Sunday, August 24, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 16

Not much to report this week. We attempted a few days at the beach, interrupted by work. We are now hip-deep in back-to-school preparation. Lots more work to go back to public school, compared to homeschooled. Paperwork. Dress-code clothing, shoes, lunch containers, backpacks, etc. Wow - summer is so over.

Planted: Nothing new. Ordered seed garlic. Put the fall Master Gardener Plant Sale on my calendar - starts at noon on Sept 12. I should be able to find some nice perennial herbs.

Harvested: Brandywine tomatoes are now more productive and better-looking than the first few. Some nice peppers, and many more on the way. Gourds from the volunteer squash plant. Fresh herbs and celery for cooking. The black-eyed pea pods are starting to dry on the vines, and I have been picking the ones that seem done. The last zucchini.

Preserved: The white onions are dried now, so I trimmed them and put them into a fruit basket. We will use them first, since they store less well than yellow onions. Froze a quart of green beans; DD15 eats frozen beans like candy.

Cooked: Ham-n-bean soup isn't new, but I made this last batch from storage and the garden. A meaty ham bone and chicken stock from the freezer, beans from storage, and lots from our garden: carrots, onions, celery, parsley, sage, thyme. Garlic was store-bought, but I am planting some at Mom's this fall.

Made sauce from the tomatoes. Usually, I just collect a lot of tomatoes, and then throw more than half away as they rot, waiting for sauce-making. This year, I didn't have time to can, but at least I put them in a pot and made some sauce one night. It will be just fine, uncanned, from the fridge next week.

Stored: Visited the famous Weaver's Way food co-op in Germantown (a Philadelphia neighborhood) this weekend, while taking my daughter to a youth event. I wish I lived up the block from it! I bought a few pounds each of: bulgur, black beans, yellow split peas, garbanzos, red lentils, and French indigo lentils.

Managed: Lots of household reorganizing. We are making changes to how the kitchen is organized, to reflect changing patterns of cooking and storing. Looking at ways to use the house spaces better this winter.

Reduced, Reused, Recycled: We sent a formal letter to the landlord, asking him to insulate our attic and fix our windows. The windows are old first-gen aluminum replacement windows, and they are loose in their tracks, making them dangerous to use and horribly leaky. In the winter, the curtains move in our bedroom when the wind blows, with the storm windows closed. We do hang heavy curtains, but I want landlord to also make them less leaky. We will see what happens now.

Local: Shopped at the grower's market, patronized the most local producers at the other farmer's market. Bought peaches and corn at a boy's road-side stand.

One of the growers, Two Gander Farm in Oley, has flyers out for a winter CSA. It's $475 for 20 bi-monthly boxes of winter roots and greens, including a 14 oz jar of honey with each distribution. Work out to $23.75/week, which isn't bad. I would normally spend that much at the weekly market among 5-6 vendors, but I never have a chunk of food money that large all at once.

Learned: Reading about "ollas" as watering devices in containers. You can make your own by gluing two clay pots rim-to-rim. I am definitely going to try that next year, to smooth out the moisture roller-coaster for my veggies.

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