Home Tour: HGTV Urban Oasis 2015

Have you entered for a chance to win this year’s HGTV Urban Oasis home yet? If not, get on that so we can be Asheville buddies!!

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House
A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to check out the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis home in west Asheville and have a chat with the folks who made it happen. To say I was pumped was an understatement. When home planner Jack Thomasson found this 1920’s bungalow it had a long way to go. Very similar to lots of older homes in Asheville, including the house that Z and I rented when we first moved here, the home had a number of tiny, closed-off rooms, weird layouts and no flow. That said, it was in the ideal location. (Seriously, that was our ideal neighborhood on our house hunt, but it was a bit too rich for our bank account!)

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

It’s on a quiet street, but comfortable walking distance to the main drag of West Asheville. The Hop’s vegan ice cream, West End Bakery’s freshly baked bread, and, most importantly Biscuit Head‘s cat head sized biscuits and jam bar are literally at your doorstep! But I digress…

They had a lot of work to do to make the house and amazing as its location. Jack contracted with Jody Guokas from JAG Construction and Calder and Aaron Wilson from Wilson Architects to totally blow out the floor plan creating an open layout for the main floor. Working with pretty much the same square footage, they turned it into a home that works for the modern family. Having lived in one of these little bungalows, I was really impressed with the flow that they achieved. I absolutely loved great room with its cozy sitting area, functional dining space, sweet loft space, and ah-mazing kitchen. Its clearly the hub of the house.


Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Bryan Flynn worked hard to create a design that was as uniquely Asheville as the house. The house is bright, colorful, and full of art from Asheville artists. Most impressive to me is how well he balanced using old antiques from estate sales with new furniture, rugs, and accessories from Overstock. Also impressive was his use of panelling to make the bedrooms seem bigger. Its such a nice architectural touch that is so unique and lovely.

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House
Clearly I’m smitten with this house. While I have to admit that I’m not-so-secretly crossing my fingers for my parents to win it so we can have in town babysitters whenever the seedlings come along, you should totally enter. Not only do you win the house and all the furnishings in it, you also win a 2016 Acura TLX and $50,000!! Get to entering!!

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Kiwi and Peach: My Trip to the 2015 HGTV Urban Oasis House

Pruning Your Basil

Hello my lovelies! I hope y’all had a wonderful week last week while we were off galavanting about the Southeast! Since we chatted last we’ve had a wonderful engagement party hosted by my sweet, sweet parents, found my wedding dress (!), visited both Savannah and Charleston, and we’ve eaten some really great food in the process! As soon as I get through the massive amounts of pictures I have from Ireland, the party, and our lowcountry trip, I’ll have lots of pretty things for y’all!

Today though, let’s talk about something a bit more practical. While we were gone, our basil got out of control! We have a row of basil in the same container as out tomatoes because we heard they get along just swell. It’s clear they are besties even if our poor tomatoes did get a case of early blight. Anyway, when we got back we also had a whole bundle of basil from our CSA so clearly it was pesto time!

How to Prune Basil from Kiwi and Peach

When we first started growing basil a few years ago, every time I pruned it for pesto I ended up killing it. Then, my strategy was to take a few leaves from each stem leaving enough for the plant to keep growing. Unfortunately I was having to take a lot, so that didn’t always work out. Eventually a friend showed me how to prune them correctly so that they could continue making new stems and my mind was blown. Talk about a light bulb moment!

So, dear friends, here’s the tip.

Cut the stem just above a set of opposite leaves.

How to Prune Basil from Kiwi and Peach

So simple! Another stem will pop up from the little nook there and make lots of new leaves.

We used our pesto (and some home-grown tomatoes from my grandmother’s garden) on a Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Grilled Pizza from our summer recipe collection for The Seasonal Supper. It tasted exactly like summer should!

What about you, friends? Do you have any gardening tips for this novice? What are you growing this year?

What is Trans Fat?

Trans Fat has been in the news a lot lately here in the US, since the FDA has proposed to ban it from food. Yet hardly anybody seems to know what trans fat is. Fox News host Tucker Carlson responded to the news by saying “Let me be the only person in America who stands up for trans fats by asking the obvious question, which is ‘If they’re so bad for you, why are they in foods?’ And I suspect the answer is probably because they’re delicious.”

No doubt to Carlson’s chagrin, it was Stephen Colbert who immediately rushed to his defence: “Now that might sound like an idiotic thing to say, but let me be the only person standing up for Tucker Carlson: if he’s so stupid, why is he on Fox News?”

