Wheatgrass Juice without a Juicer

Being the fiancé of a specialty farmer/gardener there are a lot of interesting edible greens growing in the back yard. Micro-greens, edible flowers, produce, and, wheatgrass. According to Wikipedia: “Wheatgrass is a good source of potassium, a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E(alpha tocopherol), vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper,manganese and selenium, and has a negligible amount of protein (less than one gram per 28 grams). Adding other foods with complementary amino acid profiles to this food may yield a more complete protein source and improve the quality of some types of restrictive diets.

Wheatgrass proponent Charles Schnabel claimed in the 1940s that “fifteen pounds of wheatgrass is equal in overall nutritional value to 350 pounds of ordinary garden vegetables”,[3] a ratio of 1:23.[6] Despite claims of vitamin and mineral content disproportional to other vegetables, the nutrient content of wheatgrass juice is roughly equivalent to that of common vegetables.”

Wow! You get a lot of nutrients from wheatgrass, and if we have access to it, why won’t I use it?

We have a juicer, which you will see in one of the photos below, but when we do wheatgrass in it, it just clogs up the blades and makes it hard for other things to get through. You need a special wheatgrass and greens blade to juice greens, which we don’t have. I’ve heard of being able to blend wheatgrass with water and strain it, but I wanted to get more nutrition out of that process, so I used coconut water.

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First, take your wheatgrass and cut it at the base with scissors.

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Cut the wheatgrass, and cut it into about 2″ long pieces and put it in the blender. I was able to blend about a half of a flat at once.

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I found that with a full blender, you need about a cup of liquid to really blend it.

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Once you blend it, on high speed, and for a while, until it blends smooth, you’ll have a small amount of liquid in your blender along with some pulp of wheatgrass.

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I used a simple strainer to strain the juice. Use a spoon to push the wheatgrass into the strainer. You’ll end up with some pulp that looks like what a cat will hack up in the yard, so I’ll spare you the photo.

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The finished product! It smells like a fresh cut lawn, so I recommend mixing it with some juice, or into a smoothie. Enjoy!

The Greens, The Garden, The Greenhouse

After much talk and deliberation on what to do with our adult hoods, my fiancée  has decided to become a professional gardener. He switched careers from a professional chef, to wanting to grow the food that people cook. We talked about it and now is the time for him to follow his dreams of gardening, growing, and selling his produce to the local restaurants to help them buy, and cook local foods. It’s his way of giving back, and motivating people to know what they are eating, and eat healthy. He’s a forager, a grower, and a mad scientist of dirt.

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Matt has been growing the micro greens indoors all winter. He plans to move them into a greenhouse in our back yard. He and a business partner grow micro greens and deliver them to local restaurants that they use to garnish fancy dishes. The wheat-grass is delivered to a local health food restaurant, which they juice for customers to drink in smoothies, or as a shot.

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Watering the garden.

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When I visit him at the indoor garden, I get bored sometimes because gardening isn’t really my thing.

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We borrowed two of these storage hoop house frames from his family to put up in the yard. He ordered thick clear plastic to put over the tops, and a shade cloth for hot days. Matt and his friends then added grommets to the plastic to tie it to the greenhouse along the bottom with cable ties, and has left one side only attached to the greenhouse with bungee cords so he can roll it up when it gets too hot outside. He plans to rototiller the yard on the left of the greenhouse to plant in the ground.

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The greenhouse is up and running! The seed starters he started indoors under artificial light will be brought out here, and then put in the ground when they are ready. He’s started tomatoes, kale, spinach, and other great veggies. He’s got a few space heaters and fans in the greenhouse, and plans to move all of the indoor greens out here too. One location for everything will make his job easier!

Next: foraging for wild ramps and morels!

Field Trip: Love Rock Farm

Last week a few of my fellow coworkers and I took a field trip to an amazing little New Berlin Farm, Love Rock Farm, where we get some of the produce for the Restaurant I’m spending my summer working for. A bit about Love Rock: Love Rock is a CSA and market garden that supplies delicious, herbicide and pesticide free fruits and vegetables to over 25 families and a handful of restaurants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. This will be the CSA’s second season and they are excited to expand their offerings by adding eggs, poultry and flower options to the CSA shares this year.

