Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Garden Plans

Our dirt was delivered yesterday. :)  A great big pile of composty organic goodness.  It takes a certain kinda person to get excited about dirt. Haha!  But it's going to be a lot of work getting it from point A (the spot where it was dumped because our yard is too soft still so the truck wouldn't drive to the beds) to point B (the beds).  More pics on that later hopefully.  :)

But for now, I wanted to share my grand plan for the garden layout.  Let me just start this by saying - I really have no idea what I'm doing.  I've done (and am still doing) a bunch of research, trying to learn about each kind of plant and its needs and spacing and stuff like that.  But I'm so open to suggestion and tips - so bring 'em on!! :)

Here's what I whipped up the other day:

Click pic to make it bigger...
And here's a close up of my handy dandy little veggie key: (remember in school when you'd have to do assignments making maps or graphs or something and you had to make a key and color code everything and put all the little details in?  I loved those assignments.) :)

Sadly, you see "sweet potatoes" have been crossed off my list. :(  I don't think Michigan is an ideal place for growing sweet potatoes.  As much as I friggin love them.  From what I'm reading online, they need a long, warm growing season - which we don't really have.  I'm gonna talk to a few actual people though - at the greenhouses and such - and see what their experience is with them.  Maybe I can still do them.  We'll see.

That big blank space in the back on the right is still open.  Jon thinks we should just plant more tomatoes.  I kinda agree.  We eat the crap out of tomatoes in the summer.  And I really want to learn to can this year - so tomatoes would be a good (easy!) option for that last space.

I'm so excited about all of this.  Pretty soon, I'll get to show you this!!:

Ok, maybe not quite.  After all this prep and time and $$$, I'm just hoping I don't mess the whole thing up.  Haha!  A couple months of solid, healthy veggie production...heck, how 'bout just not killing all my plants before they produce....that's all I'm hoping for.  :)  I think I can do it.

What about you?  How does your garden grow?  Are you planning it out yet?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jamie's Food Revolution - Salmon Tikka w/Cucumber Yogurt

Last weekend I tried another recipe out of Jamie's Food Revolution book (previous post found here).  Again - I love this book.  I originally heard about Jamie from Big Box Detox and decided to pick it up on her recommendation.  I like it for lots of reasons but mostly because, A: his whole concept and vision is wonderful.  If you are not familiar with Jamie Oliver, check out his site here.  And B: because, as I mentioned before, the recipes are delicious! and intricate enough to make me feel like I'm gettin' a little fancy, but not too crazy that I'm just overwhelmed and the book just ends up collecting dust.

This time I tried his "Quick Salmon Tikka with Cucumber Yogurt".  Delish!  And super easy.

Here are your ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 x 7-oz. salmon fillets (skin on, scaled, bones removed)
  • 2 naan breads or flatbreads
  • 1 fresh red chile
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup natural yogurt
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tandoori, or mild curry past (such as Patak's)
  • olive oil
Note: I know that's not a chile pepper.  We only went to our local chain grocer and they did not have any so we just picked out another (probably milder) pepper to use.  I'm not a big fan of the spicy spicy anyway.

(Preheat your oven to 225° F.)

1. First, halve your cucumber and scoop out the seeds.  Coarsely chop it up put most of it into a small mixing bowl.  (The remaining bits are used as garnish on top of the dish when you're done.)

2. Finely chop the pepper.  Again - most into the bowl, little bit left for topper.

3. Halve your lemon and squeeze the juice into a small bowl.  Word to the wise - don't squeeze directly into your cukes & peppers.  (Because somebody may have done that.  And that somebody may have had to pick lemon seeds all outta her bowl.)  Also - I used all the juice from the 1/2 lemon like the recipe says - and I thought it was a bit much.  A quarter would probably do, with the rest sliced for the table if more is needed.

4. Add your yogurt, and pinch of salt and pepper.

5. Mix it.  Mix it real good.  ;)  At this point, you can put your flatbreads in the oven to toast.  You can leave them in there until you're ready to serve.

