May 28, 2010

Kiss my grit....g'bye

There really is something to eating something fresh from the garden.  Of course as long as you get all the grit out.

What a pain in the tuchas that is...looks like a tasty bite, chew, chew, chew and *crunch*. Ick. Grit. Gross.

Anyway, we finally "harvested" - and I use that term very loosely - our first produce from our garden.  Some nice baby lettuce.  Of course it was only 6 leaves, so I mixed them in with the CSA green leaf lettuce from this week's share, but hey, it's a start!

So back to the grit issue.  There is a trick I learned for that.  It involves a bowl of water, soaking and lightly swishing (great word) the leaves (all the dirt should sink to the bottom) and then using a handy dandy salad spinner.

We've now had our CSA for about 4 months and they send lettuce or spinach or arugala (another great word) with our share each week.  Each week I rinse the lettuce or greens, soak it and then dry each bunch by wrapping in a paper towels so it doesn't get all mushy in my make-a-head-containers of salad.  (Dressing doesn't stick to wet salad. Blech.) Can you imagine how long that took, not to mention the number of paper towels I used? (I did reuse them though.)  But due to time constraints...who has time to get to the store?...And my cheapassness, I wouldn't buy a salad spinner.

People go without spinners all the time. Yet I must have complained at some point.  Because last week, this is what happened as we were walking out the door for our anniversary lunch.....

David: Your present hasn't arrived yet, it's on back order from Amazon.
Me: OMG (I didn't really say OMG) You got me a salad spinner!
David: OMG (David didn't really say it, either) I can't even surprise you.
Me:  It's the best present evah! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You may think I am kidding, that I would be excited to get a salad spinner for an anniversary prezzie, but I am really not.  I will gladly take practical over posh.  After all, I "have a distrust of the fanciful" according to my insights profile.

Since the cat was out of the bag (or the salad was...but then again most pre-made salads are already in a bag. but I digress.) I made sure we somehow ended up in Dedham (seeing as I was driving) so we could go to BB&B to get said salad spinner and take it home rather than wait for Amazon to ship.  Woot!

So these 6 bad boys were the first things to use in my new salad spinner. Sweet. No more patting dry for me.

And yeah, I did see another potential anniversary present at BB&B.  Two actually.  But that is another story for another day....or maybe next anniversary.

May 24, 2010

A break. And a reset.

Craptastic week.

Sprinkled with some happy things.

I really try so hard not to complain, but sometimes it is really draining to always try to look on the bright side of things. What's the ruling on complaining about complaining?  I feel I could get get stuck in an infinite loop.  

Like *S*, my 5-year-old:  "She's two, too. I said two, two-times. I said two, two times. I said two, two times."  

Yeah, that did happen. More than once. Like, at least two times, too.

I said two, two-times....


I will rant (slash) what is the opposite of rant?, get it all out, try to remember the good parts, and move on. 

Let's see...3 cancer diagnosis (family & close friend), 1 broken foot (David), burnt arm (granola casualty - now I know why mom kept an aloe plant in the house)...

AND....6 year wedding anniversary (woot!), 18 miles loggged, 12 with the kids in tow, birthday celebrations, laying on of hands, cleansing tears, gifts galore, springfest!, fresh strawberries, help from the fam, phone calls and...


See, way more happy things.  Trying. Really.

Here in lies the rub. When life happens, priorities inevitably shift and sometimes we fall back into old habits, ya know those patterns that run so so very deep and are so easy to find and click into.  

This week, that's what happened. Food habits. Not measured. Not written down. Not planned.  Pizza, Ben&Jerry's frozen yogurt, maple cinnamon bread, pb&j, the kids crusts, snack bars, extra handfuls of granola.  No cooking, just reheating. Scarfed down, mostly standing up.  Yes, Michael Pollan, I broke your precious rules. Suck it. 

Dinner for the kids was pb&j, hotdogs, tuna sandwiches, or ham and cheese. Thank goodness for farm share strawberries, zucchini and carrots. 

Me, I tried the "eat when your hungry" mentality, but I gained. In one week I gained 5 lbs.  

5 fraking pounds.  

Noooo, I'm not an emotional/stress eater.  I can eat when I am hungry, no need to write EVERYTHING down.

