ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends


Revenge of the Deer

2014-09-14 14.52.41I should have seen this coming. I left the garden gate open for one night and BAM the deer ate the tops off my swiss chard.  I was letting those leaves grow really big and fleshy to make my stuffed chard.  Now I guess I’ll have to fashion some recipe that just uses the stems. And wash off the deer spit before using.


Anybody else sick of zucchini yet?

Late August is the only time that New Englanders lock their car doors. If you leave your car unlocked, somebody will leave you a box of orphan zucchini on your front seat. (Photo from

We have the first week of our CSA where we don’t have lettuce and do have more zucchini (and other summer squash) than we expect to eat in a week. This marks a big move in our Summer eating. Up until this point, we have new vegetables trickling in for the first time – the first cucumber, the first tomato, the first zucchini. We’ve now reached the peak of novelty and descended into bounty. We must smash tomatoes into jars because there are just too many to eat. The cucumbers get huge, bitter, and neglected on the vine. The lettuce, spinach and other greens have gone to seed and are bitter and inedible. We now have to hide zucchini in other foods. We now move into crisis mode. There are vegetables coming out our ears.

I have a lot of strategies for handling the bounty. Of course, you’ve read about my adventures with canning, drying, and other odd types of preserving. I also have strategic approaches for cooking that use up lots of vegetables. I went through some of  my recipes for using lots and lots of greens, and now over the next few days, I will let you in on my secrets on how to cook a lot of zucchini. 

Yes, I will share my recipe for chocolate zucchini cake. 

Until then!




Bees in my compost pile


This photo is blurry because I won’t get any closer to the compost bin, nor stand around at a distance long enough to be noticed.

I got good and stung by some bees earlier this week. Turns out a hive of bees has taken up residence in my compost pile and are going to use all of their stingers to defend their new home and queen.


I would like to regain use of my compost pile – especially because I pulled weeds in the garden and yard this weekend and would like to put that material into the compost to get it rotting. Plus, we only have a 1 gallon compost pail in the house and it’s full to overflowing. But, if I’m going to put things into my compost pile I need to get rid of these bees!

Sidebar: Sam and I debated whether these are bees or wasps. I believe they are bees for three reasons. They’re small, they don’t have a narrow waist between the head and thorax, and when I was stung (twice, I’ll have you know) the stingers and the venom sacks were embedded in my skin. Sam is unconvinced and believes these are wasps. He supposedly has photographic evidence. I will leave it up to him to prove me wrong. However, if we catch a bee, I may post a photograph of it to have y’all weigh in. Back to the discussion…

Having bees living in my compost pile is leaving me with quite the dilemma. Do I kill the bees or try to save and relocate them? Some squishy liberal in me doesn’t want to kill much of anything, especially honeybees. Honeybees are vital for pollination and maintaining local food production. They’re valuable industrious workers spreading around pollen and turning flowers into ripe, swollen ovum, which we call fruits and vegetables. I would feel like a murderer to take poison to their hive. In addition, killing off the bees means  using poison, which is rather antithetical to producing organic compost. I have been working for a few months to make that compost and I would really like to use it in my garden, thankyouverymuch.

Those were the arguments for gently nudging the bees toward seeking other habitation elsewhere. These are the arguments for killing the *BEEP*ers.

OW! Sam and I have BOTH gotten stung in the past week. I was stung twice while running around my yard and waving my arms like an idiot. (Eddie Izzard had something to say about this…) And there are PLENTY of other places where the bees can live. My compost pile is NOT the most habitable environment. It’s rotting, for one. So my arguments for total annihilation are: 1. pain. 2. better real estate.

So… What do I do? I’m sure the internet has many suggestions to offer on how to poison the bees to kill them and make them go away. Yes, that would make my support-the-death-penalty alter ego rather happy, but I would like to continue to have fruits and vegetables fertilized by my own organic compost. What a dilemma. Any other options?

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The new garden

Sam and I have been dreaming about having a garden again. Finally, we dug up some sod, had a pile of topsoil delivered, and built some raised beds.

Sam took 1 by 12s to build the sides of the raised beds, and reinforced the sides with 2x4s. Each bed is 6’x6′, giving us 72 square feet of garden, or a measly 0.002 acres. We also found leftover flagstones on our property left by the former owners. We used them to line the path between the beds. It’s a start.

The left bed is partially planted. You can see the different seed beds and the pea trellis we put up. The right bed is taking longer to shape up because it’s mostly going to be full of transplanted tomatoes.

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Here’s the current garden plan. We’ve planted the greens and peas, and one of the squashes. Since I’m not setup to start seeds indoors, I’ll be buying transplants for my tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. More pictures when everything goes in and the big deer fence goes up.