Sunday, December 28, 2014

winter pansies


less than three more months til spring, but who's counting? despite the cold winter temperatures, our fall pansies still have blooms. the books are out and i'm drawing up plans for the 2015 garden. planting in the spring is less overwhelming when you plan a little each week or so, and it helps me beat the winter blues, to envision a lush warm green garden bursting with every color of the rainbow. the pansies help too.
 
we've been balancing our unhealthy holiday eating with supplements, juices and smoothies. the delicious smoothie above had banana, mango, celery, frozen cranberries and raspberries, spirulina and chlorella. it really did taste good - you can't go wrong with bananas and raspberries in your smoothie.
 
our goal is to cut way back on processed foods (especially sugar) in 2015. it's going to be tough, but we've done it before. i'm learning the tricks - it's just putting the energy in each day. keep the kitchen stocked with fresh produce, and use it!
 
wishing you health and much happiness in the new year and beyond!!! xoxoxo

Saturday, November 8, 2014

roasted sweet dumpling squash with rosemary and garlic

winter squash did nothing for me until i tried the different varieties grown by our csa, and now roasted squash may be my favorite thing about fall (next to the colorful leaves and coziness of the season, of course:) i like kabocha, delicata and sweet dumpling squash best as they all have a nice sweetness and texture to them that make them delicious simply roasted with just a bit of salt - and their skin is edible (and very good) - so no peeling (which is not always easy with squash)!

this dish came together pretty effortlessly as i just picked through the fridge and garden for ingredients. in my opinion, all veggies taste great together roasted, especially squash and root vegetables! to make sure those tough veggies got tender when baked, i added just enough water to fill the bottom of a glass casserole dish and covered with foil to steam them through.

the sweet dumpling squash, purple potato and carrots were baked with a nice sprinkling of salt, three chopped garlic cloves and two sprigs of rosemary for 25 minutes in a 425° oven. then i removed the foil, added broccoli and a drizzle of olive oil, then roasted the veggies uncovered another 20 minutes.

while the vegetables were cooking, i picked and made a kalad (which i just accidentally typed but have decided to leave and coin as the new term for kale salad :) it would have been a quick and easy salad had every single leaf not been covered in eggs, tiny cocoons and cute little caterpillars hiding in the curly ends! after the little guys were freed, the chopped kale was washed thoroughly, massaged with olive oil and salt, then sprinkled with hemp seeds and dried cranberries.
 
you know it's a good meal when hubba wubba says to leave out the rest because he plans to go back for seconds!:) which vegetables do you enjoy in the fall?

xoxoxo

Sunday, November 2, 2014

delicata squash and wheat berry soup

this seasonal soup is a beautiful balance of sweet squash and savory herbs, with a nice chewiness from the wheat berries. had i known how delicious it was going to be, i would have noted my exact measurements! what i can do is give you some rough estimates to help you create a similar tasty soup in your slow cooker.

DELICATA SQUASH & WHEAT BERRY SOUP
1 cup wheat berries, rinsed
1 delicata squash, cubed
2 carrots, sliced into half moons
1 red pepper, diced
3/4 cup dried chick peas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
2 garlic cloves, minced
about 4 cups water or vegetable broth
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
dried oregano and/or fresh thyme

place ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. if using cooked chick peas, stir those in towards the end. since the measurements aren't exact, start with about 3 1/2 cups water or broth and add more as needed. let me know if you have any questions - i'm happy to help!

xoxoxo

Sunday, October 19, 2014

garlic, huge zucchini + a monarch butterfly


one morning last week it was a race against the rain as i rushed to get our garlic in the ground. we didn't harvest as much as last year, so for planting i had to supplement with organic cloves from the health food store. this time i planted almost seventy cloves to be sure we have enough to eat, share and replant next year. (fingers crossed the animals don't dig them up!)
 
