Vera Stewart

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since Apr 22, 2015
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dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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Recent posts by Vera Stewart

I am restarting my waste-free-day count.

I was able to use most of the lettuce (I still have most of one heart, but it’s actually lasting a lot longer and in better condition than I expected it to) but while focusing on the lettuce – not only testing the recipe I purchased it for, but also using it as a “base layer” for another supper and shoving unusual amounts of it into sandwiches – I forgot about some beans I had in the back of the fridge.
I know that you can eat some sprouting beans, but I was not feeling brave enough to try it, and I’m not sure it would be a good idea to eat some that have accidentally sprouted, anyway.
I did think about putting them in the garden, but I couldn’t think of where to put them. So they ended up thrown out.

Since I was throwing out, I also threw out some frosting that I’d purchased as back-up in case of homemade frosting failure last month for a birthday. I didn’t need it, and I’m not sure it’s really food anyway. Being there as back up, it had served its purpose.

During next week’s grocery/meal cycle, I hope to continue to shop frugally and use up what’s already in the pantry and freezer – I have my eye out for a number of staples when they next go on sale, but so far no luck, and I suspect I won’t really have a stock-up opportunity until September, now. There is a sale on maple syrup this week that I’ll probably take advantage of!

I have continued to harvest a handful or so of currant berries every other day from the bush in my backyard, and there are still fresh onions waiting to be harvested as well. I pulled up a baby potato plant yesterday because it was shading out some of my other plants and it was an “extra – just shove it in anywhere” planting – the result was two small very small but very perfect and very fresh potatoes eaten last night.
Soon-ish I’ll be going on a holiday, and it will be interesting to see if I can manage to be food-waste-less away from home.

My experiment recipe next week will be “eggplant caviar” – I’m hoping it will go well as an alternative to hummus. It should be fairly warm for the next week or so here, so I’m glad that I finished off the last of the homemade soup a few days ago – I can’t stand hot soup in hot weather – although this might be a good time to make another batch of sorrel soup!
1 day ago
I've just finished reading A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seeds by James Fenton, which I was given at Christmas - it was a nice meander, only about 100 pages long and cheerful, light reading, perfect for reading on the solstice while falling asleep.

And I'm listening to Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig as an audiobook, which I'm enjoying as well.
1 day ago
I think I'm in trouble on the food waste front.

A few days ago, I poured a container of chicken stock down the drain - my housemate had used a portion for something or other without me noticing, and when I poured some out the other day to see if it was still good --- it was not. If we're being really strict about it, this counts as the end of a run of no-food-waste, after about 38 days.

I feel like it's not my fault this chicken stock got dumped, because I had nothing to do with opening the (intended to be back-up only) tetra pack - but also that it doesn't really matter in terms of when my streak of no-food-waste ends, because I can see that in a few days time I'll probably be throwing out food that is clearly "my fault."

The problem is that I over-bought fresh vegetables a couple of days ago at the grocery store, particularly with lettuce. For the first time ever, and I do not know what possessed me, I purchased a package of romaine hearts. I also have a bunch of fresh herbs now that I'm going to have to find the energy to freeze. I'm finding that the unsettled weather here is really doing a good job of giving me headaches and low energy.

Now, I do have a recipe I plan to try this week, which does call for two romaine hearts - the anchovy salad I wanted to try last week. But there are three romaine hearts in the package, and they are all looking only a few days away from giving up the ghostie and came out of the package already a bit limp. I bought the freshest package I could find, but they were already a week old when I bought them.
To complicate matters, I made (another test recipe) bean and corn salad yesterday, so I already have one salad on the go. For Father's Day weekend, I am committed to making scallops and rice tonight (I might be able to finish off the corn salad tonight at the same time) and a roast chicken with broccoli, parsnips, and baked potato the other. There won't be much point in also making a salad to go with this meal as I know very little of it will be eaten.  Also I've promised to make blondies. I don't know when I'll have space for lettuce-salad!  Does anyone have tips for emergency extension-of-life on romaine hearts??

On the positive side, the last two weeks have seen much more sensible grocery bills, I'm well on track for staying in budget this month, although it does mean eating into the pantry, which will eventually need to be restocked at probably significantly higher prices, thank-you inflation.

