Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pomplamoose

Cuteness. I like their version of Lady Gaga's Telephone. Even La Vie en Rose is great. Apparently they have a song used in a car commercial...more power to 'em.
(Found through Candice Stringham).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garden on the Deck: Carrots & Brussel Sprouts

Carrot Seedlings, 4/23/10.
Today it hailed.
But there are carrot and beet seedlings, and (of all things) a Brussels sprout starter, that are thriving, despite the cold. And the squirrels are reeking havoc on our newly planted seeds. I'm ready to ring their furry little necks.
Brussels Sprout plant, 4/18/10.

Not feeling very healthy this week... Not sure what the problem is, either. But you know how I love forking over $ to doctors so they can run tests and take x-rays and then say "you should probably rest." (Last year, I went through this same rigmarole for my broken toe. Yes, I know what that says about me.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Garden on the Deck: Cilantro

Cilantro 4/10/10.
Last year we bought starters and had great success growing cilantro on the deck. When the plants bolted, I saved their seeds and direct seeded them this year as early as possible. Planted 3/20, these little seedlings seem to be doing well. But I didn't know the seedlings would look like this...nothing like cilantro leaves when they're reading to be cut. Now I just need to find a way to keep Cat from eating them.
4/14/10.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garden on the Deck: Seedlings Die & Beets Appear

I spent the last 4 days out-of-town, at a conference, and I left Chris with the orders..."don't worry about the seedlings, they need to dry out a bit". Apparently they took a dive on the very last day. I was a sad seedling care-taker, when I found these little eggplant & spinach seedlings dead.
Spinach & Eggplant Seedlings 4/14/2010.
So, either the mold, or the lack of watering killed them. This means I'll have to pick up starters at the plant sale in May. The spinach seedlings weren't doing well before I left, but the eggplants had looked so healthy last week... Let's reminisce...
4/3/2010.
And as Mufasa teaches us about the circle of life...I can also report that today I found the first sign of a root vegetable. My first ever root vegetables, planted directly in soil, outside on the deck. Rock on.
First sign of Beet Seedlings 4/14/2010.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Curry + Getting it Right

Curried Tofu, 3/27/10.

I've never shared our curry recipe with anyone because we've never made curry that doesn't suck. Until now. This recipe came as a recommendation from Chris' co-worker, and was a big success. It was perfect for us (meaning, it's simple) and I recommend it highly. Soooo tasty.

Tofu Curry with Cashews
(altered from Chicken Curry with Cashews at Epicurious)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 container of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes (instead of chicken)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup cashews (1/4 pound)
  • 3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Accompaniment: cooked basmati or jasmine rice
  • Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Truck Farm

Link Share: Episode #1 of a mini-documentary about the building of a truck farm. Check out Episode #2, it has a cool series of photos that show the vegetables growing over time. The videos on youtube are here or see the truck-farm website. And they're coming to Brown Univ. 4/19/10.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sharing the Love...E Gets Grow Lights

E's Grow Lights, 4/6/2010.
This is E. The woman responsible for bringing gardening into my life. She lent me her unused pots, as she moved into a community garden, and I caught the gardening bug. This year I had a chance to give back (a very tiny tiny bit), by helping her set up grow lights of her own. Happy B-day E!
I don't know if this is realistic, but it's our thought that grow lights mean we can grow things all year round. Forever and ever.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Garden on the Deck: Moldy Seedlings & Dampened Spirits

Mold on the Eggplant Seedling Cups, 4/7/2010.

It seems that some of my seedling cups are being struck by "Damping Off Disease", or MOLD. Luckily the white nasties are only on a handful of the seedling cups (in the spinach/eggplant section of my seedlings) and haven't affected the plastic trays at all. That's what I get for being 'env-friendly' & going organic. And, my spinach seedlings are very tall, but spindly or "leggy," as well. I've now got a fan aimed at the plants, set on a timer, to dry them out and to encourage some toughening up.

Gathering advice on how to fix the problem, I found the following from Gardeners Net:

"Let There be Water, in just the right amount- - Provide water to your seedling every couple of days. Do not soak the soil each night. Overly wet soil encourages the development of damping off disease. Let the soil dry out a little on the top, then water thoroughly. Watering from the bottom is preferred. If you have a seed tray, add water to the bottom of the tray . The soil will absorb it through the bottom holes in your container...your container does have holes in the bottom, doesn't it!?!
Guard against Leggy Plants- - Seedlings are leggy when their main stem or stalk grows tall and thin and can hardly support the leaf structure. It is caused by insufficient sunlight and a sheltered environment. Indoors, they do not experience the effect of wind, and do not need to develop structure to defend against it. Most seedlings do not even experience a slight breeze. When transplanted outdoors, "leggy" plants can be damaged or broken by the wind.
Let there be no Damping Off Disease: Those of us who have grown seedling indoors for any number of years know what "Damping Off" disease. This is a white mold that forms in the top of the soil. Damping Off disease flourishes in cold, wet damp weather along with little sunshine. It quickly spreads across the soil and wilts the seedling. Take it's habitat away, and the disease can not survive. Plants on the other hand, love just the opposite conditions. The more you make conditions ideal for your plants, the more likely you will avoid Damping Off Disease and other mold and fungal problems.

