June 4, 2011

peaches and payoffs

After our initial work in the garden last summer, it has been fun to see some of the plants beginning to take off this year. Many of our native and butterfly-attracting plants--Mexican Sage, Lantana, Liquorice Mint Hyssop, and others--had to be chopped down to the nub over the winter, either because that's how they best perform (as with the sage) or because our hard freezes killed all the plant above the ground. Lo and behold, most not only survived, but they are flourishing.

Liquorice Mint Hyssop

Another great surprise was the speedy and delicious fruiting of our J.H. Hale peach tree. We didn't get the tree in the ground until nearly April, despite many warnings in our garden books to plant trees in February and March. In addition, the J.H. Hale, a dwarf variety, is one of the few that require cross-pollination from a different variety of peach tree. Luckily, the tree was holed up at the Great Outdoors nursery with a number of other types of peach trees early in the spring, so it was duly pollinated and produced a lot of lovely flowers when we brought it home. Not 2 months later, we had a lovely crop of large, sweet, gold-to-red fleshed, freestone peaches!

Owen thought they were the best. (That's his finger reaching for another peach... )

Sometime in April, again throwing caution to the wind in terms of recommended planting timelines, we also put in a larger Loring peach tree not far from the first. This way, the two should cross-pollinate, creating more and tastier peaches as the years go by. The Loring, having been planted in late April, did not produce this year; but it seems to be surviving the heat so far and I have high hopes of having an excellent peach crop come 2012.

April 26, 2011

Starting Where I Am

For a while now, I've been contemplating returning to this blog; but I have yet to figure out exactly what I want to do with it. Is this a food blog? What would be my angle or unique vision for it? Is it now about the different elements of my life as a mom, freelancer, and homemaker? Or is there something entirely new or more interesting I could do here?

However, as the weeks go by and I get more and more consumed by motherhood and mired in our landscaping to-do lists, it's clear I need other outlets. This is one of them that I used to enjoy. Maybe I should give it another go.

So I'm trying to start where I am, as Buddhist nun Pema Chodron suggests. The Buddhist author--who, in my opinion bears a strong resemblance to the British actress Judi Dench--has written a lot of reportedly "western-friendly" texts on Buddhism. I picked up a copy of Start Where You Are ages ago, and have yet to read more than a few pages. But Buddhist ways of being have been percolating into my consciousness quite a lot lately. And then there was this: My favorite yoga studio in town is hosting a six-week zen meditation class.


June 15, 2009

turkey and kale mole tacos

My mother's favorite vegetable growing up was kale, but she never cooked it when I was growing up. Apparently, we were too picky... wouldn't eat artichokes, cauliflower, or even tomatoes. Thus, tonight marked my first endeavor with kale. I was pleased with the outcome, even though Adam's response was the usual, "It's alright," earned by my red-meat-alternate meals.

Turkey and Kale Mole Tacos

1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion
3-4 stalks kale, chopped into small pieces
2 t chili powder
3 t cumin
1/2 oregano
3 T mole spice/paste
1 T tomato sauce
1 c vegetable broth
salt, to taste

In a large skillet, brown the turkey and onion together. Drain, and return to the pan.
Add kale and soften on medium heat 2-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, combine well, cook, and reduce for another 3-5 minutes.

Serve with warm tortillas and the cheese and goodies of your choosing. I had mine with corn tortillas, lime juice, avocado, and a bit of the first tomato out of our garden (not pictured, because I added it as an afterthought!).

June 4, 2009

vegan potato cashew soup

[Source: FatFree Vegan Kitchen]

Last month, I embarked on a 3-week allergy-testing elimination and reintroduction diet. It was awesome. Seriously!

The elimination piece of the diet had me taking any potential allergy or GI irritants out: animal products (meat, dairy, eggs), wheat, soy products, corn, tomato, and all sugars but agave nectar. Now, on a normal week, I probably eat most of these--particularly wheat and tomato in one form or another--on a daily basis.

As a result, I had to learn to eat very differently. The first few days, I relegated myself to simple salads, my prescribed shakes, and almond milk 10 different ways. They were good, but boy, was I craving something savory or starchy after a while! My two indulgences (oh, in addition to almond butter, and more almond butter) were oat bran and potatoes.

I'll tell you first about potatoes: I almost never cook them these days, but in those weeks, I happily rediscovered the humble potato. My favorite find was a vegan soup as found here from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. It was so savory and satisfying, and was the inspiration for me to continue pursuing vegan cooking.

I followed her recipe pretty closely, just cooking up some Yukon gold potatoes till firm, and then adding 2/3 of them to the remaining ingredients after they're blended in a mixer. I substituted plain almond milk for the milk, and didn't have any nutritional yeast so didn't add it. I didn't miss it! I also used fresh rosemary and a swirl of olive oil, since oils and nuts were my only source of fat in those weeks. Oh, and I really enjoyed it with chopped scallions as you see above.

I'll definitely be making that one again, possibly with some sweet potatoes or curry incorporated.

June 3, 2009

BPA aversion

Today, someone I follow on Twitter posted an update about this study by Harvard scientists that confirms that hard plastic bottles most likely put BPA into people's systems. (Of course, I'm not sure whether presence of the chemical in the urine actually proves that it's setting up shop somewhere in the tissues, but that's another issue.)

Despite my attempt to deflect fear-mongering chain mail about BPA hazards, this whole thing still kind of bothers me. I drink from one of Camelbak's BPA-free plastic bottles, which instead uses Tritan copolyester, which is supposed to be safer. But as I read the press release about Tritan copolyester, I noticed a reference to the new plastic's ability to withstand "crazing, cracking or hazing from continual exposure to high heat."

Well, after a recent trip to the beach where my bottle may or may not have been left in the sun for a little bit, it's grown a hazy area with little bubbles on one side. I guess I should be concerned. (?)

Well, as I'm in a mindset toward health these days, I may consider changing my ways. One option is this, the new Camelbak bottles, as covered on Treehugger.com:

They have the nice drinking straw setup I enjoy in my current bottle, not the narrow neck that's tough to clean offered in the most aluminum drinking bottles. (Bonus!)

Another option is... start drinking water during the day at work, home, etc., and don't rely on carrying a little bottle around like I need to sip water 24-7. Honestly, I haven't really thought about this. I noticed a coworker fills a cool little carafe each morning with water. How classy is that? I might just try this out instead... getting off of the bottled-water grid, one might say. Plus, looking for a cool carafe set in a vintage store or the Goodwill sounds like fun.

Here's a groovy carafe set from the A+R Store:

Or, I rather like this clean little set from CB2.

But, really, any old glass bottle would do! I have a fun, faded OJ pitcher from my childhood (you know, the one with the little oranges dancing around the circumference?) at home that my partner-in-crime doesn't particularly like. Perhaps it will soon make an appearance at the office.