The Buta Pages: Strawberries & Green Eating

This year has been a strange one for my garden. All the plants are very small. I even have a corn stalk half an inch from the ground and producing a single ear of corn but it refuses to get any taller. The three squash plants are blooming but the blooms have failed to produce fruit. There’s a few blossoms about to open and I suspect I may need to get take a paintbrush to them in hopes of getting fruit.

The best item in the garden this year is the strawberry plant. It never produced any blossoms last year but this year it did and fruit resulted. However, not sure I will get to eat any of this fruit. The feral cats, who call my yard home no matter what I do, keep eating all the almost ripe strawberries. This morning, the culprit also pulled 10 unripe berries from the plant in order to get to an almost ripe one. There are a few more that should be ripe in a day or two. I hope they will still be there. Oddly, not overly surprised by this. My mom has been growing strawberries in her yard for over 5 years and we’ve never been able to eat any of them because they were always stolen by the rabbits, snakes, and birds. The feral cats is a new one but it could also potentially be skunks, prairie dogs, or squirrels as the strawberry remnants have teeth marks in them. Note to self: Plant strawberries up high next year and maybe plant more plants.

My debacle with the strawberries makes me a little nervous for the other plants when they start producing fruit. In years past, I’ve only grown lettuce and the occasional tomato plant which were undisturbed by most things except for crickets and some odd looking bugs that like to hollow the insides of heads of lettuce in order to provide nests for its offspring. (That was a really gross discovery. It haunts me to this day and I only grow open leaf lettuce varieties now.)

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With a looming food budget that has shrunk significantly and other goals which require me to find a way to save money/reduce my debt, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the nature of the food I consume as well as my day to day approach to food. While I love to cook, I am a lazy cook when it comes to daily meals especially when distracted whether it be by NaNoWriMo, writing in general, editing work, or decluttering the house. My eating habits got really bad as I started the decluttering process. In some ways, they did get better while getting worse in others.

The next several months are going to be very busy for me – I know this all too well – so I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring green eating into my lazy cooking ways. It has been suggested to me that I should could a big pot of something and eat it for numerous meals over a span of a few days. A good suggestion but not sustainable. I was once on a diet where I was pretty much reduced to having a salad and a small piece of boiled chicken breast three times a day every day for 4 months. To this day, I really dislike eating chicken unless it is deep fried. The other issue with the suggestion is leftovers. I really do not like leftovers and I prefer not to plan for leftovers just in case the dish doesn’t turn out how I was expecting.

I realized the answer is figuring out how to turn some my favorite canned & frozen foods into healthier foods as well as finding ways to make quick one serving dishes that do not require much effort. There are days where I cannot cook at all – yesterday was one of them – because I am too sick to do so which I need to account for as well. Yesterday was a harsh bit of reality because I was so consumed with trying to eat healthier without spending a lot of money that I had overlooked food options for bad health days. Unfortunately, green eating will require pre-cooking some things and freezing them but this is superior than ordering pizza delivery or go on the two mile drive to the local McDonald’s.

My goal for the next few months – and I may be insane for trying it – is to cook all my meals from scratch (except for cans of organic no salt tomato sauce and cartons of organic stock because they are usually more affordable than making my own). I’ve already figured out how to make a decent gluten-free “frozen pizza” and to make one pot pasta for one. (I love one pot pasta – it has been a fantastic discovery!)

Near the end of this month, I’ll be doing a lot of baking with high fiber/high protein coconut flour – tortillas, flatbread, pizza crust, muffins, and such for those snack cravings, to go meals, and bad health day food options – and cooking up a lot of beans to store in the freezer for quick & easy meals. The recipes for my various meals and experiments will gradually make their way to The Cupcake Verses. Of course, this coming week will be all about eating the overly processed foods in the pantry because a. I spent money on them and b. can’t afford to give them away. I’ve been paring down the pantry’s canned and processed food selections for quite awhile so there’s only a few lingering items to eat.

And fingers crossed, I’ll be able to afford canning jars and equipment soon so I get free myself from being dependent on the freezer. 🙂

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