Growing Things.

We went camping a few weekends ago. Of course we took Gidmaster-Fresh. I love it when Gideon comes camping because with his bed on one side and Matt’s on the other, I stay toasty and dew-free in the middle of our tent. When I woke up in the morning, I looked down to check on Gideon. This is what I saw: IMG_3888 He’s my favorite thing on the planet. It was so cute to see him tucked in under his blanket, sleepy and content. But back to the point of this post, look what I discovered today!IMG_4159Our first cherry tomato of the season. We’ve had a heat wave here recently, which I assume encouraged the sudden blushing of tomatoes. The corn, squash and beans are growing visibly taller by day. And the potatoes are loving life right now. Here is a glimpse of what we’ve got growing in the little raised bed section of our yard.IMG_4164We’re already done with broccoli and garlic, while kale, cilantro and some lettuce on their second plantings. New this year are the brussel sprouts and celery. We’ve had good luck with everything but the broccoli. This is the second year we’ve attempted it and somehow it never fully flourishes. Maybe there’s a trick I don’t know about? I was super happy with my choice to grab elephant garlic over the small cloves this year. It seemed to produce a better head of garlic more quickly.

One very cool and literally very big new thing we’ve got planted is asparagus…but more on that another time.

What are you growing? What’s flourishing? What’s ending up in the compost?

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Eeekkk!

I. Am. Amped.

There have been several instances in which I’ve referred to Smittenkitchen.com. A cooking site by Deb Perelman that my BF4Eva Julie told me about. The recipes are imaginative, simple, and perfectly suitable for a moderately-abled cook, like myself. Once a week at least, I am making something from her site.

Her pictures and words are gorgeous. She cooks out of her own humble little kitchen and most often provides step by step-ish pictures, which I find really helpful when trying out a new technique.

I knew she had a cookbook coming out, but I figured I would just keep looking up recipes on her site and never have to spend a dime. That is until I realized that she, like a smart business women, only posts a teaser of the recipes provided in the book. Ack! I must have them.

THEN I found this out: She’s doing a book tour. Gasp! I wish I would have had my webcam on when I was realizing this. It would have caught an image of a blank expression…glittering eyes. Then a hushed, “Yes!” whispered to myself. I focused in hard, with furrowed brow and clammy hands. I fumbled around her book tour schedule until I found what I was looking for. “Portland, OR – Powell’s Books on Burnside, November 5th, 7:30pm”. Yes!

Normally, I would go with Julie to this…but she moved 2,696 miles away. So I can’t. I can always make my hubby go with me (make is a strong word as he’d actually find this enjoyable). I strongly encourage any of you Oregon folk to come! I’m going to be making a Smitten Kitchen dinner beforehand, just to add to the festivities. Sigh. I can’t wait.

While I daydream and wait for that day to arrive, I’ll be working on a huge crate full of clothes needing to be mended. Yeah for me.

Give thanks. Don’t wait until November.

Opening our mail is pretty boring. Besides my craft store coupons and the occasional woodworking magazine for Matt, we usually get junk mail and pay stubs. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover an envelope simply labeled “Matt and Haley” hidden among our usual nothingness.

Remember this post? I never thought in a million years that sharing our veggies would mean so much to someone. When I decided to open our produce up to everyone, it was mainly because I wanted to get rid of the stuff. Also I secretly long for a southern “friendly neighbor” vibe. Ya know what I mean. People borrowing sugar, offering cups of tea, hanging out on their front porches. I think, deduced to its simplest state, I want people to know I’m approachable. “Mmhhmmm, we need another egg” or “Mmhhmmm, we need a lawn mower…who should we ask? Oh I know, Matt and Haley on the corner.”

This card really meant a lot to me. A gesture I won’t ever forget. In it, they thank Matt and I for adding to our neighborhood’s community. Our garden quickly became their daughter’s favorite spot to stop and munch on tomatoes after their long summer walks. They also included a nice gift card to one of my favorite Portland spots. What a compliment! I wasn’t expecting that at all. So James, Jen and Ellie, if you read this, thank you, thank you, thank you.

A thought came to me. There are a lot of people who do great things around me. They probably aren’t expecting any type of “thanks” simply because of the nature of what they’re doing. Even if it’s something I see from afar…why haven’t I thanked them? We can’t all give gift cards to everyone we want to thank, and that’s okay. While I loved the gift card, it’s the words they wrote that spoke right to my heart. I’ll remember those words when I’m tending to my garden years from now.

So I gotta go. I’ve got some cards to write. My guess is you do too. Let’s get at it!

