugly because of my rocky garden bed but I don’t really care – I think my garden looks awesome!

But seriously, if you have any tips to save my tomatoes we’d all be very grateful …

Dahlia’s As Big As Dinner Plates!

Last year, a reader criticized me for being too haphazard in my recordings of my locavore tendencies.

She wanted shopping lists, prices, comparisons and data. And to be fair … that’s not an evil expectation.

But that seems like entirely too much work for my blood…

And really this blog is less about calorie counting and price comparing and more about the community of eating.

The greatest loss to society since the industrialization of food systems hasn’t been the loss of nutrition – it’s been the loss of community – the brotherhood and kinship we once shared around the table.

Every society since the beginning of civilization has put breaking bread above any other activity or tradition. Every holiday was marked by feasting. Every wedding, birth or funeral – any turning of season was welcomed by a shared meal.

Now we just hit the drive-thru on the way home from work.

So rather than a mundane litany of what I ingest on a daily basis, this culinary journey is, and always has been, about meeting people and learning new things.

Which brings me to the point: I got talked into growing flowers by ladies from the Dahlia Society. 

Last weekend I went down to the Wenatchee Valley Farmer’s Market  looking froward to fresh asparagus and perhaps a fresh salmon. I ended up bringing home flowers that are promised to be, “as big as dinner plates!

Although I can’t EAT dahlias, my interest was piqued by the colorful pictures of exquisite flowers … and I soon found myself gravitating toward the stall full of silver-haired women hustling and bustling about – all a-twitter about flowers.

Eight bucks and 10 bulbs later I was the proud new owner of what may become a whole flower bed. I was also the recipient of many emphatic entreaties to join local chapter of The Dahlia Society.

The ladies assured me that I would not be the only man in the group and as proof they conjured up an 80-something-year-old man to put my fears of male solitude at rest. After a short conversation he hustled me into buying tags for my soon-to-be “whoppers.” I was impressed with his reasoning of why you should have tags for your dahlias, “How else are you gonna know which is which?

So though I’m not sure about joining any clubs, I did come home and dutifully plant dahlias that afternoon. 

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So in 2-3 weeks we’ll see how this little detour in my blog turns out. But even though it wasn’t planned it’s been kind of fun (I’ve always enjoyed digging, as a child I was very good at it I recall). But pretty soon I guess I’ll have flowers as a result. Cool.

So What IS Local, Exactly?

Listen … I’m not a hippie.

I don’t care if my food is organic or conventional.

I just love good, fresh food.

This being my second season writing the blog, The Locavore’s Dilemma, people ask me time and again, “What is local?”And the query is always intoned with the subtle undertone of, “And are you some kinda hippie, kid?

So I decided to state, straight up, what I view as local food. Now mind, this is MY definition and you don’t have to agree.

But to me local is about WHO you’re buying from and not necessarily WHERE it’s from.

Typically, I define local food as food harvested within a 100-mile radius of where you live. But if it’s grown within 100 miles and is sold at Wal-Mart … I’m not gonna buy it.

It’s not a political thing. It’s not because I hate Wal-Mart or corporate America. It’s not because I’m a snob. There’s no overarching motive other than I’m picky and I don’t buy from Wal-Mart because I don’t think they need my money.

At least, they don’t need the money much as the guy down the street whose family I know does (shameless plug for Mike’s Meats and Farmer’s Market here). 

And of course, the bottom line … produce from the supermarket is just nasty.

As a kid I grew up eating fresh produce my mother procured on a daily basis from the fruit stand down the road. From the Spring to the Fall we ate fresh fruits and vegitables everyday. I loathed the asparagus season. I hated choking down the kale, fresh greens and sprouts I thought were bioengineered to make a kid like me miserable.

Now I look back upon my epicurean development and culinary education with a grateful awe. I still bless my mother’s name every time I come across a fruit stand or farmer’s market.

Now I take great joy in thumping melons, indenting eggplant and sniffing all sorts of assorted produce.

Even though my shopping takes the better part of Saturdays I’d never trade it in for the crowded supermarkets with the bleak, hospital lighting and irritated, after work-moms imperiously trying to shove their way before you in line.

So so long for the summer, supermarkets. I’ll miss ya … Not!

Reinforcements!

So it’s been 10 days since planting and I’ve had some success … but also a few casualties.

I planted three tomato plants and thanks to my roommate’s beast of a mutt and his unfortunate urination habits, one plant’s down and another is on the way out.

So I went to the farmer’s market near downtown Wenatchee this morning and picked up some reinforcements. I got a Brandywine, a Mortgage Lifter and a Black Krim and they are going in the ground momentarily.

And that damn dog might be too if he keeps up his shenanigans…

But despite Mr. Darcy‘s bladder’s efforts I’ve got some seeds sprouting so I’ll blog more later.

Tomorrow, I Plant

Today was spent preparing my garden.

I mowed down impertinent weeds springing up in the dormant bed, rototilled the shit out of the poor excuse for soil and bought seeds from a very cross-eyed Home Depot associate in an orange smock.

So far, I’ve spent about $17 on seeds – 14 packages in all – and that’s the entirety of my investment is this year’s project.

But alas, tomorrow I will have to spend more since I will need a considerable amount of gardening soil to add to the bed before I plant.

Not cheap, planting soils costs at least $6.50 per 15 lb. bag. But as luck would have it my roommate and landlord offered to reimburse me. He said since I’m spending the time and effort to reclaim his yard he’d pay for the soil.

SAW-eet.

The space I have to work with isn’t large, it’s about 25 ft. long and 7 ft. wide. But planting seeds an average of 4 inches apart I plan to plant half in assorted vegetables and the rest in sweet corn.

I also bought some wildflowers because the picture looked pretty and I thought, “Hell, I’m growing stuff – might as well grow some pretty things…”

The first photo is what it looked like before tilling and here’s what it looked like after.

Still a long way to go.

These photos don’t show you the thumb-sized rocks littering the bed, which are thrown diagonally from the rototiller blades into my shins, but they’re there. From what I can tell from my digging it looks as if past homeowners have used this spot as their burn area and/or rock pile.

Not optimal.

While tilling I found old wire coat hangers, pieces of concrete and an old baby-doll shoe. I’m going to have to rake and collect the largest of  before I lay fresh soil and plant.

I should’a just ordered cable and watched the NBA finals.