Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's 90 Degrees Outside, So It Must Be Time For Soup!

I don't know why, but sometimes in the summer I get on a soup kick.  This year I am crazy about these cool noodles soup dishes that I found in the refrigerated section of my local Asian market.  They come with fresh noodles, a soup base sauce and flakes.  I am actually not a fan of the flakes.  They have things like dried cuttlefish and dried mini shrimp with the shells still on them which have a crunch that I am not into. So I don't use it.

Today's soup is spicy noodles by a Korean company named Pulmuone.  I sauteed a few strips of tofu to add a bit of protein.  Some green onions and mushrooms would also be a good addition.  This is deliciously spicy stuff and goes wonderfully with a nice glass of jasmine iced tea.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting Ahead of The Game

Okay, I am supposed to be revising a paper that is due tomorrow for my writing class, as well as researching info for another paper (this one for my humanities class) that is due on Monday.  But whatever, I feel like I am ahead of the game today.

I got up at 6:30am and cleaned the shower, I still need to get the rest of the bathroom clean, but that is the messiest part.  Plus, on the way back from dropping Gigi at camp, I picked up some ingredients for dinner.  This is the best part.  Right now dinner is slowly cooking in my slow cooker.  All I will need to do later when I am dead tired, is make some brown rice to complete the meal. 

If you don't have a slow cooker, a.k.a. a crock pot, or haven't used yours in while (like me), I urge to pull it out of the cabinet.  This is like the 11th day of 90 plus temps in the DC Metro region, cooking your dinner in the slow cooker is a great way to have a nice hot meal without creating excess heat in the kitchen.  It is also a fabulous way to make a healthy meal.  Last night Gigi and I had Lean Cuisine for dinner and my mom guilt was fluttering out of control.  At least I made pudding for dessert.  Tonight we will have slow simmered chicken with veggies over brown rice.

Slow Cooked Deviled Chicken

1/2 onion thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut in half
4 stalks of celery, cut in 3 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 chicken, cut up
1/8 cup olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1/4 t dried tarragon
1/4 t sea salt
1/8 t ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

Prepare veggies and layer in the bottom of the crock pot (always put veggies in first).  Arrange chicken pieces on top of veggies.  Mix the remaining ingredients except the bay leaf, and drizzle on top of the chicken.  Tuck the bay leaf in and put on the lid.  Cook on low for about 8-10 hours.  Serve with brown rice.

Got to go work on that paper or I will no longer remain ahead of the game. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Writing for School, But Not for The Blog

I started the summer semester on June 1st.  Note to self, next summer, only take one class.  I didn't think the schedule was that condensed, but it is condensed enough to take up most of my free time.  Anyway, that means I have not spent as much time here on my blog writing for pleasure.  I have also abandoned my search for new healthy recipes.  Drag, this school thing is all consuming right now.  I am going to have to see if I can squeeze in a few other things.

I went out the other day and took some pictures in the garden.  Most of them turned out well.  All the gardens are doing great and love this super awful hot weather.  The top shot is of one of the Dahlias in the cutting garden.

This is Ms. Gigi modeling the hydrangeas that are trying to take over our front walk.  I had the cut a chunk out of each side so we could get to our front door.

These white echinacea are one of my garden favorites right now.

This is shot of Ms. Gigi and the driveway garden.

And here is shot of the veggie garden.  I took this on Thursday last week and the tomato plants are already about a foot taller!

Well, gotta get back to school work, but it was nice saying hello.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Passiflora Passion!

I've decided to become a collector.  I love passion flowers and I am hoping to collect a new variety each year.  I found a great site called Passiflora Online. I will be using this site quite a bit. There is information on varieties, tips on care, and places to purchase vines and seeds.  I just purchased two more varieties while writing this entry!  OK, so more than one new variety this year, although my guess is that the plants I ordered today may not produce anything this year.
This first picture is of Passiflora Passion Red Lady Margaret and is the second addition to my collection. I purchased it about a week or so ago at Behnkes Nursery.  I am trying to decide if I will re-pot it and keep it on the deck or put it in the ground like my other passion flower vine.

This is the first of my collection and I believe the variety is Passiflora Alatocaerulea.  I grew this on a fence last year and it was spectacular.  I dug it up in the fall and put it in a pot. I kept in a sunny window over the winter and now it is back in the garden in the same spot.  No flowers yet, but lots of buds!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

My Crazy Edibles Garden

This is my crazy edibles garden.  I call it crazy because it is incredibly informal.  I was very eager to get things growing this season and would plant some seeds and buy a few plants every week or so, and as I kept adding things I just put them wherever they would fit. 

We had a few nights with frost warnings and temps in the mid 30's, it seems to have caused issues with some things but others are fine.  Just this morning, I saw that the ambrosia plant I thought I might need to replace, has all of the sudden started growing.

The first things I seeded were lettuces, broccoli and beets.  We have harvested most of the lettuces and they were fantastic.  I will always grow lettuce in my garden for now on.  Although I hear it's hard to grow in the height of the summer, so I will try and seed some more in September for a fall harvest.  The broccoli and beets look good, but I don't really know what to expect of them, this is also a first for me this year.

Mr. Max the Garden Cat waiting for a few snips of catnip 

One of my garden favorites is the tomato.  I have 5 plants this year, each a different variety.  I love the taste of homegrown tomatoes, so I can't wait until these start producing!  I am hoping for an abundance so I can put some away in the freezer for pasta sauce this winter.  I also have a two pepper plants, one bell and one jalapeno.  I put these in before the two frost warning nights and they are still very small.  I am not sure if they suffered damage from the low temperatures or if they aren't in dry enough soil.  The jalapeno plant has one little pepper on it, so maybe it just hasn't been hot enough, long enough for them to really start growing.

Ariel view of the tomatoes

This is a new garden and I need to figure out how it works.  I can tell that the area where I put the herbs, which is very close to the peppers, holds water.  Of course, where I need it dry, it's wet. Some of the herbs may need replacing. I moved a few second year parsley plants from other areas in the yard and they just want to go to seed, no real growth happening.  The basil is also not doing so well.  I need an abundance of both of these herbs for cooking this summer.  I'll put a few new ones in in another section and see how they do.

This is how the garden started earlier this year.  I tilled out an area around the deck.  I had some old edging stones from the garden that used to be where the deck is now, so I used them them to map out the edibles garden area.  The long area on the side of the garden is what I call the cutting garden, I'll talk about that garden on another day.

The beginnings of a new garden plot!

Stones and border in place, ready for planting!

This shot was taken a few weeks ago.

This shot was taken today - lots of growth!

Mr. Max walking in the garden with the broccoli, beets, yellow squash, cucumber, tomatoes and sunflowers.