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Posts from the ‘gardening’ Category

Surprise Visitor

Look what came to visit the other day…

Can you see him?

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How about now….?

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While working in the yard, we found him perched on top of my portable greenhouse, but didn’t think much of it at the time. A few hours later Tristan opened our patio door and BAM! there he was. Sitting right on top of our gazebo, just a few inches from the house.

Hellooooo!

I think he wanted to play.

Or did he….? 

~

A Zucchini the Size Of…

My head….?

No, bigger.

My foot…?

No, bigger.

Tristan’s foot…?

No, BIGGER!

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Holiday Weekend Happenings

What a weekend it was! I had 3. 5 days off from work, and tried to make the best use of my free time and long weekend!

I cooked good food.

I cleaned and organized my house.

I played with my puppy.

I tended to my garden (bugs and all!)

I spent some quality time with my other half.

Some highlights…

Lilly Julyred white blue breadfarmers market basket fulltamale pie sliceenchilaswatermelon

mutant cukesromasichibansungoldscrazy wubba doglavenderpatio playrainbowdead bugstomatoes1DSC_0305Lilly's new gate

Come Saturday afternoon, I made a full dinner for a family that I had never met. I signed up to help out the Breen family with a meal for a couple of months, while Tonya is fighting cancer. I live locally, and it just seemed like the right thing to do. (Thanks again to Caitlin for sharing Tonya’s story!)

I had intended to snap a photo of the food I made for them, with handwritten ingredient tags, etc – but when it came down to it, I was more concerned with packing up and getting the food to them – rather than snapping pics. (Poor blogger = good person? Hee, hee). I took them a pan of Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, salad with veggies fresh from my garden, my homemade Cilantro-Lime salad dressing, some fresh salsa from the Farmers’ Market and a batch of Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I figured even if Tonya and Kevin didn’t want to indulge in the cookies (they are trying to eat a semi-vegan diet), that their little boys might appreciate the sweet (healthy!) treat. Little did I know, that when we dropped the food off at their house, we would find a house FULL of people! It was a bit chaotic, but we did chat with Tonya for a few minutes, and we met her Grandmother, and the two boys. I received a nice message later that night from Kevin and Tonya, and apparently all EIGHT of them (6 adults and 2 kids) enjoyed our dinner. I was thrilled that they were able to feed their unexpected dinner company with our meal, as I had been a little concerned when we left! But I had made a large amount of food, figuring in that situation, leftovers would probably have been appreciated, as well. Thankfully it all worked out. Now I just have to figure out what to make them for dinner in August…

Monday night, the rain and storms drove us inside to cook out dinner (we had planned to grill the burgers and corn). We cooked our local grass-fed beef burgers in a skillet, and they were still tasty. Come dessert time, we braved what were merely sprinkles at that time, to make S’mores! These were Tristan’s first s’mores ever – can’t you believe the man got to be 33 years old without ever having a s’more? Shocking! We set our marshmallows ablaze and got to work assembling them.

smores

They were even better than I remembered! A rare treat!

Having graham crackers reminds me of how much I love them – but I don’t like the ingredients in store-bought crackers. I must try to make my own! And soon!

We saw a few fireworks from the comfort of our living room… and let me just say – Lilly is NOT a fan. What she IS a fan of, however… is watermelon! Can you tell?!?!

My Grandpa’s Green Thumb

Apparently I have inherited it. I never expected to; it’s come as quite a surprise. But I couldn’t be happier. My Grandpa was an amazing gardener. My childhood memories wouldn’t be complete without his rhubarb pie, homemade pickles, grape juice, fresh berries and canned tomatoes. All grown by him in my grandparent’s backyard. My Grandma and I are freakishly similar in many ways, but it seems that quite a bit of Grandpa rubbed off on me as well. He has been gone for 14 years this May, and I think of him often. I’m sorry that we never got to experience this together. I know he’d be proud of my garden.

I had good success last year with one raised-bed garden, and some containers. This year, I upped the ante. Quite a bit.

