Thursday, February 24, 2011

Invitation ~ New Local Book Club for Portland Foodies


Sadie, a self described local bookseller/library employee/big reader/food enthusiast has extended a terrific invitation to all area bookworms interested in a once a month book club/outing about town to discuss and celebrate food related literature. She's putting the word out and has asked Sustainable Food for Thought to help spread the message.

Please read below and then drop her a line at to keep updated as plans develop.

Howdy, All,
I'm a hungry mind seeking other rabid readers! I'm looking for a small group of female foodies who are as crazy about food books (memoir, essay, cookbooks) and experiencing the bounty of PDXs many fine farmers' markets, restaurants, and cafes as am I to forge a book circle.

This group will meet once a month to discuss a mutually chosen food-themed book accompanied by an outing (per the above) so that we might sate our book and foodie hunger!

Here's a brief list of the types of books I've enjoyed in past (and that might appeal to you?) But the real fun will be in discovering what each member brings to the table!

If this interests, I'll hope to hear from you. Please contact at the following email.

Bon Ap,


*American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)

*Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved my Life
*Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France
*Blood, Bones, & Butter

*Food Lover's Guide to Portland

*The Language of Baklava

All Michael Pollan

*Life, Death & Bialys

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sustainable Food for Thought Joins {Contributing Writers} at Frugal Granola

Exciting seasons lay ahead as Sustainable Food for Thought continues inspiring Pacific Northwesterners (and friends beyond the region!) to find and share encouragement and resources for local food, urban agriculture, nutritious cooking, and sustainable living.

During 2011, Emily Pastor and Bethany Rydmark will be sharing monthly as Sustainable Living Contributors at Frugal Granola, home of Washington State blogger Michele Augur who writes about "Living a Simple & Sustainable Life of Passion for God, Family, Organic Food, & Bargain Shopping."

Frugal Granola

Learn more about Michele and the
2011 {Frugal Granola} Contributing Writers

~Emily & Bethany

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preview ~ March Food Group: Planning Your Garden

Are you tired of root vegetables yet?
Bethany and I were talking the other day about how winter eating is starting to get a little stale. We may not be able to enjoy a ripe juicy tomato or savor a crisp salad straight from the garden yet, but by golly, we can talk about it!

Join us for Food Group March 2nd at 7pm for an evening devoted to planning our gardens. Whether you are a beginner gardener (a.k.a someone who kills everything) or an experienced green thumb or anyone in between, you are not going to want to miss this Food Group!

We will discuss how to plan your garden this year, be it in containers or on several acres. Topics will include crop rotation, siting your garden, DIY pest control/soil amendments, seed saving, and more!

In addition to our discussion on garden planning, we will end with a seed swap! If you are interested in swapping any extra seeds you may have, bring your seeds, some containers to bring seeds home, and a digital camera (to take pictures of the seed packets).

Food Group: Planning Your Garden
Wednesday, March 2nd, 7pm
Emily's House, SE PDX (Address will be provided in confirmation email)
Food Group is FREE but don't forget to bring seeds to swap and a snack to share!

Space is limited to the first 10 people to RSVP.
We will put together a wait list and ask that those who RSVP are committed to coming out of respect for the wait list.

Can't wait to see you there and talk about all the fresh bounty this summer will offer!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cultivating a Love for Cooking

If you're like me, you weren't born with the inclination, talent or desire to cook.

It's not something that I necessarily hated , but it just didn't float my gravy boat. True fact: my brother cooked more than me growing up. Shameful, I know.

You and me, we could have a long chat about all the ways I've been "thwarted" in the kitchen, but I'd prefer to share with you the ways I've been learning to (dare I say it) love cooking. Here are some tips to help transform any cooking experience from a drudgery to an enjoyment.

1. Plan Ahead
For me that means menu planning. I make menu planning into something I look forward to each week because I make it fun. Once a week, I'll head out to a local coffee shop to clear my head, plan for the coming week and prepare our menu. During this time, I plan meals around the staples I already have in my kitchen (i.e. beans, grains, stocks, meat, root veggies). Then I peruse favorite food blogs for inspiration with those ingredients. After I find some recipes that incorporate my ingredients, I'll make a list of the items I'm missing (i.e. fresh herbs, produce, dairy items, etc). When my energy isn't constantly going toward figuring out what to cook each day, I am free to enjoy the process of cooking.

