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The Boxes Are Back!

I just picked up my first order from Eating Out of the Box this season and it resulted in a lovely impromptu dinner.

Here’s what came in my *small* box:

1 bunch assorted color carrots
1/2 dozen Asian pears
2 small heads of lettuce
1 bag arugula
2 bags of Asian-style greens
1 additional bag of what I think is bok choy
1 bunch of red radishes

This box was gifted to me for some assistance I’m lending to the program this season. I also ordered a couple more pounds of Asian pears and 5 bunches of lemongrass, which I immediately froze for future use in teas and soups.

So excited for the lemongrass!

For dinner, I sauteed one of the bags of Asian greens with some soy sauce, oil, ground ginger and ground black pepper. I added this to some kelp noodles (I’ll leave these out next time; they were an experiment).

Here’s a kickin’ Asian salad/dish topper for you:

1 handful raw cashews
1 healthy dash Sriracha
1 healthy dash sweet chili sauce

Saute the above together and prepare to be wowed.

Back to Eating Out of the Box. If you haven’t read about them on my blog before, check out their site. Easton residents can order fresh produce, meat and more through this service on a weekly basis — no season-long signup necessary. That is a huge advantage to this program. The produce is organic and everything is produced locally. I highly recommend you try it out!

Fall Garden Update (and, Here We Go Again)

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Part of today’s harvest.

A little late to the party, I finally planted some carrot, kale and lettuce seeds today. What took so long? I had to clear out the dead and dying summer plants first and amend the soil in the beds. Between recent hot weather, travel and laziness, today’s 70-degree weather was my first opportunity to garden in a while. I did get some peas planted a few weeks ago and those are coming along.

So how did my summer garden grow? Wild. I had pumpkins everywhere, and there are still some long-neck canning pumpkins on the vine in my compost pile, waiting to be picked. I got one usable baby pie pumpkin — pests got the other two that had ripened. Phooey.

My tomatoes are still producing, so I haven’t cut those down yet. I finally pulled up the cucumber plants, but found a few cucumbers buried among the detritus that are hopefully still edible. I accidentally grew a cantaloupe plant (also a compost volunteer), but the solitary fruit it bore fell victim to pests in recent days. I was able to harvest some coriander (cilantro) seeds, which I’ll probably save for planting next year, rather than consuming.

Lessons learned for next year?

  • Put in more beds
  • Give the squash plants even more room than I did this year
  • Plant more of everything
  • Plant strawberries and melons (on purpose)

I still have a fair bit to do in the garden before wrapping things up for the cold season. I need to clean out around the beds and better prep them for next year. The landscape fabric alone didn’t do enough to keep the weeds down. I’m going to pull that up, remove the weeds and dig out still more hostas in the sunny corner of my garden. Next year, the area will get at least a good mulching, if not another covering of fabric before the mulch goes down.

I’ve turned one large bed along my garage into a new compost pile that I want to separate into three caged areas for more efficient composting. I’m also composting a bed outside my kitchen (no food scraps though, since it’s so close to the house) that gets a lot of shade and has only grown weeds. I’m hoping to try lettuce, possibly in containers, there next year.

I also need to clean up the fruit bushes I planted. The blackberry plants became very leggy and I didn’t do a very good job of training them onto the supports I set up. I need to tend to them and the only raspberry plant that pulled through. Not sure if I’ll try more of those next year.

Here We Go Again

Some of you may remember that last summer I went on an allergen-free diet for a month before slowly re-introducing foods to discover what food allergies I have (eggs and a wheat intolerance revealed themselves). Well, I need to do it again. I’m having a reaction to something and it’s been a miserable couple of weeks recently. The suspects are dairy and processed sugar, the latter of which has only slipped into my diet on occasion. I’ve also been eating grains other than wheat, so those may be a culprit as well.

So Monday’s the day I go back to eating only meat, veggies and a little bit of fruit. No dairy, alcohol, legumes or grains for a whole month. Honey will be my only sweetener. I plan on making lots of homemade, oven-baked sweet potato fries to help me pull through.

I’ve been treating myself in the meantime. I splurged at the gluten-free bakery today and feasted on Chipotle’s chips and guac last night. Not sure what my beverage of choice will be tonight, but last night’s was red wine.

I’ve already started stocking up on things to tide me over for the next month. I found myself eating way more protein than I normally would last time I did this. I bought a ton of chicken and ground bison today. I found beef sticks from Cedar Run Farm at the farmer’s market today and they have no preservatives or chemicals in them. Score! Perfect for snacking. I bought a bunch of kale and green beans, frying peppers and acorn squash to cook this week too. Bananas (not from the farmer’s market, of course), figs and raspberries will be my fruit splurges.

Wish me luck! Deciding to pursue this diet is often harder than the diet itself. I know I’ll feel so much better a month from now. And I’ll be done before the holidays hit. Hopefully by then, I’ll have figured out whatever it is that’s causing problems so I can avoid it. Fingers crossed it’s not alcohol or cheese!

