My Green City Life


Food Box Haul
August 25, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: in the kitchen

Last week we got our second Good Food Box. What a haul! I love it! If you’re in Montreal or somewhere else with a Good Food Box program, I totally recommend it. Here’s what we got this time around:

  • 1 lb red grapes
  • 4 pears
  • big head of broccoli
  • 2 green peppers
  • big bunch of celery
  • 3 big cucumbers
  • 6 ears of corn
  • head of iceberg lettuce
  • 1 leek
  • 1.5 lbs tomatoes
  • 2 lbs yellow onions

Everything is from Quebec except the grapes and pears which are from the US. Not bad for $10. It’s certainly better than I could have done with $10 at the grocery store or the farmers’ market. Yumyum!

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My kingdom for a compost pile!
July 31, 2008, 5:57 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen, the green apartment

OK, so I don’t have a kingdom to trade for a compost pile, but it would be really nice to have one. Or access to one very nearby would be great. Or curbside organic matter pick-up would be fantastic. (This last one is supposed to be coming to Montreal… sometime.) This is one of the downfalls of living in an apartment: no yard for a compost pile.

This week I am not collecting my organic matter for my worms. They didn’t seem to be eating as fast as I was feeding them, so I’m giving them a week off. Even when I do feed them, though, there are many compostable things that end up in the trash. My worms can only eat so much! Nearly all of Matt’s coffee grounds end up in the trash. Banana peels go in there. Most of the egg shells too. Anything that is too hard or too big (and unable to be reduced in size) or too protein-y (like beans) or too seedy or too slow to break down ends up in the trash. It makes me sad because I know that it would all happily decompose and turn into beautiful compost if only given a chance.

If you have a yard and are able to have a compost pile, please do so. It’s very low-maintenance, and I bet you will be surprised at how much your garbage is reduced. You can put your yard waste in there too. And you will end up with lovely compost to use on your lovely yard!



Good Food Box!
July 22, 2008, 7:04 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Today Matt picked up our first Good Food Box. Exciting! According to the brochure, “The Good Food Box is a collective buying group that purchases fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices.” It’s similar to a CSA in that you pay in advance for a box of mystery produce. It’s dissimilar in that you only pay for one box at a time, and you are not obligated to buy more than one box. That is, it’s not a subscription. The food is probably but not necessarily local. There is no mention as to if it is organic, so I’m guessing that is not one of their priorities.

We got a medium box for $10. This is what was in it:

  • small container of raspberries
  • 5 pears
  • 1 really big bunch of celery
  • 1 lb yellow beans*
  • 1 really big head of lettuce
  • 1/2 lb baby bok choy
  • 2 medium zucchini (1 lb)
  • 1 lb baby potatoes
  • 3 not very ripe tomatoes

The pears are from Argentina. The tomatoes are from elsewhere in Canada. Everything else is from Quebec (admittedly a large province but I still consider it local). The food came with a sheet of paper with info about some of the food and recipes. As for bad points, there were a few yucky raspberries in the carton, but that was the only thing that looked somewhat bad. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal for ten bucks!

If you live in Montreal and want to get in on the Good Food Box, check out what Moisson Montreal has to say about it. There is a list of drop off points here. Not sure if this list is up to date or not.

* Does anyone have any good string bean recipes? I never know what to do with them!



Recent Scores
June 30, 2008, 8:50 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

The freecycling/thrifting/curb-shopping gods have been looking favorably in my direction lately. Tomorrow is moving day, and I hope my streak continues! Here are some of my recent fiber-focused scores:

Thrifted yarn: I went to a thrift store I’d never visited before a couple weeks ago. It was a Salvation Army. Nothing special. In fact, it was a pretty lousy thrift experience overall. However, I did manage to score two balls of wool for $1.68. I’ve already knit one of them into a wool soaker for le bebe.

