Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blueberry Cucumber Salad

Okay.. This was a total experiment but it was rather good.

The hot peppers gave it a real kick. It was nice to have the combination of hot and then the cool cucumber and berries. The blueberries were from our picking adventure. The cucumber was from the Farmer's Market. The garlic from my mom's garden. The dill was organic that I bought at our local co op.

Blueberry Cucumber Salad


2 Cucumbers, chopped into bite size pieces

1/2 - 1 cup of blueberries

1 hot pepper, minced finely

3 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1 carrot - grated

1 tsp dill

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 c olive oil (or more as needed)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more as needed)

juice of 1 lime.


Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. It is best to wait to add the oil, vinegar, and lime juice just shortly before serving. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Garden Update! Harvesting Purple Beans.

I was poking around looking in my bean pole and I could see the beginnings of some purple beans. Then as I looked closer I found these huge ones. They blended right in with the stems of the plants so I hadn't seen them before. As you can see, a few of them measured up to 8 inches long. I steamed some last night for dinner and they taste wonderful, however the longer you cook them the more green they turn. I made a wheat pasta dish with leftover pesto and steamed yellow squash from the Farmer's Market and my beans.

Farmer's Market Trip 7/26/08!

This week was a small trip. I had to take Zach with me and it's crazy there if you have to maneuver a stroller. Plus I got there late, so they were out of alot of stuff. I did get a cherry tomato hanging plant for $5.00 on the right.
In the other picture, I got some:
Romaine lettus, radishes, peaches, green peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash and 6 ears of corn on the cob. All total, with the tomato plant, I spent ~$20.00.

Blueberry picking.

We went blueberry picking on Sunday. Same crew as before: me, Zach, my sister and my niece. We had a great time. The blueberry patch was set back from the road, up on a hill and all around you could see farmland. It was a beautiful sunny day, with blue skies and white, fluffy clouds. You could sit right down near the bush and pick the berries. Zach would sit on my lap with me. I cannot even tell you how many blueberries that little guy ate. I didn't have my camera with me, which is a shame because I missed the cutest picture of him with his hat on, carrying his little pint container with some berries. They were only $2.50/lb and all the blueberries in the pictures only cost me $7.50. I think I want to make a blueberry sauce, some muffins and a cucumber/blueberry salad. I'll post all the recipes once I do. I also have some raspberry recipes to post.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Organic dairy! The first step.

So much to say on this subject. First of all, most all cows these days are injected with growth hormones. The main purpose for this is to make the cows produce more milk. Some will argue that this is more sustainable, which is bunk. What tends to happen, is that the cows will get mastitis (Inflammation of the nipples), and various other sicknesses requiring antibiotics. So, then they are administered antibiotics. All of this is passed on through the meat and dairy that we eat. With antibiotic resistance at an all time high, do we really want to set our kids up this early to being exposed to all of these antibiotics? With kids hitting puberty at earlier ages, do we want to expose them early to all these hormones?

Sure, we use hormones and antibiotics. There are downfalls to that to, despite the good things. Take a look at the ever popular HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for postmenapausal women... It's been shown to cause cancer at alarming rates.

I just ask that you all educate yourselves on this. If you make one organic change in your diet, make it meat and dairy. I made the commitment to give my son organic milk and soon as he turned 1 year and we stopped formula. The cost wasn't that much different. I figured I was spending about @25/week on formula. A gallon of organic milk runs me $6.00 and he goes through 1 /week right now. I'm even still getting ahead.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Okay... I'm way behind in my posts. We are currently putting a deck on our house. I've been waiting for this since 4 years ago when we moved in. So, Mike's time has been spent on that, which gives me custody of Zach all weekend. It's exhausting but more than that, I don't get very much time to have a single thought, let alone get on the computer.

So, I finally made the pesto using the basil from last week's farmer's market purchases. It was very tasty. I made some organic wheat pasta and mixed the pesto in it. I sprinkled a little bit of low fat cheese on it too, and served it with a salad.

It was very simple to make, although you really need a food processor, or a blender might work.

Here is the recipe:

Classic Pesto: (from

2 tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts or pine nuts. (I used half and half)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups basil leaves (about 4 ozs)
1/2c (2 ozs) grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp salt

1. With the motor running, drop the pine/walnuts and garlic into the food processor. Process until finely minced.
2. Add the olive oil and pulse 3 times.
3. Add basil, parmesan cheese and salt.
4. Process until finely minced, scraping down sides.