Tofu Quiche

This quiche is tasty, quick to prepare and a good way to use up some random veggies you might have. It’s a lot lighter than traditional egg-and cheese quiches. I topped this quiche with some shredded cheese, but it doesn’t need it. In fact you could add some shredded cheese to the whole thing if you wanted…

Eggless Tofu Quiche – from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas

 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups chipped onion

2 minced garlic cloves

One 16 oz tub tofu, drained

1 Teaspoon curry

Chopped veggies of your choice. I chose one head broccoli, 1 red peppers and 2 carrots.

Salt and pepper to taste (It needs pepper at least.)

Optional: I added 1/4 teaspoon cayenne for some heat.

One 9-inch pie crust…I used this one. It took two batches for one pie dish.

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until browned.

3. Blend half the onion mixture, curry and tofu together until smooth. (Here’s where you add salt, pepper, cayenne and cheese too if you’d like.)

4. In a mixing bowl, mix veggies and tofu mixture.

5. Fill pie crust (Sprinkle with cheese if desired)

6. Bake for 40 minutes (Mine baked for 50 and the carrots were still a little crunchy). let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Eat and be grateful that you’re eating.

Soothing Smoothie

It was hot here for a total of two days. In which, I think people in the Portland metro area, including myself, went outside WAY too much. We got our hopes up. We pretended it was summer. Now it’s back to the same old, same old. Gray and rainy. Ugh. But in those two days my appetite changed completely. Suddenly I’m craving fresh corn salsa, zesty lime tacos, lemonade, grilled veggies, watermelon, popsicles and anything with berries.

But I’m not going to wait around for the weather to reflect my dietary desires. Spring time usually commences the beginning of my smoothie making. Once a day I have a massive, delicious smoothie. It dies down during the winter because I’m craving something warm and pumpkiny by then, but I’m starting my smoothie ritual now regardless of the cold.

Besides sharing with you some smoothie deliciousness, I’ll share some kitchen wisdom that I dawned from pinterest (this would be a Pinterest Win). Did you know that a standard quart sized mason jar fits perfectly in most blenders? This way, you can blend your smoothie and then enjoy it right from the jar. Just don’t blend up anything hot…the air has nowhere to escape.

*If you don’t do dairy for whatever reason, omit yogurt and add some juice. I like using Odwalla, but any juice would do. I’ve even used almond milk before and it was great! The best part about yogurt is the texture, hence why I prefer a thicker substitute, like Odwalla.

Haley’s Soothing Smoothie Recipe

1 banana, 1 container yogurt (raspberry, plain, greek, whatever is your favorite!), 1 Tbs Flaxseed Meal (optional, I use Bob’s Red Mill brand), 1 cup frozen blueberries,1 cup frozen raspberries, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup broccoli crowns, 1/3 cup chopped carrot.

Blend banana, yogurt and flaxseed well. Then add carrots and broccoli, blend well. Add the berries and blend again.

The key to this smoothies success is thefrozen berries and the abundance of blending. Nothing ruins a smoothie for me more than a sudden crunchy frozen berry in my mouth. If you’re nervous about adding the veggies, I would encourage you to add the berries first, taste it, and then add veggies slowly, tasting along the way. Broccoli actually adds a very mild nutty flavor to your smoothie, almost unnoticeable! The carrot flavor is mild as well, mostly masked by all the berries. Plus it’s a smart and yummy way to add more veggies to your menu for the day.

Imagine drinking this sitting on your porch with a warm breeze and a good book. I can’t wait for real summer. Happy Blending!

Salmon-Veggie Bake – It’s what you’re making for dinner tonight.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

This salmon recipe from Betty Crocker is my fav for sure. It’s low-fat, filling, flavorful and easy to prepare.

Salmon-Veggie Bake

1lb frozen or fresh salmon

2 cups sliced carrots

2 cups dices red pepper

1/2 cup green onion

2 tsp orange peel

2 tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano

4 cloves garlic, chopped

Olive Oil

salt and pepper

2 oranges, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If the fish is frozen, thaw. Cut fish into 4 equal parts. Cook carrots. Steam or boil until cooked. In a large bowl toss carrots, peppers, green onion, orange peel, oregano, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Tear off 4 large pieces of foil (to wrap fish and veggies in). Divide veggies amongst the four pieces of foil. Top each with a piece of fish. Drizzle about 1 tsp of olive oil over each piece of salmon. Top with at least two slices of orange.

Bring together 2 opposite edges of foil and seal with a double fold. Completely enclose by folding both ends together. Place foil packets on a baking pan and bake for 30 to 40 min at 350.

When fish is cooked though, let cool for a few minutes. I like to serve this on top of rice with asparagus or salad.

Seriously delicious.