Life of Megan

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Even more vegetable futures

Earlier this spring, we signed up for the Full Plate Collective, a CSA, alongside one of Judson's coworkers. So we have a 2/3 share of vegetable futures, theoretically enough to feed 2/3 of a family of four throughout the growing season (late May through late November). Since a family of four generally includes two children, who would a) not eat as much as adults anyway and b) be unimpressed with local vegetables, I assume a 2/3 share should come close to being way too many vegetables for the two of us.

So what did we do with this knowledge? We started our own garden! And it's not just a small herb garden, as I had originally envisioned. Nope, it's around 400 sq. ft.

Being the geeks we are, we did a lot of planning before we started doing real work. We perused the two gardening books we received as a gift from my in-laws (thanks, Marc and Audrey!), made a list, and then started figuring out when things would need to be planted. But this wasn't enough for me... I required spreadsheets.

So I made them.

It took us a while to get organized, but we finally broke ground (literally) last week. Judson rented a tiller, which he used to tear up our backyard while I was out for a 13-mile run. Then, the next day, we dug fence post holes. Last week, I built a gate door.

This weekend, we had all the really hard work to do, plus we absolutely had to get the very early stuff planted, since we're now about four weeks from Ithaca's last frost date. We dug trenches. We put up a fence. I hung the gate. We dug paths. We spread the most noxious smelling fertilizer I've ever encountered. We spread manure. We worked the fertilizer and manure into the soil. Finally, we planted seeds, watered the garden, and put down our floating row covers to protect them. Fortunately, in all our digging, we had found plenty of large rocks to act as anchors.

Soon, we'll have to string the barbed wire along the top and bottom of our fence to keep out the deer. We will also need to bury some fence under the gate to discourage the rabbits, or all our trench digging today and yesterday would be kind of pointless. And finally, we need to get some wood mulch for our pathways.

But nothing really needs to be done for the next two weeks, which is just fine with me. I'm supposed to be tapering for my half marathon on the 3rd.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gorilla Detector

I'll be blogging about my gardening adventures soon enough, but in the meantime, I thought I'd entertain and delight you with a brilliant invention from Muppet Labs.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Mmm... Bacon

I would say that I am offering further proof that science is awesome, but I am not convinced there's much actual science here.

But who needs science as an excuse to eat bacon after drinking too much?

Bacon Sandwiches Cure Hangovers and Make You Feel Good.

Anyhow, the Brits published this one, so it must be true, right?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Meals this Week

I haven't done this for a while now, so it seems like this is a good time. And you can see how much pork we ended up buying. Next week, maybe there will be more moderation.

Saturday 4/4
Posole (Judson)
Posole is an ancient Mexican stew using posole, which is a hatey type of corn, and pork. I'm not really sure what all was in it other than those two ingredients, but it was delicious and made a great lunch Monday.

Sunday 4/5
Spicy orange beef, stir-fried sugar-snap peas, white rice (Megan)
I used left-over braised beef from a dish last week for this one. I basically followed Bittman's recipe (a deviation from his basil beef stir-fried dish) from How to Cook Everything. I cooked the rice using my favorite method for white rice. In a saucepan, combine 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water plus a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Stir slightly. Reduce heat to low, cover, and wait 15-20 minutes until the rice has absorbed the water. Judson ended up cooking the peas per my instructions. They were stir-fried in a little oil until they were crisp-tender and brown in places. Then they were tossed with a little sesame oil and a little soy sauce. The meal was good, especially after my long run, but I think I'd add more orange juice and a bit more orange zest next time, and I might use fish sauce instead of soy sauce for the beef. Using leftovers for the meat worked perfectly.

Monday 4/6
Pork chops, braised red cabbage with apples, farmer's potatoes (Megan)
For the cabbage, I sauteed a sliced Granny Smith apple with some chopped onions in about a tbsp of butter for around 2 minutes. Then I added about 3/4 of a pound of sliced red cabbage and 1/4 cup water and cooked for about five minutes, until the cabbage had started to wilt. I seasoned this mixture with plenty of salt and pepper, and then I added about 1/4 cup of cider vinegar (I think--I started with about 1/6 and added more later because it needed more acidity), 1 tbsp sugar, and one bay leaf. I reduced the heat to low and let it cook about 20 more minutes.

