Monthly Archives: August 2011

A quick garden update

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Things have been crazy around here, what with the start of school, my birthday last Monday, the girl’s birthday today and a generally insanely busy work period. We actually did a pretty good job preparing for the start of the school year for a change, and my job was recently re-classified as non-exempt from overtime rules, so it hasn’t been too bad here, but my writing time and energy have definitely slipped. All of this is my quick explanation for my lack of posting, but the really important thing I need to get up here today is this: we did some fall planting in the garden! As usual, when I say we did some planting, I mean that Marsha planted things while I followed her around chatting enthusiastically about new plants and bugging her about when we get to plant more spinach.*

Here is what we got planted this week, pretty much all of which I am super excited about:

  • Leeks
  • Siberian dwarf kale
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Basil
  • Radishes
  • Dill

I still have a few carrots from the spring planting. I was going to try to pull them all out so that we could replant the whole section, but I didn’t want to be out of carrots yet. We have really been enjoying using freshly picked carrots in our meals, so I didn’t want to be totally out until the new ones start coming up. The beets are long gone, though, and all my dill has gone to seed and the seeds have been harvested, so I will be glad to get more of those. I hope that the leeks take–this is our first time planting them, and I love leeks, so I am hoping for a lot of them.

I have a couple of buttnernut squash out there that are nearly ready for picking, so that is exciting, too. There are a few tomatoes coming, and they are on the plant that the squirrels and rabbits have mostly left alone. I may pick the biggest of those tomorrow and make fried green tomatoes to go with dinner. The sweet potatoes we planted from a box from Costco that didn’t get eaten quickly enough have produced some very robust looking plants, so I have high hopes there. The cabbages are finally starting to look like heads of cabbage rather than a few large leaves fanning out, so that is cool, but my Brussels sprouts are obviously being eaten by something, :-(. There is still quite a bit of Italian kale, some other kind of kale that is not Italian or Siberian, and chard, too. On the chard front, I learned something new this week–apparently raw chard burns my mouth like acid. Not fun at all, and it takes forever for it to stop hurting. No more raw chard for me.

This year I have actually gotten quite a bit more produce from my garden, except for the tomatoes. I have really been able to cut back on purchasing vegetables elsewhere, which is nice. This week, I had my first canning adventure, successfully making pickled jalapenos! The peppers actually came from my neighbors garden, because my pepper plants have only recently started to produce anything, but he had more than he oculd handle. So, he gave me the peppers and I pickled and canned them. I am beyond excited about that, and suddenly filled with confidence in my ability to can all the things! I may be doing fruits from a pick your own place soon.

* Marsha says two more weeks for the spinach planting, although we may try to put a few early seeds out this week.

Menu: Week of 8/14/11

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I liked the menu planning method I used last week, starting with a list of what I have on hand. We bought less at the store, used more stuff before it needed to be thrown out, and generally ate better. This week, I am trying to see how long I can go with food on hand, no store supplementation. I won’t last the whole week, I know, but I think I can make it through Wednesday.

First, a quick report on last week’s plan vs. reality: We ate according to plan about half the time for dinner. The pan-fried fish and grated veggies was awesome, and the kids ate it pretty well. I mean, they loved the fish, and they ate the grated veggies without complaining too much, even though there was asparagus in there, and things were mixed together, so I am calling it a success. Chili mac and risotto are always hits, so that went well. I wasn’t feeling the curry on Tuesday, though, so I just had sauteed veggies with a couple of eggs scrambled in, and Thursday devolved to microwaved packs of macaroni and soy cheese with sweet potato fries on the side–quite the starchy night. Friday, I went out with friends since the kids were at their dad’s, so I didn’t bother to make a pizza. We did okay with breakfasts and lunches, though–I only went out for lunch at work one day, and that was out with a friend anyway, so I feel pretty good about that.

This week, we are getting back to having the girl cook one night per week. How we fell out of that habit this summer, I don’t know. She is going to cook Thursday night, making a dish she has made a couple of times before. We are trying to work up some signature dishes for her, to build her confidence.

Have on hand:

  • ground beef
  • Italian sausage
  • black beans
  • spiced garbanzo beans
  • fish sticks
  • turkey burgers
  • chicken thighs
  • lentils
  • canned tuna
  • whole wheat spaghetti
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • chicken broth
  • baby spinach
  • potatoes
  • cereal
  • oatmeal
  • dried fruits–cherries, cranberries, pineapple
  • eggs
  • butternut squash soup
  • frozen waffles
  • various snacks: granola bars, pretzels, sweet chili rice chips, Simply Fruit fruit rollups, etc.

Garden stuff

  • greens
  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • banana peppers
  • bell peppers
  • herbs
  • broccoli
  • japanese eggplants
  • green beans

Sunday: Since it was just me, I did goat cheese and crackers, an apple, and some ice cream

Monday: Pasta with tuna, capers and tomato, based on this recipe idea

Tuesday: Chicken panang curry, made with chicken, potatoes and carrots, plus some extra garden veggies–bell peppers, broccoli, kale, green beans if there are any out there (carrots are from the garden, too), brown rice/quinoa

Wednesday: Pasta, sausage and bean ragout, modified to fit what ingredients we have (kale subbed for spinach, red beans subbed for the white, broken spaghetti subbed for the elbow mac)

Thursday: One pot rosemary chicken with white beans

Friday: pizza

Breakfasts:

Cereal
Eggs and hash browns
Oatmeal with dried fruit
Fruit smoothies

Lunches:

Leftovers
Peanut butter sandwiches
Tuna salad sandwiches
Fruit
Snacks

Prep work on Sunday:

Took chicken out of the freezer
Started prepping garlic for  French pickled garlic
Baked oatmeal cherry cookies
Baked blueberry scones

Other prep work still to be done:

Make the French pickled garlic
Make more pickled carrots
Take hamburger out of the freezer

Grocery list, very short again:

Bread
Daiya Mozzarella
Vanilla soy milk
Pepperoni
Bananas
Orange juice
White beans
Dried rosemary

We are going to be starting with a fall planting soon, and I am looking forward to more carrots and beets, and especially more spinach. We are also going to do a big planting of garlic, because I have a lot of garlic preserving recipes I want to use, like the pickled garlic, and this garlic liqueur, made with brandy.

