Friday, July 24, 2009

Independence Days #11

So much for the rest I got over vacation -- life is back to the hectic pace again, all too quickly.

Right now, I'm mostly just finding time to preserve food for winter over the weekends, so I think it's time to clean up the kitchen so that it's easier to get back in there for short projects during the week.

And the gardens are in something of a holding pattern between the end of the early crops and the beginning of the later summer crops (tomatoes are coming on!). It's been a little too dry lately to plant anything, but with a refreshing mid-week rain, perhaps that will change this next week.

Anyway, here's this week's roundup:

1. Plant something: Broccoli seedlings at the Renaissance Man's garden.

2. Harvest something: White radishes at RM's garden; zucchini, radish seeds at the Southern Belle's garden; garlic and red onions at the Contra Callers' garden.

3. Preserve something: Dried zucchini shreds, carrot shreds, cauliflower; froze corn, broccoli; canned tart cherries, cherry juice.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Learning to shop at the farmers' market with a list so that I rein in my impulse buys (and thus reduce the amount of produce that ends up lost in the refrigerator); found four jars of pickles that had unsealed and tucked them into the refrigerator before they could spoil; kept an eye on the new pickles (daily checks) to make sure I don't lose any of those, either; had the Renaissance Man pick up small straw bales so I can mulch gardens (to hold in moisture so I don't lose so many seedlings).

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Had a shopping spree at Lehman's and purchased a new heavy-duty stainless steel canner (my old one was getting rusty at the bottom), freezer boxes (shown above with corn inside), glass bottles and cruets (for herbal vinegars and oils); cleaned up some very dirty canning jars to get back into the cycle of use.

6. Build local food systems: Received my portion of a joint order of tart pitted cherries from the Chef Mother; attended the Family Farm Field Day (with six other Local Roots steering committee members!) and learned a good deal as well as promoted Local Roots where possible; picked up seed and nursery catalogs from local sources to share with the Renaissance Man; continued work on the August Local Roots newsletter; sent out Local Roots press releases; helped the Contra Callers with their garlic harvest and braiding (well over 40 minutes and 40 bulbs of garlic, for the 40 Seeds Project); talked with the Contra Caller about getting a scything lesson; shared my chinois with my folks for their first round of applesauce; connected with a couple of other college folks about getting Local Roots involved with campus events.

7. Eat the food: Zucchini-carrot bread; homemade grape juice (from pantry) with breakfast; salads and broccoli pizza for work lunches; a gorgeous stir-fry with snap peas, beans, corn, summer squash, and carrots.

While the garden work may be slowing right now, I'm really glad that I've been finding more opportunities to work on building "local food systems" with other people in many ways. It's amazing how one thing so often leads to another in making these connections between people!

Reviewing the week like this certainly helps to point out things like that -- and to make me realize that even when I think I'm spiraling out of control in my schedule, I'm often doing some good and useful things.

And that inspires me to keep going.

What inspires you? What are you doing to declare your Independence these days?

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