Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well Behaved Snow

Snow fell nearly all day today and it was such well-mannered snow. It blew itself clear of roads and walkways and only accumulated on the lawn and at the roadsides. Driving was no problem and that's a very good thing, because we had plenty of places to drive to today.

The morning started with yet another win (ho-hum) for the Lakers. Next week is the last week of the season, but Logan and another team member will miss the game -- that might give the other team a fighting chance. Next Saturday Logan is participating in a 5K run at his school. I don't think he knows how far 5K is, and I'm not telling him. (Amanda, don't you tell him, either!)

After the game, we went out to the Millsap's Farm for our obligatory work day. Ben and Logan worked very hard. They built a new water retention pond out of remissioned concrete blocks and placed corrugated steel under the racks where seedlings sprout in little shaped blobs of compost, peat, manure and sand. Solar heated water runs in reclaimed rubber tubing along the corrugated steel which provides both drainage and heat retention. The corrugated steel is also reclaimed. The seedling flats with their shaped blobs are covered with sheets of reclaimed plastic to hold in moisture and heat. In the spring some of them will be transplanted outside and others will live to maturity in the greenhouse. B and L also moved a lot of planting pots and trays from place A to place B and Logan helped me finish up planting seeds. I was so proud of them! I planted cabbage, cilantro, peppers, and melons. I put all the turnip seeds in my pocket (just kidding, Curtis and Sarah).
Ben and Logan are standing next to the pond they built.
Sarah and two of her five (!) girls take over planting seeds when I quit.
Ben found a very lethargic leopard frog in an empty pond. It was too cool for him to be active.

When we got home I went down to the church to meet with a couple of women. Seems that I either volunteered or was recruited to work on banners for decorating the church according to the liturgical calendar. So we began to plan.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

Logan got a new bed Wednesday. A queen-sized bed. If I had taken myself seriously the other day when I was thinking about the size of the fish related to the size of the bowl, I would have bought a crib. Too late, he loves it. Ben still sleeps in his twin-sized 1/2 of the bunk bed set and is resistant to change. I will think of a good selling point for a new bed and move him into it within the next couple of months. Maybe when they go to their great-grandmother's 90th birthday party in Oregon at the end of March. They will be going with Kevin and Rachel. I could surprise him and have it all set up when he gets home.

Some farmer I am. My cottage cheese was ricotta, the chives were green onions, the mystery baby greens were arugula (I should have known that one; I love arugula and eat lots of it, store-bought or CSA). Tomorrow we are supposed to work on the farm, but there is up to three inches of accumulated snow forecast, so we'll see. Tomorrow is also Logan's basketball game -- it could get snowed out, too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CSA explained

OK, I keep talking about CSA and veggies and most of you have no idea what I'm talking about.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA farms are kind of like coops. A farmer sells "futures" on his crops to members of the community who share in the success (or failure) of the season. We pay a flat rate twice a year (summer and winter seasons). A season is 25 weeks. Members are also obliged to work on the farm 12 hours per season -- we're working this coming Saturday. All members get a weekly "share" of whatever the farm has produced. The produce is all grown organically with a keen eye to sustainability, recycling, and low environmental impact in all arenas. I got interested in it through reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal. Vegetable, Miracle. I like the idea of organics -- pesticide and growth hormone free food. It is also important to me that I use as many local products as possible so that the price of what I purchase rewards the grower or producer of the product instead of several layers of middle men and the transportation industry. I like the idea of getting the cost of fuel out of the equation. So, I think it's a good thing because it is politcally correct, at least according to my politics, it's healthy organic food, and it's fun!

Our CSA is Millsap Farm located just north of Springfield. In addition to the veggies we get weekly, they also sell beef, pork, poultry, eggs, cheese and bread. All of which are organically and locally produced.Here are Curtis Millsap and Ben at the farm last fall. Both Ben and the turnips have grown considerably since then. The Millsaps also have a blog for CSA members. It might help you understand a bit more of what they are all about.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More on Food

You're probably tired of hearing about our CSA food, but I must admit, it does occupy a good deal of my time and thoughts. It's difficult to plan creative ways to consume all those veggies, while making them palatable and appealing to the kids. Tonight I succeeded. We had whole wheat lasagna with organic marinara sauce, CSA ricotta (not cottage cheese as I called it a couple of days ago), organic chicken, and the Chinesey greens. I also used regular store-bought mozarella. The kids asked if it were store-bought or home made lasagna and what the green stuff was. But, they didn't complain, we had a great conversation about why CSA food is a good thing and they ate huge portions! Yes, there is life beyond Boston Market Mac and Cheese! (They had that last night.)

The Bigger the Bowl . . .

We've all heard that the size of the bowl determines how large the goldfish will grow. I don't know if that's true. Does a giant koi huddle inside every carnival fish bowl? I've never put it to the test with goldfish. However, I do know it's true of me. Each time I move to a larger house, I grow larger. The ultimate diet is a studio apartment. I think I should pass this wisdom on to Oprah.
It's also true of Logan. As soon as I buy him jeans that drag on the floor and sag to indecent levels, he outgrows them.

There's a corollary of this that applies to dinner plates, bank accounts, refrigerators, and hangers. There never seems to be unused capacity in any of these. It's the nature abhors a vaccuum principle. As soon as you get more, you need more. Maybe you have your own list. I have to go scout up some hangers so I can put away outgrown jeans in crammed closets.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This Week's Harvest

Working from left to right, we have cottage cheese with chives, baby chard, sweet potatoes, some kind of yummy unidentified baby greens that have a bite to them like watercress, green onions, some kind of Chinese greens like pakchoi, Jerusalem artichokes, and apples.

