Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Perfect Day

A perfect day by Lou Reed, sung by Various Artis-
One of my fave songs- I couldn't decide which version I like best-
it was a tie between this one and duran duran

I spent a perfect day. With my dog. This morning we went to a carshow, Had a burrito, looked at the cars. Then this evening,we went to the Grandview Off Leash Dog park. Even though it is claimed as a park by SeaTac and Burien, it is not the closest or the best. The best off leash park in this area is Marymoor, which is in Redmond, and where as a taxpayer who helped build it, I get the honor of paying a dollar to park every time I use the park
I could have gone to Westcrest off-leash park, which is the closest , just over the city line in Seattle, But I never had been to Grandview, and since My city helped build it, thought I should. Grandview has some of the best views of Mt. Rainier. And it has nice fountains with a fountain down low for pups. The sunshine made a nice day to play with Romeo. When we got home we had MacDonalds for dinner Even Romeo amd Sammy the Cat had MacDonalds- sammy loves french fries with catsup!Then we proceeded to do some yard work, Sammy got out and proceeded to go under the house (I have a crawl space that needs a new door- after threatening sammy with certain death if he made me crawl under the house, I gave up and walked away- and out he came!) Now I am sitting here looking at a worn out dog and a worn out kitty sleeping on my bed.I think I will join them!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I cannot tell a lie- I planted the cherry tree- My Weekly Challenge Update

My Cherry tree
This week was kinda busy- I had the three day weekend and then took Tuesday and Wednesday off and I had a class for work on Thursday and Friday- kinda of a whole week vacation! Anyway- finally finished the deck enlargement! After many years my deck is finished! I fixed some torn window screens, and planted a Cherry tree! What a week!

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge- Year two, week 4

1. Plant something: radishes, catnip, corn plants, “Robin” Tomatoes, Started Bird Gourd plants (actually started a couple of weeks ago- just forgot to add to the list!), Planted a cherry tree!
2. Harvest something: Radishes, lettuce, spring onions
3. Preserve something: dehydrated chopped spring onions; candied lemon peels
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Repaired my torn window screens
5. Preparation and Storage: Finished adding 24’ addition (3’ X 8’) on the back deck;
6. Build Community Food Systems: Nothing this week
7. Eat the Food: candied lemon peels; radishes, lettuce, spring onions in salad
8. Cook or eat something new: candied lemon peels; “Homemade frosty paws” for Romeo

MELINDA'S GROWING CHALLENGE: Obtained some “Robin” tomatoes at the farmers’ Market- growing in a basket on the front porch; Planted some corn plants- disappointed that the seed corn is not growing :( Forgot to add Bird gourds (started from seed) to the list. I planted a cherry tree.

MELINDA'S BUY SUSTAINABLY CHALLENGE: Bought some “robin” Tomatoes- (little cherry tomato plants, not unlike tumblers) in a basket at the Farmers’ Market; Bought some window screen and some “splinting” to repair my window screens that got torn up during construction of the addition to my house.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My animals walk all over me

My dog and cat both walk all over me! Spoiled they are. I had to repair two window screens so Sammy cat could lay with the windows open- not like he can't already but these are his favorate places to lay out. It was lucky my grandma showed me how to fix screens when I was a young boy- what a savings over buying replacement screens. Very easy- just buy some screening, some "splinting" and a splinting tool- "Splinting" is the rubber cord that holds the screen into the frame. Relativy cheap- you may be able to re-use the old splinting

As for Romeo, he has a strange addiction to frosty paws- he loves em. Luckily Raise a green dog blog has a recipe for homeade frosty paws. Just some yogurt, some blue berries, a banana and peanut butter is all it takes to whip up a dog's favorite treat.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Holy Tomato Batman!- Robin Tomatoes

I was able to stop by the farmers market in Burien today, and one of the things I absolutely love this year is the selection of different vegetable plants I have found. Last week I got some "spaghetti" squash, This week one of the vendors had "robin" tomato plants- a small bush type "Heirloom" variety tomato not unlike "tumblers" or window box Roma's, so I bought a basket of them.

