Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vegetable Lasagna

I have been making this for years, and adapt it according to whatever veggies I have from the garden, or need to use up.

It is very economical and easy to make. You can use spinach for the cheese filling, or like I did here, swiss chard. We have a lot of swiss chard right now because thankfully bunnies don't seem to like it.

The quantities I specify are a little vague because I never make it exactly the same way twice, so get creative and go and see what you can find to throw in to make it your very own.

First fry a couple of chopped onions in a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil.

Then add one chopped red, and one chopped green pepper, and fry it all together until it is a little soft. (You can add one or the other, or neither if you prefer).

Then add a couple of 14 oz cans of tomatoes with their juice, a large handful of chopped fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and a generous tablespoon of brown sugar.

Again I added parsley here because that is what I had from the garden, but you can add your herb of choice. Dried are fine though you would need to use less. I also added a few chopped carrots at this point because that is what I had, but you can truly add any other vegetables you like.

Add a little water, and let it all simmer for about 1/2 hr or so.

Then grab a couple of very large handfuls of swiss chard, or spinach. You will need extra spinach if you use it because it cooks down more than swiss chard. Please don't ask me how much more though because I don't know exactly.

Cut off the stalks. If you use young swiss chard like this is, you can save them for stir frying or adding to salads.

Then chop up the leaves fairly finely.

Open two packages of low fat cream cheese and dump them in a big bowl. I always buy cream cheese when it is on sale because it often has a very long expiration date, and that way I always have some on hand.

Add swiss chard, or spinach to cream cheese in bowl,

And mix together. I find it is easier to use clean hands.

It will eventually look like this.

By this time your tomato sauce should be ready.

Place a layer of sauce into the bottom of a lightly oiled 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Place a few sheets of pre cooked lasagna on top. I find it usually takes about 3 1/2 sheets of lasagna for each layer.

Then add a layer of the swiss chard and cheese mixture.

Continue layering until dish is almost full, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle generously with parmesan, or any other cheese you have lying around.

It should look something like this.

Place on a baking tray in a pre heated oven at about 370 degrees for 45 mins or so, until all the layers are bubbling and delicious looking like this!

Serve with a nice green salad, fresh bread, and a glass or two of red wine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Crime Scene

When I went out to water the veggie garden this morning I gasped in horror at what I found.

Complete cabbage patch destruction.

Cabbage leaves everywhere,

Plants uprooted, stalks munched through,

and all the precious heads gone, completely vanished.

After I got over the intital shock I realized that nothing else in the garden had been touched, nothing at all.

I rapidly went through all of the five stages of grief, over the course of about a minute or two, and then tried to grapple with the question of what could have caused so much focused destruction.

I have had some minor issues with something digging in my garden before, but nothing like this.

Could it be rats? havalina's? A huge, rare, cabbage eating bird? was it vandalism?

When I didn't come up with anything that sounded the least bit realistic I did the only thing I could think of in a situation such as this, I called my Mum.

"Rabbits!" she said. Ah, yes of course, silly me, of course it was rabbits.

"But Mum", I said, "why wouldn't they have touched anything else, like all my lovely, green, luscious lettuces?"

"Ah", she said, "they are saving those for tonight!"

At that I sprinted outside and hastily constructed chicken wire reinforcements along the open end of my veggie garden. I buried it 5 inches or so in case they decide my lovely lettuces are worth the extra effort of digging.

Now I will just have to wait and see what I find tomorrow morning.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Love the natives

I love Desert Globemallow, and also Brittlebush, both of which are native plants to the Sonoran Desert. It always amazes me that even after extended periods of drought, they spring up, thrive, and bloom in what often seem to be the most inhospitable places.

I have lots of Globemallow and Brittlebush growing in my yard this spring, and I have been doing all I can to nurture it, although it hardly needs it.

I recently found a 5 gallon Globemallow plant at a local nursery for $20 and felt like standing next to it with a sign saying "you can have this for free if you neglect your garden enough!"

