Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: Weekly Local Booty 7/28-8/2/08

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekly Local Booty 7/28-8/2/08

We are swimming in produce this week! Our gardens are really starting to produce and we haven't even gotten to the real bounty of summer yet. I was going to say I was fairly ashamed - but really I'm not, that all of this produce besides the beets, butternut squash, and cayenne peppers will make its way into our bellies this week. We're admittedly piggies, but its produce, and neither of us are in any way chunky, so I suppose it's alright.

Speaking of swimming - and this is a little off topic, I went swimming for the first time in about 10 years yesterday. In my time away from the water, I developed a fear of it, and I never knew how to swim very well. But Brett is a fish, and a very strong swimmer, I trust him completely, so I just had to get up some confidence in myself. I successfully remembered the "doggie paddle", and he is teaching me to tread water, swim under water without choking myself, and how to swim with my head above water in a "frog style fashion". I had a blast! It was so much fun, I can't believe I waited this long to get back into the water. And Brett is a wonderful teacher, full of patience, a good sense of humor, as well as a sense of when someone needs help. There were a couple of times I was trying to make my way to the edge of the deep end, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it because I was getting tired, without even having to say anything, he knew I needed help and came over and pulled me to the edge. I'm a little embarrassed to be 23 (24 next Sunday) and only knowing how to (kind of) doggie paddle, and I was afraid he would be embarrassed with other people seeing how bad I swim, but the others there didn't seem to think I was silly at all - and Brett was in no way embarrassed. Just another one of those things that was all in my head.

ANYWAYS, sorry for the aside, it was a big deal to me.

Check out what we got from our container/community garden this week. Sorry for all the different pictures, but the produce doesn't come all at once.

Here we've got: a Hungarian Wax Pepper, a bell pepper, Roma tomatoes, hot banana peppers, 2 serranos, and some jalapenos.

A serrano and a hot banana pepper.

Here we've got: 4 petite bell peppers, 3 cayenne peppers, a jalapeno, 2 banana peppers, and TONS of Roma tomatoes.

Now, not all of these Roma's are from our garden. As I've mentioned before, some people at the community garden planted things and never came back. There is a plot that is nothing but tomatoes, the people planted them, and then let them go. They never came back and caged up their plants, and they are all lying on the ground. We've been keeping an eye on the plot and nobody had come back ever to pick the tomatoes, we've seen so many just rot on the vine. I have a hard time watching food go to waste, but also didn't want to "steal" their tomatoes in case they were planning on coming back. But it is becoming clear that they aren't coming back. So we picked off the amount of tomatoes that we could eat, took 'em home, sliced 'em up, and ate 'em with salt for breakfast. Now, I do feel just a little guilty taking something that technically isn't mine, but the guilt of watching so much food go to waste is even greater. We will be contacting the community garden coordinator to tell him about these plots, that way, since we couldn't possibly eat ALL the tomatoes in the plot (the person planted at least 8-10 tomato plants), he could collect some as well and take them to the Central Missouri Food Bank.

Some "baby" Poblanos! Now, when you grow peppers in a container, at least in our experience, they don't get as large as what you get from the grocery store - and our gardens are all organic as well. Personally, since there are only two of us, I prefer not getting mega sized peppers.

And finally, 2 banana peppers, a small summer squash (I got a little excited to pick this guy, he isn't very big), a zucchini, our FIRST butternut squash!, a Roma tomato, and a small tomato off of one of our new plants, we're not sure what kind it is. But sadly, that plant isn't going to make I'm afraid, between the rain we've been having and the butternut squash continually trying to cling to all our plants and snuff 'em out (not to mention trying to encroach on other people's gardens as well as getting outside of the garden plots as a whole), it doesn't look so hot.

This week's CSA is a beaut!

Yummy! We've got (starting from the right): a cucumber (it's another one of those funky looking ones, but seriously, they are the best cukes we've ever had), a zucchini, a big 'ol tomato, a small red onion, a green bell pepper, 2 beets, 3 ears of sweet corn, and a large muskmelon (very similar to cantaloupe). Our CSA, Danjo Farms, offers fruit and egg shares on top of their veggie shares. This being our first year in a CSA, we just got a quarter share of veggies to see how we handled it. But Dan, our farmer, is a wonderful and very nice guy and when things get abundant, he shares the love. Last week he gave us some bonus apples, this week it was the muskmelon. You have to understand my excitement, cantaloupe (or muskmelon, they are pretty much the same thing really) is my favorite food - period.

