In which Leesie engages in more garden wank.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/merouda/12263105344/player/

This was an awesome meal. It consists of: onions, mixed greens, tempeh, and olive oil stirfried together; bread with unsalted butter and strawberry jam; and mint tea. The thing that’s important for this particular entry is to note that most of this is food that I grew or made myself.

It’s been a very snowy winter, and there’s another 6 inches expected today. I freely confess that I have been eating very poorly over the past while because of stress. I have coped with this largely by making sure that there is high quality food in the house to eat so that I won’t be tempted to come home with take-out for supper. It works a lot, but it’s not perfect and I have had my share of junk meals and junk food. It’s a phase; it will pass, and one of the things that lets me know it will pass is that I’d rather eat the good food that I prepared myself.

I grew the beet greens and mustard greens. I made the tempeh from scratch, with organically grown soybeans so that I can be sure that I wasn’t sold GMO beans meant for cattle feed. I made the bread. I made the strawberry jam, from organically grown strawberries that we picked at our favorite u-pick organic farm. I grew the mint tea.

I can’t make or grow everything that I want to cook with, but I do the best that I can with the ingredients I can afford to obtain when I can’t just grow them myself. That said, while I was looking at this plate, I thought to myself ,” Self, you are doing a very good job of feeding your family like royalty from a tiny kitchen and a small urban yard.”

Granted, we are not eating truffles, caviar, and foi gras, but I know we are eating tons of organic fruits and vegetables that I grew myself, and I just couldn’t afford to buy that much organic fruit and vegetables. Making my own tempeh is far less expensive — and far fresher and tastier — than any tempeh I could purchase anywhere. Ditto for making my own hummus, yogurt, sour dough and artisan breads, bone broth and vegetable stocks, etc. Frankly, even if all I was using was poor quality ingredients, we are still eating better foods when I cook from scratch and when I buy anything ready-made, simply because I have the option not to add many of the food chemistry additions necessary for long shelf life or free flow or improved taste.

I do pay for it with my time. I think about that for other people. It’s a lot of work, and in our culture many people either can’t or won’t invest that time. For me, it was a level of choices; during gardening season, I really only have time to go to work, cook, and garden. But, I eat awesome quality food.
That’s part of why so many of my entries are just about gardening these days. It’s February 1, and the weather outside is frightful, but I have been looking through my seeds, looking at a plan for starting them appropriately, collecting milk jugs for winter sowing, and all the other preparatory work that is required to make sure there’s going to be a ton of good food available for we and the people that I want to share with. It will be time to start indoor tomato plants at the end of February. The average last frost date for West Allis is April 19, slightly earlier than much of Milwaukee County. I have 26 varieties of tomato seed, acquired through purchase and trade. That’s a lot of tomatoes to start. I really only need to start one plant from each variety. But we love tomatoes, and they can and freeze beautifully, and in the summertime, I give the excess to a neighbor who very kindly keeps my sidewalk clear of snow during the winter. I’d say it’s a fair trade.

This specially after a cold, crappy, snowy winter like this. When the weather outside is frightful, getting your garden started is completely delightful.


Notes on the actual cooking for my future reference are here. You knoe, to spare you from reading the recipe wank.

I spent a lot of time today sorting and cleaning seeds. I only managed one tiny project, an experiment really. The most successful part of the project was just taking pictures of it. My intention was to remember how I did it if it worked out well; since I don’t really care for the way it all worked out, the pictures do a better job of reminding me why I should not try this again.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/merouda/12263110244/in/photostream/player/

When you use winter sowing as the way to start your garden, you find yourself looking for the best way to label the jugs. Sun fades the markers; water washes off paint. In the end, you sometimes have jugs full of things that are a mystery to you — well, at least, a mystery in terms of what’s growing in a given junk. I don’t know of anybody who’s ever failed to identify that the things growing in the jugs are plants. 😉

I thought I might try making tags out of aluminum cans. Stick the tag inside the jug, and you write on the tag with a ballpoint pen. The ballpoint pen won’t leave any ink on the aluminium, but it will leave an indentation that no amount of weather will ever erase. However, it was just a stupid amount of effort to cut open the can and get one usable tag. Granted I was using safety edge tin snips on a rounded surface, and they just didn’t work as easily as sharp scissors. I didn’t bother with trying a pair of sharp scissors as spend sharp metal always finds my fingers when I’m involved in these kinds of projects and I did not want to make myself bleed.

I think it would really be easier to just wrap a piece of aluminium foil around the stick or straw or something and use the pen to “engrave” the name of the seedlings on that.

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