I have a huge Globemallow plant inside the entrance of my vegetable garden which I have posted about before. It is taking up space that could be used for veggies, but I don't care, I love it. I also have some Brittlebush there now as well, and it is all getting very overgrown, but I really don't mind one little bit.

I am still amazed every time I see these plants and flowers thriving as they do, and I am very glad because it makes growing beautiful, sustainable plants here in the desert a great deal easier!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Small Green Victories

Sometimes I feel as though the task of trying to guide us towards more sustainable living is rather an uphill battle in our house. Then something small happens like it did today, and I know that we truly are making progress.

My husband is a huge fan of all things chemical. Chemicals for killing weeds, eliminating pests, cleaning, scrubbing, fixing, unblocking, you name it, he has a favorite chemical for it. It has taken me a long time, and lots of chemical confiscation to even begin to convince him that all his chemicals are banned in our house.

I bought a sink plunger many months ago to use in place of those awful, toxic, de-clogging chemicals that don't work anyway. It's great, although Robert hasn't been very convinced until now.

Earlier today after inexplicably deciding to plunge our slow running sinks he stated "Wow, this thing actually works great, I never thought it would, but it really does!"

Finally I think that some of my incessant nagging may have paid off.

It truly is a greener day at our house!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's recycle number 5's!

Since I really got into this sustainable living thing I have been trying to stop buying stuff in plastic containers as much as possible. For example I now buy bar soap again instead of those shower gels that come in plastic bottles.

If I do find I have to buy something in plastic which does of course happen, I check each container before I buy it to see whether it has the magic number 1 or 2 in the little triangle on the bottom. If it has a different number I will try to buy an alternative that does.

However, some things I buy regularly do come in containers with other numbers on the bottom, numbers that mean I can't recycle them in my city where only 1,s and 2,s are accepted. The most common other non recyclable number I find is the number 5, and it is frequently found on the bottom of yogurt pots, cheese containers, and other food stuffs that I buy.

I was saving all of my number 5's up for a while to make "art projects", but really, what kind of a dumb idea was that? If you know me at all you know that I am just not the sort of Mummy that makes art projects out of non recyclable plastic food cartons however much I may delude myself into thinking I will.

An organization called Preserve who manufacture 100% recycled products offer a super duper recycling program called Gimme 5. All of their products are made from number 5 plastics, and recycled Brita water filters. Brilliant yes?

It is actually possible to mail your very own, non recyclable number 5 plastics to them and they will use them to make toothbrushes, razors, food storage, and many other useful everyday household products. After you have bought one of their products, and have finished using it, you can mail it back to them in a prepaid envelope. It will then be recycled, made into more products, and used again, and again, and again. You get the idea.

If mailing your number 5's sounds too much like hard work, there is now an easier way to offload them without throwing them away. Preserve have teamed up with WholeFoods Market to provide drop off points at which number 5 plastics can be er..... dropped off for recycling by Preserve. Brilliant!

There is only one teeny, tiny little problem right now, and that is unless you live in one of the towns or cities where this is happening you wont be able to participate. The good news is that you can beg and plead for your own WholeFoods Market to start offering this great service by going here.

Go on, start begging and pleading, especially if you live in Phoenix, and hopefully I wont be discarding quite as many number 5's soon, and neither will you, and I will be a much happier person, and so will you.

Thank you. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Here are the tomato, pepper, and basil seedlings that the girls planted a few weeks ago.

It makes me smile to see how many seedlings are growing from each pot because they liked putting the seeds in the pots most of all.

I have been keeping them inside at night, and putting them outside in the sunshine during the day. When it gets warmer I will plant them out in the garden.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Too Many Seeds?

No, of course not.

Seeds to me are what shoes are to some women. You can never have too many!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cooking Frenzy

The cooler, rainy weather we have been having recently has inspired me to cook lots of comfort type foods over the past few days.

For my family, what should have been beef stew, but ended up being a mixture of beef and pork due to the thievery of one of my dogs!

And chicken soup.

And for me Borscht which is a funny color because I used golden beets that I got in our last veggie Co-op pick up. It tastes really good!

I also made some bread for dipping.

Makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.