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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Monday Garden Update

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Finally got some good rain in, but we could really use a good day-long soaking.

Tomatoes are starting to fruit on 4 of the plants, tomatillos are starting to fruit (I think – I’ve never grown them before so I’m not entirely sure). Down to 4 carrots in the planter box, and the swiss chard that was planted with it is totally gone. At least we still have some chard in the wall-mounted box?

Planter boxes for the deck benches are about half-completed, but won’t be filled this year. I need to come up with some kind of shade-loving edible for those and the rear raised bed. I think I’m going to expand the large-pot garden next year – those plants seem to be doing really well, and with the upper-deck expansion we’re planning, I know right where to put them.

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Monday Garden Update

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Finally managed to get most of the thyme and basil into the garden, just a couple of sprouts left and no idea where I want to try to stick them.  Most of the tomatoes are doing well, the peppers are about 50/50 thriving or struggling, and the potted tomatillo is doing terrific (the other tomatillos, not so much).  I suppose I should acknowledge that I did absolutely no research on soils before planting things.  On the plus side, this year my outdoor potted plants are thriving in the potting soil I picked (last year they didn’t do so well in the black earth I used in pots, even though that’s what the garden centre person had recommended).  Of course, a confounding factor is that K has been doing some extra watering for the pots that the beds haven’t been getting.

 

Looks like the mulberries are going to be ready to harvest soon – have to come up with a better method this year, since last year we only managed to get anything from the bottom branches and ended up with a great carpet of purple grass (and resulting purple feet).  Also need to figure out what to do with the berries…

Food Planning

June 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Working along with our Freezer Organization methods, we use a couple of tracking methods in the kitchen as well.

The side of the refrigerator has been covered with whiteboard paper.  On that, we have two main sections: weekly menu with sections for each day, and grocery list – which is further split into “next time we go to the store” and “when it’s on sale” (plus occasionally sections for other stores – like the garden centre or if we need to fill the propane tank for the BBQ).

Fridge with menu and grocery list

Fridge with menu and grocery list

Menu gets updated every Friday, since K is at her grandparents most weeks, which makes it easier to hit the grocery.  We don’t always stick to the menu exactly – we’ll try to eat everything from the planned list sometime through the week, but it might not be on the originally planned day.  We also try to schedule in 1-2 “leftovers” nights, since we tend to cook more than we eat on any given night, especially if K decides it’s something she doesn’t like that week…

As for the grocery list, any time we notice we’re out (or almost out) of a staple, it gets added to the list.  Other things (milk, fruit) are perpetually on the list, so we don’t even bother writing them down anymore.  We round out the list based on the week’s menu plans.  Now that our local Farmer’s Market is open, I’ll hit that up Friday morning (early afternoon once I’m back at work), then do the grocery for everything else in the evening.

Between the freezer and the menu, we keep our grocery bills down by buying frozen or freezeable stuff when it’s on sale, then we only need to pick up fresh items when nothing is on sale (milk, eggs, produce).  We’ll also tweak the menu based on what’s on sale.  Find a 30% off steak that’s best before tomorrow?  Goes into the freezer or on the grill tonight.

Freezer Organization

June 4, 2012 1 comment

The first appliance Big C and I bought together was a chest freezer, and it has more than paid itself off over time.  There are two problems with chest freezers: remembering what you have, and getting to what you want.  We use two linked organizational methods to overcome those problems.

Milk Crates

Credit goes to Big C’s brother T for this one.  We use four milk crates to fill the bulk of the freezer.  Infrequent use stuff goes in the bottom ones, frequently used stuff goes in the top, and the front and side get filled in with miscellaneous stuff.  The crates lift out easily for access to the bottom, and they make for convenient organizational units.  We usually divide by food group (fruit or meat), and subtype (pork, chicken, beef) for the crates, and put pre-made food (whether homemade or from the frozen section at the grocery) in the front and side.

Freezer Map

Hanging over the freezer we have a great big whiteboard.  The whiteboard is divided into regions (one per milk crate, plus areas for the front and side), corresponding to where each item is (so the top left crate is on the top left of the whiteboard).  Each section lists everything in that crate/region, including description (“1 lb ground beef” or “small bag chicken stock”) and count (using tickmarks instead of numbers, for ease of updating).  Every time we take something out, it comes off the map.  Every time we put something in, it goes on the map.  Every 6 months or so we empty the freezer and reorganize.

