This blog is hosted by two ladies from Texas that have been friends for life and share a passion for all things locally grown and produced, and for living an urban farmgirl lifestyle. Together, through this blog, we will share our adventures in raising chickens, canning all the beautiful bounty the Yakima Valley has to offer, visiting farmers markets and produce stands, and everything in between.
|Natalie and Erika at Girl Scout Camp, age: 10|
|High School Graduation 1998|
First and foremost, we'd like to introduce ourselves. My name is Natalie, and I grew up with a farmer's daughter for a mom and a city boy for a dad. My family spent many a holiday and Sunday at my grandparent's farm in West Texas. As one of 18 grandkids, I spent those long days playing with my cousins in the giant cotton bins full of cotton seed after harvest, playing with the chickens and goats, helping to process deer into delicious sausages and ground meat during hunting season, and helping to clean just-harvested corn for that night's dinner. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. That was just how life was. Then I went off to follow my dreams through college and grad school, and had to rely on grocery stores and fast food joints for my meals. I became very aware of the quality of the food I was consuming, and sorely began to miss the fresh food of my youth. My Aunt's fresh eggs, my mom's peaches from the summer that she freezes to use year-round, the barbequed goat (cabrito) we would have for holiday dinner, and the fresh deer meat. Only here in Yakima, Washington did my passion for canning, or "putting up", the local produce and supporting a local lifestyle start to burgeon. The amount and variety of fresh produce that comes off the land here is mind-blowing. I began to pick and freeze blueberries, can my own salsa and spiced cherries, and make jams and pumpkin butter. I am on a mission to preserve and enjoy as much food as this valley has to offer, and to share my trials, tribulations, and recipes with you along the way.
|Natalie and Dane at the Mother Earth News Fair, June 2011|
I’m Erika, I grew up in Texas with Natalie. Unlike Natalie I did not grow up with the deep seated need to make things from scratch or even cook at all. Frozen dinners were commonly seen on our table. We bought our eggs at the store. My family still lives in Texas but I wouldn’t say they consider themselves “Texans”. (Or maybe they would since they have lived there just about 25 years). So, I never thought I would stay in Texas. I have spent some time in the Midwest, Southwest, and now the Northwest. When I am not dreaming of food, I hang out with my husband and two kids, teach first grade, and work on my doctorate (probably in that order).
|Kale, Erika, Kaya - 2010 strawberry harvest|
I have always liked to paint, draw or otherwise create things in that way. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I really began to cook. It all started because, well, I had to: my husband worked at night, and let’s face it, if I didn’t do it no one would. I mean, these kids weren’t feeding themselves. So that is how I began down this journey, and let me tell you it has been a slow, rocky ride (my oldest is 7). Now I genuinely love to cook, to create something out of nothing. Let’s be completely straightforward – they don’t always turn out as planned. But isn’t that the joy of cooking anyway? I began freezing my own fresh, local produce and canning using local ingredients. Separately, Natalie and I have been fine tuning our abilities as culinary scientists by hypothesizing, creating, and testing. When we found ourselves together again in the great Pacific Northwest, we knew it was fate. That is what brought us to this point: our mutual love of cooking, local produce, everything homemade, and each other.
Thank you for reading our blog.
|Playing Dress-up in Mom's old Bridesmaids Dresses|