Monday, April 26, 2010

Food in Season

One of my favorite things about the spring and summer time is the vast range of fresh food, right out of the garden (or from the farmer's market for those of you who are in the season I was a few years ago.) I love finding the just-right
and ready-to-pick item to make for dinner. Early asparagus, and radishes in the spring, to the early summer presents like beets and carrots. I often eat my finds right in the garden, with just a brush off on my jeans- oh the goodness of knowing exactly where my food came from and that it is without a doubt completely chemical-free.

Now, no matter how much I like garden-fresh veggies, at some point I want them cooked and on my dinner plate. As with most things, simple is best when it comes to cooking this prime produce. Repeat after me: less is more. Try some of the following:

  1. Steamed, with a bit of butter and fresh pepper- try white if you can find it as it's a bit lighter in taste.
  2. Roasted- works well for roots like carrots and beets but is also delicious with asparagus- with salt and good olive oil.
  3. Steamed and served with fresh herbs- I love thyme and chives.
  4. Raw in a salad- other cultures often add in such odd veggies as raw asparagus- and don't forget the beet greens themselves!

Cooking seasonally, whether from your garden or a local farm, will mean the freshest and most flavorful food. As an added benefit, it often also means the most frugal- food in season is almost always cheaper. If you get your food from the farmer's market (or straight from the farm) you have no choice but to follow the flow of the natural food production. Unlike buying asparagus in November from the mega-mart, this asparagus hasn't travelled 250 miles over six- ten days. Local food is better for the environment, and for you- less time off the farm means better vitamin retention and need I mention the better taste?

For a great resource on cooking food in season, check out Your Organic Kitchen. This book is organized into sub-seasons like early spring and midsummer, and features delicious and simple recipes based on produce and meat as it is naturally available. It even includes desserts!

I am happy to share this post at Homemaker Mondays.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Homemaking with Faith

Like many other mothers often do at times, lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed. It seems that I am doing the same thing, over and over. As soon as I clean the floor, more crumbs are dropped. Each load of laundry I do leaves me with two loads of dirty clothes. And so on. Have you ever felt like this?
It can be so easy in the day-today of homemaking to lose sight of the finish line, the goal- the why of why we do this work at all. It seems I'm not the only one feeling this way at this time- and I was blessed by a post at Passionate Homemaking on the purpose of the home recently. It has reminded me to keep sight of what is really important: that I give my all to my work. For this is my work, the work I chose, the work I have been lucky enough to be able to choose. So many cannot stay home, cannot spend their time with their children. So many do not have the option to spend hours- making real food from scratch or growing food in their garden.
Last week, in class, after mentioning I had two young children, another student asked me if I worked. And I fell into the trap- I said yes, I work part time in my mother's business. Is this true? Well, yes, though in this economy I don't really work much anymore and I did fully admit this! But what I should have said is the real truth- Yes, I do work. I work raising my children, cooking from-scratch meals 3 or more times a day, cleaning, gardening, and so on. Why do we say that daycare workers, babysitters, teachers have "real jobs" but mothers don't? I do not believe it is easier to spend all your attention on your own 2, 3, or 8 + children than it is to divide it among 20 or 30 of other's children. So why do I degrade my chosen work? A writer explains her feelings in a post about living our life unapologetically. This writer is a single lady, choosing to live at home until marriage- but the words apply to many of us. We do not need to negate the work we do at home. Mothering, and homemaking, is a real job.
So where does this leave me with housework? With the less- pleasant minutiae of raising kids: diapers, runny noses, sticky fingers? I am left with a renewed enthusiasm for my duties. I chose to stay home to make the best home I could for my kids, and to give them the best upbringing I could. This time will be gone too soon, and my babies will be grown. I want to enjoy this time while I can. And for the house, it has always been mine to make into a home. A home for my family; where they can seek refuge from the world. And that is what I will keep in my mind while I vacuum the crumbs and fold the tiny little shirts.
I am happy to share this at Homemaker Mondays  Works for Me Wednesday and Finer Things Friday.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gardening- seedlings coming in

I just love seeing the tiny green sprouts making their way through the soil in my garden, then turning into baby plants with their true leaves. This year, though, as exciting as watching my garden has been, I have something new to enjoy: my inside seedlings. For the first year I got going early enough to start many plants inside. I can't help but check in on them several times a day!, looking to see if any new babies have come in.


So far, the count is:

All 6 tomatillos (heirloom purple variety- really excited about these!)

4 Brussels sprouts

1 Roma tomato

2 Green Grape heirloom tomatoes

1 Cal Wonder pepper

3 artichokes

1 Chanterais heirloom cantaloupe

My herbs have been less than cooperative, but I expected that. I already have a backup, and will purchase some herb plants this week.


My method of starting the seedlings is a bit different than most. I use egg cartons, but the plastic ones that have a double layer. I cut off the top flat part, and use it as a drain tray. I poke holes in the bottom egg-holding half, use it for the seedlings and then cover them with the little 'hat' from the second egg shaped part of the carton. This works to induce a greenhouse effect and retain heat and moisture for the seedlings.

I am excited for the next few weeks of taking care of the seedlings, and will keep posting on their progress. Later I will also share how to harden off the seedlings before planting in the garden.

I recommend everyone try some indoor seed-starting. It allows you to try varieties that you wouldn't be able to direct sow. Especially for me, the peppers I'm starting are very important- I love sweet peppers but organically grown ones around here are expensive!

I am happy to share this at Finer Things Friday.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gardening, this week's Best Things

I love spring...
the scent of the first-of-the-year freshly mowed lawn while drivng around running errands,
the baby green buds on the trees coming in, and top of the list-
the beginning of seed season
Gardening is big for me. I love growing my own food, and working in the ground. It is finally the time here (thanks to all the great unseasonably warm weather!) to start putting cold-weather seeds in the ground, as well as working with the seeds I already started in containers for warmer weather plants.

For Best Things today, I want to link you up to some great gardening resources:
Organic Gardening Seed Starting- lots of resources
Seeds of Change Direct Seeding and Transplanting- about seeds from a great organic seed company
Spain in Iowa Organic Gardening- Diana at Spain In Iowa shares loads of info on gardening

I am happy to share this post at Works For Me Wednesday- check it out for greatest tips edition!


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