vegetables

You Can Compost More Than Food

Most of the time when we think of what goes into compost, we think of organic food waste and yard clippings.

compost container

While that is entirely correct, there are plenty of other natural items that can be added to your compost pile as well. Here are some other items you may have been tossing into a landfill that are perfectly acceptable to be returned back to the soil.

  • Dry Cereal
  • Bread
  • Crackers & pretzels
  • Pasta, rice, and grains
  • Loose leaf tea
  • Natural fibers (ie. cotton, hemp, silk, wool)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Shredded paper
  • Human and pet hair
  • Sawdust
  • Cardboard
  • Lint from dryer and vacuum
  • Napkins, paper towels, and tissues
  • Wooden chopsticks and popsicle sticks
  • Wood ashes
  • Brown paper bags
  • Old spices
  • Egg shells
  • Expired jams and preserves
  • Nail clippings
  • Cotton balls & cotton swabs (the cardboard kind)

Think of what will actually be left in your trash can! Probably not a lot!

All of this depends on if you are composting at home or using a service. If you have compost collection, your municipality or service will give you exact guidelines of what is and is not allowed.

Below is what my pick up service, Healthy Soil Compost, accepts.

what-to-compost

Buying Local: Week 7 & 2nd CSA Share

I can’t believe it has been seven weeks since we have started this local journey.

Our refrigerator is full of so much green and our cabinets are looking more full of less processed products.

 

CSA week2

This week’s CSA box (photo by K since I was in Denver)

 

berries

On Wednesday I brought my CSA box back to the farmers market and picked up some raspberries. Instead of taking the carton the raspberries came in, I brought my own produce bag and plopped them in my berries colander when I got home.

What We Bought (Almost All from CSA box):

  • Head lettuce
  • Avon Spinach
  • Red frill mustard
  • Arugula
  • Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • English Peas
  • Greenhouse Cherry tomatoes
  • Yellow Spring onions
  • Raspberries from Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, MI

What We Learned:

  • We still need to up our arsenal of recipes for veggie meals, often we are just cutting up a bunch of greens and tossing it in a pasta or salad
  • Smoothies aren’t so bad after all
  • K really did not like having to shell those English Peas
  • Still not sure what to do with radishes

Buying Local: Week 6

We still have so much produce from our CSA share last week. Thank goodness we did not get the full share where we would pick up every week.

Since we still had so much to work through, we did not visit the farmers market this past weekend. We needed to concentrate on what we had left!

 

first CSA share week 2

We ate everything with an “X” through it. The others we are still working on! 

 

A variety of recipes were tried this week. We had some pasta with sauteed spinach and spring onions one day.  One night was veggie pizza night and I am usually against having vegetables on my pizza, but it was delicious! We used the broccoli raab and asparagus for that. Kale and quinoa were also on the menu one night.

In order to work through some of the spinach, I forced myself to start making some smoothies as well.

blender

What We Bought:

  • Oberweis milk from family farms around IL and WI
  • Turano bread from Berwyn, IL
  • Greenridge Farm lunchmeat from Elk Grove Village, IL
  • A couple other things that don’t make it under the local label

What We Learned:

  • Shaved asparagus pizza is amazing! Check out the recipe.
  • Our blender is really bad (we have no idea where or who it came from)

Buying Local: Week 5 & 1st CSA Share

We had been waiting in anticipation for our first CSA share and oh boy it was a lot of greens! Our box was jam packed with goodies and I am excited to eat the produce that I know and the new ones as well.

first CSA share

What We Bought (all from CSA box):

  • Baby leaf Salonova Lettuce
  • Avon Spinach
  • Red rover radishes
  • Red spring onions
  • Russet potatoes
  • Rapini (Broccoli Raab)
  • Asparagus
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Earliglow Strawberries (plus an extra box because I love strawberries)

What We Learned:

  • I have gotten a little caught up in trying to get everything local that I really forget how I originally laid this challenge out. We were going to focus on produce, meat, dairy, and eggs, and I basically forgot that. Back to focusing on those main pieces from now on.
  • Is local olive oil even possible?
  • CSA shares are awesome
  • We are so glad we got the half CSA share, where we get a box every other week, instead of every week. We would need a bigger refrigerator!
  • We can bring back our CSA box to the farmers market for them to reuse #score
  • We are going to have to start making smoothies
  • Rapini tastes like leafy broccoli and we are in love!

Buying Local: Week 4

Once again we were out of town and missed Saturday’s market, but this should be the last time we miss it for a bit, plus our CSA share starts on Saturday!

We got back from our Memorial Day weekend trip on Monday night, so I didn’t get to go shopping until Tuesday. I stopped at Local Foods and then picked up some strawberries from the farmers market on Wednesday. Those aren’t pictured because I immediately cut them up for breakfast.

local food 4

What We Bought:

What We Learned:

  • Buying less processed milk lasts longer. I bought milk last Monday and its sell by date is not until June 6th.
  • Real strawberries are much tinier than your typical strawberries on steroids that you get at a standard grocery store, but they taste SO MUCH BETTER!
  • I have to do a lot of separate trips for our food instead of doing just one run every week. Sometimes Local Foods does not have what I need and Mariano’s does, or I would rather get produce at the farmers market.

