Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

HOMEGROWN Life: Back-to-School in HOMEGROWN Style

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011






Remember the days of sticky pleather school bus seats, mystery meat Mondays in the cafeteria, and field trips to the same museum year after year? September is back-to-school season! Whether you’re back in the classroom yourself, or sending your little ones off on the bus, there are many ways to live homegrown this school year.  Wholesome peanut butter and berry-wiches? Yum! Waste-free lunch kits? Genius. After-school canning with kids? Piece of cake. Try some of these ideas for a homegrown school year for you and your kids.

Photo by Lynn S.

School Lunches

Whether lunch comes in a brown bag or on a school lunch tray, think about ways to make your meals more homegrown.

  • The movement to change school lunch menus through Farm to School programs is changing the face of the cafeteria.  Farm to School “connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.” Join the movement and get involved – it’s good for the farmers and good for your family! Farm Aid’s Farm to School Toolkit is chock full of  great information to expand your school lunch programs and revitalize cafeteria food.
  • We all got sick of the weekly chicken patties as kids pretty quickly, and so are some teachers! Fed Up With Lunch a blog written by the anonymous “Mrs. Q.” tells one teacher’s story of eating lunch in the cafeteria every day for a year with her students.  She digs deepers into the school lunch system, provides her two-cents from a teacher’s standpoint on current education issues, and shares new resources for teachers, parents, and students.

Photo by Lynda

Take a family field trip to your local farmers’ market (Local Harvest can point you in the right direction), and stock up on the season’s bounty for your lunchbox.  Then, take those ingredients and check out some great recipes from and Whole Foods Market to make a local lunch!

What do you pack all of these homegrown lunches in? Try to reduce, reuse, and recycle your containers, utensils, bottles, and napkins.

  • One mom sends waste-free lunches for her son. It may sound like a lot of extra work when you’re busy getting those kids off to school on time, but check out her 5-Steps to a Waste-Free Lunch, adapted from

The 5 Steps to a Waste-free Lunch

  1. Replace paper bags with reusable lunch bags.
  2. Use reusable food containers to eliminate single-serve packaging.
  3. Switch from plastic baggies to reusable snack & sandwich bags.
  4. Reusable napkins, utensils and even straws replace their disposable counterparts.
  5. Kick the bottled water and juice habit with a reusable water bottle
  •’s waste-free lunch kit saves about $371 annually.  Their site has tips on choosing the right styles, sizes, and materials for your lunch bags and containers. Join the Waste-Free Lunches in Schools Campaign, which reduces consumption on a daily basis, preserves natural resources, saves money, and encourages healthy eating habits! By committing to a waste-free lunch, you can even earn cash or prizes for your school!

School Supplies

  • Instead of buying new notebooks and pens, try upcycling, recycling, or repurposing old materials you have around the house. If you do have to purchase something new, Rodale’s Nontoxic Back-to-School Shopping Guide is full of information for parents and students about the safest school products for humans and for the environment.

Extra-Curricular Activities

How do you teach your kids to live homegrown during the school year? Get their hands dirty and grow, cook, make, and do together!


  • Take a field trip with your family to local farms, markets, and demonstrations.  Have them learn new homegrown skills at a local skillshare! Start a garden or get some livestock at your own home.
  • Get everyone involved in the growing! Cultivate a school or community garden in your district.
  • Visit the Discussions Forum for the HOMEGROWN 101’s.  These handy guides can help you with all kinds of growing, cooking, making, and doing. Lots of projects are easy to do and are family-friendly – try the butter-making! Check out the Goodies – make your own seed packets, canning jar labels, and garden plant labels! Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the projects on the printable HOMEGROWN How-To Cards
  • Teach your little ones about food, the environment, and sustainability on the day-to-day.  Five tips from
  1. Grow something you all can eat
  2. Kitchen science with green products
  3. Be a detective
  4. Recycle
  5. Save water
  • Get inspired by Project Homestead: Kids where the whole family is growing, cooking, maple tapping, and enjoying the land together
  • Become a scientist in your own kitchen by canning with kids.  This blog has great recipes and concoctionx to try at home.
  • Take the Urban Land Scouts pledge and become a better citizen of the Earth by completing the 10 levels and living the values of the ULS.  Earn badges and learn about the natural world. Visit the Urban Land Scouts blog and get scouting!
  • If you’ve got a child interested in farming and agriculture, find out if there are Future Farmers of America chapters in your area.
  • 4-H is another great way to get your kids involved with science, healthy living, and citizenship.  There are many homegrown skills to be shared in 4-H chapters, and lots of fun at 4-H fairs!

While the back-to-school season can be overwhelming, living homegrown through the year doesn’t have to be.  Try a few of these ideas out, and figure out how best to live homegrown everyday. Share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with all of us this school year!

Poor Girl Gourmet – Eating Sustainably is for Everyone

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The concept of Amy McCoy’s Poor Girl Gourmet – Eat In Style on a Bare-Bones Budget is simple: eating sustainable, ethically-raised, family farm food is financially feasible for everyone.

Through her recipes, Amy shows that, for close to the price of a “family meal” bucket of fast food, a family of four can sit down to a wholesome, nourishing, lovingly-grown meal. Delicious meals like Kale Lasagne with Walnut Pesto, and Braised Pork Shoulder with Honey Mustard Cole Slaw!

