Food in Bowls and Jars

The wheel of the year turned another notch today. Summer Solstice, the longest day, arrived. I watered the plants. Radishes should be ready by the end of the week. Carrots poke small fern-like leaves through the top of the soil. We have four bean plants getting ready to rock and roll. And many other green leafy things have popped up. I don’t remember what I planted where, but we have an abundant crop of something or things on the way.

After giving the plants a drink, I had a rather hip and trendy breakfast of overnight oats. You haven’t tried them? You can’t connect to any relatively healthy eating site these days without thumbnails for recipes greeting you. I used a 16-ounce very well washed salsa jar for mine. All you have to do is put oats and some sort of milk or yogurt in a jar in a two-to-one ratio (I use 1/3 cup oats to 2/3 cup yogurt or soy  almond milk), a sweetener (stevia in my case), mix, and let sit overnight. The longer the resting period, the creamier the oats the next morning. You can throw in cocoa powder, nut butter, nuts, chia seeds, flax, whatever is healthy and world for you. Just don’t forget the sweetener; otherwise the flavor will remind you of library paste. And don’t forget some berries or banana in the morning when breakfast time arrives.

I put pumpkin in with mine, and pie spices. A bit unconventional for the first of summer, but it was quite good. Cool, creamy, dessert-like. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts; this echoed it pleasantly.

Another ubiquitous jar presentation: salads. These get shown in quart Mason jars. I see no reason why any other quart jar wouldn’t work. The basic recipe starts with dressing on the bottom, tomatoes, cucumbers, protein to act as a moisture barrier, then lettuce on top. At lunch or dinner time, give the jar a good shake and there you have your lunch or dinner. You can eat it as is or you can pour it out onto a plate.

If you don’t want to eat your meal on a plate, you can always put it into a bowl. Bowls garner a lot of press these days as well. The formula involves a layer of grains, some veggies, a protein, and salsa or some kind of sauce on top. If I can’t get to Chipotle for one of their bowls, I can make a fairly reasonable copy at home. Not quite the same, but pretty close.

While nothing can replace sitting down and enjoying the casual elegance of a sit-down homemade dinner, jar and bowl foods provide an option for tasty meals on the go. Two sites I like for ideas are Mind over Munch and The Domestic Geek.

Even with the hipness and trendiness, bowl and jar meals introduce some practicality. You can make meals for a few days in advance. You can practice better portion control (says the writer who picks at leftovers). You can reuse and up-cycle glass jars and plastic containers from past take out meals.

And  you can be sure that curbing plastic consumption and saving money will never go out of style.

 

We Are Stardust. We Are Golden. And We Have to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden.

 

graphics from Old Design Shop

Oakley asked to go out at six this morning. While he nibbled yard salad and tended to personal business, I watered the garden. The last shadows of the night veiled it, allowing me to give it a good drink that should soak in before the rising sun evaporates the water.

The radishes came up first. Their leaves look slightly ruffled. Some carrots may have sprouted. At least I think they’re carrots. I didn’t mark any of the sections, so there may be some overlap.  Green beans and tomatoes poke their first leaves through the top layer of soil. The first planting of mixed French lettuces and basil have broken through as well.

No weeds. No invading species. Just my crops. As Oakley sniffed and grazed, I sang to the plants and myself the lines from the Crosby Stills and Nash song: We are stardust. We are golden. And we have to get ourselves back to the garden. 

In the wake of yesterday’s events concerning the Paris Climate Treaty, it seemed like the best place to be this morning. Even though I was expecting the news, I still felt as if I’d taken a foot to my solar plexus.

The backlash for this rash decision began almost immediately. Governors and mayors announced their commitment to the Paris guidelines. Elon Musk left the president’s business advisory council within a few hours. More will come internationally, I’m sure.

On an individual basis, a bit of self examination will help determine doable actions in your own little corner of the world. In addition to gardening and protesting, what about writing thank you notes to the elected officials who are standing up to this attempt to send the US into developing world status? Just a little “thanks” on social media? A phone call?

There’s always a little something to be done, a seed to be planted, as we return to the original garden.

 

 

 

Garden Report for 5/31/17

Hubby built the raised bed for the garden last week. It’s 4’x8’x18″ and can accommodate all kinds of root depth.

We filled it with some fine organic soil premixed with sand (for drainage) and compost (for nutrients). After we shoveled the beautiful dirt into the bed frame, I tucked the seeds into it. Short and root crops go along the eastern edge. The taller, bushier ones went to the west side. I  watered, watered some more, and hoped for the best. We have tomatoes, some herbs, broccoli, lettuce, green beans, radishes, heirloom carrots, and spinach incubating in their lovely bed. Now we wait.

image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

I hadn’t planted in seven springs. The last garden came into being just after Orion made his journey across the Rainbow Bridge. In the haze of early grief,  I half-heartedly poked holes in the ground, stuck the young plants into them, and watered. And walked away. And still had decent produce, including a zucchini the size of a baseball bat. Really. As I cleaned out the bed that fall, I bumped something buried in the leaves with my foot. There was the zucchini. Hubby and I didn’t know if we should cook with it, bronze it for posterity, or apply for an open carry permit.

I think I made some bread with it, and soup.  Good soup, if I remember correctly.

This year, I wanted, needed to get my hands back into the dirt. I needed to do something, anything to counterbalance the craziness in the world. Working with the cycle of nature keeps me sane, reminds me that all things will pass, eventually, and to have patience as they come to fruition.

