I haven’t been a very diligent foodie, so I have no fun photos of the food I have been making. The other day, I made a yummy nut and bean loaf, and today I made veggie burgers from scratch. I also made Thousand Island dressing, and served it up on Rudi’s Organic 100% Whole Wheat Buns that I bought at People’s Co-op.

Ingredients

1 zucchini, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
4-5 kale leaves, shredded
3 1/2 cups cooked millet
1/4 cup tasted seed mix (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax)
1 egg
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp oregano

Dressing

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp relish
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Oil large baking pan or cookie sheet.
2. Blend all ingredients together with a hand blender or in food processor.
3. Use your hands or ice cream scoop to scoop out balls of the veggie millet mix and flatten them onto the cookie sheet in the shape of patties.
4. Bake on each side for 15 mins until brown and crispy.

Makes 9 patties. We ate 4 and froze 5 for later use. 

My budget is still not shrinking. But I am realizing a few things:

- I cannot go to the grocery store anymore, especially not with Zoe. That always seems to result in me caving in and buying something that we shouldn’t be eating.

- We do not eat legumes and grains nearly as often as I had initially projected. Most of the beans I ordered are still untouched. At this rate, my initial Azure order of legumes will last us a year, if not longer. It is a bit of a pain in the butt to always remember to soak them ahead of time. So far I have only done this twice, but I have started soaking and cooking big batches of beans, and then freezing them in 3 cup portions in Pyrex containers for future use. Makes me realize that canned beans are definitely convenient, but after reading about the high pressure processes they are made in, I don’t think I want to eat them anymore.

- We eat a lot of greens, but not as many root vegetables or salads. In part this is because I didn’t know how to cook root vegetables, although I have finally discovered the joys of roasting veggies with some olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. I made roasted root veggies twice and it was delicious! As far as salads, I’m not sure why we don’t eat them that often especially since I actually do love salads, and have been known for getting pretty creative with them in the past. I think the big issue is that Dan doesn’t feel they are filling. I may have to come up with ways of adding protein to them because I do want to increase our raw food intake to about 30% of our diet. I think I mentioned I tried making a raw stir-not fry, but the beets in it made my throat burn for two days, so that was a failure… Oh, and finally, I have discovered that I love kale, collard and broccoli greens, and my new absolute favorite– rainbow chard!! (I can wait for our CSA to start and for my own gardening to get going– that should hopefully help a lot with saving money.)

- We (well, not so much Dan) eat a ton of fruit and berries– this is where most of our raw food comes from. I have modified our Organics to You bin so it contains more fruit than veggies, and we supplement with mangoes, grapefruit, and pineapple from Azure Standard. I know these fruits are not local by far, but it is just so hard to give up especially since the kids gobble them up and I’d much rather have them snacking on mangoes or grapefruit than crackers and chips.

- I have been very happy with the frozen Alaskan wild salmon fillets I bought from Azure back in February– it’s been really nice to have them on hand because I discovered that broiling them only takes 8 minutes and is a fast and easy way to prepare a quick lunch or dinner. I am glad that we are eating more seafood than if I was buying it fresh, which I somehow always felt was a hassle and required more planning ahead, and of course driving to the store. We just have 5 or 6 fillets left, and I plan to order another case of 10 lbs next time.

- I have made quiche twice with great success! Very easy and fun to make with fresh eggs, cheese, and cream from Noris Dairy. The second time I made quiche, I bought a small piece of some amazing aged sheep’s cheese from Pastaworks for $20/lb and some yummy black olives. It totally was outside of my budget, but it was so delicious!

- I think we are successfully cutting out restaurants. We did eat at Hotlips Pizza, went to Burgerville a couple of times, and Zoe wanted to use her own money to eat at Thai Thai one time, but all in all it is a lot less than before. It’s even nice to notice Zoe is asking to eat out less often as well.

- I want to buy an ice cream maker and make my own ice cream.

Anyway, here is my estimated spending report for March.

Azure Standard: $440
Organics to You: $110
Raw milk: $38
Noris: $50
New Seasons/Fred Meyer: $75
People’s Co-op: $80
Pastaworks: $15
Uncle Paul’s Produce: $30
Zoe’s birthday treats: $180
Restaurants: $100
Total: $1,057

The last few days I have bought vegetable seeds, started some seedlings (collards, cauliflower and peppers) indoors, and sourced peat moss and horticultural vermiculite for my square foot garden. I also need to bring in compost for that, which I will probably have delivered by the truck load along with some bark or mulch since it’ll come in handy for the rest of the plants we are planting.

