Tuesday, August 24, 2010

USA Today: Lawns Are Out of Fashion

This article clearly and succinctly challenges the notion of lawn-by-default. What do lawns really cost us as a society -- in time, money, and precious natural resources?

Some examples of why I love this article... It compares lawn maintenance to "pushing a boulder up a hill" and makes statements like "The best approach is for all of us to start thinking of lawns as a fashion -- a fashion like wearing the feathers of rare birds in hats was once a fashion. Fashions can change when enough people decide they are ridiculous or wasteful... we should start treating the presence of a vast, green, cropped grass lawn in the middle of summer...as a weird and antisocial thing."

Thank you, Laura Vanderkam and USA Today. Click here to read the full article.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Video: Chickens and Goats in Atlanta

Wow... This is a terrific video, produced by an Atlanta PBS station. I especially like the shot of the hen helping to scratch up the compost pile, and also the goat owner "headbutting" his doe. Check it out!

Peaberry's Babies -- Our New Arrivals!

She's always been my baby...
We bought Peaberry before she was even born, and got to visit her when she was a day old. She came home with us at 8 weeks and made herself right at home...

Even as she's grown up, she's retained a bit of her "special baby" status...

And then, because she's a dairy goat, we needed her to have babies so she could give milk. Our girl was a BIG pregnant momma (I don't think the pictures quite do it justice)...

And now, my baby has some babies of her own...

They're really beautiful. Both blue-eyed girls!

I think she looks like a little lamb.

The top of her head (with that little part) is exactly the same as Peaberry's when she was born.

Smooches for everyone...

Brian filmed the goats yesterday, when they were not quite 24 hours old. They're still learning how to move around and play, but they're awfully cute nonetheless! At 1:40 you can see that we were still having a little bit of confusion around the nursing.

The babies have wonderful new owners, who live here in our neighborhood. The kids will stay with their mom for next few weeks so they can nurse and grow big and strong, and then they'll go to their new home.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Recipe: Basil Summer Squash

Summer Squash Bounty
Summer Squash can be one of those vegetables, while in season, can inundate any home.  This recipe is quick, easy to make, delicious, and about 90% of the ingredients come from our gardens, while the last few ingredients are common staples in every home. Enjoy!

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 Scalloped White Squash (1-2 lbs)
1 Very Large Zucchini (2 lbs), or a second Scalloped Squash
3/4 lb. tomatoes (any kind will do), sliced into 1/2 inch slivers
1 large onion or 6-8 small (boiler sized) onions, sliced into 1/2 inch slivers
2 cloves of freshly minced Garlic or 1 1/2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 oz. fresh Basil
3 oz. Cheddar Cheese, thinly sliced (optional)
Italian Bread Crumbs (optional)
Olive Oil
Sea Salt (to taste)
Large 13x17 glass casserole dish or baking pan

Pre-heat skillet with a small tab of butter.  Cut scallop squash in half and scoop out seeds. Slice squash into 1/4-1/2 inch thick pieces. Slice zucchini in about 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. Brown slices in skillet, a few minutes on each side.

Place tomatoes and onions in a medium bowl, and drizzle with olive oil and some sea salt. Stir to mix well, then spread out on broiling pan. Roast at 350 for 10 minutes or so, then broil for 2 more.

During these 10 minutes, continue to pan cook the squash, and layer in a 2 qt. casserole dish. After about 2-3 layers of squash, sprinkle a layer of bread crumbs. (I layered the scallop squash first). Layer zucchini, then add some freshly slivered basil. I took a handful of basil, kitchen shears, and slowly cut thin slices over the food. Sprinkle some sea salt throughout as you layer, to taste (not too much). After about 2 layers of zucchini, sprinkle either the minced garlic (needs to be fresh garlic) or garlic powder. Keep layering squash, garlic, squash basil until you're done.

At this point, the tomatoes and onions should be cooked nicely, slightly soft, with some possible wilted/crisp edges. Lift layers of squash, and place spoonfuls of the tomato/onion mix into empty areas (you'll find most of these "holes" in the scallop squash areas), and along the sides and top of the whole dish. Do the same with the cheese slices.

Put one last touch of fresh basil on top.

The oven should still be hot, so you can place in the oven for one final bake-through, about ten minutes or so.

This dish is lovely served warm, or can be frozen for a later time and re-heated through. 

Melody and her husband Chad have been working members of Heirloom Gardens for the last two years. Both have chosen to live a lifestyle filled with joy and lots of laughter. When they are not working in the gardens, they work to bring health and wellness into every home through the products sold in their on-line store.  For more information, please visit their store here, or by contacting Melody directly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Approval for On-Site Selling in Seattle (and 8 chickens, too!)

Seattle is doing its part to lead the way in the urban homesteading movement. Their City Council committee just gave its approval to a new ordinance (we discussed its proposal a few weeks ago) designed to make urban homesteading easier.