You can also put in ice cube tray and freeze cubes for later use.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Here are the raspberries.

Raspberry picking.

Last week my sister texted me and asked if I had plans late Friday morning, Early afternoon. She had wanted to get together before she headed out to work. I had decided that I was going to take Zach raspberry picking. I was so glad when she accepted my invitation to come along because it would be hard to pick raspberries and keep my eye on him. He definately ate my money's worth in raspberries. They had 3 different colors and many different varieties. Purple, Red, and black. It was so much fun to pick them ourselves. Zach was a huge red mess when we left. It was a good deal too. $3.50/lb. 2 pints cost me $4.50. This is much less than if I had bought them at the Farmer's Market or the store. And they tasted so good. It was the first time I'd ever had purple or black raspberries. After we were done, we took the kids over to the petting zoo. My niece started doing some cartwheels that made Zach belly laugh. I get such a kick out of the things that amuse him.

The first picture is of my sister and Zach walking through the patch.This is Zach and my niece.

The big helper! Could only get that pacifier away when he was shoving raspberries in his face.

I have some pictures of the raspberries themselves, but the picture is at home and I am work, so I will post it later. They were pretty good size berries too. They grow until the fall, so I am hopeful to make many more trips. Blueberries are officially available for Upick now, so I can't wait to get some of those too. I have a recipe idea floating around in my head for the raspberries. I'm going to try it out and if it's any good, I'll pass it along.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My first batch of beans.

Just a quick note to say that my beans are growing fast and furious.

Below is a picture of them next to a medium size banana to give perspective.

I am so excited because my peppers are taking off!! I've got quite a few of them that are medium sized already. It's so exciting because we take for granted where our food comes from and the miracle of it growing from a seed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Look at what I found!!...

in my garden. I pushed aside the plants and to my surprise...

It's actually pretty big! Some of my vegetables are growing so quickly. Every day I go out there are so many green beans! I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my cucumbers turn out.

Farmer's Market Trip 7/19/08.

I got a lot of goodies this week:

Green peppers (6)..........$2.00
Tomatoes (6)...................$2.00
Scallions (2 bunch)..........$1.00
Basil (2 bunches).............$2.50
Peas (1 pint)....................$2.00
Cucumbers (4).................$1.00
Baby plums (14)..............$2.00
Cherries (1 pint)................$2.50
Baby peaches (10)............ $2.00
Lemons (3)...................... $1.00
Zucchini (4)......................$1.00

Total = $19.00

I'm going to make some pesto with the basil!! I'm real excited to do my own.

And then there was this beauty!!! It's a little plant with hot peppers all over. They are very small, like 2-3 inches long. They start out green which is mild, then they turn purple which is medium and if you keep them going they turn red which is hot. I used a couple of the red in my salsa and OOooh boy are they hot. This plant cost me $5.00 and the pepper will keep growing!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An update to my garden.

So, I have harvested all of my radishes. I'm not sure what is going to be completely done next but I've gotta couple of things going on.

This is a hot pepper. I've got a couple of these guys already. They're probably about 3 inches long or so.

This is the beginning of a head of cauliflower.

This is a green bean. It is very small right now... but I have a ton of the white flowers.

This is probably even harder to make out. If you look in the center it's the start of a cucumber. I was starting to get worried because I have all of those yellow flowers but couldn't see any cucs yet.
It is so exciting. You forget how amazing it is to grow fruits and vegetables from just a seed!! I can't wait to start picking some of this stuff.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Recipes inspired by the Farmer's Market!

This post is tardy. I made this last weekend. It's Zucchini Fritters (with a cucumber dip) and Apple Nut Couscous. The Zucchini Fritter recipes I got from Simply Recipes. The only change I made was that I added some chopped fresh basil. The cucumber dip and couscous recipe I came up with on my own. I apologize for the picture quality. We have a new camera and I'm still trying to figure out how it works. I used the Zucchini, scallions and basil from the Farmer's market in the fritters. Last week I bought a huge amount of apples, which inspired the couscous. It basically has apples, strawberries from the market and some walnut and almonds chopped into it.