Here is how my little garden grows…

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Garden #1 - on May 1st

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Garden #2 - on May 1st

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Garden #3 - on May 1st

And now, exactly one month later…

garden 1 - 1 month

Garden #1 - on June 1st

garden 2 - 1 month

Garden #2 - on June 1st

garden 3 - 1 month

Garden #3 - on June 1st

Ignore the fact that I need to weed, and that we need to mow the yard (what can I say? We were in Asheville last weekend!)

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Baby zucchini!!

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Sungolds

In the second garden #2 photo, you can see a couple of things… one of them is a hastily staked-up tomato plant, with bamboo sticks. The night before we left for Asheville brought one hell of a storm, and the next morning, I had damage control to do, while trying to rush out the door. I am going to hit Lowes up to get another folding tomato cage for it this weekend. The cone cages are far too small to fit over it now. Also, sort of tucked up underneath the big tomato plant is a tall, but skinny little Sungold tomato shoot. It broke off from the main plant during a storm, and I immediately stuck it straight into the ground. I really didn’t expect it to take (hence the poorly chosen spot), but it did. It has little baby tomatoes on it now, so I’m going to have to make the set-up work!

My garden is organic, and thus, something is already chowing down on my eggplant leaves (seen in garden #3 photo). This happened last year, but whatever it was didn’t care for the fruit (eggplant), and it didn’t seem to have much of an ill effect on the plant as a whole. I am going to try to figure out how to stop it though. The holes in the leaves make me sad! All my hard work!

basil

Pesto! Ahem... I mean basil!

cukes

Cucumbers

all gardens - 1 month

A view down the line...

Radishes!

The only thing (aside from herbs) that I’ve been able to harvest thus far has been radishes. However, check out my Sungolds… I’m thinking I will be able to pluck one of those babies and pop it straight into my mouth while working in the garden this weekend. Sustenance, right?!

~

My week in pictures

Easter egg hunts…

egg hunt

… and baking Emily’s Jelly Surprise Muffins

baking with j

The Farmers Market…

frms mkt bounty

… and local STRAWBERRIES!

strawbs

Reading Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants

bossypants book

Easter Brunch…

easter1 easter2

kale salad bloody mary easter4

Playground weather…

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A handsome man to pump my gas…  (NOT loving the cost though – eeeks!)

eeeks gas

Two days off work, with a day of shopping and lunch out thrown in…

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PLANTS!!!

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seedlings

Getting dirt delivered for my gardens…

truck of dirt gardens

greenhouse

And… this guy…

t and a easter smooch

~

Cooking up and taking down…

Now that I’m amongst the land of the living again, I have been enjoying some pretty flowers…

spring flowers

… playtime outside with puppies…

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Tug of wubba

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They never stop!

… and being a busy bee in my kitchen…

Granola (of course!)… I make a big batch of this every 3-4 weeks.

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Spiced Vanilla Granola

English muffins… I make several batches of these at a time, split them and freeze them for easy breakfast and snacks. They are so wonderfully delicious! English muffins are something that I’ve really missed since cutting processed food out. I am so happy to be able to make my own whole-grain English muffins with minimal ingredients.

Eng muffins

Whole-grain English Muffins

Coconut Butter! This is so easy, it is ridiculous. Really. And, this 8 oz jar only cost me $2.79, to make.

coconut butter finished

Coconut Butter

My favorite Almond Butter!! It was definitely time to make more! We’ll see how long this jar lasts. 🙂

jar of heaven

Heaven in a jar

Simple Broccoli salad with yogurt dressing…

brocc salad

Fresh broccoli salad with yogurt dressing

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins…

pumpkin carrot muffin

How could you go wrong with this?

Emily’s Vegetable Masala burgers

masala burgers3

Delicious with avocado on top!

Collards. Lots of collards. (My “fall garden” exploded with them, all of a sudden).

collards, spicy

Sweet & Spicy Collards

Panang Curry

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Panang Tofu Curry

Dolsot Bibimbap and Kimchi

dolsot bibmibap

Dolsot Bibimbap

kimchi

Spicy!

And of course… Lilly’s favorite Crunchy Peanut Butter dog treats!

crunchy dog treats

World's greatest (and healthiest) dog treats!