Buying Local: Week 3

With both of us not being around the prior weekend, we missed the farmers market for the second time in a row.

K stopped at Local Foods in the beginning of the week to pick us up some ingredients for dinner, but I then supplemented the rest with a trip to Mariano’s.

We get to pick up our first CSA share with Nichol’s Farm next Saturday, so naturally, we are super excited to see what we will get!

local food 3

What We Bought:

What We Learned:

  • I miss my daily banana. My fruit bowl is so empty.
  • The amount in our recycling bin has been decreasing because we aren’t buying as may products in plastic and cardboard.
  • Some challenges may be coming up, such as with baking goods like sugar and chocolate chips.
  • Returning the glass Oberweis bottle to the grocery store earns you $1.50 back

 

fruit bowl empty

Sad, empty fruit bowl waiting for the season’s first strawberries!

 

 

Herb Garden: Take 2

We were a little too optimistic when we started growing herbs from seeds earlier this year.

After some promising seed sprouts, they kinda just stopped growing.

Even though we were disappointed that we could not keep a few plants alive, we decided to try again. This time with herbs already grown and ready to go.

herb garden 2

For our herb garden: take 2 we are going to attempt to keep the following alive:

  • Peppermint
  • Sweet basil
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Curly parsley

 

herb garden3

Can you spot the dinosaur amongst all the plants?

 

I have to say, the peppermint plant smells amazing. I did not intend on buying it until I took a sniff and was sold. The night I brought them home, K went ahead and crafted himself a homemade Mint Julep.

Hopefully, we can keep these guys alive long enough to use with some of our local foods we will be eating this summer. Yum yum!

Buying Local: Week 2

K was gone over the weekend, and I spent some time at home with my mom for Mother’s Day, so I missed out on Saturday’s farmers market.

Luckily for us, Green City Market also runs on Wednesdays and since I work from home, I can easily pick some produce up during the week.

green-city-logo

Fortunately, we also have other options besides the farmers market. There is Local Foods, which is not far away, and our nearby Mariano’s does carry numerous local options.

local foods logo

For the past week so far, we have basically been cleaning out the fridge and our cabinets, eating whatever random stuff we have left. I have basically been eating steel cut oats every single day because that is all we have left. I am not complaining about that though.

Since K is going to be gone again over the weekend and I will be pretty busy, we did not need to load up on groceries this week.

I accompanied my cousin and her toddler to Mariano’s and picked up a few things:

milk

Oberweis milk in our super empty fridge

After that, I skipped over to Local Foods to get the rest of this week’s necessities:

  • Veggies
  • Hot dog buns
  • A container of walnuts
  • Tortilla chips to compliment the rest of the salsa we have left

We are going to be gone again over Memorial Day weekend, so hopefully, this won’t be so sporadic once we are actually home for a weekend!

Lots of Food Scraps- Good or Bad?

It’s Compost Awareness Week!

 

compost bucket7

Even though I have been collecting my food scraps for compost collection for over a year now, I only started weighing our compost bucket last August.

I keep a little spreadsheet with the totals from each month.

  • August 11.22 lb
  • September 5.88 lb
  • October 7.04 lb
  • November 15.74 lb (house plant and outdoor plant)
  • December 11.48 lb (Not including our Halloween pumpkin)
  • January 10.38 lb
  • February 15.5 lb (dead house plant, RIP)
  • March 17.22 lb (chicken carcass, cleaned out the fridge)
  • April 12 lb
  • May 18.74 lb
  • TOTAL TO DATE = 125.2 POUNDS

While the numbers have fluctuated and have been going up, I have been bothered about whether or not that is a good thing.

Having a heavy compost bucket means we have a lot of food scraps and that can mean one of two things:

1.  We are finally figuring out what can be composted and just collecting more of it

OR

2. We are just wasting a lot of food 

So which one is it? What do you think?

Buying Local Food: Week 1

Our own local food challenge started over the weekend. While we still have non-local food in our house, anything that we purchase from now on should be from within our radius.

For instance, right now I am snacking on some Wheat Thins, and once they are gone, they will be gone. Goodbye, my sweet, crunchy snacks.

GCM1

We hit the ground running Saturday morning at Green City Market with an idea of what we needed. After an initial lap of checking out what vendors were there and what was available, we narrowed down what we were going to purchase based on what we already had at home.

GCM2

We purchased:

  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Spring Onions
  • Ramps
  • Bread
  • Pork Country Sausage
  • Asparagus
  • Potatoes

For a grand total of $42.00….

We obviously have other food in the fridge to supplement our farmers market purchases, so do not think that is all we are eating for the week.

Stay tuned!