Keep on rolling!


Things just keep on rolling around here. And I’m still looking for the perfect balance between all my various interests. I’m always a little confused when people say they’re bored. I can’t even imagine. I can imagine being depressed and not wanting to do anything. I can imagine being too tired to do anything. But being bored? No. Not possible. I just have too many different things competing for my time. So many blog posts I want to write. Books to read. Biographies to research. Games to play. Shows and movies to watch. Gardening tasks that need to get done. Recipes to be tried out.

So yeah. I’m never bored.

Speaking of gardening tasks, this last week saw some actual movement in a positive direction on the back yard/garden area.

Side yard
 
Look at this mess. The good news is that what you see is all going to go away. In the far corner, on top of that planter box looking thing between the house and the fence, was where he had originally put the spinning compost bin. As you can imagine, once those weeds get after the second or third rain of the season, the chances of me going to dump compostables out there in my slippers and pajamas is pretty darn low. So, I had Eric empty what was in it, and enlisted my friend DJ to help me move it to a more easily accessible area, just to the far left of this photo.

Every thing else is going to go away. All the weeds and grass. The wood in the corner. Even the black compost bin, once its contents get converted to the spinner. Even the fence. I’ve been saving large boxes for a while now, so once everything is moved, and the grass is chopped down a bit, it’s getting covered with cardboard and lots of mulch.

I can’t wait to see how it looks once everything is done!

So, where’s the mulch coming from? Interesting that you should ask. It’s coming from the front yard. Well, sorta.

This lovely tree is on its way out. It’s big and beautiful, I know. But it’s pulling up the sidewalk. And every year we’re worried it’s going to start dropping branches. It’s a flowering pear that I suspect was planted when the neighborhood was originally put in, back in the late 1980s, making it roughly 25 years old. Only a few houses on the street still have their original trees, and they’re all the same. The only reason they’ve managed to keep them is that the homeowners managed to keep their trees small by way of routine trimming and, in some cases, completely cutting back all branches every winter. None of which this tree has had. By the time we moved in, it was already this big. We had it severely trimmed back twice, but it was already too large to do very much.

Flowering Pear
 
So, it’s time for it to go. So we’ve hired our neighbor Mike, who’s also a landscaper and tree guy, to take it out. Tomorrow. By Monday afternoon, it’ll be gone. We’ve asked him to completely clear out the planter strip, grinding the stump out, and giving us a nothing-but-dirt area to play with! How exciting!

In its place, we’ve tentatively decided on two crepe myrtles. Our choices are rather limited. The City of Santa Rosa only allows a handful of trees, depending on the size of the planter box. All of them are nice trees, but I have a special spot in my heart for crepe myrtles.

The rest of the garden is also a mess. I have this idea that I’m going to mulch the rest of the back yard area, plant some winter veggies (peas, chard, kale, etc.), and sweep the leaves from under the tress. But it’s unlikely that any of that is going to happen this week.

I’m leaving town for a week early on Wednesday morning. It’s going to be a fun trip. Between now and then, it’s going to be full throttle for getting through the work and household tasks I need to handle before leaving: running errands, packing, cleaning out the fridge, queuing posts and posts and posts, and so on.

Hope you have a great week, friends.

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Veggies!


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This week’s haul was enormous! Look at those beets! And, more importantly, look at those beet greens! More kale for more kale salad! Beautiful carrots. The last of the golden cheery tomatoes. (I just noticed that typo. I’m letting it stand. It makes me smile.) Some wonderful cauliflower. Potatoes and an onion. And, most exciting of all, lettuce! Look at those lovely little heads of greenery! I have special designs on those two teeny little red endives.

Last Week
First, before I dive into this week’s menu plan, a quick follow up on last week’s plan. OK, so, we had so many leftovers from the week before, and then there was an impulse to make pizza instead of soup, so, as of this writing, NONE of the recipes on the menu were actually made. Maybe later today. I’ll update this post with any changes.

This Week
Because of how little cooking happened last week, the plan for the coming week will probably a bit of a mash-up between things from last week and new things, because I’m going out of town for a week, starting on Wednesday, a lot of these veggies will probably get stored or frozen to use later. That’s how life goes, right? “Best-laid plans” and all that.

Sautéed Greens. Moving this up to the top of the list, as there are a whole lot of greens hanging out in my fridge right now. Kale, chard, beet greens, and broccoli and cauliflower leaves. So many greens. And mushrooms. And garlic and onions. And then into the freezer.

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa. Also still waiting are the green tomatoes. And green onions. And I found some peppers in the back of the crisper drawer that are still in good shape. So, they’re all going to get roasted up and turned into something delicious to go over fish or pork or something. Later.

Beet Salad. Like a real lettuce salad with roasted beets and some goat cheese. Oh, and maybe some dried, sweetened cranberries and walnuts. And a red onion. And balsamic dressing. Yum! I’ve been missing salad greens. They don’t grow well as a summer crop around here, but now that the temps have cooled off and the rain is back, we’ll be in tender greens for a while!

