Monthly Archives: July 2007

Monday roundup

We spent some time this weekend putting some food up, as they say.  With the help of my in-laws and their quick shucking we were able to put up 10 lbs of corn.  My original plan was to dehydrate the corn, but the kernels were too small for the holes in the tray on the dehydrator, so we ended up freezing it.

We used the dehydrator to dry some carrots, celery and green beans.  I’m not sure what I think about dehydrating the food.  We’re going to keep at it and see how things turn out. 

Apples are starting to come in!  Yum-O!

Tried another good bread recipe this weekend.  More to come on that one.  I want to try it a few more times, and I think it deserves it’s own post.

I need to post a picture of the back garden area.  It’s so full of tomatoes, sweet potatoes and squash plants I’m kind of afraid to venture back there.  I cleaned up and cleared some space in the past few days for the fall plantings.  I had already done some lettuce, radishes, broccoli and mesclun mix.  Now I’ll put in some more carrots (hopefully I’ll still have time??) and more lettuce and broccoli.  I got some brussel sprouts to try and also some green onions.  Plus I’ll need to get the compost crops in soon too.


I took my little one to the market with me Saturday morning.  He was able to finagle a free apple from the apple guy to snack on while shopping, and a free farmer’s market coloring book from another lady.  He wasn’t able to get me a free egg roll though from the egg roll people.  Those people are made of steel!  See an example picture to the right of what he looks like when he’s working his magic.

Bug off!

Lately I’ve noticed these really cool bugs in my garden.  They are iridescent with orange and green backs.  I’ve been admiring them because they are so pretty.  They sure do eat a lot though.  And they are very busy making babies and cavorting around.  They seem to love my runner beans and pole beans, but not much else at this point.jap.jpg

Turns out they are Japanese Beatles!  GAH!!

Unfortunately, they will have to be destroyed.

I’ve been out there the last few days with soapy water brushing them off the plants into the water.  It’s a bad way to go, but I have to do it.  I’ve caught quite a few of them in the middle of some throes of passion.  It’s funny to brush one into the water and see the other jump in after it.  I’ll assume the trailer is the male, thinking with his you know what, as he jumps to his death.  Poor guy.  He’s just trying to get a little lovin’.

If you have beetles, and also have chickens, you could try a method I read about somewhere.  Basically you allow grape vines to grow over your chicken tractor.  These beetles love grape leaves and they are attracted to them for chow time.  Then you walk over to the plant and shake it.  The beetles defense mechanism is to fall to the ground, wherein the chickens enjoy a nice bit of protein and an easy dinner.  And nature rolls on.

I’m interested to do this someday.  Gotta get some chickens first.  Wish I could find the article about it.

Also, check out this link for other info on plantings to help contain pest problems.  Turns out catnip repeals these beetles. 

Back to the battle.

Local meal week 5


Our meal this week consisted of hamburgers with hamburger and pork from local sources. Zucchini from the market/friends, potatoes (“french fries”) from my uncle (and blue ones from the market) and watermelon from a road side vendor (he said it was from MO).

Not local were the ingredients in the hamburgers like Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, salt, pepper and grill seasoning. Olive oil and salt and pepper on the potatoes and oil and Cavender’s on the zucchini.

The kids absolutely loved the novelty of the blue potatoes. They tasted the same to me. We had enough zucchini even after this meal to make 7 loaves of zucchini bread. I think we’re set for a while.

We almost didn’t get a picture we tore into the food so fast.

Them’s taters


It’s not hard to get help playing in the dirt from boys…err…I mean digging potatoes.

I’m pretty pleased with how much came out of this 4×4 area. We didn’t bring out a big enough box.

Lots of things

Lots of different things going on around here

You might notice a new page up at the top. I’m attempting to keep a log of my harvest from the garden. Frankly, I’m already behind because I haven’t been weighing the tomatoes we’ve been eating. But I’m trying to start.  My preservation efforts will also be logged there.

So far I have 9 lbs of potatoes, just over a pound of green beans, 1/2 pound of celery and 2 1/2 pounds of carrots harvested. Oh, and one crookneck squash, 8 pretty pathetic bulbs of garlic and 3 onions so far. And things are just getting started on my little plot. It seems like most of what I’ve gotten to grow this year has been late summer things like squash, pumpkin and tomatoes, so we’ll see where I end up.

Along that line, I have scarlet runner beans all up my privacy fence, with a ton of flowers, but so far no beans. Anyone know how long it is from the time I would see a flower to when I might notice a bean growing there? I’m definitely going to grow these bad boys again. I think pole beans might grow better here than bush beans, so I’m going to find more places to plant them next year. Plus, it’s easier to keep the pole beans away from the rabbits since they grow so much more quickly.

We took the kids to see Shrek 3 last night. It made for a late night for the boys. We do that a few times a year when a movie comes to the cheap theater that we think the boys would really dig. It’s a little treat for them. I liked the movie. Definitely thought it was funny. Strange how in a live action movie, by the 3rd one, the premise of the movie usually sucks, but not with Shrek so far.

