Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: It’s Garden Time! April 24, 2013

Again, Colorado?

Again, Colorado?

My enthusiasm for dirt is brimming up again.  It happens every spring, but I’ve always made do with container gardens at our rental units.  This year is different, though.  This year, we own our own house, and I get a REAL garden, an honest-to-goodness, compost-filled, earthworm-lovin’ garden!

 

Or at least I will get a real garden as soon as Colorado decides it’s done with winter. We’ve had about 16 or 18 inches between the two storms this past week.

IMG_2590

Seed Start Reuse: 1. Poke holes in the bottom of the egg carton for better drainage.
2. Fill with soil.
3. Plant seeds.
4. On nice days, set the tray outside to get sun.

 

 

It snowed for three days straight last week, and I almost climbed the walls after being cooped up for that long.  Our Little Bear, in fact, learned to climb the stairs (out of sheer boredom, I imagine).

 

I shouldn’t complain.  REAL gardeners, after all, rejoice at any winter moisture.  These snows are great for the two grape plants and one cherry tree we planted two weeks ago.  Also, some of you might remember the bad fires here last summer.  Any water now will help our drought and reduce fire risk.

 

Peas!

Peas!

So until the snow melts and our last average frost date comes (that’s May 15th, folks…don’t plant your delicate summer veggies before then), I will content myself with the small garden in the downstairs bedroom where our seed starts are drinking in all the humidity from the diaper laundry that’s hanging out to dry.

 

I’ve been cheering on the different plants as they come up.  The peas are early sprouters, apparently, real overachievers.  I can relate to that. I hope they don’t burn themselves out (I can relate to that, too).  The beets and corn have taken a bit longer, but they seem to be the competitive sort as they’re racing to catch up to the peas.  The tomato shoots are tiny and fragile, but they’re numerous, which is excellent, since it’s entirely possible I will inadvertently kill a few when transplanting.

 

I haven’t seen any sign of the bell peppers or acorn squash, but I’m hoping they are just late bloomers like me.

Also, an excellent reuse for clothespins!  Just label them with a sharpie.

Also, an excellent reuse for clothespins! Just label them with a Sharpie.

When the snow melts, I have big plans for killing my front lawn (see a future post) and working on a few raised beds for the back yard.  In the meantime, I’m hoping the earthworms are holed up cozily somewhere preparing for their big summer job in the garden!

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Sarah: Leftover-Vegetable Stock December 19, 2012

Replace THIS

Replace THIS

with THIS!

with THIS!

And for our next Deprocessed December recipe, here’s something that I use frequently as a soup base, to cook rice for extra nutrients and flavor, and to thin mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or other vegetables: vegetable stock.

A lot of recipes call for chicken or beef or vegetable stock.  For most recipes, I substitute vegetable stock for chicken or beef just because of the environmental benefits of eating less meat, but no matter what type of soup stock you’re buying, it gets pricey.  You can expect to pay at least $3.00 for a 32 oz. container (about 4 c.).

My favorite butternut squash soup recipe (see upcoming post) calls for 4 cups of stock, for instance.  Lauren’s recently-posted recipe for Spiced Stuffed Acorn Squash asks for 2 c. of the stuff.  Even though I use stock a lot in my cooking, I have a hard time putting it into my grocery cart because I figure I’m basically paying for water with flavoring.

Instead, clean out the refrigerator!

I used to compost all the extra vegetables rolling around (or mushing around) in the bottom of my refrigerator’s vegetable drawer (see previous post about our prolific composting habits).  But there’s a better thing to do with the limp celery and the carrots that are on their way out, and this allows you to control the amount of salt and type of ingredients in your cooking.

Leftover-Vegetable Stock

Ingredients:

  • Leftover Vegetables (nothing actually rotten, just veggies that can’t pass for fresh): carrots, celery, peppers, mushrooms, parsley, kale, onions, garlic, parsnips, leeks (I would avoid starchy veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes because they will thicken the soup and you won’t get a clear broth)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 6 – 8 c. of water (depending on number of veggies and size of pot)
  • spices (I used leftover fresh thyme that was drying out in my fridge and needed to be composted)

Ingredients:

  1. Fill a stockpot with water and turn heat on medium-high.
  2. Chop veggies into large pieces (quarter the onions, halve the mushrooms, etc.) and put in pot.
  3. Stir in salt.
  4. Boil for an hour or until the liquid turns golden-brown.
  5. Scoop out the veggies and compost them.  Then freeze the broth that’s left (I recommend cutting the tops off of whipping cream or half and half contains and washing them out, then freezing stock in these–cover with tinfoil.  They’re a convenient size for the freezer and it’s a great reuse of something you usually chuck in the garbage!).

After two hours of being in the kitchen, I had vegetable broth made with the wilted veggies, stew made with the good veggies (enough for 4 meals), and pureed carrots for Little Bear (I’ve been making all her food, and I swear it’s easier than cooking for myself–I’ll tell you more in an upcoming post).  I had also washed all the dishes while the broth and stew were boiling away.  “I am,” I told my husband, “a domestic goddess today.”  He did not disagree.

Frozen carrots and limp celery...yum.

Frozen carrots and limp celery…yum.

Use pre-compost heap to make stock.

Use pre-compost heap to make stock.

While making stock with the limp vegetables, I used the good parts to make vegetable stew.

While making stock with the limp vegetables, I used the good parts to make vegetable stew.

And to make it a three-for-one, I also made pureed carrots for Little Bear while stewing my veggies.  I like to make the most out of my kitchen time.

And to make it a three-for-one, I also made pureed carrots for Little Bear while stewing my veggies. I like to make the most out of my kitchen time.

 

 
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