Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jacob and Katie’s Diner

A quick entry that’s good for a laugh.  We were cleaning out the refrigerator only to find a few pieces of long forgotten chicken.  Rather than throwing them in the garbage, Jacob voted to throw them in the backyard where ‘something’ would come and eat them.  Although I was hoping it would be the neighbor’s cat, I noticed as I was watching a bit of TV that a friendly raccoon was climbing down one of our trees and having a feast.  The raccoon was so comfortable with his dinner that he didn’t even mind Jacob sneaking outside and getting this snapshot of him.  I guess it’s nice that he poses for his photos but I really hope he stays out of our garbage cans.  clip_image002

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Apple Oatmeal Bread and Chicken Asparagus Bread

I've been wanting to write for some time, but alas, life has been insane!!! I do have a few recipes that I have to share and I promise I will do some more writing soon because I have some things I definitely want to share! Yesterday I found a delicious oatmeal apple bread that helped me use a few of my less than lovely apples in the bottom of the fruit drawer. The recipe is available from cdkitchen and is absolutely wonderful (even if you have a psycho oven that cooks everything in about half of the recommended time). For this recipe we used whole wheat bread flour and oats from Stutzman Farm. The honey we used was dark amber from Brenneman's wildflower honey. The milk was Snowville Creamery and instead of 3 egg whites, I used 2 small eggs from Manchester Hill Farm. All of these items were bought at the Clintonville Coop. The apples were from Bauman Orchard which we bought from Whole Foods. The baking soda, spices, and oil (we used canola instead of corn because it was what was on hand) were all items we had stored in our pantry. I'm not typically a big apple cinnamon kind of gal, but this bread is excellent, especially when it is fresh out of the oven (Jacob and my neighbor both agree whole-heartedly).
The other recipe I had to share was my chicken asparagus pasta. The ingredients can be changed based on taste, feel free to add more or less of anything or add some ingredients based on seasonality including fresh tomatoes when you add the asparagus, onions, fresh mushrooms, or fresh herbs.
-1 bag of Amish Naturals wheat pasta (from Clintonville Coop)
-1 bunch of purple asparagus, chopped into bite size pieces (Worthington Winter Market)
-1-2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces (North Market Poultry and Game)
-1 tbsp. oil
-1 tsp. dried oregano
-1 tsp. dried basil
-1 tsp. onion powder
-1 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove minced fresh garlic
-1/2 cup mozzarella (Meadow Maid cheese from Worthington Market)
-salt to taste
-pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet and saute (and garlic clove if you are using it) the chicken until cooked. While the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta separately according to the instruction on the package. When the pasta has a few minutes left to cook, add the asparagus and dried herbs and saute until heated but still firm (it should turn green). Once the pasta is drained, place it back in the pot and add the chicken mixture, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir and serve. This dish is excellent with a bit of fresh spinach or lettuce on top.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mulch and Bricks around the garden

Because we got all the beds filled last weekend, it was time to take on a couple of the cosmetic aspects of the garden. The weed cloth blowing up in the wind just wasn't going to cut it!
We went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to look for bricks, but didn't find any. Instead, we found some white ceramic floor tiles that had bits of green and blue glass stuck in them that would make nice stepping stones. We also went back over to Lowes to get the brick and mulch.
We picked up 95 bricks, some pea gravel, and 6 bags of Cedar mulch to match the Cedar raised bed boxes and loaded up the Saturn. I dug the trenches and laid the brick while Katie planted some more onions, carrots, cauliflower, peas, lettuces, and weeded behind the fence. As I walled in sections of the garden, Katie came by and started filling in with mulch. It took most of the morning and afternoon to get it "finished" after going to Lowes, but it looks nice and clean now.

There was some risk of frost last night, so we covered the peas, asparagus, spinach, onions, and some of the strawberries with painters drop cloths.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Supports for Vine Plants

Some of the veggies we are growing this year will require a little help staying upright under their (hopefully!) prolific growth so this morning I started making up some supports. The melons, cucumbers, and tomatoes will need these supports. They are simply a frame made of electrical conduit held in place by some rebar buried in the ground and sticking up into the conduit. This was my first solo attempt at using a conduit bender, so the first one is a little crooked, but the others went much better! I was sawing through the 1/2" rebar with a halfway dull hacksaw blade when our neighbor, Mark, came out and offered to let me borrow his electric grinder. I was very grateful for his offer because it cut down an hour long job to about 10 minutes with much less effort on my part. Putting up some sort of netting is all that is needed to complete the supports.

I also put up a shade frame for the peas made of 1/2" PVC pipe held in place by more pieces of rebar. We'll be able to drape a piece of shade cloth or plastic over it to protect the peas from too much sun and keep some moisture in. We had some success last year with a little pea container garden, but this should be much better for them.

All told, it took me about three and a half hours when you take into account the trip to Home Depot. Not really that big of a deal and working in the morning allowed me to avoid the hot sun, which is always a plus when you have to go to work again at 5:00.