*dripping with sarcasm* 

I know me. I am very human. 5lbs can (and has) easily become 10, which can become 15, which can become 25. Slippery slope.  I much prefer to keep that slope exactly as is on my backside.  (Or ass is. Ha!) 

Myass = m=\frac{y_2-y_1}{x_2-x_1}.

So, now I have an opportunity for a reset. Rant over. Poundage owned. Moving on.   

Breakfast today is written down, lunch is written down. Dinner is planned (thank goodness for a freezer full of leftovers!) Running goals are set.  

I have a fridge full of farmshare that will prepped and cooked tonight. Including a second attempt at fiddleheads (Thanks for the suggestions!).

At least that is the plan. I guess the bright side isn't so bad.

May 19, 2010

Fiddledee didn't work for me

So I got this mysterious looking green thing in my box of farm share produce this week.  Thing is, when I don't know what something is, I go to the weekly newsletter and check it out.  But this week, this mysterious green was not on the list.  Everything listed I recognized, but this one, not so much.  

Google is your friend. 

I google imaged searched:

Curly cue greens.  Nope, no luck. 
Greens that look like a snail.  Got a lot of snails. 
And finally....

Food greens that look like a snail.  And there they were.  


Yeah, never would have guessed that one. 

Apparently, fiddleheads are a New England spring delicacy that taste like a nutty asparagus and are actually a fern, the Ostrich fern.  

Huh.  Who knew.  And people eat them. Sure, if you say so.  

They are foraged rather than cultivated and have lots of tannins so should be cooked rather than eaten raw.  (Wish I read that before tasting one of them raw.  *grumble*)

Of course, this is the first I had ever heard of them and as soon as looked it up, I have already had 4 people tell me they had fiddleheads this week. With shrimp, pasta and even pickled. 

I will say, I am not a fan. I can be a fan of everything green. Try as I may. Maybe it was how I made it - in stirfry with chicken and a curry sauce.  Who knows.  

There is more coming this week, so I *may* have to try them again. I request my kids try things more than once even with the "Aww, Mom" cries.  So I will attempt a second run.  

But now all I see are snails with little tentacles sticking out. Ick!

(Here are some recipes I may try to help me get over my fiddlehead fear.)

May 17, 2010

Inside garden. That isn't supposed to happen.

It has been so cold the last two weeks, and two frost warnings this last week, that I was happy that I wasn't able to get the plants in the ground until Saturday.  The inside of my house looked like a green house.  

Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, peas and garden beans lined the dining room window.

Lettuce, strawberries, more garden beans and spinach over here in the living  room.
And in the kitchen, cucumbers, watermelon, oregano, rosemary, cilantro, thyme and dill are on the sill.  Dill, sill that rhymes. You'd think I have a pre-schooler or two in the house.  

May 12, 2010

Oh Boy, Tatsoi

The beauty of a CSA is that I get to try foods that I've never heard before.  Like a lot.  

This week we had Tatsoi in our weekly share. Yeah, this one I had to look up too. I snapped a pic for you.

According to The Kitchen Dictionary on, Tatsoi is a dark green Asian salad green that has a spoon like shape, a pleasant and sweet aroma flavor tlike a mild mustard flavor, similar to bok choi. It's generally eaten raw, but may be added to soups at the end of the cooking period. When tatsoi is mixed with other greens it enhances the flavor and nutritional value. Tatsoi may not be available in your regular grocery store. Specialty markets may carry it, or it can be grown from seeds, in warmer climates.

Rather than add it to a soup and I wasn't ready to add it to a salad, I decided to stir fry it with some mushrooms, butter and penne pasta.  Delish! 

1 box of cooked penne pasta
4 T butter
2 c mushrooms
2 bunches of tatsoi
Parmesan cheese

While the pasta is cooking, saute the mushrooms in 2T or so of butter. Once they are soft add the tatsoi for about 2 minutes until they are wilted. Add the pasta and the remaining butter in.  Toss and eat.  YUM!

May 11, 2010

Not going anywhere, but growing everywhere

I think I get it now. Why people will continually walk around with dirt inder their nails from gardening. Ok, so maybe not why other people do it but I think I figured out why I do it.

And not the dirt under the nails part, but the gardening part.

Last week I made a raised bed for our garden.  Then I added lath to make a square foot garden, planned out the plot and bought and planted some seeds.  

