Jun 24, 2011 Love Your Veggies
So our garden is coming along surprisingly well, after a few bumps in the road. The first bump was when I returned from a three-day trip to find one of my planters dug up and filled with several days of cat poop. After cleaning it up and throwing up in my mouth a few times I hit the internet and did some research and came away with some things to try. Then, I vented about it on twitter
and a follower, NorthWestMommy, came to my rescue:
So, first I watered all of the areas the cats could dig in, figuring that the chili powder would stick better. Then I sprinkled all of the chili powder I had in the house. I checked the next day, and no poop. No poop the next day either. I was convinced, so I ordered some giant jars of chili powder and have been using it since, and have had zero problem with anything digging anything up! I reapply after a very hard rain. The only lingering problem from the cats is that I think they might have dug up all of the hot pepper seeds, because I just realized this morning that I don’t really see any of those coming up, but I’m not completely sure. I guess time will tell.
The next bump was the fact that 48 hours after Fiona and I planted all of our carrots, there was a huge, all-night downpour. I was afraid that those little seeds, which were only 1/2 inch below the surface, were splashed right out of the container. But finally, earlier this week, I saw their tiny little leaves break through!
So we’ve got tomatoes (the big ones on the outside are beefsteak, the small ones in the middle are regular old small round ones (I forget the name)…
And zucchini (and possibly hot peppers, but thankfully no cat poop)..
And cauliflower and romanesco broccoli…
And itty bitty carrot plants…
And even watermelon!
I hope this inspires you to get your garden going. It’s not too late! Lots of the stuff I planted could have been planted in July. In fact, if it looks like I’ve got some extra space I might add some more in a few weeks.
And a huge thank you to the fantastic folks at Hidden Valley for the excellent prizes and support!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 14. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
May 26, 2011 Love Your Veggies
I’m writing this post under the best possible circumstances: in the early morning light, out in my newly-renovated back yard, gazing upon my new raised garden beds just waiting to be filled. (If any of my neighbors are looking my way, they’re not getting as good a deal – they’re gazing on me in my pajama pants and a ratty tank top.) In the two years since I started gardening very modestly with a Chia Herb Garden, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned how to produce more tomatoes than I could ever eat in one container, and now I’m ready to graduate to the next step with lots more room for lots more veggies (and one fruit that Fiona begged for).
After consulting with the family, we decided on the following:
- Tomatoes. They will always be my first choice for planting because after eating home-grown tomatoes, anything else tastes like a plastic red nothing.
- Romanesco Broccoli. Because I’ve only seen it on TV and I really want to try it!
- Orange Cauliflower. Because I go through a couple heads a week, mashing it and mixing it with potatoes and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. So why not make it orange?
- Purple and Orange Carrots. Because my son loves carrots sautéed with dill, and the purple ones will freak him out, and Fiona and I dip these in Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for a quick, colorful snack.
- Zucchini. I go through these like crazy, sautéing them with dill for pasta, shredding them for zucchini pancakes, and making loaves of the most delicious zucchini bread ever.
- Jabanero Peppers. Because my husband likes things HOT!
- Watermelon. I have no idea if watermelon will grow in Brooklyn, but our backyard is super sunny, so it’s worth a try. This was Fiona’s first choice, so how could I say no?
- Herbs. I haven’t decided which ones yet, although parsley, chives and basil are the ones I use the most so that’s probably what I’ll grow.
I actually wanted to get started almost two weeks ago, but almost as soon as the backyard renovation was done I threw my back out. But now I’m feeling great and ready to go, just in time for the long weekend!
Because of our totally leaded soil here in Brooklyn we still have to grow our vegetables in containers (I prefer my children un-leaded). So I’ve got two big round containers, a long trough, and a giant bathtub, although now they’ll be buried and looking like they’re part of the raised beds.
The BIG Giveaway
I’m extraordinary lucky that I was able to have these planting beds built for me. But I’m even luckier that thanks to the wonderful people at Hidden Valley’s Love Your Veggies, as a mom panelist I get to help two of my readers start their own vegetable gardens in a very big way, and help them enjoy their veggies once they’re grown. Two winners will each get the following:
Frame It All Raised Vegetable Garden, 8’X8’X12”. This amazing raised bed system can be put together quickly with a hammer and screwdriver, and the shape can be adapted for your space. Don’t have grass or even a yard? Just take out the stakes on the bottom, set it up on a patio or on cement, fill with dirt, and you’re ready to garden!
