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Getting ready to spread the harvest

A few months ago I heard about a program called Spread the Harvest through my friend Jenni’s blog. Run through Austin’s Sustainable Food Center (SFC), gardeners who are accepted to the program pledge to give away extra produce they grow to food banks, their friends, families, etc. and in exchange receive free compost, seeds, transplants, and other gardening resources from the SFC.

It sounded like a great deal, so I applied and was accepted a few months ago. The application process was extremely easy, and I get the feeling that right now, anyone who applies gets accepted. This fact had me a little worried about the quality of the free stuff we were to receive, but last week I went to the first giveaway day and was pleasantly surprised at how well organized everything was, and how high-quality the transplants and compost were.

Let me back up a little, though. The program has two giveaway days each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. You’re allotted 1/2 a cubic yard of compost at each giveaway, plus six transplants (if you’re a solo gardener, more if you’re with a group), plus 20 seed . . . → Continue Reading: Getting ready to spread the harvest

Sausage and tomato fettuccine with greens (oh, and a small miracle)

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So, I know a couple of weeks ago I said I’d post a recipe for asado (braised pork in a rich chile sauce). Well, it turns out I sort of already did that in 2009. You should still make it, though, because it’s awesome. Can I blame my belated posting and the fact that I forgot I’d already done this on pregnancy brain? Ok, great. Onward and upward.

This recipe is nothing like asado. It is, however, a super quick meal to whip up and is full of tasty goodness. You get a tangle of fresh pasta (which has such a lovely texture) mixed with hearty sausage and healthy veggies. All kinds of yum. I apologize for the blurriness in the above picture. That’s what happens when you don’t get out the tripod. Geez, I’m all full of mistakes today. Sorry, guys.

Anyway, before I get to the recipe, I want to mention the small miracle I stumbled upon in my garden last weekend. You . . . → Continue Reading: Sausage and tomato fettuccine with greens (oh, and a small miracle)

Garden bounty

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We had a torrential rainstorm the other day. As the weather had been kind of grumpy all week, I hadn’t gone out into the garden as much as I liked. Yesterday, the day after the rainstorm, I finally got to go out there and check on things and was greeted with the first big bounty of the year. The little guys in the pic above are cherry tomatoes waiting to ripen, but there was a ton of stuff ready to be picked/cut/eaten.

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Here’s most of what I picked. What’s missing are a bunch of cherry tomatoes, which Ryan shoveled in his mouth as if they were cookies. Besides the tomatoes, I picked a ton of regular basil, purple basil, lemon basil (in the foreground), strawberries, snap peas, a cubanelle pepper, and an Anaheim pepper. What’s . . . → Continue Reading: Garden bounty

Spring! (And Lessons Learned from Square Foot Gardening)

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Aren’t these guys lovely? Leftie is from a peppermint salvia bush in the back corner of my garden, and the pink bloom on the right is a peach blossom. Peach blossoms are my favorite harbinger of spring, which is creeping up on summer for the title of my favorite season. Not only is the weather awesome, but I get to plant my garden. Which I so love doing.

I wanted to do a post about my garden now, and square foot gardening in general, because I’ve come a long way from last year. But first, a few general details about this year’s garden. Because it’s still really early (our last average frost date was March 15), it isn’t completely finished (mulched, etc.), but I did manage to get everything planted. I started at the beginning of the month with a box just for asparagus and strawberries, and over the next few weeks planted the following:

Five kinds of tomatoes Cubanelle peppers Anaheim peppers Onions Lettuce Chard Thyme . . . → Continue Reading: Spring! (And Lessons Learned from Square Foot Gardening)

Happy Day

When I was 8, my parents bought their first RV. It wasn’t much – just a tiny, used pop-up, but we thought it was awesome. No one else we knew had one, and when you took trips it was like taking a smaller version of your house with you. And the trips we took! We traveled during the summer, sometimes for weeks at a time, all over the US, but my favorite place to visit was Colorado. I read many, many books on these trips during the rides to our destinations (there’s not much to see between West Texas and the Rockies), but I remember looking up once as we crossed a bridge over a field of wildflowers at the base of the mountains and thinking I wanted to live there one day. It wasn’t sweltering hot in the summer, the mountains were awesome to look at and hike up, and they had chipmunks! That you could feed peanuts to! It was a kid’s dream.

