Thursday, May 28, 2009

Organic Gardening and Plant For The Hungry

We sewed more seeds for our organic garden this week, seeds my husband bought from the localharvest link I sent him a few weeks ago. He bought some organic marigolds, organic pumpkin seeds and some organic okra. While helping him lace the pumpkin seeds in the dirt I prepared another planter for pumpkin seeds. He told me to save the rest for next year. I asked him, "Won't the seeds go bad?" He said, "I don't think so, but we don't need that many plants". I said, "We can swap seedling with neighbors that garden", but he didn't seem to like the idea much. Before he could responded he was distracted by my neighbor.

Later that evening, while reading my emails, I read the local harvest email in my inbox, which eventually lead me to a link I found interesting and later told my husband about. He loved the idea. What's the idea? Feeding the hungry. Check it out here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

9th CSA Pickup a Turn For the Better

It seems the CSA veggie pickups are improving. No more nasty bitter lettuce. This week we had two bags of veggies. One bag was a large bunch of celery. The other bag was 3 yellow onions, 3 red potatoes, two more round squash and a large squash. We also have more rosemary which we are currently hanging to dry since last month we bought our own rosemary bushes and planted them in our front yard near the front porch. They smell so good and look very pretty.

Our recipes for this week have been:

1. Tomato Fennel Soup from We finally made this and used the left over fennel leaves and stems though it called for fennel bulbs. I really liked this soup and plan to make it again next time we have fennel. The fennel leaves gave it a different texture then fennel bulbs would have.

1a. the next day for dinner we used the leftover fennel soup to bake with chicken . We added some spaghetti sauce (to use up the little that was left in the fridge. We are really trying not to waste any food). The flavor was very very good, but the chicken texture was a bit rough. We baked it too quickly in to high of a heat. Next time we need to cook it longer at a lower temperature.

2. Summer Chicken Squash from Instead of yellow squash we used the round squash seen in the picture below.

3. Celery and Almond Soup from This was lovely. I loved it. We ate it with homemade Penni sandwiches.

4. Baked Fish and Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic from This was great! My husband really knows how to cook fish. The potato texture was my favorite. On the side we had sauteed squash.

5. Banana Bread from My husband says this was one of the best banana breads he has every had. My girls loved it and I was impressed too. I accidentally made the top of the bread a little crispy and it made all the difference. My husband had just baked something in the oven at 400. I then switched the temp to 350 for the bread. Instead of waiting though I stuck it in there and set the timer. I cooked it for 1 hour. The top was crispy not burnt and the middle was moist. The banana bread was about 75% organic. I made it with organic sugar, organic cinnamon, organic and very rip bananas, crystal salt, organic egg etc. Instead of buttermilk I used yogurt and I also added walnuts.

6. Celery Slaw from This was also very good. The next day with the left over salad I added a few craisins. It made it even better.

7. We had tuna salad today with the CSA celery.

8. For dinner we plan on cooking spaghetti with the bit of tomato fennel soup left over and a jar of organic spaghetti sauce from HEB. I look forward to dinner.

Eating at home this week has been great. We are enjoying learning to cook new things. We are enjoying our meals....well our kids are kids and they can be picky. Some things they really like. Some things they don't.

Besides being in the kitchen we spend a lot of time of our short vacation in the yard. I have been working on my flower garden
icon and my husband has been working on the vegetable gardenicon. He is working on digging and tilling the dirt. He's almost done. He plans to add the compost next. In the meantime these are some of the watermelon and melon seedlings he is growing in pots in the front yard.

When I get the chance I do a little extra research for recipes, dry herbs how-to, and scanning pictures in hopes I can identify the CSA squash. I believe they are all a variety of summer squash. This is what I think my squash are individually :

1. The white one from last week is called White Bush Scallop Squash.
2. I think the round ball squash above is a Eightball Squash, but I could be wrong.
3. The long one in the picture above may be a zucchini but I'm not sure.

There are so many types of squash and so many different ways of eating them it is overwhelming. For more on summer squash take a look at the links below:
1. Squash Glossary
2. Summer Squash
3. All About Summer Squash
4. Summer Squash from Local Harvest
5. A lot of summer squash pictures


Friday, May 15, 2009

More on our Organic Garden

Yesterday, my husband and I debated about taking a trip to the store and buying a large decorative pot to place our herbs (cilantro, sage, basil, ect.) in order to keep our herbs in the front yard without the homeowners association sending us a letter about our tacky garden. We calculated the cost and decided against it, but we really needed to repot our herbs since they were growing weaker. We still had not repotted our herbs since we bought them at the store a few weeks ago. Then I asked my husband if he could make me a pot/planter out of the recycled wood we have in the garage. The recycled wood is wood my neighbor and I took from peoples front lawn trash after IKE hit. Yes, my nieghbor and I are occasional garbage recyclers. If we can reuse it, it isn't disgusting, is easy to grab from the trash pile and if it can save us money we will grab it and reuse it. I'm not ashamed. It's eco-friendly and saves a bunch of money.

Back to the original subject: My husband said he would give it a try... Take a look at what he made.

He said it was easy to do, but it took him about an hour and a half to make. All he used was recycled wood, a nail gun, an automatic saw, and window screen (for the bottom). I think it looks nice enough to keep in the front yard. I could be wrong, but I prefer to think I have some taste. So, I aked my husband to build me two more for some of my other plants. He was delighted I liked it. I guess I don't compliment the poor guy enough. I'll try to more often.

