Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cookin' Ahead

Now that school is back in session, time is really at a premium. To avoid the nightly "what's for dinner" conundrum I thought I'd try to get ahead of the game today. I prepped a few meals in advance in the hope that they'll be on deck when I get home too tired to start from scratch. Today I used the grill to roast 2 eggplant, corn, and a few bell peppers. The eggplant became a lemony spread for home-baked baguette. The corn and peppers found their way into some black bean enchiladas. We'll be eating those for days. I also roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic to stir into a basil pesto with pasta later this week. Pizza dough is also rising in the fridge for a night this week where we can grill up a tasty pie. And, while they have nothing to do with dinner, I also threw together a batch of chocolate chip cookies. There was no need to have the oven going and not bake cookies!

In the garden many of the brassicas have sprouted: tatsoi, turnips, rutabaga, kale and the spinach and beets are also showing their tender sprouts. I may be wrong, but I think some carrots have also started to come up. If I can manage to remember to water, we may have a good harvest at the end of fall. The added water has also helped coax the tomatoes into productivity. It's such a joy to be able to eat a cherry tomato (or two) while watering the garden. Bliss!

One part of the weekend that was far from blissful was the weeding of the mini forest of silverleaf nightshade that took over the side yard. These plants look innocent enough, but they are covered in spines and seem to proliferate through some sort of underground runner. I feel like I can never get rid of it and in some states (WA and OR) it is considered a noxious weed. I'd love to get that part of the yard more landscaped, or at least mulched, in an attempt to suppress this and other weeds.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fall Garden

The fall garden was planted today. Hooray! I "weeded" a good pile's worth of sunflowers that had blown over in a freak microburst that came through yesterday. I think we had gusts of about 60mph for about 5 minutes which toppled our sunflowers and broke branches all over the neighborhood. Weird.

Along with the preexisting tomatoes I planted the following seeds: parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, 4 varieties of carrots, 3 varieties of beets (including Bull's Blood), a lettuce mix, collard greens, spinach, tatsoi and red kale. The trick now is keeping it moist and watered. I'm so glad I was able to get these seeds planted today. Last year I missed the planting window and missed out on from-the- yard produce, which was a bummer. In other good gardening news, our neighbor across the way has agreed that we will co-garden his large lot this spring! I see corn, more tomatoes, peppers, beans and eggplant in our future...

Today we also met a lovely couple from this part of town. They have several fruit trees and will be out of town for a few weeks. We're going to keep an eye on their house in exchange for the fruit (pears & apples) and whatever is ready to harvest from their garden. Lucky us!

Yesterday I harvested at least 5 lbs of peaches from my school's orchard. We've been eating them out of hand all day and I made this incredible peach crumble. This is why we will never be able to truly go vegan--the butter made it all the more delicious! I went on a cooking spree yesterday baking two baguettes, two pizzas, roasted eggplant & tomato spread for the baguette and hummus. We'll be eating well this week!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Catching Up

School is back in session which is sadly leaving limited time for things like blogging. I really like my new students and enjoy being with those who have returned. Middle school has brought me more joy than I had ever imagined. Something about my own junior high experience had me thinking that teaching middle school would be miserable. It's not without it's quirks and irritations, but it is really joyous too.

At the lean-to I'm getting ready to plant the cool season crops. The garden beds have been cleaned and this weekend will be a compost/double dig kind of time. It's this time of year that I can enjoy being out in the garden as the days are getting cooler. I haven't planned exactly what I'll plant but I know we'll have plenty of greens and root vegetables. This summer the winter squash went gangbusters and we should have enough to last us for a time. Tomatoes are still producing too which is such a pleasure. There is nothing like a tomato straight from the vine.

I've been juicing tomatoes in my daily gazpacho juice which has been delicious! My students think I'm a little kooky, especially when the color of the juice is not particularly appealing and they've taken to asking me daily what's in it. I appreciate their inquiry and they seem genuinely interested, if not baffled and intrigued.

I've been cooking a lot from scratch lately--breads, beans, pizza, whole grains-- and it feels good to be back in the cooking saddle. When it's so hot outside the desire to cook gets sapped out of me and even using the outdoor grill hasn't helped much. Last week a neighbor gave me a huge bag of apples from a friend's tree which I processed into apple jelly. I'm looking forward to cracking one of those open soon and processing more fruits as they come into season.

The shade structure is still lacking shade, but it will be finished in due time. The sunflowers are blooming like crazy which makes the goldfinches and sparrows incredibly happy, not to mention the hummingbirds and bees. Things here at the lean-to are fabulous and perhaps once I get into the school routine, I can get back to blogging more often.