My oldest son has been sick this last week, and I haven't been taking care of myself. The result of that is a head cold for myself, and a refrigerator full of good food I neglected to cook yet...until today.
For breakfast I found a bag of jerusalem artichokes that was crying out to be eaten. I scrubbed them, trimmed off the eyes and cut surfaces, dunked them in lemon water, and sliced them thin with the food processor (they break apart too easily to cut thin by hand, but the food processor did well). I have to confess that this recipe was inspired in part by eating avoids/toxins at PF Chang's in the form of Dali Chicken...which is a bit too spicy for me, but I was intrigued by it, with its thin sliced potatoes that aren't cooked to the soggy stage. So, I tossed the sliced sunchokes (2 or 3 kiwi sized chokes) into warmed olive oil in a frying pan. After a while, when they started to cook through a tiny bit, I added chopped onions, and cooked until it all started to soften. Then I added sliced mushrooms, let them absorb some oil, and added eggs, which I scrambled in with it all. Add red pepper flakes to taste. Once the eggs are almost past slimey stage, add some baby spinach, and cook until spinach is soft. You could add just about any veggie, I used what I had on hand.
Lunch Turkey Noodle soup:
I had set aside the remaining sunchokes, onions and mushrooms, so I used them with lunch. I also had found some yam pasta in the refrigerator section of an asian market. I didn't know what to expect of it, but I had to try it, so I drained and rinsed it, added it to a saucepan with some olive oil, then sprinkled on some ume plum vinegar (one of my favorite new seasonings). Then I added some cubed turkey tenderloin, and let it brown a bit, then added the veggies and some turkey broth. I let it all simmer until I was sure the turkey was done. You can add red pepper flakes to this as well. It cried out for sliced green onions on top, but I didn't have any, fresh parsley would also probably be good. You could use celery instead of sunchokes, and any compliant broth, etc. The yam noodles remind me of the rice sticks in Hawaiian Chicken Long Rice. They don't get as big and soggy, but they're pretty clear. I'll definitely get more of those. My 2 year old likes them too. They also come with seaweed in the noodles, but for my first try, I went for plain.
I like this soup! I guess it's overkill to have a potato and a noodle in the same dish, but they aren't real potatoes or real noodles, both could be considered a vegetable, so I think it works. It would be easier to eat with smaller pieces of jerusalem artichokes.
P.S. if you haven't eaten much inulin or jerusalem artichokes before, you may not want to eat it twice in the first day as it can cause gas initially.
Today I picked up my first bulk shipment from Azure Standard. They deliver by freight truck to most of the western US, and UPS many of their items nationwide. The prices are good, and the delivery fee is quite small, compared to shipping by UPS, which I've done a couple times.
My husband gave me a bigger grocery budget this month, to stock up on a few things. With 3 out of 4 of us requiring special GF diets, we don't want to be left at the mercy of others or the government if there were a shortage or natural disaster. They don't often distribute gluten free MREs We hadn't beefed up our storage for almost 10 years.
The other benefit of ordering in bulk is the prices. My boy's favorite GF bread was about half the price per loaf that the HFS charges. So, if you know what you like and what you'll eat, buying in bulk is a great option. Just make sure you like it first, as you don't want a case of something you don't end up liking.
Amazon.com also has some good bulk deals, and you can often get free shipping.
Now I just need to make sure I use (rotate) it, especially the brown rice that has the shortest shelf life. I also got large bags of whole quinoa, teff and millet. More baking lies in my future! My husband tried steamed quinoa at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco, and he liked it, so hopefully the boys will like it too.
Of course I threw my plan out the window once my garden was ready to plant in I filled in the square on the edge that I should have reserved for the watermelon, but I'll adapt. I may move the strawberries to a different square tomorrow. Of course the spinach in the next square over may be ready to harvest before it's time to plant the watermelon. We've had such a late spring, that it may work out that way. It snowed a little last week, but we're only 2 weeks away from the last average frost date!
I decided to pick up some swiss chard seeds, as they're one of only a few plants that can be planted and harvested all year long. I need a few plants like that to fill the squares as the seasons progress.
I'm starting to wonder why I'm doing two boxes. I've only finished one of them so far. Leveling the ground, mixing the "soil", filling, and putting on the grid was more work than I realized! It's very nice once it's complete, but I'm resting on that for a few days as the other box is mainly for summer crops anyway, and I haven't planted in all of the first box yet.