Just making up nonsense when you don’t know the answer to your own question does, indeed, sound pretty idiotic. But the question is completely valid, and while Colbert correctly pointed out that trans fats have “no particular taste”, he never actually answered it either. Why are trans fats really in foods?

The short answer is because they’re cheap.

The long answer is quite a bit more interesting, though. It’s a tale of good intentions, scientific breakthroughs, hubris, and a bit of organic chemistry. (The presence of the latter explains why I am writing this blog post instead of Lauren—a combination of an incompetent high school Chemistry teacher and a college course in Organic Chemistry that doubled as a weed-out class for pre-med students has left her with a phobia of the subject.)

Organic Chemistry 101

Both fats and carbohydrates (two of the three macronutrients that are essential to animal diets) are comprised of various arrangements of hydrocarbons—that is, chains of Carbon atoms, surrounded by Hydrogen atoms, in various configurations. Each Carbon atom has four available bonds, each Hydrogen atom one, and the bonds repel each other. Other elements can be incorporated in the chain, and have varying numbers of available bonds. There’s an enormous variety of different combinations, but they all stem from a small set of building blocks so their names are derived in a mechanical way according to a fairly simple grammar. The simplest hydrocarbons are called alkanes, so let’s look at one of those first:


Hydrocarbons are named for the lengths of their main chains of Carbon atoms. The first few prefixes are meth-, eth-, prop-, but-, pent-, hex-, … &c. The molecule in the diagram above is an alkane with four Carbon atoms, so it is called butane. Note that this is not a fat—you know it as lighter fluid. If it were a fat, we might say that it is saturated, because it has as many Hydrogens as can possibly fit on a chain of this configuration.

That need not be the case, however. If we take a pair of Hydrogen atoms out, we can form a double bond between two Carbon atoms. For fats, this is the difference between a saturated fat and an unsaturated fat. Simple chains that contain at least one double bond are called alkenes. There are obviously a bunch of ways to do this, which get reflected in the name. There’s usually a number to indicate which of the bonds is the double bond, so if we were to create an alkene (which is still not a fat, by the way) with four Carbon atoms where the second C-C bond is a double, it would be called but-2-ene. But double bonds also have a new property: unlike single bonds, they can’t rotate so any asymmetries are locked in. So, in fact, there are two variants of but-2-ene:

Geometric isomers of But-2-ene

We call these variants cis-but-2-ene (where the two adjacent carbons are on the same side of the double bond) and trans-but-2-ene (where they are on opposite sides), respectively. Bear in mind that this is a 2-dimensional representation of what is really a 3-dimensional structure, but even so you can see that these molecules are quite different despite comprising the same components in the same order.

We haven’t seen a fat molecule yet, but we now already know what a trans fat is: a fat molecule with at least one double bond where the chain continues on different sides of the bond. Immediately you should be suspicious of the entire premise of the trans fat debate. Fats are much more complicated structures than alkanes, and each has many different features in their structure. It’s highly questionable, if not actually absurd, to talk about ‘Trans Fats’ as a single thing, as if the direction of one particular bond does more to determine the behaviour of a molecule than all of its other properties combined. We have located the origin of the name ‘Trans Fat’, only to find that it is shorthand for something else. That something else is the industrial process of partial hydrogenation.

All about Fat

So far we’ve learned the basics of hydrocarbon chemistry with reference to lighter fluid and an industrial ingredient of synthetic rubber that you’ll never encounter. What does a fat look like in comparison? The building blocks are pretty similar. “Fatty acids” are just longer chains with a few Oxygen atoms included in strategic locations. The most common fats in food, known as triglycerides, comprise three of these fatty acid chains joined together at one end. Here’s a typical example:


This triglyceride comprises the fatty acids Stearic Acid (top right), Oleic Acid (left) and Linoleic Acid (bottom right), all attached to a glycerol molecule in the centre. (No chemist actually draws molecules this way, for obvious reasons, but you get the idea. Remember that the real molecule is three-dimensional and all of the single bonds are free to rotate.) Note that Oleic and Linoleic Acids contain one and two cis double bonds, respectively.

By the way, the terms ‘fat’ and ‘oil’ are interchangeable here for our purposes. Fats that are liquid at room temperature are generally known as oils. There are exceptions, but not based on any physical differences. Animal fats contain a high proportion of saturated fat—remember, those are fats with no double bonds. A few plant oils, like coconut and avocado, are saturated fats too. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature, thanks to their regular structure (which makes for stronger attraction between molecules).

Most plant oils, however, are polyunsaturated. That means that each molecule includes multiple double bonds. This gives them a much more irregular shape, and as a result polyunsaturated oils are generally liquid at room temperature.