And this week's farmer's market booty. This ran us a whopping $26 and besides the apples, it's all organic. The apples were sprayed only a little bit, and with all the rain, they probably aren't too bad and they are fantastic. The purveyor wants to grow organically, but unfortunately, the University of Missouri gets too much funding from Monsanto, so they aren't too into the idea of teaching farmer's how to grow without pesticides. I love MU, they pay my bills and do a lot of wonderful things, but am NOT afraid to call them out when it's due. They should be ashamed that they allow corporate influence to interfere with healthy food. Seriously, ashamed. I don't care HOW much money Monsanto gives MU, it is a LEARNING INSTITUTION, not a corporate lackey, there is just no excuse in my mind as to why they aren't helping local farmer's get into organics, especially when they are ASKING for it. Ok, tirade over.

We photographed these separately because we wanted to eat them right away. They are locally made granola bars, even packaged in compostable packaging, made with organic ingredients. I felt a little bad for the purveyor, a young girl who I've never really seen have much traffic at her stand. We decided to give it a shot, we like to support places that operate in a manner in which we agree, and we were not let down. These are AMAZING. We're going to make a tradition of getting one of these for breakfast every Saturday. They are more expensive than regular granola bars, so they'll be a once weekly treat. A shout out to anyone living in Columbia, they also sell these at the Root Cellar, Clovers (the local natural foods store), and Lakota Coffee Company (the local coffee shop). Sorry for the plug, but I hate to see someone with a good product not "get any love".

Starting at the right, we've got: 3 "cherry bomb" peppers, 1 orange hot pepper (I can't remember what she called it), shiitake mushrooms, 2 small yellow, white, and red onions, 3 bulbs of Music garlic (this is the best variety of garlic we've tried yet), local apples (I wish I could remember what kind these are as well, they are so good, I'm going to have to start taking a notepad to the market so I don't forget what types of produce these are), a bell pepper, 2 large red tomatoes, 1 large yellow tomato (can you tell we like tomatoes?), and 2 cucumbers. Brett is planning on making his "world famous" refrigerator pickles this week. Perhaps he'll be nice and share his secrets with you guys. Maybe if you ask nicely... :-)

In terms of food preservation this week, this is what we've got on our plate.

  • Boiling, pureeing, and freezing the beets.
  • Adding the new cayenne peppers to the "ristra" I started (it's so small, I don't know if I can really call it a ristra quite yet.)
  • Wiping the butternut down with a peroxide/water solution to kill any bacteria and storing it in a cool closet for winter.

If you've never boiled beets, it's quite simple, there is even a great, very short video you can watch here. Once the beets are boiled, I pureed them in the food processor, packed them into a small tupperware and froze them. I will use this to make beet cake this winter when it's not torture to have the oven on.

I've discussed ristra making here.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

An FYI to any football fans out there, the first game of the season is on tomorrow evening, it's not even the start of preseason, but there is a game being played and they are also going to be inducting this year's recipients into the NFL Hall of Fame. I know many activists and environmentalists out there disagree with organized sports, saying it's a waste of time and that people spend too much time on sports instead of being active. This I can go along with, but not all of us are that way, and at times, I really do get tired of being chastised by these folks because I can't be an all or none kind of person, my feeling is, lighten the hell up. Not to be offensive, but seriously, how can you do that and never get burnt out, doesn't everyone need a release? I do my part; I get out and help where I can, but it’s not, and will never be all I do - not to mention, I feel that in some ways this is a kind of "elitist" opinion, most Americans like sports, and chastising them about that fact is only going to drive them away, nothing else.

Anyways, my favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts, are playing the Washington Redskins. A good buddy of ours is a 'Skins fan and he might be joining us for the game, a pleasant "rivalry" between friends. Needless to say, Jennifer is excited that preseason is right around the corner!

'Til next time!


Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting back in the water, and happy early birthday! I hope you have some fun plans for the big day next week!

Your tomatoes are *gorgeous* and are making me jealous and causing me to drool all over my computer!! Yum! Tomatoes right off the vine are truly a treat!

And, speaking of jealous, that muskmelon is beautiful! Watermelon is my favorite food hands down, but muskmelon/cantaloupe comes in a close second! I am sure you will enjoy it this week!