I also made quite a bit extra of Mel's mix, and I've only mixed the first box worth. I think the peat moss expanded quite a bit. I put some of it in the tomato pots for the back fence, and some of it back in a bag. I'll use less peat moss for the next box. Mixing the soil is a big job for one person, but I didn't have the patience to wait for helpers, as I wanted to get the spring stuff planted before it's too late. On the next box, I'll wait for helpers!
I'm looking forward to being able to harvest food as needed, rather than having to buy a whole bunch of green onions at the store, when I only need 1 or 2.
My husband watched the kids for a while yesterday so I could get out of the house. It was great. I went to pick up the supplies for my square foot gardens. I found all the lumber and hardware for the actual boxes, and some of the Mel's mix. I'll need to pick up a few more things today, but I'll have my boxes put together soon. The boards are cut and pre-drilled, just a matter of assembling them.
This should be fun!
I'm a little late for strawberries, so I'm only doing 2 squares this year, less room taken up if they fail. Spinach may be late too, but I'll try one square in the spring, and the rest in the fall. No corn. There may even be room for a few more flowers.
I was really hoping that my baby's illness was simply gluten, because the alternative, that it was gastroenteritis and we would could all get it next, was not a pleasant thought. With gluten, I have some control, with a virus, I'm a victim. I've learned to prefer control.
But when he got really sick I was also hoping his reaction to gluten couldn't be that severe. He's pretty much over it today, as am I, and my 5 year old hopefully will be able to keep down food as well. Phew. Now my husband has it, he was the last to get it. I couldn't have weathered it without his help when the boys and I were all sick. Without giving too much information, I'll just say that that night when the 3 of us had it was, um, interesting. As a parent, I just went into roll-with-the-punches survival mode...and we survived it.
Last Saturday I was going to build my square foot garden boxes. Instead I've been cooped up inside with lots of time to plan them. I now know my small triangular back yard will have two boxes, each 8 ft long and 2 feet wide. One side will be against a retaining wall, with protection from the wind and elements, for the more tender plants. The other side will be along a 4 ft tall chain link fence. There's also a sloped back fence that is 6 ft tall. The ground there is too sloped for any sizable square foot garden, so I'll dig in some pots for tomatoes and train them to climb up that fence. That solves my space problems, and introduces some vertical spaces. I may let a watermelon and sweet potato vine around outside of the boxes toward the back tomato fence. I could vertical garden the watermelon, but that ground space isn't used and doesn't look great at present anyway.
The numbers next to the names are how many plants to put in each square foot, some I am guessing/experimenting with.
A few plants of note, beside the basic garden/supermarket fare:
Sweet potato: I'm mainly growing it for the leaves, but may be surprised by a few roots. I thing they're good for my little hunter, and I may be into black dot territory by harvest. Black plastic covers to warm the soil since I'm pretty far north for these guys.
Jerusalem artichoke: I'll let these go crazy on the hill, rather than in the garden. Hopefully they'll like it there.
Okra: Another southern crop that I'll black plastic and experiment with. Some varieties mature in 50-60 days, so I think I can pull it off.
Asparagus Pea: it took a bit of searching to find sees (tmseeds.com) but I'm willing to experiment with these as well.
Some others: Turnip (for greens), fennel, spinach, red perilla (I have some seed though I don't remember why I bought it, it may be red basil), genovese basil, holy basil, cilantro, parsley, greek oregano, etc. Zucchini will be on the hill as well.
The strawberries are just because my husband and kids buy and eat them no matter what, so I prefer they have an organic source because we simply can't find them in stores. The corn is just for fun for the boys...it may be a bad idea with our raccoon history! I am planning some pest control measures. Hopefully netting will keep the cats and birds out; the raccoons are a challenge I may or may not have to deal with.
I may have already killed my elderberry starts on the hill, but I see some signs of life in them yet. Currants and raspberries are other options for some hill space I'm getting cleared off.
I've ordered the seeds and plants, I just need to buy supplies for the boxes and such...there's no backing out now! Planning has always been my favorite part, and usually the only part I complete, so I'm hoping that square foot gardening will keep the dream alive this time. We've had a cold spring, so I don't think I'm too late getting started on some of these plants.
I never really cared for rows or rototillers.