Carmen Shaffer:
I grew up on a farm in Central Illinois where we grew everything we consumed.  Our pantry was always stocked with the spring/summer/fall harvest and our deep freeze was bungee-corded shut.  We raised pigs and chickens and bought a cow each year to have butchered.  We still had a milkman for awhile and sold the eggs we raised at church.  Our town of less than 400 people still had a grocery store even though Mom never ran a 'tab'.  I knew no other ways of living and this being the 80's-was rare.  As I got older, my mother would often comment on how 'healthy' we were eating and how our garden saved us so much money.  I had no idea what all this meant until I moved out.

Now that the formative years have come and gone (along with the Freshman 15!), I began to cook and pay attention to the food in all the restaurants and bars I worked in.  I began to cook for myself more and learn the value of 'fresh' and 'organic' ingredients.  My curiosity refuses to be suppressed in the ways of food and alcohol and as I'm always in search of 'whats happening'.  Foodigen was born out of endless love and curiosity for all things food.  This is not a recipe-driven blog, I shall leave that particular niche alone, this is information about all things, current, interesting and helpful in a world where we are going back to the garden, back to selling eggs at church and back to the root cellars.

Cheers and happy reading!

Email me at: carmenlshaffer@gmail.com or find other articles by me at Smile Politely!

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Vicky Shaffer: Mom & Zone 5 Gardening Expert

With over 50 years of experience gardening in Central Illinois, Vicky Shaffer is a synonymous with gardening as Ruth Reichl is writing.  Often sought out for information from specialty nurseries and friends, for produce from vendors and restaurants and has been featured for her gardening in The Pantagraph, Vicky's green thumb has been a legend since she took on 124 tomato plants (producing 3 bushel a day!) almost 30 years ago in her 'small' family garden. 

Growing up in a farm-family, a garden was a primary source of food for Vicky's family.  At a very young age Vicky requested a garden of her very own which her mother so indulged-giving her a small plot of land in which Vicky grew radishes and lettuce.  Upon picking her radishes and giving them to her father, he praised her bounty as, 'the best radishes he had ever tasted!' and Vicky was hooked to gardening ever since.  

Vicky is a trial-and-error expert whose knowledge goes beyond vegetables and extends into her real love of flowers.  Her country home is populated with English-style flower beds and butterfly gardens. 

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