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Thursday, June 30, 2011

#44 - Ahhh - Home-Grown Goodness & Avoiding the Dungeon

Our farm land is presently growing a nice little garden. Having several acres is wonderful, especially when you love home-grown veggies. The soil on our acreage is naturally rich and nutritious. We are blessed to have land that is so raw and in its "original" state that it will grow just about anything.

Deputy Dave pulling plants from Livingston acreage.
You can see the wild Blackberry thorn vines growing everywhere.
Once we're living on our acreage full-time, we will likely have an enormous veggie garden. Currently, at our house in the city, we must carefully select preferred veggies for growing, due to limited space. Mostly, that means tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, various herbs, potatoes and more.

My niece having a great time finding her "treasures" which are
red tomatoes hidden here and there in the garden.
After you've grown your own vegetables, you find what I call a "taste-bud awakening." Home-grown veggies can spoil you and make grocery store veggies taste bland.

Here is a basketful of our first harvest this season. 

I believe this is last season's harvest, but we grow the same
things each year. Right now, we do not have any lettuce.
For example, after eating our home-grown potatoes, I've discovered that the grocery store variety lacks flavor. Before we grew our own potatoes in the backyard, I didn't know that I was missing out on such a delectable flavor. Grocery store potatoes had been good enough for me. However, after we harvested our initial batch of potatoes from the backyard, and after I prepared a few skillet sauteed potatoes that were sliced thinly, I found myself switching off the potato-auto-pilot and surging forward on the oh-my-potato-goodness over-drive.

Part of our herb garden...Rosemary and Sweet Basil.
The grocery store potato myth has ended. My potato complacency has been disrupted. A new world  full of potato deliciousness has begun. There's no doubt that eating a potato freshly dug from our garden gives full flavor and a new definition of taste to the word "Potato."

From this past week, one of my bell pepper plants. Bell peppers definitely
have to be a big part of our garden --- I just like the flavor they add when cooking.
Yesterday, I was visiting a new blog site, http://www.hiphome.blogspot.com/, and found something very interesting. One problem I've encountered my entire adult life is the love/hate issue with the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator.

It goes like this...I buy a bundle of celery and put it in the veggie-bin at the bottom of my refrigerator. A week goes by and I am focused on a busy life that is full of distractions. I started out with great cooking intentions for the celery; I had wanted to remember that the celery is lying in the bottom drawer of the fridge as it becomes less rigid because there is a loss of moisture, but life got in the way. The crisper bin goes into the recesses of my mind as I am going to family functions, doctor appointments, and as I am immersed in a world full of business paperwork for one reason or another, leaving me exhausted. So, the celery is more assured that it will sit unnoticed as it withers in the fridge's dungeon.

My jalapeno plant. We are DEFINITELY planting many more of these
next season. I have developed a growing fondness for jalapenos.
This blog writer has a wonderful solution that is workable for my household veggie storage. She buys her veggies...radishes, celery, carrots, etc., and immediately cuts them into chunks that, at a later date, can be further chopped, diced, or sliced as needed. Then, instead of shoving them into the dungeon of the refrigerator, also known as the "crisper", the Hip Home Blogger takes mason jars and puts the cut up veggies into their clear, visible glass-goodness for fridge storage. Magnificent!

If you add a tad bit of water, then you could be assured that the turgor pressure in the cells of the veggies remains hydrated, which results in firm, CRISPY veggies! Plus, the glass jars are an excellent barrier from any smells that may be absorbed through plastics. Instead of spending money on Ziploc baggies and contributing to plastic trash, the glass jar can simply be washed out and remain ready for the next batch of veggies. Do, I sound all ecologically focused? I mention reducing plastic and I feel as if I don't really have that Dodge Ram pickup truck in the driveway that guzzles gas, but I do. Anyway, I actually do despise having to pay money for the Ziploc baggies that constantly disappear much too quickly.

I was amazed by this simple. yet profound solution for my veggies. Everything that had once been hidden away in the crisper and that had been a pain to drag out for reviving and prepping for a meal is now displayed on a shelf in a glass jar...ready for easy use. Why had I never thought of this? Isn't it easy to see that jar of pickles or olives in the clear jar on the shelf in the fridge? Actually, I could use my old pickle jars or old glass mayonnaise jars after they are disinfected to store my veggies.

Photo from http://www.thekitchn.com/ which is an incredible site full of
interesting ideas for storage, recipes, and interesting tidbits for the kitchen.
I forgot how much I love the utilitarian use and good looks of glass
storage --- no more dull, dingy plastic with scratches!
Thankfully, http://www.hiphome.blogspot.com/ has provided me with a fresh perspective on an old problem that has been perpetuated by the crisper bin. From now on, I'll never look at my refrigerator the same way. That veggie bin will be used for more appropriate "dungeon" items that I can miss for a week or two without noticing. Yep, that will work out much better.

4 comments:

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

hi lana, awesome post! i do the same with my veggies. life on our farm is busy too. ilove the idea that you shared. i too despise wasting plastic but guilty in having a deisel truck. we don't have to be perfect in all areas as long as we try to do little things...i recycle a lot so that helps. thanks so much for joining my blog and i will put you on my faves! :)

WhisperingWriter said...

Yummy!

LindaG said...

I am jealous of your garden. ;-)
My hubby won't eat leaf lettuce. Only iceberg. :-/
I have known about potatoes for a long time. I noticed when they changed, but didn't know why. A show on the History Channel explained it all. McDonalds. They require a certain type of potato, and since they are a (the?) mass consumer, the Idaho/baking potato that we all know was changed to what McDonalds needed.

And even though I thought my potatoes were a failure, the fact that I got any at all makes me want to grow more. :-)

I'm not sure why, but I have almost always trimmed my celery and stuck it in a glass of water in the fridge...

I have basil growing, too, but I am clueless about herbs (my hubby being a salt and pepper type of guy - that being pretty much only salt). I tried growing it because 1) it's supposed to make tomatoes taste better, and 2) it's supposed to have some sort of bug deterrent properties. Not that I remember what they are, haha!

Congratulations, though. Your garden looks amazing!

Lana at www.FarmLifeLessons.blogspot.com said...

Kritter Keeper - I remind myself that we actually DO need our trucks. We have things to haul and those trucks are just another necessary piece of machinery needed for this kind of life! Gotta love our trucks. I'm looking forward to more visits with you!

WhisperingWriter --- yep, no foods compare to home-grown goodness straight from the garden.

Linda --- my family eats all kinds of lettuce, but I do prefer iceberg so often just because I like the crunch-factor!Your potato info is very interesting. Isn't it sad that a fast-food chain has so much control? As for us growing potatoes, we are certainly not growing enough to sustain us, but I'd like to, one day. We also have done the thing with sticking the celery in a jar, but this lady had a picture posted that showed mason jars with the chopped up veggies and it just looked so organized, clean and readily available...I just have to find some larger than normal mason jars. Sweet Basil is an herb that my household can't live without. One day, I'll try to make a post of all the tihngs we do with Basil, it is an herb that compliments anything with tomatoes so wonderfully. As for the bug property, if you cut a branch of basil off and hang it around, it is a fly deterrent. Flies can't stand the smell of basil. Deputy Dave and I will usually hang it around the backdoor on the days we are BBQing, etc.

My Husband deserves the credit for the garden...he has a green thumb AND four green fingers. :-)