Although polyunsaturated fats are generally considered the best for you, there’s one big down side to them that partially explains why trans fats are still with us: they go rancid much faster than saturated fats. The reason is that rancidity occurs when free radicals break bonds in the fat, initiating an oxidation reaction. The easiest bonds to break are the double bonds. Therefore the more double bonds a fat contains, the sooner it is likely to go rancid.

It is possible to add Hydrogen atoms to an unsaturated fat and turn it into a saturated fat, in a process called (unsurprisingly) hydrogenation. Typically, however, one double bond is left intact to make a monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are generally semi-solid at room temperature. As you may have guessed already, this process of partial hydrogenation is how margarine is made (and the reason it is softer than butter, which is largely saturated fat).

At the time this was invented, it would have been considered a great achievement of modern science. The prevailing scientific model held that fat was bad for you, and that saturated fat in particular was especially bad for you. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil could be produced from plants at much lower cost than animal fats—which require huge energy inputs in comparison—plus they lasted longer, were supposedly better for you, and came in a handy spreadable form just in time for the invention of the refrigerator. Everybody wins, right? As we’ll see, this is where the hubris came in.

The process of partial hydrogenation is relatively straightforward in principle (though in practice actual formulations are closely-guarded secrets). Molecules always tend towards their lowest-energy state (that is, if they can release some energy, they will). Imagine you’re on a bicycle in a deep valley—all things being equal, you’re going to eventually end up at the bottom, where you have the lowest energy. A saturated bond has lower energy than a double bond, but before it can form the double bond must first be broken, which requires an input of energy. If there’s a hill between you and the valley, you’re not going to get in there at all unless you add some energy (by pedalling), or magically teleport yourself to the other side of the hill without passing through the space in between. (If you’re laughing, stop, because these are both completely valid options in the world of quantum mechanics, though not really relevant here.) So partial hydrogenation is performed by adding some energy, in the form of heat, plus a catalyst (imagine someone in a bulldozer who will temporarily lower the height of the hill for you).

Here’s the catch: a trans double bond is also a lower energy state than a cis double bond. As a result, the exact same conditions under which most of the double bonds are hydrogenated also cause the remaining double bonds to flip from their naturally-occurring cis configuration to a trans configuration a very high proportion of the time. Trans fat contamination is thus an inevitable result of partial hydrogenation.

There are a few trans fats that occur naturally in our food. For example, a small percentage of milk fat is a polyunsaturated fat with one cis and one trans double bond. (The FDA uses a technical definition of trans fat that excludes these naturally-occurring fats.) Current studies differ on whether this particular fat is bad for you, or actually good for you. However, the trans fats produced by partial hydrogenation are not found anywhere in nature. They are a completely new addition to the human diet in the past century. It turns out that not only is the hypothesis that saturated fat is bad for you on increasingly shaky ground, it is now widely accepted that the monounsaturated trans fats produced by partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils are definitely bad for you, and certainly worse than the saturated fats they were designed to replace.

What to do?

So, this miracle product that was scientifically formulated to make us healthier has actually been making us unhealthier all along. What should we do about that? Compulsory labelling of trans fats on nutrition labels has already done a lot to reduce the amount of trans fat in our diets. As a result of labelling, margarine as we knew it has virtually disappeared from supermarket shelves. In its place are ‘spreads’ mostly made from butter cut with vegetable oil, containing no trans fats. Consumers are clearly embracing the health claims of butter over those of partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils. Even the world’s largest margarine producer, whose CEO was decrying butter as evil as recently as 2010, is now adding butter to their spreads. So better education can help (you may consider this blog our contribution).

Many large food producers, including some fast food chains, have also begun phasing out trans fats from their cooking under pressure from consumer groups. Yet a lot of fast food and processed food continues to be cooked in trans fat. Mostly that’s because the slower rate of oxidation means the oil can be changed less frequently without it going rancid, and the resulting products last longer too. That’s a reason to continue using partially-hydrogenated oils, but not a very good one: other oils have been developed in recent years (by separating out the least-volatile components in plant oils) that last longer and do not contain trans fat.

It’s certainly not, as Carlson speculated, because of the taste. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be fond of quoting the maxim “fat is flavour”. Keep in mind, though, that it’s a gross simplification. In reality the compounds that add flavour are fat-soluble, and so they’re found along with the fat in foods. The fat itself really does have “no particular taste”. (Colbert: “That’s America’s favourite flavour.”) “Fat is a necessary but not sufficient condition for flavour” doesn’t pack quite the same rhetorical punch, but it’s more accurate.

