Monday, July 23, 2012

Yard Pics

This morning there was a roadrunner on our gate. Although they are somewhat ubiquitous in Albuquerque, I never tire of seeing them. And to have one in our yard--fantastic! I had to take the picture through the screen door so as not to alarm it which is why it is especially lousy. As soon as I quietly opened the door, it hopped off and ran away.

Yesterday and this morning I worked on our shade structure/bike storage project. We were given some redwood stain and, although initially worried we'd have that 70's redwood deck vibe, I'm pleased with the results. I just need to use a brush to fill in some of the gaps and then we're ready for the roof.

The semi dwarf peach is totally taking over!

I've also been harvesting a few tomatoes from the garden and a winter squash every now and again. I had high hopes to plant beans, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant, but the no-maintenance volunteer squash and tomatoes helped my lazy side to put those off until next summer. Here is what appears to be a sugar pie pumpkin (also a volunteer).

Things are looking good in the yard and we had a neighbor say that our place has never looked this good in the 15 years he's been in the neighborhood. The yard is wild, but green and he could tell that we care about such things. I'm hoping for a more orderly look next year, but I'm glad we're not the scourge of the neighborhood.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blooms and Tomatoes

Today we ate the first tomato out of the garden. I think it's a yellow taxi which I tried to grow last summer and is a volunteer this time around. We shared it with some neighborhood kids who came over for help with bike maintenance. They were all surprised at how much they loved it.  They also took home some winter squash, about which they were giddy.

The yard is overflowing with sunflowers large and small. It seems to me that they may be blooming earlier than last year. Some of the wildflowers are also blooming. See...

These tall, single bloomed sunflowers are my favorites. A honeybee is coming in for a landing!

We finished securing the 2x4s for the shade structure and are ready for the roof. We're on New Mexico time so we'll see if it's complete by the time school starts in early August.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Veggie Juicin'

I packed all of these veggies and fruits into 2 glasses of juice!
(Thanks, Chile, for the inspiration & recipe.)

1/4 large cabbage, cored
1 cucumber, peeled
1 lime, peeled
1 large handful cilantro
2 large tomatoes
4 stalks celery
Handful of baby spinach
1 large red pepper, seeds removed

A very refreshing, tasty lunch.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thunderstorms and Fractures

The last few days have been fairly packed. Thursday Lane & I hiked the La Luz trail here in Albuquerque. I left the camera in the glove box, so there are sadly no pictures to: a) verify that we actually hiked and b) demonstrate the splendor of the views on the trail. Next time. I'm pretty sure there will be a next time even though we definitely over exerted ourselves. 4 miles in seemed breezy, but the 4 miles back out, at a steady pace to outrun an incoming thunderstorm was anything but breezy. It was stressful and a cadence that we would not usually have gone. By the time we got to the car, the storm was practically on us. We were soaked, lightning weary and I for one was so, so glad to see the parking lot.

This activity left me very sore on Friday, where I had to sit in a room for nearly 6 hours typing away at a computer to complete my written comprehensive exam for my Master's degree. I am very glad that is over, too. Later that day Lane had an accident, the details of which I will not disclose here. You'll have to ask him yourself ;) His arm is now in a splint and we will be paying a visit to an orthopedic doctor early next week for a more solid cast. He doesn't need surgery this time around, so that is good news!

Yesterday we went with friends to a local skate park to watch their son ride bmx and check out a bmx competition. Before the competition even started a young man was sent off with the medics after landing on his face, losing some teeth and spending some time unconscious. We watched the 14 and under division and those kids were pretty amazing. The heat was getting to us, though, and we returned home to the swamp cooler and some juice (apple, pear, carrot)

We've been having at least one glass of juice per day along with whole foods. I'm finding that I'm craving juice rather than cooked foods more often, which makes the juice I do have just that much more satisfying. Having said that, the planned menu today is vegetarian maki rolls with brown rice for lunch and pesto pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes and homemade bread for dinner. I'm planning for a veggie juice snack this afternoon as well. The tomatoes in the garden should be ready in a week or two and I can't wait to eat/juice those, too! With the exception of Lane's wrist, things are going well here at the Lean-to.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Morning Juice

This morning I juiced:
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 pear, peeled and cored
  • 1 inch peeled ginger
So, so good. 

Then this afternoon I looked at what we had lying around and juiced:
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 5 pluots
  • 1 inch peeled ginger
  • 1 cup grapes
So, so good.

The melons will keep coming for a while and peach season is right around the corner. I'm also looking forward to tomatoes. I imagine juicing fresh tomatoes will be of such superior flavor.  I'm not having these juices as meals, but more like snacks or meal enhancers. We've really upped our fruit and veg intake with juicing and juices make for a much better snack than some things I've indulged in before.