We installed a power cost monitor that I’m testing for GG. (Look for a review of it soon) The information it’s telling us about our energy usage is incredible. I definitely had no idea how much energy some of our appliances were using. Very informative and so far, a source of a lot of amusement as we flip things on and off and watch the numbers change.

I’m really enjoying the One Local Summer again this summer. I hope you are following it on their blog spot with meals from all across the country.

Local meal–week 4


My local meal this week was a vegetable fritatta, cantaloupe, fried potatoes, pork sausage, and rhubarb bread.

The fritatta has garlic and a carrot from my garden. Broccoli, onions and eggs from the market. I just remembered I covered it with cheese that wasn’t local this time. Oops! I sauted the onion and garlic in a little lard from the pig we purchased. Salt and pepper not local.

The pork sausage came from a pig we purchased from a farmer a while back. It’s via the freezer but the farmer lives about 30 miles away.

Cantaloupe is from the Muscatine, IA area, about 60 miles.

Potatoes are from my garden and lard also from same pig. Salt and pepper not local.

Rhubarb bread contained a mix of local and non-local ingredients. The milk, eggs and rhubarb were local (rhubarb from my patch, still going strong). The flour is King Arthur flour still, although I just ordered some from my more local source.

I had been talking so much at work lately about fritattas that someone asked me how to cook one the other day. Spreading the word!

This week I also made up a ratatouille, but it wasn’t such a hit. I think it might just not be something for us. I followed the recipe I linked to above, but I do think I was supposed to peel the veggies first. They got soft but the skins didn’t! We did keep the leftovers to cook into some pasta sauce though. Don’t want them to go to waste!

Hug it out

Check out this story in the Washington Post.

Then he tucked the gun into the pocket of his nylon sweatpants.

“I think I may have come to the wrong house,” he said, looking around the patio of the home in the 1300 block of Constitution Avenue NE.

“I’m sorry,” he told the group. “Can I get a hug?”

Amazing. I can’t tell if that’s the power of a good hug, or good wine and cheese. Maybe both.

Is it worth it?

I really enjoyed the market in Iowa City this weekend.  So much so that I’m actually thinking about driving down there every weekend.  I have a problem with that though, the driving.  I can go to the market here in Cedar Rapids which is 5 miles away, but has about 1/3 the amount of veggie vendors (and no organic ones) or I can drive 30 minutes to Iowa City to one that supplies everything that I really want, including the Hardest Working Hottie under 30. 

I question the sustainable impact of this though.  Should I go to the Cedar Rapids market and clamor for organic vendors or go where they are to reward the ones that exist?  Should I go to the Iowa City market and tell the organic vendors that there is no competition in Cedar Rapids if they wanted to start selling up there too?  Is it OK that I would drive 30 minutes to get our supplies compared to how far most things are driven to stores?  Especially considering that I would only have to hit one market then and not 2-4 like I do in Cedar Rapids?  

Anyone want to give me some advice?  I’m really leaning towards making the drive to Iowa City for the rest of this summer while pushing for more organic vendors in Cedar Rapids next summer throughout the winter.  I can do this by getting cards from the vendors in Iowa City to gauge interest and then providing them to the city workers in charge of the market in Cedar Rapids.  While also asking the vendors in Iowa City if they would sell there too.  (My city forces farmer’s to sign up in the winter to be in the market, except for one that is truly first come and open to all)

Farmer’s Market picture


Here’s a picture of our haul from the market yesterday. 2 bags of fresh pasta, beets, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, canteloupe, eggplant, sweet peppers and some swiss chard. Most of these things are on their last legs, but that’s OK because I passed up plenty of other things that are available like corn and green beans, among others. For all of this I spent$34.

Also, no mention of my groovy hot pads. Thank you.

Planning for the winter

Last night while I was cooking a bolognese sauce to have with our pasta I was struck by a lightening bolt.

I could make this sauce in the winter with very little summer time preparation. You see, I’ve been dreading the idea of slaving over the store cooking down tomatoes making sauce next month so we would have pasta sauce this winter.

But my recipe for bolagnese sauce calls for ingredients that I should have on hand in storage. The recipe calls for carrots, celery and onions, which I should have in storage, along with a can of stewed tomatoes. Well, I should be able to can up some chopped or whole tomatoes to use in the recipe. This should be much easier to do than to make up an actual sauce and can it up when it’s 100 degrees in August. It’s kind of geeky, but I’m actually excited for this because the sauce is so good and we’ll be able to enjoy it throughout the winter. Yeah!

If you want more info about preserving foods for the winter you should check out this post by Sharon. It’s very informative. You should read it even though it is very long. She has motivated me to dehydrate more of our food for this winter rather than canning it. I was only partially through my first round of canning up some chicken broth when I realized how energy (and water) intensive canning is. We’ll be focusing on storing and drying foods as much as we can.

Along the canning lines, my mother in law found canning jars at the local resale store for me. She was able to get 60 jars. The highest price she paid was 15 cents. Most were 10 cents. I would call that a good score!  Sweetness!

Take advantage of the abundance available now to put some food up for the winter.  You can try it out by starting with just a few things.