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese. So I saw this post by Smitten Kitchen a week or so ago, and tried to make my own version of it but with a meat sauce and a bechamel sauce, thinking it would be kinda like a noodle-less pastitsio, but it didn’t turn out like I expected. It was still absolutely delicious, don’t get me wrong. And over orzo, it was probably the best meal we ate all week. But I think I should go back to the original plan of just cauliflower and cheese sauce in the oven. OK, maybe with extra garlic. And some wax potatoes. We’ll see what I actually come up with.

Bean, Chard and Chorizo Soup. This might get put on hold for a while. While I love it, I don’t know if I have time to make it this week, along with all the other prep work and cooking that needs to get done before I leave town. Since the beans are already dry, and the chorizo is still frozen, it can hold for a couple of weeks. It’s not like we’re going to stop getting chard any time soon.

Braised or Roasted Broccoli. I’m still craving this. In fact, I saw this recipe for roasted broccoli and faro that renewed my broccoli craving. I was actually toying with the idea of switching out the feta, or adding cauliflower. I’ll keep you posted.

The carrots will join the other carrots in the crisper drawer. The potatoes will keep well in the pantry. The tomatoes will get eaten as a snack, with every last one being savored in precisely the manner late-season tomatoes deserve.

Veggies!


Another week of beautiful vegetables, all from my farmer friends at Tierra Vegetables!

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Here’s the main haul: cabbage, carrots, parsley, acorn squash, an enormous celery, strawberries, potatoes, and cauliflower. So much food I couldn’t fit it all in my canvas bag! Such a bounty of beauty!

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So, I bought more stuff! More kale, basil, garlic, serano peppers, and persimmons.

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Oh, and more tomatoes! Although I didn’t really buy these as much as barter for them. But still… YUM! So many vegetables I’m feeling almost a bit overwhelmed by what to do with them all. But I have a few ideas.

This Week
Pot Roast. Still on the list. Our dinner with friends got pushed back again, but seem pretty definite for next week. Regardless, I will be cooking pot Roast next week, even if it’s just for me and Eric. Using the potatoes, some carrots, and the fennel left over from last week.

Cabbage Soup. Eric has yet to have the time to make his famous cabbage soup, although I suspect it will happen tonight. If it doesn’t use up this third head of cabbage, then I’ll have to come up with a back-up plan. Probably something to do with sautéing and using for breakfast. Or another type of soup. Fortunately, cabbage keeps for a long while in the fridge.

Tomato Soup. Yes. More. This will be my fourth batch. I’m hesitant to call it the last, because this warm autumn is keeping the tomatoes coming, and once it’s canned, it’ll keep for a long time! Right now I have something like 12 quarts put away. That’s one quart a month until next year’s tomato canning season!

Roasted Cauliflower.We’ve got a whole lot of cauliflower and broccoli (and zucchini) in the freezer for use in the winter when the weekly boxes turn into bi-weekly boxes. I’m tempted to use this cauliflower to make some kind of garlic, cheesy cauliflower thing that’s roasted and then puréed and topped with cheese. Oh! Maybe served over some seasoned ground beef! I’ll keep you posted!

Sautéed Kale. With onion, garlic, and mushrooms. And eaten with breakfast. Yum!

The celery is the sticking point, really. While I’m tempted to do up some really yummy cream of celery soup, I’ll probably just chop it up and add it to the celery in the freezer for use in soups later this winter. Boring, I know. But there’s only so much fresh-cooked food two people can make and eat in a week!

The acorn squash is going to be stored for later. Maybe for stuffing. 

The parsley is being dried in the kitchen window and will be added to my currently-running-low jar in the cupboard. The basil will be chopped and frozen in an ice cube tray with olive oil (my favorite way to save basil).

The strawberries are being eaten one by one every time we walk through the kitchen. And the persimmons are being sliced and eaten with breakfast.

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Last Week
Despite the lingering funk I’ve been experiencing, it’s been a pretty productive week. I got through quite a few things on the list from last week. I made the cream of broccoli soup, my third batch of tomato soup, roasted beets, and Eric made a huge batch of delicious salsa!

It’s fun to get back in to the kitchen again after taking so much time off for school. I still cooked, of course, but it wasn’t often that I had time to do anything more than just cook and eat the same go-to meals I seemed to rely on for years: pasta and sautéed veggies, happy bowl soup, and “clean out the fridge” frittata.

Tuesday – Veggie Day


pumpkins

This is the beautiful sight that greeted me when I stopped into my CSA to pick up this week’s supply! It’s finally pumpkin season! While other people are feeling enthusiastic about Pumpkin Spice Season, I’m not a die-hard PSS person. But, I do love a good pumpkin pie, or maybe some curry pumpkin soup. And then there were those amazing pumpkin scones I made years ago when I baked. And I’ve been meaning to try my hand at duplicating the delicious chicken and pumpkin curry the local Thai restaurant makes.

