Just a bit of spring…

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Photos taken at Urban Farm and my little patio. Asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke recipes coming soon!

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Megan’s Patio Oasis

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Lots of exciting things happening in Megan’s Apartment Patio Oasis. The cutest of those happenings is our new 5 week old bunny. We got him from our wonderful friends Jenny and Keegan of the Eugene Garden Lounge, when we first got the little guy we thought he was a little girl. So sadly, he may be eaten earlier than anticipated. But he is a great addition to the family, quite the character, and though he has bitten Keegan and our friend Matt, he only licks me. I have been doing a lot of research on what to feed him and tried to make him a nice little home. So far, we are trying to do as many fresh veggies as possible. This has really just included radish tops and some parsley right now (the farmers at market are giving me the tops), but the only other veggies around right now are mainly lettuces and kales, which are not good for rabbits to eat. Along with the veggies, we are feeding him timothy hay and supplementing with alfalfa pellets (be careful of too much alfalfa though because its high in protein and can beef up your bunny). He sleeps in a giant dog kennel with a dresser drawer I re-purposed into a little sleeping den.

Its nice to wake up every morning and go to bed every night with the ritual of feeding this little creature and make his life as happy as possible. I really feel great appreciation for all my meat farmers for the love and hard work they put into rearing these animals. I can’t wait to move into a bigger place and have a bigger part in my own food consumption. I appreciate this rabbit too for all he will give me.

After my past post on repurposed garden goods, I got a wild hair, and headed down to my local recycle center. I could have gone a lot crazier (the bright red retro bath tub perhaps?), but I held back and picked up some pretty sweet planters and additions to my Patio Oasis. I bought one very large and three small glass and brass light fixtures (the holes in the top where the wires go in are perfect drainage holes for the plants). I also grabbed a bright blue ironing board to use as a shelf for planters, a globe light fixture for a hanging terrarium, and a few more odds and ends to plant in. Overall I spent about twenty dollars and am pretty happy with my loot.

The tiny plot of land I call my backyard is doing ok though. Better than expected actually. I’ve put in 5 budding potatoes that now have new leaves and seem to be trucking along even in light of the lack of light, a few strawberries, lots of herbs, and some greens that seem happy as can be. My cilantro and broccoli are acting a little sad; the rain beat the fragile little guys down. I am hoping this day of sun perks them back up.

I also started my first batch of kombucha thanks to Sundance Grocery who sells starter batches. The great thing about kombucha is though I bought a starter, I can now use the mushroom for practically as long as I can keep it alive and brewing. The batch I started was a Jasmine Tea which I then added a bit of lavender tea too. The whole process is so easy I have no idea why I did not start years ago. Basically this is what you do:

  1. Make tea (usually a gallon at a time). I think you can pretty much use any tea you like, though black tea is the most popular.
  2. Add sugar (about one cup). The directions I got said the company did not have as good of luck with sugar substitutes like honey or rice syrup, though I would still like to try a batch with honey sometime to keep it local.
  3. Let cool (until around room temp, I guess the SCOBY does best around 70-90 degrees)
  4. Add the SCOBY.
  5. Wait 7-30 days.

Bam! Done! This process is so simple and so material cheap that experimenting with the Kombucha will be very fun and rewarding. My Kombucha will be done in the next 1-3 weeks and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Well, I must get on with my day seeing as though it is my only day of  canning and cleaning, hello Vanilla Rhubarb Earl Grey Jam (thanks Food in Jars), Pickled Radishes, and possibly some cherry blossom spread (more research needed on this). Happy spring!

First couple farmers markets…

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The past two Saturdays that wonderful ahhh… I’m home…. feeling has overwhelmed my body and my mind. Market season gives me this odd sense of belonging, of friendship, and of excitement, which I am forced to miss out on for five months of the year. Those five months being filled with potatoes, kale, rain, and miserable days at school.

But, those are all behind me now, and I never thought I would be so happy to see those stands full of everything green. The green now is not that rough, filling, heavy green that the brassicas bring throughout the winter (don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for those veggies). The green now is more delicate, more aromatic, more full of flavor and possibilities.

