Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cooking from the pantry

As you all know, my freezer and pantry are full.  Luckily, my pork delivery has been delayed a couple of weeks so there is still time to reduce the inventory of pork products.  I decided that Sundays would be a good day to "cook from the pantry".  I'm hoping the dark day challenge that I did last year will be hosted again this year - a perfect way to cook my way through all the food I preserved.

I defrosted a bag of sausage, a bag of tomato puree and several tomato cubes.  The idea was to make a sauce to serve with Pasta.

Tomato puree with cubes


I heated some olive oil and sauteed crushed garlic and shallots (both from my garden).  Added about 2/3 of the bag of sausage and browned.  Poured in thawed tomato puree and cubes.  Seasoned with Penzy's Italian Herb mix and some salt.  Simmered for several hours.

Went to the vegetable garden today and picked a nice assortment of greens

Served sauce over Penne (not homemade!)

What's blooming Oct 31

I haven't worked in the yard in over a month.  There is more work to be done in fall than any other time of the year.  I spent several hours yesterday pruning and I didn't even make it to the backyard.  Now is the time to cut back most of the plants and start thinking about what to do different next year.  I planted the medium strip a couple of years ago with cuttings and divisions from my other plants and some of it is just not going to work.  My neighbors have been kind to not complain about the difficulty of getting in and out of the cars but since we park on the street, I know I need smaller, lower growing plants.

The asters are in bloom

Shrub rose

Japanese Anenome with foliage of Fothergilla

Berries on the Skimia - I've lost all the skimia on the other side of the house.

Fuzzy bee on lavendar

Ornamental grass, flowering


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Freezer Woes

It's that time of year again. Time to buy my 1/2 hog from Farmer Allan.  Or in this case, this year it's only 1/4 hog.  1/4 hog this year is weighing in at 70lbs of meat and I still have pork leftover from last year.

There is no room in my freezer for 70 lbs of pork!  Luckily, Sean is going to share with me and hopefully another friend will buy some pieces so maybe I'll have 30-40 lbs to store.

Sean helped to take inventory today.  I need help thinking of menus to use this food over the next 6 months!  If you read this blog, you MUST send me an idea or two.  With all this food in the freezer, I'm also thinking I should invest in a small generator, just in case.

My freezer!

Freezer door


Inventory - this is just from the downstairs freezer.  This doesn't count the upstairs freezer, nor the pickles, shallots, garlic, sweet potatoes, squash and potatoes I have in storage!

ham steaks
tomato puree
crushed tomatoes
plum tomatoes
shredded zucchini
green beans
hot peppers
sliced apples
4 whole chickens
pork chops
pumpkin foccacia
toffee bits
bread flour
vegetable soup base
chicken soup base
roasted red pepper soup base
dried hot peppers

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Knitting up a storm

There is a baby boom going on in my library.  Jessie is due first and I finished up a very cute sweater for her last week.  It's called the Koko Kimono by Jil Eaton. It's from the book Minnies: Quick Knits for Babies and Toddlers.   

I was looking through my knitting storage area and pulled out all the patterns I have because I was looking to see if I had any baby bootie patterns (I do, several in books that my mother used so they are from the early 60's)  Anyway, I came across a photocopied pattern of this sweater and thought it was cute and I would try it.  Once I started reading the pattern, I realized that I hadn't copied the page that gave the needle size or kind of yarn or even the name of the pattern book!  A librarian's faux pas as we are always telling the students to make sure they have the citation information for their articles.

Anyway, I am a member of this online knitting group called Ravelry  This is a place where one can keep track of projects and build a portfolio but it is also a place where you can search for a pattern and see how others have knitted it.  So I looked up Koko Kimono and lo and behold, there it was with needle size and yarn and everything, all documented in several projects.

Kari is due next and I have been knitting for her but can't tell you all what I've made because she reads my blog!  I'll post pictures after Dec 3 since that is her baby shower.

Next up is Rob, whose wife is due in March. I was so happy with this kimono, I think I'll make one for him.

In the meantime, Emma has asked for another hat and Sean has asked for a hat.  I started Emma's last night with some yarn from my stash - it's a beret so I hope it comes out ok.  For Sean, I want to buy the bulky yarn instead of using some I already have.