It is so nice to be able to find and buy different varieties of plants- I know the growing challenge is Seed to seed- but That is not always easy to do in a "square foot garden" and since I am the only one eating this stuff (Martin limits his diet to Broccoli and tomatoes and the occasional ear of corn). I know I could grow more and be a "Food Bank Hero" but I honestly don't have the time for a garden that size! It makes it more manageable for me. Anyway I am sure I will enjoy the robin tomatoes- I am guessing they got their name because they look like little robin's eggs in a bush! From what I have found on the internet they are good for growing year around indoors. I may have to try that! And if they are successful, I will keep the seeds for next time around- which might mean fall or winter!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Candied Lemon peels are Da Bomb

Tonight I figured out the Candied Lemon Peel thing. It wasn't that hard once I found a simple syrup recipe using agave nectar that is diabetic friendly. Agave nectar is good, while it is slightly higher in calories, It doesn't raise the glycemic level. Thanks to Hooray Parade for the recipes- I modified one and it worked great!


3/4 cup agave nectar

3/4 cup water

Boil the two together. Simple Syrup will start to turn honey brown when boiled down. Reduce to about half and it is done.


slice 3 or 4 lemons, remove fruit from the peels; save for juicing (I have a juicer), slice the peels into 1/4 " strips, cut in half. Prepare simple syrup and add peels. Boil lightly until syrup is reduced by half. Carefully remove peels with a straining ladle. Place on parchement to dry. Save syrup in jar for pancakes or toast or something that calls for sweet. Syrup may become hardned when cooled- just put into a microwave for a minute or so.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fake Plastic Rob- The Weekly Challenge Update

The Fake Plastic Gauntlet Challenge-
Starring Rob as The Wannabe Fake Plastic Fish
guest starring
Sammy The cat as Soots the cat

When I started this I totally expected to have a low total. What an eye opener! How quick we forget about bread wrappers, coffee lids etc.
I have a greater appreciation for what Beth goes through day in and day out. Now I realize that we were not suppose to alter our patterns for this challenge, but you can’t help it when you have on the back of the mind WWFPFD? I was surprised how easily forces beyond my control throw plastic at me. I was also surprised I remembered my own shopping bag all week. The coffee thing is something I gotta work on. I am very good at carrying my own mug (muggsly) everywhere, but I also forget from time to time. If I am more vigilant over my forgetfulness, I can be more like Beth. I even wrote an email to a company over their packaging- The American Peanut Company.
Notice I divide my waste to total amount, amount to be re-used and amount to be recycled. Of course one realizes it is better to reduce, but it’s nice to know I do pretty well at re-using and re-cycling.
Total plastic waste=28.25 ounces
Total of Plastic to be recycled =2.0
Total of Plastic for re-use= 21oz
Total to be Discarded= 6.0 ounces

Notice the nice new t-shirt- No plastic waste at all !
Container lid and straw from a Mocha Joe .5 ounces


Sammy "Soots" can't leave the plastic alone
A small container of 2 cycle motor oil (kept the container to use for a measure cup and I can buy a larger size of the same oil)
A large ziplock bag that Romeo’s dog food comes in (washed the bag- will reuse) 2.0
(obviuosly that is not the ziplock bag- that bag is on tomorrows count)

A couple of plastic bags that some of my compost came in (will reuse those bags in the garden)
A zippered bag that I got as a gift containing a mattress pad (reuse to put sweaters in)

Milk Jug (recycle) I would buy milk in a glass bottle if it were available- stores that sell it (whole Foods, PCC) have no interest in expanding south of Seattle
2 small (single serving) bags of peanuts – I thought they were paper, plastic that looks and feels like paper? The nerve!
Total for Tuesday- 15 oz

1 Large (5lb) container from NW BEST POTATO SALAD 2.5 OZ(reuse for a compost container to feed worms in worm bin)
2 top ramen wrappers .5 Oz
3 envelopes with plastic windows- recycle
1 Large envelope that my Union Lobbyist pin came in

1 very small ziplock bag that the pin came in way to small to re-use
1 six pack ring- cut up before throwing away (need to figure out a way to reuse those in an art project one of these days)
Total for Wednesday- 4.5 oz

1 small plastic bag that contained four of the best snickerdoodles I ever ate (bought at the farmers market).25 oz will reuse for cheese or something
1 small plastic cup from a “Crystal Light” orange drink mix (My “orange Juice”).25 TOTAL WASTE FOR THURSDAY= .50 Oz.
1 plastic lid from a coffee(I was bad this week- that’s two coffee purchases and no Muggsly).25 oz
2 “ramen” wrappers (Notice I don’t include the seasoning packets with the top ramen – I am not cheating- I save them if the recipe doesn’t call for them- then when a recipe calls for boullion or stock and I don’t have any they go in) .5 oz
1 Dakota Organic Hamburger package-.5 (at least it was“organic”)
1 Ziplock type bag from shredded mozzarella cheese .5 (will reuse)