What is CSA? It’s a Community Supported Agriculture farm where you can either use some of their land to grow your own veggies as a volunteer in exchange for food, and you can also “buy in” as a member to receive a box of produce every week, or bi-weekly for a small price. For those that don’t have the time to shop and want fresh goods delivered, this is a great option.

I knew the farm was run mostly by one person, Drew, our head chef’s brother, but I didn’t realize the size of this farm! He’s working long hours, asking for volunteers in return for produce, and hand picking and delivering produce, it’s like 2 full time jobs!

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This is a view from the backside (yes, I said backside) of the farm. to the left were some abandoned crops that had life in them. Being a CSA farm, you are able to use other’s land to use as gardening space if you have none of your own at home.

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The space was much larger than I had expected for being in the city. It was actually gorgeous, and on a lake.

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It’s hard to tell that’s a lake, but it is.

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The cucumbers were grown in this tent, to contain them. They grow fast, and spread faster.

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Crops that weren’t quite ready yet.

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Baby crops.

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I loved the cabbage patch. Due to obvious reasons that I grew up in the 80’s and had a cabbage patch. We have a dish at the restaurant that has grilled Ox Heart cabbage, pine nuts, and anchovy oil. SO good! If you haven’t thought of grilling cabbage, consider it.

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This reminded me of the Little Shop of Horrors plant.

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Cabbage presentation.

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One of my favorite parts of the tour was the chickens! I got to hold one. There are about 20 chickens there, and one giant rooster that apparently has his “favorite girls” and you aren’t allowed to hang out with them. It’s like chicken drama. I love it.

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Chicken!

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There was a LOT of garlic. This barn smelled amazing and can definitely ward off vampires. Drew sells his produce at the Milwaukee farmer’s market every weekend.

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This is Drew’s mother in law harvesting some potatoes. They pulled 150 pounds that day between her, another coworker, and my fiancée. It was cool to see how potatoes just fall off of the bushes they grow from when you pull them from the ground.

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A view from the barn! There are many varieties of tomatoes, but only a few were ready at the moment.

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The beam sticking out of the top window in the barn is used to attach a pulley and bring produce up to the top floor to dry out.

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I had to take a pic of the great vintage pulley.

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Here’s the beam. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day.

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Here’s some of the produce at the street front farm stand. Someone doesn’t watch the farmstand, you leave money based on the honor system. It was refreshing to see people act this way in the Milwaukee area.

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Carrots and Cucumbers and Cabbage, oh my! Drew sent Matt (fiancée) home with a box of amazing produce for a day of volunteer work helping out. A lot of farmer’s offer this as a bargain for help weeding, pulling, and harvesting. It’s totally worth it, just bring water, and sunscreen. He told me that as they got hungry pulling veggies, there was plenty of fresh food to snack on.

Happy farming!

My First Craft Fair

I’ve been sewing since I was old enough to hold a needle (safely) and always thought of it as a fun hobby. I liked to hand stitch doll clothes, then clothes for myself, (which got me made fun of in High School, but I didn’t care.) I made pants for a local vintage resale shop with fabric sewn into the sides of jeans at $5 a pair. I made simple circle skirts out of plaid fabric to wear with my vintage t-shirts in High School. I upgraded to using patterns by the time I was 19 making shirts and quilts. I made stuffed animals for relatives children, and wine bottle holders out of felt and hot glue. Then I started to make handbags and found my real sewing passion. These are not only fun, but you don’t have to sell them to fit one and only one person at a time. You can create what you want, use any fabrics you see fit and market your creations online. (Hello Etsy!)

