This is one of those distractions….

 

I started this post Sunday, February 22nd, but never did finish it.


 

Right now, I don’t feel so great. My brain feels like it’s covered with fuzz. Moment to moment I continue to distract myself with something new. This is one of those distractions. So is the TV. Rechecking my emails. Brewing tea.

I have been hungry all day. I have been eating, and I have still been hungry all day. Hearty foods too, eggs and bacon, lots of avocado, tuna fish, a little rice, three salads, probably half a cup of some coconut derivative or another. There have been more foods, I think there may have been some chicken in there. So I have been eating all day, and all I feel is hungry. True hunger. The kind that squeezes your stomach.

The nutritionist I am working with said this today “keep up the great healing, it’s the only way to look at it.” Honestly, it really is the only way to look at it. If I think of this as a diet, I will fail. I have never been good at restricting my eating when I really want something (although cravings aren’t usually my thing.) But I have always been a good patient, the kind who follows the doctors orders as exactly as possible.

The first day I was knocked out by exhaustion – my boyfriend hadn’t been feeling well either, so there’s a good chance I was fighting something – and I decided to nap. That felt great until I woke up in such a rush to get food that I almost ran out of the house. I needed food that I could eat immediately, no delay. I ended up with sashimi from the Durham Market Place. Not ideal, but certainly acceptable in the throws of starvation. Or at least what my brain has started to perceive as starvation.

It’s hard, when you know there is something inside you tricking the part of your brain that runs your feelings, physical and emotional. The intelligent part of your brain wants you to shake yourself. IT IS NOT REAL. You want to scream at yourself. You are eating. You are not starving. You ate 10 minutes ago. You ate 20 minutes before that. There is no way you are starving. I promise you are not going to starve. 


Update February 23rd, 2015

I never did finish that blog post, but I also never gave in to temptation. I did eat all the remaining avocado and coconut butter/cream in the house. So today is dedicated to getting more work done, Trying, at least. And restocking my sad looking fridge.

Yesterday I had gained a couple pounds – a good thing. My guts are likely inflamed and irritated, and they aren’t absorbing the nutrients they should be. This morning I was right back where I started with my weight, I may have in fact lost a pound. Wild, considering I’ve been eating almost entirely fats and proteins for the last three days.

I was going to go to a new place that opened in town over the last few weeks for lunch, as they serve a rice bowl on their menu that I can actually eat. It even comes with kimchi. But, it’s closed on Mondays. This is probably the definition of a “first world problem.”

The quest to regain control over my health continues.

[I set the picture of nasturtiums because I love that photo, and I haven’t been focused enough to even photograph what I’ve been doing. I plan to photograph any recipes that act as lifesavers sooner than later.]

 

Time for a Change

You’re looking at the last loaf of bread I will have eaten for… a while.

It has been a very long time since I updated Local Courage. I have begun what I think can be accurately referred to as a “writing career.” I have been named editor of Edible Seacoast, something I couldn’t have imagined. I started Milk Thistle Media, and am finally building websites for farms, which was the original intent.

All these great things have happened, alongside some much harder events. But, I have successfully found my most comfortable place in the food world. I will always be a baker, a cook, and a server; it’s a part of who I am. But, I’m really a writer first, and one should contribute what they feel their community will most benefit from.

Unfortunately, food hasn’t been easy for me, for a really long time. I got into sushi as a kid not just because my parents were the cool kind who took their kids out to sushi, but also because I refused to eat a lot of the food at home; pork chops, gravy, and anything where savory mingled with sweet just a little too much. Hamburgers were alright from some places, but not other’s. I reviled turkey. I was a really hard kid to feed.

So my parents taught me how to cook. They were busy anyway, exhausted most of the time, I am sure. I wasn’t easy in a lot of ways. They taught me how to cook a simple pasta sauce, then chili, then stew, and curry. So once or twice a week I would cook for the family. On Sunday’s we would have Salmon. Life felt good. Sort of.

Actually, the reality was that life never felt all that great. My stomach, my attention, my exhaustion, my moods; none of those things were really that good. I was a happy kid, and not a particularly sick kid. But, I was a generally uncomfortable one.

This lasted into college, when I really had to cook for myself. This was also when I started to get sick more. My stomach gave me constant trouble and I researched and I read, and it sounded like my gut flora was imbalanced (a whole bunch of yeast was messing up all my good bacteria.) So I tried extremes. I attempted elimination diets just to ditch them 8 hours later and $100 poorer from my recently forgone food purchases. (It did not help that I lived around the corner from a health food store.)