I also finally found the perfect ground cover for our yard. Since we are reserving the sunniest half of the yard for the veggie beds, the other half of the yard needs some kind of shade loving lawn substitute. I had been eyeing Corsican Mint, which smells absolutely heavenly when stepped on, but unfortunately only tolerates moderate (1-2 times a day) foot traffic. I searched high and low until I found the absolutely perfect Stepables for our conditions: Leptinella Gruveri Miniature Brass Buttons.

Here is how the grower describes this plant:

Tiny serrated leaves send out runners to form a rugged carpet of green. Excellent as a lawn substitute or between pavers. This plant is so dense that it can withstand car traffic 1-2 times a day.

Yes, car traffic!! I think it should be OK for a couple of kids and a few chickens, no? Speaking of our feathered friends, Dan is working on the chicken coop as we speak. The little guys are not so little anymore, and not so easy on the olfactory senses either… Yes, that means they stink, and I am evicting them!

Here is what I told Dan to build:

coopc15.jpg

It’s nice to have a handy boyfriend!

I am so excited about the plants I picked out at Portland Nursery!

We are getting a 6-way espaliered apple tree, a 4-way cherry tree, a Bosc pear tree, a Brooks plum tree, an Issai kiwi vine, 4 blueberry shrubs to make a hedge with early, mid and late bearing varieties (Blue Ray, Sunshine Blue, Duke and Brigitta), 3 raspberry bundles (Amity, Autumn Bliss and Latham) for summer through fall fruit, and 25 Quinault everbearing strawberry plants.

I feel like my vision is finally starting to come together. We measured the area we want to plant and we have room for four 4×4 foot vegetable beds, and one 2×8 foot planter for the blueberries to grow in. Since space is at such a premium in our yard, I was researching how to grow things vertically and came across these Agro Tower grow pots that I think are so cool! I can see us having a couple on the deck for things like herbs and strawberries.

I am also reading up on square foot gardening, and want to use the method for my vegetable beds. I think it sounds easy and doable, plus I like the idea of having an organized grid pattern to plant things in. It makes it easier for me to wrap my head around what exactly I need to be doing.

Speaking of gardening, the latest issue of Edible Portland has a cool article about Your Backyard Farmer, a business run by two women who will come to your home and plant a mini farm in your own backyard. They come to your home every week and do all the work from prepping the soil, planting, and weeding, and when harvest time rolls around they leave a basket of veggies at your back door! It’s like having your own CSA in your backyard, minus all the hard work.

Yesterday I had a consultation with Toree Hiebert of the Urban Farm School. She came out to our place to look at our barren, muddy mess of a yard, sorry I meant our clean slate of a garden just waiting to happen, and help me flesh out my vision for the yard. Interestingly enough, she had the same suggestion the tree removal guy had–plant an espalier (my new word of the day) 6-in-1 apple tree against the south facing, very sunny garage wall. She also had some other cool suggestions, like planting a kiwi vine to grow up and along the abruptly flat garage roof line, softening it and creating better garden feng shui for us. We also envisioned four 4×4 foot vegetable beds in front of the garage (since this is the sunniest area of the yard), an herb bed around the fig tree, a semi-dwarf 4-in1 cherry tree in the NW corner of the yard, another fruit tree (plum probably) in the SW corner, and perhaps a dwarf persimmon tree somewhere else. She also helped me find a better placement for the chicken coop, and gave me some ideas for the front yard.

Here is what Toree says about her business,

Urban Farm School is dedicated to teaching people how to farm their urban/suburban lots! We offer consultation and/or design services as well as ongoing assistance throughout the growing season. We can help you decide the best location for your garden, what your family would
like to grow, and the design of your vegetable garden. Also, we will give you step-by-step instructions on how to go about preparing the soil, planting, and maintaining your garden. We can be involved a lot or just help get you started. My partner and I have gardened for over ten years, have started numerous vegetable gardens, and we even operated a small CSA for a couple of summers. Between us, we have backgrounds in Teaching and Art, you can be assured you will end up with a beautiful, productive vegetable garden that you will learn to grow and maintain yourself!
Feel free to contact me: Toree Hiebert at 360 907-5814

I am so excited to get this going! I really want to have an edible landscape– soon! I know it’ll be a couple of years at least till we have lots of fruits and berries, but the veggies I should be able to get started on as soon as we build the beds and bring in soil, compost, and manure.