If you do experience problems, do not give up hope. Here are some things you can do to minimize or eliminate disease problems: First, get the plant in direct sunlight if at all possible. Stop watering until the surface is very dry. Water only from the bottom. Scrape as much of the mold off the soil as possible. Stir the top of the soil without disturbing the roots. It will also speed drying. Increase room air circulation. You can gently blow air on your plant trays with a small fan. Avoid sowing your seeds in the basement and leaving them there for a couple of days. While the trays are conveniently out of the way, this is a perfect breeding ground for Damping Off Disease. More on Damping Off Disease."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recipe Rursday's Spring Grilling: Fish Tacos & Kabobs

Veggie kabobs, 3/20/10.

After Chris brought home the new grill, we had to feed our guest Brian K, something deliciously grilled: veggie kabobs & grilled shrimp on skewers + seasoned with salt & pepper only. I learned my lesson from over-doing it with herbs (see last July's Grilled Shrimp & Veggies). We also no longer over grill/cook the shrimp!
Fish Tacos, 3/21/10.

The next night we made a dish that I've only had at the hands of my masterful chef-friend, Ashley. Years ago, he made me my first fish tacos, on-the-grill and in corn tortillas. I remember that we watched Lost that night. I remember the dinner well...that's how good the tacos were.
My suggestion would be to pick up a hearty fish. We grilled tilapia (surprise), that was thick enough to hold together on the grill. Corn tortillas on the grill are so tasty. Add jalapeno wheels, shredded cheese, and avocado, then feast. Salsa works too. I also finally agree with the crowd that corn tortillas work better than flour tortillas for fish tacos.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Garden on the Deck: Planting Root Veg & Soil Rotation

On Easter weekend we had gorgeous weather. Chris tried out for a softball team on Sat. and made it. Yea! We joined a family Easter gathering at our friend Aly & Jeff's place (thank you!), and I made some serious progress in the garden.
Beet (top) and Carrot (bottom) Seeds, 4/6/2010.

Root Veggies: Last year I grew two sweet onions. This year I'm giving the root vegetables a real go. Their seeds can be planted straight into the soil outdoors and can go in early (before the last frost), while the soil is still fairly cool. The beets from our CSA last year were amazing, thus the inspiration. Carrots? Why not?
Rotating the soil in every single bin, 4/4/2010.

Soil Rotation
(aka Breaking your Back): At a workshop hosted by Southside Community Land Trust, I learned that plants are more healthy when they are planted in different areas each year. A specific type of plant will sucks out particular nutrients in the soil, while others take them from the air and leave them behind in the soil (ex: potatoes and peas take nitrogen from the air and leave it in the soil, while tomatoes need nitrogen in the soil). I'm not planting in the ground & couldn't rotate where I place the plants (tomatoes still need the giant bins, lettuce needs the shallow planters, etc.). So, I rotated the soil in every single bin, meaning tomato soil is in almost all of the little planters, and vice versa. A fun and dirty day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Eggs

My Grandma made the best deviled eggs. She passed away a few years ago and sadly I don't have her exact recipe. She also made really great chicken n' dumplings, but I wouldn't even try to botch the recipe with a vegetarian alternative. Back to the eggs. This year, we made them for the first time, with the help of The Joy of Cooking. It seems that the 'secret' is the proportions of mustard, mayo, and whatever 'dashes' you throw in. Ours turned out pretty darn good, though grandma will always have made the best. Some people use cream cheese, sour cream, and dill. I kept it simple with mayo & mustard, but used mustard powder instead of spicy brown (since that's what we had in the house) and the mustard was a bit too strong. I'd also add a few more dashes of hot sauce next time, but that's just me. The variations are endless.

Deviled Eggs (from Joy of Cooking, "Pop's Deviled Eggs")

Prepare and peel:
4 hard-boiled eggs

My note: Peel the eggs carefully, once hard boiled, so as not to break the whites. For a clean cut, wet the knife before cutting, and slice them long ways. Set the yolks aside.

Mix the following in with the yolks:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon celery salt (I used regular salt)
1⁄8 teaspoon dry mustard

My note: Spoon the creamy mixture into a ziplock and cut off the corner (start small, you can always cut off more) to create a 'pipping' bag. Fill the eggs with flare.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Recipe Rursday: Freezing Whole Tomatoes for Sauce

Frozen Garden Tomatoes, 3/28/10.

Yes. I froze tomatoes whole. Recent guests believed me not, but it's okay to freeze tomatoes. These beauties are from last year's garden -- one is a Pale Purple Perfect tomato (thus the purple/green color), others are German Reds and the minis are Sungellas. I froze them at the end of last summer, without blanching and by merely placing them into freezer bags. I read somewhere that they'll keep for 8 months or so, meaning it was time to use them this month.
Step One: Run each one under warm/hot water and the skins will slip off easily. Peeled tomatoes look funny. Look closely for and cut out any freezer burn. I didn't find any.
Step Two: After a rough-chop, use them to make sauce.
Pasta Sauce: Ours is fairly simple. Saute onions & garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add diced peppers & add a dash of red pepper flakes. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir, now & then, until the peppers are soft. Add chopped fresh or frozen tomatoes (or use 1 can of whole tomatoes) & 1 can of diced tomatoes or tomato puree to thicken. Simmer on low for an hour or so. Throughout, season with salt, pepper, basil & oregano, to taste.
This was our first batch of tomato sauce from frozen tomatoes and it was perfect--bright and citrus-y. I'll be sure to repeat the process this summer if we get another abundance of tomatoes. Why let all those tomatoes go to waste?

** For more recipes, check out the RedPepperFlakes Recipe Archives.