May 21, 2010

Spring Onions

Posted in Family, Food, Garden, Home tagged , , , , , , at 6:55 am by Liliana

Onion Seedlings

Onion Seedlings

Our house looks the same from the outside, but on the inside it is filling up with inhabitants.

My niece, Nicky, has been with us for a few weeks now, and Branka and Joe finally moved in a few days ago. They kept delaying moving in, always finding one excuse or another. For Branka especially, it was a difficult step. She and Joe have painted, fixed and polished their own house to perfection, and now it will be rented out to strangers. Branka’s flowers are blooming in every corner of their extensive yard, overflowing in containers and surrounding the old trees. And then, there is the plot for the vegetable garden.

Every spring, my sister has planted a bountiful vegetable garden: onions, peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and all kinds of other treasures. At dinner time, she would run out and see what was ready for picking. One never knew what surprises her salad would contain.

But this spring the vegetable plot was bare and the rich soil sat idle. I know it hurt my sister to see that wasted sunny spot, just waiting for life.

Last week, Branka told me that she had gone to the farmer’s market and bought some onion seedlings. I was surprised. But she had found a solution to her garden dilemma. She planted those onion seedlings for her new tenants. She started her garden. And then, she was ready to hand her house over to the new occupants and move in with us.

May 14, 2010

Organic or Conventional?

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Garden, Health tagged , , , , , , at 7:07 am by Liliana

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen

Most health experts and nutritionists advise us to purchase organic foods whenever possible. This is a good guide of which foods have the most pesticides, and which are not as contaminated.

The Dirty Dozen
Pesticide levels in these foods are so high that even by washing and peeling carefully, there is no way to avoid ingesting  high dosage of chemicals. If you buy organic varieties of just this group of foods, the estimate is that you can reduce your total pesticide exposure by 80%.

Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Vegetables:

  • Bell pepper
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach

Thin-skinned fruits and vegetables are usually more susceptible to pesticides, because it is easier for the chemicals to penetrate the flesh. Apples, because of the crevices at the top and bottom of the fruit, are especially susceptible.  Spinach and celery are very porous, leaving pesticides trapped in the small openings of their skin. Peppers, on the other hand, have thick skins; but because pesticide residue clings to the surface even when scrubbed, they are also highly contaminated.

The Clean Fifteen
Even when grown conventionally, these fruits and vegetables usually have lower levels of pesticide contamination. When you go shopping, these are the good items to compromise with.

Fruits:

  • Avocados
  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Kiwis
  • Papaya
  • Watermelons
  • Grapefruit

Vegetables:

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes

Most of these foods have protective skins, husks, or pods. Broccoli and cabbage are cold weather crops grown when pests are not as prevalent. Fruits grown on trees often require fewer pesticides because they are high above the ground and less susceptible to insects.

April 23, 2010

Building a Raised Garden Bed

Posted in Food, Garden, Health, Home, Money tagged , , , at 7:03 am by Liliana

Raised Garden Bed

Raised Garden Bed

Growing fresh herbs and vegetables provides a wonderful sense of pleasure and accomplishment for many people. By planting your own garden, you can save money as well as grow produce that cannot compare in taste or freshness with vegetables bought at supermarkets. It is a wonderful feeling to walk out of your kitchen and pick fresh tomatoes for your salad. Or fresh parsley for your soup. Or some berries to go with your yogurt.

Raised garden beds are easy to make, plant and maintain. Here is a short lesson on how to go about building your own.

Decide how big you want your garden to be. If you are unsure, start with a 4×4-foot square.  It is a manageable size and easy to reach on all sides. Then level the ground by raking it so that your raised bed will lie flat.

The supplies you will need are: four one-foot-long 4x4s for the corner posts; four four-foot-long 2x6s for the side rails; and four two-foot-long 2x2s for the center stakes.

Once you have your supplies, position your 4x4s at each corner of the square. Then align your first 2×6 to a corner  post. Line up the next 2×6 at a right angle to first. The ends of the 2×6 boards should be level. Make sure the rails form a right angle by using an angle-square. Then screw the two side rails to the post, making sure that the ends of the rails are even with the sides of the posts. Check again to be sure that the frame is square. To make your frame sturdy, place the four 2×2’s at the middle points of the outside walls. Pound them into the ground until they are level with the sides of the bed. Fasten each stake with a screw.

Fill your raised bed with rich, black topsoil and mix in some compost or peat moss, You are now ready to plant.

February 21, 2010

Guidelines for a Dinner Menu

Posted in Family, Food, Health, Home, Women tagged , , , , , at 8:21 am by Liliana

Guidelines for a dinner menu

Guidelines for a dinner menu

  • Appetizers should be light and small – clear soups, vegetables, fruit.
  • There should be good nutritional and aesthetic balance – no more than one or two starchy foods; don’t overdo with vegetables.
  • Don’t serve the same ingredient in more than one course – avoid soup with mushrooms and then mushrooms as a side dish.
  • Make sure you give a diverse flavor to your foods – avoid tomato soup and then marinara source.
  • Opposite tastes go well together – acidic/sweet, spicy/bland, hot/cold, crunchy/soft.
  • Avoid more than one strong flavored food in one meal – salty, acidic, smoked, etc.
  • Don’t serve foods of the same color together – for example, green vegetables with green noodles and pesto sauce.