There’s simply no reason for consumers to ever choose to eat trans fats, except because the products they want are not available without them—at least, not at a price they are willing to pay. The looming ban on trans fats in the US should solve the availability issue. And while the poor are the biggest beneficiaries of cheap food, they also bear the brunt of the negative effects. It’s clear at this point that the cost savings of partial hydrogenation are a false economy.

My biggest worry is the extent to which partially hydrogenated fats might be replaced with Palm Oil, which is another in that small handful of saturated plant fats. Large swathes of tropical rainforest are being razed every year to make way for palm oil plantations, which is one of the worst things you could do from a climate change perspective. Even as trans fats are cast on the dust heap of history, we will all have to remain vigilant consumers.

If you liked this post, we have more where this came from and you’ll hear about it when you follow our Twitter feed.

The first edition of our Meal Planning guide, The Seasonal Supper, is available now! Check out the free, one-week Think Spring preview and then sign up to purchase the full four-week Summer Simplified meal plan. Our eating philosophy is food-based, so you’ll have no trouble avoiding trans fats.


First Comes Love

Hello there friends! I hope that all of  y’all had a wonderful long weekend. We spent the weekend with my best friend and her husband, showing them all that there is to see in Asheville. We hiked with puppies, we drank in the Blue Ridge doing her thing, we ate delicious food, and we wandered, wandered, wandered. Oh, and…

The Kiwi proposed!

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

I’ve been dying to get on the Appalachian Trail, so Zane suggested that we take a day off and head up there for a day hike. When Zane lived in the States before, he bought an oil painting of Roan Mountain by local artist, John McKinney. As he was planning where and how he’d pop the question, he thought about how special it would be to have a painting of where we got engaged, so he took us to that part of the AT. I had no clue where we were going or the significance of the location once we arrived.

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

After a little bit of hiking, a snake scare, and a sweet picnic with juicy peaches, we stopped to take some pictures of the Blue Ridge doing her thing and he popped that question! Obviously I said yes, a million times, yes. {Actually, I said yes before he was even finished with the question.}

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach

To be perfectly frank, and I think it’s important that I be so because there are a whole lot of assumptions in this whole getting married hooplah, I knew it was coming. It was not a surprise. Zane and I talk about little decisions ad nauseam, so we really couldn’t imagine NOT talking about this huge one. While being surprised is nice, I’m so glad that Z knows me well enough to include me in the planning and takes my opinions into consideration. He’s progressive like that and I think it’s pretty romantic. He still managed to blow me away with his thoughtfulness with the ring, the location, and his sweet words that will stay with me forever.

A few months ago, we went to a local goldsmith about designing the ring. Zane had a wonderfully, romantic concept for the ring and with a little alteration and lots of moving tiny diamonds around, we settled on a layout that captured his concept and that placated my longing for a marquis solitaire setting. The four stones represent the Southern Cross which is like the Southern Hemisphere’s North Star. It’s used for guidance and finding your way on a journey and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it! We make a good team, that Kiwi and I.

We are so excited to be on this journey together, and we’re looking forward to making it official and celebrating with our loved ones from around the world in these mountains we call home.

First Comes Love from Kiwi and Peach



Kiwi+Peach Turns One + Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

Kiwi and Peach has officially been steaming along for one whole year! What a year it’s been?! Y’all have traveled to 5 different continents with us, made a transatlantic move with us and weathered a few storms with us. Y’all have been an integral part of this journey and we want to thank you for being so wonderfully supportive and game for adventure.

Kiwi+Peach Turns One + Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

Food is the lens through which we experience the world. It’s been a way of expressing myself creatively, and I love getting to share that with y’all. In turn, y’all have shared your experiences with me helping us both to learn and grow. It’s beautiful, this blogging thing. As we look ahead to what the future holds for Kiwi and Peach, we are nothing but excited. There are some huge things coming up in the next year like the launching of our meal planning service, The Seasonal Supper and the opening of our very own Etsy shop! We can’t wait to be able to continue to share our lives with you.

