Tag Archives: organic

Homemade Veggie Stock

I cook a lot, and I plan on sharing many of the things I cook here. I thought I should start out by sharing one thing that is a constant staple in much of my cooking: veggie stock.

Since we eat mostly plants, we often have a lot of “extras” leftover. Stems, shells, skins, etc. This stuff is not totally useless! You can use it to make stock.

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Any veggie trimmings I have, I put in a bag in the freezer. When that bag gets full, I make stock.

DSC_0135For this batch of stock, I also added some pulp leftover from juicing.

DSC_0136It is very easy to make. Just cover your veggie trimmings with water, then bring to a boil.

DSC_0137This batch had some beet stems in it, so the water turned purple right away.

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Add spices to your taste. This time I added salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. There were some garlic and ginger trimmings in there, too, so that will influence the flavor.

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Once the water comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for 40 minutes or more, depending on how much you have to work with and how flavorful you want your stock to be.

DSC_0149Then strain the stock.

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You may have to squeeze some of the juices from the veggies. If you have a compost pile, you can add what’s leftover when you’re done.

DSC_0155I keep my stock in jars in the fridge until I am ready to use it.

It’s that easy! Never buy veggie stock again.

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Trader Joe’s vs. Door to Door Organics: Which costs more?

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When I shared my first “What’s in the box?” post on Facebook, a friend noted that the total cost of $34.41 seemed high and wondered if that included extra for a delivery fee. Though I already knew the price was higher than if it were regular (non organic) produce, I decided to find out exactly how much more or less the box costs compared to organic produce from the grocery store.

Besides a small local health food store, Trader Joe’s is the only grocery store in the area that provides organic options for much of their produce. I thought they would be a good comparison since they have locations in many cities.

So here’s how it went down: I went in to Trader Joe’s armed with a list of produce and my camera phone. I then proceeded to walk around the store like a weirdo, taking photos of produce and crossing things off a list.

Unfortunately, my ancient phone sucks, and I don’t have photos of everything. However, I did manage to get the prices of every item from the first box:

4 organic Bosc pears: $3.16
4 organic Gala apples: $3.16
1lb carrots: $3.99*
1 Delicata squash: $0.99*
1lb mixed potatoes: $2.49*
4 organic Russet potatoes: $3.99
0.5lb green beans: $2.69+*
4 organic garlic cloves: $2.00
5 organic Roma tomatos: $3.49
1 green onion bunch: $1.29*
1 bag organic Lacinato kale: $2.29+

+ Trader Joe’s did not have yellow beans or organic green kale bunches. Instead I found regular green beans and a bag of pre-chopped Lacinato kale.
* Trader Joe’s also did not have organic versions of everything. According to the USDA, organic produce costs 10-30% more than regular produce. I added 20% to each of the non organic items, except the green beans to which I added 30% (since yellow beans are apparently more rare.) The adjusted prices of those items are below:

1lb carrots: $4.79
1 Delicata squash: $1.19
1lb mixed potatoes: $3.00
0.5lb green beans: $3.50
1 green onion bunch: $1.55

After adjusting those prices, I also needed to add the sales tax. I looked at my actual Trader Joe’s receipt (I did buy things) and saw that there is a 5% tax and a 2% tax.

So who won?

The total cost of the Trader Joe’s produce, with taxes and adjustment for organics, was $34.37. Without adjusting for organics, it would have been $31.61. Pretty close, but TJ’s is coming in at slightly less! Right?

But wait… there’s more. Driving to and from Trader Joe’s from our home burns about 1 galon of gas in my Outback (not to mention at least 40 minutes spent in the car total!) Gas prices here are currently $3.01/galon, adding $3.01 to the cost of the Trader Joe’s produce. That means…

Door to Door Organics wins!

That doesn’t mean we don’t still shop at Trader Joe’s for other things. It’s conveniently located in the same mall as Target, so the drive out there isn’t so bad so long as we need enough stuff. This time around, I bought Greek yogurt, whole wheat pasta, some Two Buck Chuck merlot, and cookies. Happy Saturday.