We went to Portland Nursery and placed a hold on a few trees today, including a nice big 6-in-1 espaliered apple tree. Then I went to the library and checked out a bunch of books on gardening and tree pruning and training. I am loving the French edible gardens with their potager and parterre styles! There’s so much to learn! So much to do! I can’t wait for the weather to be warm and dry, so I can get out and dig in the dirt!

Dan’s to-do list is getting longer by the minute (at least it’ll give him something to blog about!). In addition to the vegetable beds, I need him to build a bunch of planter boxes to go right in front of the deck, where I want to put blueberries and strawberries, with more planters for raspberries along the south side of the house. I think I will also want boxes with some kind of seating in front of the yet to be built fence that will hide the neighbor’s ugly hedge. And the chicken coop needs to be built too of course. Our chickens are getting so big, and are pooping so much– I really want them out of our kitchen ASAP.

Tomorrow, I plan to go back to Portland Nursery and pick out a few more things, including an Issai Kiwi vine, some evergreen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, maybe a pear tree, some seeds for vegetables, herbs, and Mesclun salad mix, and maybe some other stuff like soil amendments (though that might be cheaper to get elsewhere, might have to make some phone calls first?).

Did I mention I was excited?

Mmmmmm……

I love Tuesdays! They are Organics to You delivery day. $55 for all of this:

5 Anjou Pears – *LOCAL, farm direct*
4 Braeburn Apples – *LOCAL*
4 GrannySmith Apples – *LOCAL*’
1.25lb. Tangerines
2 Mangoes
4 Asian Pears
$ Oranges
5-6 Bananas
3 bosc Pears – *LOCAL, farm direct*
2.5lb. Fingerling Potatoes – *LOCAL, farm direct*
2 lbs Yam
2 Onions – *LOCAL, farm direct*
6-7oz. Crimini Mushrooms – *LOCAL, farm direct*
1 bunch Broccoli
2 Fuerte Avocado
2 Leeks – *LOCAL, ‘some’ Farm direct*
2 English Cucumber – ‘NW GROWN’
1 Bunch Rainbow Chard
1 bunch Carrots
1 bunch Beets with Greens
1 Turnip
1 bag Baby Carrots

produce.jpg

Tuesdays are also the deadline for placing Azure Standard orders. This week I am acting as the drop point for the co-op I am in, so I fronted the money for a whole bunch of produce and some raw milk cheddar cheese.

Bay Leaves, Whole 1 lb. $7.05 (I am keeping 1/2 a lb = $3.58)
Amy & Brian Coconut Juice with Lime 12 x 17.5 ozs $16.60
Grapefruit, Fresh, Organic 5 lbs. $7.00
Mango, Organic approx 27 lb $36.45 (I am keeping 6 lbs = $8.10)
Cornmeal, Organic 5 lbs. $3.85
MG Diced Tomatoes, Organic 12 x 14.5 ozs $16.75
MC Kelp/Kombu – Whole Plant 2 ozs $4.20
Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise 32 ozs $4.75
Brunkow Cheddar, Raw Milk 8 x 5 lbs $163.70 (I am keeping one 5lb block = $20.46)
Carrots, Fresh Organic #1 50 lbs $44.40 (I am keeping 10 lbs = $8.88)
Frozen Blueberries, Organic 6 x 5 lbs $115.25 (I am keeping 10 lbs = $38.42)
OS Nutmeg, Ground, Organic 4 ozs $4.20
Caraway Seeds 1 lb $2.20
Arrowroot Powder 1 lb. $2.05
Onions, Red, Organic 25 lbs. $17.90 (I am keeping 10 lbs = $7.16)
Flax Seeds, Organic 33 ozs. $2.65
Imported UME PLUM Vinegar 10 ozs $2.85
Dulse – Flakes, Organic 4 ozs $4.95
Raw Cacao Nibs, Organic 16 ozs $11.15
Raw Blue Agave, Amber, Organic 44 ozs $8.50
Carob Powder, Raw 2.5 lbs $3.75
Pumpkin Seeds, Organic 1 lb $4.45
Vanilla Beans, Whole 1 oz $3.75
Organic Walnuts, Raw 2 lbs $18.00
TOTAL: 208.25

I think all of this should get us through the rest of March. Tomorrow is raw milk day ($9.50) and Thursday is Noris day ($16), but other than that I think we are all set on food. This means I will have spent about $1,000 on food in March. Again.

