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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

Gosh, it’s been a busy day of baking and prepping!  I’ve got so many lovely scraps to show for all my efforts … but even though I was writing witty posts in my head while I rolled piecrust and peeled apples, that is where they’ll have to stay because I’ve run out of time.  

Look for a Black Friday recap because I will NOT be out shopping (well, I hear J. Crew outlet is fifty percent off, so maybe…) but I will be sharing our feast.

Thankful for family, friends, and the ability to do all the things I love surround by the people I most love.  Wonderful wishes for a most excellent Thanksgiving holiday!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Sunday Supper: Brrr!

Wow!  Forty degrees for a high temp in Atlanta is like … forty degrees.  Baby, it’s cold outside!  And now that most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, there is a lot of gardening to be done.  Luckily, my head gardener was up for the chores and he left the yard free of leaves, the compost pile overflowing with them, and the yard perfectly pristine.

Did I take any pictures of that buried compost pile?  No.  I was too busy inside cooking a big Sunday dinner to warm him up.  More to come soon, but I did take a photo of the lovely pile of my own trimmings  …

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Am I the only one who thinks food scraps are pretty?  I just love all the colors and shapes and smells.  Yes, it’s odd, but I think you can see the beauty in many places.  So here’s what you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • sweet potato peels
  • turnip stem ends and peels
  • garlic paper
  • thyme and rosemary stems
  • shallot peels and stem ends

What I made with all of that:

A perfect Roasted Pork Loin with Roasted Turnips and Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  For once, I did not make dessert for Sunday Supper.  I simply suggested they have another helping of the sweet potatoes … you know if you pile them in a piecrust and bake them it’s the same food under a different name!

 

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Thanksgiving Test Drive

It was a busy foodie day around here today … baking, baking, baking … trying out some new yeast rolls for the approaching turkey day … but Friday means high school football … and that means boys home after school and before the game … and that means lots of something simple and filling: chili.  Perfect when it is chilly outside too.

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • apple cores & a moldy apple
  • onion skins & stem ends
  • persimmon peels (WHERE has the fruit been my whole life?  I’m obsessed with it!)
  • eggshells
  • jalapeno ribs & stems end (in middle too)
  • sweet red pepper stem end
  • more apple peels

What I made with all of that:

  • Chili (I’ve made this recipe for YEARS and it never fails.  Of course, I always tweak it and if I am feeding lots of hungry people I double the beans.  I also add a cinnamon stick in lieu of the ground spice and often add a whole dried chili pepper too.  Try it!  It’s a keeper.)
  • Yeast rolls (This recipe is not correctly named, and it takes way more flour than indicated, but I was able to make 18 lovely yeast rolls, and then a dozen cinnamon rolls the following day.  Also a keeper, with tweaks.)
  • Apple Pie Bread (Made this for my mom and day as repayment when they picked up some pastured chickens for me.)

I thought you might like a little baking inspiration …

yeast rolls

And the cinnamon variety …

cinnamon rolls

My apologies for not saving you any.  There was not a crumb left over.  Which is good, since rolls don’t compost anyway …

 

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Always Time For Pasta

What is your go-to meal when you want something tasty and wholesome but don’t have lots of time to spare?  I know there are countless cookbooks and television shows written on just this topic, so clearly is it everyone’s top question too.  One of our favorite choices for a quick meal is pasta.  It’s just too easy to pick a shape, choose a veggie, decide on tomato-y, creamy, or olive oily, and then start the water boiling.

This contents of this bucket in no way reflect the pasta we chose!

linguini clam & cookie cake

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • banana peel
  • onion stem ends & skin
  • parsnip stem ends & peel
  • sweet potato stem ends & peel
  • eggshells
  • persimmon peel
  • lemon half

Today, linguine with clam sauce was on the menu.  The lemon was the only clue here!  It was also a busy baking day and I also made Vanilla Parsnip Cookies as well as Chocolate Cinnamon Sweet Potato Cookies.  By the way, those sweet potatoes were from my local farm and they were divine!

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Lemons

After months of documenting what I clean out of my fridge and throw away each week, I think that I might be getting better at shopping for just what my family needs.  Either that or I am getting lazy cleaning things out each week!

Actually, the catalyst for thriftiness has been getting a weekly vegetable share from my local farm.  There is a fair amount of pressure to use up that whole veggie bin when you know that more veggies are coming in seven days.  (As an aside, if you have any good turnip recipes please share!)

In any event, this weekly toss is SMALL:

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What you can see clockwise (top to bottom):

  • lemon peels
  • apple core & peels
  • banana peels
  • eggshells
  • The toss it item for the week is one old lemon and one questionable lime – yippee!

Clearly, I made nothing special with this basket … a few smoothies.  It was a busy day, busy with after school activities, and it was a mom-needs-cooking-time-off Chipotle dinner night.

The moral of my story: If you eat all your veggies every day, you have none to throw away!

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in The Daily Bucket, Toss It Tuesday

 

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Sunday Supper: Beef Stew

What is it about Sunday that makes you want to slow down, relax and have a great meal with your family?  Maybe it’s just the way I grew up, but Sunday is a different kind of day.  It’s a day to slow down and savor not just a wonderful meal, but life.

It’s kind of hard to tell our meal from this bucket, but give it a try.