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What’s in the box? Week II

DSC_0001The series continues with this week’s box!

DSC_0002Total cost: $34.41

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4 bananas

This order came with a disclaimer about the greenness of the bananas. They suggested we leave them out at room temperature for a few days so they ripen up. Personally, I like my bananas a little green!

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2 Roma tomatoes

These look much prettier than the ones we got last week!

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1 green bell pepper (U.S.A.)

Try to ignore the fact that this pepper is not in focus.

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1 green onions bunch

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1 green kale bunch (U.S.A.)

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2 large sweet potatoes (U.S.A)

When they say large, they MEAN large!

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1lb turnips from Rachel’s Garden

Door to Door qualifies Rachel’s Garden as local, but sadly I couldn’t find their website!

DSC_00111 russet potato (plus one bonus potato!) from Strohauer Farms (Colorado)

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2 Fuji apples from Stemilt Growers (Washington state)

DSC_00132 small apple (Asian) pears (U.S.A.)

This is the first time I have ever encountered these types of pears. At first, I was looking in the box thinking, “didn’t I order pears? Are these more bonus apples?” But no. They’re pears.

DSC_00141 small avocado

I’ve got a few ideas about what I’ll be making with this week’s order. This sweet potato Chipotle soup will make good use of the yams and avocado. My favorite way to make turnips is to roast them with potatoes, but I may have to go to the store for some mushrooms to make my favorite mushroom gravy to go with.

What would you make with these ingredients?

Handmade Gowns for Our Wedding Day

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I started my dress search pretty much immediately after we got engaged. My maid of honor set up appointments at several bridal salons in the area, and with no budget or preferences in mind, we went out and tried on everything the world had to offer.

I tried on many lovely dresses, but didn’t fall in love with any of them. I would like one element of this one, a feature on that one, etc. Then, as I started seeing them in bridal magazines, I realized how uncomfortable I would be knowing that my dress could someday be considered fad-ish, dated, or the “it” dress for 2013. Coupled with the fact that I had a tight budget, I realized that I would have to go custom to get what I needed.

When I first heard about Janay A Handmade, I was sure she would be out of my price range. She specializes in eco-friendly fabrics and her dresses are stunning. Finally I decided that it couldn’t hurt to ask. I came to Janay with my budget and to my delight she told me that she could work with it!

Beyond beautiful dresses and a green initiative, Janay is amazing because she works with you every step of the way to ensure your dress is exactly what you want. She was overseas when I contacted her, so we had our first meeting via Skype. I sent her a link to my Pinterest wedding gown board and we talked about what I wanted. She was drawing while we talked, and making changes as I requested them.

Initial Sketch for Lydia by Janay A

Afterwards she sent me an invoice and description. Initially, we planned on organic cotton for the entire thing, but after seeing the fabric in person I felt it wasn’t quite what I wanted. We ended up deciding on organic hemp silk and champagne tulle.

Lydia Sketch with Veil Janay A

Janay’s description:

Lydia’s gown is vintage inspired and elegant. It is created in champagne
tulle over silk/hemp fabric (satin side out).
The bodice of the gown features a wide-set sweetheart neckline that leads
into semi-sheer tulle rouched straps/mini cap sleeves. The bodice drapes
slightly over the belt, with a fitted and structured inner lining for support. A
thin sash accents the smallest part of the waist (sash material tbd)
The back of the gown is cut into a dramatic low V, ending a few inches
above the natural waistline, and has an invisible back zipper. The skirt falls
straight away from the body into a softly flared A-line, and drapes from the
waistband with small pleats (located in side-font and back-center) adding
vertical design lines to elongate the body. Triangle shaped godet inserts of
tulle fabric (two in front and one in back) add more interest to the hemline.
Train of the gown is approximately 1.5 ft in length at the center back, and is
in silk/hemp with an overhang of tulle.
The gown’s skirt has an optional hidden custom dyed tulle underskirt to
add flair and body to the gown (fullness and color tbd at or before first
fitting). Gown is constructed to include boning and bust cups for support. Fully
lined with soft organic cotton. All alterations included.
Includes a floor length veil.