1 Ziplock style bag from cheese- .5 oz (will be re-used)
1 plastic cover from a hacksaw I bought (drives me nuts that the feel they need that kind of packaging- like the tool will spoil or something ).5 oz
1 plastic spoon that broke- am going to buy only wooden mixing spoons from now on 1.0 ounces
Total for Saturday 2.0 ounces

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge- Year two, week 3
Note I added a new (old) Category to sharon’s challenge: “Cook or Eat something new” because I missed that part of last years challenge so much. And I think it is important to try new things (food wise) this gives me an opportunity to find new ways to cook things- This week I went totally Ramen crazy and made Tomato Pie for the first time
1. Plant something: India Mustard greens, Arugula; Purple Kohl Rabi; Chives, Spaghetti Squash
2. Harvest something: dandelion greens
3. Preserve something: Dehydrated some “orange flesh” honey dew melon, dehydrated cantaloupe
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce or compost something): Re-used an old mattress pad for weed block;
5. Preparation and Storage: nope
6. Build Community Food Systems: Saved coupons to take for sustainable Burien meeting, for food bank.
7. Eat the Food: ate some dandelion greens
8 Cook or eat something new: Made Ramen noodle Surprize and I made Ramen Spaghetti Pie; Tomato Pie

Melinda’s Growing Challenge I planted India Mustard greens, Arugula; Purple Kohl Rabi; Chives, Spaghetti Squash; Harvested some Dandelion greens for a salad

MELINDA'S BUY SUSTAINABLY CHALLENGES: Did pretty good… ate out twice- all local (no chain restaurants); Bought my spaghetti squash plants at the farmers market;

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My, My Miss Tomato Pie

I was driving along at work, and had the radio tuned to NPR. "All Things Considered" has been running a series “How Low Can You Go”, getting the great chefs of America to make a meal for a family of four for under $10. And now it is the NPR listeners turn. They got over 400 of America’s home cooks to turn in recipes Any way Kathy Lloyd, from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, came up with a fantastic Tomato Pie Recipe- now that sounded interesting, one of those recipes you didn’t need to jot down, so I had to make it. With summer coming on and (hopefully) an onslaught of tomatoes, I thought how timely. It sounded like my Aunt Dorothy’s zucchini lasagna casserole. I will have to put that up one of these days. Here is the recipe for Kathy Lloyd's Tomato Pie.

Tomato Pie

Make 1 biscuit recipe from the Bisquick box

Use as a pie crust and bake it. Place either ceramic baking beads or another pie plate on top of it to keep it from rising out of control.

Layer in the pie crust (really high) the sweet onions sliced pretty thin (generally 1 big one) and the garden fresh tomatoes not too thin (about 2 lbs). Season each layer of tomatoes with salt, fresh cracked pepper and fresh basil.

Make a top crust with 2 cups shredded cheddar and 1 cup mayo. Mix the cheese and mayo with your hands and squish it all over the pie like a top crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

A couple of notes- when making this pie, make sure to put a cookie sheet underneath the pie plate
And according to Lloyd you must use mayo mixed with the cheese- sorry vegans I don’t know if “vegan” mayo and vegan cheese will work or not.

Easy Spaghetti Pie

Before she lost her sight, Martin's mom use to make "Spaghetti Pie" as one of his faves. After playing with Ramen Noodle Surprize, I came up with my own version of Spaghetti Pie- this one is easier than Ma Conger's but Martin said it's very good.

2 pkgs. ramen noodles (any brand) cooked and drained
1 pound of ground beef
2 Cups grated Mozzerella cheese
1 can of mushrooms, drained
1 clove finely minced garlic
About 2 tablespoon finely chopped basil
About 1/4 onion chopped
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Saute Garlic, onions and basil in about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Then add gound beef and brown. Boil Ramen noodles as directed on pkg. Remembering to double water amount. Do not cook longer than directed. Drain noodles and set aside. Drain the oil from the gound beef. Add spaghetti sauce ands mushrooms. Stir well. In pie pan (spray with vegetable spray or take a paper towel or small kitchen towel and rub baking pan with olive oil) place drained ramen noodles. Next spread sauce mixture on top. Final layer is the grated mozerella cheese. Place in oven (400) and heat until cheese is melted. About 5 to 10 minutes. (I used a toaster oven for this at 375) Hint: Try using a Round Cake or torte pan as the sides are higher

