Thursday, July 12, 2012

You Get What You Get

Salad tomatoes
My grand daughters have a saying, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit". I think that fits very well with eating from the garden. People of course have different goals for their gardens. Some are just to supplement what they buy at the store, while others eat completely from their own resources (which is my eventual goal.)

It is all a matter of attitude. Some people, getting bored with never ending greens will let the greens languish in the fridge and buy something different at the store. Just because they are bored eating the same thing every day. Me? well, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit! You find new ways to use the same old thing. Instead of steamed greens you stir fry them with bacon and onion. Sometimes you top them off with fried eggs and sometimes you mix them with potatoes. But every bite you eat from the garden is money saved at the grocery store. When you have tomatoes but no lettuce, you have tomato salad. Eggplant but no meat, eggplant Parmesan.

"What's for dinner?" becomes "whatever is ready to pick and eat" not "what am I in the mood for?" If it's the same thing for a few days running, well that is ok, because after that then something else will be ready. While some things are staples for months on end, like greens, other things have a short and fleeting season. So I gorge on it while it's available and then look forward to the next thing. And the next.

Home grown peaches
 Americans are spoiled by grocery stores having food grown in other countries so they can have bananas and other fruits all year. But such opulence comes at a high environmental price, to say nothing of what it does to the pocketbook. I think as the price of transportation goes up we will see a slight shift away from this. For my part I eat what is in season, whether I grow it or buy it. I don't buy grapes from Chile in January. In fact I don't buy imported fruits and vegetables at all. And I am really glad that our produce is labeled with the country of origin.

new potatoes
My goal, too this year, is not to do too much canning and preserving. But rather, to eat fresh, each thing at it's peak, then go on to the next thing. This too saves time, money and work. It means I can focus my preserving efforts on those things that are highly perishable but make a decent preserved product. I won't make more than a few jars of green beans, because I don't eat that many. But I might make a few jars of new potatoes because I don't have a good place to store potatoes and it's nice to have some already cooked and ready to go. I probably won't have enough tomatoes to make much sauce this year, but that's ok too, I don't eat much pasta any more and would just as soon eat it with pesto sauce. I do like to make a few jars of convenience food. Home made soup and chili in pint jars are nice to have on the shelf, ready to pop into a lunch box or heat up for a quick meal after a long day.  Having once lost a large amount of food to a freezer failure, I don't rely on freezing for much of my storage. Mostly freezing is a short term storage option and most of the space is taken up with meat.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grocery Budget Update; June

red & yellow new potatoes cooked together
June's grocery total was $141.31 This again was mostly dairy, meat and some pickled olives. The garden is beginning to really come on now, with potatoes, tomatoes, squash, corn, greens, and herbs. I even managed to get peaches & plums in June and harvested summer apples in July.

Of course the water bill for May was $175. However I think part of that was a slow leak that went undetected most of the month. Part of it also can be blamed on having to use sprinklers to keep things watered because my work schedule was is so crazy I don't always have enough time at home to hand water like I usually do. And of course I must also blame the weather. I went from March 18 to June 16 without rain and then I only got .2" Got another .5" on July 4th, but we have been having a lot higher humidity as our monsoon tries to get going so things are not drying out so badly as they were. You can see lots of garden photos over at The Edible Garden.

Even if the water bill continues to be high, it will all come out ok in the end. The water use now is not only growing what I'm eating now, but part of what I will eat this winter in the form of squash and potatoes.

I haven't had time to total up the harvest poundage for June, but will try to get to that soon. I also need to sit down and check out the numbers for the chickens feed and eggs delivered. In the mean time the flock has been expanding, in addition to the original 4 hens and a rooster, I bought 4 pullet chicks in March. Recently I was gifted 4 poults about 6 weeks old. A poult is a young bird that is big enough you can't call it a chick any more. It will be a bit before I see if they are girls or boys. In addition one hen is sitting on some eggs, due to hatch around July 20. I also received 4 young ducklings and am going to go pick up about 8 more this weekend. So it might be awhile before the poultry enterprise hits the black.

Welsummer poults
However, by the time the young pullets begin laying in September, that should really move the egg money ahead and of course I will harvest excess roosters and drakes for meat.

In the meantime I make a few dollars each week selling excess produce at the farmer's market and of course eat my fill of what ever veggies are ready.