Amy was generous enough to share a favorite recipe for Chicken in Cider Gravy – a recurring dish in our meal plans! NOTE: We’ve adjusted the numbers to reflect the current higher price of packaged chicken at finer grocery stores ($2.29/lb). Even at $3/lb., this meal for four still rings in under $5 per person. This, of course, is irrelevant for those of you keeping your own meat birds!


Chicken in Cider Gravy

This is a variation of a chicken in white wine gravy recipe that I make when I have half a bottle of white wine hanging around. I developed this version to use the cider that was about to ferment in my refrigerator in place of the white wine, and added mustard. I think this is an improvement on the white wine version of the recipe, and the gravy would also be fantastic with pork shanks or pork shoulder.
If you want to increase the amount of chicken in this dish, you can add a couple additional drumsticks and thighs using the same amount of liquid. That would allow you to create a potpie worth of company with the Savory Pie Crust (page 134) a night or two later with very little effort.

1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken, pieced into thighs, drumsticks, wings, and breasts (see Note)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped, plus 6 medium carrots (approximately 1 pound), peeled, sliced on the diagonal
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ cups apple cider
2 cups chicken broth

1 Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
2 You’ll need enough oil to coat the bottom of a Dutch oven. Use a smidge more than ¼ cup if necessary. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until the oil becomes shiny. Working in small batches, 3 to 4 chicken pieces each, add the chicken, skin side down, and brown until the skin is crisp. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a plate. There should still be enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. If not, add enough to do so.
3 Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent and the carrots and celery are softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the thyme and mustard. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle the flour evenly over the vegetables in the pan and cook until no raw flour is evident, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the cider, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the broth and simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes.
4 Place the sliced carrots and the chicken, skin side up, into the pot.  The chicken should be in one layer with only the skin above the liquid. Bring the liquid back to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the chicken meat falls off the bone—meaning no knife, peeps—approximately 1 hour 15 minutes, being careful throughout not to let the liquid come to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve it forth.
NOTE: Ask your butcher to cut the chicken for you if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself.

Estimated cost for four: $10.92 $13.32. That’s for you big eaters who can polish this off between four of you. If we’re talking six servings, we’re looking at $1.82 per serving. The chicken should cost no more than $1.69 around $2.29 per pound. At 4 pounds, that’s $6.76 $9.16, though I am expecting you to be on the lookout for 99¢-per-pound chicken, okay? The olive oil is 48¢. The onion costs 33¢. The carrots cost 94¢ at $3.99 for 5 pounds of carrots, figuring that our soffritto carrot is at most 1/6 of a pound. The celery costs 20¢ at 10 stalks in a bunch costing $1.99. The cider was 56¢ using 1½ cups from 8 cups at $2.99. The broth was 2 cups of the 4-cup box that costs $2.19, so that’s  $1.10. The flour is 24¢ per cup, so that’s 5¢.  The mustard is 2 tablespoons from a bottle that costs $2.99 for 19 tablespoons, so that’s 32¢. We’ll throw in 18¢ for the thyme. If you serve this with the Buttery Mashed Potatoes (page 121) those will cost you around $2.50, keeping you well under the $15.00 $16.00 dinner budget, and leaving a person or two in your family happy to have some Chicken in Cider Gravy leftovers.
—From Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget by Amy McCoy/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Amy’s recipes are simple, the dishes are beautifully photographed, and the most valuable part of the book comes in the form of “Poor Girl Pointers”: simple, seemingly-common-sense (but then why don’t we do it) practices that can be a life line for those who may be wondering where to start. Tips like meal planning, buying meat on the bone and “do not forsake your freezer” provide the guidance and discipline that many of us with busy lives need.

So, HOMEGROWNers, how do you save money while eating family farm food? Leave your comment here and you’ll get a chance to win a copy of Poor Girl Gourmet – Eat In Style on a Bare-Bones Budget!


HOMEGROWN How-to Cards: Kale Pesto Recipe

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Recently we enlisted the help of Sara Bee Jensen from Lost Bird Found (aka The most creative woman in the world) to create a series of how-to cards with some of the information we have here on HOMEGROWN.

They are more beautiful than we ever imagined and we’re so excited to be able to share them with you. The cards will be handed out at the various events we’ll be at this year, and they will also live in the under the “Show and Tell” tab in the header of  So, if you have an event coming up, a garden party, wedding shower, baby shower, potluck – anything – these are a terrific little token of affection for your friends. Please. Steal them, print them, share them with others.

The final installment (for now) in the HOMEGROWN How-to Cards series is a simple and adaptable recipe for all that yummy green leafy stuff we’ll be getting this summer. CSA shares are full of it, farmers markets are awash with it, our gardens overflow with it – if it’s green and leafy, make pesto with it!

HG card - Kale frontHG card - Kale back

Linked on the card is the HOMEGROWN Cookin’ group. Also check out these super cute and useful labels for canning jars, bottles, boxes – anything you need to label, really!

Jar labels 1Jar labels 2


Other How-to Cards:

How To Save Tomato Seeds

How To Make A Self-watering Planter

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