Strawberries

Its finally strawberry season!

I just harvested the first of the strawberries, and even though it was only 8 ounces worth today, we should be bursting at the seams in the next few days!

Here are a few other random garden shots:

 The kale that overwintered has started to go to bloom. Although the leaves are a little tough, they still have a great taste. Apparently you can heads of the kale once it starts to go to seed, but I didn’t get to them before they started flowering. I’d like to try sautéing them with a little ghee or oil. The chives are blooming like crazy! I love the contrast of the purple flowers on such a rich green leaf.

I found this little guy who had made a home in our garden. I’m honestly not sure what it is – maybe a salamandar or a newt? When I first spotted him while pulling weeds I thought he was a really big earthworm!

Our neighbor came over and Matt helped him learn how to plant onions.

Egg Cocette

I recently read one of Suzy’s posts about making baked egg cocettes, and since we had just gotten fresh eggs from some friends, this seemed like the perfect dish to make.

I modified ours to use some of the vegetables we already had. I sautéed some chopped potatoes until they were soft, then added in some spring onions and bacon, because bacon makes everything good. I added spinach into the pan until it wilted and put all of the vegetables into the bottom of two small dishes. I cracked two eggs into each dish and topped them with fresh cut herbs before pouring on about half a cup of half and half. I baked ours at 350, a little on the longer side, around 25 minutes because I do not like runny eggs. We topped them with salt and pepper and some chives, and it made for a delicious dinner!

I have some asparagus in the fridge now, and I’m thinking that would make a really nice vegetable base for the next cocettes we make.

Liz’s Conway Cloche

I just finished making this hat for my sister. I have one in blue; my other sister has one in pink; and we decided that Liz needed one even though she lives in Thailand where its HOT all year long. I started this back in December and finished it up just in time to give her for her birthday.

I absolutely love Gudron’s pattern for the Conway Cloche, and I’m sure I’ll make many more in the years to come.

 

Garlic

We finally got our garlic planted!

I always have great hopes of planting it in September or October, once the weather has cooled and the fall crops are finished, but I’m usually too pooped to do it. The past two years I’ve just planted it in the spring, and I’ve found that my bulbs get big enough for me.

This year I had about 20 plants spring up from cloves I accidentally left in the ground last year. I also planted 1/2 pound each of Extra Select, Early Italian, and Silver Rose. It was one of Burpee’s best selections. We’re just finishing up the garlic we harvest from the garden last year, so I’m hoping we’ve planted enough to get us through an entire winter again.

I can’t wait until the soil dries out enough to till it – I am so anxious to plant this year!

 

Oh Canada!

Warning: photo heavy post!

I recently had the opportunity to visit our affiliate office in Calgary, Canada. I have been to eastern Canada plenty of times because we used to vacation in the wilderness of Ontario with friends. They owned an island on Temagami Lake – it was rustic and fun!

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This is in 2006, the last time I went to Temagami.

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This is my first friend Amanda, and her family had the island.

I had never before been to western Canada, so I was excited about this trip. Calgary is about an hour and a half from the Rocky Mountains so we took a day to go exploring in Banff.

At this point, let me make it clear that Matt and I have gone to the screenings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Boone for years now, some was ecstatic to learn that I was going to be able to go to Banff! My colleagues in the office that I talked to didn’t really know about the film festival, which really surprised me! Anyway, here are some shots of the Rockies. The views were absolutely spectacular!

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Then we went to visit the actual town of Banff. It is definitely a ski town but I was surprised by how commercial it was – I guess to cash in on tourists.

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Now that is a pretty cool view when you are shopping!

We stopped to eat lunch at the Bear Street Tavern, which had ridiculously good pizza. They brought out a chili pepper oil and honey to mix together as a dipping sauce – I was skeptical at first but must admit it was actually quite tasty. When I went to wash my hands in the restroom I discovered a delicious smelling local soap and knew we had to find the store!

So we went to the Rocky Mountain Soap Company where I was immediately in heaven. I have a weakness for good, pure soaps! They make all natural soaps – they even define “natural” on their website and provide complete ingredient lists.

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I managed to spend a good $40 on soaps, and now that I am home and using them, I couldn’t be more pleased. They sell online and I’m planning to make an order soon! My favorite is the lemongrass. It just smells so fresh and clean!

Dietary Guidelines

I’ve been browsing around the Weston A. Price Foundation website lately and just stumbled upon their dietary guidelines. I’ve been quite intrigued by the foundation’s take on traditional foods, and have been reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Nourishing Traditions lately. They are both large, technical books to get through, but I have been learning so much about REAL food! In time, I will share with you some of the things I’ve been learning, but for now I’ll leave you with their dietary guidelines.

  1. Eat whole, natural foods.
  2. Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
  3. Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
  4. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  5. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
  6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  7. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
  8. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  9. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
  10. Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
  11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  12. Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  13. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
  14. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
  15. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  16. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  17. Use only natural supplements.
  18. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
  19. Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
  20. Practice forgiveness.

“Necessary Expenses”

“That which each of us calls our ‘necessary expenses’ will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary.” – The Richest Man in Babylon

Oh how true this is! Matt and I have seen our expenses creep closer to our income (or alt least closer than we would like), and it is a constant battle to fight. We recently did a mini revitalization of our budget and decided to cut out the gym membership and an online learning subscription. While they are both good things, we weren’t using them often enough to justify the expense. That simple exercise is saving us over $100 a month!

One of the best ways I’ve found to help us save has been transferring a designated amount, that we’ve both agreed upon, into our savings account as soon as we get paid. Recently we’ve even gone a step further and have one paycheck deposited into our checking account and the other deposited into a different checking account. We only spend from the first account, and it helps us be even more diligent about saving.

So, here is to practicing discipline and saving for the future!

Produce Box

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Monday’s are always better when I get to pick up our produce box. I get seriously excited about picking up the produce – although I will confess that I still dislike mushrooms, and as you can see, we got lots of them this month!

So far we’ve indulged in Greek style green beans, grapefruit/carrot/beet/ginger juice, raw bell peppers for snacking, and roasted potatoes and onions.