6. Now for the salmon.  Slice each fillet across lengthways into about three 1/2" wide strips.

7. Spoon some tandoori paste into a small dish and smear your strips in the stuff.  I used a basting brush.  The recipe suggests the back of a spoon works well too.  (Note: Do not double dip into your jar!)

8. Heat your frying pan up until it's nice and hot then add a glug of olive oil.  Put your salmon in and cook about 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through.  (Don't be flippin your salmon back and forth either - it'll break apart.  Once on each side and that's it.) (Note: Those lighter salmons were extra we had - I was just cooking them up to eat for the next day.)

9.  To serve, set your plates up, lay a flatbread on first, then a nice fat spoonful of the yogurt mix, then the salmon, then garnish with a few naked cukes, peppers and some cilantro leaves.  YUM!

This dish turned out really well.  It was yummy, filling, healthy...and it was pretty!  And even though your kitchen will smell a bit curryish for a couple days, I highly recommend it.  Let me know if you try it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Reflecting on 2011 - 12 Months in 12, I mean 13 Photos

2011 was a great year.  I learned a lot.  Tried a lot of new things.  It was really a pretty stock-full kinda year.  Narrowing down the photos to just twelve (okay, I cheated - 13) was really hard.  And - when I was going through all my pictures, I noticed that I had a bunch of intended posts that never made it to the blog.  I'm terrible at that.  Doing things and taking pics and then not getting the blog posts up.  I feel like a bum about it.  It's hard sometimes though.  Life gets in the way.  Ha!  Or does blogging get in the way of life?  I don't know.  I try to keep a good balance.  Maybe that's something I can work on for next year.  I fell into a pretty nice groove for a while, and then when the holidays started up, I feel like it all (my blog, maintaining the Etsy shop, housework, cooking) came screeching to a halt.  Ah well.  Like I said, overall, a great year though.  Here's a little trip down memory lane.

Clarence was completed and sent off to his new home.
I learned how to make pizza.  
I made my first art doll, Eustace.  He's since found himself a wardrobe, thanfully.  I love him.
We had a couple girly crafty parties.  This is a nice little candid shot from our plarn bag party.
I hosted my first (of many) artist interviews this year.  Here's a couple of Lori Nichols' adorable critters.
This was a year of many new antique shops...
...and Estate Sales.
I tried my hand at a few tutorials, including this lovely Mother's Day gift. :)
I completed the biggest, most intricate plush I've created to date - Jagger the Dragon for my nephew. <3
Gnomes came to be.  And were out and about in full force by the end of summer - beefing up the inventory. :)
Here's a shot that never made it up - we found an adorable, local farm - excellent source for great big wonderful pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, etc.  Awesome.  And so picturesque. 
One of the highlights of my whole year - I had my first art/craft show!
And of course, what blog post would be complete without a picture of the boys? <3
I hope your year was a great one too.  If you have a blog and would like to do a little 2011 wrap up, I'd love for you to link up your post in the comments!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No Yolk!

You'll never guess what happened this morning when Jon was making us french toast!!  Not one....but TWO double yolked eggs in a row!  No joke!

Have you ever seen such a thing?  I think I must have at some point seen a double yolk in my life....but two in a row!  Craaaazy.

PS: I'm working on a new line of plushies.  So excited about it.  I'll be back to share soon!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Girlie Night! A cooking & plarning party.

Last night was so much fun!  A couple of my absolute favorite chickies (and a brand new chicky - I love her already) came over for some cooking and crafting fun.

We decided to try our hand at "plarning" some crocheted bags.  It was a blast.

We had some fabulous helper/supervisors, of course.

After we spent some time chatting it up and cutting our plarn strips, our tummys got to grumbling so we cooked up some grub.  I made a spinach/endive/pear/walnut/blue cheese salad.  

Sooo good.  I'm gonna make another one today.  (And I'll come back soon to post that recipe.)  And Kristin made us a really complicated (from what I was seeing!) tofu stir fry. 

