Monday, February 27, 2012

Harvest Monday end of February

Daphne over at Daphne's Dandelions hosts a Harvest Monday every week. Now that my garden is producing reliably, and because I've remembered to photograph what I picked for breakfast, I can participate! If you'd like to participate, head over there.

This is just today's. Last week I might have harvested more -- I know we've had a couple of heads of lettuce from the yard. Kale is slowing down, or at least the volunteer kale in the onion bed is. This is probably attributable to the amazing aphid infestation. The cold, then hot, then wet, then very dry cycle has obviously made the plants much more vulnerable to our winter pests. That back corner is for some reason a favorite attack place -- maybe it has something to do with being under a tree? Anyhow, I either need to pull that kale or soap spray the aphids. Given what my life is generally like, I'm betting on using the kale as a trap crop in order to get the newly-planted kale big enough to resist. At least that's what I'll call it! Lazy and effective, or at least I hope so.

As I inspected the spinach, I noticed a few leaf miner eggs. Argh! The only effective control I've ever found for them is rubbing the leaves off, individual leaf at a time. Slow, and tedious when the spinach is growing almost rosette-style flat to the ground, but that's what I get for loving the same crop as those noxious pests. Today's harvest was almost five ounces of deep green yummy. It made two quick breakfasts, along with storebought eggs and vegetarian sausage patties.

Soon that aphid infested kale won't actually be going to waste any more, and the spinach won't be served with storebought eggs. The old birds are long gone, but in one of our bedrooms the replacements are peeping away:

Now it really feels like spring.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Well prepared

It dawned on me the other day that if I knocked out a bunch of meals for the freezer I could get by with "not cooking" much more often. Because I am as easily fooled as the average toddler, taking a meal out of the freezer feels like someone else made it for me, even if that someone else was me, earlier!

So last Monday, I made:
a small turkey stir fry (marinated cooked meat, chopped but raw veggies, ready to stir fry)
a large turkey stir fry
a large taco casserole
small taco casserole (two)
a large beef stew, crockpot ready (marinated meat, chopped veggies)
ten beef and bean burritos to warm in the oven
eleven bean and cheese burritos to warm in the oven
a large turkey broccoli casserole
a small turkey broccoli casserole
two turkey pot pies
four bags of spaghetti sauce + meatballs
four bags of plain meatballs for soup
two small lasagnes
one large lasagne (for tonight)
five servings of turkey soup

Then I collapsed and Eric took me out for a nice quiet small dinner and a glass of wine.

Yesterday I made a couple more things, because I had the ingredients, and I still need to make a bean/cheese/rice bake to use up the beans in the jar in the fridge. I also have stuff to make sausage/lentil soup, and I made another batch of spaghetti sauce last night, and froze six muffin tins full so the big kid can make easy pasta for herself.

That was the last batch of homemade sauce from last summer's tomatoes, though, because this

is, alas, the last jar of tomatoes from last year. I didn't have that many, and I'm kind of sad, but strongly looking forward to this year's tomatoes, which I promise to manage more carefully. I love having all the stuff made, and I'd like to do it again -- with my own tomatoes! The "raw pack as you have them" approach worked really well -- maybe I'll remember vinegar and salt this time for all of the jars -- and I ended up using them much more efficiently by not saving them for one bigger canning session.

The weirdest thing about the big cooking day was that it didn't cost much more to make that many meals than it had cost to make a week's worth usually. Of course, all of the meat had been purchased before and kept in the freezer, so that helped, but the other stuff was not much, mostly pantry items like noodles and cheese and onions. I had beans, spices, and oils, so that was easy. . . I must be sort of wasting food most weeks, or at least wasting my money.

Guess we'll find out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wishing you well

Although my very first official date with Eric was on Valentine's Day, it's not a day I enjoy -- nor really ever has been (so it wasn't HIS fault!!). But I can try a little something here and there.

Hope yours is full of fun.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Moving along

Life just keeps happening here.

The soil blocks are working enough that every single one has at least one tomato sprouted. Watering them is a challenge, because I haven't found a working spray bottle. That would help. Now I'm dribbling water carefully on each.

Handfuls of kale keep pouring out of the garden.

Morning sleepy children are doing pretty well with their schoolwork.

While still finding time to do things like create a "chimp nest" about 12' up in a tree. This is the view from my kitchen window. Dishes and danger are a common mix here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just green

Winter harvests are mostly green around here.

Today was a small handful of broccoli shoots, some bolting Bok Choy (the commercial transplants never really got off the ground, but they'll make a nice stir-fry tonight), a bolting head of volunteer tat soi -- the mild weather has the greens all confused, and a handful of the volunteer cilantro. The stir fry is going to have a Thai influence, so I'll use some of the limes from the tree too.

Gardening keeps giving, in that half of the stuff I pulled today wasn't planted by me. At least not this generation. I prepared the soil, made a planting some time ago, and then sat back.

Unfortunately, I may have sat back too much for some things. I just have to water more. I'm waiting on tomorrow's predicted rain, but the new bed of kale and the just-transplanted six week old lettuces from today probably can't wait that long. Therefore, I'm going to pump out the bathtub after I sit and listen to the history work the kids are doing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Slow(er than planned) Food

How to eat twelve ounces plus of kale for a meal?

Simple. First, prepare a chicken for roasting. Olive oil, salt, roasting rack.

Then, make kale chips. Use the Lacinato because it's smooth. Yum. There goes almost four ounces.
Eat these while waiting for dinner.

Then, stem and tear over nine ounces of Red Russian kale. This has been harvested by ferociously nipping back the volunteers. They didn't get planted; they don't get careful treatment. They bolt? They bolt. Tonight, it's kalefest! Prepare a cast iron pan with olive oil. Fill it with kale.

Be reassured that it will cook down to 1/3 its size.

Cut up a sweet potato. Toss with olive oil and put in a dish that matches the one the chicken is in. Put it in the oven to roast. Consider baking a couple more, just to have cooked sweet potatoes around. Realize you are probably the only one eating tonight who wants sweet potatoes in any form.

Make the kid do the risotto she had promised. Refuse to tell her what to put in it (tonight, the answer might well be "kale," so she's actually lucky). Insist you like "plain" risotto. Answer her that, yes, you did mean to put the chicken in the oven earlier. Revise the dinner hour back a bit.

Be glad you had those kale chips to tide you over.