•    Happy Anniversary to The Vitamin Company   

    After 20 years in Brighton, The Vitamin Company is more vibrant than ever. With a friendly and knowledgeable staff, The Vitamin Company is a wonderful addition to the downtown shopping district. Totally Townies solutes the Vitamin Company’s commitment to natural, farm fresh foods and appreciates their support of Calder Dairy Farms. Milk in recyclable, old fashioned glass bottles is delivered every Wednesday to the store and sells out quickly.

    We love real milk. Milk that comes from cows that are not treated with hormones and are free to eat, drink and graze freely makes for milk that we’re proud to purchase and are proud to pour from our own fridge. The Calder Dairy pasteurizes its milk, but does not homogenize it, leaving the cream on top, and the vitamins and nutrients throughout.

    Homogenization was developed simply to give milk a balanced consistency, eliminating the need to shake milk before drinking. Milk in its natural form has a layer of cream that floats to the top. This cream is absolutely delicious, and gives milk a balanced, full-bodied taste. In addition, this cream provides natural fat, which is essential for all people, especially children. Real, natural, fats provide the body with good cell, hormonal and brain function. Homogenization also changes the molecular structure of milk, which strips many of the nutrients from milk and prevents the delivery of important nutrients to the body.

    The Calder Dairy was established in 1946 and began their work as a bottling facility for milk from local dairy farms, until a Brown Swiss Cow was purchased to keep the grass neat and tidy. Soon after, this bold new addition to the family farm had a calf, and today Calder Dairy milks 138 cows. All of their cows are fed a high quality, home-grown, forage and grain diet and enjoy life on the farm to the fullest.

  •    Zucchini Love Soup   

    Michigan produce is rising into its mid-August glory. The tomatoes are ripe and juicy, the onions are thick with rings of flavor, and the zucchini is in abundance – green, yellow, or gold. Zucchini is everywhere. Being unafraid of trying strangely unique things in the kitchen, I’m always picking up new vegetables at the farmers market. This week I saw my first purple bell pepper and of course, ended up with a wagon loaded to the brim with farm-fresh chicken, lamb, beets, eggplant and of course, zucchini.

    The problem is that many great cooks are timid about actually cooking with zucchini as a delicious side dish, and prefer to keep it locked into the arena of bread baking. While I adore zucchini bread, I have found that this wonderful little gem can add  zip to any weeknight meal or lunch. Another bonus –  when purchased in season, it takes a back seat to almost none when it comes to stretching the budget. Although no two zucchini are exactly alike, the average price per servings is less than a dime. Amazing and delicious!

    Here is a semi-homemade creation that is perfect for a quick lunch or an easy dinner when you don’t have a lot of time or energy but still want to eat at home with your family. I love semi-homemade recipes that look and taste great, maximize the use of fresh, locally grown, ingredients, but are manageable on a weeknight with small children. I still find the idea of starting from scratch to be romantic and beautiful…but for us, that’s not often possible. If it is for you, please send me your favorite summer soup recipe, and your secret for creating that kitchen romance in your everyday life. If you’re a busy family like we are, try this almost-homemade-meal and let me know what you think.

    Lastly, cooking is fun, I believe it should not be fussy or complex, so our recipes can be adapted or altered according to your own creative flair…Get to the market with your wagon and get cooking.

    Zucchini Love Soup

    Ingredients:

    Olive oil

    Butter

    Fresh Garlic

    1 onion chopped

    Fresh basil

    1 zucchini, complete with skin and seeds, chopped

    Sea salt

    1 can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup

    Milk

    Water

    Start with a large pan on medium heat, add a generous pour of olive oil, 1 teaspoon butter, chopped onion, fresh garlic and let simmer until you can almost envision yourself in the Italian countryside wearing a red-and white gingham apron, or about 4 minutes. Add a sprinkling of sea salt, fresh basil, and zucchini. Let simmer for another few moments and add can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom soup. Add ½ can milk and ½ can water….stir, smell, taste. Turn down heat, put down your Italian apron, and ladle into bowls, serves 2 adults. You can easily double the recipe by adding 1 extra can of soup.

    Thank you to our friend Andrea for sharing her garden-fresh zucchini with us!