Zucchini Fritters - From Simply Recipes

1 lb Zucchini (about 2 medium), coarsely grated
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1 large egg
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 c all-purpose flour (I used organic whole wheat flour)
1/2 grape seed oil or olive oil (I used canola)

1. Salt the Zucchini with about 1 tsp salt. Try to remove excess moisture. I patted it down with paper towels.
2. Whisk egg in a large bowl; add zucchini, flour, scallions and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Mix to combine.
3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook fritters into 2 batches. Drop six mounds of batter (2tbsp each) into the skillet. Flatten slightly. Cook, turning once, until browned 4-6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve immediately.

Cucumber dipping sauce

1/2 c plain yogurt (I used organic)
1/2 c lite sour cream
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 c basil and cilantro
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in food processor. Chill several hours before using to allow flavors to blend. You can add or delete any of the seasoning to make it your preference.

Apple/Nut Couscous

1 box of instant couscous (7 oz) ( I used Near East, whole grain)
2 apples, diced
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2c strawberries, finely chopped
1/2c almonds, finely chopped
1/2c walnuts, finely chopped.
1/4c olive oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Cook couscous per directions on box. Drain and add 1/4c olive oil. Set aside.
2. After chopping apples, place in a bowl of water combined with lemon juice. Soak for 5 minutes.
3. Combine couscous, apples, strawberries, almonds, walnuts and cinnamon together. If it seems dry, add more olive oil. Serve warm or cold.

Farmers Market Trip 7/12/08

I made a quick trip out before heading to our Aunt/Uncle's home. I forgot to put the snap peas into the picture. Here's how it breaks down.

Cherries (1 quart)....$4.00



Kiwi (5)......................$1.75


Cucumbers (2)..........$1.00

Zucchini (2)...............$.50

Yellow squash...........$.50


Snap peas (pint).........$2.00

Total cost $18.50

I had to hurry, so I didn't get to really buy all I wanted.. I knew there were a few things I had to get like the berries. You might wonder why I bought bananas. I was out of them at home and they are a staple in Zach's diet.. and being that were gonna be gone overnight, I wanted to take some with us.

My special purchase!

I did however, have enough time to stumble across this beauty. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's a round red heart, with orange swirled through it. A young man was selling them for $3.00, marked down from $10.00. Even though it cut into the cash on hand for vegetables, it was definately worth it. Just so unique!

Just some fun pictures!

We went to our Aunt/Uncle's home to spend a day by the pool. Zach is just getting used to water. Here are a couple of cute pictures. The first 2 are with his cousin.

This picture is Zach riding in the boat, pushed by Daddy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recipe for Fresh Salsa

Using my goodies from the Farmer's Market, I made some fresh salsa.
I got the basic recipe from simply and tinkered with it a little.
Here is the recipe.

Fresh Salsa:
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1-2 hot peppers (ie jalapeno) stems, ribs, seeds removed
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 tsp each of salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp each of oregano and cumin (or to taste)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro (and basil if desired)
Save the seeds from the jalapenos. These can be used to adjust the "hotness" of your salsa. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Allow to sit for several hours to let the flavors blend. The best thing is you can omit any of the ingredients or add others as you like. I fried some corn tortillas in some canola oil and sprinkled with seasoned salt to flavor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Move over Ziploc baggies....

Ziploc bags are my weakness in the fight to reduce waste. It's the one area I've had troubles with. I mean, face it.. they're so handy.. you can store anything in them.. and then you don't have to clean it.
On another blog that I read, these handy things were suggested. The Wrap -n- Mat.

The inside is lined with a clear plastic, I'm not sure you can tell on the picture. So you wrap your sandwich, chips, vegetables, whatever and it seals with velcro. You open it up and it's a placemat!! The clear plastic is easy to wipe down. Voila!! I bought 3 of them.. and they're great for packed lunches. I still have Ziplocs. Old habits die hard, but at least I'm using them sparingly now.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Foogo - Is it worth the $$$

This is the Foogo insulated sippy cup by Thermos. The cost of this beauty is $14.99. It is stainless steel, so there are no worries about polycarbonate plastic leaching. While that was in the back of my mind... I had a new reason why I wanted to purchase.

