Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nourishing Portable Food Challenge

One of my favorite Nourishing Blogs is having a Nourishing Portable Food Challenge. In light of the fact that I pack lunch for 2 children each day and they both have different requirements and likes/dislikes (my son cannot have dairy) and I often pack my own lunch for a meeting or whatever, I figure I can share some ideas and maybe figure out a recipe to post too.
You can check out all the ideas for healthy, nourishing portable foods at
Usually when I pack lunches I use the Laptop Lunches Lunchbox System I love these lunchboxes as they help with portion control and it is waste free which is good for the environment. They are plastic, but are made of the safer type plastics that aren't supposed to leach, for kids I really find plastic to be a necessity. The food presentation is wonderful because they are based on the Bento box style of Japan. When the child (or adult) opens the case, the food is ready and looks appetizing, things also keep from getting squished as they would in a plastic baggie.
I frequently make sandwiches for the children with all-natural lunchmeats or a healthy nut butter and raw honey with slices of organic banana, or sometimes an organic jam.
I also frequently pack homemade trail mix. This is my favorite portable snack as it is made with a variety of crispy nuts (nuts soaked in salt water overnight, then dehydrated to help break down the enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and other anti-nutrients and make them more digestible), organic dried fruit, and a few organic chocolate chips. It is easy to pack and gives them a good balance of protein and carbs to keep them going. Also, if they don't finish their lunch, this is usually something that they an snack on after school too.
I often put either apple sauce (for my son) and yogurt for my daughter with some fruit on top (in the picture it is some organic tart cherries with organic vanilla yogurt. I also put either vegetable or salad. In the picture it is kale for my son and a salad for my daughter. I also frequently put some pieces of cheese or salami or other meat with a few organic crackers (or sometimes without the crackers).
I also frequently send stew, chili or soup in a thermos. The kids always love that. I only send water most days, once a week they can have juice, chocolate milk or kombucha.
I often do a "lunchable" type lunch instead of a sandwich. I just roll up or cut with a decorative cutter pieces of meat and cheese and put those in with some veggie sticks, cut up fruit, maybe some olives, pickles or sauerkraut/kim chi and crackers. The kids love these finger foods.
I also frequently use leftover dinners that may be good cold. Cold pieces (off the bone) of roasted chicken with some hard-boiled egg and maybe cheese pieces along with veggies and fruit. Frittatas are great too, as they are good warm, room temp or cold. They can be cut in a wedge and eaten on the go easily too. They can be any meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and can include a variety of ingredients. Meatloaf is also good cold too.
Many friends and family have told me my meatloaf is great. Here is my recipe (the amounts are not real exact as I usually just throw it together), I put frozen organic corn in the middle of the loaf as my dad always did that and the kids get a kick out of it, but if you are planning to use it for a lunch (sandwich or sliced) that does not work so well, so just leave it without the "surprise in the middle"
Lisa's Meatloaf
Note: These amounts are approximate as I just eyeball it (however, it is 2lbs meat)
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef (if very lean, add some type of oil/fat to the mixture)
1 small or half a medium onion, pureed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon Penzey's beef roast seasoning (or use you favorite beef spice blend or other spices)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon organic worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
sprinkle of garlic powder or 1 small glove grated (or finely minced)
1 tablespoon organic tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons salsa
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thouroughly with hands (I find that works best to get it very well homogenized). Cover rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat and mound meat mixture into a free form loaf shape. (If doing a corn surprise in the middle, mound the bottom of the loaf, build up some sides, place frozen corn in middle and cover with remaining meat mixture).
Topping mixture: Mix 1/8 cup of ketchup with 1/8 cup salsa and pour over top of meatloaf to cover completely.
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Note: You can also shape the meat mixture into muffin tins and divide topping over them, reduce baking time to compensate (they will end up with grease puddled into the bottom of the tin, so remove immediately from tin to avoid them soaking it in or getting too soft at the bottom).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Menu Planning Week 5

Ok, so it is Tuesday and I am way behind (in just about every aspect of my life these days which just makes me procrastinate more!).

Well we have been cooking, but just not to organized about it.

Recap: Well we did have eggs, oatmeal and pot roast. Didn't get to much else.

Here is what we have had between last weekend and now: Saturday we had grilled steaks and grilled vegetables with baked potatoes, Sunday we had stirfry with the leftover steak, brown rice, salad and pickles with the last of the corn on the cob (in-laws came for dinner). Dessert was cantaloupe, blueberries and watermelon. Monday we had leftovers (well they did, I wasn't home).