2. Keep a well stocked pantry, spice rack, and freezer.
Always having staples on hand makes the occasional spontaneous meal a reality. There's always a meal on hand when beans and rice are around!

3. Make Things You're Excited to Eat
A simple but important point. If you're not excited to eat it, you won't be excited to make it. Enough said.

4. Cook with New Ingredients
There's nothing like getting caught in an ingredient rut to kill the joy in cooking. Instead of passing over a recipe because you've never used one of the ingredients on the list, be daring and give it a try. You might just find a new favorite!

5. Watch a Short Cooking Video
We don't have a TV, so I don't watch much, but I am a sucker for cooking shows! Just seeing someone make something gives me more courage and excitement to do it myself. If you've never made a particular dish, watching a short clip can give you the confidence you need to tackle it with gusto.

6. Take Pride in Your Work
Don't treat food as strictly practical...treat it like art and take some extra time to make it look pretty. Add a garnish, set your table, light some candles...anything that makes the food look pretty and ups the "WOW" factor. Beautiful food tastes better.

7. Put Together Your Own Cooking Journal
This is something I've been wanting to do for a while. Start bringing a camera into the kitchen and take pictures of all your meals during the different stages. Write down any changes you made to the recipe and the end results. Compile your favorites into a book. Use it as a reference for yourself or give it away as gifts!

As I've been naturally implementing some of these steps, cooking is becoming an exciting avenue of my life where I can express creativity and do something meaningful with my hands. As I gain confidence and skill in cooking, I also gain the desire and joy for it too.

How about you? Were you born loving to cook or is it something you've learned to enjoy with time?

Happy Cooking (and eating!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

{Books on the Shelf} What the World Eats

Oh, the library. Piquing curiosities, inspiring fresh thoughts, teaching perspectives, and introducing new understandings of the world...

I'd love to share with you one of my favorite finds from this past fall:
What the World Eats: 25 Families. 21 Countries. 525 Meals.

Two important things to know before delving in:

1) Getting my own library card as a little kid was a big deal. A big deal. The week I could write my own name, my mom took me to the front desk, and after one elegant signature, I became the bearer of a Woodburn Library Card, proud of the shiny new piece of ID to keep in my little girl purse. (I think I still have that original card in my little cedar jewelry box.)

2) Fast forward a decade to Jr. High: One favorite year of home school co-op classes focused on world geography. Each Friday, in addition to practicing our skills at Mapping the World by Heart and presenting written/oral reports on various countries, three of us girls would bring ethnic dishes corresponding to our study areas. Thankfully, my mom was game for weekly missions to track down foreign, odd ingredients.

Fast forward another decade...and a half:

Love of libraries, love of the world, and love of true food still ignite my inspiration and creativity.

A "quick trip" to the Belmont Library hold shelf usually morphs into wandering tempting aisles...and soon enough, I depart with more words than I can possibly sift through before due dates call my bluff.

"But hey," I tell myself, "Library books are free learning. Why not take advantage?"

Happy indeed I've been with this particular find:

What the World Eats
a 2008 publication by husband and wife duo, photographer Peter Menzel and author Faith D'Aluisio.

This picture-rich book highlights families from all around the world, in their homes, surrounded by a one-week supply of food and provides a detailed breakdown of groceries by type, quantity, and cost, giving a window into daily life and diet in places as disparate as Canada and Chad, Mexico and Mongolia, India and Australia.

Homes: varied from French suburbia to dirt floors in Ecuador.

Food: ranging from arrays of produce, animals products, and staple grains to diverse collections of packaged/processed foods and brightly colored bags, bottles and boxes.

Financial Breakdown: weekly $$ amounts (converted to USD for comparison's sake) including market value of homegrown foods (such a homegrown chicken or milk from a family cow) and subtotaled by category (i.e., grains & starchy foods, dairy, meat/fish/egg, fruits & veggies, prepared foods, etc.).