Vertex 7-Piece Garden Tool Set with Folding Seat, because I’m one of those people who believes having the right tools makes any project more fun.
Magid Terra Women’s Gardening Gloves, so that you don’t have to get dirt under your nails (I hate that!).
Ball Home Canning Starter Kit, because trust me, you will grow more than you know what to do with.
Twelve Ball Jars with Canning Lids
$35 Gift Certificate to Home Depot, to pick up seeds, soil, Miracle Grow, whatever else you need to get your garden started.
And of course, products from Hidden Valley to eat your veggies with!
The total prize value for each winner is just a few cents short of $500!
To enter to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me about where you are with gardening. Are you a seasoned pro who’s constantly delivering extra veggies to grateful neighbors? Do you have a window box full of lush herbs? Or are you a beginner eager to get started?
For a second entry, you may tweet about this contest with a link back to this page. Or, you can copy and tweet the following:
Hidden Valley & @SelfishMom are giving away 2 gardening packages worth $500 each, everything you need! http://bit.ly/ke1jt0 #LoveYourVeggies
Make sure to leave a second comment with a link to your tweet, or it won’t count (instructions on how to find and post the url of your tweet can be found here).
So, that’s a maximum of two entries per household please! This contest will close at noon-ish on Monday, June 13th. The two winners will be chosen by random.org. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter. Prizes may be shipped within the continental United States and Canada only. See my complete Giveaway Rules page for more information.
Good luck! I am so excited to be holding this contest and want to give a BIG shout out to the folks at Love Your Veggies, who have been a dream to work with. Now let’s get gardening!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has Compensation Levels of 9 & 14. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
I wrote the following post as part of the Love Your Veggies program, for which I am a paid spokesperson.
I used to hate cooking with my kids. Actually, I used to hate cooking. I’ve always been in love with baking, but cooking was something that had to be done just to keep the rest of the family from starving. And I never wanted my kids anywhere near the kitchen. They just added time, and mess, and aggravation. I started letting them cook with me as a way to get them more involved in what gets to their plates, so that they don’t go off on their own some day thinking that food magically appears, fully formed into a meal, every few hours. And you know what? It’s been fun. Honestly. And that surprised me.
They each like to do different tasks and cook different foods, which works out great because it’s nicer all around when I’m working with them one at a time. (Unless it’s something like pizza dough, where they can each make their own batch, start to finish, side by side.) Over the winter I’ve developed some Dos and Don’ts that work for us. Your family may have a different rhythm, but the only way you’ll know is if you all roll up your sleeves and get cooking together.
Fiona eats more dough than she bakes
Use the time wisely
Cooking with the kids is simply going to take longer, at this stage anyway. It seems much more worth it if we’re making something that’s going to last past that one day, and the bigger projects are more fun for the kids too. Just yesterday Fiona and I made a delicious soup that three out of the four of us will be eating all week (Jake wouldn’t go near soup unless he was on a reality show and there was a large cash prize at the end). She had never made soup before, and was amazed at how many things went in and how it all blended together. I could tell that she had never given the process a second thought. Whether her soup came from a can or the fridge, it was just magically ready. I like that she’s aware now of what it takes to get it there.
Cater to their tastes
Letting kids cook with you is not going to instantly transform a picky kid into an adventurous eater, but I’ve had a couple of big breakthroughs with the kids while they were in the kitchen with me. A few years ago I was sautéing some carrots, and I just knew that Jake would never eat them, so I was making them to my taste. He watched me toss a bunch of dill in there. He was so curious about what the green stuff was that he smelled it, then tasted a little, and then at the table tasted the carrots covered in dill, while I picked my jaw up off the ground. To this day that’s the only way he’ll eat carrots, and he eats them enthusiastically – it’s one of the few vegetable he genuinely likes. I’m convinced that if he hadn’t actually seen me making them, if they had just come to the table with gross green stuff all over them, he never would have tried them. So yes, that dish has become somewhat of a crutch – I make it several times a week just so that he’ll actually eat a vegetable. But I’m grateful he eats one without me having to beg and nag.
