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Seasonal Eats: Spring Edition

12 Mar

I’m trying a new series on the blog this year and I’m really excited about it!  Around Western PA, the snow is melting and the daffodils trying their hardest to force spring into existence. I thought it would be an appropriate time to roll out a seasonal recipe spotlight.  I hear the same thing from a lot of people: “I want to eat locally and seasonally.”  Seems simple, right?  Just hit up the local farmer’s market, grab some veggies, and done?  It is and it isn’t…

You might be interested to know that not all the veggies sold at your local farmer’s market are local.  Or seasonal actually!  While I’ve gotten plenty of resistance with this tactic, I don’t ever hesitate to ask my local farmer’s market vendor if they are re-selling produce or if it’s home-grown.  I’ve touched a few nerves over the years, but I don’t see anything wrong with expecting transparency from a grower.  I’m not a snob about it and it doesn’t stop me from purchasing out-of-season food (farmer’s have to make money during he slow seasons, too!), but I like to know as much as I can about the food I buy.  If you want to eat locally, make sure you ask if you’re eating locally.  Either way, you’re supporting a local food producer/grower/vendor – but educate yourself about what you’re buying and why.

If you’ve ever grown your own food, you know that some things don’t just spring up year round.  In Western PA, there is a very limited amount of seasonal product that’s available from March-April.  It’s still early spring and that means LOTS of greens, but it also means some staples like broccoli, carrots, beets, mushrooms, rutabagas, and turnips.  There are some things I usually pass over because they seem a little intimidating – like artichokes, kohlrabi, even endive is a mystery to me.  Well not this year.  This year I’m embracing all the things I’ve never embraced before.  That’s what 2015 is about, remember?  So this year, I’m not only embracing local, seasonal eating – I’m going to try as much of the produce that my region has to offer!

March-April in Western PA:

Artichoke, Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Beet Greens, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Broccoli Rape, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cardoons (not sure I’m this adventurous yet!), Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Chicory, Collards, Cress, Dandelion Greens, Endive, Fava Beans/Greens, Fennel, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsnips, Pea Shoots, Radishes, Rutabagas, Scallions, Spinach, Sprouts, Sunchokes, Tatsoi, Turnips

If you have been curious about how to work with any of the ingredients found in this list, shoot me a comment and I will make sure I find a great way for us to get comfortable with them.

Keep an eye out for the new series on Twitter and Instagram, I will be posting under the hashtag: #springeatsSFTS

Seasonal-Eats-Spring-Edition

Wordless Wednesday

25 Jun

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Rankin-Bridge-Great-Allegheny-Passage-GAP-Trail

Tunnel-Great-Allegheny-Passage-Duquesne-GAP-Trail

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Great-Allegheny-Passage-GAP-Trail-Old-Bridge

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Great-Allegheny-Passage-Twilight-Sunset-Duquesne-GAP-Trail

RTJR!

13 Jun

When we got to PNC Park last night, this was happening. 
PNC-Park-Tarped

DOH!  This wasn’t very surprising because all week it’s been rainy and stormy.  We kind of walked around a little bit and then decided to get in line at BRGR.  Like fools, we let a 5 minute drizzle chase us out of line and then we had to go BACK and stand in the line AGAIN later.  Only the second time it was like 100 times longer.  In my defense, I was wearing a thin white t-shirt and I had no interest in spending the next few hours looking like some overweight Miller Lite girl reject in a wet t-shirt contest.  Did I take that too far?  I can’t tell anymore.

Anyway, the extra wait was totes worth it .  I’m a sucker for a good burger on brioche!  I ordered the one called Fire In The Hole because I love spicy spicy spicy foods!!  And boy was it hotttt.  It had guacamole, jalapenos, pepper jack, and this really firey sauce on it.  Yummy!

BRGR-Fire-In-The-Hole-PNC-Park

They advertised “craft beer” on their menu and I was able to chose from the Rivertowne Brewery cooler.  I had never heard of Rivertowne before, but after a little research I discovered that they are located in Verona, PA and offer tours.  Added to my summer bucket list!

Rivertowne-IPA-PNC-Park

We went back to our seats and watched the game for awhile, but when we got up to stretch our legs/use the restroom we realized how crowded our section was and how empty the other sections were.  We noticed that there were a whole lot of empty seats further into the outfield, so we settled back down into some seats with some breathing room.  I generally think you’re not allowed to do this, but we moved to seats that were vacant and “worse” than the ones we paid for.  I think it evens out.  The best thing about PNC Park is that there isn’t a bad view of the game and no matter which direction you are facing, you get a beautiful panorama of downtown Pittsburgh.  This picture doesn’t indicate the gorgeous view at all because I was so worried about those storm clouds rolling back in!

