The easy thing to do would be to go to the corner store and buy a jar of apple juice. But I had something else in mind. The cute guy and I picked apples from an old tree down the road, maneuvered around the bags of them on the kitchen rug for a week and then for two hours I quartered, cored, cubed, fed, encouraged, skimmed, wiped, poured, quartered cored, cubed, fed, encouraged.... you get the idea.
The cute guy helped clean up - I must have good karma from a past life. When the compost was cleared there were two quart sized mason jars of juice. Sweet elixir. Worth every minute.
Rose Geranium Apple Juice
5 to 6 Pounds of Apples
1 to 2 Fingers of Ginger
8 to 10 Mint Leaves
4 to 5 Rose Geranium Leaves
Quarter, core and feed apples through juicer. Add ginger, mint and geranium sparingly, or more bravely if the mood strikes between rounds of apples. Taste and adjust. Repeat. Makes approximately one quart.
I created this combination accidentally last year, experimenting with what was growing in the backyard. This spring I replanted rose geranium, with another pot of mint specifically to make it again.
The apples partner with the ginger and mint immediately. The rose geranium remains it's own character, adding fragrance, a hint of roses. Its flavor is nearly imperceptible, a whisper. Leaving you wondering.
As much as I covet this juice fresh it was nearly as good frozen and thawed for a rainy day remedy.
The cute guy and I went stealing apples last night. Not exactly stealing, we had permission. But it sounds more fun to think we were getting away with something. The reality is we opinionated too loud to be competent thieves. I thought he picked the apples too green and he thought I harvested them from the ground with too many worm holes.
The vacationing homeowners offered anything ripe in their garden in addition to the apples . We carried home twenty pounds of fruit for juicing, a few green and two lemon cucumbers and several stalks of celery. Their tomatoes weren't quite ripe.
We were without fresh food after a long weekend camping which made whatever leftovers or gleaning harvest from an empty house and our own back deck exactly what we would have to eat. The challenge was on.
I made cucumber salad.
2 Diced Green Cucumbers
1 Diced Lemon Cucumber
3 Stalks Celery Cubed
1 Medium Heirloom Tomato Diced
1 Minced Serrano Pepper
1 Tablespoon Each Minced Lovage, Parsley and Wild Arugula
1 Teaspoon Minced Mint
Sea Salt to Taste
Combine everything in a favorite bowl and stir with a slotted spoon. Serve right away or refrigerate.
My only regret was I didn't have leftovers. And that the vacationers weren't going to be gone longer!
I have a few more cucumbers. Any ideas for quick salads? Chile uses them for juice and sorbet. Both of which are entertaining but it's salads we really want on the table this week.
It's been a long time since we generated more than a small bag of trash each week. The worms have multiplied and are even eating fallen apples from the neighbors arching tree. We recycle, reuse. We use cloth produce bags instead of plastic. It all makes a difference. And tonight I learned a new trick.
It was so obvious my mouth fell open and I stared.
I was buying blueberries , pouring them into a mesh bag and worrying about them getting squashed on the ride home. Staining the bag. Actually I didn't care if the bag got stained. But the guy beside me, he is neatly settling blueberries into a tupperware container. He handed the empty tub back to the vendor. "Thank you", he smiled, putting the lid on his tupperware.
I kept staring as he floated away.
I've carried a big red bowl to the grocery store for roasted chicken and I carry canvas sacks everywhere but I never thought to have a few containers with lids for the fragile items at the farmers' market.
It honestly would be no extra effort. I keep a canvas sack in the kitchen to catch the cotton produce bags, yogurt jars, egg cartons and strawberry baskets we use and return at the market. They're always ready. Having a couple containers with lids we return to the bag after each use - it would be easy.
It's so obvious. I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it.
Any other obvious ways to get food home or reduce the trash that you use?
I had the cute guy draw the winning names for the cloth bag giveaway. He closed his eyes, stirred the torn squares of paper, said some magic words. He took forever, but he made me laugh.
And the winners are the Rozell Family (check out the scary plastic bag counter in their sidebar) and Diana in Colorado! Please email me at the sidebar with your mailing address.
I wish I could send bags to everyone. But I'm optimistic that we're going to be seeing more and more cloth bags available.
This is only the beginning to the end of single use plastic bags.
I don't know if this is true everywhere but the people who bike where I live take it seriously. They ride fast like Lance Armstrong, generally in packs, with special clothes, behind dark glasses. They are muscled sleek people. I am not one of them.
My picture of wanting a bike has been to pedal around town, smell the roses, go the farmers' market and buy blueberries. I've wanted a bike with a basket. And now I have one.
A guy up the street restores and sells old bikes from his garage. He calls them vintage. One casual stop to look at what he had was all it took. I test rode one down the block and knew I would be riding home.
My new bike is a 1961 Hollywood Schwinn with foot brakes. The fenders are original, painted red and white with pinstripes. The bike is heavy and almost clunky but she'll go wherever I want. And she doesn't require matching clothes. I named her the Hurricane.
Every day I come up with errands to ride to; return a dvd, go to the library, book store. Ride to the corner or next town for milk. Last week I rode to the farmers' market and left with a roasted chicken, two pounds of apricots and three tomatoes in the basket. The cute guy and I made a spontaneous detour to the community garden and had a picnic. We'd never have done that in the car.
I consider the Hurricane slow transport, like slow food. It takes longer to get places with all the flower gazing and fruit tree naming, but therein lies the appreciation. I am seriously having fun.
Little Gem Lettuce
Back Deck Harvest
(From Somebody Else's Yard)
This is a small world story.
It's Wednesday night. I'm in Fairfax at the farmers market. I notice a table with cloth produce bags. They are the produce bags I love. Thin cotton drawstring, medium large. They feel like soft vintage cloth. And I haven't been able to find them since the Marin Farmers' Market ran out. Until tonight.
"We're encouraging people to not use plastic," the red haired woman at the Sustainable Fairfax table tells me. "They're a dollar each."
"That's a great price," I say. "They were two dollars at the Marin Farmers' Market." I love a deal.
"We're subsidized by the Good Earth," she smiles. "I send them to family in Australia."
"I love the Good Earth," I smile back. (Maybe it's the moon but I'm having my own love fest this week.) And then I realize she said Australia. The only other person I know who matches my enthusiasm for these bags lives in Australia.
"Do you know Kel?" I ask. We both smile again but this time hold each others hand because we know. Kel is her family.
We'd actually emailed a couple times and I had half an eye to meet her but it was still unexpected. As were the cloth produce bags for a dollar.
I've tried all the bags on the market in our area ....
The heavy cotton. They're too heavy. And more expensive.
The mesh cotton bags. Great for sturdy fruits or root vegetables but they don't work in the fridge for crispness. I like a multipurpose bag.
The bags made from t-shirts. Clever idea of reusing resources but they're heavy.
Home sewn fund raiser bags of thin cotton with painted radishes, tomatoes and carrots on them. Far too cute to actually use.
Biobags. I've always had a problem with these. They loose their shape and stick and I don't know. They're creepy. But still better than plastic. Way better than plastic.
The eco cotton bag, which is the bag Sustainable Fairfax is selling, is just right. It's strong and gets even better with washing. Add a hand print of dampness and it keeps produce crisp in the fridge too. Hands down the best deal.
And it comes with a small world story. I love that.
Leave a comment with your favorite reuse instead of single use item and I'll choose two random persons to receive five cloth produce bags from Sustainable Fairfax. One week from today!