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HOMEGROWN Life: How to Cook the Best Thanksgiving Turkey You’ll Ever Eat

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREENIt’s November, and we all know what that means: The holidays will be here any day now! Last year we followed the Thanksgiving turkey recipe below with our own homegrown bird, and we’ll do it again this year because it’s that good: super moist, flavorful, and sure to please your guests. It takes some preparation, but in the end, it’s more than worth the effort!


This recipe will work for a 16- to 25-pound turkey. Make sure the bird is completely thawed the day before you plan to cook it, because brining it requires at least 12 hours. It’s even better if you can brine it longer. We’re doing ours a full 48 hours.


» 1 gallon unsweetened apple juice
» 6 to 8 thin slices of fresh ginger
» 2 Tbsp peppercorns
» 2 Tbsp allspice berries
» 2 Tbsp whole cloves
» 2 bay leaves
» 3/4 cup salt
» 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Combine the apple juice, ginger, and spices in a large sauce pan. Stir in the salt and sugar. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes then allow to cool completely. We’ve designated a large water cooler, similar to the one pictured at left, for brining our bird.

Unwrap the thawed turkey, remove the giblets, and place the bird in the cooler, neck end down. Pour your cooled brining liquid over the bird. Add water until the bird is completely submerged then add a bunch of ice on top to keep cool. Put the lid on the cooler and leave it undisturbed for at least 12 and up to 48 hours. (Just make sure it’s staying cold.)

» olive oil
» 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
»  2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
» 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
» 1/4 lb butter (1 stick), cut into pats
» 2 cups chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the bird from the brine, letting the brine drain out of the cavity. Don’t rinse the bird.

2. Coat a roasting pan with olive oil and place the bird in it, breast-side up.

3. Using your hands, separate the bird’s skin from the breast and legs. Rub the chopped herbs into the meat.

4. Place the pats of butter under the skin in various locations, including on the legs. Pour the chicken broth over the bird.

5. Cover the bird with the pan lid or foil and put the pan in the oven.

6. Roast for two hours, basting every hour. Then remove the foil and allow the bird to brown, basting every 20 minutes.

7. Continue to roast the bird until the interior temperature reaches 165F. This can take an additional 1 to 2 hours, depending on whether the bird is stuffed. When taking the temperature, make sure the thermometer is through the thickest part of the breast and not touching bone.

You’ll end up with an incredibly moist, flavorful, and tender bird. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rachel-Dog-Island-FarmMy friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. Instead of arts and crafts, my focus these days has been farming as much of my urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with my husband, I run Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard, I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

HOMEGROWN Life: Parenting Lessons from the Barnyard

Thursday, October 29th, 2015


HOMEGROWN-LIFE-BLUEIt’s hard to find better examples of parenting than in the barnyard.

For months now, I’ve been enjoying the lessons all the animals have been teaching me about unconditional love, sacrifice and patience, the basics of parenting. I’ve watched when a sudden storm brews up and a cold rain starts pelting down as my tiny Bantam hen Mama huddles down to accommodate 7 bits of fluff under her, protecting them from the wet and chill. When one scoots out prematurely, before the rains are over, she’d rearrange her entire body, adjusting to a reordering of the fluff balls beneath her.


One of my Royal Palm turkey hens created a nest of 21 eggs, nestled in the catnip bed. Each day I watched as she added yet another egg until she was satisfied with the number. She then sat, with breast feathers fluffed and wings stretched over the brood, keeping them safe and warm. When she’d take a short break to stretch her legs or get a drink from the pond, she’d return to the nest, lower herself over the eggs, turning them as needed to spread her warmth evenly over their ever thinning shells. At day 28, on my birthday, they began to hatch. 15 brand new turkeys now occupied this Mama’s every waking moment.

I moved the family into the coop and immediately Daddy came to assist in the raising of the young. At times, he would chase Mom away, as if to say, go take a rest, I’ve got them. The poults would transfer from under Mom to snuggling under and around Dad. When Mom needed a dust bath in the herb garden, she’d take the little ones with her and Dad would sit nestled in the nearby grass, watching.IMG_6578

One of my does, Sea Princess, became a Mom this year. Her babe, named Piper, after a bagpiping friend came to visit, has grown up nursing. This is a first for the farm as usually babes are bottle raised to better supervise their intake. For months now, I’ve watched Sea Princess and Piper form a Mother and son bond. They share a subtle language, sometimes vocal sometimes through a look. From Mom, it seems to say, I’m never far away, I’ll keep you safe. From Piper, it’s all about trusting that she means it. I’ve been blessed in that he’s extended that trust to me. He and I are embarking on a new journey together as he is beginning to train as a draft animal. That means, when he’s big enough, he and I will be taking trips together with him pulling me along in a cart and in the winter, plans are for a sleigh. It’s another form of trust in learning his commands, standing still while we put on his gear, listening to what I say. I listen too.

