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!