I got some little mini pickling cucumbers at the farmers market today and I was going to use them in salads, but I would love to see Bret's "world famous" pickle recipe :o)


Wet Blanket said...

Ooh, football! Careful, I might start blogging about it. And who wants that?

VeggieGirl said...

Oooh, fabulous produce!!!

Wishing you an early happy birthday :0)

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Courtney - Thank you so much. It was tough to do - I really developed a fear of water. I lived down at the Lake of the Ozarks for awhile, and a friend finally got me in, but had to tell me "no Jennifer, you cannot wear 2 life jackets, that doesn't help at all". :-)

Yep, the plan for the big 2-4 is to hang out at my apartment and do what I love doing best - being lazy and watching documentaries.

I love tomatoes, we buy so many tomatoes and it never seems to be enough, I told Brett we need to dedicate a whole plot to tomatoes!

Hehe. He said he would post about them sometime soon, maybe I'll see if he'll do it tomorrow along with the Garden Update.

Brett (Wet Blanket) - Oh my goodness a football blog!!!

Hmmmm, that's got me to thinkin'..... ;-)

Veggie Girl - What we've eaten so far has been delish!

Thank you!

Cookiemouse said...

Love all those yummy peppers!

ChickPea said...

I am so jealous of all your tempting produce! I can't wait to hear how you use the bounty!

Congrats on your return to swimming--I have been swimming a lot recently and had forgotten how refreshing it is.

Alice (in Veganland) said...

Congrats on the swimming! It's a lovely, whole body sport. A lot of people have fears related to water, but it'll be a lot easier if you have Brett teaching you :-)
Oh, and taking something no one wants is not stealing :-)

John said...

Your veggies look so good. Looks like you're having a great harvest. I'll be glad when it cools off enough here so that we start getting a few more tomatoes and peppers. And speaking of hot weather, swimming is a really great way to beat it isn't it!

Avery Yale Kamila said...

Wow! Everything looks so fresh and delicious!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Cookiemouse - I'm sure you know I do too - especially the spicy ones. :-)

Chickpea - I have a few ideas in mind for this lovely bounty. A lot of it just went straight into our bellies though, cucumber slices, sliced tomatoes, etc. Yum!

Thanks, I went again yesterday, but we skipped today, there isn't anyone from maintenance here on the weekends to clean out the pools and they were a little "buggy" - not Jen's style.

Alice - I didn't realize what a workout it was, made me feel out of shape even though I walk miles and miles daily. I had been in the pool for only 40 minutes and then I was exhausted!

Brett is a great teacher, couldn't ask for a better one!

Haha, good point! ;-)

John - So far so good. We've been growing peppers in containers for a few years now so we've figured out appropirate soil conditions, feeding schedules, and all that, so this year we have had quite the abundance.

I bet it's tough there, all the blooms just dry up and drop off when it gets too hot. We had that problem last year, we only got 5-6 tomatoes off our plant before it got too hot.

So true, now when I'm hot I will hit the pool rather than turn on the A/C!

Avery - Thanks, what we've had thus far has been really good.

VeganCowGirl said...

Way to get back in the water and face that fear. Sounds like you have a great partner in Brett. All of your fresh produce looks amazing and I say YES to stealing from the caged in garden - you were hardly stealing when they had left it all there to rot. You were saving it from a summer rot demise.

jessy said...

hooooooray for getting over your fear and getting back into the water, Jennifer! the breast stroke (frog style) is my favorite! i think you'll have to down in no time at all!

your CSA goodies are looking great! and so is your farmer's market booty! :D and all of your peppers, too! w00t! that made me sad to read about the apples & pesticides! boo to corporate cr*p! :( argh! that's gotta be frustrating!!!!

everything is looking awesome though, Jennifer! superhappyface!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

Vegan CowGirl - Thanks. He is a great guy, I am really lucky to have met him, he offers what I can't and vice versa, so it works out well.

Thanks, and I'm glad everyone is supportive of our theft of those tomatoes.

Jessy - Thank you, it was hard, but once I was in, I wanted to learn! Gotta get my strength and stamina up, I didn't realize what a workout it was!

Thanks. And I agree boo on Monsanto. I love MU, I work there, but they should help farmer's gain the skills they desire, not push off some corporate influence. Ick!

Thank you Jessy!

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