It had a definite kick to it - but the flavor was really yummy.  And Heidi made us a mucho delicioso tequila bar desert!!  Mmmmm.  So good, in fact, that SOME of us....

....may have even been caught with thirds!  ;)  That's the "new" chicky.  Isn't she cute?!  And she loves her some desert like I love me some desert.  Sorry - no pics of the tequila bars.  We scarfed them up too fast.

Then we got back to business. 

Everyone made really good progress.  And after all girlies were gone, I worked on my bag a bit more.  Here's where I am so far...

Not bad, eh?  I can't wait to start on the yellow.  

I really like this project!  For lots of reasons. 
  • We're reducing the amount of trash headed to landfills in the form of plastic bags by reusing them (two R's. Hooray!)
  • The whole thing is really fun, easy, and is a great social activity.  (Actually, new chicky, Amanda said that her mom had actually been to a "plarning party".  So cool!!)
  • You get to make something really cute and useful while saving the planet - and reason 3 part 2 is that there are a TON of patterns and projects you can try out with your plarn.
  • Um.  I don't know what else.  But just getting to create with something called "plarn".  That's reason enough right there. :)
So we had a great time.  I love you girls!!  And I'm off to work on more of my bag. 

Does anyone else have any plarning experience?  Any projects you'd like to share?  And by the way, I feel another tutorial coming on with this one!  Just give me a minute.  Or two.  Or a few weeks. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm a Revolutionary

A while back, Big Box Detox recommended a cook book called Jamie's Food Revolution and did a book review on it here.  Detox said the recipes in his book were "fresh, healthy, easy, fast and delicious".  Sweet!  Did I need any more convincing than that? Well...just a little.  She also included a quote from the book which really grabbed my attention. Jamie wanted this book “…to be the catalyst for empowering millions of you to make proper home-cooked, affordable meals from scratch.” Double sweet.  And I must've been feeling revolutionary-ey that day b/c I ordered the book.  

If you're anything like me, you may have a million a few cookbooks sitting around your house that you have every intention of using....but don't.  I hate that.  I really am trying to get into cooking from scratch/more healthy this year.  It's very important to me.  

It's mostly the planning that gets me.  When it comes to cooking - I'm not a great planner.  You have to know what you want to make.  Make a list.  Go shopping (blech) because, go figure, you have to actually have food in the house to cook it.   And it really takes some inspiration and determination to do all that.  To start a new habit.  Get into something. And this book is inspiring.

I like that Jamie talks to you for a minute in the beginning.  You don't have to read that part -  but you should.  I like to know who I'm dealing with and I liked learning about his ideals.  I found him smart, insightful and in-tune with my own views on the subject

I like that the recipes are sophisticated enough to make me feel a little fancy and daring...but not too involved that my meat-and-potatoes family would never eat it or that I'd have to travel to 5 specialty stores to find that one last ingredient.  What a waste.  I'm not that determined.

So for my first attempt, I tried the "Mini Shell Pasta With A Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce".  Yum, right?  

I love all the photos. 
That's everybody - nothing too crazy here. :)
Tell me - when was the last time you got to use fresh mint in a recipe!?  The smell was divine.  So fresh and yummy.  I've got leftover mint too.  I'm thinking a refreshing mint/lemon/ice water is in order.
Isn't it pretty?  I'm loving the greens in this recipe.  And I don't think you can ever go wrong with bacon in a recipe.
And voila!

I thought it was really good.  And easy too.  The flavors played off each other so nicely.  The bacon and Parmesan are such strong, heavy flavors, but the lemon and mint really balanced them well and lightened the whole dish.  I'd definitely make this again.  Jon's review: "It was good."  :) A man of few words.  Works for me!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making pizza - second attempt

K.  So this time, after chatting with my pizza sensei, I decided to roll the dough out instead of pushing it out by hand like last time.  (See dough recipe here.)  So roll and roll I did.  I made this one as thin as I could with the size of the pan I had to work with.  And when it fell over the edges, I just folded it back on with my fingers making for a nice little crust around the edges. :)

I really wanted to try a veggie pizza this time - so I quick steamed some broccoli...