So this 4th of July weekend will be the first time I take my hobby large scale, and do a Craft Fair. I went from having 20 or so bags on Etsy (as a hobby for extra money here and there,) to having close to 200 total bags, stuffed animals, leather cuffs and keychains, pillows, and framed art pieces. I talked to a friend a few months ago about a craft market in Door County, Wisconsin that she does with her and her husband’s garden supply and plant business. She said it’s so busy at this craft market / farmer’s market that her tent sells out completely. Tell you the truth, I saw dollar signs more than a good time, but I wanted to take my craft and share it with people. I love to take fabrics from thrift stores, like linens and curtains, as well as fabric samples from Interior Design and Upholsters and make something awesome from materials that would have otherwise been tossed. I like to create while lowering my carbon footprint.

So for months I’ve been reading articles on how to set up a craft booth, pictures on what makes a booth enticing, and what to bring with you for success. So much to do! Here’s my Pinterest board if anyone else is interested in this info.

For now, here’s a sneak peek at my inventory.

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The whales were fun to make, and were made with vintage  button eyes, and leftover materials from local interior design studios.

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With wedding season coming up, I thought I would do a collection of bridesmaid and bride clutches. The only thing purchased for this set was the zippers.

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Tagging everything was fun, plus I got to see how many things I really made. I didn’t realize the amount in inventory till I started putting price tags on it all.

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The little beanbag chickens were the fiancee’s idea. I think they are fun.

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These ricepacks are stuffed with rice (duh) and home grown and dried lavender and lemon verbena. When you heat them they will smell heavenly.

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Clutch inventory!

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More bags

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I’m using business cards as price tags. I got 500 from Vistaprints for like $10.

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I made a ton of large bags for farmer’s markets, the beach, or the gym. I love digging through the materials I got for free and finding ones that match and creating something from nothing. The one here is made from 100% repurposed materials from Interior Designers or yard sales.

I’ll post again with the results! Happy Holiday Weekend!

Foraging for Wild Ramps

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The Ramp in it’s natural habitat.

Dating a chef has opened my eyes to many new foods. Truffle salt, sautéed kale, scrambled eggs with sour cream mixed in, and wild ramps to name a few.So, what is a ramp? The wild ramps are a wild onion in the leek family that grow about 3 weeks out of the year then they are gone. They grow wild, in parks, and woods, in moist nutrient rich soil, and if you’re lucky, you can find them in your backyard in the city. They grow sometime in the month of May, depending on what the winter was like. This year, they came later. We are lucky enough to have them grow in his parent’s backyard in Door County. We can only pick them sporadically so they come back the next year which isn’t a problem, because there are too many of them to pick them all!

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All that you see that’s green are Ramps!

Ramps have a mild, onion flavor, rich in a fresh garlic scent when they are fresh from the ground. You can tell if what you have is a ramp or not when you pull it from the ground because of the look and smell. If it smells like an onion, it’s probably an onion. They grow in bunches, and you can’t just pull them, you need a shovel to pull the roots out. (This is a lot of work!) There is a white bulb at the end, and a purple stalk with a dirty thin membrane around the bulb that easily slides off for easy cleaning.

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Here you can see the purple stem and when the white bulb.

What can you do with a ramp? You can cook the WHOLE thing when they are fresh! (After a while the green part will wilt and you should discard it.) Peel the thin membrane off and cut off the roots, give them a wash, and they are good to go. Chop the whole thing and put them in mashed potatoes, or grill the ramp whole and eat next to some good grilled chicken or put on a bratwurst.

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The woods where we found the ramps was pretty gorgeous, even in the beginning of spring when the leaves weren’t on the trees yet.

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Collecting our ramps for later cleaning and distributing.

We sold the ramps to the restaurant we used to work for in Green Bay, and the one that the fiancée works for now. They will turn it into an awesome cream of ramp soup, and the restaurant that he works for now does an amazing ramp pizza with white sauce and mushrooms, a dish with grilled ramps and asparagus with a fried egg, and a wild ramp risotto. The fiancée even dehydrated them and powdered them for a year round flavor additive. If you get to experience ramps at a local restaurant or from a friend, how lucky you’ll be!

Happy foraging!