Ok, here we go with this week.

Tuesday (August 26)
Breakfast-Soaked Oatmeal Porridge
Lunch-Bologna, fruit
Dinner: Meatloaf, Fried Summer Squash, Sauteed Red Cabbage

Wednesday (Aug 27)
Dinner-Pot Roast (need something that can cook while I am gone to the school meeting)

Thursday (Aug 28)
Breakfast -Muffins
Lunch Lunchmeat, fresh veggies, pickles
Dinner -Leftovers (we have to go to orientation for religious school)

Friday (Aug 29)

I also once again hope to get to making some desserts and zucchini bread as well as regular bread (since I am out of bread flour and plan to shop on Thursday evening). I got some wonderful local blueberries at the Royal Oak Farmers Market from Blueridge Blueberry Farm and I really want to make a blueberry dessert. I was hoping to make a blueberry peach crostada, but Rachel ate all the peaches lickity-split (and most of a bag of apples I got). I have enough Gingergold apples to make something, so I'll have to figure out what.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Menu Planning Week Four

Well, I sort of had a small tumble off the band wagon this week. I just have been so busy that every time I sat down to do a menu plan, I got side-tracked.

Well here is an attempt to rein in the week (which is a crazy busy week!!).

I can't even remember what we ate on Saturday and Sunday, so I'll start with Monday.

Monday (August 18)
Breakfast--Leftover Fritatta
Lunch-Smoked Turkey (lunchmeat from Markowycz), cucumber slices, cantaloupe, homemade pickles and whole grain gluten free crackers, leftover roasted cauliflower and roasted beets.
Dinner-Hamburger Patties (East River Organics hamburger, mixed with local eggs, basil and a few spices), breaded and baked summer squash, , corn on the cob.

Tuesday (August 19)
Breakfast-Smoked Turkey, summer sausage, cucumbers and chips
Lunch- Variety of leftover and some smoked turkey lunchmeat
Dinner-Baked Chicken, Corn on the cob, gnocci (from a local pasta company Tracina's) Leftover Summer squash from last night

Wednesday (August 20)
Dinner-Pot Roast (as I can prep it and let it cook while we are gone in the afternoon and eat real quick before my meeting tomorrow night)

Thursday (August 20)
Lunch-Salad and lunchmeat (or leftovers)

Lunch-Salad and leftovers
Dinner-leftovers and we are going to a Boy Scout event with hotodogs and smores too.

I also still need to make the zucchini bread, maybe Thursday as I clean my house to get ready for a GS meeting at my house in the evening

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Eating Local is so much fun this time of year.

During summer and into fall, I don't have much trouble eating local, and I LOVE the journey!!

Every Saturday I go to the farmers market (Royal Oak every other week usually followed by a trip to the Clarkston Market and just Clarkston on the other weeks). I sometimes go by myself, which is pleasurable to stroll along and talk to all my farmer/vendor friends, including Julie (La Vida Local) at Clarkston. Many weeks I meet or go with my dad. It is a throwback to my growing up years where it was a tradition to go to the market together. Sometimes we take the whole family, my kids love the market!!The smells, the sounds, the abundance of beaconing fruits and vegetables in all their glory, the multitude of colors. It is such a sensory and soul soothing experience!!

We belong to a CSA, so we have an abundance of fresh, local, organically-grown vegetables each week, but I can't resist the market experience. I still manage to spend a good amount on things we don't get enough of (or any of) from our CSA or other fun, yummy items that aren't produce but are local.

This past week I bought 2 dozen sweet corn, a watermelon, 2 canteloupe and a quart of organic, local peaches.

For dinner recently we had Nachos with local beef (from East River Organics) made into homemade taco meat (I don't use a spice/packet for the meat, but a recipe from Cook's Illustrated), Simmon's corn chips, global warming salsa, locally bought sour cream and Rosewood cheese (which is produced in Ann Arbor area) and Eden refried beans. It was so good and very filling.

Breakfast this morning was Fritattas with local eggs (we get them from our CSA and they are locally produced by several area families for our CSA), veggies from our CSA (onions, garlic, summer squash, green bell pepper and carrots from east river organics, they are so good). Hubby made breakfast. We had the watermelon from the farmers market with the frittata.

