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Strawberry Compost for Valentine’s Day

Are you one of those Valentine’s Day lovers or haters?  I’m firmly in the “love it” camp.  What’s not to love about pink and red in the middle of the winter?  I decorate my house accordingly with lots of hearts in every nook and cranny and get excited about making treats for kids’ classmates, family, friends, and neighbors.

As a matter of fact, until last year, my daughter hosted a “Craft-tea Party” where she and her girlfriends could make Valentine cards and crafts (get it, craft-y?), eat sweet treats and drink tea out of pretty cups.  Sadly, those friends are now at the age where they would prefer to host a dance with b o y s, so we keep the crafting to ourselves.  Small sigh, but it’s okay.

And then there was the snow.  Four days off from school pretty much cancelled all Valentine plans, but we didn’t lose heart!  Remember those brownies and cookies from yesterday’s snowy buckets?  We decided to wrap those up and spent a satisfyingly long time crafting pretty little tags and delivered these to all of our neighbors.

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Obviously, we did not create much in the way of kitchen scraps that day.  Here’s the daily haul:

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • spent primrose leaves (from cheerful primrose plants on my kitchen counter)
  • onion skins & stem ends
  • TAZO teabags (I hate that the tag is upside down, and yes, I took it off before composting)
  • strawberry tops
  • garlic skin

What I made with all of that: Cherry Heart-Shaped Valentine Pancakes with Strawberries and the traditional Valentine’s Day Two Bean Chili.

Ok, so chili is NOT traditional, even in my house, but we had a scheduled soccer game that night (even with a week out of school) so I knew a fuzzy holiday celebration was not in order.  Good call.  After a freezing night watching from the snowy sidelines we were ready to celebrate a big win with warm cups of chili.  It’s always good to trust your instincts!

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Musings, The Daily Bucket

 

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Spring Strawberry Bliss

Gorgeous blue skies + seventy degrees + next to last day of school = perfect day for strawberry picking!  I honestly think that in a previous life I might have been a fruit picker.  It’s such a mindless  and yet mindful task and it’s one of my yearly must-do excursions.  We discovered a little farm nearby that, while in business for 35 years, was new to us.  We invited our besties, sugar fortified at our favorite doughnut spot, and headed north to berry bliss.  Here’s half of what we picked:

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And here’s my girl picking… can you smell the heady, fruity berriness?

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We froze most of these beauties for fresh strawberry smoothies even in the dead of winter, and enjoyed the rest with freshly whipped cream.  Since I already made jam a few weeks ago, I’m saving a small bowl to turn into strawberry hand pies.  Total spring yum.

Needless to say, my compost bucket was purely strawberry tops!  For dinner we had, in the grand tradition of Beatrix Potter and he darling Peter Rabbit, bread and milk and strawberries.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Musings

 

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The Daily Bucket & Sweet Summer Strawberries

And today’s bucket included … a lot of fruit!Image

Things you can see (clockwise starting from top):

  • watermelon rind
  • pineapple core
  • cantaloupe rind
  • hibiscus tea bags, tops & trims cut off & discarded

What you can’t see:

  • iceberg lettuce core
  • skins from a russet potato
  • skin from an onion
  • skins from garlic cloves
  • stems from thyme
  • peel from a mango
  • banana peel

A second bucket held LOTS of yummy just-picked strawberry tops! Image

What did I make with all of that?

  • Mango Banana Smoothies
  • Cut up fruit for snacks
  • Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter, Onion & Thyme
  • Wedge Salad with Creamy Herb Feta Dressing
  • Twelve tiny jars of strawberry jam (one already eaten, two gifted)Image

Aren’t these gorgeous?  We are not HUGE jam fans, since it’s often more sugar sweet than berry sweet.  But, I like the uber-retro-domestic-fun process of preserving, not just the fruit, but the rows of strawberries in the field, how the sun was shining, how it started chilly and then got HOT, you know, basically preserving the experience.  (Have to confess, my son and his adorable girlfriend were the pickers, so I’m mixing memories and thinking of this as College Sweethearts Jam.)

But, back to the recipe.  I browsed my favorite tattered cookbook for ideas and a how-to refresher.  Remembered an inspired recipe that had piqued my interest months ago, and then remembered I wanted more berry, less sugar taste.  Hmmm… more searching turned up citrus pectin and a guideline on how to create your own flavors with the amount of sweetener that suites you best.  Perfect!  So, a bucket of strawberries, a cup of sugar, a vanilla bean and a lot of love turned into the tastiest jam I’ve had in ages.  Sweet!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in The Daily Bucket

 

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