So many good pumpkin recipes! So, I guess it’s good that we got two of these little cuties (Baby Bears) in our box this week! I also want to mention how much I love how the two seasons (summer and autumn) overlap quite nicely here in California. Pumpkins AND tomatoes at the same time? Yes, please!

Veggies 09_30

The contents of this week’s ‘box’:

  • 2 Baby Bear sugar pumpkins
  • 2 very large yellow onions
  • 1 pound of heirloom tomatoes (green)
  • 1 pint of mini golden tomatoes
  • 1/4 pound of broccoli spears (the second harvest)
  • 2 pounds of beet (yep, just one very big beet)
  • 1 summer celery
  • 1 teeny Fuyu persimmon with a tiny bruise (a bit of lagniappe)

The goal of these post, in addition showing off the fantastic produce my farmer-friends offer, is to spur me to think about what will get used and how, and maybe even encourage me to make a weekly meal-plan.

So, after a little thinking, my tentative plan is:

  • keep the pumpkins until I have a minute to roast them up
  • put these onions with the rest of the 10lbs I bought last week until I have a chance to dream up my own version of an onion pie, which I’ve been dreaming about for a week or so now
  • talk Eric into using these beautiful green tomatoes in his next salsa batch for a fun variety of color
  • eat these cute little orange cherry tomatoes for lunch tomorrow… if not later tonight
  • steam and add to our breakfast of eggs and beans
  • save the beet with the other beets in the crisper drawer, but sauté the greens up to eat with our eggs and beans breakfast
  • honestly, this isn’t snacking celery, so it’s going to get chopped and frozen for using in soups and casseroles this winter
  • slice and enjoy!

OK, so this ‘box’ isn’t going to be the spark for a fantastic series of cooking posts anytime soon (although it reminds me of others I should add to the list). But, the components will surely show up in future cooking posts. I promise.

And who knows, maybe I’ll feel inspired to make a small bowl of tomato salad tomorrow to enjoy those little orange babies.

Food Blogging


So, I’ve been super busy blogging over on Smart Gardener. I’ve even posted a couple of recipes I made up myself (with help from friends).

This potato salad recipe is really really good! And I was talked into it by Nika and Evie at our CSA, Tierra Vegetables.

Aren’t they pretty?

The dirt showing on these potatoes reminds me of a funny story. A couple of years ago, some of Eric’s coworkers decided to go in on a CSA delivery program offered by a local farm. Besides some of the people complaining about the repetitiveness of veggies from week to week, some people complained that the potatoes were “dirty.” Um… do you know where potatoes come from?

Some of the things you’ll need.

All mixed up.

Bacon makes everything better!

Chopped eggs.

So delicious!

And this grilled berry recipe is a mash-up of a couple of different recipes I’ve been wanting to try. Berries in a foil packet, with balsamic vinegar? It’s surprisingly sweet and delicious! Especially over ice cream!

So sweet and delicious!

Ohmygosh! Really, too too good!

So, yeah. Just because I haven’t been food blogging here doesn’t mean I’m not cooking. And eating.

Thankful Thursday


It’s Thankful Thursday again, and it’s my first blog post for the week! Well, first on this blog. I’ve been busy over at Smart Gardener. I even got to blog about MY garden, for once.

This week’s list:

Just relaxing under the heat lamp.

1. I’m thankful for the fantastic folks at Coddingtown Vet. I feel like I have been given a second chance with Bob because of their care. It’s been a roller coaster ride for the last two months, but all the work and tears have finally paid off. We’re down to giving him fluids only a couple of times a week, he’s starting to eat the food he’s supposed to be eating, and he’s happy and active and back to his normal self. He’s still super skinny, but I’m hoping we can work to get some more calories in him.

They are super helpful and kind every time I call them. They went out of their way to help me get extra fluids on their off day, when I forgot to cinch the line on a bag and had it leak out all over. They call weekly to check up on him. They know who I am when I call. They’re great people, and I know they’ll be there for me and Mr. Bob (and eventually Little Girl) for the long haul.

It’s finally blooming!

2. I’m thankful for the beautiful plants that have been given to me by my friend Madaline. This hydrangea was given to me the first winter we moved here, as a tiny little start. It nearly died that first summer, because I put it in the wrong place of the yard. When I moved it to this spot, it took over a year to recover. Last year, it was growing, but not ready to bloom. I was hoping we’d get some blooms on it this year, and I’m right! How lovely!

It still gets a bit too much sun during the weeks around the summer solstice, but soon the sun will move south again, and it will be in the dappled sunlight again.

So so so good!

3. Sorry for the crappy picture. I was so excited to eat it, I couldn’t wait to make sure I got a great photo. This is the test cooking of what I believe to be The Perfect Pizza recipe. I’ll be blogging about it again soon, with real photos and a recipe. But only because I finally figured out the crust problem. I’ve had the toppings dialed in for a while now, but have been trying so many different dough recipes, I haven’t been able to keep track. But my dear friend John sent me his recipe, and it’s perfect. It’s better than perfect! And I’m so thankful that I have a great foodie friend willing to share his recipes with me!