Kiwi+Peach Turns One + Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

We started the year out as strictly a food and travel blog and have some how ended up more squarely in the lifestyle category. If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that you have to write from your heart. As we continue to grow, pass through big changes and experience life’s milestones, I find more and more that my heart is leading me to share more than just recipes. We always want to provide you guys with great content that is helpful and insightful and something you can connect to, but life isn’t as black and white as a recipe. You can’t just add one cup good food, half cup decent beer, five teaspoons adventurous travel, throw in a slice of bacon and have a perfect cake every time. Life is more nuanced than that

Kiwi+Peach Turns One + Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

I’ll be honest. While my heart has been telling me that this is the direction the blog is moving for a while, I have been hesitant to start calling ourselves a ‘lifestyle’ blog because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that y’all just come here for recipes. That my voice and what I have to say about life in general isn’t as strong of a pull as my granola recipe. Maybe it isn’t. But if there is one thing I have learned about this blogging thing it’s that it pays to follow your heart. As long as your voice is true and authentic people will connect with it. So that’s what I’m doing.

Kiwi+Peach Turns One + Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be sharing recipes, just not as many. If you are just here for the recipes, I highly suggest you subscribe to The Seasonal Supper. You’ll get 20+ recipes, meal planning tools, and super cute calendars and organizational print goods every three months and all the support I can give to help make meal time at your house go a smoothly as possible.

On the blog though, we are going to diversify a little bit. There will probably be more than a few posts about our home and building a life in a new town. There will be posts about our outdoor adventures in these beautiful mountains we live in. There will be posts about how we orchestrate this DIY lifestyle and how you can streamline the process. And there will be posts about other stuff—fears, joys, fears, success, trials. We sure hope you’ll stick around for many years to come!

Kiwi+Peach Turns One + Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream


You guys just want to eat some cupcakes, don’t you? I’ll stop rambling then and get to it. How better to celebrate this blog’s 1st birthday than with a boozy cupcake stuffed full of peaches and garnished with a slice of kiwi fruit. This is not a ‘healthy’ dessert—this is a pastry flour and lots of sugar kind of dessert, and you know, there is nothing wrong with one of those every now and again. Remember, our favorite saying; “Eat what you want, just make it yourself.” So let’s get to making!

Spiked Peach Cupcakes with Bourbon Buttercream

{makes 10-12 cupcakes}

1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla paste {or extract}
2 tsp bourbon
3/4 cup all purpose flour
heaping 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of baking soda
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup creme fraiche {or sour cream}
1/2 cup diced fresh peaches

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Then add the egg, vanilla, and bourbon. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and the creme fraiche to the wet ingredients until everything is incorporated. Gently fold in the the peaches. Line a cupcake pan with liners and fill each cup 3/4 of the way full. Pop them in the oven and bake for 22-24 minutes. When they’re finished, turn them out onto a cooling rack.

Bourbon Buttercream

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp bourbon
1 tsp vanilla paste {or extract}

Beat the butter and powdered sugar together until they form a ball around the paddle. Gradually add the bourbon and the vanilla paste until the mixture is light and fluffy. Pipe onto to cooled cupcakes and enjoy!


Let’s Chat

Let's Chat | New Post from Kiwi and Peach

Hello there my dears! How was your weekend?

I kind of kept it on the down low, but my birthday was last week, hence the little mini break! Man, we sure have been doing 26 up right. Of course by doing it up right I mean I was sick, running a ridiculous fever, and lost my voice BUT I ate lots and lots of birthday Derby Pie so there’s a silver lining.

Thankfully the Kiwi and I celebrated at the weekend, before mystery illness struck. He cooked for me all weekend making my favorite and said birthday pie. We went hiking with the pup to some gorgeous waterfalls near Asheville and then made it back to civilization in for our dinner reservation at Curate, a slammin’ new tapas place in downtown. The food was amazing and the moonshine/ginger ale cocktail, well let’s just say that might have been the nail in the coffin to my immune system, but it was worth it.

I spent my actual birthday curled up in bed reading, but then again, that sounds like a perfectly lovely way to spend a day anyway.

Thankfully the mystery illness seems to have passed. Perhaps there really is something to this oils thing. I was using liberal amounts of eucalyptus and lemon (they are the only two I know about) and seriously bounced back in about 3 days. Not bad Jim.

All that said, I don’t have any recipes for you or clever DIY projects, but I did want to check in and have a chat. So grab a nice glass of tea and spill. What has been on your mind this week?

We are doing a little container garden this year on our back deck. We’re doing pole beans, lots of basil, tomatoes, leeks, oregano, rosemary, and spinach. All my little seedlings, except the tomatoes, have now been transferred to their pots and they seem to be doing well. Our spinach was a disappointment as none of it really germinated, but I think I’m going to try again in a different container with better drainage. (I was trying the ole’ Pinterest favorite of using egg cartons. Fail.) Are you growing anything this year?

