Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Landscape No. 2

We are making progress in our landscaping effort. I finally got all of the grass dug up and the stones for walking path to the fence gate laid. My sweet sweet husband built me a strawberry box and I have started filling it. On the other side of the stones my hope if to have a mix of different, low maintenance, wild flowers. I am looking forward to grass growing between the stones so that the dogs stop bringing mud into the house. I also planted lavender, rosemary, and sage in the small section that is surrounded by stones, hopefully they will survive through the winter and be back next summer. On the back of the fence I am hoping to plant blackberries and raspberries to grow up the fence wire. Our lower yard is big and sunny. This is where the puppies spend most of their time. I was thinking of planting some apple and pear trees. I will keep you posted.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Garden Update

The picture above shows our gardens growth over the last few months. I have been amazed at how much our three little beds have been able to contain. We are already eating squash, cucumbers, lettuce and a few green peppers and raspberries now and then. We have a bunch of green tomatoes that will be ready soon as well as corn, hot peppers, potatoes, and blackberries. The spring spoiled us a bit with rain every day. The last two weeks have been really hot and dry. It seems like people all around us are getting epic rain storms but it just does not make it over the mountain to us, I guess that is always the case. Hopefully this evening will bring some of that rain the weather man has been promising us. Regardless our little space is progressing nicely and what we are not growing we are finding at the local markets. The Bryson City market on Fridays and the Sylva market on Saturday have been fantastic!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Indian Spinach & Chickpeas

My husband and I love Indian food. Unfortunately our small mountain town only has 3 places to eat and an Indian restaurant is not one of them. Whenever we make it to Asheville, the nearest city we try to grab a meal at Mela, one of my favorites. But, in the mean time I am trying to add a few Indian recipes to the mix. I found a couple of fantastic books by Madhur Jaffrey that I am excited to start looking through but for now here is my first attempt at Indian cuisine, turned out pretty yummy.

Indian Spinach & Chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1c golden raisins
  • 1 cup Greek plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into cubes
  • 1 bunch of dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, or collards), chopped
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 10oz couscous

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, golden raisins, greens and saute until tender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add spices and cook until fragrant. Add yogurt, half-and-half and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until heated through. Serve over couscous.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Landscaping No. 1

I moved into my house when I was 19 years old and any form of lawn care was the furthest thing from my mind. When my husband and I started dating, about four years ago, he helped me put in my first little vegetable patch and I was hooked. This year we really expanded, putting in the raised beds that I have been showing you. But, until recently, our landscaping has been somewhat hindered by the fact that our three wonderful dogs have had complete freedom to roam and are all far too enthusiastic about doing their own digging and landscaping. Not any more. We have finally, after many years of talking about it, fenced in our yard. It is truly life changing. Not only do we not have to go and find them or worry about what they are doing, we can finally do some much needed landscaping. The picture above is the early stages of our work. My husband put in the stone walk in the dog run and we are planning on filling the spaces between the stones with grass. In the area between the drive way and the fence we are digging up the grass, planting flowers and building a strawberry box.

The puppies were a little upset when they were banished from yard work.
Magnolia tree in full bloom attracting lots of bees to pollinate.
So far we have planted two butterfly bushes and an Annabelle Hydrangea. I have been told that the Annabelle Hydrangea likes being in the shade so I am a little worried about the chosen location. The Shamrocks are also coming out and I love them, they are such pretty little plants. My goal is to keep the landscape edible herbs and flowering perennials. I want to try to keep it as low maintenance as possible. A wise lady once told me that if it has a will to survive then it will.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This week's moment

{this moment} - "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see." Inspired by SouleMama.

Vegetable Pasta with Lemon-Basil Dressing

I love this meal. Fast, fresh, simple, full of flavor and really healthy.

Lemon-Basil Dressing
  • juice and zest of 1 or 2 lemons, depending on how strong you want the lemon flavor
  • 2+ cloves garlic
  • fist full of fresh basil
  • 1/3c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4tsp crushed red pepper, optional if you want a little heat
Combine all ingredients in mini food processor and pulse until well combined.

Vegetable Pasta with Lemon-Basil Dressing
  • 1c broccoli chopped
  • 1 can black beans
  • 3/4 to 1c cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound pasta of choice
  • 1 recipe lemon - basil dressing
  • 1/2 to 1c Lima beans
  • 2+ cloves garlic
  • Parmesan
  • Lemon - Basil Dressing
Cook pasta according to package instructions. I like to season the water with salt first, bring it to a rolling boil, and then drop in the pasta. When the pasta is ready place it in a large serving bowl or platter. Pour the lemon - basil dressing over the pasta and gently fold the pasta to coat with the dressing. I like to use tongs so I can pick up the pasta and fold it over, it seems to be the best tool for mixing the pasta. Next pour all the veggies in the bowl and toss them with the pasta. Before serving top with Parmesan.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Progress

Another busy week. Sadly I do not have a lot of time to write but I at least wanted to share some pictures of the garden progress. These pictures are a week late, again, so there is more growth then the pictures show. We are making great progress. There have been a few bumps but nothing major. First, as I showed in the last garden update, the slugs were enjoying our plants a little too much but the the beer proved to be much more tempting option for them. It has been a great means of control. Currently we are fighting the first signs of tomato blight, which seems to be a very common problem in WNC, so if anyone has any cleaver solutions we would love the input before it gets bad and we loose plants. Other then that all is well in the garden. For some reason when I uploaded the pictures they do not look as clear on the web as they do in iPhoto, or maybe that is my blurry eyes from staring at the screen for too long...

Friday, June 11, 2010

This week's moment

{this moment} - "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see." Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beer for Slugs

When the slugs started to eat your pepper plants offer them a little beer! Any type will do, they just can't resist.

I wanted to post this garden update over a week and a half ago but sometimes life has other plans. So finally here is a little garden update. Since these pictures the garden has gotten even bigger with more little veggies starting to make an appearance.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Strawberry Jam for Brooke

I love fresh strawberries. They take me back to summers when I was little girl playing outside with my sister. We would rise with the sun, eat as quickly as we could and then it was off for adventures, usually staying outside until we were forced to return indoors at the call of dinner. My sister and I were not the dresses and dolls kind of girls growing up. We were more the climbing trees and scraped knees type. We spent a large portion of our childhood in a house surrounded by woods. In the summer time we would spend entire days playing outside and eating fresh berries that we would pick. On more than one occasion my mother would dress us up for an event and then tell us to behave while she was getting ready. When she finally would call us to leave she was usually not very excited to find the two of us covered in bright pink berry juice from grinning sticky face to shoeless toes. So making strawberry jam from fresh, local berries always makes me smile with fond memories of growing up with my little sister.

Strawberry Jam

3pounds fresh strawberries
1c sugar
Juice of one large lemon

Wash and cut the stems off the strawberries. Then cut then in half (or if they are really big maybe cut them into thirds) and place them in a large sauce pan with or pot. Pour the sugar over the berries and stir to coat. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours.
Place over medium heat and gradually bring strawberries to a boil. Pour in lemon juice. Cook at a high temperature and stir until mixture becomes thick, this will take 15 to 20min. It will look like jam when it is ready. Take off of the heat and allow to sit uncovered for about 12hours (or start eating by the spoon full like I did).