Friday, May 29, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Casualties & Survivals

We've slowly introduced Cat to the concept of the back deck so that she can hang out with us when we're sitting outside. Of course, she's a cat, so she's curious about everything. Luckily, she never showed interest in the garden.

Last week, however, without anyone seeing her, Cat ate the leeks. She ripped the three I had planted up from out of their pot and ate their long green tops. We weren't even sure she was the culprit, until the following day, when I found her up on the table snacking on the remaining ones that I planned to take into work. Cat!So the leeks are dead. I'm thinking that it's their similarity to grass that attracted her. And I'm not planting anymore. They had their chance. The remaining leeks (post Cat's snack) have gone to a co-worker who may have better luck planting them in a row.
The final addition to the garden was Chris' eggplant seedlings, which are the only seeds that have survived being started inside. Thye seem to have survived being transplanted into pots, as well (5/21/09). This means (hold your breath....) garden assemblage - COMPLETE! No more planting. As my father and Spock would say, Amy, out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Pesto Salad Pizza

I recently made a giant batch of pesto that we have since used on everything from bagels (w/cream cheese) to pasta, to this pizza. I know, salad on pizza? I've heard of salad on pizza and it sounded wrong, but this was very very good.

Pesto Salad Pizza
  • Salad
  • Pesto (homemade)
  • Veggies (onions, mushrooms)
  • Cheese (feta preferred)
  • Pizza Dough (refrigerated)
Making the Pesto. I make my pesto with the proportions (loosely) from Joy of Cooking. I usually cut back on the Parmesan cheese a bit. Ingredients: basil (2-3 lightly packed cups), 2-4 cloves of garlic, 1/3 c. pine nuts, 1/2 c. or less of Parmesan cheese (grated), 1/2 c. or less of olive oil. Freeze some or give it away! Keep in the fridge (1 wk or so) with a thin layer of olive oil over the top.

Pizza Assembly:
  1. I prefer a crispier crust (not dough-y), so we cook the rolled out pizza dough first for about 5 minutes, or so. This was a ball of dough we picked up at the grocery store.
  2. Saute any toppings that need sauteing. We sauteed white onions & mushrooms.
  3. Dress the salad (a bag of baby spinach would be perfect, we used mixed dark greens) with plenty of pesto . Pile it onto the pre-toasted pizza dough.
  4. Top your pizza with whatever you're adding (onions, mushrooms) and add cheese (optional). We used a little bit of feta. Keep in mind that the pesto is loaded with Parmesan so don't over do it.
  5. Finish cooking the pizza - 6 (or so) minutes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Intimidating Tomato Plants

Tomato plants seem much more complicated than everything else on the deck (in my mind). I imagine not having staked them correctly (so they all fall over and go mushy) or all the tomatoes having spots (who knows why). I'm sure it's all in my head, but I'll keep you posted. Now my only concern will be with the scorching sun and heat that hits the deck for the first half of the day. Introducing the tomato patch:(1) In the front bin, I've got Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, and Striped German Tomato Plants (all from Casey Farms). Elizabeth gave me this first bin and subsequently, I've converted two of our blue laundry bins into tomato containers. Now our laundry is all over the floor.(2) While Anne was in town this past week, she planted this Sungella Tomato Plant in the blue bin. (We've renamed the plant "Anne's Sungella"). This one is already fairly tall, so we gave it a tower from the start. (A Southside Community Land trust purchase). (3) The two plants on the right are German Red Strawberry & Pale Perfect Purple (also Southside Community Land trust purchases), and finally, (4) tucked in the back corner is the last heirloom tomato -- a Green Zebra Tomato Plant (from Casey Farms).

Friday, May 22, 2009

NYC & Providence Vacay

Chris & his "pops" in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, 5/13/09.

These last two weeks have been for Chris and I exactly what a vacay should be - no stress, no worries, nothing but enjoying time with friends and family. I had such a great time...and we were able to surprise Danielle on her b-day and catch up with Brian, all while in town. Must share, more pics from the last two weeks:
Outside of Citi Field, Chris with his parents.
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda in Citi Field.
Outside of CitiField.