Do you use essential oils? Do you want to tell me all about them? I have been so curious about them since the Kiwi’s mom convinced me to switch up my Vick’s nose spray for eucalyptus oil with amazing results. I’m all about trying a more natural approach with health related matters, so I really want to love oils, but I’m so overwhelmed!

We finally finished our fireplace project just before Easter. I thought I was incredibly clever to come up with such a cool way to use an old mantle that I salvaged from on old house in my hometown, then of course Pinterest exploded with numerous examples of similar projects. Sing it with me, it’s all been done before. Oh well. I’m still going to share it…eventually.

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock for the past two years in terms of advancements in processed foods. Did you know they make watermelon Oreos now? And apparently instead of lemonade packets they have these little drops now? I can’t say that both of those things don’t make me completely skeptical of their ingredient lists, but what will they think of next?!

I just finished re-reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I forgot how much that book made me think. It also inspired me to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird which I haven’t read in about 10 years. True story, when I was little I used to think it was Tequila Mockingbird, which obviously made me want to read it more. I was a little disappointed when I realized the truth. What are you reading? I’m always looking for a good read.

My friend Shannon, who is also from Georgia, who also lived in Bavaria, and who is also transitioning back to the States right now has been hitting the proverbial nail on the proverbial head recently. She has been much more eloquent than I think I ever could be about transition and uprooting and starting over. In case I haven’t said it before, thanks for making me feel like I’m not in this alone.

That’s all I have my friends. Now it’s your turn! Spill it.

Community Supported Agriculture

Hey there friends! How was your weekend? Did you make the preserved lemons? What did you think?

The Kiwi and I went down to Georgia to run in our very first 5k. We both run pretty regularly, but neither of us had much desire to do it competitively. My dad, however, is very much a competitive runner. Last Father’s Day, in a moment of insanity, I volunteered to run a race with him. Thankfully we were still in Germany, so that bought us a long time before we actually had to do it, but Saturday, Race Day had arrived. Overall, we were really pleased. I set a new PR and the Kiwi got 2nd in his age group! Not bad for a first go at the whole race thing.

Also exciting, we got our confirmation from Blue Meadow Farms, and I am so incredibly pumped to be a part of their CSA this year. This is our first time doing one and I sure am excited to see what Blue Meadow Farms has in store for us!

As I’m sure most of y’all know, CSA stands for community supported agriculture and is an arrangement where you’re basically buying into shares of a farm’s harvest. The money you put in helps cover the operational costs of running a farm for the season and in turn you get a share of the harvest. It’s a great way to support and get to know local farmers and to get local, organic produce on the cheap.

We really like our fruits and veggies so fresh produce tends to eat up our weekly grocery budget—organic produce at the likes of Whole Foods and EarthFare isn’t cheap my friends. For what we spend in total on three weeks of groceries, we will get fresh produce every week for six months. That breaks down to less than $15 a week which is way less than what we spend on produce and if that isn’t a great deal, I don’t know what is.

Being a part of a CSA is also a great way to know what’s in season. In the land of plenty, we can get anything we want at any time of  the year, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Produce that is in season is always going to taste better than the stuff that’s been in cold storage. Because of the constant cycle, eating close to nature this way also ensures you don’t get burnt out on certain foods.

If you’re in the WNC area and looking for a CSA, Blue Meadow Farms is still taking members, so be sure to go check them out. If you’re not in our area, you can visit LocalHarvest and find a CSA near you that will fit your family’s needs. Since we are just a family of two, we opted for a half-share that is delivered every week, but each CSA is different. There are usually lots of CSA options in any given area, so just do your research and pick the one that works best for you. I really want to encourage you to at least check it out. Run the math and see how much you can save by eating locally and getting great quality produce from the folks just down the road from you that are growing food.

Aside from saving a wee bit of moolah, I’m also really excited about getting produce in our box that I might not have otherwise bought. I am looking forward to stretching my creativity and coming up with some ballin’ new recipes! That means y’all get new recipes too, so really everyone is a winner here.

Have you guys ever participated in a CSA? What did you love about it? Any surprise veggies?!

Now that spring has sprung, if you’re needing some inspiration on the veggie heavy dinner front, here are some of our favorites from the archives:

Kiwi+Peach: Quinoa Stir FryQuinoa Stir Fry

Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad from Kiwi and PeachWatermelon, Mint, and Feta Salad

Kiwi+Peach: Lauren's Summer Favourite {written by the Kiwi}The Summer Favourite
{Sauteed Eggplant, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers in a Coconut Cream Sauce}

Kiwi+Peach: Strawberry Red, White, and Blue Cheese SaladStrawberry and Blue Cheese Salad

Kiwi+Peach: Veggie Drawer PastaVeggie Drawer Pasta

Kiwi+Peach: Chicken and Veggie KabobsPineapple Glazed Chicken Kebabs

The Pie Project

For Valentines Day the Kiwi gave me a cookbook. What can I say? The boy gets me.

