Easy $10 Outdoor Compost Bin

As many of you already know, I try to live as sustainably as possible. I grow as much of my own food as I can (a work in progress), re-use my weekly vegetable scraps to make stock, and I compost. Since I just moved across the country, again, I needed to start composting again. But money is tight and I have a rental property. This means that I needed to find a way to compost using the space that I have close to my house in a non-intrusive way, in other words, I need to not dig holes or kill any of the precious grass.


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It turns out that you can buy rolls of chicken wire at Lowe’s for $8, 50 ft by 2 ft. I bought one of these and wrapped it around to be about 3 ft in diameter. I made two circles and twisted the ends together on opposite sides and started wrapping the rest of the wire around, which made about four and a half circles around. After that, I secured the layers together at the middle with zipties, which account for the other $2 in this project.

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For those who don’t know how to compost, you need a pretty equal number of “browns” and “greens.” Browns are leaves, grass clippings, soil, paper, and cardboard. Browns break down into carbon mostly. Greens are vegetable and fruit scraps. They mostly break down into nitrogen. A healthy, happy compost pile needs both. So, when you add greens, throw in a handful of leaves, paper, or cardboard.

It is also helpful if your compost is able to be moist, but it shouldn’t hold standing water. The chicken wire is just enough to keep the scraps and dirt in without retaining any water. In a few months, I will post more pictures to update you on how my compost bin is doing. Happy Composting!

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

I did not like minestrone when I was a kid, not one little bit! Vegetable soup was okay, but I didn't eat tomatoes. Therefore, a bunch of vegetables floating around in tomato juice did not appeal at all! But, when I learned to eat tomatoes, I also learned to love minestrone. I've been working on this recipe for a few months now, adding and subtracting ingredients until I found the perfect taste. Really, you can put any vegetables you want in this soup, but I'll tell you my favorites. This recipe is for eight servings and takes about 4 hours to slow cook. It could be done in less than an hour on the stove. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 quart of vegetable stock (I make my own batch of stock every other week, but I recommend Pacific or Imagine brand, too.) 
  • 1 16 oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 tsp of thyme
  • 1 tsp of nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
  • 8 servings of the noodles of your choice (I recommend rotini, elbow, or penne. I use the banza brand, which is made entirely of chickpeas.)
  • 1 small container of fresh baby spinach 
  • 2 zucchini or yellow squash
  • 2 cans of dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cans of cannelini beans (white kidney beans)
  • 2 cups of fresh green beans, cut into bite sizes (Or you can get a bag from the frozen aisle) 
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Instructions: 

  1. Heat your vegetable stock and tomato paste in the slow cooker. This may take an hour. Once they are fully blended, you can add the rest of the ingredients. If you have an immersion blender or feel like whisking it, it can happen in less than 2 minutes. 
  2. Add the rest of your ingredients (except the noodles) and stir. 
  3. Add salt to taste. 
  4. Add noodles prior to serving or storing. I don't recommend letting the noodles sit in the slow cooker for more than a few minutes if you are serving the soup immediately. 

You may alternatively serve this soup over rice, quinoa, or with potatoes. You can add carrots, celery, beets... try out different versions for yourself! This can either feed eight people a lovely dinner, or it can be lunch for two people for four days! 

Corn and Apple Hash

You could describe my cooking style as inventive, but I really have to be. When trying to cook seasonal fresh produce, it can be a challenge to make a balanced meal. I usually find a few things, throw them in a skillet and hope for the best. As I always tell Dev, come take a photo of this. It is either going to be really good or really bad! 

Most fruits and veggies are pretty easy to work with, and a lot of them can go together with a simple sauce or seasoning with no trouble. Corn is in season (and on sale)! My favorite way to eat corn is straight off the grill, but on this rainy day, I had to settle for pan fried. 

For a sweet and savory addition to any southern meal, you will need. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1 apple
  • 1 onion

Yep. That's all. I didn't add any seasoning!

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Instructions: 

  1. Strip the corn off of the cob (raw). 
  2. Dice an apple into small cubes. 
  3. Slice or dice your onion to whatever size fits your fancy!
  4. Sautee these three until the onion and apple are soft and the corn is a little charred. 

Enjoy! If you must add seasoning, I recommend a little black pepper and garlic or Tony's Creole seasoning if you want a little crawfish boil style.  I paired this with some roasted broccoli and baby bella mushrooms. The green you see in the photo is arugula, my bitter friend. It has a very unique taste, when added in small quantities to pizza or a salad, it is delicious! I like to use it as a base for my bun-less burgers and a topping for pretty much anything!