Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: A Garden Update and Local Booty!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Garden Update and Local Booty!

As promised in my last post, welcome to this week's garden and local booty update! I have missed doing these posts, but there wasn't much going on in the garden and due to circumstances, I wasn't really up for going to the Root Cellar and cooking a bunch of meals. But the times, they are a changin' (thankfully). As noted in the last post, I have been cooking some of our favorite tried and true meals and we have really been enjoying them. I didn't realize how much both of us missed some of our staple recipes. Trying new recipes all the time can mean some of the "oldies but goodies" get put on the back burner so to speak. Well not anymore! I will make sure that our favorite recipes are in regular "rotation".

Speaking of local booty, we got some really awesome stuff this week from the Root Cellar. This haul ran us $35.

It's all local. Starting from the bottom right: oyster mushrooms, 2 Uprise Bakery granola bars, 1/2 pound pecans, 1/2 pound black walnuts, 2 bags full of soft whole wheat pastry flour (wahoo for the Missouri Grain Project!!!!!), a bag of kidney beans, and a big ol jar of County Goodies pickles.

Not only is having Missouri grown whole wheat pastry flour super exciting, it is very local, this flour comes from Terra Bella Farm in Auxvasse, Missouri, not very far from here at all - about 20 minutes by car.

I am very excited about the flour, as was the woman at the Root Cellar. I had seen whole wheat berries there before, but do not have a grinder. Then when we contemplated getting one, things went awry and we both forgot all about it. Now I just have to figure out what I want to bake with it. We are going to be making some pesto soon since our Genovese basil in the AeroGarden is flippin' huge (more on that below), anyone have any ideas as to what sort of bread I could bake to serve with pesto pasta? Seems like the perfect meal, pesto made from homegrown basil, local garlic, and local walnuts along with some homemade bread made from local flour.

One of my coworkers is a big fan of auctions and garage sales, thanks to her hobby, we have received all sorts of goodies from her: gardening implements, gardening books, and now, vegetarian cookbooks. She went to an auction a short time ago and found 6 vegetarian cookbooks for $1, thought of me, and picked them up for us. I can't wait to look through them. Ann seriously rocks, I have already thanked her profusely but just in case she reads this, thanks again!

On to the garden update. It has been awhile since I have done one of these. We basically gave up on trying to grow anything beyond salad greens, catnip, wheatgrass, and pepper starts since we weren't having much luck with anything else. That is, until we got the AeroGarden. Not only are we getting good herb production from the AeroGarden, the additional light it produces really helps the other plants.

I was planning on starting some seeds for our container and community gardens last weekend, I honestly don't remember what we did on Saturday (no alcohol was involved either, I just have a bad memory), and Sunday my dad and step-mom came down for a brief visit. They brought us a steel, six-shelved, really tall, and sturdy shelf for our kitchen. The thing plain rocks, we have so much more space to work with now! They also brought us a few canisters of different sizes for our flours, sugar, and rolled oats. I was happy enough that they made a visit for no reason (it is usually just holidays and birthdays), but the shelf and canisters are really helpful. Wahoo for storage solutions. So anyways, I got off track as usual, because of all that, I didn't get the seeds started. And this week, well, my excuse is it's been a cross between laziness and working from home. I will get them started eventually. I did make a seed starting plan last night though.

Anywho, check out the progress of our plants. If you saw the last garden update, you may be surprised at how much one of the cayennes has grown.

Our lone jalapeno plant. It is doing better than it was; I'm really not sure why the cayenne has grown so much more than the other peppers.

Our very lush cayenne, the remaining cherry bomb pepper, and our philodendron. This cayenne plant is going to have a great head start when we put it out in the spring.

Here is the other cayenne, it is also looking a lot better and getting quite dense.

As requested, here are a few pictures of the AeroGarden.

Here she be with the light on. I didn't do the best job of arranging the plants in the AeroGarden, I wasn't thinking very spatially when I was planning it, I suppose. Anyway, because of my ill though planning, the Thai Basil, Genovese Basil, and sage have over crowded the mint, oregano, epazote, and chives. They are growing, but not as fast since the tall plants are hogging all the light.

