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Toss It Tuesday: Snow Day

A year ago this week, Atlanta was in the midst of “Snowmageddon”, a once in a decade storm that shut the city down completely.  What were the chances that we’d wake up yesterday to another snow day?  Excellent as it turns out, even though there wasn’t any actual snow; just plenty of ice on trees … which made them fall and take down power lines and shut down roads … you get the picture.  We had the good fortune to escape all that messiness around town and simply enjoy the blessing of a free day.

How to spend the time?  Baking of course.  What’s a snow day without sweets?  Especially on Fat Tuesday?  I rummaged through the fridge and pantry, grabbing ingredients for cinnamon bread.  Instead, I found some homemade pie crust and detoured with blackberry jam “pop tarts”.   Apparently I baked the same thing for last year’s snow day AND the year before, so I guess it’s a tradition at this point.

Thinking ahead to lunch,  I found  fig jam, blue cheese, and fresh thyme and turned the remaining pie crust into savory tarts for lunch.

pastry collage 2

Opting for relaxing instead of achieving (actually harder than it should be), we buried ourselves with books and snuggled doggies for a while, but soon discovered that the dogs were out of treats. Horrors!  Bake to baking, but for the dogs this time.

In the spirit of Toss It Tuesday, we turned a bag of sprouted wheat flour (that we were probably never going to finish) into two varieties of delicious (to them) dog treats: Chicken Cheese (on the left) and Almond Butter Oatmeal (on the right).  The dogs were literally camped out at the counter most of the afternoon begging for just one more.

PicMonkey Collage

You’d think that after all that food we’d be stuffed, but you’d be wrong.  You see, we took a long, LONG,  brisk walk amidst all the ice coated trees and worked up quite an appetite.  Again, trying to use up items in the fridge close to expiration, I cooked up a vegetable lasagna with whole wheat noodles, ricotta, asiago cheese, carrots, dried mushrooms, onions, cabbage and a butternut squash sauce.

Here is what the Toss It Tuesday bucket looked like:

Toss  It Tuesday: Veggie lasagna 2.15

What you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • old, wilted stock flowers
  • outer cabbage leaves
  • dried out & browned sage leaves
  • carrot peels
  • onion skins & stem ends
  • stalks from flowers

What you can’t see:

  • lemon peels
  • lots of loose tea leaves
  • espresso grounds

Interesting, with all that baking and cooking, I never did end up with any sweets.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in The Daily Bucket, Toss It Tuesday

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Pea Shoots

Aren’t these gorgeous?  Local, organic pea shoots.  I scooped them up in the grocery and couldn’t wait to get them home.  I planned my whole dinner around them because they were just enticing. So fresh, so fabulous.

Toss It Tuesday Pea Shoots 2.10.15

I roasted some small red beets.  You can do it too because they are infinitely better than the pre-cooked beets you can now find in the refrigerated cases.  Individually wrap each beet in a bit of foil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees.  This method bakes and steams at the same time for perfect earthy goodness.  Cool, unwrap, and working one at a time, rub off skins gently with a paper towel.  Full disclosure: your hands will get bright pink, so work carefully with the paper towels or slip on some plastic gloves.  Slice your ruby red jewels into quarters and they are ready to eat.

For the salad I put a handful of pea shoots in a small bowl, added the sliced beets, some crumbled feta cheese and toasted pecans.  For dressing, I sloshed on a quick vinaigrette of sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, and walnut oil.  It was gorgeous.  (This picture does not do it justice because it was late in the evening. and there was no natural light.)

Beet & Pea Shoot Salad 2.2015

The salad was absolutely delicious; all the right notes of fresh, earthy, creamy, crunchy.  Whatever, with some crusty bread, it was a simple, satisfying meal.

About an hour later, my daughter complained of a tummy ache.  Then my husband felt a bit off.  Soon after, I joined them in feeling not terrible, but not good.  Nothing worsened, but we all agreed that all signs pointed to the pea shoots as the source of our ick. This episode kind of confirms my standard gut feel not to buy sprouted seeds.

So, on the compost pile they go. I kind of hate to toss them; they are still so pretty, but I like the idea of them quickly cooking away in the bottom of the compost pile.

Just so you know, the next time pretty, perfect pea shoots catch my eye at the market I am walking quickly by.

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Blackberries

Did you ever notice that non-organic fruit seems to last FOREVER?  I bought this giant container of blackberries about two weeks ago and apparently they were not appealing to anyone while my house was fighting the flu.  Back to health, I pulled out the container, which looked perfectly fine, but one sample berry revealed that they were soft, squishy and perfectly horrid.  Onto the compost pile they go and I pledge not to be seduced by pretty fruit in giant containers again.  Even if it is cheap.  Ok, maybe especially when it is cheap, imported and non-organic.

toss it tuesday blackberries 2.2015

 

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Garlic

If you are composting, it’s likely that you don’t use a lot of processed products, right?