PNC-Park-Pirates-Cubs-2014

During the 6th inning, the skies opened up so we walked around a bit and got some Rita’s.  I got mango, but forgot to take a picture!  When the rain slowed down, we made a break for the parking area.  I was checking Twitter later in the evening, and I think I read that the game was delayed until 11PM.  Thank goodness we didn’t stay and wait it out!  The Pirates ended up being the Cubs 4-0, so RTJR!  For you plebs that means “Raise the Jolly Roger!”  The game felt like it was moving incredibly slow and at no point did the Cubs show much life.  The night was fun and it was a relaxing way to spend a weeknight in the ‘burgh!

I just love my city. 🙂

Roberto-Clemente-Bridge-Pittsburgh-Night

 

5 Thing Friday

11 Apr

All week I’ve been reading about cool things and this is where I dump them:

1.  Beers Of The Burgh Festival – This weekend is the inaugural Beers of the Burgh Festival, which will be held in Lawrenceville and showcases over 30 local craft brewers.  General admission is sold out, but you can still purchase VIP tickets!

 

2.  40 Towns Create Land Bank – I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR A LONG TIME.  Finally.  Finally some action on blighted properties in my community.  If you aren’t aware of what happens when a region is dependent on a single industry (ahem, steel) and then all the industry packs up and leaves:  blight.  Empty, rotting houses and overgrown brush in abandoned lots, riddled with garbage.  An analysis done by local municipalities found that:

“20,077 vacant lots and 7,158 parcels with blighted structures that cost local governments more than $10.7 million a year in direct municipal services, such as police, fire and code enforcement. They also account for nearly $8.7 million in lost annual tax revenue. But the biggest drain was on neighboring non-blighted properties, which the report found suffered a total loss of between $218 million and $247 million in property values.”

Some Pittsburgh neighborhoods were hit harder than others, but the creation of this land bank is huge!  To me, it may mean that we are finally able to combat blight and attract a more stable tax base to effected areas.  Some people oppose these types of strategies because it gives government control over private property.  I, on the other hand, stare at abandoned buildings all day long.  In my opinion, if you aren’t able or willing to fix up your janky property then you shouldn’t have it to begin with.  The boroughs’ hands are tied because the properties ultimately belong to someone – and many times those people can’t be found or don’t want to be found.  The borough has to deal with the problems associated with the property but can’t actually do anything about it.  A land bank would allow municipalities to generate tax income, sell properties, attract new property developers, and to improve the overall aesthetic of a neighborhood.    That is HUGE for boroughs like Homestead and Braddock.

 

3.  16 Ways To Kick Plastic – This is a quick read but it’s got some great ideas on how to use less plastic.  My 2 favorite ones are: 1) Just say no to disposable straws, carry a few BPA-free reusable ones with you 2) Bring your own doggy-bag container when you go to a restaurant.

 

4.  Cyclocable Bike Lifts In Pittsburgh?! – This is basically exactly what I need to become an avid adequate let’s just go with cyclist.  If it’s good enough for Norway, it’s good enough for me.  DON’T JUDGE ME PEOPLE.  THOSE HILLS ARE NO JOKE.  Somehow I doubt that even Bill Peduto could make this one happen.

 

5.  Check out this list of 42 Flowers You Can Eat…I can’t see myself throwing chrysanthimums on my salad but hey the list also includes herbs and spices.  If I’m every stranded in the wilderness somewhere (LIKE FRICK PARK because my God I get all turned around on those trails), I will be able to survive.  Or maybe someday I will be go all rogue with my cooking and makes virgin tear soup with hibiscus garnish.  Ew.

 

Service For The Soul

10 Apr

Each year, April brings quite a few things back into my life.  Things like rain and the promise of green things to follow, fresh air, BASEBALL, racing season, and tons of other stuff mostly having to do with being outside.  I prefer the transitional seasons, but spring is the most inspirational because the world is starting to wake up.  Things are starting to peek out of the soil.  Green leaves and small buds are starting to appear on bushes and trees.  The sun remembers that it can provide heat and not just light.  To me, April is like taking a big deep breath of fresh air for the first time in months.

Spring-Flowers-Phipps

As I stared at my calender the other day, I realized that there is one thing significantly lacking from my life:  service.  I’ve volunteered for as long as I can remember: candy striping in high school and even more in college, where I was involved in about a dozen organizations.  It was an easy way to find spiritual and emotional gratification, probably because it was so accessible.  On a college campus, organizations basically recruit free labor every day so I rarely had to look far for a great cause.  Since graduating from school, my priorities have shifted.  Now, much of my expended energy is self-serving.  All day is focused on myself, my home, my relationship, my business, me, me, me.

Yesterday, I registered to volunteer with REI in South Side for Earth Day and that got me thinking all the other non-profits in the ‘burgh.  After a few clicks, I was able to sign up for a few other service days with different organizations.  I’m excited to network and meet some eco- and community-minded people while making my city a better place AND I’m excited to report back to you guys!

If you are planning ahead for some family-friendly Earth Day celebrations in Pittsburgh, I highly recommend checking out:

Earth Day 2014 w/ Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy & Frick Environmental Center

Wild Earth Day @ Pgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium


How do you celebrate Earth Day?

If you’d like me to promote your Earth Day activity, just shoot me a comment!

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