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eG Foodblog: purplewiz - Eating Well In The Great Flyover


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Hi, I'm Marcia, and I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm blogging this upcoming week :-).

A little bit about me: I'm 42, married to a wonderful man named Jim, no kids, two cats, and currently living in Colorado Springs, CO. I grew up in northern New Jersey (a small town called Wyckoff, for those who may have heard of it) and previously lived in California in Silicon Valley for almost 10 years before moving here.

So what's the great flyover? To paraphrase the Urban Dictionary, it's the middle class midwest, land that only serves to keep the two coasts apart, which is only "flown over", not visited.

Eating well here has definitely been a unique challenge, but I like to think I've risen to it. It just takes a little more cleverness, determination, and flexibility when the whole area isn't exactly a foodie paradise :-). But we're not without good food, which comes in many different guises!

The teaser picture of my tomatoes symbolizes the challenge for me:

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I work for my homegrown tomatoes every year, struggling against a climate that people love but tomatoes hate (dry air, cool nights), weather (hail), garden pests (deer and rabbits), and a very short growing season (May 15 – Sept. 15, zone 5). But I do it because I LOVE homegrown tomatoes, and the glory of the late August harvest makes it more than worth it.

I'd planned on blogging about a normal week punctuated by a good friend's house party, but it turns out our deck contractors are doing the deck repairs/refinishing this week (weather permitting), so I expect a certain amount of chaos - besides the house party.

It's getting quite late here, so I'll go into more about what we eat and why later today. Since I'm not exactly an early riser, although if the deck guys start early, so will I :biggrin:.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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I'm very happy to see you blogging, Marcia. I do know where Wyckoff is. What does "zone 5" refer to -- a climatic zone, I figure?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hi Marcia. What varieties of tomatoes have proven themselves worthy of your efforts? It sounds like you're a tenacious gardener that knows her rewards well. Nothing compares with homegrown tomatoes, no matter how late in the season they arrive. Love 'em!

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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Hi Marcia, glad to see you blogging. Your tomatos look like they're coming along just fine. Do you have more luck with the heirloom varieties or the usual suspects? I've been growing tomatos up here for the last couple years, to great success for a non-gardener, as long as I don't put them in too early!

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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I'm very happy to see you blogging, Marcia. I do know where Wyckoff is. What does "zone 5" refer to -- a climatic zone, I figure?

I can field this one for Marcia. The USDA hardiness zones (clickety) refer to average annual minimum temperatures. In Zone 5, the average annual minimum temperature is -10 to -20 degrees F (-23.4 to -28.8 degrees C).

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Good Morning!

My weekday breakfasts are usually very dull, and consist of:

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A cup of cereal, half of which is high protein/high fiber (GoLean Crunch today), and the other half of which is some kind of tastier flake (today it's Safeway Organics 7 Grain Flakes, which is better than I expected it to be).

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A nice dollop of breakfast protein, usually cottage cheese.

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And the part of the morning which means everything, my coffee. It's currently It's A Grind Sumatra, with heavy cream and Splenda, but I have some coffee on order which should be arriving sometime this week.

I love breakfast foods, but I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so most mornings it's more or less the same foods. The coffee is non-negotiable.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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Thanks Bruce (C. sapidus) for fielding the zone question! The hardiness zones are a good guideline for selecting plants that do well in your geographic area. Depending on your own specific microclimate or level of stubbornness, you can often get plants from outside your zone to grow. For awhile we had a dwarf orange tree that produced small but intensely flavored oranges. Of course, we grew it inside in a huge pot.

The tomatoes that do best here are thick-skinned and fleshy - Roma types and cherry tomatoes. I've tried to grow thinner skinned versions, like Early Girl and Beefsteak, and they ended up thick-skinned and tough anyway. From right to left, the three varieties I'm growing this year are: Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, Viva Italia Romas, and Sugar Snack cherries.

They were in wall o' waters for a couple of weeks. I usually leave them in there until about June 15, but because we had had such unseasonably warm temperatures I took them out a full week early.

This is the rest of the vegetable garden:

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From top to bottom:

- three zucchini plants

- two mounds of cucumbers

- row of mixed lettuces

- row of cilantro

- row of mesclun greens

- row of green onions

All on drip irrigation.

