Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturdays in the Garden - Real Food and the Cold of an Arctic Winter Begins


Happy day after Halloween! Hope you had a ghoulish evening and got rid of all your candy... or not... depending on your preference!

We finally had our first below freezing night Thursday so Winter is, in fact, coming.  The Bastard.  Actually I'm fine with a little cold weather, it's when the white stuff starts raining from the heavens that I get depressed and want to hide in my house.  It's also become noticeably darker in the mornings so that dog walking is occurring in pitch black.  I remember last winter I had to stop walking the dogs in the morning because while we didn't get much snow, it was insanely cold and any moisture had frozen into a thin sheen of slippery death on the sidewalks.  Gosh it kind of sounds like I hate outside doesn't it, lol!  I don't and I REALLY shouldn't be revving up the winter whining just yet....

I harvested a big pile of Swiss chard and will use it to to make some yummy things to freeze I hope.  An awesome friend also gave me these lovely orange cherry tomatoes which she rescued before the frost which I think I will roast and freeze.

And it's time to deal with the leaves.  I have my snazzy new compost bin to put some of them in and I use many of them as mulch for overwinter protection of the garlic and my blueberry bushes.  The rest I try to chop up as much as possible and either leave them or put them on other beds to compost.  And I'll probably burn a few in my fire "pit."
Fire.  Pretty.


First week back to work after a two week vacation wasn't too bad at all.  I only had two out of the five days in the office which wasn't ideal but it wasn't as frenzied as I worried it might be.  Next week is a little better but still busy with meetings or talks three out of the five days. 

All year I have been wanting to tackle my diet and health.  I was supposed to really start focusing on it in April but work took over my life and any energy I had for tackling went away.  I am very interested by the "real food" movement, which is basically exactly as it sounds  - cutting out or way down on highly processed foods and eating more fresh from scratch cooked food.  Basically it's just sensible healthy eating.  Seeing a review for the book 100 Days of Real Food (I'm sorry I can't remember where!) led me to the website and I decided to try one of the weekly meal plans to see how it would go.  I wanted to see just how much cooking there is and how it would work for one person when it is designed for a family of four.

It was a bad week to try (because of the traveling I had to do for work) but even with those obstacles I was pretty happy with it.  The cooking which initially looked overwhelming was actually pretty low-key time and effort wise.  It turned me on to a couple of simple recipes that I ended up LOVING.  My favorites:  the slow cooker refried beans made as tacos with corn tortillas, monterey jack cheese and sour cream or just in a bowl topped with cheese, and the peanut squash soup.  I also had my first experience with poached eggs and really liked them.  I really appreciated how the menu plan did a great job of incorporating leftovers and providing easy ways to store things if there was excess.  The fact that sweetness was not eliminated but cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup were absent was also great.

The bad?  Well it was definitely too much food for me and the grocery bill was too high.  I think I can deal with these two things with a little more planning.  Which also falls on the negative side.  In order to be ready for the next week I need to grocery shop today which means I should have made a meal plan last night with grocery list.  Right now that is a time consuming proposition but it should get easier as I get the hang of things, right?

Finally, I also bought Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck but have not yet dived in.

And really finally, I have been in a cider frenzy of late.  This is what I have been enjoying the last week or so - it's very good though on the sweet side.

I'm in a little bit of a quasi- reading slump.  I am reading and wanting to read but can't seem to settle on what I want to read.  I start a book and then decide it isn't what I want at all. I did manage to finish a couple of books.  I finally got through the audio book of Susan Cahalan's Brain on Fire which  left me with a better impression after finishing it then I had while I was reading it.  I also started and finished The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, a parody of fairy tales meant for middle grade readers which I liked very much.  I am also very close to finishing Emperor and Clown by Dave Duncan, the fourth and final installment in the A Man of his Word fantasy series which I have really enjoyed.  Finally, I have officially DNFed People of Sparks by Jeanne Duprau by returning it to the library - it was due and I could not bring myself to renew it.  I do have some curiosity about how the story would continue but the characters and their actions drove me up a wall.  Not my cup of tea.

Currently, I'm desultorily reading The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford - it's good but not really suiting my mood right now so it's going slowly.  Other than that I am kind of up in the air because I'm not sure I am in the mood for the two books on deck - A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander, a Victorian era mystery and The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa, a YA fantasy.  Both are second books in series, in which I liked but didn't love the first book.    If I knew what I was in the mood for I would put out a request for suggestions. Woe is definitely me, ha ha.  I'm ridiculous.

On the blog this past week:

SUNDAY: I posted a review of Alyxandra Harvey's Whisper the Dead.  *Jumps up on soapbox* Harvey is a Canadian YA author that I don't think is getting the buzz she deserves. She had good success with her first series, The Drake Chronicles (a teen vampire saga which will make you chuckle rather than wanting to scratch your eyes out) but after a few attempts at other books that didn't go over as well she has started a new series, The Lovegrove Legacy, of which Whisper the Dead is the second installment.  I have been really loving this series and encourage folks to check it out! *Soapbox done*
TUESDAY:  Top Ten Tuesday - Books or Movies for getting in the Halloween Spirit.
THURSDAY:  A review of The Martian by Andy Weir.  Who knew space vehicle repairs could be so entertaining!  It's fabulous!


SUNDAY: Sundays through the Stargate!  I am going to begin a supremely dorky series that obsessively examines one of my favorite shows that I am currently re-watching  - Stargate SG1! I'm excited!
TUESDAY: Top Ten Tuesday is  top books I want to re-read.
THURSDAY: Review of Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye.

That's it for this week.  How was your Halloween?  Any books you are reading right now that you are particularly loving?  Any blog posts or recipes from this week you're particularly happy with?

Rudy says: Always be vigilant against the squirrel.

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