I’m not a big fan of Mondays, and yesterday was no exception. I had pre-cooked my Dai Due chorizo and egg scramble for breakfast, so I heated that up to tide me over through a garden installation in the early afternoon. For a snack afterward, I had a slice of Kocurek cotto salami with their grain mustard. I’m low on vegetables, except onions, and also low on milk and cheese. The garden is in transition, and soon there will be tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, hopefully black beans and corn, and eggplant galore, but for now I’m relying on the Farmer’s Markets, and I’ve missed most of them the last few weeks. So, for dinner, I made a stir-fry of Thunderheart Bison, with chorizo salt, and onions from my garden, and served it over Lowell Farms Brown Rice. It was good enough for me, but I could have used something green as well. Hopefully the peppers will take off and give me more options.
May 1, 2010 in my Austin Urban Gardens May 1, 2010
I finally got to hang out in my own gardens a little this afternoon. I spotted lots of new growth I’d missed the last few days of whizzing by the tomatoes, with my tail on fire, headed to someone’s house to install their gardens. There are lots of exciting things going on in my garden right about now, and I’m pretty excited at how well everything is doing.
The strawberries are still putting out fruit, as if someone fed them strawberry crack.
And by the time the strawberries start to slow down, I will be picking blackberries from two bushes.
The Meyer Lemons are budding out, too.
And one single peach.
I spotted many more tomatoes this afternoon that I have seen the last few days.
And about of a third of the onions, drying in their cool dark place. The rest are still in the ground.
The cucumbers are thinking hard about it, the eggplants don’t seem to be in a hurry. The herbs are going crazy, and it’s hard to believe it is almost harvest time for the first basil. MMM, pesto. I’ve got lots of great Texas Olive Oil, and local parmesan laying in wait for pesto making day.
Growing Tomatoes in an Earthbox April 30, 2010
The tomato plants I planted in my Earthbox, are huge. I don’t want to put myself out of the raised garden business, but by comparison, the Earthbox tomatoes are bigger, heartier looking and more advanced with regard to setting fruit. Most of my tomato plants are heirlooms, with a couple of Celebrities mixed in. Here are the plants in the Earthbox.
And they are setting fruit.
I believe the difference is the available source of water in the reservoir at the bottom of the Earthbox. My garden has to wait until I water it, but the Earthbox, sort of waters itself. Looking forward to tomatoes, no matter where they grow.
Flowers to Food, Garden Update April 21, 2010
After a long day of installing gardens for others:
I finally got to spend a little time watering my own. I noticed that the Bay Laurel, which produces the edible Bay Leaf, has taken off, after sitting nearly dormant for at least 8 months. It has sprouted new leaves.
The Blackberries are getting bigger every day, and will be a welcomed addition to the strawberries which have taken off. Sorry for the bad photo.
After taking that photo, I noticed that everything that makes fruit either starts with, or ends with a flower. The flower either becomes fruit, or the plant, like the onions, flower to propagate.
Tomato flowers, will become tomatoes.
Pepper flowers will be peppers, and so it goes.
And tomorrow will surely come, and if all goes well, someone else will be able to grow food and enjoy it as much as I do.
Earthbox, Garden Solution March 9, 2010
We added the Earthbox to our inventory last year and had some, but not a huge amount of interest. This year, they have taken off like wildfire, we can barely keep them in stock. Due in part to Cecilia Nasti’s (@foodgardener) radio show Growing Concerns and her interview with Kristi Willis, (@austinfarm2tbl) a local food blogger who writes http://www.austinfarmtotable.com.
The interview is here:
The Earthbox is a self watering container for gardening. It holds a good amount of water in a reservoir at the bottom, and self waters from the bottom up, so that you don’t have to water nearly as often. And, its on casters, so it can easily be rolled in and out of bad weather. I have raised gardens all over my property, and don’t need an Earthbox, but have decided to give one a try and join in on all the fun. And I wanted to have some instructional information available as well.
In the mean time, I’ve had to order more inventory to keep up with demand. No complaints here.
UPDATE: Earthbox is planted. Took just a few minutes.