My last couple of hauls from market (thanks to the wonderful people at Lost Creek Farms, Groundworks Organics, and McKenzie River Organics) include:

  • green garlic: looks like chives but a little thicker. use the same way as you would regular garlic except cook slower and less time because it is more delicate.
  • young green onions: wonderful, light, not as harsh and spicy as the full grown bulb. you can use the whole stalk of these beauties.
  • raab: so many types of raab! kale, collard, brussel sprout, yum yum yum. basically looks like mini broccoli florets, accept these are more tender and not as tough.
  • chard: so beautiful, big, and colorful. I have been cutting up the stalks and adding them as well to add vibrant pops up color.
  • apples: lots still root cellared from last season to help fend us fruit lovers off until the strawberries pop up.
  • young carrots: so sweet, so perfect for canning.
  • salad greens: loving these light airy leaves and this recent sunshine.
  • leeks: great exchange for onions now and add nice flavor for those spring soups.
  • radishes: these are the real punch of flavor for the season. spicy, crunchy, colorful, all shapes and sizes. These are a great addition to any salad or side to a meal.

I also picked up a few of my staples from Lonesome Whistle and Camas Country including the Best honey I have ever had (Buckwheat Honey from Camas that shared an adjacent field with sunflowers, so its light and full of flavor), some colorful fun beans (including the “King of all Early Beans” a white and pink bean), and some other bean varieties.

All of this new fresh produce has been inspiring me to move away from my typical “easy” meal of grains and beans, and add some  more flavor.

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Baked Ziti

  • Noodles of your choice, I use whole wheat penne
  • Cottage Cheese (I used local Nancy’s, there was no local ricotta so that is why I used cottage cheese, similar flavor and texture)
  • Willamette Valley smoked cheddar
  • Tons of Spinach
  • Kale Raab
  • Green Garlic
  • Canned whole tomatoes (from last years harvest)
  • Ground beef (Knee Deep Cattle Company)
  • Thyme, Oregano, Salt, Pepper

Directions: Saute herbs, raab, and garlic in butter until aromatic. Add whole canned tomatoes. Smash, blend, or food process the tomatoes until sauce-y.  In separate pan, cook the beef with fennel, salt, pepper, and basil. Once cooked through, add to tomato sauce. Cook the noodles until al dente. Mix all together except a little bit of the smoked cheddar to add to the top. You may also want to add bread crumbs to the top for more crunch. Bake at 350 until melty and toasty. (Thats how I cook, sorry there’s no real “exactness”)

I also made an ahhmazing scramble breakfast. The eggs I got from Blissfully Produced had The darkest yolks I have ever seen. Practically orange and so full of flavor. I sauteed leeks, chard, green garlic, and white elm mushrooms in butter until soft and aromatic. Added scrambled eggs and goat feta. On the side, an early spring salad with thinly sliced radishes and a dressing of pesto frozen from last season mixed with a little mustard and red wine vinegar. To top it off a vegan cheese bagel fresh baked at the Wandering Goat (I dont know why, but their vegan cheese bagels are just the total bomb!).

I have really been getting back into the Kombucha scene too. I go through my phases, and now am fully immersed in this one. I will be starting a batch as soon as a find a baby. More on that later!

Dont forget about your local farmers markets and get your CSAs soon! Happy Spring!

DIY and Funkify your Garden Space

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So there are a few things I know about: I know about being broke, I know about so badly wanting to grow my own food, and I know about thrift store shopping and making a little something out of nothing. So out of all of my “vast” knowledge and some motivation, I have found some pretty rockin’ ways (through friends, family, and research) to reuse materials for planting and to add a little bit of spunk to a garden space.

One really awesome idea I saw recently was posted by BRING Recycling of Springfield, Oregon. BRING has got everything a person could need for a home and business remodel or any DIY project. Their most recent and fun idea involves mattress springs and gardens. The first idea is to use the old mattress springs for fences for chicken coops or around garden plots to keep animals out. The second idea is to use the mattress spring as a valence for peas and beans to climb or decoratively for vines. The beauty of this is most places practically give these things away and they are extremely light weight. This site has a few photos and examples of mattress garden art.

One very common, practical, and often free, item I see in many yards of Eugene students and gardeners is an old dresser. So there are two ways you can do this.  The first  is best if done using a short dresser (2 or 3 drawers). Keep the dresser up right and either make sure you have sturdy bottoms to the drawer or reinforce them with strips of wood . Once they are reinforced, drill holes to allow for water to drain. The bottom drawer should be pulled all the way out, the next one half way and the top a quarter of the way out. You need to make sure that the dresser will not be off balance (this is why you should only use smaller dressers), you can bury the dresser part way if you would like more security. Fill the drawers with soil and only grown plants with a small root system. Herbs and flowers will work best in this situation.