On the cookbook front, I recently purchased Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, and am in love. (shhh, don’t tell Tristan). I’ve made several recipes out of it already… Brothy Vegetable and Lentil Soup (with some modifications), Skillet Tamales (w/local grass fed beef), Refried Black Beans, Arroz Con Pollo – and then some (with local pastured chicken), and Cauliflower Mac & Cheese.  I have dozens more pages bookmarked to try .

cauli mac inside

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

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Lentil Soup

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Skillet Tamales and Refried Black Beans

As for outside of the kitchen, we’ve had a very rainy and chilly week here… Spring? Not so much. I actually love rainy days as a rule, but I have to say – I much prefer the dry days now with Lilly around. Mud sucks. Mud on paws, sucks even more. And mud on my carpet? Don’t get me started.

Also making me long for sunnier days? The fact that our beautiful gazebo took a cartwheeling tumble about a month ago, and now resembles something a 2 year old would make with Tinker Toys, rather than an attractive and useful addition to our backyard.

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Anyone know what to do with 145 lbs of crumpled steel?

We’ve bitten the bullet and purchased a new one (ooh, it’s even bigger!) and can’t wait to put it up. However, it is far too soggy out there right now.

So I’m uncharacteristically ready for the sun. Spring. Not summer. Do you hear me, universe? NOT. Summer.

~

Verdure

This is what my garden looks like these days… 

My raised bed garden - May 29th, 2010

The squash is proving the hardest to keep up with, currently. The cukes are definitely coming in second. I haven’t had any zucchini to harvest yet, but the plant looks fantastic with lots of blossoms, so hopefully it won’t be long now. I have quite a few green tomatoes, but no hint of color on any of them yet. 

Last night I made a delicious ‘Baked Ratatouille”, with couscous and goat cheese, using mostly veggies from my garden. It was incredible. Tristan loved it too, and that man doesn’t usually like vegetables all that much! 

My patio garden is also doing well… 

Herbs, etc

 

Tomatoes

 There are baby birds in one of my hanging ferns…

I am finding it difficult to water with them in there, (I don’t want to drown them!),  and thus it might be sacrificed for the greater good. I’m okay with that. 

All in all, I am thrilled with the addition of the raised bed garden, to my summer growing adventures. I hope to add another one next summer, in addition to a compost tumbler.
Ah, suburbia. It’s good for something, at least.

My garden: a work in progress…

  

I started container gardening last year, and had a decent supply of early girl and yellow pear tomatoes, orange mini-peppers, a variety of herbs, including scads of beautiful basil all summer long. (Mmmm, fresh pesto!).  

Herbs

This year, I am aiming higher. A lot higher. In addition to my potted garden this year… (yellow pear tomatoes, basil, Thai basil, cinnamon basil, sage, cilantro, chives, lemon thyme, Italian parsley, Greek oregano, German Johnson heirloom tomato, lavender, crookneck squash, bush cucumber and yellow bell pepper)… I have started a garden. An honest-to-goodness, raised bed vegetable garden.  Tristan bought it for me, after seeing my giddiness at choosing my container garden veggies at Lowes last weekend. I mentioned wanting to grow a few things from seed (that I couldn’t find as starters), and things just went out of control from there…  

My raised bed garden

In my raised bed garden, I have planted… Silver Queen corn, blueberries, more tomatoes and basil, cucumbers, ichiban eggplant, yellow squash; and French Breakfast radishes, a heartier cilantro, green beans, snap peas, spinach and arugula from seed.  

I am a city-girl at heart, who is trying to find some good in living in suburbia. Get this – I am dying to start composting (!!!). While I’ve always been a fan of organic living, it is more imperative now to reduce and/or negate the use of commercial fertilizers now that we have Lilly. She will eat anything and everything! It is going to be hard enough to keep her from stealing a leaf of this, a leaf of that from my veggies. I don’t want to have to worry about her ingesting fertilizer pellets. I am trying to decide on the right (tumbling) composter for us. (Any recommendations??).  

I also planted a couple of mint plants in the corner of my yard, hoping (well, knowing) that they will take over and go to town. I love mojitos in the summer; and am hoping to also benefit from the mint driving the fire ants away.