I've been MIA for a while because I was on vacation, then covering for other folks who were on vacation. Ah, summer.
With the economy as it is, I was mostly at home for my vacation time, but we did do a weekend trip to exotic ... Decorah, Iowa. Yup.
My husband's family is Norwegian, and they love Decorah's NordicFest -- not to be confused with the Aryan NordicFest. We indulged in lefse (essentially Norwegian potato tortillas) and kringle (heaven in a cookie), but didn't leave the green at home.
While in Iowa, we visited the Oneota Community Food Cooperative (organic lefse!) which was like Whole Foods, but cozier and more personal. Since it's in Iowa, all of the produce and meat was labeled as coming from nearby towns.
We also visited the 890-acre farm run by Seed Savers Exchange, a fantastic nonprofit that is preserving heritage seeds. (And poultry, and beef, too boot!) They have stunning demonstration gardens so you can see all the wacky flowers, veggies and other items you could be growing if you were getting heirloom seeds from them.
Essentially, you can get a dozen or so varieties of tomato seeds at a garden center. At Seed Savers, you can get hundreds, usually with the back story of who grew them, where they came from, etc.
The orchard alone was mind-blowing. Organic apples and grapes of every variety imaginable, and some you thought were extinct since most are from before 1900. The gardens have 25,000 endangered vegetable varieties.
We restricted ourselves to buying some poppy seeds and envelopes to save seeds in (roadside asparagus, here we come!). But we'll be ordering more in the spring online. And we might try to get out to their heirloom-tomato tasting event.
We also stopped in Minnesota where I indulged in two of my faves: roadside veggie stands and vintage Pyrex. I hit three Amish-run farm stands and an antique store, and walked away with two awesome Pyrex casseroles and eggplants, squash, zucchini, summer squash, potatoes, jam, a woven basket, honey and a cabbage bigger than a 10-month-old child. Seriously.
Now, I've got to get that Pyrex full of cabbage dishes before it all goes bad on me.