Let’s skip ahead. I left college. I came back here, where my family was. I met a guy. We moved in together. I started working at Blue Moon Evolution where I began to learn that people generally felt sick, for a variety of reasons, many of which were food related. And it wasn’t a simple answer. I watched friends go gluten free, raw, and paleo, and I cringed and faltered, and stuffed my face with hummus, bread, and all the raw milk I could get my hands on.

I am not always a very happy person. I am late because I had to visit the bathroom too many times. I get anxious, and I get distracted. And combined with other symptoms and tests for years, I have finally been given a plan. No one quite knows what’s going on, but we’re going to try anyway.

I will start an elimination diet. It’s kind of a specific one, but I can tell you I can have meat, fermented veg, regular veg, coconut and avocado out the wazoo, and plenty of egg yolks. I also am encouraged to have a lot of Sea Salt. I should probably drink about 5x the amount of water I currently drink, and getting into a yoga routine again wouldn’t hurt, but those were left unsaid.

I can’t have sugar. That’s a rough one. I can’t have really any carbs but rice. When I think about this quickly I don’t get too worried. I don’t like sweets all that much… Then I think about popcorn, loaves of crusty bread that make lovely reuben sandwiches, tortilla chips…. it kind of hurts to think about, so I will stop.

Then there will be blood tests, and I’ll learn about what my body likes and doesn’t like. And it will be hard, and there will be a part of my brain kicking and screaming the whole time.

Here’s the thing, though……

really want to feel better. I’m not sure I actually know what good feels like. I can’t remember a time in my life when I felt good. Don’t get me wrong, I love food like almost nothing else; I love cooking it, I love tasting it, I love smelling it. I want to last at least the two weeks I’m supposed to on this diet. It’s not a completely impossible diet. And, if it means I feel better, believe me when I say I am in.

But I am BAD at diets or diet plans. Sometimes they’ve lasted a couple days, but that’s lucky.

Today marks the first day that I have stuck to the rules of what I am supposed to eat. I had a taco salad with no beans, no cheese, and no sour cream. Extra guac. I’ve eating and drank coconut in a variety of forms over the last four hours. And now I am going to cut open an avocado and eat it with a whole bunch of kraut.

I don’t care if anyone reads this, but I need to write it. Because, honestly, I won’t stick with this otherwise. I won’t know if I might actually feel better, because I won’t have given it a chance. I want to stick with it, and … I need to.

I want to know what it’s like to feel good.

brushing off the cobwebs

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It has been a while, old friend.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have been hiding from Local Courage. It is hard to put into words, but I know that I haven’t felt particularly courageous. A metaphorical tornado ripped through my life last fall, forcing me to relocate, find new work, and re-think how I was approaching my life.

I got a new home. It is very small, but the landlords are good people, and although Thom and I trip over one another’s things a little more than we would like, it serves its purpose. I have had to learn to be more organized and Thom has had to learn to be a little more tolerant, but slowly we have settled in.

I got a new job. It was not what I was expecting, and asked too much of me. So I got a different new job (or set of new jobs, rather), and now I work for a handful of the sweetest people I could ask for. I feel valued and safe, and although I am making strides as an independent entrepreneur, I feel like I have a series of families surrounding me.

That connection, those “families,” are really important to me at the moment. I have never lived close to family – I have aunts and uncles as far as Alaska, and no closer than Pennsylvania. My parents, as much as they love the Seacoast, have hit their own hardships and have plans to move closer to my dad’s family by the end of the summer. This has not been easy for me. I appreciate all the people who give me reasons to stay on the Seacoast.

I am still developing new perspective. I am writing more, and more and more. I am talking to as many people as I can. I am trying to see the world through the eyes of a helper and a doer, rather than a star or attraction.

 

My brain has been spinning like a top since November, and although it hasn’t slowed, it has developed a new sort of rhythm that I can use.

I do not want to abandon this blog, it has been a place of hope and reflection for me. It has granted me opportunities that I otherwise could not have asked for. But I do have to pose a question to readers:

Why do you follow Local Courage? What do you like about it? What do you want to see from Local Courage?

Ultimately, Local Courage is not about ME, it is about US. It was always meant to reflect a community from the eyes of one individual. So I need your help. I need to know where that community feels Local Courage fits.

 

a new year

It is well past the new year, and I haven’t written a single post. I have been writing, to a degree, but the blog has left me unsure. I have no strong feelings, one way or another, about exactly what my next step should be.