When Fiona and I made that soup, she tasted as we went and told me exactly what she thought of each ingredient. She discovered that she didn’t hate onions once they were cooked, that roasted garlic is yummy but slimy, and that spinach is OK as long as it’s in little pieces. There were a couple of ingredients that she insists makes the soup worse, though. She hates big chunks of tomato (even though she loves creamy tomato soup) and despite cannellini beans being a main ingredient of the soup, she eats around them. So next time I’m going to let her make her own pot, leaving out what she doesn’t like, instead of watching her pick those things out of her bowl at the table.
The Happy Chef
My big mistake in the past with the kids was having them help me make dinner after school and activities. That’s just a recipe for disaster. They’re tired, I’m in a hurry, and even if we manage to get a meal on the table that’s it, it’s one meal, and it took more time than usual thanks to their “help.” Teaching someone is never as quick and easy as just doing it yourself, so now I save most of our cooking for the weekends. Whatever we’re making, we make a lot of it. I like fast food when I’m alone, especially if I’m working. If I’m hungry I want the quickest thing available. If that’s a bag of chips or some frozen pasta, that’s what I’ll grab. But if I’ve got a bunch of soup in the fridge ready and waiting, I’ll eat it. So I like to make food on the weekends to use for the week ahead.
“Honey, is there any soup?”
We’re all addicted to fellow Love Your Veggies spokesperson Jennifer Perillo’s pizza dough, so that’s another great recipe for the kids to make, especially since they can do it pretty much by themselves, start to finish (Fiona needs a little help with the measurements). Sure, their dough doesn’t look as pretty as mine, but I don’t hear them complaining. They each make one batch at a time, we bake it half-way on my favorite little pizza pans and freeze it, and then we thaw it, top it, and bake it the rest of the way for a quick dinner on those evenings when Tae Kwon Do keeps us out late.
Keep it interesting
As much as I would like the kids to be involved every single step of the way so that they can better appreciate how much work goes into cooking, there’s some stuff that they simply can’t do. Having Fiona stand there watching me chop a pound of carrots with a giant knife would get her bored before we really got started, and she’d just end up annoying me. So I do whatever prep work I can – mostly chopping and peeling – before the kids get involved. The night before we made the soup I roasted the garlic and chopped the carrots and onions, so that everything was ready to dump right into the pot.
On the other hand, stuff that I find routine and boring is fun for the kids. I discovered recently that Fiona picks the leaves off of cauliflower much better than I do, and she likes doing it! So that’s one prep job that is now hers and hers alone. Jake loves mashing things (no big surprise there) so whenever I have something that needs to be mashed, smashed, or pounded, I call him in. And naturally, they both love the blender and hand beaters. Rinsing vegetables and opening cans are two more things that Fiona loves to do – every time she opens a can she flexes her muscles and shows us how much stronger she is.
I’m not one of those parents who thinks that every single activity should be turned into a learning experience, but cooking is just tailor made for teaching math. I’ve got Jake dividing fractions when we don’t have the right measuring spoon clean. I’ve got Fiona figuring out how many cups of water we need if we’ve got four cups of broth and need seven cups of liquid total. And they think it’s fun.
Don’t be afraid of the stove and the oven
I know a lot of parents who don’t want their kids around the stove, ever. I get it. It’s scary, and one fall could mean a trip to the hospital and skin grafts. But much like you can’t let a kid cross the street for the first time alone at eighteen, you can’t expect an adult to suddenly know stove safety if they’ve never used one. Get a sturdy step stool, have a talk about hot oil and boiling liquids, and stay very close by. Jake I would trust at the stove by himself for short periods – I think you’re a lot less likely to lose your balance if you’re standing on the floor – but as long as Fiona is standing on a step stool, I’ll be right next to her.
“Really, Mommy, you need a picture of this too?”
Don’t overdo it
I love spending an entire Saturday in the kitchen, but I’ve found that one recipe is usually enough for my kids in one day. Anything more than that and I’m begging for help as they start to whine and drift away. I’d rather leave them wanting more than overwork them.
