Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patty's Day Weekend

So this weekend Tony and I are staying home. It's 82 degrees and too hot for the potato and cabbage soup I had planned, and since I haven't come across any grass fed beef or even lamb recently I won't be cooking anything Irish today. This is the first time in several years I won't be making corned beef and cabbage with Irish soda bread.

We did work on the garden some today though. I pulled up the "cabbage" plant which did indeed turn out to be Brussels sprouts, just a VERY compact and broad plant with a head bigger than my fist. In the compost pile that I haven't turned recently, there is another Brussels sprouts plant that I pulled up earlier in the season that looks like a proper plant, but the sprouts are miniscule. The big broad plant had sprouts the size of my fingertips, so I picked those all off and Tony and I ate them raw. They were very good! The plant was bolting, so that's why I didn't leave it in the bed. It was interesting to see it bolt, the head split in half and flower heads popped out. Literally overnight I've had oat grass that I'm growing for my cat sprout an inch high where there was no grass before, the hickory trees and red buds have leaves they didn't have yesterday, and the Brussels sprouts bolted (the plant in the compost pile bolted as well). Observing the compost pile as well, we found half a purple cabbage head that started sprouting a new plant from it's center. I really should go out and take photos.

I worked some of my mother-in-law's horse manure into the bed and decided to go ahead and direct plant seeds into the bed since I'm fairly confident we won't be getting another freeze. I'm trying the 4 sisters in the western half of the bed and planted 2 corn, 2 cream peas, 2 sunflower, 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash. We also used some bamboo stakes to make tipi supports for the peas, zucchini and squash. The English peas also got supports, however they are supposed to stop growing above 85 degrees, so I may not get anything out of them this year. I'm hoping I do. I also think they may be something to try in the fall garden.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekly Meals

For those of you interested in our journey to eat healthier, I thought I'd give an update to our most recent dining habits. We haven't eaten out together in over a month now and each week we have chicken one night, fish one night, homemade veggie pizza one night, and the other 4 nights are generally vegan. During the day Tony does get sandwiches (Boar's Head Buffalo Chicken, their most heart healthy option which I know still isn't good for him, but it's free of nitrates and preservatives) and fresh fruit and veggies, while I eat a variety of vegan options like pb&j, bean burritos, granola bars, hummus, stuff like that.

The chicken I'm cooking isn't organic ($9/lb), but it is free of antibiotics and hormones and is free range and runs about $6 for 6 boneless thighs (I think it's around $5/lb). I divide that into 2 meals, one for each week (since I do all my shopping for 2 weeks at a time) and I usually make a Yellow Curry with Chicken and Potatoes (and I use soy sauce instead of fish sauce) or fried rice. I have noticed lately though that I don't generally like chicken anymore and I feel better after eating a vegan or fish meal. For the fish meals, one week I'll make salmon cakes with some sort of green veggie like roasted Brussels sprouts or sauteed kale and a baked potato, the other week I'll make fish tacos with catfish nuggets ($3/lb). The vegan meals vary but are usually soup and bread, black bean burgers with sweet potato fries, mushroom spaghetti, 6 layer burritos, or tacos with lentils or mushrooms (I prefer mushroom tacos). I'll often try a new recipe each week too.

For the past month when I have stopped to grab lunch while I'm out running errands (and it's almost impossible to get something around here without meat unless I eat nothing but french fries) when I have meat I get sick. It's been encouraging me to make sure I have granola bars in my purse at all times. So there you have it. :-)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Arugula, Kale, Swiss Chard, Carrots and Strawberries

In this week's gardening adventures, I had arugula bolt, kale that has begun to bolt (and if you don't know what bolting is, it's when the plant sends up a flower stalk to produce seed and that means the plant is done producing), a Black Lab mix who ate my peppermint seeds, a cat who ate some of the seedlings I have going in the kitchen, my carrots are starting to look like carrots 6 months after the seeds were planted although they are still maybe half an inch long, my green onions have been taking off again, I have some strawberries growing, and I'm starting to see bees and grasshoppers. Temps have mostly been in the 60s and 70s, although we did hit 80 on March 1.

The first photo is the bolting arugula.

Next is the Swiss chard and carrots.

Strawberries, my mother-in-law's horse manure has given me the largest strawberries I've ever had. I'm not sure what happened with that photo...