Friday, May 22, 2009

Walking through the garden

I am trying to get better at this video crap- so bear with me

Thursday, May 21, 2009

RAMEN SURPRISE- No Meat Wednesday

Today was a pretty good one food wise. For lunch Mom made some "ribs" (fake TVP rib meat in BBQ Sauce) and some pasta. For lunch at work I had my Bean burritos and I altered this Ramen Surprize Recipe
Ramen Noodle Surprise
2 pkgs. ramen noodles (any brand) cooked and drained
1 Package of Morningstar farms Recipe Starters Crumbles
seasoning packet from ramen noodles (omitted for today- no meat wednesday)
1 C grated cheese
1 can of mushrooms
Saute crumbles in about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Boil Ramen noodles as directed on pkg. Remembering to double water amount. Do not cook longer than directed. Drain noodles and set aside. Drain the oil from the crumbles and add seasoning packet to meat. Stir well. In rectangular pan (spray with vegetable spray or take a paper towel or small kitchen towel and rub baking pan with olive oil) place drained ramen noodles. Next spread ground beef on top. Final layer is grated cheese. Place in oven (400) and heat until cheese is melted.
Now this would be an easy recipe to make "Spaghetti Pie" with (another old comfort food fave)

For desert I had a handful of dehydrated honeydew melon- Honey Dew and Cantaloupe are great to Dehydrate- they taste just like candy! I have heard watermelon is good too

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coffee- just not for breakfast anymore

I was perusing the Internet and saw an article in Natural Home Magazine for creative ways of getting rid of your coffee grounds- did you know that you could use them to scrub dirty dishes?The coarse texture of coffee grounds is perfect for scrubbing difficult-to-clean dishes. Pack the grounds into a square sized cloth, gather the cloth’s ends and secure with a rubber band. There are many suggestions in the article that I never heard of- Like using diluted coffee grounds as a flea rinse- "Romeo, Sammy meet Juan Valdez" they should like that! Of course the article mentions the old obvious uses for used grounds- compost, pest deterrent. But I found it interesting for some of the uses they recommend. Good article. I may have to check out the magazine.
Anyone out there have any other uses for coffee grounds? How about home remedies?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We can has tomatoes?- The Weekly Challenge Update

Some of the heirloom varieties I bought at
a charity tomato plant sale last week
in a self watering container
Window box romas and tumblers (from seed)

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge-- Year two, week 3

1. Plant something: Nasturtiums; Kohlrabi, Basil seeds, Brussel sprout plants, pineapple sage plant; onion sets ( I know they should be planted already- but onions later is better than no onions!- I got them on a discount)Tomatoes
2. Harvest something: Swiss Chard, parsley, basil, radish thinnings;
3. Preserve something: dehydrated swiss chard; parsley. Froze some basil cubes. Froze Chard stems
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce or compost something): Repaired my steamer basket (was missing a leg) went hardware store and purchased a stainless steel nut and bolt and voila- fixed!
5. Preparation and Storage: Made some liquid laundry soap from soap nuts and stored in a glass fruit juice jar; made some trellises out of some decorative fencing
6. Build Community Food Systems: I did it! Offered up space for two 4 x 4 garden beds on Urban Gardenshare;
7. Eat the Food: Steamed Chard stems; ate some dehydrated chard,

Melinda’s Growing Challenge: Nasturtiums; Kohlrabi, Basil seeds, Brussel sprout plants, pineapple sage plant; onion sets ( I know they should be planted already- but onions later is better than no onions!- I got them on a discount)Tomatoes

MELINDA'S BUY SUSTAINABLY CHALLENGE: Did pretty good this week all things considering… I did purchase a digital video camera that I have been waiting along time for= price was right with coupon, Other than that no new purchases- wait- I did buy romeo a 20’ tie down leash so he could go with me to work on weekends and not have to sit in a hot car.
Coming Next Week:
Fake Plastic Fish's Plastic Gauntlet Challenge- I will be assuming the identity of one Ms. Fish- won't her husband be surprised!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Romeo -Good Dog?

