Monday, October 31, 2011

Miniature Marvel

Last week I picked what may have been the cutest, tiniest bell pepper ever.   The whole thing is like the size of my thumbnail.
Even though it is smaller than a nickle the tiny little pepper is already perfectly formed in miniature with little seeds and thickening inner ribs and everything.  I thought it was pretty much miraculous.
I never ceased to be amazed and excited by the wonders that come out of the vegetable garden.  Sometimes you have to look rather closely though! 

Lavender Mashed Potatoes

Matt loves to grow things that are oddly colored--like rainbow carrots and purple potatoes.   We made mashed potatoes for our anniversary dinner with a blend of yellow, white, and purple potatoes and the result was an unusual lavender colored mashed potatoes.  Matt was pretty happy.  

Soda Bottle Bulbs

Isn't this just amazing ingenuity?!

I love a low-tech, local solution to a problem.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Recycle Glass At Target

Update from March 9, 2016: As of March 1st you can no longer recycle glass at Targets stores in Montana.  This disappoints me as I quite like seeing corporations helping to take responsibility for the disposable packaging they sell and profit from.  I got a nice email back in response to my email to them.  I think everyone who cares should call or email them, too.  The more the merrier.  Contact them here

I have been telling everyone this since I confirmed it.  You can recycle glass at Target.  For FREE!

Now, for many people recycling glass is probably now news.  Glass is one of the best things to recycle because you can actually make old bottles into new bottles.  Most other media results in a form of down-cycling, which still better than the landfill, isn't ideal.  You cannot make a new soda bottle out of an old one.   It is made into something else that can handle a slightly degraded plastic.   Glass recycling should be everywhere, but there are only two ways to recycle glass in Yellowstone County.  #1 Pay for curbside recycling (w/ glass) through Earth First Aid or #2 Take it to Target. 

Matt and I are very much the why-pay-for-it-if-I-can-do-it-myself type folks so we are not part of the cubside recycling program here.  We figure for $138 (w/o glass) -$168 (w/ glass) each year we will just save it in the basement and haul it off ourselves.  But, we didn't really have a solution for glass.  I saved it for when I visited places that did have glass recycling, the closest being nearly two hours away.  Also, my boss would let me slip some in with his curbside recycling because as a single man he didn't ever fill up his container all the way.   However, he plans to drop the glass portion come December so that option will be out soon enough.

Really though the solution is for Matt to learn to brew his own beer as probably 90% of the glass that ends up at our house is from beer.   But, until then I at least found a place to take them here in town.

Target also accepts a number of other recyclable items including plastic bottles, grocery bags, and some small electronics, like cellphones and MP3 players. 

Speaking of electronics:  Did you know you can recycle all sorts of e-waste at Best Buy?  They take cords, keyboards, ink cartridges, CDs, DVDs, DVD/CD cases, etc. for free.  They also take in large electronics such as TVs, but there is a charge for that. 

Heck, while I'm at it, for those in Billings I will also mention Yellowstone E-Waste Solutions which offers e-waste recyling for a just about every possible electronic device.  They accept cell phones, MP3 players, ink cartridges, cords & cables, and internal computer parts for free. They charge $ .30/pound for other larger electronics.  They also partner up with the City of Billings to offer discount days where the City picks up most of the tab as a way to encourage people to start recycling e-waste.  Electronics contain many valuable metals that should be reused as well as potentially harmful components that should NOT be disposed of in the trash.

Well...I guess I got a little sidetracked.  I really only meant to post about glass.

In any case, I don't do much shopping at either Target or Best Buy, but I am so glad to see they're promoting recycling.  I am also very happy that there are several options open to my community for the responsible disposal of e-waste.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Roast Veggies with Pasta

I made a new dish for dinner this week that I was super pleased with.  It was quite simple, but quite flavorful and just a little bit spicy. 
This photo in no way does this dish justice.
Roast Veggies with Pasta
1 small yellow onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto/kidney beans
1/2 butternut squash  (I think it ended up being about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
olive oil, enough to coat veggies

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Cut onions and peppers into generous bite-sized pieces. 
Cube the squash in slightly smaller bite-sized pieces. 
Add veggies to a large baking dish. 
Add oil enough to coat all the vegetables. 
Sprinkle spices over top and stir until the spices are evenly distributed.
Bake until tender, about 20-25 minutes.
While the veg are roasting start pasta cooking.
After the pasta is cooked and vegetables are tender toss them together and serve!

