A Little of This, A Little of That

Ah, the coveted three day long weekend is upon us. It’s very tempting to just resolve to sit on the deck all weekend with a good book and a glass of sun tea, but unfortunately other forces are in play for us – the family wedding. A cousin of my husband’s is getting married this weekend – right smack in the middle of it. So we’re not really feeling like a weekend is happening for us, per se, since it involves a large chunk of suburban travel and an overnight stay.

So while I do plan to get some nice chunks of sitting and reading time in, since it can’t properly consume my whole weekend, I might as well plan on a few other little things to do as well. Since we’ll be out of town Sunday over half of Monday, we’re going to miss our neighborhood farmers market, which is open on Sunday mornings. So Saturday after breakfast we’re going to head up to the Evanston market for our weekly veggie groceries.

After that I’m going to finish my last minute budget-conscious 4th of July decorating. I did up a few things around the house tonight (which I’ll show off in another post tomorrow afternoon, with pictures, I promise!) but I want to make a couple more things – a paper “Happy 4th” banner and some flag plant stakes. Since we’ll be out of town for half the weekend, we’re not hosting a big barbecue on Monday, but I’d still like the house to look at least a little bit festive, even if it’s just my husband and I hanging around cooking dinner on the grill.  

And I’ve got all the elements in hand now for a quick little bathroom makeover project I’ve been wanting to do over the past few weeks. My in laws bought us the over-toilet etagere cabinet we’ve had our eyes on for a few months as an early (very early) anniversary present. It solves a major storage problem in our bathroom. It’s white wood, with glass doors. I plan to store the various toiletries and things that currently live in the under-sink cabinet in it, to free up room in the under-sink cabinet for our towels (which are now homeless since we moved them out of the bedroom closet to make room for the baby’s wardrobe and accoutrements). But since it has glass doors, I don’t just want to pile the stuff in. I’ve come up with a pretty nifty solution using containers I already have and a little crafter’s ingenuity, but I won’t bore you with the details just yet – once I get it all set I’ll post about the project with the before and after photos so you can see what a dramatic effect (I hope) a few simple little changes can make. And maybe you’ve got a piece in your own bathroom that you’ll be inspired to makeover in your own style. And as a little teaser – my out of pocket expense for the project comes in at under $3.00. So stay tuned this weekend for the details on that one.

Foodwise, no major projects. I’ve been pretty excited about biscuits lately, so another batch of Mason Jar Biscuits is in order, especially since we’ll likely buy some fruit at the farmer’s market – a berry cobbler or shortcake sounds like just the ticket for our 4th of July dessert. And I’m still working on my pork pie recipe – I might do up one on Monday night while I’ve got the oven going for biscuits so we’ve got some lunch fare for Tuesday all set to go.

So stay tuned for the 4th of July decorating post (especially if you need some easy to do, cheap/free, last minute decor) and the mini bathroom makeover. And be sure to have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

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Swiss Chard – The First Harvest

Thursday night we harvested the first edible (besides stealing a few herbs) from this season’s Apartment Farm – the swiss chard. I made a pork pie for dinner (I’m still tweaking the recipe, but it’s a good one so I’ll post it as soon as I’ve got it fully developed), and as a side dish we had some of our chard. Here’s a picture of it ready to go –

It’s a modest sized portion, especially considering that greens wilt down quite a bit when cooked, but it was enough for good-sized servings for the two of us, with a little to top of lunch leftovers. Here’s a picture of the plants post-harvest –

Still looking robust with more to give. This is the first season we’ve grown chard, but from what I understand we can continually harvest it throughout the season. As long as you cut from the outside in and don’t completely remove the center “whorl” of the plant’s stem just at soil level, it will continue to send up new leaves. I’ve also read that you can cut the entire plant off if you leave about three inches of stem and it will send up new sprouts that way, but we opted for the individual leaf style of harvesting since it is planted in a decorative windowbox.

We prepared it very simply – just fried a few slices of diced bacon, and then cooked the chard with it for a little less than ten minutes until thoroughly wilted. The only seasoning we added was salt and pepper. I couldn’t have asked for a better side dish! It perfectly complemented the pork pie and was surprisingly delicious and sweet. I’m a convert to chard now. My husband has always loved chard, and I’ve always thought it was good, but really kale was more my thing. Even the chard from the farmers market I was only so-so about. But homegrown chard is another thing entirely. It’s one of those greens with a short lifespan once it’s cut, and it loses a lot of flavor in cold storage. But when you cut just moments before it goes into the pan – the flavor is just incredible. The sweetness and subtle minerality really pleasantly surprised me. It’s definitely earned a regular spot at Apartment Farm – I might actually try to start some now from seed so we can be assurred of having a good fall harvest of it beyond the few plants we have now.

I was also very pleased to be able to use our own fresh thyme to flavor the pork pie – the plants are so well established now that we can take as much as we want. Same for the oregano, bay and thyme plants, which we used in last night’s cioppino for dinner. I really love being able to eat what we grow – it’s tasty and intensely gratifying. I’m looking forward to a long summer of continual harvesting!