Freecycled flannel: The thrift store also yielded a nice big beach towel that I bought to cut up and make into flannel/terry baby wipes, but for that I needed flannel, which the thrift store was lacking. I was very close to purchasing a brand new flannel blanket at Zeller’s. It was in my hand. I was headed to the cashier. Then I thought, you know, I should really try Freecycle first. Friends, those freecyclers came through for me! One person gave me a queen set of never used (though somewhat musty smelling) flannel sheets, complete with two pillowcases. A quick run through the wash, and it was good as new. And that’s a lot of flannel!

Rescued from the curb bedding: Matt’s employer is to thank for this one. She found a stash of baby bedding on the curb and picked it up for us. We got four flannel receiving blankets (yay! more flannel!), a cute fitted sheet with whales on it, a soft warm blanket, and a top quilt bedspread thingy featuring two rabbits and a duck. All from the trash. Crazy people throwing out perfectly good stuff!

Have you found any treasures for cheap or free lately?



To CSA or not to CSA
May 26, 2008, 12:33 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen | Tags:

It’s a debate I’ve been having with myself for a couple of weeks now. Last year I participated in a CSA through the co-op at Matt’s school. I was unhappy with it for reasons including poor management (not sure if that was more the fault of the co-op or the farmer), little variety in crops (way too many cucumbers and greens!), and an inability to the communicate with the farmer who is Francophone. I decided not to participate in a CSA this year but just go to the market each week instead.

Then I saw the flyers for the CSA at the co-op this year. They are working with a new farmer this year. Actually, it’s a farming collective called Jardins de la Resistance, which is enough to get ya interested right there. I got the English version of the the flyer, and it was obviously written by someone who is fluent in English, which is always a plus for me. The flyer also mentioned that they’ll be having work weekends at the farm once a month during the summer — something that wasn’t offered last year.

So now I have to decide. Do I let myself be lured into the promise of an improved CSA? Or do I stick to my guns and play the market instead, so to speak? I think this calls for a list!

CSA
Pros:

  • Organically grown (though not certified) and local guaranteed
  • More conveniently located
  • Possible cost savings
  • A chance to go to the farm and dig in the dirt
  • A good way to try veggies I wouldn’t normally buy
  • I like supporting CSAs

Cons:

  • No guarantee of quality, quantity, or variety of produce
  • Not sure I’ll be up to dealing with a CSA basket in Sept/Oct

Farmers Market
Pros:

  • Fun market atmosphere
  • Already have a “pact” with a market-going buddy
  • Allows me to get exactly what I want
  • Possibly a wider variety of produce available
  • Other food available (milk, eggs, etc)
  • Allows for better menu planning
  • More flexible

Cons:

  • More difficult to find organic/local produce
  • Takes more time


Any concerned Kansans out there?
February 19, 2008, 6:12 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

There is a bill being considered by committee in the Kansas Senate that would make it illegal for dairy producers to label their products as hormone-free. I haven’t really researched it, but on the surface, it certainly seems that this is the work of lobbying by Big Agriculture. The Kansas City Food Circle has two blog posts about the issue: here and here. If you are a Kansan and want to contact your local politicians, you can do so here.



Downsizing
January 10, 2008, 6:43 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Recently I was inspired by a post by Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly about nomads, yurts, and simple living. Sara and her small family spent many months this year touring around the US in a camper running on veggie oil. The girl knows about living in close quarters, a lifestyle that necessitates keeping around only the essentials. In her post, Sara discusses applying the nomadic “essentials only” mindset to the kitchen: one bowl, plate, cup, fork, spoon, knife per person. Put the rest away, she says. You can get them out for company.

So I did it today. Instead of putting the extras in a different cupboard, I just rearranged things so that I now only have to open one door to get to my “essentials.” (Space is limited in my kitchen.) We each get a bowl, a plate, a mug for hot drinks, a glass for cold drinks, a wine glass, a fork, a spoon, and a knife. Everything else is hidden behind the other door, which I shouldn’t have to open unless we have company.

We’ll see how it goes. I anticipate dishwashing being less of a headache. Maybe this will inspire us to downsize the rest of our kitchen. We do cook a lot, but how many pots, pans, and wooden spoons does one kitchen really need anyway? A question for another day.