Freedom Haul

Today’s haul was all about freedom (4th of July was on Thursday, after all). I had a very stressful week and I chose to leave all my cares at the sidewalk once I got to the farmer’s market today. I splurged. I loaded up. I saw lots of friends and Maggie and I made some new ones. It was a good (if hot!) morning.

photo(1) copyHere’s what I got:

  • Beautiful white onions, just because
  • Purple and green bell peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Cantalope
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • Breakfast sausage patties
  • 1 pound backfin crab meat (talk about a splurge!)
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Sweet corn (I cooked this already)
  • Gluten-free sausage roll (I ate this already)
  • Gluten-free glazed almond mini bundt cake
  • Cordova White marinated feta
  • Vanilla sweetgrass oatmeal soap
  • Natural deodorant*

* I’ve gone chemical-free on so many things, but not this yet. We’ll see how I do with this. One of my aunts once wondered how deodorant/anti-perspirant can’t NOT be connected to the rise in breast cancer — you use it so close to that tissue.

Garden Update

Lots more lessons learned this season. I planted several seeds of many varieties of plants with so-so luck. For most of my squash varieties, only one seed for each type took. I’ve picked a couple of zucchini so far. My yellow summer squash plant is all but dead though. Something is eating right through the stems of many of the plants and I can’t identify the culprit. I’ve pulled slugs, a few stinkbugs and a cucumber beetle off the plants, but haven’t figured out what’s doing the most damage. I haven’t seen any of those pests in several days anyhow. The butternut and spaghetti squash plants are humungous. Fingers crossed they produce some good squash!

I do have several varieties of pumpkin doing really well. Some I deliberately planted and a few are transplants from my compost pile. I have mini pie pumpkin plants, French blue pumpkin plants and gooseneck pie pumpkin plants. All have had blossoms, but I haven’t noticed fruit yet. Not sure if the culprit mentioned above is responsible or not. There’s still a couple of huge pumpkin plants growing in the compost pile and encroaching on the alley. One neighbor is so excited to see what results from those plants.

My blackberry canes are busy establishing themselves, but I won’t see much fruit from them this season. Only one of my raspberry canes is still with us. Ah well.

I’ve been hand-pollinating my cucumber plants and finally have some growing on those vines now. I’m going to pick a couple of them tonight to try. My bush beans are getting crowded out by the squash plants, but have been producing. I haven’t picked those yet and will probably do so tonight. I have a ton of rainbow chard, but don’t really care for it. Not even bacon grease could make it palatable for me. Anyone reading this who is near me is welcome to help themselves.

My Thai cherry tomatoes are producing nicely ripening fruit. The supersteak tomatoes are looking good but haven’t started to turn red yet. I added more fertilizer to the soil in that container as the plants were looking a bit anemic. No blossom end rot this year — hooray!

I have one rogue broccoli plant that has a teeny little head of broccoli on it. I pulled up a few carrots this morning and had them with my breakfast. When you grow it yourself, you can’t wait to eat it. My kale has been doing pretty well — I noticed the youngest plants weren’t growing so I added compost to those last weekend and they’ve already perked up.

As to the lessons learned: I gave the squash more room this season, but I really need to spread them out more and plant more of each type to ensure a good harvest. Looks like more of my lawn is going to become vegetables next year!

I put down landscape fabric around my beds to try and keep the weeds down, but it wasn’t opaque enough. The weeds are still growing underneath of it and it’s a constant struggle to keep the fabric tied down. I need to put mulch down on top of it, but have been too cheap and lazy to do so yet. I may wait until the fall at this point.

Finally, I need to completely refresh the soil in my tallest container next season. The plants in there aren’t thriving as much as they should with the weather we’ve been having. I’ve been amending with compost in the meantime.

BBQ Chicken Wings, Plus Haul-Type Stuff

I’ve been buying rotisserie chickens a lot lately, but have grown tired of them. With today’s nice weather, I decided to buy chicken to cook myself on the grill. I settled on this recipe for barbecue chicken. I made the sauce per the recipe, but did everything else differently. I bought a bone-in chicken breast at the Amish market, which I had them split for me. I also bought 1.5 pounds of wings.

Maggie was very attentive during the whole grilling process.

Maggie was very attentive during the whole grilling process.

I sprinkled the meat with a seasoning mix from Penzey’s and grilled them per this recipe instead of the indirect heat suggested in the recipe above. I brushed half of the sauce over the meat towards the end of cooking it. I was glad I had bought the wings because they cooked much faster. I was able to enjoy them while I waited for the breasts to finish cooking. Those I’m saving for meals later this week.

Here’s a photo of the wings before I demolished them. I removed the skins before eating them.