Once the reservoir was full, as indicated by water coming out the overflow at the bottom, I watered from the top as well. These come with covers, but I find them cumbersome and unnecessary and don’t use them. I planted a chocolate cherry tomato plant, a jalapeno pepper plant, and a Celebrity tomato. The whole deal took less than 20 minutes.
Getting the Garden Ready for Spring March 7, 2010
I have tons of heirloom tomato transplants, and some Celebrities ready for planting, as well as some peppers and herbs. I’m only about half way through getting the garden ready. The Watermelon radishes I thought would be ready by now are nowhere near. Note to self, read the seed packet, it says 65 days, not 35. So, I’m turning and amending the soil around the radishes in preparation for tomatoes. I also need to harvest the remainder of the lettuce in the large garden, so that I can work on that soil and make room for my transplants. I’ve amended it with worm castings, compost, and Ladybug fertilizer, which I also used on the strawberries. I’m really in need of a big strawberry crop this Spring, as I’ve been almost without fruit in my diet for a while. I want a bountiful tomato harvest as well, because I love fresh heirloom tomatoes.
I have Sylvan compost in the car, as well as Actinoiron, which will also amend the soil, if I can get the energy today to go out and do that.
No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 40! February 10, 2010
Today was a bit of a challenge. It probably would have been easier, if I had eaten better. The rain has us behind in our garden/rainwater collection business, so thinking the rain, snow and sleet wasn’t to begin until late this afternoon, we set out to make some big things happen.
And we got it in.
Yep, its muddy, but it soon will be connected with lines run to each of the 6, 4′ x 16′ x 18″ gardens we will install over the next week, weather permitting. We got one in today, but I don’t have a good picture of it.
So, for my 40th day of the no grocery store challenge, I didn’t eat well, at least not yet. I had a slice of Kocurek paprika bacon, cold again, for breakfast. I’m going to remedy this problem in the next week, by making an egg casserole or quiche or something, that I can zap in the microwave and eat quickly in the morning. Enough breakfast silliness, I’ve got duck and chicken eggs galore, tons of bacon and sausages, mushrooms, green onions and cheeses. Just silly, really, and lazy. And, I didn’t manage to eat lunch. I went from a disappointing eye appointment, straight to the jobsite and lunch just didn’t happen.
But, for dinner, I planned ahead, woot! I defrosted a Kocurek Family Charcuterie Cassoulet, and it is in the oven now, topped with the seasoned bread crumbs that came with it. I will enjoy it with some wine and a huge fire, because it is hard to get warm working outside in sleet with wet shoes for hours.
In other brilliant news, Blake and Skylar from Elevated Artisinal Cuisine are now at the Triangle Farmer’s Market. It was great to see them again, as I hadn’t seen them yet this year. And they had butter and garlic confit today! Two of the things I’ve been missing so, butter and garlic. I also ordered a brisket and a couple of ribeyes from Richardson Farms, to pick up next week. Always exciting to have beef on hand.
My feet are cold, and I am really tired, but the delicious aroma of cassoulet is wafting through the house, the fire is roaring, we got some big work done, and life is good. I’m happy that the drought is over and the lakes are at least near full again. Bring on the snow!
No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 29 January 31, 2010
For a nice hot hearty breakfast this morning, I had some of the bulk pork sausage from Richardson Farms and 2 duck eggs scrambled with market tomatoes. Then I layered up and headed to the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Republic Square Park, which was to debut its new layout and deck under a huge oak tree, with tables and chairs and live music. I’ll post some pictures later, I just realized I haven’t downloaded them yet. It was great! That venue is perfect for the growing market, and I ran into so many friends there, grocery shopping has never been more enjoyable. I got home with the Kocurek torchons and andouille I bought Wednesday and forgot to bring home, as well as some Texas Hot Sausage and molassas bacon. I bought pepper jack and cheddar cheese from Full Quiver, butter lettuce from Bella Verdi, (and he gave me some microgreens to try) an enormous Napa cabbage and shallots, and Texas Coffee Trader’s coffee. Oh, and more pasta from Texas Pasta Company. I need to make my own from local wheat, but haven’t gotten to that yet.) It was a really fun farmer’s market today.
