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I’m feeling a little rebellious today, so I thought this was appropriate:

We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.
How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.

“Compromise, Hell!” from Orion magazine


Last week at the farmer’s market, I talked a farmer into selling me thirty pounds of “seconds” tomatoes. Seconds are tomatoes that the farmer can’t sell for full price because of imperfections of some sort, so they are often willing to sell them at a discount so they at least get something for them, if not full price. Seconds are a win-win for me and the farmer. This time of the year is the perfect time to be asking about seconds because there is typically a gluttony of tomatoes at the markets.

I only have a ceramic stove top at home, which you aren’t supposed to use for canning, so I typically can at my parent’s house or at a friend’s house. I needed to process those 30 pounds of toms in a hurry though, so I decided to go the freezer route instead. In an afternoon, I made ten quarts of marinara sauce, about eight quarts of vegetable soup and at least a gallon of tomato puree to be used in soups and sauces in the Fall and Winter. I don’t know what I love more about gardening/local produce: the taste of it fresh in the summer months or the taste of it in the middle of January when fresh local produce is virtually non-existent. Either way is delicious.

Here’s my recipe for “garbage” vegetable soup. It changes often based on what I have on hand, so feel free to play around with the ingredients based on what you have laying around.

Garbage Vegetable Soup
A Sara Original

Rough List of Ingredients
10 pounds of tomatoes
5-6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, diced
5-6 carrots, roughly chopped
1 pound green beans, trimmed
4-6 ears of fresh sweet corn, shaved from the cobs
1-2 cups potatoes, cubed
2 cups beans, cooked (I used kidney beans for this batch)
3 tbsp olive oil
3-6 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. I have a VitaMix, which might just be our best purchase ever. I just clean up the tomatoes of any bad spots, remove the cores, and plop them in the Vita Mix. It pulverizes those tomatoes until all that is left is tomato puree: no cold water baths, skin peeling, seed dumping required. Depending on what I’m making, I’ll put this mixture through a cheesecloth to drain off more of the water, but I was in a hurry on this particular day, so I skipped that step. If you don’t have a VitaMix, follow steps 3 – 7 from this helpful site to process the tomatoes.
  2. After you’ve processed the tomatoes in whatever way you choose, saute the onions, celery and carrots in the olive oil for a few minutes, just until the onions begin to turn translucent, then add the garlic and spices and cook just until you begin to smell the aroma of the garlic and spices.
  3. Add your tomato mixture to the onions and spices, and then add the remaining ingredients. Bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer at a low boil for 20-30 minutes. Test the carrots and potatoes for done-ness before serving.
  4. Like anything that I describe as “garbage,” this soup is ripe for modifications based on what you have on hand. I sometimes add quinoa or barley and change up the vegetables based on what’s in the fridge.

I’m hoping to get a few more rounds of 50+ pounds of seconds in before the end of the season.

Check it out on page 7!


Check out this very cool infographic comparing locavorism to globavorism. Where would you fall on the continuum?


My mom made this salad for us every summer that I can remember. It has become a staple at our house too. Grant hasn’t always been a big fan, but the bigger gardener he’s become, the more he’s enjoyed it. I made a huge batch last night for dinner, thinking there would be plenty for dinner and for leftovers for me today, but he ate at least three portions worth, leaving none for me today.

Nothing says summer to me like a dinner of Indiana sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and this cucumber salad. Hurry up and try it before the last of the cucs are gone!

Mom’s Cucumber Salad

3-4 cucumbers (I prefer the smaller ones. If you use larger ones, you wouldn’t need as many.), sliced thinly
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (Mom always uses white sugar, so try that if you would prefer)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Assemble the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a lidded jar and shake contents until thoroughly combined.
2. Assemble the sliced cucs and onions in a bowl and dump the dressing onto the vegetables. Mix the salad until all of the vegetables are covered in the dressing.
3. You can serve this immediately, but I think it tastes even better after sitting and soaking up the dressing for a few hours.

Wendell was on the Writer’s Almanac yesterday on my way to work…what a great start to the day. I had a hard time going into the office instead of staying outside to enjoy “our place.”

I go by a field where once
I cultivated a few poor crops.
It is now covered with young trees,
for the forest that belongs here
has come back and reclaimed its own.
And I think of all the effort
I have wasted and all the time,
and of how much joy I took
in that failed work and how much
it taught me. For in so failing
I learned something of my place,
something of myself, and now
I welcome back the trees.

“IX.” by Wendell Berry, from Leavings. © Counterpoint Press, 2010.

The Plant a Row Committee, led by Robert Staley, and the Westfield community have really stepped it up this year: as of today, Westfield’s Plant a Row has donated over 1,450 pounds of produce to local food pantries this summer!

If you’re interested in participating, drop off your produce at the Westfield Ameriana Bank, Plant a Row’s partner and generous sponsor.

This is what I picked from our garden this morning…what are you enjoying from your garden these days?

We stopped at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea, Kentucky for pit stop during our travels home from South Carolina this past weekend. The Center was quite busy, and Jasper was entirely too excited to be out of the car, so I didn’t get to look around as much as I would have liked. I did spot a whole shelf of Wendell’s works, including some titles that I’ve had a difficult time getting my hands on.

As we hopped back in the car and continued our journey home through the beautiful foothills of eastern Kentucky, I couldn’t stop thinking about Berry’s decision earlier this year to stage a sit-in at the governor’s office to protest the state’s support of the coal industry and their mountaintop removal mining practices.

In a response to a reporter questioning Berry’s motives for the sit-in, Berry remarked:

You can go to a little stream that’s coming down off the mountain, and you know that one day that stream ran clear and you could have knelt down and drunk from it without any hesitation—it would have been clean. And now it’s running orange or black. And what people have to understand is that there’s heartbreak in that. Harry Caudill said “tears beyond understanding” have been shed over this by people who love their land and have had to sit there and see it destroyed. I live right on the Kentucky River, and that river’s running from those headwater streams. My part of the river is under the influence of this destruction that’s going on up above.

Wendell Berry, at 76 years-old (at the time), slept in the governor’s office for three days to protest the permanent destruction of his home. As we drove home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’m doing now (and not doing) for my grandchildren’s generation to protest the destruction of Creation going on all around us.

At a rally following the sit-in, Berry said this

If the adventure of the last few days by this small company of friends is to be more than a symbolic gesture, that can be only because all of you who are here, and many of our friends who are not here, will take it up, make it your adventure and your cause.

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August 2011
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