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Recent Hauls

Earlier in the day, I visited the farmer’s market with Maggie. We bought:

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Potted basil plant
  • Bulk bison burger (I’m thinking of making chili tomorrow)
  • Bison short ribs
  • A gluten-free cinnamon bun and gluten-free lemon pound cake

The cinnamon bun was okay — it wasn’t everything I’d built up in my head. Wishing I had those calories back. The pound cake I had after dinner with a sauce I made out of frozen raspberries and fresh strawberries simmered together. I drizzled some chocolate vincotto (I keep forgetting I have this) over the whole shebang. That was really good.

Thursday night, I picked up a small box from Eating Out of the Box. It contained lettuce, kale and two types of Chinese cabbage.

Garden Update

Today, I used up the rest of my landscape fabric to cover the ground around my raspberry and blackberry canes, and under my Vegtrug. Fingers crossed this makes weed control in those areas easier this season. I’m not planning to mulch the entire area, though I may eventually mulch around the base of the berry bushes. I’m also hoping the barrier fabric really does allow moisture through, as promised. Otherwise, watering those berry plants is going to be a pain.

I also planted some seeds I bought last summer at Monticello. The flowers are meant to attract butterflies. I sprinkled them in a bed by my garage where I threw down wildflower seed bombs last year. Some of those seeds and plants have returned this year. Hopefully the new seeds take too. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to plant some of my remaining vegetable seeds. I also need to devise a trellis system for the berry bushes and amend my compost mixture. Oh yeah. And mow the lawn.

The Haul: Busy Day Edition

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Meet Maggie!

The Easton Farmer’s Market returned today and what a perfect day for it too! My haul was kind of small because I already had a lot of fresh produce at home:

  • Lettuce
  • Yellow onions
  • Honey
  • Bison brisquet
  • Bison bulk burger
  • Bison chew sticks
  • Chamomile tea
  • Dog cookies

What’s with the dog treats you ask? Maggie is my new garden companion! Here she is enjoying one of the chew sticks.

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Maggie really enjoyed meeting all of the other dogs at the market.

When we got home, we spent most of the day in the garden. I planted four raspberry canes and set up my Nourishmat. This is a really cool idea that originated at the University of Maryland. It’s a complete system for planting vegetables, herbs and flowers in your yard.

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This photo was taken in the middle of using the incorporated drip system to water the mat. It doesn’t look like it, but this area gets plenty of sun during the day. I planted seed balls for a number of items — from chard to cilantro to dill. It will be interesting to see how this does. I put it in an area of my lawn that I hate to mow due to its shape. I tried raking away as much of the grass and weeds as I could, but there was still quite a bit left. My hope is the mat will smother what was left behind — we’ll see.

Last weekend, I set up another garden area using a very large grow bag. I haven’t planted anything in it yet — it is reserved for warmer weather produce like squash. Today, I set up the chicken-wire fence around it to prevent cats from using it as a litter box (there was evidence of that happening already).

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Also last weekend, I planted lettuce, carrots, kale, arugula and onions in my Vegtrug. I spied a few seedlings peeking out today. A couple of weeks ago, I planted blackberry canes and I noticed new growth on those today. Neither the blackberry nor raspberry plants will produce much this year, if at all, but here’s hoping for a few to snack on.

Last, but not least, I picked up 15 bags of mulch today and will probably need to go back for more. I’m going to start putting down newsprint and layering mulch on top in my flower beds tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the newsprint keeps down the worst of the weeds.

Needless to say, Maggie is exhausted from all of her adventures today. She’s snoring away as I type up this post.

The Haul: Field Trip Edition

bison2I used up the rest of my bison meat a couple of weeks ago, so I ventured out to SB Farms in Hurlock today to pick up some more. I bought ground bison, a chuck roast and some jerky–enough to get me through until the open-air Easton Farmer’s Market reopens on April 13. Farmer Bill Edwards was kind enought to give me a little booklet with recipes, including one for bison bbq, which I intend to make out of the chuck roast. I took some photos while I was out there:

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The resident greeter at the farm.

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Two bald eagles have a nest on the farm as well.

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In other haul news, Eating Out of the Box has started up again in Easton and they now offer a la carte options! This week, I ordered baby carrots and two kinds of breakfast sausage. I supplemented this with kale, lettuce and salad turnips that I bought earlier this morning from Provident Organic Farm’s stand in front of Rise Up Coffee.

The Haul: Yes-Even-in-February Edition

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That’s right, all through winter, I’ve been able to get fresh, local produce thanks to a couple local farms and a CSA. This morning, I went to a small farmer’s market that’s open every Saturday morning starting at 10 in front of Rise Up Coffee here in Easton. I stocked up on a lot of greens as that’s what’s available this time of year. I’m on a mission to get back to my pre-holidays self and so I’m back to basically eating meat, veggies and a little bit of fruit. I have a huge pile of greens with almost every meal.

This week, I bought:

  • Chard (I really wanted spinach, but this was the next closest thing)
  • 2 kinds of lettuce
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Sweet Potatoes

In the upper-right corner, you may have spied the topic of my next blog post. I didn’t get it at the farmer’s market this morning — those aren’t grown locally, of course.