So it isn't hard for me to do local meals this time of year, in fact basically all our meals are local as we try to use up our abundance of veggies. We had grilled pizzas tonight. The crust was homemade with flour from Westwind Mill (I did use a bit of other flour because Westwind is out of the heartier wheat varieties and I needed a bit more protein content in the dough). The dough only has salt, yeast, water, olive oil and flour in it. The sauce was made from homemade roasted tomato sauce (the peach and melon farmer at the Clarkston Farmers market gave us a bag of their imperfect tomatoes when they heard we wanted to make sauce--thats what I love about building relationships with your growers) with onion and garlic from our CSA added and some spices. The toppings were onions (CSA), pepperoni (Markowycz Meats in Detroit) and cheese. We had sweet corn with the pizzas!!

Yum, I will be sad when winter rolls around and the fresh green vegetables and the lucious fruits are gone. We do put up things like tomato sauce, corn (blanced and cut off the cob), berries, and pickles, kim chi and sauerkraut, and jam. We try to do more, but depends on what we can source.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sanford Family Dill Pickles

This pickle recipe has been in my family for Generations!! They are Kosher Dill Pickles made with a salt brine and not vinegar. Garlicky and yummy, they are a family tradition. My dad used to make them with his parents and his grandparents made them too, I don't know how many more generations back they go, but they are the typical recipe for Kosher Garlic Brined Dills, so I am sure our family didn't invent them, but we sure love them!! I grew up making pickles with my dad and when I had kids I taught them the recipe and how to make them (and hubby, who loves them and is a fantastic pickle maker now!!).
This is a great activity for the kids as they can help with all the steps and the daily shake and check is always fun. It is like magic how green cucumbers turn cloudy and dark and turn into sour dill pickles. Pure Magic!!

Sanford Family Dill Pickle Recipe

Per Quart of Pickles
2 stalks Dill -- divided
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt -- heaping
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1 quart pickling cucumbers -- as many as will fit in a wide mouth quart jar
2 cloves garlic (the individual cloves, not heads)-- peeled, to taste (2-3 cloves, more or less depending on how garlicky you like your pickles.-- I sometimes slice up the bigger cloves and cut in half smaller cloves and put the pieces in, that helps give it more garlic flavor.)
1 red chile pepper -- dried (optional, to taste, if you like a little heat add one, for hotter pickles add more dried peppers-- I use dried arbol peppers)
**cold water

For each quart of pickles use a clean (preferably sterile) wide mouth quart jar with a lid and screw cap. Fold up one stalk of dill and push into bottom of quart jar, covering the bottom of the jar (use more dill if needed to cover bottom of jar).
Fill jar with cucumbers, tightly pack as many as will fit up to the lip (below where the threads for the lid start) of jar.
Add one heaping Tablespoon of kosher salt and one teaspoon of pickling spice to jar.

Push cloves of garlic into areas around cucumbers (try to evenly disburse them around jar) and add the hot pepper(s) to jar. Fold up remaining stalk of dill and push into jar on top of cucumbers to cover.

Fill jar to lip (below the area where the threads start for screw top) with cold water, covering cucumbers and dill. Make sure cucumbers are covered, sometimes you have to really fill the jars with water to get the cukes and dill covered, that is ok (just make sure you use a pan under the jars as explained below).
Place lid and screw top on and tighten screw top by hand till tight (you don't need to overtighten). Shake jars to distribute salt and spices and help the salt dissolve.
Place filled jars on counter or table with a pan or several layers of paper towels underneath to catch any possible leaks.
Shake jars once a day and check to make sure lid has not come loose due to the fermentation process. The brine will start to turn cloudy after a while, and the cucumbers will go from bright green to a darker green, this means they are working and turning to pickles. Pickles will be ready to eat in one week (we go 10 days to start), but are even better if you wait two weeks. Refrigerate after opening.
They will last several weeks in the fridge once opened (however, we can never keep them around that long). They will last for several weeks or even longer before opening jars, but they are not actually preseved via a canning method for long term storage. After too long the cucumbers tend to get very mushy. They are best if you eat them 2-4 weeks after making them. Enjoy.

I have attached three pictures of the jars we made. The brightest green is one made today (the picture on the far left), the middle picture is slightly green but darker and cloudy and was made 2 days ago, the last jar (the far right picture) is one that is 9 days old (almost ready to eat).


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Menu Planning Week 3

Well, I made it another week and still trying to keep sane and menu plan.