Seattle is upping the number of chickens allowed as a use-by-right (no permit required!) from 3 up to 8 -- and they already allow 3 dwarf goats, as well. Another remarkable part of the ordinance is the allowance of on-site selling of produce. This means that if you grow food in your yard that you'd like to sell to friends and neighbors, you're allowed to do so on your property. This is something that is not currently allowed in Denver. Transition Denver is working to change our zoning rules to allow on-site selling.

The new Seattle ordinance is important because it helps create a model for other cities to follow. Thank you, Seattle!

Recipe: Veggie Breakfast Muffins

These are a spin on traditional zucchini bread. The most fun part is to experiment with different types of vegetables. The "shredded veggie" part of the recipe can be composed of one (or many) of these:

  • Any summer squash (zucchini, white scallop, yellow, etc)
  • Beets
  • Finely chopped beet greens or chard
  • Carrots
  • Apples

With the exception of the greens (which can be chopped finely with a knife) everything can be shredded with a cheese grater.

2 cups flour (I like using whole wheat pastry flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup shredded veggies
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour a muffin tin (12 muffins).

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix gently until combined (do not overmix). Fold in the walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

Recipe: Simple White Scallop Squash

Summer squash are one of the most gratifying things to grow. They grow quickly, need very little care, and produce beautiful vegetables.

This year, one of our most prolific types of squash are our white scallops. Although they look like overgrown pattypans, I believe (if my seed catalog is to be believed) that they are a different type of squash. They range in size from as small as a saucer to as large as a dinner plate.

They're lovely vegetables, and our NSA members and farmers' market customers are always drawn to them. I've also gotten lots of questions about how to prepare them. These are summer squashes, which means you treat them a lot like a zucchini. You don't need to peel the squash. They do contain a seed pocket in the middle, so cutting the squash in half (either horizontally or vertically) and scooping out the seeds first is a good thing to do. Once that's done, you can:

  • Pan Fry
  • Grill
  • Steam
  • Saute
  • Bake
  • Roast
  • Shred

Pan frying is one of the simplest ways to prepare the squash, and it's my favorite. There's not really a recipe involved. Cut the squash in half vertically and scoop out the seeds. Slice the squash (about 1/2 inch thick). Heat a frying pan to medium high. Pour a little oil (I like half olive oil and half butter) into the pan. Cook the squash for several minutes on each side, until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

The squash can be topped with chopped herbs, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, sauteed garlic and onions, or anything else you'd like. The scalloped profile of each piece makes for a beautiful dish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Help Urban Chickens & Goats -- Come to a Training!

Friday, August 27th at 9:00am
Saturday, August 28th at 3:00pm
Tuesday, August 31st at 6:00pm

NW Denver -- Please email sustainablefooddenver@gmail.com to let me know which date/time you'd like to attend, and I'll email you the address for the training.

Plans are in the works to change Denver's ordinance regarding the keeping of Food-Producing Animals (FPAs) like hen chickens and dwarf dairy goats. Sustainable Food Denver believes that backyard FPAs can be an important part of a sustainable, healthy urban food system. Our current rules make it expensive and time-consuming to get the necessary permit. In order to pass new rules, it is critical that we create support in the community for the changes we want to see.

You can help to change this by volunteering to meet with your neighborhood organization and talk with them about this issue. You don't need to be an expert -- or even know anything about FPAs -- to volunteer.

Send an email to sustainablefooddenver@gmail.com if you can attend one of the trainings. The training will last approximately 90 minutes. We'll cover everything you need to know in order to talk to your neighborhood organization, including talking points, answers to FAQs, photos, etc.

After the training, you'll contact your neighborhood organization and make plans to present at their next meeting. (If you don't know which neighborhood organization you belong to, click here to enter your address and look it up: http://bit.ly/awFPoi )

Thank you for helping in the effort to improve our city's FPA laws!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Farmers' Market in late July

Our stand at the Highland Farmers' Market. Lots of great produce available when the market opens.

We have beautiful squash right now, along with the last of the spring kale.

Salad mix, garlic, rhubarb, and onions.

Our lovely White Wonder, Lemon, and Poona Kheera cucumbers.

Thanks to Denise for snapping the pictures!

Goat Hike (with a pack!)

A couple of weekends ago we took Dasha on a lovely hike up to Lake Jasper in the Indian Peaks wilderness. It was a 12 mile round trip, and she did great.

We also got her a little pack so she could help carry food for herself (plus our lunch, too!). We told her it was an official goat pack, but really it's a little doggy backpack from Petsmart.

I'm not great at sizing things, so during my first trip to Petsmart I got the "large" dog pack. I got it home and it was waaaay too big for Dasha. So, we had to return it and get a "medium" size instead. Fits her perfectly!

Eating lunch and enjoying the view at the top.

Local Food in USA Today

USA Today has been running some wonderful articles about sustainable living lately. A few months ago they published a piece on urban goats, and now they're profiling small CSAs.

Click here to read -- and be sure to also click "view full gallery" to see more photos of local farmers, their families, and their crops.