I think the Breville and I are going to be good friends.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The 5-speed Breville....Thus Far

So far I am very satisfied with my 5-speed Breville centrifugal juicer. I just finished a giant glass of carrot-cantaloupe-apricot which was delicious (recipe below). Here are the things I like about this juicer:
  • It has 5 speeds which you can adjust based on the hardness of the fruit and veg. I think it helps get the most juice out; Not every fruit and veg is in the enclosed speed suggestion guide so I'm working out which speeds are best for which foods
  • Clean up has been pretty easy overall;the included brush is perfect for cleaning the basket
  • The design is great--I especially love that the pitcher fits snugly under the spout. and that the pitcher has a lid which prevents spattering
  • It's fast
  • The chute is wide--you can fit 3-4 whole carrots and 1/2 an apple quite easily; this cuts down on prep time
  • Most of the pulp ends up in the pulp catchment area, which also helps with clean up
  • The pulp is fairly dry, so I feel like much of the juice is being extracted
  • The chicken loves the pulp so nothing is wasted!
Some of the things I wish were different:
  •  I wish greens were included in the speed selection guide (like spinach, parsley and the like)
  • Clean up seems to require quite a bit of water. We hand wash all of our dishes and recycle the greywater into a bucket below the sink. It's painfully clear that this uses a lot of water to clean up. At least the water is full of food nutrients and it goes into the garden!
The pluses definitely outweigh  the deltas in this one. One thing I somehow hadn't realized was just how much produce goes into a juice. I made a two-glass batch of gazpacho yesterday that used: 4 tomatoes, 4 stalks of celery, 2 limes, 2 cucumbers, 1/2 an onion and a whole red pepper. If I had made gazpacho to eat, that wouldn't seem so shocking, but to drink it struck me as a lot of produce. I'm adjusting our CSA requests and co-op shopping accordingly and now the fridge has a lot more produce. I think juicing will significantly increase our intake of fruits and vegetables, which is definitely a good thing.

With all of the appliance purchases over the last 6 months, the counter is definitely getting crowded and all of them get used on a fairly regular basis (toaster oven, juicer, food processor, immersion blender and soy milk maker). I'm going to need a storage plan soon! If anyone has a favorite juice recipe, please add it/them to the comments.

Recipe: Beta Blast from The Juicing Bible

1 glass

3 carrots
1/4 cantaloupe-seeded and rind removed
2 apricots-pit removed

juice, whisk together and enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Of Juice and Monsoons

Yesterday marked several moments of note at the lean-to. First, the wall next to the guerrilla orchard was tagged with really terrible graffiti. I don't mean that it was off-color or raunchy, it's just not aesthetically pleasing. I think a  mural or nearly any of the NYC train cars from the 80s would be fabulous. It would give the guerrilla orchard a certain je ne sais quois. Sadly, this is just a terrible tag and it just looks sad.

Second, my Breville juicer arrived yesterday and it's been put to good use! I made a grapefruit-lime-orange-cranberry concoction first, which was perfectly tangy. Then I tried a celery-carrot-apple-parsley recipe from The Juicing Bible. Something about it did not suit me at all and I couldn't drink it. Not so for today's modified Gazpacho that Chile posted. I didn't have any hot peppers or cilantro but it was delicious just the same. Very filling and satisfying.

Third, the monsoon season roared in with a vengeance yesterday evening. I could see the sky darkening, which was a good sign and thought we'd get a "regular" rain like the other night. Not so on this day. The rain poured, the wind blew and hail fell as though we should prepare for either a hurricane or a tornado. It was incredible. Thunder crashed, lightning bolted and we could not even see across the street for all the rain and wind. It turns out we received ~2 inches of rain! For a part of town that typically gets 7" a year, this was significant. We discovered two spots where the roof leaks in the kitchen, which can be fixed, but the clouds are mounting again and there is potential for more rain in the forecast. I can't imagine we'll get another storm like yesterday, but it certainly seems possible.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Escape to Cooler Climes

Over the weekend temperatures were forecast to be around 100 degrees which for us is just too darn hot. One way that we beat the heat is to head to the mountains of northern New Mexico. It is really beautiful and significantly cooler. Saturday we met a friend at Angel Fire ski resort to do some mountain biking. Resort writing is not our favorite type of riding, but it was nice to change things up. At Angel Fire our bikes and us ride up the chairlift and then scream down the mountain. Most of the people who ride there are downhillers a.k.a DH'ers. They wear full body armor and have bikes with enough suspension to do 10 foot drops. Because their bikes are so squishy they can tear down the trails without feeling the smallest bumps. They love this.

We love the scenery and the challenge of the riding. In fact, when we stop to take in the views, DH'er after DH'er will stop and ask if we're ok. They can't imagine why anyone would stop unless there was serious problem. Here we are enjoying one of these vista breaks.

It was great to get out of town and beat the heat. We're back to more normal temperatures and had the first monsoon of the season last night! There's nothing like the sound of rain when you've missed it for months.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Root & Squash Harvest

Today marked the garden moment I could not Put Off Any Longer--harvesting the root veggies that had been languishing in the triple-digit heat. Their greens looked sad, but their roots looked good.

I should have included something in the picture for scale because everything is really, really small relative to grocery store sizes. Even the squash are in miniature. Well, maybe not the acorn squash but I think the other two mystery squashes might be a tad diminutive. They are both about the size of a large grapefruit. If anyone can name what the orange and green speckled squash are, I'd appreciate it. My lazy gardening style includes throwing squash seeds into the compost/garden and sometimes we get some surprises.

Right now some turnips, rutabaga and carrots are roasting in a solar panel oven--a CooKit to be more exact. It's just too darn hot to run the conventional oven.

In other garden news, the squash are clearly producing and the tomatoes should be starting to turn red in a week or two. The sunflowers are also starting to open up. The garden is really coming alive!