Thursday, April 30, 2009

Organic Gardening

We checked out a few book gardening books from the library a few days ago, books on organic gardening, vegetable gardening, getting rid of pests naturally. We realized we are to late to plant certain foods, but I think we can still get away with growing squash, melons, and other foods like these. I wish we could take a class or two or three and learn how to garden prosperously for our family. Anyone can put a seed in the ground and watch it grow, but how many can watch it grow fruitfully time and time again.

These are some of the books we checked out that I found helpful:

Miracle-Gro Complete Guide to Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs
Organic Gardening
Miracle-Gro Complete Guide to Houseplants (good for learning to propagate and for repotting etc)
1001 Hints & Tips For Your Garden

Monday, April 27, 2009

6th CSA Pickup cancelled

Last weeks CSA pickup was cancelled. The previous hard rains and storms damaged crops so the pickups were cancelled. This week should be back to normal.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! For earth day events check out Earth Day Network http://earthday.net/. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Earth Day and Reynolds New Recycled Foil


For Earth Day, Reynolds is giving away free rolls of Reynolds Wrap® Foil from 100% Recycled Aluminum in 100% Recycled Paperboard Packaging and 100% Reynolds Tough. Interested? Go to their link http://www.reynoldsrecycled.com/index.html. While you are there enter their Eco-friendly Appliances sweepstakes too.


Between, recycling, buying glass instead of cans, buying locally grown foods, buying organic, composting and green products like these my kitchen is slowly, but surely becoming eco-friendly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

5th CSA Veggie Pick Up & Sugar Crystals



Now that my husband is home he will help me pick up the veggies, just as he did this past Tuesday. He brought home some beets, something called broccoli greens and the same old leafy greens as before. The beets were much smaller this time but they still looked beautiful. Since then we have been experimenting with many recipes and I am happy to say we have finally found the perfect recipe for leafy greens. Sauteed in a mixture of olive oil, butter, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and a bit of lemon juice and lemon zest we serve it with a plate of Hamburger Rice Skillet. The groundbeef is from the CSA meat of course. The recipe for the Hamburger Rice Skillet can be found at Allrecipes.com. We tweaked it up a bit by cooking regular organic rice in a separate pot. When the rice was done we served it. The hamburger meal was served on top of the rice and the sauteed leafy greens were placed on the side of it all. It was an absolutely wonderful meal to eat and it was so easy to make.

Yesterday, we had Meatball Soup (beef from CSA meet) found at www.makinglifebetter.com with Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms found at Allrecipes. The mushrooms we used for the Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms recipe were Shiitake. The Shiitake aren't exactly local, but it did make these local and organically grown Brussels sprouts taste absolutely wonderful. My husband said these were the best Brussels sprouts he had ever had. Was it the recipe or the fact that they are organically grown? Not sure, but it doesn't matter. We found something we liked and we are sticking to it.

This is what I like about being a member of the CSA. It is opening doors to new unique cooking. Sure I wish CSA memberships were less expensive and had more quantity, but at least we are learning to cook, enjoying it and eating healthy, safe and great tasting meals... well when we don't mess something up that is. Sometimes experiment makes for a nasty meal, but sometimes it can make for a wonderful meal. And family time is suddenly filled with talk about eating healthy and topics like experimenting with cilantro vs rosemary or together.

I believe my kids are enjoying it just as much as my husband and I. I am also trying to involve them in the cooking process. Its hard though since they are so small. The good new is that it doesn't take much to impress them. Take beets for example. A few weeks ago I peeled them for a baking recipe. The dish didn't turn out as I hoped, but some of the peels were used to color water to color eggs. We don't even celebrate Easter, but it is fun to color eggs. The rest of the peels were frozen to use later for coloring food or other thing at a later date.

Yesterday, I showed the girls how to make sugar crystals. It's not really cooking, but it does involve food and boiling water with sugar. The crystals are eatable too. Now, I'm not sure if I did the experiment correctly. I think I messed up somewhere. My point is instead of the food dye called for in the recipe I used an tiny little corner of a beet peel to color the water red. It worked. Will the crystals grow? We'll find out in a week. Either way my kids enjoyed working on this eatable science project with me. I only wish I had known how much sugar it was going to require beforehand. It panged me to have to use my not so cheap organic sugar.

Oh I almost forgot to mention the weekend og the 5th of April I made on Organic 3 layered round cake with Arrowhead Mills Organic Vanilla Cake Mix. For icing I made a lemon cream cheese icing. It was wonderful. It was the best cake and icing I have ever made. My sister the wonderful cook of the family loved the cake. I was so proud of myself. I can't believe I impressed my sister. I aksed her to helped me apply the icing to the cake. As she showed me to apply the iceing a smile poured over her face and she went into a tranze of sorts. Suddenly she wasn't teaching me anymore she was quietly and contently applying the icing until I snapper her out of it. I said, "I thought you were showing me". She realized what happend and apologized. I told her not to worry I could tell she really enjoyed this sort of stuff. She agreed. I'm finally begining to understand how she feels.
Do you see the frog in the picture above?