On My Mind....Sisters

Today my sisters are on my mind.  I wish we could all live together.  Okay, maybe not together, but in the same community.

The On My Mind concept come from  Rhonda on her Down to Earth blog.  Won't you join in on the fun?!

Eggplant Daiyasan

I work late one night a week.   Matt always tries to have dinner waiting for me when I get home because it is the one day a week he beats me home from work.  He is a great cook so it is usually something to look forward to.  This week he managed to really out-do himself though. He made a version of Eggplant Parmesan that made my mouth oh-so-happy.  It was the first time I've ever eaten it (as I just this summer discovered the wonder of eggplants) and the first time Matt had made it (though he used to make Chicken Parmesan back when he ate meat).  Thus, there isn't much to compare it to, but I thought it was truly outstanding nonetheless.  He used Daiya cheese instead of Parmesan so I was calling it Eggplant Daiyasan, but Matt thought that was a little to cutesy or something and refused to go along.  The eggplants were local, and the tomato sauce, onions, and garlic came from the home garden.  As soon as I walked in the door my nose told me I was in for something extra-special.
 
 
It was so good in fact that I even ate it in a sandwich for lunch yesterday.  (My sister feigned a gasp when I told her this.)  I, in general, do not eat sandwiches.  For this one though I am willing to make an exception.  It was even more outstanding than when we served the eggplants over pasta.  Yum.

The Last Day for The Vegetable Patch

Beans drying on the vine.
Tuesday Matt and I spent the morning tearing down the vegetable bed.  The temperatures were dropping, we'd had to cover several times, and it seemed we couldn't fight the inevitable any longer.  We made it to October 25th though so I feel we made the most of the season. Fall is here and doesn't seem to be kidding around any longer. 


Harvesting peppers.
Ripping up the pepper plants and pulling down the sprawling tentacles of tomato plants is somewhat surreal.  The vegetable bed is radically transformed in a rather short amount of time.  Plants we've so lovingly cared for since they were just little seeds way back in March we were now ruthlessly tearing up. 




An impressive tomato root.
Matt insisted on taking down the little rabbit fence as we still hope to have moved to a little house of our own by the time we need to be transplanting seedlings outside next year.  We also will be stacking all the bricks, but didn't get to that yesterday.  With only the carrot tops and fallen leaves the bed looks so flat and naked.  The front of the house feels enormous.

We got quite a number of green tomatoes.  We will try to ripen what we can, but also want to make some green tomato salsa.   We also ended up with quite a crop of spicy peppers--cayenne, Serrano, jalapeno, kung pao--as well as some bells and other sweet peppers.


Spiral pepper.


Tomatoes spread out in a dresser drawer to ripen.
We grew beans for the first time this year.  Yellow Indian Beans.  We haven't gotten to eat them yet, but watching them grow and dry has sure been fun.  Beans are definitely going to be a part of our vegetable patch from here on out.  We eat a ton of beans, so why not?!
You can see a couple beans that hadn't dried in the shell.  They are very white and tender.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Matt's Gleaning

Matt was the Potato Team at our community garden this year.  He didn't sign up for it, but the poor things were being swallowed by weeds and didn't stand much of a chance.  It seems whoever did sign up for the Potato Team bailed.  Matt couldn't bear the sight of those potato plants in the forest of weeds and so took to it, clearing it into nice rows again.  After he did it once he sort of felt it was his duty to keep it up.  The garden organizer was quite grateful and felt bad that Matt didn't even get to harvest any potatoes on the Common Ground harvest day a few weeks back.  Matt didn't care.  He was just glad the potatoes would be used.  That is the back story to Matt's first potato gleaning.   
Prior to being washed.
Matt went back to the garden recently and poked around in the (now quite cold) soil.  He found a few potatoes, but not much.  Then he noticed two potato plants that had been overlooked in the harvest, obscured by other vegetation.  He started digging.  And came home with a little pail full.    Cool.  Free potatoes that would have rotted otherwise.  It made me happy.