The cottage cheese is way different than anything you find in the store. I hate commercial cottage cheese and won't eat it. The CSA version is rich, creamy, and yummy spread on toast or in an omelet. The baby chard and pakchoi will probably end up chopped and wilted over rice or pasta. I'm making french fries from sweet potatoes tonight, the Jerusalem artichokes will be chopped and added to tomorrow's roast chicken and the apples will most likely end up in a pie. I like to chop up the green onions and keep them in the refrigerator to add to salads, eggs, baked potatoes or whatever. This week there are no salad greens except for the unidentified baby greens, but I have some left from last week.

All this stuff grows in green houses that get their warmth from the sun and from ponds constructed inside them. The green houses can get very warm on a cold sunny day while the ponds help collect and hold the heat. One of the challenges of this kind of farming is that a full range of insect life does not exist in the green houses. Thus, aphids prosper while their predators wait for warm sunny outdoor weather. So, we wash the produce thoroughly and enjoy a little protein boost. You may notice I didn't mention the turnips that also appear in the photo. That was intentional.

Logan played his sixth basketball game of the season this morning and his team remains unbeaten (we're not supposed to notice this -- it's a church league and although they score the games, they don't keep team standing records). Logan is learning to keep his eye on the ball and played his best ever game today. I think that's one of life's toughest lessons.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More Turnips, Please

I'm grateful for the help I've had with turnip recipes both in comments and through email. The trouble with turnip recipes is that they seem to require lots of high calorie ingredients and the use of many pans in preparation. Neither of those fit into my ideal week night dinner plans. Also, I noted that none of the people who supplied me with recipes admitted to eating or liking turnips.

Nonetheless, I added turnips to our mashed potatoes tonight, covered the mashed mess with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon (we might as well have had cheddar cheese fries with a fried turnip or two thrown in), and stuck them in the oven until the cheese melted. The kids loved them. No one mentioned the "T" word. Logan said it was a great meal and we should have it more often.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Open Wide and Say "YUM!"

I probably shouldn't admit this, but the three of us polished off this pie before dinner the other day. The apples were CSA-organic, but the pie crust was Pillsbury. I try very hard to use up our farm fresh produce every week and to build healthy meals around it, but there are some lines I'm unwilling to cross. And some vegetables (actually only one, but we get lots of them) I won't eat. Turnips. At first I jullienned them (way too much work for a weeknight veggie) and sauteed them with EVOO, herbs, and garlic. I tried roasting them. But if you put lipstick on a turnip, it's still a turnip. If anyone has a fabulous recipe, let me know, you may rewrite the fate of a turnip bound for the compost heap.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Do

Inspired by granddaughter-in-law, Nichole, I got a new do yesterday. Logan says he liked the old style better, but he hates any kind of change. I like it because it no longer falls in my face, especially when I'm sewing. Except for a bit on the bangs, the color is almost all natural for the first time in years. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why I Never Get Anything Done

1. I was looking for a bungee cord to hold something in place while the glue dried, but I found three rolls of scotch tape, so I wrapped a present for mailing.

2. Looking for tax receipts, I found some old photos, so I cataloged them in "Picasa."

3. Searched the boys' closets for empty hangers, but found some outgrown shoes and took them to the Thrift Store.

4. Went out to bring in the garbage cans, but stopped in the garage to sort Christmas decorations.

5. Decided to throw out old magazines, but found an issue of the New Yorker I never read, so . . .

6. Needed to go to the bank; since I was out, decided to go to the post office, Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby. Forgot to go to the bank.

7. Intended to clean the refrigerator, but decided to use up pie crust and apples, to surprise the boys when they got home from school --a wise decision, they will never remember Grandma for her clean refrigerator.

8. Meant to clean the bathroom, but stopped to check my email, googled three things I always wanted to know, and ended up starting this blog.

9. Went downstairs to clean the cat's litter box. Picked out a few tunes on the piano.

10. Started to clean the bathroom and finished it! How did I let that happen?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Eat It, It's Good For You!

Free-range, antibiotic and growth hormone free chicken, organic brown rice, organic lemons, organic chicken broth, CSA-organic baby pak choi (aka bok choy), Jerusalem artichokes and garlic, how much healthier and politically correct can it get? They ate it, but I heard about it. It was actually really scrumptious. I took the leftovers (rice, veggies, and broth) added in some sauteed baby portobellas and had a wonderful soup the next day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tall Man

As you can see, Logan is the tallest (though not the oldest) member of his team. He is just a shade taller than Alex, on the right hand end of the photo. Alex's dad is 6'7" tall, Logan's was around 5'6". Speaking of genetics, it's not too hard to see that the kid at the left hand end of the back row is the coach's son. The Lakers are undefeated four games into the season.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cross Patch

Our church requested crosses for hanging in the sanctuary during Lent. The only requirements were that they be no larger than 24 x 24, but at least 15 x 15 and that they depict a cross. Here are my creations -- my first foray into designing my own and I really enjoyed it. I like executing someone else's design and trying to make it as good as the model, but I find joy in not having to measure up to a standard. No one call tell what is right and wrong with my work, because however it turned out, that's what I intended! (yeah, I know the one on the right looks like a star, but I like the amibiguity, also it's not really original, but modified from a quilt pattern.) Click on the images to see details in larger pictures.

Tomorrow I will attend an Applique Society meeting -- a quilting club that just formed in November, so I'm a charter member. It looks like a great opportunity for making friends and for getting some tips on quilting. It has been hard for me to make friends since we have been in Missouri. I have lots of acquaintances, but no real friends here. I tend to isolate and focus on the boys, so it's my own fault. Church, neighbors, and contacts through the kids school and activities have yielded a large circle of connections, but still no soul-bonding. We'll see. Of course, I still have my family and wonderful friends from years past whom I keep up with through travel and the internet, and I wouldn't trade one of them for a new buddy.