We try to keep processed things to a very bare minimum around here and when we do buy packaged items we choose the highest quality, least processed products, without any added chemicals, and especially without high fructose corn syrup.  Of course, every now and again, I find a convenience item that I just can’t pass up.  In this case it was fresh whole peeled garlic cloves from Whole Foods.  Bad move.

Long ago I gave up the jarred chopped garlic.  For one thing it doesn’t taste like garlic.  For another thing it smells like formaldehyde to me.  Plus it has a shelf life of … forever.  That’s not my idea of “fresh” food, so I take the time to peel garlic cloves every time a recipe calls for it.

I buy and peel a lot of fresh garlic, so when I noticed this little tub two weeks ago, I thought, why not give it a try?  The ingredient list reads: garlic.  Although the flavor doesn’t seem too off, it’s not as good as fresh from my pantry.  Maybe it’s just that keeping garlic in the fridge isn’t optimal.  Whatever the case, yesterday when I opened the container this is what I found:

toss it tues garlic

Yuck.  Furry garlic.  I didn’t even toss this in the kitchen bucket but took it out and buried it deep in my compost pile.  Peeled garlic might be convenient, but it’s not worth the cost and certainly not worth the compromise for me.  How long had this mold been brewing?

Do you have any “fresh” convenience foods that you regularly use?

 
 

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Toss It Tuesday: Spinach

It’s been a long time since I’ve completely forgotten some produce but this was a spur-of-the-moment purchase from Costco.  I was positive I needed LOTS of spinach and I did, but I got some fresh

from my weekly farm share … and so this huge package was sent to the outside fridge where I permanently forgot about it.  Of course when I did pull it out, it was a week past its sell date.  Never, NEVER use pre-packaged greens past the sell by date!

So, salad for my compost pile!

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What did you have to toss this week?

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Compost How To, Toss It Tuesday

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Cherries and Pie

The grocery store checkout racks are filled with magazines featuring pies on their covers this month so, succumbing to the subliminal marketing messages, I’ve been craving one.  Normally, I’m not a pie fan.  I’d much rather eat my fruit raw, swirl it into a smoothie or bake it into a pound cake, but the pie allure is strong.   When my farm share last week included local sour cherries I could see the writing on the wall.

But, and it’s a big but, LOCAL sour cherries?  Remember, I live in Georgia where cherries don’t just grow on trees.  You’ve got to get them from Michigan or Washington.  But somehow, thanks to the perseverance of my farmer, there they were.  Beautiful, local cherries.  Just making plans for them made me feel so virtuous.  I mean, when my grandmother got food from the store it was ALL local.  She would not have thought twice about the origin of her cherries.  She would probably have thought, “great, cherries are in season,” bought them and baked her pie.  But, in today’s weird food climate, find these beautiful local gems was kind of like winning a gold medal.  I bought two more pints and planned my pie.

Every single day for a week I woke up planning to make that pie and every single day something else took precedence.   Life is funny that way.  I kept the magazine with the recipe I wanted to try right on the kitchen counter to remind me.

Finally a stretch of spare hours….  I excitedly pulled the containers from the fridge and tipped all those beautiful bright jewels into the colander and alas, they were more delicate than I realized.  Many had not survived the week.  I had killed the local cherries from neglect.  My grandmother would never have kept her cherries waiting.  She knew the fragility of real produce.  In one week I went from proud locavore dropping hints of my virtue into any conversation I could, “Did I tell you I found love gorgeous local cherries?  Yes, local!”  to food heathen unworthy of nature’s bounty.  Shaking off the food guilt, I rolled up my sleeves to redeem this situation.   I set to work to pit the little beauties and would make it work.  No time to waste adding up the cost of this very expensive Toss It Tuesday.

toss it tues sour cherries 6.17.14

As an aside, have you ever pitted tart cherries?  They are TINY.  The fruit is hardly bigger than the pit, especially when you’ve got to pare away little bruised bits.  Especially when your cherry pitter broke last year, you never replaced it, and are now working with a paring knife.   But really, who cares?  Local.  Sour.  Cherries.  My virtuous stock was rising again.  I kept waiting for someone to call so I could say I was making a cherry pie with local sour cherries and an interesting almond crust.  The phone was silent.  I was being punished for wasting my treasure.

Look how pretty this fruit is!  That’s lime zest on top.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  By now you may have guessed I never do. You were supposed to infuse the sugar with the zest, but I got carried away with the colors and it was really zesty.

cherries & lime zest

Sadly, I was two pounds short of three pounds.  Even if every cherry was perfect I would have been short.  Throwing off the local medal of honor that no one but me knew or cared about anyway, I amended  my pie plan and hauled from the fridge an industrial size plastic container of sweet cherries purchased at my local Costco, shipped from the not so local state of Washington, onto the counter and continued pitting.  They were quite gorgeous too.  Giant, probably like the orchard them came from.

