Pluck The Fruit

On our first day in upstate NY, we went apple picking at Hicks Orchard, near Cambridge.

apple picking

apple picking

apple picking

apple picking

The last photo is from Jenna’s farm.  She didn’t want us wasting our “bought apples” on her horse, so we shook her centuries old apple tree and got some gorgeous Northern Spy apples.  The horses (and pigs, and sheep) positively gorged themselves.

Since When Does Lemon Have Ingredients? A Mild Rant on Travel

To get to Seattle, we had to fly from New York. Two things amazed me about this, and every plane trip I’ve taken lately – 1) how truly unsustainable airplane travel is, simply in terms of passenger service, and 2) How it took me this freakin’ long to notice. It was only when reading Joel Salatin that I really stopped and thought about the tremendous waste that goes into airplane travel, and it extend so far beyond the gasoline and carbon costs. 

It really hit home when I ordered a soda water with lemon. In every other flight I’ve been on, they’ve always had a sliced lemon, or not had it at all. (Now, I know that ordering lemon slices from New York airport is about as non-local as physically possible, but – well – I like my citrus.  I also know that ordering canned soda water isn’t the most sustainable option either. I was thirsty. I’m not a saint.)

Instead of a sliced piece of fruit, however, they gave me packets of powdered and crystalized lemon.  It was, of course “100% natural” – but looking at the ingredients?

lemon packets

true lemon

If it now takes paper packets to serve lemon, we’re in trouble. Not to mention, the tremendous amount of plastic associated with each drink and snack.  

As a consumer, I have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to either bring my cup (which I forgot at home, along with the frittata disaster of 2013) or at least, save it and not throw it away between service. You can’t bring your own beverages on flights through the airport, but I could have had a water bottle and filled it at the airport water fountain.  However, even when I do my part, I can’t understand why the policy is to collect the cups after service, only to re-distribute out new cups afterwards. Is there something inherently unhygienic about sipping from the same cup, naught but two hours later? Not to mention, isn’t this less financially viable?  I mean, they loose twice as many cups as necessary!

Also, the hermetically sealed, many varietal processed snacks frustrate me. I’m a gluten-free and refined sugar-free person, so I carry my own snacks. For most people with specialized dietary requirements, they don’t rely on the airline to provide for their needs.  For everyone else, having such a tremendous variety of processed, package snacks is unnecessary, and just creates so much garbage and waste, in their digestive system and the landfills.

 So I wonder, what would happen if we had either reusable and washable bowls, or if that’s not feasible, compostable bowls, with a vegetarian and a meat-based soup and a hearty bread (and of course, gluten-free bread, for those who need).  Have the airline attendants ladle them out individually to each person, so there’s no cross-contamination of anything. At the end, collect the scraps for compost, and use the compost to grow attractive plants alongside the runway (I thought of saying food trees, but that seems like overkill, considering the amount of pollution and fumes. Not to mention, probably don’t want anything high too near a runway.)

On shorter flights, the same could be done with nuts (I know this may be questionable for those with nut allergies, but they now serve packaged nuts, and from what I understand, the hermetic seal really doesn’t makes all that much of a difference once the package is open.  If anyone reading has a severe nut allergy, please correct me.)  They could hand out either compostable or metal tins of raw or roasted nuts, and throw them in the dishwasher at the end of the flight, or compost the containers.  

Alternatively, they could have the local fruit of the season, which would be a dramatically cost and health effective option – local apples in New York right now were around $2.00 a pound (for about 3-4 apples) while chips, cookies, etc., retail for $1-2 per pack – they could cut the cost by 4, and increase health and sustainability!

I know these ideas may seem ridiculous at this point, but remember, a few years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find a “local” label, and the idea of canning supplies in the local Target would have been comical. This changed because consumers demanded it. What if we demanded something that was cheaper for the airlines, and healthier for our waist line and our waste?

I imagine things would change, and quickly too.

I know this seems a bit rant-y, and for that, I apologize.  It’s more just a wonderance – what would happen if we came together, and instead of continuing to follow the most obvious and unsustainable patterns, we really paused, thought about new options, and tried them out? I really believe it would be amazing what we could accomplish collectively. 

First Morning In Seattle

Our first morning in Seattle was fantastic.  When Ant and I travel together, 80% of the time, we use airbnb.  It can really make or break a vacation, but luckily for us, this one was made by our awesome hosts, Megan and Saul.  The room was private, comfortable and spotless, they were happy to share their kitchen, but most importantly, they were friendly and relaxed.  Little things, like being perfectly happy to coordinate cooking times, share their spices with us, and tell us the details of their composting make the stay as special as staying in a fancy B&B.

On the first morning, after having a breakfast at home, we headed out to Pike Place Market.  We both really wanted to focus on the special and unique parts of Seattle – not necessarily the first Starbucks, but the quirky and the delightful.

We found that first in Caffe Vita, a fabulous roaster and coffee house in the Capitol Hill area. 

Caffe Vita - Seattle

They roast their own single origin espresso, have stellar baristas, and a friendly and laid back vibe. It was so cool to see “local coffee” redefined, as they roast each and every bean they brew and press, right out the back!

roaster

It was amazing to see, particularly while sipping such a delightful brew. What we loved most about it, however, was the staff.  From day one, they were super friendly, but when we came back on day two, we were so surprised that they remembered us, asked us how our first day in Seattle was, and were more than happy to make restaurant recommendations that they enjoyed. It make us feel like we were the locals. (By the way, please check their website for incredible detail on their blends, single origin espresso, and roasting process – so fascinating and far more in depth than I could dream of posting here.)

Fully revved up, we continued walking down to the infamous Pike Place Market. 