The lettuces need thinning again, so they're going to feature in dinner tonight :biggrin: .

Jean Blanchard, you'd asked about herbs. Other than the basil I have sage, thyme, chives, and lavender. They all have something in common: they're very strongly scented, which means they're far less attractive to our local garden pests:

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and

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I was about 6 feet away from the rabbit when I took that picture, and it's a little hard to see but he's still *lying down*. I took the picture of the deer this morning while I was standing in our front door. You can see that neither of them are the least bit concerned that I'm there.

I put out some sun tea to brew today, too:

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I make it in a sport bottle because my husband doesn't like iced tea, and while I do like it, I can't drink a half gallon before it turns. So I make a smaller batch every couple of days.

That's the view from our deck, with Blodgett Peak in the background. Don't look too closely at the deck or you will see why it desperately needs restaining! Obviously the deck guys didn't start the restaining today, so I'm going to take the opportunity to run some errands.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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I put out some sun tea to brew today, too:

gallery_28660_3101_8732.jpg

Can you tell me more about sun tea? I've never had tea made in the sun and am wondering if there's a notable difference between that and the iced tea that I make using a kettle at home. Is there any difference at all?

PS: Unless you make it just for an excuse to take a picture of that glorious view. Then of course, it makes all the difference in the world! :biggrin:

Edited by Pam R (log)
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I put out some sun tea to brew today, too:

gallery_28660_3101_8732.jpg

Can you tell me more about sun tea? I've never had tea made in the sun and am wondering if there's a notable difference between that and the iced tea that I make using a kettle at home. Is there any difference at all?

PS: Unless you make it just for an excuse to take a picture of that glorious view. Then of course, it makes all the difference in the world! :biggrin:

Glad somebody asked about the sun tea... I'm interested in hearing about it, too.

The view is beautiful. I would want to be eating on the deck all the time. That's amazing about the deer.

Blog on!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Can you tell me more about sun tea?  I've never had tea made in the sun and am wondering if there's a notable difference between that and the iced tea that I make using a kettle at home.  Is there any difference at all?

Without the marvelous view, we brew sun tea in the South all the time. I use a mason jar with a screw lid (smaller quantities for me as well) Fill with water, add tea bags of choice, screw lid back on, and set on a sunny window or patio for the day. You'll have fresh "brewed" tea by supper time. Remove the tea bags and fill a glass with ice and whatever else you like (lemon, sugar) Actually, it's steeping the tea all day that gives it the flavor.

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So, what kind of tea for sun tea? I do it regularly, even in the winter, on a sill in our sunroom.

Currently, I have a batch of Georgia Sunrise in the fridge; brewed in brillian sunshine yesterday. It's my kids favorite.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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When I was growing up, we were told sun tea was better because the long slow brewing time and the gentle heat of the sun's rays made for a less bitter brew. Honestly, I can't taste a difference at all :laugh:! I make sun tea because it's so easy: tea bags, cold water, set it out in the sun and forget about it for a couple of hours. I figured as long as I was taking a picture of the sun tea, I might as well include some scenery!

This is what the tea looked like when I brought it in:

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Today's tea is Lipton Green Tea Orange, Passionfruit, and Jasmine. I'm not as fond of it as hot tea, but Lipton's Green Teas make dandy iced tea. I also really love their mint tea iced.

Like breakfast, today's lunch is very typical:

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A deli meat chicken and cheese "handwich", and some broccoli with dip - today's dip is Marie's Super Blue Cheese dressing, to which I am hopelessly addicted. Sometimes there are also cauliflower florets, but last week the grocery store was out of the mixed bag, so I just bought broccoli.

I'm off to start dinner prep, and Chufi, thanks for asking, I'm planning to go into more about cooking and the like this evening when I'm not trying to do too many things at once!

Marcia.

edited because spelling suffers when you're in a rush

Edited by purplewiz (log)

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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I don't even know how to make ice tea any other way but in the sun. needless to say that I don't get ice tea in the winter!

It's called a kettle :laugh: .

thanks for the explanations. I keep a 2 L pitcher of iced tea going in the fridge - but I use the electric kettle to boil the water, pour it over 4 tea bags (usually tazo passion) and leave it for a couple of hours.