Brian has asked for another blanket!  The one on his bed took me a year to make - it was from the Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan Book.  Each square is a different pattern and it makes 60 squares.  It was fun to do and I learned many new techniques but I don't have the energy to tackle another blanket!  Not sure what Brian wants or even why he wants another blanket.  Now this is the kid who is currently cuddling with his hot water bottle on his feet so he may want to be more warm and snuggly in his bed.  He'll have to wait.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Warm October Day

This weekend has been glorious.  Warm and sunny but not hot.  Yesterday, Sean and I spent the afternoon walking around Georgetown - something I hardly ever do. 

Today, I spent the morning in the vegetable garden.  I planted the shallots - next year I won't order any since I really have more than enough to set aside to plant.  My garden neighbor Marina wants some so I will give her some shallots to plant the next time I see her.

Last week I dug out paths to make the beds more raised.  This week, I put wood chips on the paths and then took my little compost sifter and worked over some beds.  There are so many rocks that this year I vowed to do something about it.  The task is daunting but I figure slow and steady will get the job done.

Here are a few things that were picked today

The last two squash.  The squirrels were eating them and they really weren't ready to pick yet but I did.  I cut them up to steam the pieces and the little one just wasn't worth it.  Into the compost it will go.

Mixed greens - radicchio, mizuna, lettuce, mustard and arugula

The cherry tomatoes are still producing!

A few pictures from the front yard.

Aster - the last flower to bloom.  The blooms just started yesterday

Japanese Anemone


The roses are hanging on




Sunday, October 3, 2010


You never know when you might run into a blog reader.  Yesterday my son had a soccer game and as I was settling into my chair, a mom I knew came over to chat with me. Her son used to go to school with Brian but has switched schools and his soccer game was in the time slot before Brian's.  Sue reads my blog and was very kind in telling me how much she enjoys it and in her next breath asked me about compost.  So I said I would write a post about the different compost methods.

I use the lazy method which is primarily layer all the stuff, layer some more, turn a little and a year later, take out and spread.

This is my composter (it's called a pyramid composter).  I bought it years ago at Gardener's Supply (my favorite gardening shop).  You lift up the lid and throw your stuff in.  I put in there my kitchen scraps, leaves, torn up junk mail and primarily all the prunings from the yard.  I just throw them in, push them down, throw in more stuff and once the weather gets warmer I poke holes in the pile  Around August, I will empty out the bins and then spread the compost around my plants in the yard.  Pretty easy, not much work.

This is the drum composter that is in my community garden.  The way this type works is you fill it with your stuff and then at some point you stop putting anything in it.  You then spend a couple of weeks turning it and supposedly compost will be made.  The problem is you are still accumulating kitchen scraps while you're waiting for your compost to be made.  I think the optimal method would be to have one of these plus a pyramid composter.  So you can continue to pile your kitchen scraps into the pyramid composter while making your compost in the drum contraption.  We use this in our community garden along with bin composting.

This is the bin system in our community garden.  A group of gardeners collected pallets from the local nursery and then built 6 bins.  The first two you put the raw material (garden detris), then once that breaks down, move to the next two bins and then when it's mostly broken down, move to the last two bins.  By moving everything once in while, it gets turned.  Right now there is quite a bit of compost ready but it needs to be sifted.  A couple of gardeners have sifters so I think the plan is on the garden work day in Nov, it will be done.

Lastly, I've been talking for years about getting a worm composter - something like this

Then I can feed it my kitchen scraps and have worms in my house!  I'm hoping to finally get a system this winter - it's just a matter of figuring out where to put it in my basement.

Late garden harvest and tilling

Yesterday, Sean and I walked to the garden (to walk off a late lunch at Chipotle - which followed a fun afternoon at the Crafty Bastard Arts Fest in Adams Morgan).    It was a lovely day and we had a lovely walk.  Once at the garden, I decided to take a few pictures of the greens and then pick some greens and the last of the cherry tomatoes.

Lettuce and ignore the big old weed that's nestled in there.

The last of the squash and a few sweet potatoes

Mixed greens - lettuce, mizuna, spinach and beet greens

Hot peppers from Edouard's plot

The last of the cherries

Today, Sunday, I went to the garden early this morning to actually do some work. It was time to dig up all the sweet potatoes and to turn over some of the plots and weed a little.  Plus, I spread more wood chips on my paths.  I wrenched my back either digging or shoveling chips so I've been hobbling around today.

Sweet potatoes with a few regular potatoes thrown in

This is the plot where the sweet potatoes were - there are a couple of squash vines left because there are squash on them.  I turned over the plot, plus dug out the path and added it to the bed.


Weeded greens bed