I didn't know if it was better to show a picture with the light on or off, so I decided to do both.

Our Hammond is getting a lot of plant love. :-)

Here it is up close. We have been clipping the basil almost daily and it is going crazy. I think it is time to take about 1/3 of the plant. It should provide more yield and we will have enough basil to make pesto and some sort of Thai dish.

And finally, the one I am most excited about, the epazote! It is finally starting to take off, I can't wait to use some of this, what a treat!

In other garden-related news, we are really enjoying our vermicomposting bin. The worms have taken to the food and we are getting close to starting a second working tray. Those little guys eat!

We shred a lot of paper at my office, and it make excellent bedding for the worms, so I asked if I could have it to feed to our wormies, since it was just going to be recycled, nobody minded, and it sparked curiosity about the worm bin. Some coworkers have even started donating their newspapers to the "worm cause" :-). So we get to reduce waste and produce compost! I emailed some pictures to my coworkers and was even questioned by one's husband about the birthing process (can anyone elaborate, I don't know anything about it, do they lay eggs or what?) and the potential income if they over breed by selling the "excess" as bait. I don't know if I could do that, I think I would feel bad. Is that pathetic?

Anywho, I hope all is well and everyone is having a good week.

I have a date with my food processor, hummus awaits!

'Til next time.


Heather @ SGF said...

The pesto sounds great! I got an AeroGarden at christmas too and our basil is growing like a weed also. Of course, that's my favorite herb so I'm ok with that :)

Wow! Access to local flour must be awesome! I have only been eating flour products when we eat out since I don't have a source for local wheat flour. I still make homemade bread for Dave but I rarely eat it, since the only thing local about it is the honey.

A friend of mine's mom scopes out garage sales for me (since I'm always at the market on Saturday mornings). Any time she sees canning jars, so picks them up. I'm not sure you can ever have enough... :)

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

I'm jealous of your fresh herbs, especially the epazote and Thai basil!! Can't wait to see what you cook up.

Anonymous said...

Finding local flour was like a big gift for me, it opened up a new world and got me baking like a fiend :-) Your indoor gardening seems like a success all around - do you keep them inside, or will you transplant/move outside?

The Voracious Vegan said...

I want an aerogarden! I so want to be able to grow my own food. I think it is so cool and admirable that you are doing this. Must be fun too!

Great post, as always.

spelled with a K said...

Thats it, I'm starting the czec black peppers tonight in the aerogarden.

jessy said...

i would feel bad too - on the whole selling worms for bait! i love worms. you could always give some to people and they could put them outside in their gardens! maybe talk to the people at the Root Cellar and see if people there need some (if they go all crazy and make a bunch of worm babies). oooh - you could also put a lot in the soil @ your community garden when it gets up 'n running, too!

best bread for pesto - in my opinion: ciabatta! we make the wet dough the day before so it gets lots of flavor - then add the more flour and such the next day - sooo good - and you really don't knead ciabatta - that i love. you just have to stir the dough a bunch when you add the flour to the wet "pool" of dough. ciabatta = easy 'n soooo yummers! hooray local flour!

all the plants are look'n great! nice to see the Hammond, too! :) thanks for the AeroGarden picture - it looks so cool! i see that little epazote! w00t! :D

that is so awesome on the veggie cook books and the shelves for your kitchen, too! hells yeah, Jennifer!

what an awesome update! totally made me all happyfaced!

Bianca said...

Local whole wheat pastry flour! You are super lucky! There's so much wheat grown around here, but I have no idea where it goes. I'm sure it gets shipped off somewhere.

Anonymous said...

The local flour sounds great! What about focaccia to go with your pesto? I love focaccia and think it goes with just about everything :o)

I am SO jealous of your AeroGarden! Wow--your basil is impressive! Yum!

I hope the hummus turns out well!


Catherine said...

You should totally make a pesto focaccia!

You sound good -- glad to hear it!

Cookiemouse said...

Love your AeroGarden!

