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April 2011

Why it's important to build up your personal food reserves

By Mike Thayer

Listen to me, please.  In today's world, building your food reserves for your family is one of the most prudent actions you can take in preparing for tomorrow. No one knows what can or will affect the functioning of society or food distribution. With food reserves, you eliminate the worry. Each week there are red flags of global and national news being raised telling us that the attention and focus of our families should be on storing quantities of emergency food and water in our homes. Why? Potential disruptions in the food supply can be caused by a number of factors such as unemployment, economic downturn, erratic weather, droughts, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, contamination of food supplies, and transportation.  If that isn't enough to convince you to be prepared, then think about inflation and consider buying food at today's prices as an investment.  Have you been to the grocery story lately?  Prices are skyrocketing.  Beat tomorrow's food prices.  Please, prepare yourselves.



Eating at The Vine: Try their tenderloin

Meeting with a friend for lunch, we decided to visit The Vine Tavern & Eatery on the strip in Coralville.

You've GOT to try their tenderloin sandwich!  It's HUGE and full of flavor, the natural cut fries on the side are a nice compliment.  I rate their tenderloin the best in the area!

The place was clean and the service was great.  The waitress was pretty much reading our minds - we didn't have to ask for a thing. 

Simply put, it was an enjoyable lunch.  In fact, everybody in the place - staff and customers alike - was smiling.  

I highly recommend The Vine for lunch, they have a menu that will suit just about anyone's taste and the place is flat out comfortable. The Vine gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Vine Tavern & Eatery
39 2nd St.
Coralville, IA. 52241
PH: 319-338-7770

Friday Night Fun at Buffalo Wild Wings

By Filiz Thayer

Filiz_thayer Need a fun place to go on a Friday night, where you'll get good food and excellent service?

Go to Buffalo Wild Wings in Coralville.

Readers may recall that I did a write-up on this restaurant back in January, the food was good, but the service was less than stellar.  Click here for that report. 

On this night, the service was exceptional.  It was a busy Friday night, the place was packed and our timing was perfect.  We didn't have to wait as a table for six was being cleared as we walked in, my family was seated right away.  The Hostess was friendly, the wait staff did all the right things.  My three boys enjoyed playing the video games at the table and the food was served hot and fast.  When guests paid their bills and left their tables, you could hear the courteous "Thanks and have a good night" from more than one member of the staff and tables were cleared promptly, no mess, no fuss.

Kudos to manager Jamey Heal and his staff, nicely done!  It's a pleasure to eat at the Coralville Buffalo Wild Wings, a perfect Friday night Family night meal.  They get five out of five stars.

The food, service and atmosphere at Buffalo Wild Wings can be enjoyed at:

2500 Corridor Way # 1
Coralville, IA 52241-7603
(319) 338-9464

Reward your garden with compost

If you’ve always considered getting into composting but haven’t done so because you thought it would be a hassle, or too complicated to get started.  Don’t sweat it.  Don’t be intimidated by what you might read on the internet or in a garden book. 

Composting is as simple as putting a banana peel at the bottom of the hole you dig to put your tomato plant in.  Or after a scrambled egg breakfast, rinse and crumble up the egg shells, walk outside and sow them in your garden.  It’s that easy.

For years, my wife and I have saved kitchen scraps, melon rinds, fruit peels, eggs shells and such, putting it all in a plastic bag sitting by the sink to take out at the end of the day.  When we first started, we just dumped the bag in an unplanted corner of the garden.  A few years later, I built a 4’x4’x1’ high box out of scrap wood to dump the compost bag in.  Two years ago I built a three-bin compost bin for approximately $150.  That’s how beneficial composting can become.  I no longer buy garden fertilizers, I don’t need to.   My garden gets all the nutrition it needs and then some from compost.

Composting areas can be as simple as a pile of kitchen scraps and yard waste in a corner of your backyard, to a three-bin set-up made out of cedar wood.  If you’ve got some unused brick or cinder blocks, that will work to make a bin too.  It’s up to you and whatever materials you have available or want to purchase.  Keep your bin in full sun if possible and away from your house.  Your compost - specifically the most raw stuff you just dumped - will attract insects, birds, squirrels and perhaps an occasional raccoon.

The basic elements to a compost pile or bin that creates ‘garden gold’ are:  Ingredients, air, water

Ingredients:  Basically, we’re talking kitchen scraps and yard waste. 

  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Melon rinds
  • Banana, orange, apple peels
  • Onion skin
  • Celery tops and stalks
  • Any other vegetable and fruit scraps
  • Yard waste like grass clippings (but only if you don’t use chemical fertilizers)
  • Dead flowers and leaves
  • Pine needles
  • You can even throw in some shredded newspaper (like the sports page, with a Hawks lose close one headline) once in awhile if it’s recycled paper and soy-based ink (most papers are these days)

What SHOULD NOT go into your compost

  • Dairy products
  • Meat scraps
  • Oils
  • Food scraps like breads, cakes, crackers
  • Diseased plants

Once you get your compost or bin going, turn it about one a month with a shovel or pitchfork, this helps break down the pile faster and prevents odor from developing.  Turning the pile also puts more air in the mix.  Remember, air is one of the basic elements to good compost, you don't want to keep your pile in a closed container either, it needs to breathe!

So we've got two of the three elements covered, 1.  Ingredients, 2.  Air.   And then there's the third, water.  Your compost pile needs to have some moisture to help with the breakdown process.  Rainfall usually takes care of this for you, but if you get into a dry spell, sprinkle your pile with some water from a watering can or the garden hose.  Moist is key here, just enough to 'feed' the pile, not sopping wet. 

That’s it, that’s all there is to it!  The nice thing is, you can make your pile as big or as small as you want it and you can start today with a banana peel.  In as little as a couple months of saving your kitchen scraps, you can have some garden gold nutrition with very little effort for your flowers and veggies. 

Are you ready to plant your garden yet?

By Mike Thayer

Garden_shot_1 Yesterday was a pretty good day to play in the dirt if you're a garden fantatic.  With the temperature forecast to hit the 70 degree mark today and barring any rain, a lot more 'playing in the dirt' can be done in the Thayer Garden, a.k.a. The Akdeniz Garden.

Yesterday was spent prepping and amending the soil.  I'm big on using compost and for those of you who haven't really gotten into it because you think it would be a big hassle to start, it's really not.  I built myself a three-bin composter a few years back which provides the garden and flower beds with oh-so valuable nutrition for the veggies and flowers.  But before that I used a simple 4'x4' box made out of scrap wood.    It's amazing what a few egg shells (calcium), melon rinds, banana and orange peels can do for your garden.  Bonus:  You won't have a slug, snail, or cutworm problem if you add egg shells to your garden soil.  Using compost beats the pants off of commercial fertilizers, saves money, is free of unnecessary chemicals and there's no more hassles with the garbage disposal! 

Garden_shot_mailbox Barring any rain, lunchtime today will allow me to put in some cool weather tolerant veggies.  It's not too early to sow some seeds.  If your garden is prepped, you can sow the following now:  Onions, radishes, spinach, peas, carrots, arugula and a variety of lettuces.  After the danger of the last frost is past (Mother's Day is my general rule of thumb), I'll be putting in eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, okra and a variety of peppers.

Up next, an article on composting!