The second way, which is better for taller dressers, is to lie it down flat and use it as a type of “raised” bed. Remove the back of the dresser if possible; if this is too difficult drill many holes or cut slices out so that the roots have a place to go (if you have to do this, tap root veggies will not work as well). Remove all the drawers, fill the dresser with soil, and bam! you are left with nice separate sections and raised beds. The drawers can then be used as separate planters or stacked in an artistic way and used as a focal point in a garden. (I love the use of the guitar in the picture to the right, such a good idea!)

Another obvious, but extremly easy object to use is anything wicker!  Wicker baskets, chairs, bookshelves. All of it great, water can flow, roots can grow, and there is nothing you have to do except add some high quality soil.

Old gutters can be used as totally bitchin’ hanging planters or pathway liners. Toilets can hold plants in the bowl and in the tank.Sliding glass doors or french doors for cold frames. Some friends of mine even took their old truck canopy, put it up on stilts, and now have a nice cozy home for their chickens with an easy access window to gather eggs.

Wine bottles are something that are never in short supply in my house, and judging by all the recycling bins full of them, most other’s houses as well. So next time recycling day rolls around, roll around on your own and pick up all the colorful, pretty, and nonbroken bottles to jazz up your garden. One idea I have seen, is to take all your wine bottles and create a barrier for your garden by sticking them neck down in the ground. This creates a raised edge and also a pretty mosaic pattern around your beds. Also filling your bottles with water and sticking them straight into your planter will slowly release water as the soil needs (instead of paying out the arse for those orbs on the shopping network). Wine bottles are a great way to create easy art as well. I have seen anything from paths made completely of bottles, to wine bottle lanterns, to simple statues.

       wine bottle torch

 

hummingbird feeder

a little creativity

Bed Dividers

Got any great DIY garden ideas? Love to hear whatchya got. Happy Spring!

Eugene Food Swap

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Photos Courtesy of Jenny Wunder friend and co-blogger of Eugene Garden Lounge

Overall, it was a small quiet get together with some amazing food and very genuine people. There was so much I wanted to swap for but not enough of my goods to trade with. Next time I shall bring more. Some things that Jenny and I got: chamomile tincture (for sleepytime), nettles tincture (for detox), lavender tincture (for relaxation), winter sweet sauce (basically dried fruits soaked in booze mixed with citrus and made into a spread yummm…), eggs, pickled beets, grape jelly, saurkraut, and kombucha. There were also lots of great baked goods, white bean hummus, flavored oils and vinegars, the list goes on. These ladies are great. Cant wait to learn more and trade for some great stuff at the next Eugene Food Swap

Body Scrubbin’

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After a sunny and uncommonly warm February, all my starts were in full fruition, and my thoughts were in full bloom as well. My body was ready for the new season. Well, March had other plans; progressively getting colder and wetter and colder until the day I woke up and there was about 4 inches of the white stuff outside. Looks like my kitchen will remain full of egg cartons and terra cotta pots for another few weeks. C’e’ la vita.

I’m worried about the little guys though. They are looking a bit droopy and sad. Hoping that sun comes out soon… For now, maybe a little perk from some spent coffee grounds will help.

Speaking of coffee grounds, I have been experimenting with different body scrubs and salves. I wish I would have tried this out much earlier in my life instead of spending $18 at the local Bath n Body shop. All you need is…

  • An exfoliant: coffee grounds, brown sugar, raw sugar, course salt
  • A moisturizer: coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
  • A “fragrance”: (I say that in quotes because you dont want to use parfum or typical fragrances. Stick to natural/nontoxic ones) essential oils, lemon zest, lavender buds, etc. Some great essential oils are:
  1. Eucalyptus: helps in repair of red blood cells and blood oxygenation. Helps to soothe stress and makes the mind cool and relaxed
  2. Lavender: aids in relief of stress, calming, skin conditions, headache, and migraine
  3. Peppermint: Aids in relief of circulation, colds/flu/fever, cramps, nausea, fainting, headache, migraine, vertigo, acne, ringworm, scabies

So basically, you mix the three ingredients until you reach a desirable consistency. Mix the oil/moisturizer in slowly and you will only need a few drops of essential oil. Some of my favorite mixtures so far are:

  1. Peppermint latte=  coffee grounds+brown sugar+peppermint+coconut oil
  2. Citrus beach= course salt+eucalyptus+lemon zest+olive oil
  3. The ultimate (the tea tree oil and sunflower oil are a great anti-fungal and just overall good for skin)= course salt+raw sugar+tea tree oil+sunflower oil

Enjoy your clean, exfoliated, non-chemically treated bodies!