Sometimes, Piper just wants to play. At 16 weeks, I hear him when he seems to say I just still want to be a babe. At those times, we forget about gear and just head to the pasture where he runs through my legs and then eventually finds Mom who is happy to provide him with a big of nursing before a nap in the sun. Being a parent. It’s a delicate juggling act. I’m just thankful I have so many good parents to enjoy and blessed that they share their little ones with me here on the farm.



HOMEGROWN-life-dyan-150x150Dyan Redick calls herself “an accidental farmer with a purpose.” Bittersweet Heritage Farm, located on the St. George peninsula of Maine, is a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farm stand full of wool from a Romney cross flock, goat milk soap, lavender woolens, and whatever else strikes Dyan’s fancy. Her farm is also an extension of her belief that we should all gain a better understanding of our food sources, our connection to where we live, and to the animals with whom we share the earth.


HOMEGROWN Life: Halloween that is a little more green

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015


HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREEN-150x150It is approaching quickly! I am talking about Halloween, one of the funnest holidays of the year. It is also one of the most wasteful. This year, may be a good time to switch up and start some new Halloween traditions or maybe revisit some from your childhood, like handmade treats and costumes. I can still remember all of the amazing costumes that my mom made for me and my sister each year. You can save a lot of money and make a lot of great memories.


  • Avoid buying new plastic and make your own decorations.
  • Mix handmade in with previous purchased decorations.
  • Re use or gather natural items to decorate like gourds, leaves and eco-friendly candles.

Check out these beautiful vintage decorations you can find at yard sales.


  • Try to buy locally made candy, organic or fair trade.
  • Organic cereal bars, honey sticks, or lollipops may be good substitutes.
  • Choose candy with the least amount of packaging.

Click here for a list of eco-friendly candy selections.

Skip the candy and give eco-crayons, eco-play dough or stickers.

Trick or Treat Bag

  • Use a basket, canvas or nylon bag that can be reused each year or for another purpose.
  • Save money and use a pillow case.

Click here to enter your child’s Halloween design to Chico Bags!

Trick or Treating

  • Don’t litter. Take an extra bag to pick up wrappers.
  • Walk or ride a bike. Avoid driving house to house or share rides with neighbors.
  • Use hand-powered flashlights.


  • Skip the cheap plastic costumes.
  • Make a unique one yourself! Try batwings out of a broken umbrella.
  • Look for places renting a costume if you don’t have time to make one.
  • See if you can get a costume on Freecycle. Have one? Post it for someone else.
  • Make your own face paint. (See recipe below.)
  • Plan a costume swap party with your friends or at your child’s school.

RECIPE: Face Paint Made with Natural Food Coloring

from the Campaign for Cosmetic Safety

Natural food coloring is available at health food stores and typically derived from foods and spices. We recommend reading up about natural food colorings and potential allergies first. Do not substitute conventional food coloring, which may contain synthetic chemical ingredients.


  • Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
  • Natural food coloring (see note above)


  • Mix a few drops of natural food coloring into the base ingredient of your choice. Test on a small patch of skin before applying to face or body.

RECIPE: Face Paint Made with Food

Make sure young children understand they can’t eat these paints unless you make them without the base. Test a small patch of skin first to make sure your child isn’t allergic to the food you’re using.


  • Base of safe, unscented lotion (search Skin Deep for safe options) OR pure cocoa butter (available at health food stores) OR safe, fluoride-free toothpaste (search Skin Deep; avoid mint flavors, as they can make skin tingly)
  • Turmeric, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, beets, avocado, spirulina, cocoa, chocolate sauce, squid ink or other colorful foods, juices, herbs and spices


  • Yellow: Add 1/4 tsp. and a large pinch of stale turmeric to base.
  • Pink: Using a sieve, mash the juice from 3 fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, blackberries or beets directly into the base. Or, use a deeply colored berry juice or puree.
  • Mint green: With a fork, mash 1/4 of a small avocado until creamy. Mix this into your base.
  • Emerald green: Add small amount spirulina or bright green chlorophyll to base.
  • Purple: Using a sieve, mash the juice from several fresh or frozen blueberries into the base. Or, use blueberry juice.
  • Brown: Add cocoa powder or chocolate sauce to base.
  • Black: Use a small amount of squid ink in base for true black.
  • White: Mix powdered sugar and water.


Rachel-Dog-Island-Farm1Rachel’s friends in college used to call her a Renaissance woman. She was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. She still is. Instead of crafts, her focus these days has been farming as much of her urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with her husband, she runs Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. They’re always keeping busy. If Rachel isn’t out in the yard, she’s in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!

PHOTO: we heart it