Thursday, March 30, 2017

Goin' to a Garden Party

Last Saturday, Dan and I were trying to figure out what to bring to Sustainable Tucson's neighborhood garden party - when I spotted an event announcement on facebook. Market on the Move was in our neck of the woods that very moment! Forgive my disheveled look, but we literally threw on our clothes and ran for the bus. We had been wanting to go ever since I first mentioned Market on the Move on my blog about Food Security in the Desert. It's such a great deal! For just $10 you can get 60 lbs. of produce that would otherwise end up in a landfill

We managed to pick out two grocery bags full of produce. Inspired by the abundant tomatoes and summer squash, we decided to make ratatouille. We stopped on the way home for the rest of the ingredients: eggplant, onion, and orange pepper. I already had crushed garlic and basil. 

The summer squash and some of the tomatoes were what I like to call "ugly beautiful." (In our consumer society, we have gotten so used to seeking out perfect veggies in the grocery store - without stopping to think about what happens to the rest.) My flawed veggies may not be pretty, but they're still delicious and nutritious! And I think it's beautiful that they didn't end up in at landfill!  Even if the tomatoes had been soft and overripe, they would have been fine to use in sauce.

As you can see, Dan and I are starting to develop some new, more sustainable habits. Now we wash our produce over a plastic container so we can use the water on our baby trees. (This supplements rainwater on our low-water desert plants, so we aren't using the hose anymore.) It took a little getting used to (my kids are now trained to open the door for me), but it gives me a chance to get outside and enjoy the morning breeze.

If there had been any bad spots, we would have just cut them off.
While the tomatoes boiled, I cut the rest of the vegetables into wedges (leaving the peels on.) Then I sauteed them one vegetable at a time. I added garlic when the onions were nearly cooked.

I made sauce by boiling the tomatoes until they were pretty soft. I ran cold water onto them, peeled off the skins, cut off the bad spots and stems, then chopped them up on a plate with high rims that held the juice. I sauteed that with the onions, garlic, and some basil, (crushing the bigger tomato pieces with my spatula.) Finally, I stirred all the veggies into the sauce, simmering until the flavors had blended.

A while ago, I got sick of the metallic taste of canned tomato sauce (not to mention the recycling bin full of cans) so now I make my own sauce this way. (The boys love it!) It's actually gotten easy with practice. Just another habit - like putting the peels in the compost.

Here's Dan and me goin' to the Garden Party...

Ratatouille! Fits in perfectly with the garden theme! 

The host told us how he has regular garden parties with his neighbors where he shares the bounty of his garden and gardening insights. Can't wait to have our own garden party! 


  1. It would be great, if you could start a Neighborhood Resilience Team in your neighborhood. We are just starting to create a network of small groups all over town. The goal is for that network to be able to support each other in larger efforts, ranging from mapping the urban food forest to creating a Desert Food Masters Corps to exchange best practices.

  2. Sounds awesome, Tres! Thanks for your important, much-needed work!