The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book has been sitting in my amazon cart since it came out, but something kept stopping me. I’m picky when it comes to investing in cookbooks. There are millions and millions of recipes out there for free, so if I’m going to buy a cookbook, I expect a lot. I expect it to be something I will actually use. I expect recipes that are going to become staples. I expect to turn to it regularly for inspiration. I also expect more than just recipes. I want gorgeous inspiring pictures and thorough explanations of perfecting a technique. And while I thought this book would meet those expectations, it seemed too niche, too one use, and honestly, too much work.

I’m glad that boy knows my heart so well.

Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie from Kiwi and Peach

I have been talking about pie for a while now. I have stumbled my way into making some pretty edible pies in the past, but I wanted to learn how to get that perfect flaky crust every time. I wanted to know how to prepare the perfect filling and how to make beautiful latticed tops. I wanted to know the secrets to perfect pie making.

He wasn’t just giving me a cookbook; he was giving us a project. He was giving me his time and assistance to perfect a skill I’ve been wanting to learn.

Blushing Apple Pie from Kiwi and Peach

Folks across the States tend to celebrate today, 3.14, as Pi Day. Is it because we just really love non-repeating magical numbers? Maybe, but I bet it’s more because we get to eat pie. In case you’re at a loss for how to celebrate, head over to your local bookshop or you know, Amazon, and pick up a copy of the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. Written by the Elsen sisters who run a pie shop in Brooklyn by the same name, the book walks you through their pie making process. The pies are seasonal and their focus is on using quality ingredients that are available locally. It’s a mark of a well written recipe that novices like us could make a perfect pie the first time. The explanations are straight-forward and easy to follow. They are also incredibly creative flavor pairing geniuses, so there’s that. You certainly won’t get bored with these flavors! Our first attempt was the Blushing Apple (which had a bit of beetroot in it) and it turned out better than either of us could imagine. Next came the Malted Chocolate Pecan which was a bit trickier with the pre-baking and all, but the end result was a home-run. During the ‘heat wave’ strawberries started turning up everywhere, so we snatched them up and made the Strawberry Balsamic before the weather turned again. This weekend we’ll be making the Salt Pork Apple Pie and seeing how many digits of pi we can recite. Cheers!

How are you celebrating Pi(e) Day? Have you checked this book out yet? Which one would you make?

Strawberry Balsamic Pie from Kiwi and Peach

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links. That means that if you head over to Amazon from those links and choose to buy the book, a tiny bit of the money you spent on the book will come back to me for the referral.} 

What We Won’t Eat

A few weeks ago my best friend made a comment about the blog to the effect of there must be so much that we don’t eat. Clearly this means I’ve done a poor job of explaining our food philosophy even to the folks we love and interact with regularly because nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve posted recipe after recipe on here and talked about eliminating processed foods, but I haven’t talked specifically about how we approach food, our food philosophy.

I used to think I knew a lot about nutrition as a science—after all, I did take multiple courses on it at university and then taught it to middle schoolers. But the more I read and the deeper I get, here’s what I’ve learned… no one knows anything for certain. Those who are most convinced otherwise have, historically, produced the worst advice. There are a ton of grand overarching (and overreaching) theories out there—some better than others. The science exists to factually demonstrate that certain foods are high in certain nutrients and from there people get into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, and quickly on to my least favorite thing in the world: restrictions.

We do not restrict nutrient groups. We do not restrict food—real food—of any sort. In fact, Michael Pollan sums it up pretty well in this video:

“Eat anything you want, just cook it yourself.”

We eat meals made by human hands with real, whole ingredients.

The real, whole ingredients thing is key. We eat ethically raised meat, eggs, and dairy. We prefer to eat organic, non-GMO grains, fruits and vegetables. We buy it in the freshest, most ethical form we can get it and use it to make the food we eat.

Why? The more I read and deeper I get, I’ve also learned that there is an incredible amount of politics at play in the food choices we make. The Kiwi and I both care deeply and get a little fired up about those politics. We vote with our dollar to support the farmers that raise and grow our food, not the corporations that turn food into chemistry projects. We vote for food where as much as possible of the real cost of producing it is priced in, rather than externalized and pushed onto society as a whole in the form of massive environmental damage and widespread antibiotic resistance and huge government subsidies for unsustainable practices. That is what makes sense to us.