Gus & Rainy

So, the same day I picked grapes it was pointed out to me that I had misspoke on my blog.  In the post entitled The A to Z of Me I said I wasn't a dog person.  Well, over at Ryan's house it was kindly pointed out to me that I am a dog person....by the two dogs that I really and truly enjoy, Gus and Rainy.
When I said I wasn't a dog person I was oversimplifying.  I love dogs as much as the next fuzzy critter, but unfortunately so very many that I meet are poorly, poorly trained which makes them little fun to be around in my opinion.  That is was made me misspeak.   In general I do not gush at the sight of a dog, but there are those that have proven to be pretty incredible and heart-stealing....like Gus and Rainy.
After spending an hour rubbing and petting and being followed by these two incredible fellows I felt a clarification was in order.  I am a dog person....but it takes a very, very special dog to win me over. 
Apparently something in the squash smelled interesting.
Very interesting....

Have you ever been with a greyhound?  They are such neat doggies.  Gus and Rainy remind me of deer.  They are so quiet and long legged and gentle, with the sweetest, softest eyes.  They are the perfect height for hugging.  I crouch down and they come over and rest their head on my shoulder, chest to chest, and we snuggle.  I love it!  They are wild when they run.  Gus thinks a sack on the end of whip is the best dog toy ever.  They have the softest skin on their belly.  It feels like velvet.  They shed an impressive amount of hair all over me when I am rubbing on them and I just don't care because they are so tender and wonderful. 
See, I AM a dog person.  But not just any ol' dog will do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ayers Natural Bridge (Furthur Megavacation Day 10)

Day 10 was the last day of our Megavacation.  It consisted of driving from Morrison, CO to Billings, MT on the boring ol' interstate (which we'd pretty much avoided since the get-go) like we've done hundreds of times.  We all had to work the next day so there wasn't time to dilly-dally.   We did make one nice stop at the Ayers Natural Bridge State Park in Wyoming.  Josh had been there and told us it might make a nice scenic place to stop and stretch.  I think natural bridges are incredible.  The slow steady force of water is pretty amazing.  Persistence is key....in so many things. 
 
 
 
 
 
It was a pretty darn epic vacation I must say.

Red Rocks (Furthur Megavacation Day 9)

Stunning.  That is all there is to it.
The Sunday night show was earlier than the others so I actually managed to snap a few band photos before it got too dark.
  
 
 
 
 

Morrison, CO (Furthur Megavacation Day 8)

So, I took a little break to post about other things, but I am just about to finish up with my megavacation photos. 
Mountain Chickadee.  They are the sinister looking cousins of the much more widespread black capped chickadee.  I don't know why I think their little eyebrow-mask look is sinister.  I just do.
This is a pygmy nuthatch, the first I've ever seen.  Truth be told I didn't realize it was a new variety until just this second.  I knew while I was observing it that it was a nuthatch because of the way it was acting, in particular that it was climbing upside down.  It didn't look quite like either the red-breasted or white-breasted which I have already seen many times.  I thought perhaps it was a juvenile white-breasted nuthatch.  But, oh no, something new!  I can't wait to tell Matt.
Driving in to Red Rocks Park to check out the shakedown street and the parking lot scene before the show.    A Just in Case Explanation:  Deadheads love to gather and play music, trade and sell wares, eat, drink, and connect with friends in the lot.  Shakedown Street is the heart of this action....sort of the town square of the Deadheads.  It is a hustle, bustle sort of place, always interesting and always a changing.    You can find just about everything from someone playing a sitar, to a grilled cheese sandwich, to homemade patchwork pants, to a banana slug in a box, to people drinking straight from a bag of wine, to commemorative t-shirts, to political canvasing, to babies to old ladies, to free hugs, to....  you get my point.
Red Rocks is a stunning, magical, powerful, and intoxicating place.  
Josh in the midst of Shakedown.