Friday, July 25, 2014

CSA share week 8

I realize that I didn't post anything for weeks 1 through 7, but that's because I just thought to do this. So I'll play a bit of catch up here and try to stay on task for the rest of the CSA season.

The CSA I'm a member of (Tangleroot Farm - awesome!) does distribution every Tuesday. I'm getting a full share this year and I confess it's a bit much for just the two of us. Actually, the amounts are wonderful and I've really cut down on the amount of meat in our diet. But we find ourselves seriously craving greasy burgers some nights. Getting all our veggies at once has had a positive impact on my meal planning too - I pick up the share Tuesday, sit down that night to figure out the week's menu, and then hit the grocery Wednesday to pick up any things I lack in either the pantry or the freezer. So far it's working pretty well and our grocery bill is significantly lower (one week I only bought milk and eggs).

I was going to try to list each week's share up to week 8, but frankly can't remember specifics - so here are the highlights: garlic scapes, green garlic, scallions, lots of salad greens (mix and head lettuce), white turnips, carrots, beans, kale, collards, braising greens, leeks, beets, herbs, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some stuff.

Here is what we got Week 8 (I'll take a photo next time): Head lettuce, leeks, carrots, beans, bok choy, garlic, tomatoes, green and yellow zucchini-type things, sprouts, and cucumbers. The tomatoes were a big, red heirloom variety (ugly, but oh so yummy) and wapsipinicon (yellow, very sweet).

And here is this week's menu:
Leek pesto with beans (the basil was from last week's share)
Cucumber and hummus wraps
Pizza - one with pesto, tomato, and mozzarella; another with garlic, onion, kale, collards, tomato, and mozzarella
Stir fry with sesame noodles (this used most of the veggie variety)
Leek tart
Cucumber, tomato, mozzarella, and pesto wraps
Nachos with kale, pinto beans, cheese, and other nacho-related toppings

Those are the planned meals but the rest of the evening meals will fill in with leftovers or surprise dishes based on whatever I feel like cooking that night. Photos will be posted in future!

In the meantime, my garden is barely producing anything. Okay, we've got a lot of yellow beans and green tomatoes (beans are ripe, tomatoes definitely not). My zucchini seems to have some weird disease and my cucumbers are flaunting tons of flowers but no actual cukes. Neither of the winter squash varieties have produced anything beyond flowers either. Oh well, there is still time.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Another closet update

The upstairs closet is nearly finished. It was time to select drawer hardware - and Chris thought it would be nifty to use tree branches as pulls. He wandered around the property and found interesting shaped branches then used his spoke shave to peel the bark and gently shape them.

Peeling bark
It was fun picking the branches. He wanted ones that had an interesting shape, good strength, nice grain, and length sufficient to shape and fit into the holders that he made.

Removing a branch nub
Since we recently logged part of the property he had plenty of raw material that he could use. Cooper, of course, went with him to help.
Random Cooper picture
Once they were all shaped I brought them to the Bridge to be finished. That's a great space for this since it's still unfinished itself - no worries about dripping stain. Chris improvised a staining stand by drilling appropriate holes in a piece of scrap lumber. Made it really easy to apply the stain and they could dry without getting splotchy.

All the branches in a row
Once they're fully dry we'll custom fit them to each drawer. And then it's time to fill the closet! Let's hear it for finally seeing my wardrobe again!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shelves for the utility room

This may not be overly exciting for anyone else, but boy, are we pleased with our latest improvement to household organization. The utility room is also our laundry room and we have a lot packed into the space: washer/dryer, propane hot water tank, well water expansion tank, solar hot water tank, radiant floor tubes, cat supplies including litter box, dog food, paint supplies, and laundry supplies. 

We had one set of plastic shelves that provided lots of storage (2 feet deep by 3 feet wide and six shelves high), but had no working space. As a result we ended up piling stuff on the floor until we couldn't open the darn door. Frustrating given that we needed to get in there to feed the cat every day.

So we took the time to improve the situation and put up wall shelves. Winter boots are stored up high where there is lots of warm air so they don't mildew. A deep shelf provides an off-the-floor spot for the kitty litter (and leaves the radiant floor tubes accessible underneath).
Deep shelf for litter box and wall shelves for storage
A base cabinet was built next to the washer/dryer and will have a counter top as soon as the paint dries. More wall shelves utilize space up to the ceiling.
Lovely storage up high requires a ladder
I labeled our paint cans with the color and location where used. I used to label the tops of the cans but that required me to pull them all down to tell what the heck they were - this makes much more sense and I can't believe I didn't do it previously.

Chris thought a little reminder of the shelf's purpose was needed. He's such a sweetheart.

Kitty area
It's such a simple thing - but now the laundry basket sits on the counter top, not on the floor. It's easier to put things away because we can see where they go and the door doesn't get jammed up against debris. Small improvement, big impact.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oh! Those wonderful strawberries!

Chris and I went strawberry picking today at a local you-pick farm. Rows of strawberries as far as the eye could see. We got there early and, as it was a Tuesday morning, had very little picking competition. The farm was not a "destination" you-pick like many apple orchards have become so there weren't any play grounds or wagon rides or malarkey like that. Instead there was a nice young woman at the weighing station who directed us to the "good rows". It only took us 15 minutes to pick six quarts of berries - that's how wonderfully abundant and ripe they were.

This afternoon I made up a large batch of freezer strawberry jam, reserved a pint for homemade strawberry ice cream, and froze two batches of sugared strawberries for use in future shortcakes (a new preservation technique for me as I usually only make shortcake with fresh berries). Oh, and I ate way more berries out-of-hand than I probably should have.

I doubt the season will last much longer as it's quickly getting hot around here - up to 86 today with lots of sun. A thunderstorm tonight has cooled things off nicely. And the garden appreciated the rain.