Here is what I have:

Saturday (August 9)-
Breakfast-Whatever husband made for the kids as I left early for the Farmers Markets (Both Royal Oak and Clarkston, I love the market!!--My dad went with me to Royal Oak and I stopped and picked up my middle child, Jeremy, to go to Clarkston, it was a blast!!)
Lunch-Leftovers--chicken, hot dogs and some other misc. stuff from the fridge plus some Kim Chi.
Dinner-I made Egg Drop Soup for the kids and my mom. Jay and I were off to supper club (this is our 7th year with this group and we always have a nice time and the chance to go out sans kids and have fun with friends is great). We took Quinoa Bake and Braised White Beans with Greens.

Sunday (August 10)-
Breakfast- We wanted to make blueberry pancakes but can't find the cord to our electric griddle so we went with Waffles instead. I will post my waffle recipe on a separate post later. We had them with Homemade Strawberry Grand Marnier Sauce and whipped cream. YUM!!
Lunch- Noshed, not a real lunch as breakfast was kind of a "brunch" time.
Dinner-Leftovers-roast chicken, braised beans and greens, quinoa bake and we had fresh sweet corn from the market which was fantastic

Monday (August 11)
Breakfast- Leftover waffles
Lunch-Bologna sandwiches on homemade rye bread with MI honeyrock melon (from the Clarkston Farmers Market) and chips (a treat we bought at the store last night, made with potatoes, sunflower oil and salt).
Dinner- Baked Zucchini, Meatloaf, rest of the corn on the cob

Breakfast- Muffins (soak overnight and bake in the morning, I will prep tonight if I remember).
Lunch-Leftovers or sandwiches whichever the kids want
Dinner- Grilled Pizza.

Breakfast-Frittata--Use up any scraps of veggies and leftover cheese from the pizza
Lunch-Leftover Pizza
Dinner-Tacos/Nachos (now have sour cream and will make salsa)

Breakfast-Pancakes (if I can find the cord, if not we will have eggs or leftovers)
Lunch-Plow Share (lunchmeat, cheese, crackers, pickles, veggies, etc. all on a platter and help yourself)
Roast Chicken

Hubby will be home late Thursday night, so he will be happy to eat at home again.
Breakfast- Eggs or Leftovers, depending on what the kids want as we have to eat and leave for our CSA distribution (Farm day which we love).
Lunch-Packed lunch-Sandwiches, fruit, cucumbers and some water. We have to eat either at the farm or in the car as we have a 2pm Dr. appt.
Stir fry veggies over brown rice and chicken egg drop soup.

Other things to make-
Pickles (we made 13 jars yesterday and ran out of dill and jars, got more from my dad, so we have to make the rest of the cucumbers we got at the farmers market)
Kim Chi-We got a nice conical cabbage from our CSA and I found a diakon radish at the market from a local farmer I know, beautiful, large radish for $1 and she grows everything organically.
Zucchini Bread-I have to get to this soon as we need to use the big squash before Friday when our new disbursement comes.
Water Kefir-- A friend gave me some with grains and I need to experiment with it.

I think that is all and probably a bit too ambitious for the week considering Jay is gone and I have a ton of other things to get accomplished this week.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Menu Plan recap for Week 2

I am trying to keep this up and I think it does help. A few unavoidable changes occurred this week as we always seem to be busier and more tired than planned.

I managed to make many things from last week:
We had in no particular order-Scrambled eggs (several mornings, some with toast, some with fruit, etc.), sandwiches (bologna, turkey, PB & Honey with Banana, PB&J), Roast chicken with Onions, Potatoes and Carrots roasted under the chicken, Teriyaki beets, Hot dogs (like I said there are all natural with no fillers, nitrates, etc. from a local smokehouse), pickles (opened our first jar of homemade this season), roast cauliflower, steamed broccoli, Marinated Flank Steak.

I ended up changing out the tacos for Flank steak as I bought salsa this week and it was no good when I opened it (not outdated, but went off for some reason) plus I forgot to pick up sour cream, so this will get bumped to this week.

Not bad all in all. With hubby working late several nights and oldest at day camp (which meant driving back and forth every day to take and pick her up and let the boys play at the playground at the park).