Ode to the Saturn

Jacob’s lovely Saturn wagon really served us well this weekend and I shall be forever grateful that it didn’t die on the highway as I had feared it would.  Sunday we had to drive all over town getting vermiculite, plants, and other soil mixings.  First stop was Oakland Nursery where we purchased 75 strawberry plants (all four varieties - 2 ever-bearing and 2 June-bearing), eight horseradish roots, and a Bay Laurel plant.  They were out of vermiculite so we had to plan another stop at the Dublin location.  Next we were offclip_image001 to Lowes for 20 of the 40 lb. bags of compost and three of the 3.0 cu. ft. peat moss containers.  If you ever need to feel true fear, pile all of this into the back of a Saturn wagon that has a big crack in the windshield and 147,000 miles on it!  The wheels were definitely less than happy, but by golly, it got us home safe and sound where we unloaded and headed back out to pick up our vermiculite, eight varieties of lavender (we just couldn’t decide), five chive plants, some Snowville Creameryclip_image001[5] milk and tasty cheese (from Whole Foods).  Once we got home, we filled the last four and a half beds and put down the grids, so the beds are officially full!!!!  Yippee!!!!!  I am so happy we won’t have to do that every year.  We put 64 of the strawberry plants in the beds and the remaining are going to try to tough it out in one of the herb gardens by the lavender along the fence.  We put in the chives and horseradish along the sides of the house.  The areaclip_image001[7] where we dug holes for the horseradish looks a bit ragged this morning but I’m worried about covering the horseradish roots too much.  It kind of looks like a dog was let loose on the side of the house but it will look better soon…  The Bay Laurel plant is happy in its new home in a big pot out front.  We didn’t put that in the ground because it will need to come inside during the winter.  After five hours of intense labor, both of us were thoroughly exhausted but we got to enjoy a nice glass of wine and sit by the garden to take in the results of all our hard work.  It was a very nice evening. 

Rain Barrel Residents

Hey Everyone, meet Erics and Bob! Over the weekend we noticed that there were quite a few hefty looking mosquito larvae in our lovely rain barrel, so we did a bit of research and found that people oftentimes put feeder goldfish in their barrels to eat the mosquitoes. I guess you feed them normal fish food a few times a clip_image001week and the rest of the time they eat bugs and stuff. I guess they should be happy since they will no longer be food for piranhas (although they do have to live in the dark). We got eight little fishies and some food, which ended up costing around $5. Not bad for pest control (plus they put extra fertilizer in your water)! It will be interesting to see how they do with temperature fluctuations, I don’t have a very good track record when it comes to keeping fish alive, so we’ll see… It was pretty funny putting them in the rain barrel because our barrel is fairly large and black and we can only look inside through a hole with a few inch diameter. The fishes went in and disappeared into the murky depths. I figure if they don’t float up, they’re still kicking but I do have a vision of one day far down the road looking into the hole and seeing something like a large carp suddenly swimming by the surface! However, if anyone has any advice to help us keep the fish alive, it would be much appreciated. I need all the help I can get…

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's On the Menu - 4/2-4/9

Friday - I woke up to find my carrot bread was moldy! Not only that but I was completely out of all food and the only thing I had left was my food for lunch. So I had to buy Rice Chex from the cafeteria. Lunch was leftover BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes from Barley's Smokehouse. My snack was a local apple. Dinner was the pasta escapade and then we had snacks of local cheese and homemade crackers. For dessert, we had some cookies that were frozen and not local but they were left over from a batch that was a gift.
Saturday - Breakfast was a guilty indulgence of apple coffee cake from Sue's Bakery at the market (Typically Jacob and I will get something from her each week. It's not local ingredients, but it is locally made by a very wonderful person so we want to do our little part to support her and have an excuse to stand and chat for a while). For dinner we grilled Gerber's kielbasa and grass fed beef hamburgers with locally made bread for burger buns. We had a side of Nathan's local pickles and mashed potatoes which I mixed with some wild onions from our backyard, Snowville Creamery milk, Horizon sour cream (we had it left over from a birthday cake), Amish butter, and Meadow Maid grass fed organic cheese and then baked it for a little bit. For dessert, we had a chocolate Guinness cake that was a special birthday cake that caused us to break the rules for an evening (we did still use as many local/organic ingredients as possible).
Sunday - Aside from leftovers, we had an Easter dinner and snacks with my parents, which weren't local, but because it was a family meal, we let it slide.
Meals for the Work Week - Breakfast was the local bread we bought for the burgers with local strawberry jam. I also indulged in some hot chocolate type drinks throughout the week which are left over from our processed food days. Lunches were either leftover pasta and sauce or leftover chicken and rice pilaf from Easter dinner. Dinners were leftover kielbasa, burgers, and potatoes or leftover chicken and rice pilaf all with local lettuces as a salad. Wednesday I went to dinner at Fiesta Jalisco with my mom which wasn't local but we are allowed to go to restaurants according to our rules of the diet. My snacks consisted of local apples, carrots, and celery. I am so grateful to a coworker who brought in some beautiful, large, delicious apples grown by her son so she saved me from depending on the tiny Ohio gala apples I bought from Whole Foods. Desserts were fair trade chocolate bars and leftover cake. Overall, my track record for the week was not fantastic, but the philosophy for this week was waste not, want not.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Columbus Dispatch Article