I've been adding homegrown currants to my breakfast cereal in the past couple of days as they are slowly coming ripe!

6 days ago
It's raining again today. Yesterday I was able to mow the lawn a bit, but half of it is still two-weeks-long because I couldn't get to it all and now it's raining again. On one hand it's nice to see all the green, on the other hand, I can no longer see if there's anything hiding where I'm walking, which is not so great given I spotted a rattlesnake on the road right outside my house last year.

Last week we had a couple of "proper summery" days with sweaty heat in the afternoon and sunshine. I know this will return. I hope it will return soon, I am getting tired of being tempted to turn on the furnace in the house even though it is now mid June. My currant and saskatoons are I think wanting to ripen, they're trying to turn colour, but it's not quite warm enough for them to really dooo it. I did get a couple of nearly-ripe currants off the bush the other day.

I did not dig a new bed. I have planted up pots to sit out in the front of the house, including some nasturium seed, which has started to sprout - as long as I remember to water the pots - they're underneath a house overhang - I hope that in a few weeks time they'll be full of green and starting to think about flowering.
Some of my lavender is in full bloom, comfrey is flowering, and the tickseed plant started to flower during those few summery days. The roses are blooming as well.

My potatoes are looking good and some of my beans are coming along. The tomatoes are still reluctant, and I did plant a few more, and the squash plants appear to be a bit stalled. I had a little bit of lettuce growing until my dog pulled it up.

Despite all the rain the evergreen tree I'm worried about is still all dried up and dead looking. I'm pretty sure it's dead, by this point.

I decided last week to make a "mossarium" in an old jar. It was fun to look at what I have in my yard in a slightly different way while creating the mini-habitat - finding a use for the pebbles, going into the relatively undisturbed and leaf-littered area under the sumacs for the soil, and discovering that there are at least three different kinds of moss in my yard - although I think one of the ones I used is actually a liverwort. There's some kind of small-fruiting mushroom I was unaware of before appearing in my yard, as well, although I didn't disturb it for the mossarium. I found that the next day, while out for a walk around the neighbourhood, I was spending more time than I usually do staring at the ground and studying other moss and low ground cover plants and wondering if I could use them in a future moss/terrarium. I've been wanting to put together a small terranium for years and I'm happy that I finally got around to it. I found a youtube vidoe about making a terrarium for free that encouraged me to go ahead and do it. I am expecting this first attempt to fail, but hopefully it will fail in an interesting way.  This morning when I opened it up and peered in I caught sight of a creepy crawly of some kind, confirming I succeeded in getting animal life inside the jar as well!
1 week ago
Last night’s supper for myself was quite a weird bowl of left-overs – I heated up the last of week-old rice, the last of week-old roast chicken, cubed, plus some salsa, a sprinkling of cheese, and a handful of “mixed greens” which were being sold at 50% off since they were at their best-buy date when I picked them up. In the past I’ve had lots of luck getting these organic salad mixes at 50% off and they last really nicely for several days afterwards, but this mix’s greens prove to be rather tough and not terribly tasty. It was not the best supper I’ve ever had, but it was okay, and I didn’t throw anything out!

I’m especially disappointed in the greens because I was planning to use them as the base for a mixed salad with anchovies that I need to test for my cookbook project – I have all the ingredients now, except that I’m not sure it’s fair to test with these not-so-great greens, so I may delay the test until after the next shop.

I’ve been pondering how to incorporate some permie-like or anti-food-waste philosophy or tips into the cookbook project. I do have a leftover soup recipe already, but I’m mulling over how I might do more. The focus has to be different, but if I can slip in a few ideas…
What would you like to see in a cookbook? I need to start working on more of the vegetarian recipes I want to include.
Over the weekend we ate the last of the raisin bread that had been in the freezer. We did something else instead of a roast yesterday (my housemate usually makes a roast dinner at some point during the weekends) and so now I’ll have to find something else besides left-over roast meat for lunch sandwiches. Perhaps something other than sandwiches. Today I had cheesy nachos. I’ve taken the package of deli ham that I put into the freezer last week back out to use tomorrow – it depends on how much time I have tomorrow but I might try another deli-meat recipe of some kind.