Plus as the meme says, I’ll get tomatoes. You can’t beat that.

A Back-to-Basics and Stay in the Moment Year

Happy New Year, gentle readers. I hope that your end of year commemorations were peaceful and happy, or at the very least the local people in blue were not last minute additions to the guest list.

Mine passed peacefully, but not without a few bittersweet notes. My niece and nephew are adults now. Very odd to see them as such, especially my nephew with his shaved head. My sister and brother, now firmly entrenched in their 60’s, have finally figured out that 1. what happened in 1955 should stay in 1955 and 2. we no longer have the luxury of time to quibble about that, or which dead relative said what, or the color of the sky. The darker note was my sister in law’s diagnosis of dementia. The last round of neuropsych testing indicated that she’s holding steady with no deterioration since the last consult with the psychiatrist. For every remembered name, for every recalled detail, for the results of this doctor’s visit, we give thanks. We know what the future is likely to hold, but we will deal with it when it gets here.

The last chapter of 2015 completed, we step into 2016 with a focus on the truly important things. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Intentions, yes. Resolutions sounds too harsh and unforgiving. If the intention comes to fruition, great; if not, oh well. My intentions are pretty simple:

  • to remain civil and kind in the face of the unrelenting wave of bat crap craziness that intensify as November’s presidential election draws closer. To remain civil and kind, period. I shudder at comments on social media and the lack of anything resembling manners in the real world. I’m not advocating the strictures of “Downton Abbey,” but can we say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” at the very least with a response of “how interesting” when someone 180 degrees from you on the political spectrum tries to pick a fight?
  • revitalize meditation and yoga practices to help keep my brain focused and not let the ADHD gremlins hijack my thoughts.
  • to plant a vegetable garden this spring.
  • read more real books. I just read Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent and wondered where I’d been since it saw the light of day.
  • and the ubiquitous lose weight.

The last is a radical journey to what works. I’m combining two things that have worked in the past: paying attention to body cues and following an exchange plan that I used in high school. It’s worth a shot.

May you have a year of many moments worthy of your precious attention, and may you have a year of peace.

And for the sake of any deities you believe in, or for the sake of humanity, get out and vote in November.

 

 

 

The Noisy Non-Self Sufficient Rural Life Exposed

I read a few too many issues of “Mother Earth News” in high school and college. They fueled dreams of living a self-sufficiant ecologically responsible life in a cottage or cabin on a quiet country road with wildlife next door and neighborliness abounding among the two-legged locals.

Not so much.  I have parts of that vision: the house on the three acres ( a very conventional very large stick-built brick affair designed and built by Hubby for his midlife crisis, even though I assured him I was fine with the red speedy-car-go-beep or the 23 y.o. blonde options) on what was a rural road when we bought it (now used as a shortcut between the major roads running to the north and south of our land).  

I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s a lot harder than they lead readers to think in the self-sufficiancy department. I’m good at planning and pointing, but not much else.  We would be effed if we were to rely on my questionable gardening skills and my utter lack of desire to hunt or to process animals for food. It’s very possible to have a bountiful fruit and vegetable garden in small spaces.  Two of my friends who live within city limits are avid, adept gardeners who have raised impressive amounts of produce in their yards. I have access to an organic farm that sells at one of the local markets, so I buy from them as much as possible. They have plans for a farmstand this summer. I hope so. The wait between market days is a long one, indeed.

In the quiet department, there are the mourning doves at daybreak. Their gentle song begins as early as 4 AM. It gives way to the shrieks of the starlings, crows, and sparrows engaging in territorial battles. We also get coyotes with alarming frequency and proximity to the house. There have been nights when the howls sounded as close as if they were trying to break in through the back door.

Non-wildlife noises abound as well. Farm machines lurch through the fields bordering ours, grinding their gears as they spray agricultural chemicals on the field. Riding mowers alert us to who is doing yardwork on a given day. Semis trundle up and down the road. On weekends, our road gets turned into a drag strip due to its extensive straightaway that runs a mile until the curve bends to the right and into the utility pole at the end of the road.

There are times, however, when the sounds are stilling, calming as a hand on the heart. In late summer when the corn is high and the wind blows at night, the rustling sounds like secrets. So do the evergreen boughs and maple leaves as they dance in the wind.

And there are times in the middle of night when I wake up due to my own internal nose to dead silence. Sometimes I’ll get up and look out the window at the stars, at the shadows of the evergreens stretching across the front yard.

In those moment, I remember why we moved out here in the first place.   

Dreaming in Green

I checked the long-term weather forecast that comes courtesy of the app on my new cell phone this morning. Today is supposed to be the last day of getting dope-slapped by the polar vortex. The warmup starts tomorrow, and inch by inch, we claw and crawl towards spring. 

Saturday is Imbolc to Earth Religion followers and St. Bridget’s Day to others. The days finally grow longer. We’re still at risk for storms, but those few moments of light carved out at each end of the day certainly boost the old morale. 

This year, I intend to try raised bed gardening. The soil has so much residue from its farming career that I don’t feel safe messing with it any more.  Usual suspects: tomatoes, green beans, radishes, lettuce, spinach. Maybe get a little crazy and try herbs, too. 

The enforced coziness is making me, Hubby, and Oakley a little nuts. Dreaming of this summer’s garden will help in the quest for sanity.