Tag Archives: Gardening

Grains I Have Loved

Did you know there’s a magical world of grains?  Did you?  Because I didn’t until about three years ago when I started to love cooking.

Cooking was not something I particularly liked to do before then.  I mostly got through college and grad school through the strategic use of Taco Bells and large pots of Sunday-made Japanese curry.

But, then I got married to Atticus and suddenly I became very interested in every single way I could give something nice to him.  And, through cooking, I figured out how to make really tasty, really healthy, really fantastically interesting food.  Plus, I was shocked at how much fun it was!

I also discovered that the world has so many kinds of real food! And when I say “real food” I mean food that came directly from the ground.  Before 2008, I knew that wheat could make bleached flour and rice was white.  If I was feeling really fancy, I could tell you that multigrain bread had multiple kinds of mysterious… well…grain.

Since then, I’ve discovered many more magical grains–

1. Basmati rice:  the only true Indian food rice.

2. Cous cous:  what the “easiest thing in the world to make”?

3.  Quinoa:  someday I will grow it in my garden–it’s the prettiest grain plant I’ve ever seen.

4. Barley:  can really make a vegetable beef soup.

5.  Wild Rice:  not only does it taste good, it looks good too!

6. Semolina:  Atticus is slowly converting me to hot cereal breakfasts through the use of semolina.

7. Pearl tapioca:  Okay, okay, so it’s really just cassava starch and not a grain.  But it sort of looks like a grain!  And it helped make the best cherry pie I’ve had in my entire life (Thank you Atticus and your baking skills!).

Are there any other amazing grains I’m missing out on?  Because, I’m sort of in love with them…

Pretty Quinoa, huh?

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The Price of (Healthy) Food

Today is Monday and, as every Pinto-Atticus family knows, that means that Newsweek is coming in the mail.  And from the looks of its preview articles online, the main story this week is about the Food Gap in America.  You know, things like:  “How is it that Americans on welfare are at a huge statistical risk of being obese?”  or “The new American elitism–buying local/organic.”

I’m hugely interested in the whole thing, to tell you the truth.  But, I’m especially interested in, of course, what a “healthy” diet costs.

Last year, I did the great CSA experiment wherein I discovered that for a family of 2 living in semi-rural Oregon, paying $500 for a produce share in a local organic farm actually kept our total food costs the same or up to $25 a week lower (including that initial big pay-out into the analysis).

Which was innnnteresting.

Today, I bring you another tidbit from the fruits of my research on the cost of a healthy, American food budget. Continue reading

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(Not-totally-but-kind-of) Epic Fail

Just so you know…

Chiogga beets, while they may look like beautiful rubies when you pull them from the ground…

though they may have perfectly concentric rings of white and red when you slice them….

and produce the brightest fuchsia colors when you grate them…

They turn into a nasty brown-green pus when you apply any sort of heat.

I’m sorry borscht recipe.  You may taste like awesome, but you look like moldy mud.

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Garden: June 15

Salad, peas, salad, peas...we eat a lot of it, but soon we'll have our beets for some summer borscht!

Inside the greenhouse we have the green beans on their way, two tomato plants (striped roma and glacier), alyssums, and cucumbers (not in shot)

And some shots for comparison:

March 15

May 1

May 15

I’m very excited about the garden this year because of the cool heirloom vegetables we’re growing along with the standards.  These aren’t your regular, grocery store veggies.  These are different:

Purple lettuce! (Oak Leaf)

Yellow...er..green beans (Yellow wax bean)

Orange striped tomatoes! (Striped Roman)

Zebra beets! (Chiogga)

And "alien-like" (from the catalog) spiky, neon broccoli! (Veronica)

Gardens are rad.

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Garden: May 15

With our newly built tunnel greenhouse for the tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans. And can I add that, right now, only ten days later, those peas on the left side are at least 8 inches taller than their trellis.

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CSA Experiment update:

Mmmm. Veggies

Mmmm. Veggies

For the past two weeks, our weekly CSA farm notes have been apologetic, assuring us that they were just waiting for some more sunny days to let the vegetables take off and then we’d “see the boxes fill.”  This was a bit of a shocker since we already were overwhelmed with the “lightly loaded boxes.”  Well, this past Friday, we got a little hint of what a full box means*…

And I’m shocked but giddy to report that our grocery bill for this entire week was exactly: $10.23 

Actually, our Saturday “reload” bill was only $5.03 for the week, but then we concocted an “Iron Chef” competition with some friends to help us use up the vegetables before we head to CA on Friday.  We decided to make a veggie lasagna…and well…the cheese put us over $10 for the week.  That’s just what cheese does.

BUT STILL!  I mean, we honestly did not need anything other than milk, bread, and a $1 can of spaghetti sauce on Saturday.  Crazy.

CSAs: Forcing you gleefully into a rockin’ budget since the 1980s.**

*Namely, 3 huge cucumbers (the best I’ve ever had.  Ever.), 2 pints of blueberries, one HUGE walla walla onion, a bunch of green onions, 2 heads of lettuce, 6 large tomatoes, huge zuchinni, huge summer squash, 13 carrots, 2 head broccoli, 1 head cauliflower, 7 beets, parsley.  That’s in addition to the veggies we still had from the week before: 5 carrots, 1/2 onion, 2 bunches of green onions, swiss chard, summer squash, 6 turnips, 3 beets, 1/2 pint of strawberries, and a whole lotta snap peas.

**”Community supported agriculture began in the early 1960s in Germany, Switzerland, and Japan as a response to concerns about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land. Groups of consumers and farmers in Europe formed cooperative partnerships to fund farming and pay the full costs of ecologically sound, socially equitable agriculture. In Europe many of the CSA style farms were inspired by the economic ideas of Rudolf Steiner and experiments with community agriculture took place on farms using biodynamic agriculture. In 1965, mothers in Japan concerned about the rise of imported food and the loss of arable land started the first CSA projects, called teikei (提携) in Japanese – most likely unrelated to the developments in Europe.

The idea took root in the United States in 1984, when Jan Vander Tuin brought the concept of CSA to North America from Europe.”  ~Wiki Pedia

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The CSA Experiment

It's always loaded

It's always loaded

As you may have followed, Atticus and I decided to pay some booku bucks in March for a 19 week series of weekly farm boxes, filled with local, organic vegetables and berries.  Not only was this an experiment in 1)finding new flavors and dishes to make, 2)learning what and when things are in season around here, and 3) just getting more produce into our diet. 

This was a financial experiment as well.

Abstract:  Disregarding health benefits (organic/produce) or community economy aide (money to local farm), will paying $26 a week for vegetables help or hurt our specific grocery budget?  Will it simply mean $100 extra spent each month, or will we actually save $26 or more a week to balance the purchase?

Six weeks in, I have some interesting results and conclusions. Continue reading

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