Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Arrived!

The garden is busy now that Spring is here.....

The orchid that my husband bought me for 2012 Mothers Day finally bloomed again.

All sorts of insects are arriving in the garden.

The Frangipani has some new growth.

Nasturtiums growing in same pot as a tomato and pepper plant. Note the water 'reservoir' I half buried in the pot. By filling the reservoir water reaches the roots and dirt does not splash up onto the leaves.

Mammoth Dill has reseeded itself in the butterfly garden. I love the color and feathery appearance. Dill attracts butterflies and bees.
Click below link for the origin of the word Dill and other interesting culinary, folklore and medicinal information. All About Dill

I planted more tomato seed varieties. See label for detail. 3/16 is the date I planted the seeds. I am hoping for a bumper crop of tomats I can share with my friends.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Harvest on Wednesday, Then Dinner

We have had some very cool nights over the last three days, and we are LOVING IT!!

Here's my produce count for today.

From left to right,
Packman Broccoli "sprouts" (for broccoli this is my daily count)
Blue Lake Pole Beans - love this variety, very crisp and with a nutty flavor
I picked the tomatoes early to ripen them on my windowsill because the vine scrambled up into the 15 foot Bottlebrush thereby providing a convenient perch for the Cardinals to peck a few holes (they might be Early Girl, which I am not enamored with at all, due to poor production)
Below the tomats is the Red Sails lettuce (of which I only eat the inner tender leaves)
Purple Carnival Pepper, and above the pepper is
Tyee Fi Spinach

I bought the Broccoli and Early Girl Tomato as transplants. I grew the Blue Lake Pole beans, the Tyee Fi Spinach, and Carnival Pepper from a seed packet. But the Red Sails Lettuce, I harvested the seeds last year and planted in the fall of 2012.

My "Carnival" peppers have really taken off with several peppers on each bush.
Zone 10 you have time to get your seeds underway and, if you are interested in planting the "Carnival" variety of peppers, go here:

Burpee Carnival Peppers

What's For Dinner?
The boys will have brisket of beef tonight with the fresh broccoli, chopped pepper, and the pole beans as a side. No photo, I'm still cooking it!

Seeds of Change stock Tyee Fi Spinach
Oh, and did I mention we have Pineapples growing again?

Pineapple Floret, love Florida!
go here to see my blog on getting Pineapples growing.
Growing Pineapples - It's Easy!!

Happy Passover or Easter!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meatless Monday - Hearty "Meat"Ball Soup With Beans

Introducing Meatless Monday
and the first recipe in a series: Hearty “Meat”ball Soup

This seems like a lot of ingredients but it reheats well as a healthy leftover lunch, and is very colorful and tasty. Makes 17 soy based "meat"balls in a hearty soup base... and you will not be able to taste the difference between ground beef, or poultry and this soy based product. I have used this recipe for a year now using lean ground beef and ground poultry, which incidentally are also delicious. Serve with a baguette or your favorite al dente pasta.

The Ingredients
You will need :
3 sticks of celery, 2 or 3 carrots, 8 mushrooms, 1/4 cup finely, chopped small sweet onion, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, two cans of cannellini  beans, 1/2 cup romano or parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of italian breadcrumbs, 3 cups spinach leaves, one egg and 14 oz package of a meat substitute like “Gimme Lean”  - which has 7grams of protein and 0 cholesterol. You also need 3 vegetarian bullion cubes, 2 tablespoons of sundried tomato pesto, and about 40 oz of water. I use Grapeseed oil to fry the meatballs and veggies but Canola will work too.

Beat egg and mix the “Gimme Lean” package with the egg, breadcrumbs, tomato pesto, romano or parmesan cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper and 3 tablespoons of water. Maybe only 1/4 teaspoon salt if you are watching your sodium count. Then add 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, and dice 4 mushrooms (button, portabella etc.) until they begin to liquefy under the knife. Leave in the fridge for an hour for the flavors to incorporate. While you're waiting, scrub, peel and chop the carrots and celery into bite size pieces and set aside.