Notes: occasional details about cooking and preservation methods, short biographies of the families and their occupations and past times, country fact summaries, and charts and tables detailing literacy, fertility, obesity, population density, and annual meat consumption rates.

In recent Food Group discussions, we've spoken of meal planning efforts and sustainable, budget savvy living. It's eye opening to see for one's self the actual types and quantities of food being prepared and served by families around the world and to ponder the comparisons between kitchens and the cultural dietary shifts of developed countries during the past century.

Visit this article for a quick peek at additional pictures, or simply give the book title a Google image search and feast your eyes!

This book makes a great educational tool, and I'm eager to share it with my own future little ones, someday, as they amble up to receive their first library card and explore the wonders awaiting them on the bookshelves...

Available at Powell's Books
and of course,
the Multnomah County Library.

After coming across this initial book, I was pleased to learn that Peter and Faith published another terrific title in 2010: What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets. Keep an eye out for highlights in a future edition of Sustainable Food For Thought's {Books on the Shelf}.


Monday, February 7, 2011

February's Food Group Recap: DIY Lip Balm

February's Food Group proved to be a productive and educational get together as Bethany led us through the art of making DIY lip balm. The warm sweet scent of melting beeswax drifted through the bustling room of about 15 local ladies, all learning the why's and how's of making lip balm to die for. Yeah, it's that good.

Bethany started the evening off by highlighting each of the ingredients involved in the DIY lip balm and the importance of each. She explained that even the "natural" lip balms on the market contain unnecessary ingredients. For example, check out the ingredient list of two well-know lip balms compared to the recipe Bethany used from GloryBee Foods:

Original ChapStick Ingredients: arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, D&C red no. 6 barium lake, FD&C yellow no. 5 aluminum lake, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, oleyl alcohol, parrafin, phenyl trimethicone, proplyparaben, titanium dioxide, white wax

Burt’s Bees Ingredients: beeswax, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, lanolin, tocopherol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil

DIY Ingredients: pure, filtered beeswax; sweet almond oil; vitamin E oil, aloe vera concentrate, essential oil

By making DIY lip balm, not only can you cut out the fillers, but the savings are incredible as the finished product costs less than $1 a tube.

Bethany walked us through the first batch then everyone jumped in, making delicious batches of lip balm with rich scents such as Tangerine Peppermint, Jasmine Lime, Bergamot, Red Currant Lime, and a Tropical blend.

Throughout the night, everyone kept commenting about the simplicity of DIY lip balm. Thanks to Bethany's organization, preparation, and instructions, everyone walked away with 12 tubes of nourishing lip balm.

The evening ended with everyone enjoying delicious snacks and refreshing conversation. I so enjoyed getting to know everyone new to the group...Food Group is definitely one of the highlights to my month. Thanks to everyone who participated! I hope you all are enjoying your lip balm!

For those of you who missed this awesome Food Group but are interested in making DIY lip balm, here is everything you need to get started at home. Enjoy!

{ Supplies } found at GloryBee Foods
1 oz. pure, filtered beeswax
½ cup sweet almond oil
½ teaspoon vitamin e oil
¼ teaspoon aloe vera concentrate
½ teaspoon essential oil
lip balm pots or tubes

{ Instructions }
  • Cut beeswax into pieces (the smaller the pieces, the faster it will melt).
  • Combine beeswax, sweet almond oil, vitamin e oil, and aloe vera concentrate in a small, pourable container (a glass measuring cup works well). Place this container in a saucepan and fill the pan with approximately 2 inches of water.
  • Heat the mixture over medium heat until the beeswax is completely melted.
  • Remove from heat and add essential oil.
  • Pour into containers (pipettes come in handy here, otherwise, use a steady pouring hand).
  • Cool completely before use.
Makes approximately two dozen 5 gram (.15oz.) pots or tubes. Instructions courtesy GloryBee Foods

Thanks again to everyone who participated! We hope to see you all again for the next Food Group about planning your garden on March 2nd. {Details coming soon!}



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