For a late lunch, I had a Whole Wheat tortilla made from scratch with Richardson’s wheat, with some full quiver cheese folded over into a quesadilla. I need to work on the tortilla recipe a bit to give it more flavor. Today was the first time to try that recipe. I used an electric tortilla press, which allowed me to get it thinner than I could have otherwise, I think. It was pretty good. The recipe called for cooking it in oil, which would have added flavor, but I was trying to keep the calories down, with the dinner I had in mind.
Dinner, was a bit odd. Trying to adapt existing recipes to what I have on hand, is not as smart as trying to come up with new recipes to highlight what I do have. Lesson learned. I had watched Tyler Florence make Stroganoff, with pasta, mushrooms, garlic, sour cream and cream, and the beef was short ribs. I had thawed Bastrop Cattle Company short ribs and cooked them in the oven at 300 for 2.5 hours. They were great, with lots of olive oil, my garden thyme and rosemary. I had the rest of the wheat pasta from the downtown market a couple of weeks ago, and cooked that. I sauteed market mushrooms and the shallots I got today in Kocurek duck fat, thyme and red wine. (The absence of garlic in everything was noticible.) Then for the cream sauce, I attempted to make one from goat milk thickened with chevre. The result was an oddly purple colored (from the wine) thin sauce that didn’t taste bad, but wasn’t really that good either. I wish I had just stuck to my homemade pesto that the freezer is full of. Oh well. Now I know.
So today was interesting. I’m full of good, healthful, local food, it just wasn’t the triumph I had hoped for. I do have wheat tortillas that are ready to go, in the fridge now, which is a bonus. Pizza crust is next. Tortillas and pizza are not on my regular menu, I just seem to need to know they are available. More hoarding mentality I guess.
No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 28! January 30, 2010
Wow, four whole weeks today. It went fast. I intended to celebrate the mini milestone with an all local food day, but real life got in the way and that didn’t happen. I had to meet my business partner for lunch, and he was on Far West, where there is nothing local that I’m aware of. He picked China Sea, and I had the lettuce wrap appetizer. I figured it I just ate less it would be better. I didn’t set out to only eat at restaurants that source local, but I’ve been trending that way. I just don’t want to impose my ideals on anyone else, because then I’d just be an unbearable bore.
So, Friday nights I usually have dinner with my parents who moved her 2 years ago. I decided on Fino, a restaurant that I love, and one that tries to source local as much as they can. Harley Clark, former Travis County Judge, grows many of their veggies for them. I had the flatiron steak, with spinach and potato puree and a local salad. The spinach was local as well.
One month observations – I don’t need to hoard food. I have plenty, and the supply isn’t running out. Most of what I have needs to be cooked, rather than warmed up or eaten as is. I need to get some Thunderheart bison jerky, for my fast food on the go, because there is nothing in my arsenal that works in a hurry.
I miss parmesan, popcorn, black beans, garlic, crackers and ready made tortillas. Again, with the fast food. I have a recipe for whole wheat tortillas and pasta, but have been too busy to break out the Cuisinart. And, I miss the grocery store, which was my playground. All of them, Whole Foods, Central Market, Fresh Plus and Costco. I don’t mind purchasing toothpaste and toilet paper at CVS, but it isn’t the same. I bought paper towels at Home Depot yesterday.
Going forward, I’m going to try to plan ahead better. I’m a pretty good food planner, but I’m easily moved off track. Wanna go out? Yep, sure! That throws off the whole balance. I want to learn about more vegetables, as well. I ordered some potato bags today, so that I don’t have to take up a chunck of my garden on potatoes. I’m trying to be as productive as possible, in my own garden.
No Grocery Store Challenge, Day 24 January 27, 2010
I woke up yesterday feeling like I had the worst flu ever, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stop sneezing, joints hurt, eyeballs hurt, teeth hurt, hair hurt. It was a bad cedar allergy day and knocked down by the evil pollen, I lost my moral compass. Well, that’s a bit of exaggeration. I had a piece of bacon for breakfast, then wanted my mommy, so she and I went to Hula Hut and I had shrimp tacos. I had planned to make myself a salad, but that didn’t happen. I spent most of the afternoon under the covers, scared to go outside into the dangerous air, then made an axis deer bunless burger with some salad for dinner. I didn’t even go outside to check on the seedlings, which is hard to believe.