Wednesday, May 30, 2012

outside my comfort zone

First things first. Thank you to all my readers, friends and random folk alike. Able-Bodied Boy (aka Manuel) has passed along all your encouragement and love, and I was shocked to hear so many random acquaintances and friends of friends of friends have been following along. Glad to see the blog has reached outside it's own "comfort zone"... certainly not a bad thing :) Thank you. Your kind words mean so much, and hearing how it's inspired you to try new things and act a little more sustainably makes me that much more eager to share my own journey.

And that leads to a couple of weekends ago. You know, that very weekend when you may have been talking about me around a fire with Able-Bodied Boy? Well, I was way outside my comfort zone.

I was getting sweaty out in the heat, growing things.

I may have mentioned my loathing of all things hot and humid.  And my lack of a green thumb. So yeah, combine those two and it made for an interesting weekend.

April is a great month for pruning and mulching and planting. Which is why I did it in mid-May. Yeah, procrastination abounds in my world. But at least I bought a mess of bulbs and tubers, planned a new garden or two, ordered a ton of mulch, and promptly watch Able-Bodied Boy drive away leaving me to do it all. HA! That's what I get... :)

So, in true Able-Bodied fashion, I forgot some of the BEFORE pictures. So you'll just have to imagine a jungle with trees. Literally. A jungle. With TREES. For any garden lacking a before shot.

AFTER: The Front Bushes. These two bushes were man-high and making the front walk nearly impassable. The bushes lost 60% of their weight, and all the weeds and trees in the rest of the bed were replaced by mulch.

The goodies from Van Bourgondien. I love they include a Garden Guide that tells you how/when to plant and care for all of the plants they sell.

BEFORE: The Mini Garden. Now housing weeds and the panels from an old fire pit.

MIDPOINT: The Mini Garden. Weeded! Pretty soon we will build a raised bed for some Cote d'Azur Pinks.

BEFORE: The Back Garden. All weeds and vines and wretchedness.

MID-POINT: The Back Garden. I tilled the clay-bound soil for an hour. Yay no more weeds!

AFTER: The Back Garden. I planted Windflowers and mulched the bed. Later, gas lines were being installed and they dug up half the bed :(

Random hanging basket and my spider plants recovering from a winter of abuse.

AFTER: The Lily Garden. Weeded and mulched!

AFTER: The Bulb Garden. Weeded, mulched and Periwinkle roots planted

And the best for last.... the blackberries are berrying!!! We should have a FABULOUS crop of them starting in July.

Some of the thousands of blackberries :)
What do you have growing?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Saturday, May 12, 2012

how do you solve a problem like spring greens?

Especially when Able-Bodied Boy is out of town that week....

So the 10 heads of Pak Choi was really about 8 small heads of Pak Choi and another 6-8 small heads of Bok Choi. We got two turnips, but no additional bunch of "Asian Green".


I turned the bunches of kale from last week and this week into a yummy veggie lasagna. Sort of a combination of my BLE and the Canadienne's squash/kale idea. The red sauce was sauteed onions & red peppers, then canned tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, roasted squash (diced, oiled, and oven-roasted at 400 for about 90min), tomato paste and spices. The noodles were smeared with a few tablespoons of part-skim ricotta each (with curly-edge noodles, I can't do the spatula smear over an entire layer, so I go noodle by noodle :)). The kale was pan roasted. Completely dry chopped kale tossed with oil in a very hot pan. It wilts slightly, but gets that roasty, almost-burnt wonderful kale smell. Then I added a few tablespoons of water to help it wilt. I did that in a couple of batches. Layer it all together and top with some mozzarella!

After it chilled in the fridge, I removed a third of it (perfect for a bread pan and feeds two!) and the other two thirds will be separated and frozen for future meals. Damn tasty if I say so myself! Next time, I might try adding shredded carrot and zucchini, too.

The Pak Choi and Bok Choi got stir-fried with some chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, and soy sauce.  That yielded about 5 servings (1 for Batman to taste-test for me, and the rest to be divided in two packs for freezing). To serve, cook and fry (with a little oil and soy sauce) either brown rice or rice noodles, add 2 beaten eggs until cooked/scrambled, then add the thawed stir-fry mix until all is heated through. Should make for some simple meals!

I'm starting to learn that greens aren't so scary.

But the three heads of lettuce, and the bags of mizuna and arugula are starting to eyeball me for some attention. Salads, here we come!

What's in your fridge/freezer these days?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

first CSA of the year (don't be jealous!)

Saturday night we got an email... our first CSA pickup would be ready for Tuesday May 1st! WHHHAAAAT? So sooooon?!?! Yay!!

As I mentioned before, we have opted to change over to Adi Farms this year, which is 30 mins from home (or a 90min bike ride - one way). A little out of the way for us, but we're hoping that good produce and convenient hours are worth the trip. If you check out their website, their list of veggies is asian-green heavy, and we've been making the effort to find more recipes using greens lately (like the minestrone soup, our frequent frittatas, and even saag).

Thankfully, our usual Tuesday night plan was cancelled, so that we could both go to the pick-up. Usually, Able-Bodied Boy would be responsible for doing the pick-up after work and before our usual guests, with me as back up as necessary. The pick-up hours are 4p to 8p, which is very convenient to our schedules.

We pulled up to the farm and.... the gate was closed... ?

Luckily, another woman pulled in behind us, parked and walked us through the gate to show us how it's done. Yay! Looks like they have reusable bags that you pick-up and drop-off each week, and a small sheet to write your name to indicate you've picked up. They also have a list of what's in the bag, which I failed to memorize, photograph, or show Able-Bodied Boy. So there was a bit of chaos when we couldn't figure out one of the items, but thanks to google we figured it out :)

So what was in the bag you ask?

5 lbs Oriental Spinach (that's 8 heads) 
6 lbs Pak Choi (that's 10 heads)
1 bag lettuce/spring greens
1 bunch kale

1 bag Mizuna

When I said "don't be jealous", I meant it. This is a LOT of produce for us to figure out. Especially since we have out-of-town guests this week. But they might be recruited to help cook it up :)

The plan? Tentatively, we'll use the Oriental Spinach and the stems of some of the Pak Choi to make soup. The Pak Choi leaves will be blanched and frozen. The mizuna and greens will make a lovely salad. The kale... we'll figure that out later!

When does your CSA start this year? Or if you haven't joined one, why not or are you growing your own goodies this year?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl