Saturday, August 23, 2008

Success!


Well, we finally did it! One month on one tank of gas. It feels pretty good to know that we're using one quarter the gas we were using when we first moved to Santa Fe--that means a lot more money in our wallets, muscle on our legs, and less pollution for the world.

Here's hoping our gas use continues to decline from here on out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Inspiration

At the Farmer's Market yesterday, we met a couple selling car-free honey. We chatted with them for awhile and learned that the pair gave up their car 4 years ago, and now do everything from commuting to beekeeping by bicycle. AND they have kids, who ride along on their parents' xtracycles.

They told me that until they took the plunge and got rid of their car entirely, they never managed to completely stop using it. But they've never looked back. Hmmmm....

Oh yeah, and their honey is delicious. I put some in my tea this morning and it's just about heaven. Yay for Car-Free Bees! They have a blog--I hope they won't mind the link: http://carfreefamily.blogspot.com

Monday, August 18, 2008

Garden Tour

video

Here's a video tour of our garden! Sorry about the sloppy audio...

Chickens!

video

Finally got the camera working again, so here's a video treat for you!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Impulse buy--drip irrigation


One of the big flaws in our garden set up this year is our lack of drip irrigation. This is, by all accounts, the most efficient and easiest way to water a garden (with the possible exception of ollas, but that's another post). It can also be expensive and we just didn't have the time or money to set it up at the beginning of the season.

Well...we went to the hardware store to buy a regular hose, because the one that came with the place is ripped at the base and is leaking probably half of the water into nowhere useful. We left with a regular hose and a "soaker hose", which is a regular half inch hose made out of porous, recycled rubber. It weeps water into the ground, and while it's not a fancy drip system, it makes a big difference.

We set up the 50' soaker hose this evening, snaking it past all the rows of our fall crops. I will post a picture update tomorrow. The hose works beautifully--we will be wasting a lot less water and spending a lot less time standing around with a hose from now on!

Baked beans!


Mmmmmm baked beans! I needed to find a way to trick myself into eating more beans because they are cheap and nutritious. For some reason, I get sick of ranch style beans very quickly. Baked beans, on the other hand, I adore.

At a loss for a good recipe, I turned to my favorite TV chef--Alton Brown. His Once and Future Beans recipe is amazing. I made a batch last week (and it's a LARGE batch) and we ate them all in 3 days or something.

They are both molasses-y and spicy. The recipe calls for a pound of bacon, but since I'm cheap I used olive oil instead. I bet they'd be out of this world with bacon. My other major modification to this recipe? I use a blanket box instead of a 250 degree oven to cook the beans.

A blanket box is essentially a crock pot that is not electric. It's a big, insulated box that your pot fits into. You stuff the spaces with fabric or straw, cover, and leave it. Blanket boxes are perfect for slow cooking foods like baked beans, and they conserve a lot of fuel. I'm currently using the bottom of the solar oven--a cardboard box insulated with layers of cardboard. I would like to make a "pretty" blanket box that won't be such an eyesore in the kitchen.

Tomatillos

We've had plenty of rain here for the last week or so, and the garden has taken off (again). We'll have corn soon, and tomatoes, and our fall crops are getting started nicely.

This morning I harvested another batch of tomatillos. I'll make more salsa verde this afternoon--I'm not sure there will be enough to can, but we'll see. Despite continued camera difficulties, I managed to get a shot of the bunch with my laptop's built-in camera.


Tomatillo harvest:
Weight: 1.75lbs, # of fruit: 29
YTD: 2.25 lbs

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cooking Adventures!

As I may have discussed earlier in this blog, I love food, and eating out is probably my biggest vice. Most of the money I spend is spent on eating out. This irks me for several reasons: I have less control over where the food comes from, and it's way more expensive than eating at home. I do like to cook mind you, but there's something wonderful about not having to worry about the dishes and eating something someone else prepared.

At any rate, I'm working on teaching myself to cook a good portion of my food for the week on one day, so that I'll always find something tasty and convenient (and most importantly, homemade) when I open the fridge.

Tonight I made a quiche using local eggs, local milk, sausage made at the coop, and greens from the garden. We also had baby zucchini (sadly not from the garden, but local nonetheless) and for dessert--apple crisp made from dumpstered apples. YUM. There will be quiche left over for breakfast and lunch tomorrow. Oh, and I also dehydrated some of the apples by putting them on a screen and putting them in the sun all day.

Tomorrow will be my big cooking day, but so far I don't have much of a plan. I've prepared refrigerator sun pickles--new recipe--to put out in the sun to "brew" tomorrow. We have quite a bit of dumpstered bread, so I won't have to make bread this week. I'm thinking mini-quiches for breakfasts, baked beans, rice, corn tortillas, pizzas, and yogurt. That should get me a pretty good start on the week.

Salsa Verde!

Yesterday we had our first tomatillo harvest--about 1/2 lb of fruit! We made salsa verde with them, using only ingredients from our garden.

Tomatillos, blackened in broiler
1 tiny serrano pepper
1 Joe E Parker pepper
cilantro

Yum! The salsa is very tangy (maybe some of the tomatillos weren't ripe enough) but delicious and a refreshing summer treat. We ate it with corn tortillas the tristan made from masa harina and water. They were delicious as well, and SO simple. Now if we could only find organic masa for a reasonable price...We used the standard supermarket version because the stuff they sell at the coop is something like $6 for a tiny 4-cup bag.