 

cherries sweet in bowl

Here they are, local and industrial, mixed together in a baptizing bath of organic sugar (i.e., evaporated cane juice) and organic cornstarch that balanced everything.

cherries mixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the crust with made with butter and almond meal.  Doesn’t it match my countertop exactly?

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Limey cherries happily snuggled in the nutty crust.  The recipe does not call for butter but have you ever made a pie without it?  Not my personal favorite.  Plus, I’d already veered from recipe authenticity.  I added some chunks of grass-fed goodness.

 

cherries butter

Didn’t it turn out well?  It looked exactly like the magazine cover.

 cherry pie assembled

 

We ate it before I ever took another picture.  I promise it looked exactly like this.  Possibly prettier.  And it was delicious.

When the blueberries ripen I’m making this one too.  How about you?

P.S.  Full disclosure: I did not put all the pits into compost, only the cherries.  I just liked the “cherriness” of that “Toss It” photo.

 

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Playing Catch Up

Lots of beautiful buckets, lots of interesting stories … all sidetracked by not enough hours in my busy, super busy days.  So, let’s play catch up and get back on track, shall we?

This gorgeous little bluebird of happiness has been visiting my backyard with great regularity and I hope he (or she) is building a nest somewhere so that lots of pretty little bluebirds will be flying around soon.  Is that not the prettiest color in nature?

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The weather in Atlanta has been fickle: warm one day, literally freezing the next, but on a beautiful Saturday, while my guys spent the day roofing and framing at Habitat For Humanity, I was baking up a gorgeous Meyer Lemon Pound Cake from a favorite old recipe …  fresh chilly were breezes pouring through the open windows and opera was pouring from the radio.  Realizing we need more than just cake for dinner, I also whipped up a last minute Summer Squash Quiche with homemade rye crust (it’s a new flour kick I’m on).  Even the bucket filled with yellow scraps echoes the sunshine.

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Another gorgeous Sunday called for a bit of leisurely yard work (this is Sunday rest in my house) and grilling.  We spent a few hours prepping our back deck for resurfacing, which meant drilling out all the old fasteners.  Hundreds of them.  Naturally my husband was a pro and could zip out a dozen screws in a minute.  Not to be outdone, I gave it a try too and held my own with a much slower work rate but a very satisfactory bucket of nails to show at the end of the afternoon.

Naturally a day in the sunshine called for a meal eaten outdoors.  That go-to meal is grass-fed burgers.  I dressed them up with homemade tomato jam, arugula, avocado and caramelized onions.  Triple yum.  We topped off the leftover Meyer Lemon pound cake with a sweet gingery strawberry sauce that was kind of like this.  Blissfully delicious Sunday Supper with grandparents and good times.

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Here are some shots of the tomato jam production.  It was just so vibrant and smelled so fresh I had to keep snapping away … chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, ginger and spices … very heady stuff.

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When it started cooking down it smelled spicier and sweeter than ever.  I may have tasted it a few too many times.  And burned my tongue for the efforts.  Note to self: bubbling sugary jam is HOT.

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Skip a week and we’ve got double buckets.  Temps dipped back into the twenties and three soccer games made the week fly by like the wind.  We cut as many daffodils as we could carry so the cold did not wilt their lovely little faces and at least all was sunshine inside.  We feasted all week on fresh strawberries and citrus and on Sunday my oldest boy came home for a few days of spring break.  (Family complete.  Life is good!)

I pulled out all the stops with a recipe straight off the cover of this month’s Bon Appetit: Beef Short Rib Pot Pie.  Mine looked just a perfect as their picture.  My only beef (haha) was the crust, which, even though it was too dense for my taste, mopped up the juices perfectly.  With mashed potatoes, carrots and a really tart lemony mixed green salad it was the perfect Sunday Supper.

Dessert was an utterly forgettable Strawberry Milkshake Cake from Pinterest that seduced me with its spring hue.  Plus, I’ve never had or baked a “poke cake”.  Take my advice and just enjoy the pretty picture.  Even though I freshened it up with sweet strawberry puree and whipping cream in lieu of Cool Whip, the artificial preservative taste came shining through.  Not even is it not a keeper, half of that cake is still in my fridge a week later.  **sigh**  If a cake is untouched in my house …

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That brings us to Toss It Tuesday … I cleaned out the produce drawer in the fridge and came up with this sad moldy citrus and a few wrinkled soft old apples.  I tired to think of how I could use them but decided the compost pile would be happy to have them so I chopped them up and tipped them in.

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Have you noticed my lack of eggshells?  Just wait until you see what I’m up to …

In the meantime, I hope the bluebird of happiness is flying around your neck of the woods!

 

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