Argh.

In my moment of weakness at New Seasons, I grabbed 2 boxes of cake mix on a coupon induced whim. Zoe was very excited to come home and see what she considers “normal” food– ie store bought bread (even though it is Alvarado Street bakery’s sprouted bread), boxed granola, yogurt cups (pasteurized, of course) and cake mixes! That was the biggest treat for her, and she wanted to bake right away. It was really easy and fun to do– she cracked 3 eggs, measured the milk and oil, and mixed it all together. In this case, the possible negatives are outweighed by the joy of baking with my 11 yo. I even think I will make baking with the kids a more regular event even though I personally don’t even like eating cake, and maybe with time I will learn the art of baking from scratch.

cakes.jpg

Speaking of art, I hear bread baking is a lost art form. That being said, I want to learn! Tonight I am baking bread using the last of the Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour that I have. I have been storing it in the fridge, but I can’t help but worry whether it’s rancid by now… I found this recipe on the trusty Martha Stewart website (thanks, Allysun, for hooking me up!), but since I didn’t have all the required ingredients, I modified the recipe a bit. And I am making it in the bread machine as opposed to by hand, and hoping for the best!

Although it is not done yet, if anyone knows what I possibly did wrong by just looking at the steps I took below, please let me know! Thanks!

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
eyeballed 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons old-fashioned oats
eyeballed 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
eyeballed 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 3/4 cups bread flour

Preparation

  • Stir 1 cup whole-wheat flour and 1 cup water in a bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.
  • Stir milk and 1 tablespoon sugar in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir in yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Put whole-wheat flour mixture, milk mixture, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, oats, sunflower seeds, and salt into the bread machine’s bowl. Add 2 3/4 cups bread flour; and set bread machine to 2 lb loaf, medium crust, start and keep your fingers crossed.
  • Scratch that.

    Any cereal that comes in a box is the Devil. And keep in mind, I say this in the wake of going to New Seasons and Fred Meyer’s to use some of my Chinook Book coupons, and buying two boxes of organic granola and some other items too (spending $75 total, blech– it would have been cheaper to give away my coupons!), so it’s not like I am perfect by any means…

    Ignorance is bliss, they say. And I tend to agree. Because now that I know that the grains granola is made from have been subjected to high heat, making them indigestible, I don’t think I will ever be able to enjoy it again. And not only that, but they have also not been soaked, which means they are full of Phytic acid, a substance that combines with minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc) in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. I also learned that whole grains naturally contain gluten and enzyme inhibitors, which make digestion difficult. I am not sure about the exact chemical process, but it sound to me like eating unsoaked, unfermented grains is bad news.

    In traditional diets, grains, nuts and legumes are generally soaked for a day or so (or sprouted or fermented) in order to make them more digestible and easier on the stomach, but it seems like the modern food industry no longer believes that this is necessary. Probably because it would make it difficult to sell.

    The problem with other boxed cereals is that they are manufactured through a nasty process called extrusion. In her article “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry,” Sally Fallon describes it like this,

    Cereal makers first create a slurry of the grains and then put them in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a little hole at high temperature and pressure. Depending on the shape of the hole, the grains are made into little o’s, flakes, animal shapes, or shreds (as in Shredded Wheat or Triscuits), or they are puffed (as in puffed rice). A blade slices off each little flake or shape, which is then carried past a nozzle and sprayed with a coating of oil and sugar to seal off the cereal from the ravages of milk and to give it crunch.

    Appetizing, isn’t it?

    The extra super duper mega mega scary part of this is that we know that a diet of extruded grain cause rapid death in test animals. In fact, animals that eat only the cardboard box that the cereal comes in actually lived longer than those fed the cereal itself!! How scary is that??!!?!

    This brings up another dangerous food that most of us probably think is healthy and good for us (I know I did)– whole grain bread. I am just starting to learn about how quickly flour goes rancid, and again, how indigestible bread made from unsoaked grains really is– and it is frightening to realize that so much of what i have been eating and feeding my kids while thinking I was doing such a great job was really just empty calories devoid of nutrients that my body can absorb. No wonder Americans are the most malnourished, yet overeating people on Earth!!

    Till now we have been baking most of our own breads from Bob’s Red Mill mixes, but now I am starting to think I need to buy whole wheat berries, and grind my own flour. Or figure out how to bake my own sprouted grain bread. Or maybe we’d be better off buying Ezekiel’s sprouted bread, tortillas, and pastas…?? Adding this to my to do list on top of making my own muesli, which I don’t love as much as granola, but is a pretty good substitute.

