Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow Part II

This is the driveway garden. This garden also did well this year. The perennials came up wonderfully and the mystery plants turned out to be a beautiful White Phlox and and some sort of Mum.

As with the driveway garden I expanded a bit, since I had the time... I really enjoyed the mix of perennials and annuals. When I first started gardening, I only used annuals. Then I expanded to the perennials, which really helps building an established garden. I like adding in the annuals to fill in blanks spots, plus some off the annuals ended up being the work horses of the garden, blooming longer than most of the perennials.

Some of my favorites in this garden this year were the Pomegranate Achillea (just starting to bloom in the picture with Mr. Max), the White Phlox, the White Cleome and the Snapdragons.

This last picture is of the Passion Flower I grew on the fence. Last year's Passion Flower did not make it through the winter, so I dug up this year's plant and brought it inside. Wish me luck, I'm much better with plants in the garden, than with the ones in the house.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

An old friend of mine commented on my garden blog post from April and I realized I had not updated this since I first started it. I think most of my gardens did exceptionally well this year. It helps being home full time, plus there were very few super hot periods so they all received lots of attention.

These pics are of the side garden. I expanded this garden at the beginning of the season and am really happy that I did. This garden has taken years to understand. It gets the best and hardest sun, so it's important to put things here that can handle the conditions. It also helps to have some tall plants like the butterfly bushes and Maiden Grass to provide some shade.

Those plants did well here, and so did the Echinacea, Lavender, Rosemary, Russian Sage and Roses (although I had keep them sprayed with Deer Off).
One interesting development in this garden was the surprise appearance of the Wave Petunias. I did not plant these here, at least not this year. Several years back I had some Wave Petunias here and must have activated some old seeds in the soil when I turned it up during the expansion. During the August heat they really took off and were a great addition to the garden.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Udon Soup Recipe

This a fabulous recipe that I found on the Kittens in the Kitchen blog. I don't use the edamame, but follow it otherwise for the most part. It's really fast, easy and Yummy! Yes, I am making soup when it's almost 100 degrees outside.

This is a direct copy and paste from the original site.
Serves 2 big bowls, or four as a starter!

1" piece grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp tom yum paste - eek, I cheated! You could probably use whatever paste you wanted here - or even none at all, it still has a load of flavour!
1 pt chicken stock
1 pack udon noodles
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 handfuls raw shrimp (apologies for vague quantities - I pulled them out of my box of frozen shrimp in the freezer... doesn't matter anyway - add as much or as little as you fancy! Oh, and I add mine from frozen :)
1 handful shelled edamame beans (see above!)
1/2 bell pepper, diced into large bits
1 small tin of coconut milk
A couple of drops of roasted sesame oil (if you have it... gives a lovely deep flavour)
Light soy sauce, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
shredded scallions, sliced thai chillies and cilantro to garnish!

Par-boil the Noodles...I reckon this gets rid of the starchiness and gives a cleaner soup - but I haven't done a side to side comparison with the same brand of udon, so could possibly be talking out of my proverbial!Put the noodles into a pot of boiling water and simmer for one minute - until they have just lost their brittleness. Drain and rinse under cold water.Prepare the Base...Heat a glug of nut oil in your hot wok and add the ginger, garlic and paste if you're using it and fry for up to a minute, until sizzling! Add the chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to the boil.Bringing it all Together...This bit depends a bit on the cooking time of the udon noodles, and what state the shrimp are in. My shrimp were large and frozen - so I gave them 8 minutes. The udon noodle pack recommended 7-8 minutes, so I chucked em in a couple of minutes after that. The edamame beans and pepper went in 3 minutes before the end, along with the coconut milk.Serve!Use a pasta server to scoop out a portion of noodles into each bowl, top with the remaining shrimp and veg, then ladle over the remaining broth.Add a drop of sesame oil on to each.Serve with the scallions, chillies and cilantro, soy sauce and lime juice on the side, to allow each eater to adjust to taste!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Garden Blog - Seeds Planted

It's spring! Finally. And that means it's time to get the gardens cleaned up, planted and set before it gets to hot to deal with the heavy work. I have several gardens in my yard all with a varying degree of help needed. The one in the best shape right now is the side garden (above). Over the years, I have kept a spiral notebook documenting the rise of each garden, the fall not so much because by that time I lost interest, hence the fall of the garden. I think I will try to do this electronically at this point.

Today I cleaned most of the weeds out of the what I call the driveway garden. This is a garden in my front yard, next to the driveway. The show piece of this garden is a huge white Peony which is due to bloom in about 20 days or so.