I have been reading a lot of blogs – David Lebovitz being my personal favorite at this time. They have made me realize I am not entirely sure what I am trying to say right now. At one point, I had a very clear picture of the message I intended to share with people. But I have pulled back, rethought, and feel I need to repurpose.

There are a few thoughts keeping me up at night:

  • Do people even care? I was talking to my boyfriend after he came home from grocery shopping. He told me a long story about how there were apples that were more expensive than all the other apples. The reason given by their sign was a big “made in the USA” label. But on closer inspection, all of the apples in the USA bin had little stickers with the word “CANADA” in bold print. In fact, most of the apples surrounding the falsely labeled apples were from New Hampshire, and were being sold for a much more reasonable price.

“I never would have cared until you started talking about all this stuff.” My                            boyfriend said. That touched me. But it also made me wonder if just maybe I                    have become somewhat of a nag. I’ve pulled back on the blog and in life.

  • Where am I headed? I love writing, and interviewing, but I am starting to realize, I have no ultimate goal. I think perhaps I should. I do know that my main fuel comes from a real belief that “We All Do Better When We All Do Better.” Thom and I found a print of this slogan when we were in Minnesota a few summers ago. We unintentionally planned our vacation the same week as an all night art happening. Whole blocks were shut down just for artists and performers to showcase their crazy stunts. There was a printing press that printed off original letterpress to give away every hour. We went back every hour, all night, for six hours straight. I think we still have most of them.

So I think about all these things, and ultimately what it comes down to is, while I like doing the recipe posts, I believe this blog should be meant to showcase more of the community. We should be supportive of our neighbors, for who else would be there for us when things get hard.

This has really hit home recently since our move. Thom and I are now living in Durham, in a sort of garret apartment, semi attached to the owner occupied house. I was really nervous at first, living so close to the people we rent from. I wanted to like them, and I hoped very much that they would like us.

They remind me of the neighbors I idealize. I am always happy to bring them little gifts, or things that I think they might like. They share with us their extra fresh produce from their CSA, and flowers that might bloom while they’re on vacation.

This is what Local Courage is about. It is about food, because that is what keeps us going. Food brings people together and fills people up with strength and good feelings. But more than food Local Courage is about people. Neighbors who are there for each other, and don’t think twice before generously giving a smile, a bit of their time, or a part of their lives.

So however this new year progresses, that will be the direction of Local Courage. People. Why we should care.

the last of the summer markets

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It’s fall. Fall in New England really means something. Apple cider, golden trees, crisp air, and lots of pumpkins. I like fall, despite being cold most of the time. I guess you have to give a little to get a little.

This last weekend I attended a garlic party. If you haven’t been to one, it’s worth it. A big group of friends and acquaintances of a farm – in this case The Blue Moon Evolution’s restaurant garden – get together and plant the next seasons garlic. For those who don’t know, the garlic you eat is the same garlic you plant. Apparently it’s very hard to plant garlic the wrong way.

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We gathered and planted, and then reconvened inside to eat – our payment for an afternoons work. It felt like community at it’s best. It made me think of reading about Barn Raisings over a hundred years ago. People really helped their neighbors, because ultimately they were helping themselves.

Today was the last Exeter Farmers Market, which I think I’ve previously named as my favorite local market. I feel like I know the vendors at the Exeter Market, and they’re all good friends now. I love other Seacoast Markets as well, but Exeter just happens to hold a special place for me.

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I didn’t get to go today, but back during the furlough I went and took pictures. Most of the farmers had opted to discount or donate free food to workers on furlough. I was so mad at the time about what the government was putting us through. I didn’t care whose fault it was – left or right. I was just furious. It didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem like anyone in Washington really cared.

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So it made me really happy that the farmers, on their own fruition, decided to help those affected by the furlough. I started writing this blog because I realized small communities are going to save themselves. We are only able to hold ourselves accountable in these selfish times.

I’ve been helped by my farmer friends before. They know, to some extent, that hardship that touches upon my life. I’ve lost one job this year, and had an excruciating wait between two other jobs. The wait is showing itself to be well worth it – I really feel like my current job might be a dream for me – but it made an impact. The farmers took notice, and they were generous.

It’s been over six months since I started this blog and I thought it only appropriate to reflect on why I started it, and why I think it’s important to continue with it. The truth is, it takes courage to cook for yourself, to try new things, to make real food. But it also takes courage to meet new people, to let them into your lives, to be forthcoming about who you are. You can’t do that in a grocery store.