Time to head out back to the garden before I spend the rest of the day studying for my exam, feeding my kiddos and then work this evening.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

8th CSA Pickup and the Garden

This weeks CSA pickup had a white fruit/vegetable in it. My husband says it is a squash. I've never seen it before in my life. I'm excited to try it. We also received another bulb of fennel. When I noticed I looked at my husband and asked, "another one?" He said he mentioned to the people at the pick up site that we still had the other two fennel and didn't know what to do with them. He said one lady looked at him weird and just said she eats it raw. When he told me what she said I looked at him weird and said "raw!" I've had a few nibbles of the stuff and raw isn't exactly yummy. So while he took the girls swimming (it was my turn today, but he told me he would rather go and I cook today) I looked up some recipes with fennel (the baby in my arms). The recipes I used yesterday evening for dinner were: Sauteed Chicken Breast With Fennel and Rosemary from and Fennel & Parmesan from The main dish was the Sauteed Chicken Breast With Fennel and Rosemary and the side dish was the Fennel & Parmesan. We also had fresh boiled organic broccoli on the side. Well it was actually HEB frozen organic broccoli, but it tasted fairly fresh.

How did I and my family like the dishes I made with fennel? The cooking fennel made the house smell tasty. The look of the fresh fennel looked tasty. The taste of the chicken with fennel was delicious. The fennel with Parmesan...not so much, but I finally figured out what fennel reminds me of -black jelly beans. I never liked jelly beans so eating a vegetable/herb that taste like jelly beans doesn't score high marks in my book. I also don't like the fennel texture, but I guess the lady that eats it raw does like the texture and taste. To each her own. Oh well, at least we (my family) found out we liked Fennel better cooked than raw. My girls, husband and I loved the flavor of the chicken thanks to the cooked fennel. If we get another bulb of fennel I will have to try this recipe again.

Today I may try the Tomato-Fennel Soup recipe I found on It requires a bulb of fennel for the recipe, but all I have left are the leaves and stems. I've read and heard the leaves and stems are very eatable too. I hope so or a lot of fennel will be going to waste. I also read it is best to eat fennel as soon as you get it or it looses its freshness and flavor. That makes sense.

This week I hope to experiment with all the squash we received last week and this week. I will have to look recipes up for the white squash. First I have to find out what it is called.

By the way my husband and I were discussing at dinner yesterday evening while eating the fennel dishes if the veggie CSA was worth it or not. I mentioned to him, "It's a 30 min drive there and another 30 back. It is during traffic hours and we have to drive through a busy highway. In addition we still haven't received but more than a bag a week of veggies and so far we don't like or know how to eat a lot of them (like the bitter green leaves and the fennel)". I told him it is more trouble than it is worth and that I am considering switching next year to one of the other farms in the area because even if we receive more and better fruit the rest of the year from this farm it is still a far drive through a busy highway during traffic hour. To only come home with one bag full of veggies...just doesn't seem logical. The other CSA are more expensive and produce less weeks but at least they are closer. My husband agreed. We also both agreed that the meat CSA is worth it (though not much meat is provided per month and though it is expensive) because the meat taste absolutely wonderful (except the liver). They also deliver the meat to our door. This isn't a CSA necessity. I don't mind picking the foods up so long as they are not too far away or at very inconvenient times, but since the meat CSA does deliver it makes it all the more convenient. So instead of eating out we eat in. We still save money that way. In addition the meat CSA provides a very interesting and charming newsletter with each delivery, they gave us a free recipe book on the first delivery and they continue to provide us with recipes in the newsletters or via email when we ask them how to eat certain meats. We will very likely stay with the meat CSA next year.

In the mean time my husband and I are still working on our organic garden in hopes that by next year we can grow some of our own fruit and veggies. We have watermelon and melon and some herbs in pots right now. We are using a mixture of our very own compost soil and organic miracle grow soil in the pots. Our Topsy Turvy Tomato is growing well too. I believe I see the beginnings of flowers on some of the stems. I smile at the thought of my own tomatoes. My neighbor's Topsy Turvy is doing very well too. He already has flowers on his. My husband is out tending to the garden now. I better get at it too before the baby wakes up....oh he just woke up.

Monday, May 11, 2009

7th CSA Pickup and the Garden

Did I mention we had a Topsy  Turvy? We found one at Home Depot while looking for plants to put in the flower garden as well as the vegetable garden. Our vegetable garden isn't coming at the speed that we hoped, mostly because we don't have time to tend to it. The fruits we planned on putting in the ground our still in pots. Our Topsy Turvy however is growing at a quick speed. We bought them at a discount. They were the last two Topsy Turvy left at the store and they were the display already out of the box, so we didn't even get the instructions on what to do with it. We are sort of winging it. We gave one to our neighbor. So far so good. We have however seen some aphids and there appears to be a tiny worm or snail leaving a white trail throughout a few of the leaves. We plan to look up organic ways to get rid of these pest, but again life is a busy one and we have very little time to research and read stuff lately. We have decided that if this Topsy Turvy fruits well we will buy more next year. My neighbor said he may even be able to hand make his own Topsy Turvy.

We haven't been experimenting with new foods lately either. Because we are limited on time we're back to some of the same old meals as before. This saddens me a bit. Last CSA came with 3 different types of squash and I would love to try new ways of eating these. I am hoping to have a little extra time this week or next to catch up.