If they’re getting on my nerves, though, I can channel it into some dough, especially with Jake, who is becoming quite the pizza maker. It’s a lot harder to hit your sister when your arms are exhausted.
I would love to hear from you all some recipes you like to make with your kids. And don’t forget to visit Love Your Veggies for more ideas on cooking, gardening, and eating veggies with your kids.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 14. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.
Jun 20, 2009 Love Your Veggies
- If you think you’ll be able to show up at Home Depot towards the end of June and find seeds, you’re in for a surprise.
- Bags of potting soil are heavy. Really heavy. And if they start to slip from your grip and you try to lift them up, they spill dirt all over you.
- By mid June, Burpee.com is done shipping tomato plants.
- The really pretty, huge, well-designed strawberry pot you saw in a magazine costs $600.
- Corn cross pollinates, and since you only have room right now to grow 6-8 stalks, you may end up producing 12 cornless cobs.
- No matter how hungry your kids say they are when you stop at the local hardware store to get seeds, look carefully at what you’re buying, because bush beans are not the same a pole beans and will not climb up the corn stalk.
- If you can’t find corn seeds, you may or may not be able to buy corn on the cob, take off some kernels, and plant them. I guess we’ll find out.
- When your husband says that he will be done with your planting tub in a week, ignore him and go out and buy containers right away so that you don’t miss planting season.
Despite all that, tomorrow I’ll be planting the tomatoes, the cucumbers, and one pot (half) of the corn. Corn is supposed to be planted in warm sunny dry weather, but that’s not coming to Brooklyn any time soon, so if I wait for that, there’s more chance that I’ll be harvesting corn in the snow. So, I’m going to plant half now in the 60-degree rain, and half in a couple of weeks in the sunny dry weather. We’ll see what happens. If/when the corn germinates, I’ll plant the beans and zucchini around them.
When I was in Chicago for the Love Your Veggies retreat, sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch, I was raring to go. I wanted to hit the ground running with the planting as soon as I got back to Brooklyn. But the renovation, back doors, and ambitious husbands got in the way. This may not be my year for yummy corn and juicy tomatoes, but I’m going to try my hardest! What gives me hope is the memory of my sister wanting to plant tomatoes when we were kids. She cut open a tomato, put a dozen or so seeds on a paper towel to dry, and planted them. We all laughed at her. Until huge delicious tomatoes started growing.
Jun 20, 2009 Love Your Veggies
I’m over on the NYC Moms Blog today, writing about how much I hated being a soccer mom, and I would love it if you stopped over and left a comment!
Today is a perfect example of why I’m glad Jake quit soccer. I lazed in bed until a little after 8, the kids playing quietly in the living room. I folded some clothes, washed some strawberries, and made pancakes for everybody. I’m still in my pjs, but am about to throw on some clothes and take the kids to Home Depot to buy some gardening stuff. Hopefully by then the rain will have stopped and we can do some planting, but if not, we’ll go to a movie.
I was supposed to plant my veggies in a big bathtub that’s sitting in our backyard. When we had the top floor bathroom put in, the new tub sprung a leak, and Home Depot let us keep the leaky one. But a few weeks ago, my husband started the huge project of sifting all of the glass and metal out of the dirt in the yard, and he’s sifting it into my tub! In three weekends, he’s only managed to sift about two cubed feet. This is going to take all summer, if not longer. I can’t wait for my tub, so I’m going to buy some big containers at Home Depot.
When I was a little girl, my dad used to take me and my two sisters to Three Sisters Islands, near Niagara Falls. He told us they were named after us, and I think for a while we believed him. But I think it’s a good bet that the islands were named after the three crops that the Native Americans would grow together: corn, which would grow high; pole beans, which would wind their way up the corn stalks; and squash, whose big leaves would make a nice ground cover to help keep the soil moist and keep out disease.
So, in one pot I’m going to make a Three Sisters Garden, and in another pot I’m going to grow tomatoes and cucumbers. If I can find a strawberry pot, we’ll grow some strawberries too. I just hope I’m not starting all of this too late, I really should have gone and bought the containers as soon as The Ass started talking about using the tub for sifting. I don’t think he realized what an enormous job it would be. But at least the kids like to help him!