Thursday, August 27, 2015

CSA: Week 12

This week our basket brought us:
Rainbow beets
Red peppers (2)
Cherry tomatoes
Paste tomatoes (a bunch)
Frankly, I think we're going to attempt to give away the onions, garlic, and beets. If we can't get someone to take them, I'll try and use them in a beet dish of some sort, but I'm hoping it won't come to that.
  • I will just eat the tomatoes raw. I'm cool like that.  The peppers will also be chopped up for my lunches.
  • The lettuce is Dr. BB's deal.  He uses them for garnish on sandwiches. We will also have leftover taco meat, so it's possible we might use some of it for taco salads.
  • We'll use the kale for something. It's pretty good as a green in lasagna, so maybe polenta lasagna.  
  • I'll chop the melon up and eat it with breakfast.
  • The parsley is still a mystery. I've used parsley in previous dishes as a garnish, but have never used anywhere near as much as we get.  I've taken to freezing some of it with my vegetable scraps for stock.

Friday, August 21, 2015

CSA: Week 11

In this week's basket we found the following deliciousness:
Patty pan squash (1 giant one)
Cucumbers (2)
Slicing tomatoes (5)
Eggplant (2)
Rainbow chard
Sweet onions (4)
Red peppers (2)
If you pay way more attention to photos than I do, you might notice that there are no onions pictured. That's because we are overwhelmed with onions and garlic and I put them in someone else's basket.  Sorry, person who got twice as many onions as you thought you would.

Here's the plan as it stands:
  • Carrots and cucumbers will be eaten raw in my lunches.  Maybe the peppers too if they're not too hot. If they are hot, I'll slice them up and put them in the frozen bags of vegetable scraps for stock*.
  • The tomatoes do not look good. A couple already have soft spots. I've been quite disappointed in the tomatoes this year. We don't get very many and we haven't actually gotten any heirloom tomatoes at all - they've all been slicers. So this is good information for me to remember when I do the survey at the end of the year.
  • I'll eat the melon for breakfast, I guess. Neither of us is a big melon fan, but Dr. BB actually has mild allergies to them, so it's on me.  (In our defense, we signed up for a "vegetable CSA," not a "vegetable and random melon CSA," so I think our continued bitchiness about the melons is entirely justified.)
  • We'll make a frittata with the chard and eat it for dinner on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  • We're kind of over summer squash at this point, so I'll probably grate and freeze the patty pan (and the two large zucchini we have left from last week) so that I can make some zucchini bread in the fall or winter.
  • It's not enough eggplant for baba ganoush. If Dr. BB can get to the Farmers' Market tomorrow (I'll be out of town), maybe he'll get another one and I can make it again. If he doesn't go, though, maybe I'll just grill them.
  • I have no idea what to do with the sage.  We mostly use it in dishes with winter squash, so I'm befuddled by its presence in this basket. It reminds me, yet again, that we suck at using the herbs we get.

We did pretty well with last week's basket. I even used some of the parsley in the baba ganoush.   Let's keep our fingers crossed for better tomatoes next week!

* I've discussed how to make stock before.  I have since learned that a real cost-saving secret is to save all the vegetable scraps as I clean vegetables, freeze them, and then I don't have to buy vegetables just for use in stock.  I don't peel carrots, but I cut off the tops. I throw those in the bags. We only use the leaves of rainbow chard and kale and I throw the stems in the freezer bags. Tops of peppers go in, along with pea stems and bean tips.  I think I can easily get three or four gallon bags full during CSA season.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mission Organization: Sewing

My birthday was last weekend and part of my present from my husband was this:

Yay!  A cutting board and a clear quilter's ruler!  He also got me a rotary cutter and I now have all the basic equipment needed for a six-week sewing class I'm going to be starting in less than a month. 

I've been knocking around the idea of taking a multi-week class for a while. I've taken one-time classes here and there and I think I have an idea of what I'm doing in general, but my foundational skills are kind of lacking. I'm hoping that taking this class will encourage me to tackle more challenging sewing projects and help me be successful at them!

I have a tiny corner of our bedroom to store my sewing supplies and things were out of control. I had bags of thread, ribbon in every nook and cranny, and fabric crammed into a cupboard with no sense of organization.

So, I got down to the business of figuring out how to corral everything into a small space.

The first thing I did was collect all my elastic, rickrack, and ribbon and put it all in one place - this adorable ruler box (also a present from my husband - apparently I buy nothing for myself). Note to self: stop buying ribbon no matter how inexpensive it may be in the clearance bin.
Then I went through my fabric, folded it, and stuffed it back into the tiny cupboard. The thing is, I've been collecting bits and pieces of fabric from my life for years in the hopes of making a tshirt quilt, even though I don't have the actual skill set to do so. After some basic sewing classes and a quilting class, I'm hoping I will be able to get rid of most of the tshirts, pajama pants, and assorted other non-wearable, but memory-filled clothing items at the bottom of this cupboard.
I had to deal with the thread, so a trip to The Container Store yielded me a clear storage bin designed for spools!
 I have my mandatory jar full of buttons, of course.
And a bag for everything else: seam ripper, needles, fabric shears, sewing gauge, and all the rest.
I have devoted one shelf of a bookcase to sewing books, patterns, and a notebook that I hope will be filled with useful hints and tricks after this class I take, too.

And then there's the suitcase.

