It wasn’t my idea. I liked the idea, but I wasn’t going to be the one to make it happen. Josh had us composting after we returned from our graduate studies in England. Our first venture saved a lot of space in the trash can, but it was rather messy and never came to anything. We had a small bucket beside our kitchen trashcan. For those of you who know me, know that I am very aware of dirt. There is good dirt (warm, happy soil) and there is bad dirt (think Porta-Pot at a track relay in June). Well, that little trashcan started out with good dirt (onion peels, kale stems, apple cores), but it all went bad. I had a very hard time even looking in the direction of that little can after awhile, but I knew we were doing the right thing. And the sour flies knew it too.
That first time taught us a few things about composting:
1. Use a can with a lid.
2. Don’t put meat in there.
3. Aim well.
4. Empty well.
We also had to be a little more careful about taking those annoying little stickers off apples and pears and the like.
We didn’t really do anything with the compost. After we moved out of that little apartment and into the big Victorian, we got serious. Josh’s very wise grandmother bought us a can with a lid and we put the can in a cabinet beside the kitchen sink (two very good ideas,).
Everything goes into that can. Well, not everything. I have some composting information for you:
But, we are very diligent about putting scraps in the can. I feel guilty if I don’t, actually. There have been a couple of occasions where it was just easier to scrape the plate or bowl into the trash. There have been times when the compost can was full and I couldn’t jam the rotten stalk of celery in there, so I would put it in the trash and try to cover it up. Josh seems to always find it when I do it. He doesn’t really say anything, but he gives me that look like “How could you lie to me, the garden, and your Maker?” I don’t do that much anymore; I can’t handle the shame.
I planted some veggies and flowers in our raised boxes this year: kale, romaine, red leaf, escarole, Swiss chard, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes. Well, I was blessed with more tomatoes and squash and pumpkins and who knows what else from the compost! It looks like a big mess–plants on top of plants and I’ve tried to do some sorting. But I have tomato plants EVERYWHERE. They’re in the boxes where they belong, but they’re also between my flowers and shrubs along the side fence as well as next to my mums, holly, and hollyhock in my front beds. Yes, there are tomato and squash plants in my front flower beds.
So, with all of these plants, we have to do some food-fixing. And we’ll have a ton of tomatoes (weather and babies permitting), so I will be posting some tomato recipes.
I made up one so far and it’s quick and easy and delicious on some crusty bread.
Tomato and White Bean Salad
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
fresh squeezed lemon juice from 1/4 lemon
fresh Italian basil, chopped or torn
pinch of granulated sugar
freshly ground pepper
Neatly chop tomatoes (if the tomatoes are juicy, you can place them in a colander to drain out some liquid) and place in a small bowl. Mix in the beans. In another bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Add the shallot and garlic and stir. Pour the oil mixture over the tomatoes and beans and gently combine. squeeze the lemon over the tomato mixture and stir in the basil. Throw a pinch of sugar in and finish with salt and pepper to taste.
There’s a lot you can do with this recipe. Try out different types of beans or add other herbs and vegetables. The other day I made this recipe, but I substituted black beans for cannellini, Thai basil for Italian, and added a chopped green pepper. It was great.