A Visit to Passenger Coffee in Lancaster, PA

I was brainstorming ways to describe how much the Rustbelt Farmer and I value coffee. I could talk about our assortment of tools, or the way coffee has inspired our travels, or my metrics for judging a new coffee shop, but then I realized, that was all too flowery and emotional. The best way to demonstrate our love of good coffee was his response to a family member's request to pick up K-cups for our lake house weekend...

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How To Eat An Elephant…

Hi! It's been a while, but I'm here, reminding myself I don't write for SEO (as the spam emails feel the need to reiterate for me on the regular). I don't shoot these photos for a weekly Instagram quota. Instead, the blog largely serves as a barometer of my "me" time. Am I expressing myself? Am I sharing time with others? Am I releasing the thoughts and stories in my head? Are there thoughts and stories in my head? Or, am I suffering from a full plate and a serious case of overwhelm?


Orange Gingerbread Loaf & Orange Manhattans

This Gingerbread Loaf lands somewhere between a cake and a breakfast treat. It's wintry and comforting, with a pick-me-up burst of citrus from the glaze. It pairs well with a Manhattan, but I also include directions for adding that Manhattan to the Gingerbread Loaf (poke-cake style). The cocktail flavoring is subtle, but adds a little something to make each bite a little more worth savoring.  


Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee

“It’s not fair,” could be the rally cry of middle class children, to which parents respond in the most condescending way, “Life’s not fair.” How bitter is that first taste of injustice- the crayon the kid brother stole and ravaged when mom wasn’t looking, the unquenchable desire for that new, expensive toy that will hold attention for mere minutes, the inarguable need for that acid-washed jean jacket with neon accents (I was born in the 80s after all). We stomach that frustration, then we grow up, and it’s all too easy to give credence to this notion. Life simply isn’t fair. 

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee // www.WithTheGrains.com
When it comes to brewing coffee at home, I’m extremely loyal to One Village Coffee. They excel in flavor and values.

Our parents were not wrong. Life is utterly and completely unfair, but the phrase ends so succinctly- a glaring period. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. There is no further discussion to be had. Life is unfair.

That period is fine when the injustice in question is a neon-accented, acid-washed denim ensemble (let’s be real- we dodged a bullet on that one), but what about the larger, looming unfairness? Do we end our sentence with a period and turn our heads? Many do, but there are others who turn their eyes toward those injustices, seek to understand them and be so bold as to look that unfairness in the eyes and defy it. 

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee // www.WithTheGrains.com

I am no beacon of holiness on this issue. I try to live my life in a way that supports fairness, to sustain myself without depleting the stockpiles, but I am not above the blind eye or the cheated corner. I lean too heavily on the excuses of time and money and “someday,” but then I’ll find myself confronted with my own bullshit, typically when enshrouded in the darkness of a theater. 

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee // www.WithTheGrains.com

As a student, I found myself passionately involved with my university’s film festival. Had it not been for the new director, the event would have been a scrappy assemblage of films, but under her guidance, we skimmed the world for the most relevant and artistic films, many of them dark and emotionally daunting. Through the weight of these screenings, I saw injustices from corners long ignored by our media outlets. 

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee // www.WithTheGrains.com

Through the screening of Black Gold, I saw how my coffee habits affected others. I saw just how deeply unfair life is, how those in the thick of the unfairness are seldom, if ever, the ones to utter “it’s not fair.” I also saw ways to inch towards fairness, towards “Fair Trade.” These two words, when stamped on food mean we are saying “life can be fairer.”

That stamp of equality extends beyond food, a fact which crystallized at yet another film festival. Watching Fair Trade: The First Step, a short film at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival exposed me to the realities of cheap clothing (and on the brighter side of the festival- to Desert Dawg!). My fair trade coffee and chocolate are not enough. Food, clothing, decor, gifts… I must consider how and where these items were made. 

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee // www.WithTheGrains.com

Tomorrow, May 13th, is a celebration of that effort- World Fair Trade Dayan initiative of the World Fair Trade Organization.

The World Fair Trade Organization believes that Fair Trade is a solution to trade injustices and imbalances of power in the supply chain. It is our inherent power to make change. Together, hand in hand, we can work for a fairer world.

To celebrate this day, I’ve partnered with Ten Thousand Villages, a beautifully shop, but more importantly, an agent for change. Growing up, I loved shopping at TTV, the collections offered some of my first glimpses of the world and planted seeds for the extensive journeys I would one day make. 

The stone slate tray you see here, with these chocolate splattered scones, is an example of how we can go beyond food choices to defy unfairness. TARA, the fair-trade initiative behind this handcrafted tray works for fair wages, educational programs, health and environmental awareness for its artisans, so adding this tray to my home collection is not in vain. 

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee // www.WithTheGrains.com

Our parents were not wrong. Life is not fair, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit still. We can make strides, big and small, toward a better system, so join the movement and celebrate the impact Fair Trade has on the supply chain. If you live in Pittsburgh, maybe we’ll cross paths at the Ten Thousand Villages in Squirrel Hill. I might just be the girl in the acid-washed neon jean jacket, defying my parents on all accounts. 


p.s: If you’re celebrating World Fair Trade Day, don’t forget to use these hashtags: #fairtradeday #agentforchange  

Disclaimer: I did receive product in exchange for this post, but all opinions and acid-washed, neon-accented jean jackets are all my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that support With The Grains and stand up for good causes.

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Cardamom Scones with a Hint of Coffee

About this Recipe: Loaded with fair-trade coffee, chocolate and vanilla, these whole grain scones are a responsible and sweet way to start the day. The coffee flavor is very subtle in comparison to the chocolate and cardamom, so up the intensity of your brew for a stronger flavor.  



Earl Grey Honey Simple Syrup for Blackberry Bread Pudding and Cocktails

The core of this recipe trio is honey. Supporting beekeeping is good for the bees, and honey is better for you than sugar. The Earl Grey flavor is subtle, so play with the tea quantities if you want a stronger bergamot flavor. These are all loose guides, so follow your palate and instincts. The Earl Grey Honey Simple Syrup really shines when paired with Prosecco or Champagne.


Whole Grain Lemon Quick Bread with Coconut Sugar & Honey Candied Lemons

The coconut sugar gives this quick bread a dark color and almost molasses flavor. For breakfast, serve a slice with a spread of lavender infused butter. As a dessert, top a slice with a candied lemon and a dollop of ice cream. Garnish your cocktails with any leftover honey candied lemons, and one baking session will last a week!


Vegan Mushroom Gravy inspired by @whitfieldpgh

Vegan gravy may seem like an oxymoron, but this mushroom version will appease vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike, which is why I also recommend it if you want to follow my lead and throw a Biscuit Buffet Brunch. If biscuits feel intimidating, pair this gravy with a whole grain or gluten free pasta or mashed potatoes. The possibilities abound!