    I have never been much of a cook, so all this making food from scratch is still really new to me. So far, I think I am doing a pretty decent job of it, but today I did something that I am not so sure about. I made a pasta sauce by taking my raw ingredients (2 big slicing tomatoes, 5 carrots, and 1 large Chioggia beet) and shredding them in a food processor. I added a can of tomato paste, herbs (thyme, oregano, fennel), some nutritional yeast, brown sugar, sea salt and black pepper, a bit of water to make it more liquid, and simmered it on the stove for 20 mins or so. Some garlic would have been good too, but I forgot. Either way, I thought it came out delicious, but all 4 of the kids (2 of mine and 2 of a friend’s) rejected it!

    Basically, this leads me to wonder if you can cook shredded veggies. I remember one time (a long long time ago) trying to make onion soup by pureeing raw onions, and that obviously didn’t turn out so great! It also makes me think more about raw food. I would estimate that about 1/3 of my diet is raw since I eat a lot of fruit, salads, and nuts, but I generally do not prepare raw dishes. I think it would be great to have more ways of eating raw food than just grabbing a piece of fruit or having a green salad, but I am pretty clueless about raw cooking.

    A while ago, I did buy Matt Amsden’s book RAWvolution: Gourmet Living Cuisine, which is full of amazing photography and delicious sounding recipes. Of course he also says every raw food kitchen needs a good food processor, dehydrator, and juicer– 3 things I do not have. And hence, sadly, I have not made any of his recipes yet.

    So yes, I am feeling a void in the dephts of my kitchen cabinets. I want a better food processor than the one I have, which isn’t a food processor at all, but a hand blender with a small food chopper bowl attachment. The one I have been drooling for is the Cuisinart DFP-14N Custom 14 Food Processor, but I can’t get over the $200 price tag… While I’m dreaming, I might as well mention that I also want the Excalibur 9 Tray Dehydrator, the Wolfgang Grain Mill, and a Green Star 2000 Juice Extractor.

    That’s all.

    I found an interesting site today called the True Cost of Food that talks about the hidden costs (to the planet, your health, community etc) of buying commercially grown, processed foods that are trucked or flown in from thousands of miles away. I ordered a copy of the full length DVD, but you can view part of the animation here. It’s pretty frightening, but enlightening stuff!

    I haven’t explored the whole site yet, but I did find some yummy recipes for quiche, one of my favorite foods ever– yet something I don’t think I have ever attempted to make myself. I think I will go down to the produce stand and get some onions, and try my hand at making a broccoli quiche today.

    Basic Vegetable Quiche
    Makes 6 servings

    Ingredients

    9″ pastry, recipe below***
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup chopped green or yellow onions
    3 cups prepared vegetable, see Note
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/8 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
    3 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
    1 1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg, Swiss, or your favorite cheese

    Prepare pie crust. On a floured board, roll out pastry to make an 11-inch round; fit into a standard 9-inch pie plate. Fold edge over and flute.

    Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in prepared vegetable and cook until hot through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, thyme, and black pepper. Beat eggs until frothy in a medium bowl; brush a little egg over the bottom of the pie crust. Beat the half-and-half into the remaining eggs. Layer half of the cheese, the vegetable mixture, and the remaining cheese into the pie crust. Pour the cream mixture over all.

    Bake quiche until center appears set when pie plate is gently tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside 5 minutes before cutting.

    ***Prepare pastry for 9-inch single-crust pie from one of the recipes below

    Plain Pastry
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup cold butter
    4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

    Combine flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle water over flour a little at a time and mix until pastry forms a ball when lightly pressed. Flatten dough, wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes.

    Easy Whole-wheat Pastry
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

    Combine flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle water over flour a little at a time and mix until pastry forms a ball when lightly pressed. Flatten dough, wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes.

    Note: Almost any vegetable or mixture of vegetables can be used in a quiche. If you are using asparagus, broccoli, celery, eggplant, fresh corn, bell peppers, summer squash, mushrooms, or zucchini, they should be sliced, added to the skillet raw, and sauteed with the onions. Carrots, green or yellow beans, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or winter squash should be parboiled and drained thoroughly before adding. Greens such as arugula, beet greens, collards, kale, mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, or turnip greens should be steamed, simmered or stir-fried until wilted, thoroughly drained, and coarsely chopped before adding.