Pike Place Market

If we had expected a quick, 30 minute trip, we were absolutely wrong. Pike Place requires at least a few hours to really get the feel of all the amazing shops, stalls and things to see. For photographers, it can’t be beat. Luckily, I’m not one, so snapshots sufficed. 

pike place nuts

From the moment you enter, the scents are overwhelming. At Pike Place Nuts, they roast all of their own nuts, with a bunch of different flavors.  Delicious!

A pickle like no other

Britt’s pickles were out of this world amazing.  She makes a variety of pickles, as well as kimchi and shots of pickle juice – while perhaps it sounds weird, it tasted refreshing and fabulous.  I bought a gorgeous sour pickle, and was such a happy camper. She naturally ferments all her pickles, rather than rushing it with extreme heat and pasteurization, which allows the healthy bacteria and amazing flavor to remain. She even sells “Picklators”, which are sets to make your own pickles at home – a fun gift for the preserving newbie!

Pike Place Fish Co

But of course, the most famous stall at Pike Place Markets is the “Flying fish guys”, also known as Pike Place Fish Co. They’re most famous for yelling and throwing fish around, but in my opinion, they should be famous for their total commitment to transparency and 100% sustainable farming. 

sustainable fish

Not to mention, their fabulous signage. 

Cherries

Of course, to finish our morning, I had to buy a bag of locally grown cherries. The salesman was so thoughtful – he even provided a pit bag, for my eating pleasure! Talk about fast food.  

Until later!

Kat 

Frittata is Only Good Travel Food When You Remember to Pack It: Vacation Lessons

I planned a very different post to this one.

frittata

I have to admit, I felt a bit proud of myself.  After a week of insane moving, furnishing an apartment 80% via craigslist, seeing so many friends and family members, going to a wedding, and cooking nearly every single meal, I felt like a 20-something version of Martha.  TOday, I even woke up early before our flight to Seattle (more on that in a moment) to make sure we had a great meal for the flight, and used all our left over veggies to make a beautiful frittata.  We packed it up, had it ready to go with some carrots and cucumbers for additional snacks…

And left it on the counter. That’s sure to smell great in three weeks.

Just to add insult to injury, we also forgot our insulated bag, collapsible tupperware, and amazing travel sporks (a gift from my beautiful friend Yas) that we were relying on to pack lunches with us for our vacation.

Well, life happens.  We can always pick up another tupperware or two, and use our good ol’ reusable shopping bags to bring them with us (thank Goodness, we remembered something.) But while I was planning on writing a post about “how easy it is to travel sustainably” I got a nice ol’ wake up call, and a $14 airport omelette instead. C’est la vie.

So, we’re off on a three week trip to Seattle, Portland and Northern and Southern California. It’s 1/2 vacation, and 1/2 investigation – is one of these places where we’d like to set up our future farm?

west coast us

We’re attempting to take a balanced approach to sustainable living on this trip. We are relying as much as feels manageable on public transportation and our feet, and are using the train a number of times (from Seattle to Portland, and Portland to San Francisco.)  However, since we’re also looking at houses outside of the city, we’re also renting cars when we need to.

We’re so excited to explore the farmers markets, local wineries, and even a cheese making course.  We’re going to cook with local, fresh ingredients as much as feels reasonable, and eat out and enjoy the culture the rest of the time. 

The part of the trip we’re most excited for, however, is definitely the end – a reunion our BEAUTIFUL little dog!  We couldn’t be more excited – she’s flying from Brisbane to LA, and we’ll pick her up and have her in the cabin with us from LA to NY.

I am so excited to share our adventures and lessons with you.  If you have any particular recommendations for these places, do let us know!

 

 

 

Picking Wild Blueberries in Canada

Of our first of many, many trips we’ll be going on in the next few weeks, Canada was a fantastic way to get started.

Canada lake

It was amazing to meet up with beautiful friends, on a pristine lake, drink some delightful beverages (including a local maple syrup liquor which was far too sweet for me even to taste, but everyone seemed to find quite potable), go camping, read four books and e-books, and just relax and rejuvenate after a crazy amount of business and travel.

There were so many beautiful meals, belly laughs, and two hour naps under a rain-pounded roof.  There were hideous conversations in my broken French, with delighted and patient native speakers.  There was a lot of smooching. 

smooching

There was fishing and fires and making coffee on a grate in a pit. 

Ant's first fish

 

However, perhaps my favorite part outside of the remarkable company was going outside our campsite, and picking handfuls and handfuls of wild, succulent blueberries.

handful of blueberries

 

I haven’t picked any wild fruit since I was a little girl. My parents had a cottage in Otis, Massachusetts, and every now and then we’d go and pick wild raspberries from the brambles out back.  However, it’s been a long time since I last delighted in the tart sweetness of uncultivated berries. 

In fact, if I hadn’t been with a blueberry picking pro, I wouldn’t have even recognized them. I think of blueberry plants as the farmed style, overloaded with gigantic fruits:

blueberries

(source)

But in reality, these were the wild, low to the ground types that had to stay low and small to evolve to be as prolific as they are. The berries were quite small this year, due apparently to a lack of rain, according to our hostess. 

So, you had to really hunt for them. They were small, and only a few to a plant, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t over abuse the landscape.  So we picked a handful here and there, until we were truly stuffed. As we picked, we laughed and chatted, and (however embarrassing to admit) kept one eye open for the bears, in case we were taking their supply.

wild blueberry plants

 

It was so refreshing and extraordinary to be able to pick something wild and eat it. As a native New Yorker, I’ve never really done that.  We have a fear about that.  However, it’s something I hope to be able to do more often, and whenever I do, I’ll think back to this beautiful weekend on this beautiful Island and be oh, so grateful.

What’s been your favorite travel experience?

What’s your favorite fruit?