A really great sustainable co-worker alerted me to a nice article in today’s Columbus Dispatch called “Pay Now, Eat Later.”  It’s all about Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) – what to expect from one and a comprehensive list of farmers’ who take part in CSAs.  Check out the article at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bottling day

Saturday was bottling day and two of my friends, Hayes Griffin and Grant Dubbe came by to help. It's kind of a three person job to keep things moving. One to fill the bottles, one to cap, and one to pass empty bottles and grab the capped ones. We added the priming sugar to a couple cups of hot water and mixed it in with the beer and started bottling. Once we got rolling it didn't take too long, and there were not nearly so many spills this time around. All together, we got 48 bottles, an even two cases! They should be ready and fully carbonated in a couple of weeks. One thing I'd like to improve on is keeping as little of the "trub", AKA Shit at the Bottom of the Bucket, from escaping and ending up in the bottled beer. It's not a huge deal because it settles at the bottom of the bottle anyway and you just don't drink it dry, but it is kind of unsightly and if you do happen to get a taste, it's not so pleasant. Hayes mentioned using a coffee filter, so maybe I'll pick some up next time I bottle.

Food Confessions

The past few weeks have had their challenges with our local foods consumption.  I have had to purchase certain items that are not on our list of ‘acceptable’ items and I felt compelled to write a blog entry about this.  It’s important to know that nobody is perfect and slipping up from time to time is expected from everyone.  We are by no means perfect.  In the past two weeks, I have purchased the following:

-Organic sour cream (part of a birthday cake)

-Guinness (part of a birthday cake)

-Two small bottles of caffeine free diet Pepsi

-Diet tonic water

-Peanut butter (it’s locally made but the peanuts are not from Ohio)

In terms of non-local purchases that are within our allowances, I have bought the following:

-Environmentally friendly vodka

-Organic, fair trade vanilla

-Fair trade baking cocoa

-Fair trade chocolate bars

I guess in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t bad for a two week span but each purchase I make that isn’t local just drives me nuts!  But now that I’ve admitted it, it’s back on the bandwagon and from now on I am going to try to be better about reporting my weekly menus so it’s all out there in the open.  Ugh.  I want some potato chips.  - Katie

An Exhausting and Rewarding Weekend

Whew!  What a weekend of work.  Friday evening my daring friend, Lauren, and I decided to attempt making fresh pasta because I picked up a pasta roller the weekend before.  I had tried doing this once long ago and didn’t think it had been too bad.  We tried a whole wheat pasta recipe using Amish whole wheat white flour from the Clintonville Coop mixed with a little of our all-purpose flour from our life before local.  The eggs were from Carousel Watergardens Farm that we picked up at the Columbus Winter Farmers Market.  While Lauren kneaded the dough, I whipped up another batch of crackers for munching over the weekend.  Later on we discovered the delectable wonder of the Meadow Maid baby swiss cheese  that we get at the Worthington Winter Market.  Once the dough was kneaded and had been properly refrigerated, we started rolling it out, which didn’t work out as well as we hoped and resulted in us getting flour all over the place!  Unfortunately, we didn’t read our instructions close enough and our stomachs were growling, so instead of rolling the pasta and then letting it sit for a little while, we cut it right after rolling, which resulted in a lot of little dough balls mixed in with our spaghetti.  We ended up getting through 3/4 of the dough before deciding it was time to get cooking.  We accidentally overcooked the pasta by a minute or so (which made the noodles somewhat mushy but the dough balls were al dente, haha!).  Approximately two hours after starting our project, we sat down to a hard earned meal.  We topped the pasta with Zapico pasta sauce that had some browned local hamburger mixed in.  Despite the fact that the noodles weren’t perfect, they were edible and we were pretty proud of ourselves for trying something new.  However, next time I go to make pasta, it will be a rainy weekend all-day activity that I don’t expect to depend on for a meal that day. 

Saturday we bottled our beer, which Jacob will post an entry about, I’m sure!  I will say it was a lot of fun with friends.clip_image002[5]

Sunday, we constructed the bed for the peas and filled that one along with one other raised bed and planted spinach and peas.  We still have four and a half beds to fill and we will definitely be happy for next year when we don’t have to do this again!  As we worked in the garden on Sunday morning, we realized that we had some success to report.  Our onions have started popping up and look absolutely beautiful.  For the heck of it, we had placed another small batch of them along the side of the house in poorer soil and those are doing just as well!  The yellow onions seem to be a bit slower than the white ones, but they are still coming along.  But the happiest discovery we had were spotting the little baby asparagus spears popping up (they are a little hard to spot because they are the same color as the dirt right now, but one of them is right in the center of this photo.)  We clip_image002had planted the two year old roots a few weeks ago and were sort of holding our breath until now.  Of the 18 roots we put in, seven of them had decided they wanted to peek out at the sun yesterday.  Slowly but surely, our hard work is paying off!