Well, what my elementary-school-sized brain didn’t realize was that the trade-off for tolerable summer weather was intolerable winter weather. As I’ve grown up, I’ve really started to appreciate the Texas summer heat for what . . . → Continue Reading: Happy Day

Snack Idea: Squash and Chutney

So, I’ve been getting a ton of squash and zucchini from the garden. Now, I like squash and zucchini, but I was getting tired of just putting them in salads. Then HEB came through, as always. When I was shopping last week I came across this in the condiment aisle:

And I thought, why not use it as a dip for squash and zucchini slices? So I tried it out, and this is now my current favorite snack.

And speaking of the garden, I got my first tomato! It’s a yellow plum:

I just popped it into my mouth right there. Man, I do love summer. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

First fruits of my labor

Asparagus:

Bell pepper:

Sweet Grand Marconi pepper:

Can’t wait to eat these guys. :)

The garden is finally finished!

I am so glad to be posting this. When I get ready to plant my garden in the spring, it usually takes a max of about 2 weeks to get the bed prepped and everything planted. This year, it took more like 6 weeks. It felt like forever. The reason was that I decided to completely redo the garden and practice square foot gardening instead of long row gardening. I was so, so tired of the weeds, y’all. This method allows me to contain my garden within a smaller space, and I put down weed blocker and mulch around the rest of the space. Here’s the whole thing:

I have three veggie/fruit/herb beds, and in the back corner I planted a silver sage, pineapple sage, and some bulbs to add color (and hopefully attract some butterflies). Mason and I built the 4×4 boxes, and I put together the trellises in my living room. They are made of steel electrical conduit pipe, nylon trellis netting, and rebar (you drive the rebar pieces in the ground and slide the frames over them). Every year, around the beginning of July, . . . → Continue Reading: The garden is finally finished!

DIY compost bin

A few months back, Andria told me about a compost bin she’d built in her Citizen Gardener class using shipping pallets. I was intrigued. I’ve been wanting a compost bin for a while, but refused to pony up a lot of money for one. This project would be perfect for me, because a) I like construction, and b) I am cheap, and shipping pallets are free. You can get them at places like grocery stores (they usually just throw them away), but we happened to have new sod installed in March, so I asked my yard guy to leave me the pallets the grass came on. Most of them were broken beyond repair, but I salvaged four that I thought would be usable.

I did some googling and found these instructions. I picked an out-of-the-way spot in my yard to build the bin (because, honestly, it’s a little ghetto), and voila! In about an hour, I put together a functional, albeit not very pretty, compost bin.

I followed the instructions on the page linked above pretty closely, and although the gate doesn’t swing out too . . . → Continue Reading: DIY compost bin

Happy springtime!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day here today. High 70s and not a cloud in the sky — perfect for spending hours outdoors. This is our backyard peach tree in bloom. Isn’t it lovely? When the peach tree blooms, I take it as a cue to start prepping my spring/summer vegetable garden. I’m practicing square foot gardening this year, but more on the specifics of that later. This is a food blog, right? So on with the food!

I had it in my mind to make a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich today, but spotted a few other enticing ingredients and ended up making a fancy grilled cheese (which still came together almost as quickly as a pbj would have) and a salad. Observe:

It’s plain old shredded mozzarella and a bit of blue cheese on sourdough. The ingredient that made it over-the-top good was a smear of this amazing strawberry-chipotle jam from Blanco Valley Farms. If you’ve never tried pairing a strongly flavored cheese with a fruit jam, give it a shot — . . . → Continue Reading: Happy springtime!