Someone got a new toy. and it aint the dog! I finally leaped into the new millenium and got a Video Cam. Here is my first Video- Romeo- Good Dog?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Burien and Normandy Park Compost Bin and Rain Barrel Sale:

The cities of Normandy Park and Burien Spring Recycling Event and Rain Barrel Sale is scheduled for this Saturday, May 16th from 9am - 3pm at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center, which is located at 19010 First Avenue South.

Compost Bin and Rain Barrel sale:
A good oppurtunity to get a rain Barrel or cool compost bin for $20!
Rain Barrel & Compost Bin Sale:To encourage the use of recycled content material and more efficient use of water, the cities of Burien and Normandy Park are offering recycled plastic rain barrels at a huge discount. In addition, start backyard composting with a compost bin to save resources and money. Composting is a natural process that turns yard waste into rich soil. Yard waste—grass, leaves, old flowers—contain mostly water. Once the material decomposes, rich soil is all that’s left.$20 each. Cash only. While supplies last. No pre or post event sales.

At this event you can safely dispose of numerous unwanted materials, some for free, others for a small fee.
Here are the details:
WHAT: Normandy Park & Burien Recycling Collection Event
WHEN: Saturday, May 16th from 9 am to 3 pm
WHERE: Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center
INFO: Recycle these household wastes:
TIRES: Bias ply, steel belted, and studded tires accepted. Limit 6 passenger tires per household (18 inches and below) free of charge. $1.50 charge for each tire on a rim. $5 charged for each large truck tire and $15 charged for each truck tire on rim (cash only). No oversized tires accepted.
MOTOR OIL, FILTERS, & ANTIFREEZE: Motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, 2-cycle oil, steering fluid, crankcase oil, kerosene, and home heating fuel. Do not mix with antifreeze, solvents, gasoline, or other substances.
Items Must Meet the Following Guidelines:
LEAD ACID BATTERIES: Car, truck, marine, and motorcycle batteries accepted.
ALKALINE BATTERIES: AAAA, AAA, AA, A, B, C, and D cell batteries only.
CARDBOARD: Please flatten. No wax coated cardboard.
REUSEABLE HOUSEHOLD GOODS AND CLOTHING: Clothing and miscellaneous household items in good condition will be collected by Seattle Goodwill. Mattresses and furniture will not be accepted. Items in need of repair will not be accepted.
PORCELAIN TOILETS AND SINKS: $5 charge (cash only). Toilet seats, hardware, and base wax rings must be removed.
PROPANE TANKS: Residential tanks only. $5 charge (cash only).
CLEAN SCRAP WOOD: Includes milled wood, plywood, pallets, and other untreated and unpainted wood. No peg board, particle or press board.
BULKY WOOD: Includes large tree branches (minimum 6 inches in diameter), logs, and stumps. No leaves, grass, small branches, sod, or brush. Please lay a tarp under material for ease of removal.
ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT: DVD players, VCRs, stereo equipment, printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, cellular phones and computer peripherals such as keyboards and mice. Computer monitors and televisions will not be accepted. You can recycle these items for free at other locations - see the E-Cycle box for more information.
Household Hazardous Wastes can be taken to the Household Hazardous Wastemobile or one of three household hazardous waste collection sites. Normandy Park and Burien residents may use the South Seattle Household Hazardous Waste Facility – 8105 5th Avenue South, Seattle. Open 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (except holidays). Volume restrictions apply.
Latex paint is no longer considered hazardous waste and the household hazardous waste facilities in King County (the Wastemobile, Factoria, and two Seattle sites) no longer accept it. Residents who cannot use up latex paint, please dry it out and put it in the garbage with the lid off. Visit the King County website for more information on how to dry out latex paint.
No Scrap Metal
No construction/demolition debris
No plastic toys, hoses, etc.
No window glass
These hazardous wastes:
No oil based paint
No pesticides/herbicides
No household chemicals
No cleaning products
No fluorescent lights
For event information, call 206-248-7603 or visit or call the Household Hazards Line Monday to Friday 9 am to 4:30 pm except holidays at 206-296-4692.
Appliances and scrap metals will not be collected at this event. Appliances and scrap metals will be collected at a similar event this fall. Washington now has a FREE recycling program called “E-Cycle Washington” for computers, computers monitors, laptops, and televisions. Call 1-800-RECYCLE or visit to find authorized E-Cycle Washington collection locations. In the Burien/Normandy Park area you may drop off computers, computers monitors, laptops, and televisions at no charge at the following E-Cycle Washington locations: Burien Goodwill Store (1031 SW 128th Street, Burien, WA 98146) and Salvation Army Burien Store (16033 1st Ave S, Burien, WA 98148). Please note - drop off locations may change. Quantities accepted are limited. Please also note that computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, and printers are not included in this program but will be accepted at City Recycling Collection Events.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I AM fake plastic fish! (minus the trashy photos)