...and added tomato and crumbled feta cheese.  Drooooool.



Absolutely delicious.

How do I know?  "Wow, this is much better than your last one!"  And he helped himself to seconds. :)  It really was a lot better.  Thinner crust is the way to go.  And I used about 16 oz of shredded "pizza" cheese.  Which had a delightful chew to it - and an especially rich flavor around the edge where it was well done.  So so good.  I'm definitely doing this again.  So easy.  Like I said - if you are scared of "dough from scratch" like I was - try this.  You'll be a pizza master in no time.

Incidentally...some visitors we had this weekend.

What's funny is, I have never, in the year since Jon moved in, ever seen mourning doves around here.  And about a week or so ago, I saw three of them under the feeder.  Then Sunday, there they were, all fluffed up in the tree.  (It was really cold that day.)  I betcha it's the same group.  Aren't they adorable?!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dough making & pizza - a first attempt

So one of my goals for this year is to learn to make a few basic items from scratch, namely breads.  And after talking with one of the attorneys I work with, who is also a wiz in the kitchen, she recommended I start with a pizza dough because it's super easy.  And it was.  So if you're scared of bread - like I am ;) - this is a great, easy way to throw your inhibitions to the wind and dive in.

To make the dough you just start with one of those packets of yeast (I used the quick rise, although she said the kind isn't super important), add about 1 & 1/2 cups of "very warm water".  I don't know what that means really - mine was almost hot.  I know it has to be warm enough to activate the yeast - but I don't know what the actual temp is.  Then you add 2 tsp of sugar.  Now, at this point, something is supposed to happen.  I think.  Like bubbling or something.  I don't think mine ever did that - but I still got dough, so, um....I don't know what to tell you there.  (All brand new to me people - so bear with me.)  Then you add 2 tsp of salt.  And gradually stir in about 3-4 cups of flour until it just becomes unsticky.  I used a mixture of all purpose flour and whole wheat.  (That's one of the reasons baking is so intimidating to me - the basic ingredients are not that crazy, but the variety available of each ingredient is insane.)

So stir and stir and stir until your arm's about to fall off then knead it til it's nice and smooth and you get this:

A happy little dough ball!   Then let it sit for, um, about an hour or two until it rises to about double it's size.  I read online that it's supposed to feel "alive" when it's ready.  That's a little creepy, but I kind of know what they mean.  You just have to feel it.

Here's my dough ball, all grown up.  ^  Then you take it and roll it, or just smoosh it like I did, until you get the size you want.  I did it right on my pan - before you put it on, sprinkle some flour down first.  

Then you sauce it (took one 15 oz. can), and cheese it, and load on whatever toppings tickle your fancy.  I did ground turkey, which I cooked together with the onions for flavor, and mushrooms.  And that's two bags of mozzarella cheese.  Yes - I live with a cheese addict.   

Be ready to fend off said lurking cheese bandit.  He's especially good at popping up from nowhere when I'm  taking pictures.

Get super duper excited when it's aaalllmoooosttt done... (cook at 475 - our oven runs a little hot, so I didn't go for the 500 - for about 15-20 minutes)

And voila!  Your very own first pizza from scratch!  (Well, not counting the sauce.  Or the cheese.  But we're not worrying about those for a while...)

It was pretty good.  Not bad at all.  And definitely better than our usual frozen jobbies from the store.  Next time I make this here's what I'd do:
  • I'd cut the dough recipe almost in half and make the crust a lot thinner.  The crust was cooked, but it was just cooked, and didn't have a nice crisp to it like I like.
  • I'd use either a different meat or flavor the turkey differently.  Although I prefer it, there's a lot less bite to ground turkey compared to beef or sausage.  It sure is easier on my tummy, but it was hard to taste it.  
  • I layered cheese, toppings, cheese - so next time I think I'd just do cheese, then toppings to allow them to crisp a bit.
  • And I'd looooove to try a broccoli, feta, tomato pizza next!  Especially with the thinner crust!  Yum!