After an hour roll your “meat” ball mixture into 1 inch rounds, and slowly heat a large frying pan or stockpot up with enough oil to lightly cover the bottom. Gently fry the meatballs 4 mins each side with a lid on until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and side aside. Add more grapeseed oil and saute chopped celery and carrots until softened 8 to 12 minutes. Now add the spinach until it wilts, 4 -6 minutes. Set the pan on low and add 40 oz vegetarian stock, the drained cans of cannellini and the "meat"balls. I add another teaspoon of ground black pepper at this point, but your choice. Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer....I use setting 2. Slice 4 mushrooms and let them float on the top.

This is what the spinach looks like when its wilting

Finished meal, appertizer or delicious!

Please let me know if you try this recipe and what your rating is or your suggested improvements are. Thanks!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Harvest on Wednesday, Then Dinner

There are lots of great websites out there that have a Monday Harvest or something similar, and I would love to link to them, but I can't get my act together by Sunday for a post on Monday. I'm still a busy mom-gardener-chief cook-laundress.....yawn. So you get my point.

With no further ado, here is my produce count for Wednesday.

Top left: Cherry Belle Radish, White Cloud Cauliflower, Red Sails Lettuce
Center: Dried Rose Petals (lovely in a tea with Chamomile)
Bottom left: Pole Beans, Broccoli off shoots. Pepper and Spinach

And then..... I decided to cook some of it as a side dish for our meal. So I sauteed the sprigs of cauliflower in grapeseed oil (the BEST cooking oil ever).

And then I added vidalia onions. Not from my garden though.

When onions are cooked = opaque, add the chopped and seeded pepper, green beans, broccoli, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper, and I used a tablespoon of Hoison sauce. The veggies seem to make its own sauce, if it appears to be drying out, just add a tablespoon of water at a time.

When spinach has melted, top it over your favorite dish.

Jeff Opperman, who writes for The Nature Conservancy online had a great blog post "How Better Meat Can Mean Less Meat....and More Water." I'm all for reducing my water footprint, and if you are too you can find his article here:

Linked within Jeff's post is the link to "Meatless Monday" a who's who of folks giving up Meat on Mondays, and there are lots of great recipes and it's a fun kinda blog.
Meatless Monday

Wednesday - because I didn't have any soy crumbles on Monday for Meatless Monday itself - but the thought was still there on Wednesday - I had soy based chili on a bed of lettuce (which included the Cherry Belle Radish and Red Sails from my harvest) and topped with the hoisin sauteed veggies; absolutely delicious! I like to eat hot food through a cooler salad base. My three men also enjoyed it as a side with their chicken. And guess what, soy based chili takes half the time to heat in a chili than meat, so my energy using footprint was also reduced.

I think I'm going to give myself a big Star (fruit) if not just for "Good effort! But you can do better!" sigh..... do we ever get free of High School?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Airboat Ride on The Everglades

Over the weekend both my young men were at a loose end for the day. Thinks mom.......Ah ha! It must be time for an "adventure!"

Since my youngest son (17 yrs old now) is enlisting next year into the US Air Force, this mom has to make the most of these cherished family outings while both young men are still at home.

If you like natural scenery, see a previous blog of mine, regarding a previous "adventure" we went on.
Grassy Waters Preserve

So we went out to the Loxahatchee Airboat Tour/Rides, located west of Hillsboro Blvd., in Broward County, FL. USA. It was an hours ride south from where we live and frankly, I thought we'd never get there...but it was well worth it!

Our guide "Dave" was great. He would turn the boat around so everyone got an opportunity to see or photograpah a wildlife incident. Dave was a former trapper for Palm Beach County and had lots of information to share about wildlife and in particular - alligators.

Click below link for more info.
Loxahatchee Airboat Tours

Leaving the Dock

Beautiful Scenery

Wildlife Sightings Abound

This Gator Has His "Grumpy Face" On Because His Sun Snooze Was Rudely Interrupted
A Male American Alligator Sunning Himself While Casually Protecting His "Turf"
Our Young Men In Front Of The Airboat
You might wonder "why are those folks wearing jackets in Florida when it's 70F outside?" Let me tell you - for us thin-blooded Floridians 70 is pretty cold, especially with a very cool wind blowing from the West to the East.