We need to start sustaining ourselves on a much smaller basis. It’s environmentally the right thing to do, it’s economically the right thing to do, and it’s emotionally the right thing to do. So as much as I am able I will keep writing about thoughts, farms, food, and reflections. There is a lot to say.

But most importantly, local farms shouldn’t be a novelty food source. They don’t treat their customers as anything less than real valuable people. We should be so generous.

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here’s looking at you, kid

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I have been taking an improptu hiatus from Local Courage this last month or so. The months of September and October were difficult in the Carlson/Call household. I do not want to delve into the gritty details, but I spent a fair amount of time bouncing from job to job and experiencing many changes. I did not handle these changes with grace. And so, I pulled back from the many projects in my life.

The blog was not something I initially wanted to pull myself away from. In fact, I really wanted to throw myself headlong into writing during my days off. I knew it would bring my a sense of satisfaction.

The truth is, however, Local Courage has started to evolve on my brain, and on paper, to something much greater than I anticipated. It wants to go in so many directions, I find myself constantly reigning it back in.

Read More »

strawberries and snap peas

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It’s been hard for me to write this week because my feelings have been all jumbled up. Sometimes life is very complicated. My entire self seems to be saturated with intermittent feelings of excitement, depression, anxiety, enchantment, bliss, and self loathing.

This must mean I’m finally an adult.

Frankly, the only lasting ups that I’ve had this week have been directly connected to good meals. There have been fresh strawberries and baby peas in my life. Also, to celebrate an anniversary, Thom and I drove up to Portland, ME, and ate dinner at Fore Street as a treat. Somehow, despite the novelty and general amazingness of Fore Street, it couldn’t compare to late spring fruits and veggies.

The memory of biting into a fresh itty bitty green pea is impossible to replicate. Crisp, juicy, sweet, and summery….

When I was little, living in Northampton, MA, my family had a small yard behind our house. It had a little chain link fence dividing it from our neighbors yard in a very suburban way. Along the fence every year grew little snap peas.

In June I would go out and check the pea’s progress like it was a ritual. Sometimes I would let the pods fatten and grow until they were swelled and sweet as candy. Other times I would eat them right away.

I miss being a kid. I’m sad that I’ve already run out of my second bag of snap peas this week. I still have strawberries left, but they’re a different beast.

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Strawberries to me are complicated. They are sweet, but sometimes in a way that makes me question what it is they really are. Their seeds bury between my teeth without fail, and with no promise of wriggling free on their own. Grocery store strawberries are the worst. They have a pervasive flavor that seems to linger.

They make me dislike growing up. I never started pinpointing the faults in strawberries until I was coming home from college for good. I was in the car with my mom, enjoying a bag of strawberries. It had been a hard year all around. I felt defeated.

My hands started to itch. They were turning red. I was tired. Strawberry seeds were vacationing in my gums. Life was complicated. I didn’t need fruit to be. At that moment I turned my back on strawberries at large.

Since then I’ve softened up to them a little. There are time when you can find the perfect box of strawberries. They will be small, entirely red, firm with a little give, and so so sweet. Not in that cloying processed strawberry way. Sweet like summer rain. Sweet like a kiss.

I found one of those boxes of strawberries last monday at the Durham Market. The stand was inconspicuously tucked in the middle of the line of stalls, but I knew what I was looking for. I knew that I needed to find those strawberries first. I was nearly knocked aside by two women behind me to get them – there were only six boxes. But I made it home safely with an idyllic box of strawberries.

The didn’t even last the whole night. These strawberries are the kind that could start wars. I couldn’t chance them being around too long.

I tried to get an equal box of strawberries later in the week at the Exeter Market. This box was one of dozens upon dozens, from a much larger vendor. I could tell when I saw them that they weren’t going to be the same, but I got them anyway. They were good… but not worth the trouble. They didn’t have the magic of the first box.

I am starting to think that you only get one box like that in the summer. None of the ones that follow compare. It’s like growing up. Magic happens less and less, and you have to forget what it’s like before you can experience new magic.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. If I’m not, I’ve still got my snap peas.

luna moth – a lesson in impermanence

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Disclaimer – this post is hardly food or farm related at all.

At two in the morning, Thom was getting back from filming our friends playing music and he found a beautiful luna moth clinging to our front door screen. It was luminescent in the moonlight, and impressive in size.