There are few things in this garden that have not come back yet...will they? There are also two things that I don't know what they are. One, I think is some sort of mum, the other, I'm not sure. I'm not even sure that it is not a weed. But for now I will let it stay. I have started keeping the tacky plastic plant markers just for this reason. I think also taking pictures and labeling them will help when it comes to identifying things next year.

The driving force behind today's clean up was so that I could plant some seeds. Earlier this year I stopped by Brookside Gardens and saw some beautiful tall snapdragons. I purchased some seeds recently and today put those seeds in the ground. Historically, when it comes to seeds I am either wildly successful or the opposite. So wish me luck...

I also planted a number of seeds in the side garden. Chinese Forget-me-nots, two types of Zinnias and Portulaca.

Oh and while I was out there Miss Tootie the cat came along, meowing a very self satisfied meow. When I got closer I saw she had blood on her paws. I guess I'm just glad I didn't have to see what it was that she killed...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Beet Salad Recipe

This is the beet salad I mentioned in yesterday's status update on facebook. I made it a bit differently. I used baby greens and shredded broccoli instead of the chard and dandelion greens, I also didn't have any tarragon. It was really fabulous. I've also made just the dressing before for use on a regular garden salad, it so worth the few short minutes it takes to throw it together.

Emeril's Roasted Beet Salad With Walnut Dressing
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, Emeril’s Food of Love Productions, 2008

By Planet Green ContributorSilver Spring,MD, USA Mon Jul 21 19:46:00 EDT 2008

3 to 4 small beets, (red and/or golden) tops removed and washed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
1/4 cup sherry or banyuls vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon minced tarragon
1 bunch baby dandelion greens, washed, de-stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 bunch rainbow chard, washed, de-stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Cut a piece of aluminum foil about 12 inches square. On one half of the square, place the beets, 2 tablespoons olive oil, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Fold the opposite side over to cover the beets; fold all edges to form a tightly sealed packet. Place the packet on a baking sheet, transfer to the oven and cook until beets are tender, about 45 minutes. (Beets are done when a pairing knife is easily inserted into the middle.)Remove the beets from the foil packet. When cool enough to handle, rub the skin of the beet gently with a paper towel and remove the skin. Slice the beets into 1/8-inch thick rounds (if possible, use a mandoline) and set aside.In a blender, combine the mustard, vinegar, shallots, honey, tarragon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and mix well. While the blender is still running, slowly pour the oil in a slow, steady stream into the blender to emulsify the mixture. Transfer the dressing to a mixing bowl and stir in the walnuts.Pour 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) of the dressing over the prepared dandelions and chard, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat. In a separate mixing bowl, toss the sliced beets in 1 tablespoon of dressing and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the dandelion greens on a plate. Serve with the sliced beets and cheese crisps. If desired spoon more dressing over each salad to taste.Yield: Salad 4 to 6 servings; Dressing 3/4 cup

Monday, February 23, 2009

A New Favorite Recipe

Pan-Sautéed Chicken with Vegetables & Herbs
From: Campbell's Kitchen
Prep: 20 minutesCook: 1 hour
Serves: 4

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 bone-in chicken breast halves
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 small red onions, cut into quarters
1 lb. new potato, cut into quarters
8 oz. fresh whole baby carrots (about 16), green tops trimmed to 1-inch-long
1 1/2 cups Swanson® Chicken Stock
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
Chopped fresh thyme leaves

Heat the oven to 350°F. Stir the black pepper, paprika and flour on a plate. Coat the chicken with the flour mixture.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it's well browned on all sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Add the onions and potatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, stock, lemon juice and oregano and heat to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet. Cover the skillet.
Bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes. Uncover the skillet and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with the thyme, if desired.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with corn muffins and steamed broccoli flowerets. For dessert serve red grapes.
Cost per recipe: $9.65
Cost per recipe serving: $2.41
Total cost of meal (including serving suggestion): $14.13
Kitchen Tip- To use 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves instead of the bone-in chicken:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Stir the black pepper, paprika and flour on a plate. Coat the chicken with the flour mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it's well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Add the remaining oil, onions and potatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, stock, lemon juice and oregano and heat to a boil. Return the chicken to the skillet.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with the thyme, if desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories 406, Total Fat 15g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 82mg, Sodium 311mg, Total Carbohydrate 34g, Dietary Fiber 5g, Protein 35g, Vitamin A 192%DV, Vitamin C 27%DV, Calcium 7%DV, Iron 16%DV