After disembarking we visited their cool little museum which housed lots of stuffed animals including a very large alligator, an otter, a lynx, a bobcat, red squirrels (in USA?), and a raccoon whom appeared to be sleeping soundly and draped over a branch at the moment of his demise.

Ah, but was it worth the money? If you love nature = yes. If you love scenic water views = yes. If  - when the boat stops - you can appreciate the vastness of a natural area (albeit nowadays a "managed" natural area) and hearing musical bird calls, you can ditto that.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March's Yields - A Veggie Update Part 2

As a follow up to my previous blog:
March's Yields - A Veggie Update Part 1

After much consideration this is what I eventually planted in the empty raised veggie border- top left.

Back in November, when the daytime temperatures were between 75 to 79 F, I planted slips of onions and cauliflower transplants. In January I planted cabbages which are still maturing. Now it's beginning to warm up again the cauliflowers are almost done.

From the Far End, Cauliflowers, Cabbages and Onions, along with a lone Tomato.
Onions take "forever" to mature-form bulbs, I'll probably harvest them in May, I just have to be patient.......tick tock.....

Cauliflower "White Cloud"
I tied off the Cauliflowers with their own leaves - "blanching" - to keep the heads white, otherwise they discolor and seem visually unappetizing to eat. Cauliflowers have very shallow roots, they don't need a big space to thrive in....but they do like lots of water.

If you want to try soon as the head starts to show through the leaves, gather the outer leaves to cover the head and secure with string, twine or an elastic band.

Zone 10 you are probably too late to put Cauliflowers in even as transplants they prefer temperatures under 75 degrees F. Ditto for Cabbages.

A Blanched Cauliflower..but not quite perfect
Compare Unblanched on left with Blanched on Right
I don't recall the type of cabbage I planted, and I'm hoping they don't all bolt at once now the weather is warming up rapidly.

Northern Florida: You might still have time regarding Cauliflower, and Cabbages.

A stray tomato seed took root in among the onions, and I didn't have the heart to pull it out. I had read that you are not supposed to plant tomatoes with onions, but so far both onions and tomato plant are thriving. Truth is the "tomato - not - supposed - to - be - growing - with - the onions" is actually doing better than the other tomatoes. When the cabbages are done, I might put Squash in this planter box.

Elsewhere in the garden I am trying to grow some strawberries. I never seem to get to them before the birds and squirrels. Currently I am nursing one litl' flower and check on it every day!

One Little Strawberry Flower
Next up: Zone 10 You Still Have Time To Get These Veggies in!

Monday, March 11, 2013

March's Yields - A Veggie Update - Part 1

Remember this?

From my previous blog: click here -  Good Grief Call Yourself A Gardener?"

What a Mess!
And then my son and I put in the raised garden bed......
click here -  October Yields - A Veggie Preview

Putting the finishing touches on the raised veggie bed
Close up March 2013:

From the opposite direction:

What did I plant in there? Stay tuned for my Veggie Update - Part 2.
If I can do this, you can too!

Our New Adopted Family Member - LuLu

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lens Wide Open

Discoveries are made in a close up scrutiny of ordinary photos.

It's surprising what the camera reveals.

Life clings and thrives wherever it can.

Life supports life.....

Tiny, unassuming flowers exhibit astonishing detail and beauty in their design.

Click on below photo for more detail - a convention of pale, little aliens perhaps? Nanoo, Nanoo...

Vibrant color and detail abound in the often overlooked.

Shortleaf Blazingstar

Note the 'orchid' like flower in the top white flower in the photo on right.

A teeny-tiny spider guards its little slice of Aster territory closely (I didn't notice the spider until I uploaded the photos).

Miniature cypress leaves spring forth from pods.

Don't you just love nature?

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