I went a consignment shop in Columbus when I was with Bestest Friend and fell in love with this orange-y red Samsonite suitcase and I snatched it up for the bargain basement price of $32. I would have paid twice that and it may be the start of a love affair between me and old luggage.
The inside is in pretty good shape. There's a tiny bit of water damage, but it's mostly awesome.
I'm totally using this to take all my fabric and notions back and forth with me to my class. I'll carry my sewing machine in one hand and my orange Samsonite in the other and be the happiest girl in the world.

And now my world of sewing is organized. I just need to actually make something.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

CSA: Week 10

This week brings us:
Summer squash (2 giant zucchinis, 4 patty pan)
Cucumbers (2)
Tomatoes (6)
Eggplant (3 medium sized)
Sweet onions (3)
Garlic (2 bulbs)
Green Italian peppers (2)
  • Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers will be eaten raw as part of my lunches.
  • I'm going to make baba ganoush with the eggplant. I use an easy recipe from The Joy of Cooking.  It requires basic ingredients that every one should have in their pantries and tahini (which I only use for baba ganoush). I'll use some of the parsley as seasoning for this.
  • We still have zucchini from last week, so I'm going to make more zucchini bread (this recipe with fewer chocolate chips), but I'm going to make mini loaves so I can give them away.
  • We're grilling chicken breasts for dinner tonight, so I'm going to use most of the lettuce in a chicken salad.
  • Kale. Hmmmm...sauteed for lunch sometime, maybe?  
  • Too much garlic and onion. No idea what to do with that nonsense.
Pretty, pretty purple beauties.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Wilds - Cumberland, Ohio

One of the main events of my trip to Ohio last week was to visit The Wilds*, a private non-profit conservation center that does various tours, activities, and events in its mission to advance conservation through science, education and personal experience. There's some sort of affiliation with the Columbus Zoo and Jack Hanna, but honestly I never really figured it because it was kind of irrelevant. 

I have concerns about zoos and I have concerns about places like The Wilds, too, but overall I feel like these are good places doing good scientific and advocacy work. 

So, on to our tour. We took the "Open-Air Safari" ($30/person), so that meant we got to ride in an open-air vehicle like the one pictured below as it drove through the thousands of acres of land that make up the park.
After a bumpy start (seriously, I thought we were going to fall out), the first animal we came to was an Asian rhino and her baby.  It was pretty amazing and I think maybe a baby rhino would be an okay kind of pet.
There were lots of other animals, including this majestic camel who just desperately wants to be a cover model for Camel GQ.
The Wilds makes a very concerted effort to work on breeding programs and we certainly saw a fair number of young animals around to show how successful it has been, including this adorable Grevy's zebra feeding from its mother.
If you're in for a more exciting kind of experience (although, seriously, we almost FELL OUT OF THE TRUCK), The Wilds also offers ziplining tours, horseback tours, and a variety of open/closed conveyance tours.
It also has camps and lodging available if you're into the idea of hanging out in a yurt with a rhino wandering around in your backyard (I am...not into this idea).
And, if all else fails, you can feed this bird.  He'll be your new best friend.

We had a ton of fun and I think this would be fun for all animal-loving people, even people who get the heebiejeebies when they think about zoos.  Just try to go on a day when it's not raining.  Because that will make you kind of sad.

*As always, I get paid nothing to do this blog. Bestest Friend paid for our tickets and I freeloaded off of her, but The Wilds paid me nothing to write this.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Concrete Corn

In Dublin, Ohio, there are 109 human-sized concrete ears of corn planted in a field.
It's a strange art installation that (I think) is supposed to a commentary on how the fertile land in this area of Ohio is no longer used to grow crops, but instead houses factories, warehouses, and over-sized buildings that are the world headquarters for fast food restaurant chains.

The entire premise of this art is kind of bizarre. It's kind of pointed.  It's kind of amazing.

Look, corn grows on stalks; it doesn't actually grow from the ground with the cobs buried in the soil.  But, I think that's the point. How many people actually know what a corn plant looks like as we, as a society, get further and further away from our agrarian past? 
So if you ever find yourself wondering what you should do with a random morning in the middle of Ohio, check out the Field of Corn.

There are no interactive parts, screens blasting loud sounds, or docents leading tours. Instead, you find yourself surrounded by big, ugly modern buildings in an oasis of calm and thoughtfulness.
Or you might just think it's sort of fun to wander up and down faux rows of corn and wonder why 109 was the chosen number or why Cochran chose the medium of concrete or if the molds used to make the cobs are still around and available for use. 
Or maybe you'll just lay on the ground and imagine a dinner made entirely from one of these giant cobs of corn. If it wasn't made of concrete, of course.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

CSA: Week 9

I'm actually staying with Bestest Friend for a few days and Dr. BB took this photo, but I just want to make it known that apparently my internet connection at home and school is very slow because I feel like I'm living in another world of high-tech with the crazy fast speed of uploading things here. Moving on.

This week brings us:
Sweet onions
Dragon's tongue beans
  • Tomatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes will be eaten raw in lunches.
  • Zucchini will be grilled.
  • I will make iced tea with the papalo.
  • We tried to grill the fennel a few weeks ago, but it wasn't very good. We'll probably roast it this time.  
  • The beans might be a side for dinner or I might eat them raw for snacks.
  • We still have onions from last week, so I don't know what we're going to with them. My guess is that we'll give them away.
  • We've never had tomatillos before, so I'm not sure what the plan is for them. I'll taste test them when I get home and figure it out from there.
  • Lettuce is still Dr. BB's problem. He mostly uses it in sandwiches.
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