Okay so Beth is asking us to live like her for a week. And put up trashy pictures. Like I would ever pose for a trashy picture- well, there was that one time in college...Hey... I needed the money. Anyway I digress- on her post today, she threw down the gauntlet (and incorporated Soots the cat)for us all to tally our plastic garbage use, and maybe put up a pic or two for posterity- I can do this. I have a sleek black cat (who doesn't nom plastic but hey he noms spaghetti and pizza) Just live plastic free for one week. Just keep thinking W.W.F.P.F.D.? (What would Fake Plastic Fish do?) So I accept Ms. Terry's challenge. Provided I don't have to pose for any trashy photos. I will start Monday so as to get a full week on my weekly challenge post.
UPDATE: As Condo Blues points out, the idea is not to see how little plastic you can do, but rather to see your normal total usage for a week. Got it. Thanks CB!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The trouble with Swiss Chard

How I like to store fresh chard- In a jar with water to keep it fresh
Everyone knows that swiss chard is a great thing. Easy to grow, tasty, easy to cook with.
But it has one problem- the stem. Personally I like the stems in cooked chard- so no problem. But lately I have been dehydrating my chard (thanks to Chile) so a problem came up what to do with the stems?

When dehydrating chard, following Chile’s directions I cut the green off from the stem- what to do with the stems? I steamed them with a little fresh parsley and some of the chard greens. Add a dab of fake butter and presto instant side dish! I also like the stems in place of celery for a snack!
Steamed Chard Stems
About 1 cup of Swiss Chard Stems, chopped into 1” pieces
Butter or Butter substitute like Earth Balance (note: I have recently discovered this butter substitute- it is vegan friendly and tastes great)

Simply cut the stems into 1” pieces, put into steamer and steam for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Put a pat of butter spread on them.

Other Uses for leftover Swiss chard stems: I like to use them like celery stalks. I simply dip them raw into ranch dressing (Abbie has a great Ranch Dressing recipe)

I also like to chop chard stems, saute them in a little olive oil and use them in omlettes, or mixed with rice

Chop and use raw in salads in place of celery.

Freeze the chard stems:
simply blanch the chopped chard stems and freeze as you would any other vegetable and use in soups or dishes or steam and eat as is.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Busy Busy week- The Weekly Update Challenge

Peas growing in a Self Watering Container
Made from two 5 gallon Buckets

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge-
1. Plant something: Some tomato plants, cucumbers, borage seeds, tomato plants; dill seed; corn salad; lettuce; watermelon plants (from seed), started some sprouts (gotta keep on the sprouts or I will lose interest)
2. Harvest something: some lettuce. swiss chard, an early garlic; parsley
3. Preserve something: Dehydrated some Chard; parsley
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Found a bunch of big plant pots- going to reuse them; found a couple of items to re-purpose as plant pots
5. Preparation and Storage: Added another level to the potato condo; Bought some yogart to make crème cheese with
6. Build Community Food Systems: Put my bag out for the Letter Carriers Food Drive; Went to Sustainable Burien meeting and found out more about “p-patches hopefully starting here in Burien- thinking about Making a couple of raised beds and letting some one grow something in them via Urban Gardenshare.
7. Eat the Food: Salad from lettuce, Chard, the garlic,

Melinda’s Growing Challenge Things are popping up all over! Saw the first seedling of the fennel plants and the first seedlings of sunflowers, planted my pumpkin plants (from seed), watermelon plants (from seed), bought some nice Tomato Plants (Heirloom) I bought at the charity sale (started from seed not by me, but by Carol the gal running the sale in her green house); My own tomato plants don’t look so good except for the tumblers and Window box romas.

MELINDA'S BUY SUSTAINABLY CHALLENGES: Found a use for the garden aug that Billy Mays made me buy- it makes an excellent tool for turning compost! Other than that I bought some tomato plants from a charity sale benefiting the Stanley Stamm summer camp(very local the gal selling them for the charity actually starts them in her green house); Bought a couple of neat trellises for the garden from the hardware store;

Friday, May 8, 2009

Eating the lotus and other flowers!