We spent this last week catching up with Anne & Ashley here in Providence. One afternoon we headed down to Newport to meet up with Craig & Rosie for one of the most-fun & funnest 7 or so hours, bbqing and playing corn-hole. Did you know that CornHole has an official set of rules? I'll let the pictures of the latter speak for themselves.
Corn-holing in Newport, 5/19/09.
<Corn off the grill. Sooooo good. Note: No corn is harmed in the game of Corn Hole.
A breakfast goodbye at Julian's. See you at the wedding!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Garden Pasta

Note: Every once in a while, we make dinner after 9 or 10 at night. When I snap a photo of whatever dish we just made, on those nights, the dish can look terrible (because my in-door photos always look terrible). Here's one from the salvage pile.

Garden Pasta
First, this is one of those 'these vegetables are going to go bad if we don't use them tonight' dishes, thrown together at the end of April. For some reason, the results were shockingly good. Second, I had just watched someone (maybe Giada) toss freshly cooked pasta with Parmesan cheese as soon as it has been drained. We used to use Parmesan as a final topper. No longer.

Your Pasta of choice (we used rigati)
Baby carrots
Red onion (maybe shallots)
Fresh Italian parsley
Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to directions.
2. Saute or roast veggies from the fridge. We sauteed these with a little bit of olive oil. Be sure to use salt & pepper. The simplicity of the dish comes out here - don't over-mess with the vegetables. Let them be.
3. Toss parm. in with the pasta after it has been drained & serve with veggies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This past Saturday, Anne & Ashley officially finished with their time at Fordham, completing their respective doctorate programs. Props to these peeps.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Eggplant Survives & Spinach goes Crazy

Upon returning from our 5-day trip to nyc, I find that leaving town had a positive affect on the garden. 1) the eggplant seeds look very happy, and 2) the spinach went ape-shit.
Eggplant seedlings, taken 5/7/09.Eggplant shoots, taken 5/17/09. Time to plant!!Spinach explosion, taken 5/17/09. Don't they look like cartoon spinach leaves?
Coming Soon: Intimidating Tomato Plants

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Citifield, taken 5/13/09.
Our first visit to the new Mets Stadium -- Citifield. Too bad Shea, this field rocks. Truly a park built for the fans, no matter where you are sitting, you feel closer to the field. I love it. Wednesday's game was a nailbitter, despite the loss in the 12th inning. So glad we could see a game with Chris' parents. Go Mets!

Recipe Rursday: Leek & Chickpea Soup

Earlier this year, my friend Saida inspired me with a soup she made for us during our move. I immediately ordered a copy of the cookbook she had used and I started with this recipe, because of its simplicity. ...The conclusion? Leeks are not in this house often enough. I know they require an extra step (yes, there's dirt between the leaves). But the problem is solved in a few changes of water and it's worth it! I loved this soup (even more the day after). I'd make this again in a second. **5/24/09 Update: Since the first try, I've made this soup again on 3 separate occasions. Even guests love it.
Simplest Leek and Chickpea Soup (from Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan)
2.5 lbs of Leeks (I used 3-4)
3 Tbsp. Extra Virg. Olive Oil
16oz. can of Chickpeas
Beef Bouillon cube (I used vegetable broth)
1/2 c.
Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese

Cut leeks into thin disks and soak in several changes of cold water. Drain and dry. Sautee leeks with the olive oil and salt on medium low, covered. Cook at a slow pace, turning them over now and then, until the leeks break down.

In the meantime, remove the skins on the chickpeas (I rinse them) by squeezing them between your fingers. Add them to the leeks when the leeks become creamy and add enough water (I used vegetable broth) to cover by 1-2" and add a bouillon cube. Turn contents with a wooden spoon. Replace lid & cook for 15 min.

Puree a couple of ladles of the soup in a food processor. Add pepper, Parmesan, and cook for 5 min. longer. Taste for seasoning and preferred density.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Drs. from Space Camp

Very soon, I'm off to see these bffs of mine graduate. They're both graduating as Drs (in Philosophy and Theology) at Fordham. Anne & I spent many years together in the trenches working on our doctorates -- studying for the comps, editing each others' papers, talking through philosophical arguments, and brainstorming new ways to present material in our teaching. I couldn't have done what I did without her and I know first hand what a passionate scholar and teacher she is. Congrats darlin!

p.s. I'm proud of Ashley too, but he's getting his doctorate in Theology, and we all know that Theology is a Philosophy-wannabe, so I can't take him too seriously.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Overview

"When you said you wanted to start a garden, I never thought we'd end up with all of this" -- Chris, this afternoon, as I complained about not having enough space to plant 25 leeks.

