Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fall in Michigan

It is strange to me to think of early September as fall weather, but fall has most assuredly arrived here in Michigan.  Right now, the temperature is in the high sixties, and the low tonight is 51ºF.  In my opinion, it was quite nice in Atlanta last week, and I think the lows were where the highs here are.  The biggest reason that this is an issue for me is that all of my stuff is still with the shipping company, and I wasn't anticipating weather like this.  I only have an extra-small roll-aboard suitcase, and it is mostly full of short sleeved shirts.  Yesterday, I wore a skirt and a t-shirt because I had spilled Vitamin Water on my jeans during the drive.  By the time the evening came around, I was positively chilly, shivering a little even.  We closed the windows, and Scott made a fire.  The first fire of the season -- definitely fall.

On the other hand, the summer harvest of tomatoes is still going strong.  Scott planted a garden this spring, and I harvested three large mixing bowls full of veggies from it yesterday.  He redesigned the garden this year, creating four 4'x4' raised beds surrounded by wide mulch paths.  In the garden, he used a combination of techniques from Guide to Michigan Vegetable Gardening and Great Garden Companions.  The garden has been incredibly abundant.  Much more so than the garden that my friends and I had in Atlanta.  Just a couple of weeks ago when I visited for his brother's wedding, he had a harvest nearly as large sitting on the counter when I arrived, and he said that he had already given pounds of beans and tomatoes away to his neighbor and his colleagues.  Last week, before coming to Georgia, he gave more pounds to the people at his office, yet the first day here, I harvested dozens of tomatoes and handfulls of  beans, along with some peppers and cucumbers.  He says that he has done almost nothing but watering and the occasional weeding.  I can tell that something is attracting the right bugs, because I saw a preying mantis hiding among the string beans and sunflowers.  I will be taking over responsibility for the garden.  I suppose I had best find out where the spigot is.

I plan to use what I harvested or put it up, so I have made a very tomato heavy menu for the next couple of weeks.  This is a bit difficult for two reasons: 1) he doesn't like the texture of tomatoes, and 2) I am making the menu plan and buying the groceries, but he is paying for them.  Today, I went out and made my first grocery run.  This was hard for me, because my budget didn't used to be as strict.  Obviously, we are trying to save money now more than I used to, but I mean that it wasn't strict in the sense that I was generally trying to spend a certain amount per month, but it was no big deal if I went over a little bit.    Additionally, the budget was based on how much I had spent historically, so I often was under budget.  This is a whole new budget for a whole new family.  Last night, Scott handed me the cash which was to be my budget for the next two weeks.  I was confident that I wouldn't spend it all, but sadly, I spent about $25 more.

ETA: just to be clear, my budget was strict not because Scott would not give me more money, but because I was trying to only use the cash I had on hand, rather than pulling out my credit or debit card.

One thing that is important to know about me is that I have a goal of eating foods that are grown or created in a responsible way, preferably locally.  My friends and I were already buying our vegetables from a local Community Supported Agriculture farm, Riverview Farms, when I watched Food, Inc.  Watching that movie and later reading In Defense of Food and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle gave me the conviction to pay a lot more attention to the source of my food.  This was made somewhat easier by the fact that I already almost never ate fast food, and I shopped for my meats at The DeKalb International Farmers Market, whose meats are already free range, chemical free, etc.  Here, things are a bit different.  I started with a local fruit stand that Scott found one day while out riding his bike.  I walked out of there with about 4 lbs of onions, plus celery, zucchini, and a huge eggplant for only $7.  Then I went to Westborn, the local high-end grocery store, because I knew I could find things like locally sourced cheeses.  Sadly, their meat is much more expensive than what I was used to, and not as clearly labeled.  According to their website, the beef is anti-biotic and hormone free, but does that mean that it is grass-finished?  Plus, I don't see any claims about the pork...  Anyway, I went there because I knew I could get some local things and some high quality things, but they are a tad pricey.  I also made the mistake of going in without having eaten in a good four or five hours.  When I got to the register, the total was $5 more than I had left, and I still needed to go to the regular grocery store for things like paper towels.  **Sigh**  The whole expedition took me about two hours, but I guess I will have to do some more searching to figure out where I will be getting most of my groceries.  On my drive, I saw a placard for a farmers market on Saturday morning, and I know I've seen banners for the Dearborn Farmers Market, and I've heard about the Detroit Eastern Market.  Wow, four city blocks?  That sounds like the saturday market in Rennes, France, where I used to live.  I will have to check it out!

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