Freezer & Map

Freezer with Map of contents

These strategies have made it really easy to keep track of what we have on hand, which makes it easier to plan our menus each week (for what we’re going to pull from the freezer and what we’re going to make in bulk to add to the freezer) and to know what we’re ready to stock up on as soon as it goes on sale.

“The Best” Perogies

May 30, 2012 Leave a comment

K’s all-time favourite supper is also a great one for weeknights: perogies.  They’re fast, easy, and we always have the ingredients on-hand.  One of the speeches at our wedding also called them out as being the best ever.  I haven’t braved making my own yet, but some year I’ll give it a shot.

“The Best” Perogies

Ingredients

1 small bag Perogies (we like the No-Name brand potato/cheddar)

1 small sweet onion (or 1/2 large one)

1 Tbsp bacon fat (if you don’t have any in the fridge, just use more butter)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 Tbsp(ish) real maple syrup

Optional garnishes (amounts to taste):

Homemade bacon bits

Shredded utility cheese – cheddar or mozzarella both work, but you don’t need to use the good stuff for this – the cheap bricks in the dairy section at the grocery are fine

Sour cream

Chives or green onions

 

Instructions

  1. Put a big pot of water on to boil – I like to use a pasta pot with removable basket
  2. Melt butter and bacon fat in a large non-stick skillet on med-high heat
  3. Once fats are melted, add smoked paprika and stir until well mixed
  4. Add sweet onions to fats, tossing to coat – stir occasionally, reduce heat if it starts spitting
  5. Boil perogies until they’re all floating (about 5 minutes)
  6. Drain perogies and toss into skillet – spread them until they’re in one even layer, or as close to it as you can get
  7. Drizzle maple syrup on top
  8. After 1 minute, flip all perogies
  9. After 1 more minute, dish onto plates and garnish as you like

Planting time

May 23, 2012 3 comments

Started getting things in the ground on the weekend, and am trying to get a few more in each day this week.  So far we have:

Planter Box 1:

  • Sage (from last year)
  • Oregano (from the garden centre)
  • Thyme (from seed)
  • Rosemary (from the garden centre)

Planter Box 2:

  • Beets (planted seeds a couple weeks ago, but mostly dug up by squirrels already)
  • Swiss Chard (from seed)
  • Carrots (from seed)
  • Chives (from last year)

Mega Planter Box:

  • Scarlet Runner Beans (seeds)
  • Snow Peas (seeds)
  • Green Beans (seeds)
  • Pumpkin (from seed – K’s choice)
  • Lupins (from seed – K’s choice)

Misc. Pots & Baskets:

  • Tomatillo (from garden centre)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (from seed)
  • Cayenne Peppers (from seed)
  • More Swiss Chard (from seed)
  • Mint (from garden centre – what on earth would I do with all the mint I could grow from one packet???)

New bed #1:

  • Beefsteak tomato (from garden centre)

Still in the kitchen, waiting to be planted:

  • More tomatillos (from garden centre)
  • More cherry tomatoes (from seed)
  • More beefsteak tomatoes (from garden centre)
  • Oxheart tomato (from garden centre)
  • Mystery tomato (from a friend)
  • Scotch Bonnet peppers (from garden centre)
  • More cayenne peppers (from seed)
  • Explosive ember pepper (from a friend)
  • Purple bell pepper (from garden centre)
  • Several varieties of marigold (from garden centre)
  • Tons of basil & thai basil (from seed)
  • Spinach (from seed, though not much sprouted)
  • More thyme (from seed)

I’m also considering picking up a couple of blueberry bushes for the back – by the time there’s significant yield, K and C2 will; be able to help with the harvest.

Eventually I’m planning on doing much more from seed than from starters, but time and space and practice will define what I end up growing in the long term.  For example, if bunnies/squirrels/raccoons/other critters get all my beets and carrots again this year, I won’t bother again until I have some kind of critter repellent for the yard.

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