Friday, July 29, 2011

Why You Should Go Pick Berries Today

 Blueberries and summer Raspberries are ripe.

Last week I woke up at 6:30am, Dean watched L. and J. and I went berry picking. 

1 hour equals 9 lbs of blueberries and a quart of raspberries. 

One of the reasons I mention this is not to do a blog diary of my life (although I do sometimes), but because storing food has many benefits.

1. It's cheaper if you do it yourself. Having your own bushes are cheapest, but finding a local grower and picking your own is a cheap alternative. These blueberries cost $1.50/lb. Occasionally Walmart or Aldis will have something similar for a few weeks late in the season, but those products will have been picked early (loosing vital time sweetening) and be on the very edge of freshness (if not well past good eating). 

2. It's fresher if you do it yourself. See #1. Growers pick many berries before they are completely ripe and let them color as they travel. Other berries get picked at peak ripeness and then have to travel to market. Nothing is as fresh as something you picked this morning. 

3. It's sweeter if you do it yourself. See #1 & #2. You pick only the freshest, sweetest berries.

4. You choose your favorites. If you only want the largest, most perfect berries for a perfect company can have that. Store, and even most farmer's markets, choose which are sold together. You can find the best pack, but you can't pick individual berries. 

5. You have healthy, cost-effective food choices all year long. People often say unhealthy foods are cheap, healthy foods are expensive (especially organic or natural foods). One of the reasons for this is that healthy foods are shipped for fresh eating (expensive gas). Another is that unhealthy foods are processed and stored, thus making them cheap for the company to buy in season and produce all year. Become your own production plant! Buy cheap, wash, flash-freeze, and store!

6. Frozen berries are a special treat. For kids that balk at fruits and vegetables, frozen fruit is like a sugar popsicle. Frozen strawberries, juice, and yogurt smoothies make a great breakfast or natural dessert. 

So that's my soapbox. Do yourself a favor and pick some berries. Show your kids what ripe berries look and feel like. Eat some. Process them together. Freeze. And Enjoy them all through the year. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

52 Books/ 52 Weeks--April/May/June

I've forgotten to update this (and honestly, through some of these months I've been so busy I've barely read anything that didn't have something to do with my class). 

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell...non-fiction science/sociology
"Don't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning!" by Marc Prensky...non-fiction games in education

Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster...non-fiction how people respond to games
The Terminal Experiment by Robert fiction
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie fiction Victorian time travel

Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillppa Pearce...classic children's novel 

As you can see, I have a lot of catching up to do!  I'm definitely doing my best this month. 

Photo by Amelia-Jane on Flickr.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cookbook Review: Camping & Hiking

I thought it might be fun to start a regular cookbook review on the blog. Even if I don't check out anything else or have time for reading I usually check out a cookbook to look through for ideas.

Last week it was The Trailside Cookbook by Don and Pam Philpott.

I don't usually bother with camp cookbooks. If you know how to make pancakes, stew, or foil packets you cover 60% of camping cookbooks. They can seem like introductory cooking guides...over a fire.

I was pleasantly surprised at this cookbook. Not only does it go into how to dehydrate using an oven, but it includes recipes which are a bit more complex without being too gourmet. Things my kids might eat. Things I wouldn't mind trying at home. And the snacks section was interesting. Healthy stuff I can make at home.

I'm still looking through it. I hope to offer a favorite recipe soon.

I apologize for the bad photo. I was trying to cut out the library tag for privacy's sake.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tomato Tub Update

I'm really amazed at how these have grown!

All of them have flowered. 

One even has little tomatoes!!

It has been raining a lot this week, but before that we'd only filled them twice. Once at the beginning and once during a week long dry spell. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4th and the Freedom to Find Your Passion

The other day, on Facebook, someone asked what our favorite art medium was. I said baking...and gardening. I'm glad I have an expression that can be done in limited time with limited supplies. 

In a town in central Wisconsin there is an old retired lawyer wearing a large pair of overalls. He cracks bad jokes but he builds

It's called Jurustic Park, and he's always available to give the tour of rehabilitated helicopter, factory chains, and scrap metal magically changed into characters that will remind you of Jim Henson or The Far Side. 

Enjoy your passion. Enjoy other people's passions. Happy (US) Independence Day. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Too Much Compost

You've probably heard me whine about my lack of sun often enough. 

Last year we put a raised bed of strawberries in the front/side yard. This year the city dropped off a little too much (waayyyy too much) compost, so we dumped some of it next to the raised bed. I was thinking of my poor ignored tomato plants. 

First I planted a few next to the asparagus. I had squash go great-guns there last year. 

Then I raked the dirt over and planted in it. Notice the car wheels and basketball hoop right next to it. Hmm, maybe I should rethink this. 

Too late now. 

This week: plants look good and straight. I think they've grown an inch or two. I haven't lost any of them. I moved the basketball net to the other side of the driveway, and Dean plants..I mean parks...there so I'm not worried about careless little feet getting out of cars. 

Time will tell. Perhaps I'll take over that entire side of the yard. Bwahhahahaha.