The one real thing that didn't happen was making chinese dinner last night. Our CSA disbursement was huge and it took a lot longer at the farm than usual. Then I forgot that Rachel had an appointment at 2pm, so a quick lunch in the car (I quickly packed up some plates and napkins, sliced turkey breast, cheese, cucumber slices, blueberries and some corn chips and a juice box). By the time I got home at 4pm and unpacked all the produce from the car, I was tired and had a headache. Hubby had a 2 hour commute home instead of 45 minutes due to terrible traffic, so by 6 pm we were too tired to start a long dinner prep and the opening ceremonies start at 7:30 pm. We opted for the easy way out and ordered Chinese from a local restaurant that has been in business for many years. I used to go there as a child with my parents and the owners know my family. They make fresh food (obviously not organic) and will make it without any MSG, so not a great thing, but a very infrequent treat. The kids loved getting carry-out and eating in front of the TV and opening ceremony show was AMAZING. Kids didn't stay up for the whole thing, but it was a nice family time and we did discuss a lot of things surrounding olympics and countries of the world coming together!! Sometimes those family moments are more important than being 100% on our diet (or so to speak). Of course, I am tired today a combination of the non-NT food and lack of sleep since I stayed up late watching the show.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Menu Planning Week 2

Well better late than never. I finally wrote down a plan for this week before bed last night. I did pretty good on last weeks plan. Not perfect but it is just a plan and a tool, if it isn't flexible, it wont' work for me!!

Last week we ended up making the Sweet Cherry Caflouti, eggs, soaked oatmeal, hotdogs, sweet corn, lots of different veggies, Pot roast, Roast Chicken, Bread, Cherry/Almond Gallette and Pickles.

This week I will start the menu plan with Saturday and tell you what we ate. Saturday we went to the Clarkston Farmer's Market and made quite the haul (and left with my wallet $85 lighter) in addition to the huge amount we got from the CSA and the few things from our own garden (see previous posts).

Saturday August 2:
Breakfast--Soaked Oatmeal (leftover)
Lunch-Hotdogs (from Markowycz in Detroit), Corn on the cob fresh from the market (Farmer Bob's--it was delicious, see my last post), Leftover braised white beans with greens and leftover quinoa bake (quinoa, tomato sauce, greens and cheese).
Dinner-Went to my in-laws to swim and ate carry out (it is summer after all).

Sunday, August 3:
Breakfast- Egg with a hole in the middle. My kids (and myself) love this. We used homemade rye bread and farm fresh eggs, Very Yum!!
Lunch-Sandwiches, some had PBJ with banana (Naturally Nutty PB) and some of us had Bologna (from Markowycz in Detroit) on homemade bread. Cucumber slices from our bounty from our CSA.
Dinner- Lasagna. The VitaSpelt lasagna noodles, homemade tomato sauce and ground beef from East River Organics in Snover, MI, veggies I added from CSA. Cheese isn't local but can't do lasagna without ricotta and fresh mozzerella (got those at Whole Foods). Corn on the cob!!

Monday, August 4:
Breakfast-Scrambled Eggs and Honeyrock Melon from the Farmer's Market
Lunch- Bologna Sandwiches, Honeyrock Melon, Cucumber Slices and leftover Quinoa Bake
Dinner- Leftover Lasagna, Salad and the last of the corn from the market

Tuesday, August 5
Breakfast- Soaked Oatmeal
Lunch- Leftovers
Dinner-Roast Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower, Teryaki Beets, Salad

Wed, August 6
Lunch (I have to pack for daughter going to camp and myself for a meeting) probably sausage, cheese, salad, fruit and nuts with dried cherries and choc chips. Boys can have whatever my mom gets them as she is babysitting
Dinner-Hot dogs and broccoli and wild rice (have to eat early to go to see Rachel's camp play)

Thursday, Aug 7
Breakfast- Carrot Spice Muffins (soak overnight and bake in morning)

Friday, August 8
The Start of the Summer Olympics. I love the olympics (even if I am not thrilled about it being in China). So in honor of that a chinese inspired meal while we watch TV (a treat in itself to eat in front of the TV, we rarely do that).

Lunch- Leftovers
Dinner-Egg drop soup, fried rice, beef and vegetable stir fry

Miscellaneous stuff over the week:
More pickles (our cukes are starting to really produce)
Dill Dip and veggies to snack on
Zucchini Bread (we have a large one from the CSA to use up)

Well check and see how it went next week!!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Michigan Sweet Corn Nirvana!!

It doesn't seem like summer is complete until we get to eat our fill of Fresh Michigan Sweet Corn!! Now is the time. We have been to the farmers market last Saturday and yesterday to get some of the sweet stuff. Everyone in my family loves sweet corn, especially my kids!!

My kids LOVE Corn on the cob. In fact, my mother-in-law always buys corn on the cob when the kids are coming to eat over, because it is their favorite (their favorite meal is grilled lambchops, corn on the cob and broccoli). However, she buys it all times of the year and to me it just isn't even close to being the same vegetable.