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • six eggshells
  • orange peel (left over from a lunch box)
  • bay leaf & thyme stems
  • iceberg lettuce leaf
  • onion & garlic skins
  • four TAZO “Focus” tea bags
  • carrot scrapings

What I made with all of that:

Beef Barley Stew, a simple wedge salad, and a Cranberry Custard Pie that was NOT a winner. We were test driving this for a Thanksgiving option, but while tasty, it did not make the cut!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Sunday Supper, The Daily Bucket

 

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“Waste Not” or Citrus Guilt

Surely you’ve heard the platitude, “Waste not, want not.”  Composting all my kitchen scraps and repurposing them for another use surely qualifies as not wasting, right?  Turning all those bits of food into a super nutritious food for my veggies and plants is recycling in the best possible way, right?  So, why was I feeling a bit of guilt?  Citrus guilt to be exact.  See this pile:

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It’s just the remains of a typical smoothie making morning for the kids.  We love oranges and grapefruits, tangerines, and lemons and limes.  Plus, each day I drink this funky concoction of half a lemon, hot water, a teaspoon or so of apple cider vinegar, and a generous glug of honey.  It’s apparently good for digestion and I’ve gotten used to its weird, sweet, nose stinging scent in the morning.  (Don’t worry, I follow it with some good old tea.  See yesterday’s post.)

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Anyway, all that adds up to a lot of citrus surplus.  My clay soil is already acidic and here I was adding lots more.  Citrus peels, I was regularly reading, would be better put to use making my own citrus cleaner instead of being tossed without a care on a compost heap.

So I bought a functional carafe with a cork lid from Ikea, enough white distilled vinegar to last my entire life, and the grapefruit halves from breakfast.  I dutifully removed any juicy bits, stuffed the peels in the carafe, covered it in vinegar, and put it on the windowsill for two weeks.

Of course I checked it virtually every day for the first week and the smell was unbearable.  I like vinegar in my salad, not so much in my house cleaning efforts.  Still, undeterred, I continued to soak my citrus.  Somewhere into week two it lost the overpowering vinegar stench aroma and became if not pleasant, at least bearable.  It was almost a nice whiff of citrus.

I decanted it into a scrubbed Method spray cleaner bottle (I didn’t want suspicious kids or relatives wondering what weird concoction I was using now.  You see, I may have been known to put raw milk in the organic milk jug on occasion, but that is another story), I diluted it with water per directions, and poured the remaining concentrate into the giant mason jar for storage in the outside fridge.  I even put a handwritten canning label on that mason jar.

Call me content.  I wish I had a picture of my virtuous face.  Fist pumps and three cheers for the self-sufficient housekeeper!  I’ve earned my superhero DIY girl scout badge!  I’m halfway to homesteader!

And then I used it.  Hmmm… Did I say I LOVE Method products?  I got rid of harsh chemicals in kitchen, bath, and laundry a LONG time ago and keep bleach around only for truly necessary jobs (like cleaning compost buckets).  I had been happily using Method grapefruit counter spray for years and liked its fresh clean scent.  (Disclosure: they are NOT paying me for this glowing review.  I really do use, love, and recommend their products.)  Anyway, how could a mass-produced, store-bought chemical solution compare to MY. OWN. HOMEMADE. CLEANER?

Well, it did not compare.  Not in my scent snob book.  I guess it got things clean enough.  The counter felt a little filmy to me and the stainless was streaky (nothing new) but I was using MY. OWN. HOMEMADE. CLEANER. and that alone made it worth it.

A little vinegar smell?  Well, okay, that was there.  My son loudly let me know that the kitchen reeked.  My daughter scrunched up her delicate nose and told me she could smell it but it was not too bad.  And it wasn’t really.  I moved on to the bathroom and it shined the fixtures nicely.

But I realized every time I left the house and came home, the overwhelming smell when I reentered the house was … gross.  Not fresh.  Not clean.  I was wrinkling my own nose trying to figure out what I detected.  Dog?  No, more like the cover up of some rotting food. Maybe I had left some old oranges on the counter to mold.  Maybe it was the built up smell of old vinegar.  But, I thought, that smell is supposed to evaporate.  Dissipate.  Disappear.

Still confident in my superpowers I dutifully used up my grapefruit spray and even brewed another bottle of orange peels with thyme.  They were so pretty fermenting on the counter and I had that virtuous glow again.

But that smell.  It was dissipating all right and then collecting somewhere and LINGERING.  And smacking me in the face when I walked in the door.  Two nights ago, I poured the contents of that cleaner down the drain.  I recycled the Method cleaning bottle and retired my carafe.  I pulled out a fresh bottle of REAL Method and inhaled it’s lovely scent.  I wiped down every surface in my kitchen.

Here is what I tossed. (Notice the bit in the spray bottle looks clumpy.  I had added some castile soap after reading another post that I cannot find about how it really ups the cleaning power of the vinegar spray. Sorry, not for me. It’s just clumpy and note even pretty anymore.)

citrus cleaner 11.13

Today I put my citrus peels directly in the compost bucket.  I will happily toss them on my compost pile later and know that come spring, when I lovingly top dress my acid-loving David Austin roses, they will soon be smelling sweetly.  And so will my house.  I’m using that cool carafe for sangria!

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in Compost How To, Musings, The Daily Bucket

 

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