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

Heather - Thanks, I love pesto! I'd love to "compare notes" on our AeroGardens and their progress. Perhaps you could add in a little update about them when you do your garden update? That is, if you aren't swimming in a sea of cabbage! (I love basil too, so bring it on AeroGarden!)

I was really excited to see the flour. It doesn't seem to be available in abundance, I think this is some sort of pilot project or something. I tried to do an internet search of it, but didn't come up with much. Needless to say, I'm happy to have it!

Is there some sort of general suggestions box at your farmer's market? Perhaps you could suggest a trial of grain growing by one of your local farmers. We have a few rice producers here in southern Missouri that, for some reason, only sell their rice in "white form", I am going to send them a suggestion about selling it in its whole, brown, form, then I would have Missouri grown rice and that would be super awesome.

I don't eat bread a whole lot, so I don't think I would miss it if I couldn't have it. Tortillas on the other hand, those are a must have. At least corn grows around here so if all else fails we'd have corn tortillas.

That is so cool, I should ask Ann to keep an eye out for canning jars for me! What an excellent idea, I never thought of that!

Lisa - Me too, it is nice to see green in the cold of winter (though really it has been mild so I can't complain).

Living in a Local Zone - I can imagine, I sat behind my computer screen pining for your local flours. And you have variety!

It has been a success tinged with a lot of failure in the form of dead plants. We will acclimate the plants outdoors and then we will transplant them, they should have quite the head start come spring!

Voracious Vegan - Haha, I want like 90 more of them myself. You CAN grow your own food, at least a little, even if you don't have much space you can grow at least a small pot of herbs or something. Just something to think about...

It IS fun, and while it can be tiring, it is also relaxing.

Spelled with a K - Oh, you have to keep us up on the progress of the peppers in the AeroGarden! I want to try growing cherry tomatoes and peppers in it next winter (it will be used for herbs over the summer), but I wasn't sure it would work.

Jessy - I felt a little silly, but hey, I wouldn't want to be sold with the purpose of being something else's dinner! Those are all excellent ideas! I bet there are plenty of people who would be happy to have the worms, I bet they would be a great addition to a raised bed garden, perhaps even the community gardeners will want some like you suggested.

Oh ciabatta, the beautiful! I saw your post about making ciabatta awhile back, can you use whole wheat pastry flour or do you have to use white? I think I might try out breadmaking this week - I have no excuses now, I have time, and I DO need something to go with that pesto. :-)

Hehe, the Hammond has become a de facto plant stand, but I don't think it minds. No problem, I was surprised I was able to get a decent picture of it. That basil is insane though, we can barely keep up with it!

I was pretty stoked about the books, one of them is Vegetarian Planet, I swear I dog eared about half that book - the author seems to share my fondness for spicy food.

Bianca - I know, trust me, I feel very lucky! You know, I have wondered the same thing here about soybeans - we grow so much soy in this state and yet locally grown edamame or even dried soybeans are unavailable. Damn global food system.

Courtney - Focaccia! Oh now I am torn! Hmmmm. I think I will have to start with the ciabatta as it seems like a better place for a beginner, but now I am going to have to find a focaccia recipe and - oooooh - I'll serve it with some homemade gnocchi. Mmmmm.

I really love the AeroGarden, my dad really rocks for getting it for us. Yes, "impressive" is a good word, I may have used "aggressive" but hey, let's not parse semantics. ;-)

It turned out wonderfully and it is already gone, I have to soak more garbanzo beans tonight so I can make more. I really like hummus a lot - perhaps too much.

Catherine - Pesto foccacia, oh my goodness, it must be getting close to dinner time because all these ideas sound amazing, I am taking them down on a notepad so I don't forget about them, I have a horrible memory.

Cookiemouse - Me too!

Heather @ SGF said...

For some reason, I always forget about my indoor garden when I'm doing my update. I have tons of stuff indoors too although in another month, most of it will be moved outside.

I followed your example and moved some of my indoor plants next to the aerogarden light. Duh. I never thought of that. I just planted some mint, so hopefully the light will help it grow extra healthy!