Raw Bakery

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What to do with kale? 4th CSA pickup

Like I mentioned before this CSA pickup brought what looks like Kale. Today I came across a recipe I'd like to try. Its calledd Kale Chips. Take a look here http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenkitchen/3381418500/. I found the recipe at GreenKitchen http://www.greenkitchen.com/blog/. I'll let you know when I have tried it. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

4th CSA Veggie Pick Up: That was Quick

I have to say I am still disappointed. This time, this pick- up it was mostly leaves, the same as before, but now also Kale (I think) plus cilantro and finally brussel sprouts. There isn't much to say about this pick-up I'm afraid. My husband came with me this time (he is back from Iraq), so the ride there didn't seem so long as it has before and he helped me quiet down the kids. That was nice. My girls just can't go anywhere without fighting. He seemed pretty excited about the CSA too. I think he is just excited to be home. I am too. Then he saw the one bag of veggies. He said, "That was quick!" I said, " I told you". He looks at the bag again and he says "That's it!" I said, "Yep! I told you!" He wasn't angry. Nor was I. We just keep hoping more will come as time passes. As of now we are just experimenting with recipes with these new foods, especially all these bitter leaves. My recent batch of sauteed greens didn't taste very good. My husband couldn't eat them. The only thing missing this time was the onions. I run out of onions the day before and tried onion powder. Needless to say it didn't do the trick. My guess is that onion hides the bitterness of the leaves. Next time I'll make sure to have onions and I hope this time it tastes better.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

3rd Tuesday CSA Veggie Pickup and CSA Meat Meal Make For Fun Eating




It seems the quantity keeps getting smaller each week. I do hope it grows soon and that as the season moves on the quantity will triple. This past Tuesday I only brought home half a bag, but I will say the veggies are good and they are colorful. They even smell great. The fresh herbs are fantastic. I just wish I knew how to dry herbs and preserve the veggies so they last longer. I will have to research all of that soon. I don't want anything to go to waste.

Today for lunch my husband and I made a salad (boiled eggs, almonds, mozzarella, carrots CSA turnips, CSA radish and CSA mixed leaf greens). I asked him to help me come up with a dressing that hides the odd texture of some of the leaves and the bitter of others so that my kids and I can eat it. We made some odd olive oil concoction. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. My daughter picked at hers. I ate what wasn't bitter. We will have to keep trying. Why are these leaves so different from what I am use to eating? Is it a matter of getting use to them. Maybe they should only be cooked instead of eaten raw. I wish I knew more about greens. I need a chef to teach me.

For dinner I added CSA bacon (sauteed with garlic, chives, CSA cilantro) to a pot of pinto beans. Then I cooked 1 cup and a half of rice in the leftover bacon grease. There wasn't much left over and it wasn't as heavy or thick as nonCSA bacon. CSA bacon is much better. When the rice was done I served bowls of beans and then added the rice to the bowls. It made for a very good, nutrient and inexpensive dinner.

A few days ago I cooked CSA ground pork with CSA cabbage, chives, tomato, CSA cilantro, salt, half of a lemon juice and on the side had some refried beans. We ate the meet with fresh made tortillas from HEB. We also had slices of Avocado. The meal was delightful. A few days later I tried the same recipe, but with CSA ground beef instead. I also ran out of tomato and Avocado so. The meal was good, but not as good as with the pork.

On another night I made a turnip beat recipe I found on all recipe at Allrecipes.com, but I didn't have pearl onions so I used what I had, chives. The recipe looked great, but I think the onion substitution I made made a difference in flavor and it wasn't great. Well it was, but there was this bitter after taste to it that messed up this side dish. I should have also cooked it longer. The turnips and beets were not yet tender. I'll try it again, but I'll follow the instructions to a T next time.

One day I will also be a better cook. In the mean time I will continue to enjoy experimenting and tasting all these new foods and learning about living a healthier life.


CSA Veggie list for 3rd Tuesday includes:
Spring Salad Mix
Baby Arugula
Baby Swiss Chard
Head Lettuce
2 bunches of Turnips (this time with the leaves cut off)
1 bunch cilantro


CSA Meat list for March includes:
Ground Pork
Beef Liver
Pork Wourst
Boneless Pork Chop (2)
Pork Cutlets
Beef Ground Brisket (2)
Ground Beef (2)
Beef Chuck Roast
Pork Bacon
Beet B/I Ribeye
Beef Sirloin Steak
Whole Pastured Chicken



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