I only buy corn on the cob this time of year. The season is short, but oh so sweet. It is like biting into a juicy piece of healthy candy!! Boiled for just a short time and while steamy hot, covered in a bit of butter than runs down your fingers as you eat. An ever so gentle sprinkling of celtic sea salt and a light griding of fresh black pepper and I am in corn heaven!!

We picked up two dozen yesterday and each had an ear for lunch. This morning after breakfast the kids wanted corn, so we cooked up an ear each and had an after breakfast dessert/snack!! The kids came running from their playmates outside to enjoy the corn. As Ben, my three year-old said, " this corn is so good!!" Jeremy was sure to point out that it is best when it is fresh and from a good farmer!!

We blanched a few of the ears to cut off the cob and freeze. That way I can taste a bit of summer when the snow is piled up outside in February!!

Enjoy the season and support your local farmer!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Our CSA Box

Well summer is in full swing and the veges are coming in full tilt!! The tomatoes are a bit slow this year (usually we get lots and so far we only got one large one and all the rest are small varieties and this was the first week we picked cherry tomatoes and the Juliet).

However we got a nice head of broccoli and several small shoots too, a head of cauliflower, a nice large conical cabbage, 6 heads of garlic, a bag of cucumbers, a large onion and a smaller onion, a few beets, a large Rapicante summer squash, several other summer squash, a large zucchini (to bake with), a bag of salad greens, kale, Italian chard, a couple handfuls of Romano green beans, a bag of tomatoes (mixed varieties) and some dill and basil. A big haul for sure.

We will have good eats this week!!

Edible Landscaping

I sent out this email today and I decided I would make it a post on my blog too.

Many of you know Julie Laporte from La Vida Local. She showed me and explained to me that she was going to do edible landscaping in her new lakefront home in Clarkston. I was very impressed and it got me thinking. Much of our landscaping that was here when we bought the house was very overgrown (6 years ago) and a few years back a friend helped me rip it up, weed, mulch and replant. We used the plants that were already there by dividing them and moving them, etc. I also added some beautiful plants that I received at Rocky Gardens.

I also started an herb bed the first year we moved in and have been adding to it each year. Well this year things were very overgrown in both my front and back garden, so we have started once again to redo our landscaping a little at a time.

In our front I tore out a ground cover that was overgrown and not looking so good right near my porch and planted lavender instead. I plan to harvest the lavender next year and use it in my cooking and dry it for its wonderful scent!! I also planted my large flower pot on my porch with herbs instead of flowers. It is really looking wonderful (my dad even commented on it) and I use the herbs frequently as well as my kids loving to munch on them!! I grew regular basil, thai basil (which is so pretty and smells amazing) and a globe basil which is bush like and little tiny leaves, I also planted rosemary and some parsley (from seed) as well as a Mexican herb related to coriander but I can’t remember the name of it.

I plan to tear out the rest for next year (keeping a few things that are beautiful like my rhododendron) and replant with garlic and other edibles. I also plant to plant some edible flowers next year like marigolds, nasturtiums, etc.

Along my side yard I plan to plant sunflowers next year.

In the back this year we cut down some spindly trees that were not in a spot that was good for them and they were producing too much shade and too close to the fence, etc. I also removed several overgrown daylilies and hostas (which we have A LOT of anyway) and gave them to some other people to enjoy. A couple years ago I had planted 2 rhubarb plants in this area and they produced this year and are lovely, I hope to find room to add more rhubarb as I love it. I also planted a few pepper plants (2 bell peppers and one jalepeno) and a roma tomato plant and 2 grape tomato plants. They have lots of green tomatoes on them and the kids check them every day!! I did an experiment by planting cucumbers this year, they are doing great and we picked enough the other day to make a quart of pickles, the neighbor kids came over and we had a great time picking and pickling the cukes!!

We tore out a bush and many weeds and have a lot more to go!! Next year we plan to have a much larger garden and try some new things. We are also composting this year (after a failed attempt before), so I hope that helps out the garden for the future.

Julie was my inspiration and I thought I would share this story as it seems to be a hot topic as we come to a time of more food insecurity. It has been mentioned in many magazines and websites that we need to revitalize the WWII victory garden concept and grow “eco-gardens” to save our planet and cut down on fuel consumption and global warming.

This video is a story about a landscaper in Oregon who has taken the backyard garden philosophy to heart. I was very inspired by his outlook and views as well as what he accomplished. It is about 26 minutes long, but very nice.