I need to get a jar and wait for a sunny day to compare the two!

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Happy bloggin', Marcia!

I'm a big long-time fan of sun tea myself, so imagine my dismay when, inspired by the conversation here, I decided to Google for additional info on the stuff ... and turned up the following:

"Sun tea" (tea brewed by being left to steep in sunlight) can harbor dangerous bacteria

Now I have to say, I have been brewing herbal sun tea for literally years, and have never seen any such signs of bacterial contamination as described in the linked article, nor have I ever gotten sick from the stuff. And I'm probably not going to alter my sun tea routine one whit. But anyway, there's the info, for whatever it may be worth. :unsure:

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Hate to rain on your sun tea, (I grew up on it in Tn.) but from what i have been told by those in authority at Upton Tea Importers, the main reason sun tea turns is the median temp of the tea is conducive to bacterial growth(it sits there for a while at a warm temp). Cold brewing is less likely to turn as quick. (I drink 1.5 gal. of tea a week in the summer).

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mizducky, thanks for the link on the potential hazards of sun tea. I especially liked this one:

Discard tea if it appears thick or syrupy. Those ropy strands are bacteria.

No kiddin'. :blink:

I'm afraid that sun tea is one of those risks I'm just going to keep on taking. I do wash the bottle well with a scrubby thingie between batches because the tea sediment sticks down there, and maybe that's why I've been ok.

Marcia.

Edited by purplewiz (log)

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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Dinner!

I thought I'd highlight one our best local foods with dinner tonight: bison. I'm fortunate that Black Forest Bison is just down the road.

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They were not comfortable with me taking pictures inside the store without the owners being there, so I didn't take any, but there are a couple of the interior on this page.

All of their bison is flash frozen, but it defrosts very quickly in cold water. I bought two NY steaks for dinner tonight:

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Bison is VERY lean, so it cooks more like chicken than beef. It's also very easy to overcook and turn into shoe leather.

I also bought some bison jerky for snacking:

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Don't look too closely or you'll see the bite out of that piece. It was wonderful :biggrin: .

I preheated the grill on high to get the cast iron grates nice and hot, then turned it down for awhile before putting the steaks on the grill, and cooked them about three minutes a side.

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The steak is topped with a coin of chive flower butter (butter, chive flowers, salt, pepper) and some lavender sea salt.

Served up with a portobello mushroom filled with pesto and grilled until soft...a little too soft because the sides were starting to collapse. The pesto is homemade from a year or so ago. I freeze what I call "protopesto" - basil, garlic, walnuts (my husband doesn't like pinenuts) and just enough olive oil to hold it together - in ice cube trays. When I'm ready to use it I defrost the appropriate number of cubes, add more olive oil to get the consistency I need and add parmesan cheese - in this case, I topped the mushrooms with it.

A bite picture:

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Dinner also included by a tossed salad.

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A number of times in the Dinner! thread I've mentioned that I didn't include a picture of my tossed salads because they're rather unphotogenic. Now you know why. This one was prettied up and arranged for the camera, and I still managed to miss the lettuces hanging over the side. At least the lettuces were homegrown, fresh from the garden!

Dessert was a square of Lindt 70% chocolate (those are Jim's fingers):

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and a chocolate-raspberry soda made from Torani sugar free chocolate and raspberry syrups. Jim had a vanilla-raspberry soda.

gallery_28660_3101_23127.jpg

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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Wow, georgeous food porn; that buffalo looks too tasty! :laugh: Love your avitar, is (s)he as sweet as (s)he looks, or is (s)he the kitty from hell in disguise? :laugh:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Love your avitar, is (s)he as sweet as (s)he looks, or is (s)he the kitty from hell in disguise? :laugh:

My avatar is Oreo, and he's 17 lbs of pure doofus :biggrin: .

I had planned to post some cat pictures this evening, but in the grand tradition of the unexpected happening during one's foodblog, my digital camera died tonight. Fortunately, it died after the dinner photography, but in plenty of time to get a replacement. Now I just have to get comfortable with the new one....and of course I'm going to be testing it out on cat pictures!

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

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