First in this post we shall do something different- Take a moment for some class and culture

An Excerpt From The Lotus Eater by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Eating the Lotus day by day,
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray;
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy;
To muse and brood and live again in memory,
With those old faces of our infancy
Heap’d over with a mound of grass,
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass!

The following was a post on Marie's Gardening Blog on Edible Flowers
"Edible flowers aren't a new phenomenon, but garnishes of fresh flowers tend to intimidate diners. No one is really sure if the flowers are there for decoration or to be eaten. Even if they are to be eaten, diners often wonder if they will taste good, or like parsley, be better left on the plate.
There are several flowers blossoms that can be enjoyed both fresh and cooked. It's hard to find edible flowers to purchase, but quite easy to grow most of them in your garden. Since flowers are best when eaten soon after harvest, growing your own edible flowers makes even more sense.

Use Caution When Selecting Edible Flowers
Only eat flowers when you are absolutely certain they are edible. Just because a flower is used as a garnish, doesn't mean it's edible."

Never eat a flower that has been treated with a pesticide that was not labeled for use on food products. Always follow the pesticide label instructions for harvesting.

Never eat flowers from florists, nurseries or roadsides.

Harvesting and Storing Edible Flowers
For most flowers listed as being edible, they are referring to the petals only. Remove the pistils and stamens before eating as well as any attached sepals.

Expect the flavor of edible flowers to vary seasonally and with growing location.

Edible flowers should ideally be harvested in the cool, morning hours. If you are not going to be using the flowers immediately, cut them with the stems in tact and keep them in water. You could also store them in damp paper towels, in the refrigerator."
Edible Flowers to Grow in Your Vegetable or Flower Garden"

The ones I have tried:
Borage: Borage has a cucumber like scent and flavor. The vivid blue flowers make a striking addition to a salad or a last minute garnish to cooked foods. Easy to grow, wonderful to eat

Dandelion: Everyone is familiar with dandelion wine, but the flowers are also edible and quite delicious when young and tender. There are many cultivated varieties that have been developed for less bitter taste and more controlled growth, but even the so called weeds in your lawn can be eaten, provided you haven't used pesticides on them. The greens(leaves) can go in salads. And as for the flowers- Remember the dandelion fritters I made? They are excellent.

Herb Flowers: (Anise Hyssop, Basil, Bee Balm, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Garlic...) Many herb flowers are just as tasty as the foliage and more attractive. Add some petals to any dish you were already going to flavor with the herb.

Nasturtium: Easy to grow. Flowers have a peppery tang to them. The bright colors make great accents in salads. Can also be used to infuse vinegar. or even vodka.

Pansy: The whole flower is edible, sepals and all. Pansies have a mild, minty flavor. The flowers work well for candying and make great decorations on top of hor d'oeuvres and cakes.

Squash Blossoms: All squash flowers are edible, not just zucchini. A popular way of preparing them is to stuff the blossoms with cheese and fry them.

Ones I haven’t tried (Yet):

Calendula: (Pot Marigolds) The petals work well in cooked and fresh dishes. Calendula is also used as a saffron substitute. The yellow or orange petals will color and flavor foods when chopped and sautéed.

Daylily: Most people are surprised to hear that Daylily flowers are edible, however they are often stuffed and prepared like squash blossoms.

Gem Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia): 'Lemon Gem' and 'Tangerine Gem' Marigolds are the only edible marigolds. As their names suggest, they have a citrus flavor, even though you won't smell a citrus scent. Pull off the petals and break off and remove the bitter portion that comes to a right angle.

So how about it? Would you partake of a pansy? Digest in a dandelion? Munch on a Marigold?

Garden Walk What's Growing On?

First we start with the potato condo- looks like we will have to add a new floor!

Then we check the columnar apples- leaf growth!

The five dollar apple tree I bought on a plant close out sale is coming along as well!

Time to check out the damn broccoli- looks good
looks like Romeo found something to nibble on.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Postal Workers Food Drive is Saturday

Just a quick reminder that the National Association of Letter Carriers is holding their annual food drive on Saturday, May 9th. It is so simple to donate a gift of canned food- Simply leave in a bag on your mail box. According to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), this is the nation’s largest one-day effort to stamp out hunger. Also all food donations remain local so the local food banks should do well this week. The postal union is seeking to exceed last year’s record 73.1 million pounds of food delivered to community food banks and pantries, and this is an easy way for people to donate.