From Seed...Sweet Peas - by far the easiest veggie to grow from seed. I started these outdoors and in the container, instead of inside and in egg crates. They were up in less than a week.From Seed: Eggplant - Sadly, these eggplant won't produce until the fall (if they survive). I should've read the seed pack before giving them to Chris to plant. And since I drown the cauliflower seedlings and none of my other seeds came up (my fault), we have our fingers crossed for these little sprouts.Spinach (gifted from Scratch Farm, through a friend). Eight delicious, hearty bunches.
Jalapeno Peppers and Habanero chili peppers - New, from Casey farm in S. RI. Four of each kind. Chris is in charge of these.
Basil up the Wazoo - one pot of sweet basil and one pot of varied (lemon basil, lime basil, red basil, & thai basil). Also from Casey Farm.
Red Onions & Leeks - I've only planted a handful of each, in what most likely way too little soil. From Casey Farm. A semi-stupid purchase on my part, given that I didnt' realize that they should be planted in long rows, individually.
Tomatoes are on their way into the ground tonight & we're putting in an order for Cilantro, Lemon Cucumber, and something else (?) at the Southside Plant Sale this weekend.

Garden on the Deck: Casey Farm Additions

By recommendation, we drove down to Casey farm (Saunderstown, RI) this past weekend for their plant sale. They were selling hundreds of varieties of plants. We picked up a few tomato plants, 5 different kinds of basil, 2 kinds of hot peppers, leeks, and red onions. Luckily we had already picked up a few containers, but I don't know what I'm going to do with the leeks and onions. Note: Ocean State Job Lots carries all sizes of plastic containers for a few dollars each, in contrast to Lowe's & Home Depot.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Playing with Tiltshift Maker

Another Share: allows you to load up your images & apply tilt shift. If you use the right kind of photo, the affect will make your subject(s) look miniaturized. Think dollhouse. I tried a bunch, but these two came out the best.
Miniature dolphin in FL - from 3/11/09
Statehouse Rally - from 4/2/09.

Super Super Super Super man

Today's Linkshare:
My crazy friend Ashley sent me this youtube Superman & Spidergirl musical earlier in the week -- wild stuff. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Recipe Rursday: Roasted Salmon with Fennel & Red Onion

For this dish, if you're using fennel, don't switch out the red onions with something else (like white onions). There's something about the sharpness of the red onions that nicely compliments the fennel. Next time, though, I'll serve the dish with rice, as the fennel and red onions make this a little too rich as a stand-alone. All in all, the veggies are great and no prep for the salmon!
Roasted Fennel and Red Onion Salmon (from RealSimple). My adjustments were for serving 2 people, but we had plenty left over veggies for the next day.
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (we used 1 bulb)
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges (1/2 an onion)
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skinned (2 fillets, for us)
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • about 3 cups cooked rice (optional)
Heat oven to 400° F. In a roasting pan, toss the fennel, onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, 1/2 teas. of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the oil. Spread evenly and roast for 20 min.

Move the vegetables to side of pan, add the salmon, then redistribute the vegetables around the salmon. Squeeze the lemon halves over the salmon. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining salt and pepper. Return to oven and roast until the salmon is the same color throughout and flakes easily, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately, with the rice, if desired.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Squirrels

Yesterday Chris & I received a tour of the greenhouse at the Southside Community Land Trust from a fellow staff member at Street Sights. The organization is getting ready for their big plant sale and the greenhouse is overflowing with thousands of veggie plants and flowers, all started from seed. Very cool tour...makes me want to learn more about gardening.
Update on the Garden: Squirrels have been harassing, though not destroying my spinach plants. They only dig next to the plants, never eating anything. I clearly need to find a deterrent. Car Talk mentioned peppermint oil spray to deter squirrels.

Update: I read somewhere that placing cat hair around the plant (or was it the pot?) can deter squirrels, but there's no absolute solution unless you're willing to use wire mesh to cover the soil. We have plenty of hair/fuzz balls floating around the house, so I'm giving that a try -- 4 days in, no squirrels have returned.

Update (5/29/09): Still no squirrels and I've replaced the cat hair fuzzballs once on a really warm day...seems to be working.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Garden on the Deck: Peas Appearing

Today the peas appeared. Only four have shown up -- they were from Maine, and from a different package than the others. They're so cute! Sadly, I think I drowned the cauliflower shoots that showed up a few weeks ago. They wilted on me and hit the ground. I'm guessing that I had the saran wrap over them for too long.
Yea Peas. Taken 5/2/09.