For the potatoes, I used some sort of local gold, waxy variety (like butter potatoes or Yukon golds). For the two of us, I prepared 4 small potatoes (probably about 1.5 normal potatoes). I cut the potatoes into roughly 1/2" cubes and parboiled them for a few minutes in salted water, just until they were approaching edible. Then I drained them. Meanwhile, I had chopped 1/2 onion and cut two strips of bacon from The Piggery into 1" pieces. Later, I chopped 3 small cloves of garlic. After I drained the potatoes, I left them in the colander and returned the pot to the stove. I cooked the bacon over medium heat until it was crispy and rendered all of its delicious pork fat. Then Judson took over for me because I was working on the pork, and he was starving. But he followed my directions. He added the onions and browned them, and then added the garlic. When the garlic started to turn a golden color, he added the potatoes and continued cooking until they were done and starting to brown. We added a little of the pork chop drippings because the potatoes seemed like they needed a little lubrication.

I got my pork chops out of the fridge when I started all my prep so they'd be closer to room temperature when I started cooking. These pork chops were from The Piggery. They were a little on the small side, about 8 oz each, including the bone and a thick layer of fat, but they were gorgeous and about an inch or more thick. Anyhow, I seasoned the chops with salt and pepper. I heated my cast iron skillet over high heat for about 30 seconds and then added some olive oil and waited for the oil to smell hot. Then, I browned the chops until they were nice and crusty on each side. I jabbed a thermometer into the meaty portion of one, reduced the heat to low, covered the thing with some aluminum foil (probe thermometers are not always accommodating of lids) and let it go. Another option would be to finish the chops in the oven, but Judson had used it to roast some beets for tomorrow, and I wasn't really thinking clearly. Anyhow, when the chops were about 5 deg. from done, I removed them from the heat. I made a quick sauce for the pork using the drippings, some dijon mustard, some sherry vinegar, and some water.

The meal was delicious. I wish I had made more cabbage.

Tuesday 4/7
Linguine carbonara, roasted beet salad (Judson)
Carbonara always seems to mean a very cream-laden dish in this country, but traditionally, there's no cream involved. You basically make a sauce from bacon, egg, and parmesan.

Wednesday 4/8
Spinach salad (Judson)
I'm not sure what he has in mind, but I'm pretty sure there'll be plenty of bacon.

Thursday 4/9
Curried lentils, brown rice, fruit (Megan)
I couldn't really think of a good vegetable accompaniment, so I'm going to serve plenty of fruit for dessert. I haven't worked through all the details yet. But I do know that I will be baking the rice, a la Alton Brown, because that method is tasty and has never failed me.

Friday 4/10
Mystery night!
Either we'll go out, or we'll gin something together with left-overs and/or eggs. =)

Friday, April 03, 2009

All hail the pig!

After a 3-month period of living almost entirely pork-free (having resorted only to the occasional bacon or pancetta), we are eagerly anticipating the reopening of Ithaca's Farmers Market tomorrow and, with it, the return of the porktacular products of the Piggery.

And this year, they have bacon!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Alanis Morisette would think it's ironic.

I am actually following a training plan for the Flying Pig Half Marathon. It's an intermediate plan, which means that I actually have speed workouts for a change.

My speed workouts are slated for Wednesdays. This way, I can have maintenance runs on Tues and Thurs, a long run on Sat, and a recovery run on Sun. Mondays and Fridays are off days, which works out really well with my work schedule.

Every Wednesday since I've started this plan, the weather has been miserable. Generally, it is very windy (15+ mph) and/or precipitating. This week looked to be no different, so I wisely chose to do my mile repeats yesterday.

It actually wasn't too bad today. I missed the rain, or the rain missed us. And it was certainly gusty, but the wind wasn't as bad as expected.

Now I see the forecast for Saturday (I have a 13-miler scheduled) is somewhat icky temps plus 22 mph winds. It's really hard for me to do my long runs on Sunday because I usually play board games late morning - 2 in the afternoon, and I have a hard time getting up early enough to manage food + digestion + 2 hours of running + showering before we meet up.

And this is my peak mileage week, and I am pooped already.


Please cross your fingers that I'll face calmer winds this weekend. =)