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Archive for May, 2012

Well, I picked up my first Chow Locally Share bright and early on Saturday morning, and I was very impressed to say the least.

It was pre-washed and packaged nicely in this very cute and hefty wooden crate. I’m a little anal though, so I washed it all again.

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When you sign up for the CSA, you pay an additional $20 in your first week for the box. Each week, you bring your box back and you are given another with your next share. If you decide to discontinue your account, you have the option of returning the box and they will give you your full deposit back.

Here were the contents of this week’s share: 

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  • Carrots
  • Green Chard
  • Winterbor Kale
  • Spring Onions
  • Asian Melons (these made a very tasty snack!)
  • Mixed Zucchini
  • Mixed Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

They also included several recipes – many of which I was able to adapt to make vegan. So far, I have made squash gratin, kale and sun-dried tomato gemelli, green chard with tomatoes, and an adaptation of Whole Foods vegetarian paella using the squash and the carrots (pictured below.)

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Needless to say, I will certainly be continuing with Chow Locally!

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In an effort to eat as organic and non-GMO as possible, we have decided to start a home vegetable garden, compost, and join a CSA.

The garden is really just in the beginning stages, and most of what we have planted won’t be ready to harvest until July or August. There will also be a lot of trial and error, so bear with me as I learn all about seed saving, avoiding cross-pollination, and finding crops that can sustain our harsh Phoenix weather.

Here are a few of my seedlings so far:  

I am working on the rocks… This area was completely covered in gravel, so it’s going to take a while to pick them all out by hand.

So far, we are growing:

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips
  • Cantaloupe
  • Jalapeno
  • Zucchini
  • Snow Peas
  • Red and Green Bell Peppers
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant

I will try to keep you posted on their progress as much as possible. I can’t wait for the harvest!

On Composting:

When it comes to organic gardening, I have been told that composting is very important. It provides the necessary nutrients that plants may not find in soil, and it allows you to grow large and healthy plants without the use of chemically based fertilizers.  Also, since Arizona soil does not have many nutrients, I think it will prove doubly important in our case.

So, here are our compost bins.

I found them at Home Depot for $7 each! They were marked down from $49. We have two because the plan is to fill one bin for 2 months, and then let it work it’s magic while we fill the other bin and so on. Therefore, we will ideally always have compost available.

Lastly, I mentioned that we decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.) They provide you with one box each week of organic, locally grown produce and the fee is typically around $20 per week.

Most CSAs require at least 3-months payment up front in order to pay for their next season’s crops. Now, that’s all well and good, but for someone like me who has never tried a CSA, 3 months is quite a committment.

My reasons being:

  • It might prove too difficult to plan my weekly menus around what I am given in my share.
  • There may be a lot of waste if the share is too large.
  • We might get a box full of veggies we don’t usually like to eat.

That’s why I felt lucky to find Chow Locally, a week-by-week CSA with a pick up location at the Phoenix Public Market! I’m usually there on Saturdays anyways, so it’s the perfect pick up location, and I was able to purchase some produce at the market this weekend from a few of the farms that they work with. We were very impressed with the quality… especially the carrots and onions which were much more juicy than anything I have found at Sprouts.

I pick up my first box on Saturday, and I will have to let you know what we get.

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I was recently inspired by my good friend, Beth and her post on pantry organization.

As you can see from the picture below, it was difficult to find just about anything in our pantry… especially spices. They were staked about 10 wide and 20 deep, and you had to lift each one to read the label if you were trying to find something.

Bags of bulk food were also a big issue…  So, I headed down to The Container Store in hopes of finding something to fix my problem, and I came home with the following items. (By the way, if you spend $100 in-store this month, you get a $15 gift card to use in June!)

 

Then I stopped by Hobby Lobby to pick up some craft supplies.

So I could do this:

Please ignore the burn mark on the counter under the cashews. Someone (hmhm)…. put a very hot pot there and the counter pretty much melted. Oh well, new countertops are on the list, so we won’t have to look at it for long.

Overall, I think the pantry looks much more organized now, and it’s certainly more functional. I still need a few more containers (Apparently we have a lot more food than I thought we did)… and I would like to find a solution for the cans, but overall I am happy with how it turned out.

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Well, I’m back after a long hiatus… I apologize, but this session got the best of me, and I’m just glad it’s over.

Regardless, I am determined to have a productive interim. (For those of you who don’t know, I work at the Legislature and interim basically means that my busy season is over.)… and Matt and I started this year off right by cleaning out the garage on Friday.

After 2 years of constant construction and furniture projects, our garage was in a sorry/scary state… so much so that just getting to and from the car meant you could potentially lose an eye, or even a limb.

Here’s what it looked like before:

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And here’s what it looked like after a trip to the Phoenix City Landfill, Goodwill, and a “FREE – take me!” post on Craigslist.

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There’s still a bit of work to do. I need to re-epoxy and repaint the walls. We need another set of cabinets on the left side and the bar in the corner needs some wheels before we can put it on the back patio. (More on that later.)

Regardless, I can now park my car in the garage, and I don’t have to worry about anyone’s safety on their way to the the vehicle. 

So, thank you Mr.  Speaker  for giving us the day after Sine Die off!

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