Friday, June 24, 2011

Honest Cooking

I've got to be honest that sometimes I get a seemingly good idea for a dish and then it totally flops when I actually make it.  That would be the case with this strawberry millet salad.

It looks pretty, right?  And it tasted good right after I made it.  But after the flavors melded overnight, this stuff got very...fragrant.  And just weird.  

But maybe there's hope for it!  I think if I added the strawberries fresh, right when I serve this salad and it might be good.  And if I nixed the garlic oil.  Basically, the strawberry vinegar is a winner and I know it'll be great in some kind of grain salad someday. 

But maybe you'll like it?  Or you'll just read this to know what not to do?

Strawberry Millet Salad
2 cups cooked and cooled millet
Handful Italian parsley, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 cup freshly picked strawberries, sliced
2 Tbsp. garlic olive oil (think about this for a while before using)
2 Tbsp. strawberry balsamic vinegar
Sea salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Gently toss together the millet, parsley, onions, almonds and strawberries.  In a little bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Pour over salad and gently toss again.  Eat right away!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Best Part

I know I promised to post up a video tour of my garden next...But, it's been raining and I've been lazy.  Instead, let's talk about croutons.

Yes, croutons.  Croutons are basically the reason I like salad.  At the very least, they're the best part.  The vegetables are sometimes merely a vehicle by which I can transfer croutons into my mouth.  They're crunchy, salty, toasty and coated in olive oil- What's not to like?  So if you're trying to eat more vegetables, my advice is to have some croutons around!

When I think about croutons, I associate them with the totally nasty salad bars at chain restaurants.  The type that would dump their hydrogenated-oil coated croutons from a giant shelf-stable bag.  They feel kind of trashy and I'm a bit embarrassed to like them so much.  But they don't have to be gross!  And they cost practically nothing to make.

Croutons can be made from the end pieces of whole wheat bread, people!  The same pieces of bread that go moldy every week because no one wants to eat them!  (Or gluten free bread or really any kind).  I like whole wheat bread croutons because they make salads significantly more filling than usual.  Plus, like I said, they're coated in olive oil, herbs and salt.

Actually, I've got to admit that I really like other crunchy things in my salads, too.  Apple pieces, sunflower seeds, almonds, radishes, etc.  Anyways, here's my salad from tonight.  Locally grown lettuce, garden radishes, marinated artichoke hearts, black olives and whole wheat croutons.

Here's how you make the croutons:

A couple end pieces of bread, cubed
Garlic olive oil
Dried parsley
Dried lemon thyme
Dried dillweed
Black pepper
Nutritional yeast
Sea salt

I'm not going to lie and tell you I have any idea how much of each of these ingredients used.  I just poured a hefty couple glugs of garlic olive oil in a mixing bowl, tossed in the bread cubes and sprinkled on pinches of all these spices/seasonings.  Then I baked them for about 10 minutes at 350F, turned them and baked 5 more.  You'll know they're done when they smell toasty and awesome.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Four Tips for Lazy/Cheap Gardening

I'm a big fan of finding little ways to save time and/or money in the garden.  With a little creativity (and lots of trial and error) I can usually get the job done with less.  Here are a few tips I've found:  

#1: You don't need a wheelbarrow if you have a sled.
Whether you're loading up logs or weeds or woodchips, a big ol' snow sled works great for hauling garden materials.  

I saved about 6 trips across the yard by hauling firewood on the sled instead of carrying it!

#2: You don't need to hire someone for money if your friends will work for cookies. 
We needed to cut up some firewood, but we don't have an axe.  Luckily, our friend Erik had a chainsaw and all I had to do was bake a batch of gluten free Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles (Ok, maybe I had to make 2 batches.  But only one was for Erik).  Now we're set for fires all summer!

#3: Just because you love your car doesn't mean you can't haul mulch.

I'm not about to dump bulk wood chips in the back of my sweet ride.  But I don't really want to pay for delivery either.  And it's SO much cheaper to buy mulch in bulk.  Solution?  Line the back of the car with the rain shield for an old tent that we got rid of last year.  Put one of our kiddie pools in the back of the car.  Load up the wood chips.  In case you use this method, you'll probably want to know that 40 five-gallon buckets of wood chips equals one cubic yard.  And you can fit about 10 five gallon buckets' worth in a small kiddie pool.  The other method I used was to buy 10 bags of mulch, then save the bags and refill them at the landscaping center.  I could fit 2 five-gallon buckets worth in each bag, so it just took 2 trips to get one cubic yard.  

#4: Take advantage of your cats

I'm not going to kill any little bunnies or birds eating out of my garden, but if my cats want to, I'll gladly reap the benefits.  In addition to Trouble Cat's cold-blooded murders, I have another anti-bunny tactic. I like to brush the cats, collect their fur and spread it around the garden beds.  I have absolutely no scientific evidence of this, but I hypothesize that the cat scent will deter rabbits and other little critters.  

What are your favorite gardening tricks that save money or prevent you from working too hard?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's almost time!

It's almost time for my garden tour!  Since I have plenty of family and friends that can't make it to the garden tour this weekend, I decided that I'll do a garden tour on this blog so that you can virtually be here.  But you'll have to wait until this weekend, just like everyone else.  

I think I'm nearly ready.  After spending almost every weekend and most weekdays working on the yard, I've added new garden areas and made everything easier to care for (my favorite part of permaculture design!).  I'm excited to show it off, but it needs a good weeding first. 

Here's a few of my favorite things in the yard right now, though.  

 The berry patch!  I clipped the brambles down to the ground in late winter, and they're growing back nicely (and a much more manageable size).  And the strawberries are ripening quickly- already tasting better than anything I can buy (even at my beloved co-op).

I've joined the world of flower gardening.  We'll see how it goes.  I usually have a knack for killing any plants that aren't food plants...Mostly because I forget about them.  But I'm really digging this white echinacea that's just starting to bloom, so I'm going to try to not kill it.

I just think this is the coolest plant ever!  It's a black elderberry and the white/pink flowers against the purpley-black foliage makes this the most striking plant in the yard.  I will definitely be propagating this plant and spreading them all over the garden!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Someone bring me some almond milk! These gluten free Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles are the best cookies ever!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ridiculously Easy

Last week I ate a whole eggplant for dinner.  No side dish, no accompaniment, no sharing.  That's how good this was.  I'm not even sure what made it so amazing!

It's really too easy and too good to be true.   I just sliced up the eggplant, preheated my griddle, brushed all the slices in a mixture of olive oil, sesame oil and tamari and then grilled them up.  

I'm sure these eggplant slices would be fantastic on a sandwich, in a stir-fry or with pasta.  But I was feeling lazy and can attest to them being delicious straight up.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Morning Indulgence

I like to make myself a little treat on Sunday mornings, when everything is quiet in the house. I promise I don't usually eat ice cream for breakfast (really!).

I don't have measurements or a real recipe for this treat, because you shouldn't have to think on Sunday mornings.  So here's a pictorial:

Pull out your French press and add a spoonful or so of cocoa powder and lots more spoonsful of coarse ground coffee.  I use decaf and still get a buzz, but use whatever you want.    

Add boiling water and let sit for a while.  Not sure how long.  You shouldn't have to use timers on Sunday morning.  

This is the best part.  Now scoop a little scoop of vanilla ice cream into a glass or mug and pour the cocoa coffee over it.  Enjoy and then try to talk yourself out of a second cup.