Here is where the most amazing thing happened. I prepared the dirt for their arrival and I was pouring these little tiny seeds in my hand and before putting each little seed in their bed of dirt and compost, I thanked them for all the work they were about to do and for all the people, my family, friends, church community, they were going to feed. This impromptu little pray was a serious shift in my thinking.

I talked about this in previous posts, but I have not always had the healthiest relationship with food. I was a food hoarder, bored eater, emotional eater. I still find my self reaching for a handful of granola when I am frustrated or had a rough day. (Still working on that one.) The hoarding happened when I felt like food was scarce, that if I didn't stake claim on it, someone else will. This kind of thinking meant I ignored true hunger signs and went for the food because it was there and I could.  And if I didn't... OMG... would it be there tomorrow!? I can't say that I actually *thought* that every time, but the feelings were certainly there. 

So in looking at these seeds I realized the abundance ABUNDANCE of all the food around me. It isn't going anywhere, in fact it is GROWING everywhere! Not only is there enough to feed me and my family, but we plan on having enough so when the new babies come, or the unexpected illness or funeral happens in the neighborhood, church community or just because it's nice to have a meal ready and you don't have to cook, we will have enough to make delicious dishes to share.  

My secretive love affair with food has shifted to a open and affirming relationship with my garden and those sweet little seeds that are going to do a lot of work this summer. 

Thank you seeds. 
I honor you.

May 07, 2010

Cheap me vs. Organic me

How do I reconcile the CAM (cheapassmama) me with the organic me?

Because, frankly, going organic isn't always friendly on the wallet. Coach wallet vs. organic bananas...

Sometimes it is hard to make a choice and many of us aren't ready to jump into the 100% organic category...

Or ready to be like Barbara Kingslover and move your family to a farm and become 100% locavores....

Or ready to get a CSA because you are not green with envy over kale or chard.  (Too easy.  And greens do rock! I swear.)

So what is a cheapass-shopper that wants to stick their toes in organic waters to do?

Good people, like the ones at the Environmental Working Group, put together a shopper's list of foods to always buy organic and foods to sometimes buy organic.  These are based on the pesticide levels that seep into the food.

If you want a really cute version for your wallet, you can use this on from My Paper Crane blog.

Cute, eh?

I am the first person to admit that it is a struggle to chose between spending money and going organic.  But this list just makes sense.  If I can't go all organic, that at least when I go to the store, I have options.

*PS - Thanks Liesl & Earl for sending these resources my way!

May 05, 2010

Lunch Run

Ok, so before, "Lunch Run" meant driving to the local pizza joint to pick up a slice.

Not this time.

Lunch run.  As in Running. At lunch.

Oh yeah, baby.

Sweatier in work clothes than I should be (post run - I didn't *run* in work clothes), but at least this time I remembered to wear a skirt.

And proof I made it to the top.  And new victory.  I actually ran the whole time up the @#*& hill, stopping only to snap a pic and back in 30 minutes.  The song What Do You Want From Me was quite ironic at that moment.

My poor phone was a sweaty mess lodged in the shelf of my tank. Maybe it's time for a mini-fanny pack.  Oh good gravy, who AM I?

May 03, 2010

What's growin' on?

How does someone that needs complete order and organization garden for the first time ever?  Why, Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, you can plant a square foot garden.  

Nerdgasm alert! OMG, you mean I can use Excel to plan my garden???!! I'm in heaven. 


Beyond Excel, I don't like to be put into a box.  I mean from an identity perspective.  If I try to list all the people, groups, etc. I identify with, I would have more boxes in my box than those 30 up there! 

Oh snap! 


But basil on the other hand, you, yes you have a place.  I'm looking at you in the far right hand corner. Yes, my perspective not yours.  Because I am newbie gardener. Dang, there is another box to put me in.   

So what is square foot gardening?  

There's this guy, named Mel that came up with it.  You can read about it here.  But there is this other woman, that took it a step future and organized dates, times, planting patterns (she is the Queen of organization and I am now a loyal subject). You can find out about your "color" in your area and when and how to plant, transplant or companion plant here

Based on what you want to plant and how far apart the seeds should be, the Queen Square came up with this handy-dandy reference table.  

This loyal Square is reposting for your reading pleasure.

Here is the link to a google spreadsheet with my plan. 

There are probably not so newbie gardeners out there.  I would love love love if you would give any feedback you have.  I like feedback. :)