And for you all involved with the Independence Days Challenge, a good opportunity to earn your "Build Community Food Systems" badge. So leave a bag with canned food for your postal worker to pick up!

Plant Sale to benefit Stanley Stamm Summer Camp

May 8th and 9th, There will be a benefit plant sale of Tomato and pepper plants to benefit the Stanley Stamm Summer camp. It will be held at the Grocery Outlet, 236 S.W. 152ND ST, in Burien, prices start at $1.25 per plant. A great way to grow tomatoes and help out a good cause at the same time- Hat Trick! So if you haven't started your tomato plants, or just want to grow a couple, come on out and pick some up! I know I will be there onFriday or Saturday buying tomatoes (I can never get enough of good tomato plants) and maybe pick up some peppers! I talked to Carol (the organizer/grower) and she is doubtful about the peppers but says she will have around 80 varieties of tomatoes, lots of cherry tomatoes, and some heirloom tomato plants.
Personally, I think this is a capital way for an organization to earn money. And cool to sell "plantables" instead of chocolate bars, too. Anyone out there raise money for an organization doing cool things like this?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Coffee, Tea or Ivy? The Weekly Challenge Update

My coffee carafe planter
Using the new format that Sharon came up for the independence challenge- note: Cook Something New has become Eat the food (I assume that you harvested)Preparation and storage took over for the two categories Prepare something and Store Something- makes sense to me!

Sharon's Independence Day's Challenge-
1. Plant something: Basil, acorn squash, pumpkins, summer squash
2. Harvest something: Just some sprouts. And a nibble of lettuce.
3. Preserve something: Nothing
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce or compost something): Made a planter out of a coffee carafe; some coffee grounds into the compost from starbucks
5. Preparation and Storage: Built one more raised bed for the pumpkins (moving them into the backyard from the front this year)
6. Build Community Food Systems: Hoping to learn more about the “P-Patch” at next weeks Sustainable Burien meeting.
7. Eat the Food: Ate the sprouts I picked this week on a nice salad

Melinda’s Growing Challenge Planting time- Acorn squash, pumpkins, summer squash. Will be planting my seed started tomatoes tomorrow, weather permitting

MELINDA'S BUY SUSTAINABLY CHALLENGES: Getting the gardening purchases out of my system. Little info-mercial watcher that I am, I did by a “Garden Aug” to attach to my drill. Billy Mays is the devil.

Crunchy’s sustainable food budget challenge: (last post for this challenge) Well, I had $39 to last the final week of April. I did not make it. Groceries- $29, Freezer/Pantry Items (Estimate) $20, Coffee Stops $3, lunch at work $9 I went $22 over the budget for the month of May. Not too bad, but I really need to look at my spending habits (And coffee stops might have to be the first to go!)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Free Cycling- Corporate Edition

I was walking around one of the main buildings at work, and I saw a sign"Free Corner" and on top of a small file cabinet there were Items that folks were giving to each other. Upon looking further, I noticed the items were not limited to office supplies, but rather to small items that folks were gifting to each other. I thought how cool- if you need a stapler, check this free corner first! My company has always been pretty good about their surplus items, We have big surplus bins on the loading dock that the company takes and resells. They use to have a surplus sales store that was very popular here for years. They closed that and now do mainly online auctions. But how cool to have a group do that at work on their own. This Free-Cycle thing is getting big! How about were you work? Do you have any type of free cycle or surplus program?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Independance Days Part Deux

Sharon is doing the independance days challenge again! Stupid me, I never realized it was over!

Friday, May 1, 2009

A sure sign that spring is here

The Farmer's market in Burien will be opening next Thursday- A true sign that spring is here. Along with worms and fresh baked bread and fresh fruits and veggies. I can't wait.
I am hoping that "The worm mama" makes her return as I froze my little buddies(My Bad)- they are now total compost. And I have since moved the worm bin to the tool shed awaiting new tenants.
And I can't wait for tasty leeks to make leek and potato soup. And berries to make tasty jam. And this year I am going to buy a doggy blanket or jacket from the doggy blanket lady for Romeo, And a cat blanket for Sammy. And some more plants from the Alpine plant man. Yup, a good thing that farmers market!

What's the one thing that is a must buy for you at your local farmer's market?