  •    Brighton’s Fine Art & Acoustic Music Festival   

    This weekend is the 28th annual Fine Art Festival in downtown Brighton, with this year bringing a new addition, acoustic music and a beverage garden. The festival is presented by the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce and is expected to draw over 15,000 attendees. Instead of being on Main Street, this year the festival will be held in the parking lot near City Hall, the same location as the farmers market. Over 70 local and national artists will be available to speak one-on-one with festival-goers and will feature their paintings, glass work, sculpture, jewelry, woodcarvings, and pottery. The Brighton Art Guild will have a booth featuring the work of many local guild artists and demonstrations will take place throughout the weekend. Pamela Day will demonstrate at 10:00am on Sunday and mixed media artist Peggy Brewer will present her pastel techniques at 12 noon.

    Brighton’s Fine Art & Acoustic Music Festival

    Saturday & Sunday, August 13-14, 2011

    10:00am-8:00pm & 10:00am-4:00pm

  •    Life On The Porch   

    Saturday mornings are our favorite time of the week because possibility, and opportunity surround us – the weekend is just beginning with the smell of coffee, toast and farm fresh eggs and onions sizzling on the stove.

    I feel blessed that a sidewalk meets our front porch. This sidewalk can take us to the farmers market, the park, the library or to church. It also leads me to my downtown Brighton office. We can walk or bike just about any place that we’re feeling adventurous enough to seek out. Gabriella and I love to picnic and our wagon with canopy served as the perfect picnic pavilion for a homemade spaghetti dinner at the Miller playground on an early July evening. We love seeking out the unexpected and really have no trouble finding it as long as we’re quiet enough to hear it.

    Our porch serves as a room for the creative spirits in our home to flourish. It is not fancy, and the floor is often covered in puzzles pieces, paint drippings and the hopscotch rugs. There is something about making a mess and loving every minute of it that makes the soul soar. Our commitment to not taking ourselves too seriously and soaking up every-day-blessings through art, creativity, and soulful silly-ness, makes our house a home.

    Enjoying the everyday magic of our world takes no money, no computer or cell phone, it simply requires a spirit of whimsical gratitude. We wish you a home filled with your own magic and wonder. Breath, laugh, sing and if you dare, paint your front porch windows. Your neighbors will laugh and we bet your heart will soar.

    May your own front porch be blessed today and may you always seek out a canvas of adventure to create with those you love.

  •    Nothing Like The Pitter Patter of Raindrops on The Roof   

    There is something about saving, re-using, and re-cycling that I just love. Creating something new and fabulous out of something old and almost forgotten is a skill that should not be taken for granted. Totally Townies treasures a resourceful lady, complete with a purse full of ideas and trinkets, and of course, lots of spunk. A lady must always keep her purse stocked for the unexpected – one never knows when we may call upon the service of an old fashioned pen and paper for a poetry session in the morning sun, or a cork screw for an evening of chatter with friends. It is amazing to see how many times we think we need so much, when in reality, we need so little. Sometimes, the simplest things are the best. Today we are celebrating the old world charm of the rain barrel, or rainwater tank.

    Rain barrels collect and store rain water, or runoff, typically from rooftops via rain gutters. These barrels are the perfect spot for harvesting rain, and the rain barrel we call upon is built from an old expansion tank from a 1908, Crane, coal-converted boiler that was recently removed from our home in downtown Brighton (great work, Kris…you are a heavy lifter!)

    The expansion tank (shown here) acts as a reservoir,  and the majority of the water is held in a larger tank inside the garage and is transferred via the PVC pipe to the expansion tank. We are thankful for the gift of self-sufficiency that could be created on West Main Street for our greens, herbs and flowers.

    If you are interested in learning more about rain barrels, please check out www.michiganrainbarrels.com

  •    Garden Crafts for Artists Big and Small   

    Totally Townies loves this perfect summer garden craft for artists of all ages. Saving seeds from this year’s harvest reminds us of the renewing power of nature. Start planning next year’s garden by checking out what grew well this year. Start by checking your garden for open-pollinated or heirloom plants, as these will be the easiest to grow. Seeds can be taken from any plant that produces them, but the easiest seeds to harvest are from beans, peas, peppers, watermelons, pumpkins and herbs, such as basil and lavender. Harvest the seeds from dried flower heads or overripe fruit and let the seeds dry completely before storing in a cool, dry place.

    Supplies needed: Scissors, Glue, Sturdy Paper, Markers or Crayons, and of course, a spirit filled with gratitude – mother earth is an amazing gift for us all…enjoy!

    Thank you to Disney Family Fun for this great idea.