Let me tell you a story. I was home with my little guy last Wednesday. I was sitting on the couch taking a little break, when all of a sudden... I got a whiff of something that smelled like vomit. I flew into action, looking all over when Zach was standing there, shaking a sippy cup. The valve was clearly not in place because you could hear it being shaken inside the cup and milk was flying all over the front of him. He thought this was hysterical. I realized he had the sippy cup that came home from daycare with him the night before. Immediately I panicked, wondering if he had drinken any of the tainted beverage.

So, the added benefit of this cup is that it keeps beverages insulated warm or cold for up to 6 hours. While that wouldn't even have helped me in that scenario, it was worth checking out. You would think this cup is too heavy for them, but he handles it just fine... carries it around under his arm, just like all of his other precious cups.

Was it worth the money??... Time will tell I guess. It is very easy to clean which is a bonus for me, along with a little piece of mind.

Farmer's Market Trip - 7/5/08

My farmer's market trip this week was another good one.

My picture is kind of odd, but we'll dissect it.

Tomatoes (8)...........$4.00
Limes (5)..................$1.75
Snap peas (pint).......$2.00
Strawberries (9).......$1.75
Cherries (quart)........$4.00
Kiwi (5)....................$1.75
Red peppers (2)........$2.00
Blueberries (quart).$2.00

I had a picture, but it's vanished of the following:
Eggs (large, cage free, organically fed)........$2.50
Sesame seeds.............................................$2.00
ABC's sprinkle things for cookies..................$1.50
Grand total: $30.00 even.

If you haven't ever cooked with fresh herbs, you really need to. It's amazing how much better the flavor is. Basil and oregano can pretty much go in anything!

My plan with the tomatoes is to make salsa. There's nothing like a fresh salsa.

Friday, July 4, 2008

If you've heard it once.....

.. you've heard it a million times.

Paper or Plastic? Neither?

Taking cloth bags to the store seems like an exhausting prospect. I started when my local grocer was selling them for 99 cents at the checkout. So I started by buying 2 of them. Well, you can imagine what happened from there. I would go to the store and forget the bags. That was the biggest obstacle to overcome. So, then I would buy a couple of more when I got there. After a while, if I left from the house to go to the store, it got easier to remember.

When they pack these bags, they seem to put more stuff in them. When they pack the plastic bags, they put 3-4 items in and then start a new bag. How obnoxious is that? So, because my groceries were neatly packed in the cloth bags, that motivated me to bring them to the store. If I stop unexpectedly on my way home from work... that is where I struggle, because I don't always have bags in the car with me. I'm trying to make sure I leave 2 in the car for the surprise trips.

It got me to thinking as I was shopping, how wasteful putting the produce in the plastic baggies is. But I wouldn't dare just put my naked produce on the checkout for any old germs to crawl all over it. I did some looking around online and was surprised that they make cloth bags exactly for this reason.

I got some nice ones from --

They are decently priced too and made from organic cotton!! And I put them right in my cloth grocery bags. I've gotten pretty good at making sure I bring everything to the store. I've even gotten some nice comments inquiring about my produce bags.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Where is my Farmer's Market??

Check here: --> You can find out where a local farmer's market is and also any CSA's offered.

CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. It's offered by a farm and you pay a subscription fee. Then you get a box of produce weekly throughout the growing season. They will give you whatever is in season. It's kind of fun to figure out what to do with things that you are not normally used to. Most of these average out to cost ~$25.00/week to feed 4 people.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Farmer's Market visit on 6/28/08

The produce this week was amazing!! Everything looked so wonderful! Cherries and Sugar Snap peas were local and fresh. Here's my breakdown:

Apples (16) .......................... $3.00
Scallions (2 bunches) ................ $1.00
Cherries (pint)....................... $2.50
Zucchini (1).......................... $.50
Yellow squash (1)......................$.50
Tomatoes (4)...........................$2.00
Sugar snap peas (pint).................$2.50
Red seedless grapes (pint).............$2.00
Green peppers (4)......................$2.00
Red peppers (2)........................$2.00
Blueberries (pint).....................$2.00
Chocolate mint (herb)..................$1.00
Thyme (herb)...........................$1.00

Grand total: $22.00 --- What a bargain!

and....I bought a cilantro plant for my garden ($2.00)

I took my peppers, tomatoes, scallions and made salsa. Added lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper, hot peppers. It was my first attempt at my own Salsa and I was very pleased!!
Tomorrow I am going to try Zucchini cakes w/cucumber dip.