Friday, June 28, 2013

A Big Green Box of Goodness

French Lentils, Kale, Mushrooms

Leah and I decided to sign up for Green Bean Delivery, in order to keep me out of the grocery store, where I spend ALL THE MONEY. It's a pretty neat service wherein you place a standing order which you can modify weekly. It provides a lot of local, sustainably grown, and certified organic foods.

So far, it has not been much of a cost savings. But I think it's a very good value - I may not be saving money but I'm certainly not eating out for lunch, a time at which I make grievously poor food choices.

Broccoli and Parmesan Frittata

I've also been working more eggs into our diet. Eggs have so many good points that it would be hard to list them all here, so I'll limit myself to saying that they are cheaper than eating chicken, and that if we hope to homestead one day we are going to be knee deep in them. We might as well get used to consuming mass quantities now!

Scalloped Tomatoes and Turkey Mignon

Cooking every night gives me something marginally interesting to post on Instagram (where I am mymadetomeasure). Most of the time the pictures turn out better than this one. Promise.

Cheesy Couscous with Oven Roasted
Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Carrots

Our order includes vegetables and milk every week, automatically. If I want something else, I have to add it to the order. Mostly I don't, so mostly we're eating vegetables! This goes so well with all the documentaries we have been watching about how the American Lifestyle is devouring everyone's resources like a plague of designer jeans wearing, early gadget adopting, 401k balance watching locusts.

Quinoa, Kale, Carrots, Tomatoes,
 Feta and Cilantro Ranch
(AKA First Watch Knockoff)

Having a lot of variety makes it easier to attempt to copy things you've had at restaurants. It doesn't usually come out the same way, but it's rarely bad! Actually, it's kind of hard to go wrong when you start by sauteing onions and garlic and just throw things in from there.

Zucchini Gratin

Of course, ready made recipes are wonderful, too. I've been making a lot of Barefoot Contessa recipes lately and they have been uniformly wonderful. Ina Garten is clearly some kind of culinary fairy godmother. And I've been eating so many veggies that I don't feel the least bit sad about all of that bread and cheese. Hey, the French do it.

In addition to all of this, the local options have been increasing as the season rolls on. This week we'll be enjoying local cabbage, kohlrabi, yellow squash, and kale. I was crazy excited about the local farmer's market when it started up in the spring but it only runs until 7pm on a weekday. I don't get out of work until 5pm, and by the time I got to the market the only things left were beets and people packing up empty bins because they were completely sold out. One of the farms that provides produce to us is less than ten miles from our apartment and I don't have to run my car in rush hour traffic trying to get to my greens. It's a win-win!

And there's one more benefit which can't go unmentioned:

Zeus. Honestly, we DO pet him from
time to time.
There's a little hole in the lid of the delivery crate that is the perfect size to hold the stem of the cat toy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Micro, Macro (Fair Warning, there is a picture which includes roadkill although not gratuitously.)

Driving on country roads has inspired us to declare 2013 the Year of the Buzzard.

The buzzards are reluctant to participate in the required publicity events...

And generally seem annoyed that we, their adoring public, are interrupting their (rather unpleasant) lunches.

I did attempt to interest these sheep in blog based fame, but they were more interested in eating their heads off. This is actually fine since I'm more interested in their fleeces being of high quality than dealing with the histrionics of primadonna sheep.
So I thought that I might be looking in all the wrong places for the next big thing. In fact, maybe the problem was that I was looking for a big thing. Big things (charismatic megafauna, you might say) get all of the publicity, all the attention - and is that really fair?

So, allow me to present the star of the weekend drive:

Ooh, Shiny.

Today: Six. As in, the extremely photogenic Six Spotted Tiger Beetle

(I know that this beetle has more than six spots. He's an overachiever.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Soap Number...One?

Hey, look...

I totally made soap. 

So, my mother is a woman of action. Once, when my father was asleep upstairs, she decided that the kitchen and the dining room would be better as one great big room. She got a sledgehammer out of the garage and started to knock down the wall. 

I took a soapmaking class last summer, when we still lived in Denver. Then I ordered some supplies and left them in a box. I bought a book about making soap. Then I packed everything in a container, moved it cross country, into a friend's garage, then into my own apartment. A few weeks ago I picked up a few more things I needed. I read some posts about soaping on the internet. I planned to make soap but put it off by fiendishly knitting stripey socks...well, you get the idea.

On Saturday morning I needed to mail a package, so I put it in a shopping bag and walked down to the local post office (go postal union!) in town. On the way home I stopped in the Goodwill. As luck would have it, it was 50% off of everything day, and I got two enormous pots with lids for about eight bucks. One of them was just right for soap.

When I got home, it was too late to start making soap. I dragged the box of supplies out of the bedroom. 
I needed to have dinner, and you can't interrupt soap making. I found my scale and measured out the fats. 
I was nervous about the spatula I had bought for mixing the lye solution being too short, and planned to get another one. I put on rubber gloves and carefully added the lye to cold, distilled water. I never bought an immersion blender to stir the soap with, and I didn't have a proper mold, just old 9 x 13 baking pans lined with freezer paper. I stirred the thickening mixture with my widest spatula for a good half hour and added apple and juniper berry oils when it began to trace, poured it into my pan, and covered it with a blanket. Clearly, I was entirely unprepared for this soapmaking thing and it would have to wait for another time.

So here's what I've learned:
Always check the Goodwill.
Curing soap makes the whole apartment smell awesome (back off on the apple next time, though.)
Apparently, if I'm going to be a woman of action I've got to do it while I'm not looking. 

Today: 32 bars. That's a lot of cleanliness.


A big space to eat in

A nice place to walk

Fields of expectation

A well made house
The many beauties of green

The value of whimsy
And, of course, a goat.