We believe that the lives the animals we eat have led will effect our health, so we eat meat from animals that led normal, antibiotic-free lives eating the diets they are adapted to eat. Anecdotally, prior to my foods classes at university I never knew there was anything other than grass-fed beef. I grew up on a farm in Georgia that raised beef cows. All they ever ate was grass. Biologically, any animal with a rumen is made to eat grass. Just because they can eat corn for a short period of time before becoming deathly ill doesn’t mean they should. In New Zealand or, for that matter, Germany and many other parts of the world, grain-fed beef is virtually unheard-of. All the beef is grass-fed and there is no need to distinguish or pay a premium for it.

We believe that the food we eat should not be far removed from nature because that is where it’s at its nutritional peak. We eat seasonally so that we can have fresh ingredients, and so that rather than pass the time in relentless monotony we mark the passage of our journey to a cadence older than the hills in which we make our home.

We’re not here to stand in judgement of anybody who doesn’t eat the way we do. It does take time and work to eat like this, and it often involves swimming against the tide of a market that has been distorted to give perverse pricing signals. The reason I write this blog is to provide you with tools to choose how you want to eat. I’m not going to preach at you if you rely on convenience foods, but if you feel like you have no choice but to rely on them then we are here to help.

Marion Nestle from Food Politics recently reported on Brazil’s proposed new dietary guidelines, and we think they are spot on:

  1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
  2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
  3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
  4. Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments.
  5. Eat in company whenever possible.
  6. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
  7. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
  8. Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space.
  9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
  10. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.

We don’t avoid meat. We don’t avoid carbs. We don’t avoid wheat. We don’t avoid fat. We don’t avoid bread, or bacon, or bananas, or beer, or butter, or beef. So what won’t we eat? Anything that isn’t food. We eat hardly any of what Pollan calls ‘edible food-like substances’, despite their prevalence in the modern diet. And although we really are against those non-foods in principle, that probably isn’t the main reason we consume so little. The truth is that with all that variety of delicious, delicious food in our diet, we just don’t miss them at all.

Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie from Kiwi and PeachWe ate this Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie without a second thought, because we made it from scratch
with the help of the excellent Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

My D’daddy

Tomorrow I was planning on announcing a new service we are going to start offering here on Kiwi and Peach— The Meal Plan. We were going to share a sneak peak of a weekly meal plan and grocery list that would take all the guess work out of dinner time. I was also going to talk about our food philosophy and talk about why we eat {and suggest} what we do.

But I’m not going to. I will eventually, but it will not be tomorrow.

We try to focus on the positive here. We try not to let life’s ups and downs affect our tone and material, but sometimes real life just can’t be glossed over.
Things might be silent around here for a week or so, and I feel like you should know why.

My D'Daddy from Kiwi and Peach

This morning my granddad, my D’Daddy, passed away.

He was 87 and, while his health had deteriorated considerably and he had not been himself in quite some time, the end was quite sudden but thankfully, quite peaceful.

Diane Ackerman is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well.”

From living in Japan for four years to running a farm, starting a business, helping to found a hospital and a bank,  being married for nearly 65 years, and raising two strong, beautiful daughters, he certainly did that.

To me he is my cocky, incredibly self-assured D’daddy who bought me a horse first and then taught me to ride.

He was always a man who knew things. {Except how to work a microwave, he never did learn how to do that.}

He taught me the importance of building relationships—it is, after all, all about who you know.

He’s the one who taught me that a big watermelon shared with family and a seed spitting contest is the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day in Georgia.

My D'Daddy from Kiwi and Peach

My D'Daddy from Kiwi and Peach

My D'Daddy from Kiwi and Peach

My D'Daddy from Kiwi and Peach

My D'Daddy from Kiwi and Peach

When he was living in Okinawa just after WWII ended, he managed a hotel where the military officers went for R&R. When it came time for him to leave, the head housekeeper, Mama San he called her, who according to him had to be at least 100, gave him a precious gift—two pearls that had been in her family for years. Precious and some might say prophetic. He came back to the States, married my Memommy, and they had two little girls, my aunt and my mama.

When I was 21, the pearl, which had been set in a ring, was handed down to me. I know I am incredibly lucky to have had this man in my life for as long as I did.  Everyday when I see it, I’m reminded of all he taught me; the importance of family, the importance of having confidence on myself and my abilities, and most importantly, how to spit a watermelon seed.

I love you, D’daddy.

Please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow as we try to navigate our way back to Georgia and through the mess that is Atlanta so that we can be with family.