Archive for the ‘Good businesses’ Category

Good Salt

During the winter I have time  to explore ideas and products that might not necessarily catch my attention during the heady rush of the gardening season. I love salt, and this winter I became interested in the process of artisanal salt making.  For once, I am not especially interested in doing it myself, but I am interested in supporting people who do it well.

There are a lot of ways to make salt, and some interesting books about how it is done, but in the course of buying samples of all kinds of salt I discovered that many are based on a large, squarish, heavy crystal that, to me, is a very uninteresting manifestation of salt. It doesn’t look good in the salt bowl and it’s nasty to bite into. I like the  delicately crunchy flakes that come from using the fleur de sel process. I also seriously object to the use of artificial flavors, especially “smoked salt” made with a heavy dose of liquid smoke seasoning. They reek, and they don’t do food any good.

The salt that I have ended up loving and using as my “house salt” is one made from ocean water  in Sitka, Alaska by the Alaska Pure Sea Salt Company. The owners, for whom this is a considerable labor of love, make wonderful salts with natural flavorings and sell them at a fair price. You can read on their website all about how it is done. What I will say is that the texture and flavor are excellent. I particularly like their alder smoked salt, which has a natural and delicately smoky flavor.  A flourish of it on top of low-carb chocolate ice cream elevates an ordinary treat to food of the gods.  I borrowed the photo of the controlled, elegant spoonful shown  above, because I myself am more inclined to eat a bowlful and was embarrassed to post a picture of my own dessert.

Addendum: Since publishing this post, I have learned from the owners that their vanilla bean salt will join the permanent line-up. It’s wonderful. I have sprinkled it on desserts, but the saltmakers recently enjoyed it on Alaskan king crab, which sounds almost too good to be true. Try it.

You can find their products at the link below. I haven’t tried all their flavored salts, but all the ones that I’ve tried have been good.


Grass-fed beef

I love beef, and I want beef that is produced with respect for the animals and the environment and is healthy for me to eat. I choose only to eat grass fed beef.  In the spring and summer I am able to get a wonderful grade of grass-fed beef at my local farmers market, but this winter I begin to think about the problems of people who don’t have this available but still want to eat as healthily as possible. If you’re a ketogenic eater  you tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the quality of the protein in your diet, but really it would be wise for everybody to think about that.  After doing some research on various possibilities, I began buying through Crowd Cow.

Crowd Cow  is a service that brings beef from small, well run farms directly to consumers. They represent both grass finished and grain finished beef, and the farms are listed as one or the other so that you can select only the kind that you want. They allow you to buy individual cuts or small packages, so that you don’t have to buy a new freezer to eat good beef, and the shipping  is an incredibly reasonable $12.99 per package, no matter how much you buy.  I placed three orders this winter, and always had everything arrive solidly frozen, with no partial thaw problems.

The meat has been high-quality and delicious. The steaks are superb, but I try to concentrate on less lavish and expensive cuts, and those have been great too.  They also offer pastured chicken, but the problem is that when a chicken sale starts in the morning, the cuts that I want are usually sold out by lunchtime when I have time to look at the website, so I have only gotten one order of chicken. It was very delicious, though, and produced in much the same way that I raise my own meat chickens when I do that.

The link below will take you to Crowd Cow and, if you order, earn a $25 credit both for you and for me.  But it will be the first bonus I ever received from them.  I don’t accept any “free samples“ of services from anybody, and I do not write about something until I have paid exactly the price that you were likely to pay and determined in my own mind whether a good cost/benefit ratio exists. In this case, I really think it does, and gives people a chance to buy high-quality beef and to support the sort of farms that produce such beef.

Raw Grass- fed Milk from De Smet Dairy

If you are a fan of raw milk, or would like to become a fan of it, we are finally in luck in central New Mexico. De Smet Dairy in Bosque Farms is producing certified raw milk from mostly Jersey and Jersey cross cows, and it is truly delicious. Even better, their cows are 100% grass fed, making their milk a nutritional powerhouse on a level that is very difficult to find elsewhere.  Way back when I had a Jersey cow of my own I had milk that tasted like this, but never since then.   They also sell cream top yogurt made from their milk, and eggs from pastured chickens. There is a tiny little farm shop down at the farm itself, or in Albuquerque and Santa Fe you can buy the milk at La Montanita Co-op or at Moses Kountry.

I have to  add that if you drain the yogurt overnight in a double layer of cheese cloth until it is reduced to about half its previous volume, it is so creamy and rich and delicious that you can hardly stand it.

I borrowed these pictures off their Facebook page, and you can connect with them on Facebook if you want to.

Energy and Us


Project manager Daniel and our solar array.

Many of the projects that I undertake require a little thought but are nonetheless very easy to initiate. Trying a new kind of broccoli, or even a new apple tree, is as simple as remembering to order the seed or plant at the right time, taking care of it, and waiting patiently.

One of the biggest and most worthwhile projects that I have undertaken required a lot more forethought, and Lord knows it required a lot more money,  but it created a whole new dimension to my little urban homestead.  The decision to take our house solar was one that my husband and I talked about and read about for a long time before we committed. It was going to be very expensive, because due to some quirks of its construction and siting our house uses a lot of power in the summer.  It was going to be difficult to plan, because I did not want solar panels put on our older roof  and wasn’t prepared to sacrifice any yard space to the panels.  But I wasn’t prepared to give up the idea of going solar either. After studying many aspects of the question, I sincerely believe that solar energy is a big part of the future  and will help us live  on our beautiful planet in a healthier way.

Ultimately we decided that the driveway was the biggest piece of real estate really going begging around our place. There was room enough there to power the house and then some, but because of trees that I refused to consider having damaged, posts could only be put on one side, making it a rather interesting piece of engineering.   No problem; Osceola Energy came to the rescue.  This New Mexico solar firm responded immediately to our idea and took care of everything, including the engineering consultations. Owners Galina Kofchock and Adam Harper, account manager Victoria, and project manager Daniel  made it happen.  They kept us informed every step of the way, dealt with all the necessary inspections and permits,  and  cheerfully accommodated sudden homeowner impulses, such as the snakes that you see ornamenting one of the beams.  When it was finished they provided us with an app that allows me to watch my panel making energy, if I feel so inclined.

It matters enormously  what solar company you choose. By the time my solar structure was built, I had heard enough horror or disappointment stories from friends and acquaintances to know how badly it can go if you get the wrong company.  So ask around and check references before you commit. But I can honestly say that, if you are in New Mexico,  I can recommend this company strongly and without reservation.  Since the solar array was finished, we have used them for electrical jobs large and small and have been pleased with their reliability, communication, and workmanship every single time.  They take the small jobs as seriously as the large jobs.

I am a firm believer in living on Earth in as healthy a way as possible. There is a moral as well as a practical dimension to producing your own food and your own energy.  Being able to power your own house is part of a general picture of resilience, and resilience is good for your daily mental health.  There was a community element as well, since many people walking past the house stopped off if they saw me in the front yard, to ask about the solar array and our experience with it.  I met some neighbors that I would not have met otherwise, and it has been fun.