I’ve been worrying about it ever since. I got up a few times in the night to see if the moth was still there. It was. It is right now. When I woke up this morning I did a little research on Luna Moths. At first what I found made me sad.

Luna Moths in their adult form cannot eat. They do not have mouths.

Luna Moths in their adult form typically die in seven days or less. Their only job is to create more Luna Moths.

I tapped the screen this morning. Our Luna moth slowly stretched her wings. She’s a girl, girls have smaller antennae. She has no plans of moving, which I respect, she’s a night creature.

The Luna Moth is either just begun it’s seven days, and has picked our porch to wait for a mate, or has just ended her seven days and has picked our porch to die. There is really nothing we can do one way or another but leave her undisturbed.

She makes me think of a little Greek goddess. In the stories of the Greek gods they always have this incredible limitations. Like not being able to eat. Even more Grecian is the fact that when she was a caterpillar all she did was eat. Luna Caterpillar have an insatiable appetite.

Plus, she looks like a little deity.

She’s a beautiful reminder that time in this world is fleeting.

moving and market babies

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Daisies on the New Desk

We moved this week.

It’s been exhausting and disorienting. But Thom and I have spent more time together now than we have in perhaps the last two months, and its been great. We’ve made each other smile a lot, even though the move has left us tearing our hair out.

I finally set up my office this afternoon, the sun came out yesterday, and I thought about writing an entry for the blog for the first time since we started to move.

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Anachronistic Blogger’s Typewriter

Tomorrow I plan on sharing more recipes. I had some successes with rhubarb that have made me very happy. And can you believe it, no pie yet! But I’ve been stocking up on rhubarb, chopping it into bits and storing it in our new stand alone freezer.

I got my most recent three pounds of rhubarb from Live Free Farm last week, which happened to be my first escape from working and unpacking. It was great. The market was nice, and Thom came with me to shoot a few pictures.

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Maddie and Violet at the Live Free Farm Stand

Suffice is to say, Thom only really took pictures of babies last Thursday. It was a sunny, baby kind of market, which seemed fitting with all the seedlings. If you haven’t seen a picture of Live Free’s youngest farmer, Violet, you’re really missing out.

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A Mama and Baby at Market

Get ready for more local food recipes starting tomorrow morning, and I hope to see you at Exeter’s market this week!

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.011 – Learning to Breathe

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Life has been undeniably intense of late. We’re moving – in with my parents, of all things – and though all the parties involved are being accommodating and wonderful there’s a little spider of stress running up and down my spine and making it harder to breath. My work schedule has moved around so that I have a lot of daytime hours free, but this has somehow left me more muddled than I was when I was working.

So it goes.

It’s because of that, I think, that I’ve been giving the blog so much attention. But, is too much attention a bad thing? There are so many things I’d like to be doing with it. So many directions I’d like to go. A part of me wants to push-push-push and make everything move so much faster, which would be impossible. The blog is still an infant that could grow into anything. The only definite is time.

I have a few more Farm Stories to write and take pictures for, and recipes have come pouring out of my brain like water. I’m forced to try and catch them all, to no avail, which leaves me a little bit frantic. There’s hake, swiss chard, sorrel, scallions, micro greens, lard, three types of eggs, lots of cheese and milk vying for my attention in the refrigerator. I don’t have enough time to love them all, though I feel like I should

Last night I went to the Seaport Fish Market, dead set on buying soft shelled crabs and cooking them for another update. I was going to serve them with a bright sorrel and micro green salad and maybe some purple potatoes. But when I saw them they were just too sweet and so much tinier than I had imagined in my head. It hit me that I’d need to cut off their eyes and mouth before I could prepare them. They were all folded up on each other – they looked like little monks deep in prayer. The crabs were tiny and calm and I lost all my steam.

I left the market with a pound of hake and the knowledge that I would not be cooking that fish last night. Instead I would be eating a hummus salad and allowing myself to breathe. When there’s so much going on you can forget why you’re doing anything at all. It’s dangerous to move for movements sake.

Sometimes cooking is taxing. There can be a lot of thought required. Like running that sort of mental work out can feel very good. Or it can feel very bad.

This blog’s main purpose is to keep me inspired and on track as a local food consumer. I hope that it inspires some other people as well, but if it doesn’t I know I did what I needed to do for myself. It shouldn’t be a personal marathon of food. Food is meant to be enjoyed, shared, and loved. For people like me food is love. Even when it’s just a salad with hummus.

And let’s face it – there’s no such thing as just a salad with hummus.