We had multiple fittings throughout the process, making adjustments here and there along the way.

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Marguerite was very excited to be Maid of Honor.

Marguerite was very excited to be Maid of Honor.

Prior to contacting Janay, I had already chosen bridesmaids dresses. They were lovely, but after designing my dress with Janay, I was afraid that they wouldn’t work together because of the different fabrics. I asked Janay if she could make custom bridesmaids dresses for the same price as the ready-made ones I had chosen, and to my delight she said she could. She came up with custom designs for each girl based on what would look best with their body type. I chose pink for their colors and the same champagne tulle overlay that my dress had to tie them together.

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There were times when I was nervous. A dress that isn’t completely made can look a little funny. But when it was done, it was perfect!

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IMG_2896 copyI adored all of the custom elements.

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The veil Janay made had Swarovski crystals added to give it a little bit of extra sparkle.

IMG_2705My maids looked stunning in dresses made just for them.

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The champagne tulle had the glowy effect I wanted that was beautiful in the evening light.

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When we stood all together, it was obvious that these dresses were made to go together.

IMG_3007Ultimately, the most important test was whether they were danceable. Clearly, they were.

And a good time was had by all.

What’s in the box?

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We think food is important. It’s important to our health, the environment, and society. We try to make responsible decisions with our food. We eat mostly vegetarian, and when we do eat meat, it is 100% local, free range, hormone free, non-corn fed, etc. We try to eat local as much as we can, and besides that we try to go for organic or at least GMO-free. No matter what, we want to support businesses that we think are doing the right thing.

Of course, this isn’t always easy, and it definitely isn’t always cheap! But the important part is that we try.

A little over a year ago, we found out about Door to Door Organics (no, this isn’t a sponsored post!) They deliver organic produce right to your door. On the website, you can see what’s coming in your box, trade things out, see what’s local and if not, where it came from. The best part? There is a fixed price (unless you choose to add more.)

I thought it would be helpful for those of you who want to know how much it REALLY costs to eat organic. Every week I’m going to share with you what comes in our box.

DSC_0002Cost of this week’s box: $34.41

DSC_00031 Green kale bunch (U.S.A.)

We love kale! We put it in just about anything, from soups to pastas, to raw in salads. Green kale, sometimes called curly kale, is our favorite (versus the less-appealing lacinato, or dinasaur kale)

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1 Green onions bunch

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5 Roma tomatoes from Deardorff Family Farms

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4 Garlic bulbs

There is no such thing as too much garlic in the DeMonte household.

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0.5 LB yellow beans from Lakeside Organic Gardens

Fun fact: I didn’t know there was such a thing as “yellow beans” before this box!

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4 Russet potatoes from Strohauer Farms

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1 LB mixed potatoes (U.S.A.)

I plan on making a potato soup this week, so we needed a lot. There was actually another bag of mixed potatoes in the box that I didn’t take a picture of (not sure if it was included in the 1 LB, or if they were bonus potatoes!)

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1 Delicata squash from Capay Organic

Guys. GUYS. It’s fall!! THAT MEANS SQUASH SEASON HAS BEGUN.

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1 LB bag of carrots from Kern Ridge Growers

I didn’t mean to order the bagged kind, but these carrots will be eaten none the less!

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4 Gala apples from Stemilt Growers

…Plus a bonus apple! Door to Door sometimes throws in extras. I plan on drying these babies for my morning oatmeal.

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4 Bosc pears, also from Stemilt Growers

This box, combined with leftovers from last week’s box, will likely be enough produce to last us the week. We supplement with stuff from the store like greek yogurt, soy milk, pastas, and bread, though all of that can be purchased from Door to Door, too.

When it comes to food, what’s important to you? Would you appreciate produce delivered to your door, or do you prefer to shop for it in a store? Would you eat it from a box? Would you eat it with a fox? (sorry, got a little excited with my accidental door/store rhyme!) Tell us in the comments!