Tonight I’m going to try and eat some more of an onion soup I had in the freezer as left-over from the cookbook project. It’s not a great soup, it will definitely have to be a side dish.
1 week ago
Last night's supper

I ended up saving one ham-egg for today. Used a frozen parsley cube in with the mushrooms I sauteed. The tomato came from a ways away, and tasted like it. Am I ever looking forward to backyard tomatoes - but my plants are less than an inch high at the moment!

I love how this thread is evolving, it is very encouraging to have so much support and so many ideas.

Oh, and the frozen yogurt has been taken care of ;)
2 weeks ago

Tereza Okava wrote:

Vera Stewart wrote:I'd like to find some more ways to harness deli meat left overs..

This year I was gifted not one but two deli hams, somewhere around here is a thread where the good people of Permies gave me many ideas how to use them. Ham salad saved my bacon several times!

Found it!

I might try some deli meat as a crust for eggs and veggies tonight~!
2 weeks ago
Had the last of the bread pudding for breakfast. I found it a bit too sweet, so next time I will probably use less sugar (the recipe I was using said 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar, I used 1.5, but next time I'm going to try it with 1 cup)

Last night I tested an old mac and cheese recipe that said it was going to have the noodles soaking up milk as they cooked - it lied! I feel like I wasted a pretty good amount of milk, and probably won't make that recipe again. However I envision having left over mac and cheese for lunch. The results are edible, it's just that getting there seemed quite wasteful. I did use up the last of some feta with that recipe, which was good.

My housemate prepared for another picnic lunch hosting which was then cancelled due to bad weather, and we now have a lot of extra deli meat again. I've put a good bit of it into the freezer (which is stuffed pretty much up to the gills at the moment) but I still have extra ham and chicken slices that I need to find a way to deal with within the next few days. Perhaps I will make a crustless quiche again, and I can slip some slices inside a grill cheese sandwich or two... however, as this seems likely to be a bit of a reoccurring problem over the warmer months, I'd like to find some more ways to harness deli meat left overs.

I am very nearly at the end of a container of frozen yogurt, finishing that off will create more space in the freezer. I think that is a task that I can very nobly tackle with the next 48 hours or so.
2 weeks ago
Oh, that's a good idea! I have some nasturtium seeds already!
3 weeks ago
Still getting (relatively) lots of rain.

I've finished planting in all the already-existing veggie beds, although I haven't yet done the bed extension I want to this year. I feel like I either get that done this coming weekend or I don't bother for this year, so fingers crossed I get the energy and time to do it really soon. I figure I'll need about six hours of solid work to get it done, as I'm hoping to dig out, fill in with bits of wood and organics, put the soil back on top and plant it.

Most of the potatoes seem to be growing, and some corn has come up, along with a few morning glories, runner beans and bush beans. Also amaranth is starting to come up. I planted tomato seeds but see no evidence that they've taken, so I might plant some more tomato seeds this weekend, because I really like homegrown tomatoes and I don't want to be without them this year.

I'd also like to plant up some big pots that I usually have on my back patio, only this summer I want them to be in the front of the house, because I have no flowers or plants (besides grass and trees and weeds) at the front. I'm going to plant them with daisies and zinnias and maybe something edible but I'm not sure what. They will probably get a bit neglected up there in front by themselves, so I can't put anything too demanding in there.

My very messy bit of "lawn" which I've been working to clear of oregon grape and sumac still has sumac and oregon grape, but I'm pleased that the saskatoon bushes look to be doing okay and onion that I planted in there last year has really done well. I've also got some comfrey in the mix there, some of which I had to cut back this week as it was shading one of the saskatoons rather heavily!

I sadly realized the other day that none of my strawberry plants seem to have survived the winter, but they really were never much in terms of producing fruit anyway. I am watching the saskatoon berries start to ripen with much anticipation!

I think a few days of seasonal warmth and sun will really set things to growing, as soon as we get that sunlight.

Rain with possible thunderstorms predicted for the next few days. You know, I think I'll go and plant that second batch of tomato seeds right now before the rain starts again.
3 weeks ago