Dinner Tonight

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Dinner tonight--a lot of veggies, mostly from the garden, with a couple of eggs to hold them together and some goat cheese on top. Yum!

 

Not a great picture, sorry. I was hungry! I used garlic, carrots, kale, a banana pepper, part of a zucchini and a tomato from the garden, plus some mushrooms I had in the fridge. I feel so healthy, and I love that I used so many good things from my garden–I went out and picked the carrots and kale just before I started cooking. It doesn’t get any fresher than that.

Menu, week of 8/7/11

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I have really fallen off the menu planning wagon this summer, and I have therefore not been cooking much. If I don’t have a plan, I tend to fall back on throwing together easy things, or stopping in to get takeout somewhere, or buy a bunch of appetizers from the store so that we can be eating quickly. However, after buying new clothes and school supplies this weekend, I am just about out of money, while no where near out of month. For fiscal purposes, my new month starts on the 21st, so it is not as long until more money comes as it sounds, but it is long enough for me to need to be careful. And really, I am not *out* of money, just lower than I like to be at this point in the month. So, it is time to look at using what I have on hand, with only minor grocery store supplementation. That’s a good idea anyway–reducing food waste.Have on hand:

  • ground beef
  • Italian sausage
  • black beans
  • spiced garbanzo beans
  • salmon fillets
  • whole wheat spaghetti
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • Arborio rice
  • chicken broth
  • fish sticks
  • chicken thighs
  • turkey burgers
  • salame
  • canned tuna
  • lentils
  • asparagus
  • bell peppers
  • baby spinach
  • cereal
  • oatmeal
  • dried fruits–cherries, cranberries, pineapple
  • eggs
  • butternut squash soup
  • various snacks: granola bars, pretzels, sweet chili rice chips, Simply Fruit fruit rollups, etc.

Garden stuff

  • greens
  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • banana peppers
  • bell peppers
  • herbs
  • broccoli
  • japanese eggplants
  • green beans

Sunday: pan cooked grated vegetables and crunchy fish–probably with carrots, potatoes and asparagus, plus whatever else I have laying around

Monday: Chili pasta, steamed broccoli, salad

Tuesday: eggplant and mushroom curry, brown rice/quinoa

Wednesday: tomato and sausage risotto, made with garden greens

Thursday: Lentils and rice with tahini onion sauce, green beans, butternut squash soup

Friday: pizza

Breakfasts:

Cereal
Eggs and hash browns
Oatmeal with dried fruit
Fruit smoothies

Lunches:

Leftovers
Hard salame sandwiches
Peanut butter sandwiches
Tuna salad sandwiches
Fruit
Snacks

Need to do today:
Take hamburger out of the freezer
Make pickled carrots
Bake muffins/scones
Slice bell peppers for snacks

Grocery list, very short:

Bread
Daiya Mozzarella
Vanilla soy milk
Pepperoni
Fruit–whatever is on sale, but definitely bananas
Orange juice
Mushrooms
Potatoes
Nutritional Yeast

I am planning a bit for lunches and breakfasts to make sure we have food, but not individual days. I am actually a bit surprised how much I was able to plan using what is on hand, I thought I was going through food more before shopping lately. It is amazing how much I am able to stock up through relatively small extra purchases. That is my downfall in budgeting–I am always afraid we won’t have enough, so I buy little extra things here and there. On the one hand, that is terrible for my budget. On the other hand, when I do a pantry menu plan, it does increase the variety!

To Do List 8/7/11

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  • Housekeeping
    • Clear off dining room table
    • Girl to finish cleaning kitchen
    • Laundry
    • Vaccum living room, family room rug, bedroom rug
    • Help boy clean his room
    • Assemble closet shelving thing and put shoes away more neatly
    • Bathrooms–with boy’s help
    • Send girl out to weed creek
    • Make menu/grocery list for the week
    • Take some things to good will
  • Writing stuff
    • Review blog categories–how do they work, set them up
    • Plan gaming angels posts
    • Review story outline, start first draft
    • Attend feministsf chat on Twitter
    • Work on women in SF statistics
  • Friend stuff
    • Figure out what I did with Barb’s Magic Jack number, so I can call her in Australia! For Free! Magic Jack is cool!

Too much? Maybe, but this is what I would like to get done today. Some of it is just starting things–for instance, I doubt I will finish setting up blog categories today, but I would like to at least figure out how to do it and do some planning. Vacuuming could be moved to tomorrow, if necessary. I need to make a better weekly list to make sure that things get done around here, but this will be a nice start. We need the house clean before school starts, so we can get back on schedule.

The Twitter chat may seem like a big time suck in a busy day, but I did this for the first time last week, and it was awesome! Talking to other people about a topic forces me to think things through and become more clear, which I like. Also, I get to meet cool people, so that is good. It is a nice fun thing to put on my list, too. I like things that I really enjoy and that recharge me while at the same time helping me to improve my writing indirectly.