things are still growing at the community garden. there were some gigantic zucchini in our plot waiting to be picked. that's the last of them, since i had to pull the plants to make room for the garlic. my plans are to grate and cube them, pack them with the foodsaver and freeze them for future raw and cooked breads. also, i picked a rutabaga that already went into a red lentil soup, a beet, a little red pepper, some cherry tomatoes and arugula that popped up on its own this year.
 
a beautiful butterfly kept me company while i was planting the garlic cloves. you'd think butterflies would be scarce now, but i've been seeing a lot of monarchs, and it was october when my niece and i saw all sorts of butterflies in my mom's garden. halloween used to put me in the mood for dead, spooky d├ęcor, but now i'll take my colorful plants and butterflies as long as i can!:)
 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

today

this morning john and i went to the collingswood farmer's market and found some local and organic goodies, including a five-pound bag of yukon gold potatoes. when we got home i threw about half the bag in the crockpot to make oh she glows' crispy smashed potatoes (with a slight variation in the sauce using carmella's cashew cream recipe). while the potatoes were cooking i gathered some greens for a salad, then spotted kati laying on our bench from the kitchen window. all in all it was a very nice day :) i hope you're enjoying your weekend as well!

xoxoxo

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

summer 2014 highlights

it's a bit late for a summer highlights post, but in my mind the season is still coming to a close. when the garden gets put to bed for the year is when it will really feel like fall, i guess.

this was the first summer our space truly felt like a garden. there was so much out there, and so many things popped up that i didn't even plant! (thanks to self-sowing flowers). we had beginner's luck with kohlrabi, growing enough to preserve for winter, and we finally grew decent cucumbers! finally! only took six tries!:)

many days were spent with my friend's children at the park and we saw so many cute animals. though our patio was finished last summer, this year it felt more complete with the addition of a bistro set and hanging flower pots. little toads came to visit, and john and i enjoyed relaxing out there, playing rummy 500, a card game our grandmothers taught us both when we were kids.=)

the herb garden flourished on its own and i dried so much that i don't think i'll be needing to buy seasonings or tea for a while! lemon balm, red clover, parsley, rosemary, pineapple sage, thyme, oregano, basil, spearmint, plantain, coriander, dandelion, goldenrod and i even managed to cut a little catnip before kati and the neighborhood cats ate the whole plant, again.



that's what happened the last time i planted catnip. i tried being sneaky but kati found me. she ate most of the the plant within a day but since then i've seen little green leaves coming up. hopefully third time's a charm with the catnip!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

in the fall garden

sunset is a magical time in the october garden, as the sun casts the last of its warm golden rays. what started as just taking pictures of a dead fig tree branch turned into a little fall photoshoot. 

(we're checking with a friend to see where we should cut the tree and to get his expert opinion on what looks like a little disease on some neighboring branches. i'll spare you those ugly pictures, and though these pictures are a bit on the blurry side, i still hope you enjoy!:)



 
xoxoxo

Saturday, October 11, 2014

around here

kale is still thriving and actually tastes better after a few frosts! this raised garden is growing in front of a healthier fast food restaurant we recently tried called b.good. everything was delicious and we can't wait to go back! next time i'll try to remember to take pictures of what we ate.=)

beet greens seem to taste better in the fall as well. we added some to our smoothie along with carrots, celery, garden zucchini, bananas, a golden delicious apple, a beet, spirulina and chlorella.

stir-fry has been a weekly thing since the cooler weather brought baby bok choy back to the csa. it's my favorite way to prepare bok choy!

the csa is also offering the last of its eggplant. i chose a small one and made a chunky tomato sauce with white mushrooms in the crock-pot. served with rotini and fresh garden basil - mmm!

when i found myself with extra time in the kitchen, i prepped and cut veggies for two meals this week. it was a huge help and only required a little bit of planning! i'd like to make this a habit and hopefully share some tips in the future.

this is the second time i've made a creamy butternut squash soup and thought, meh. john and i both agreed the gluten-free garlic bread croutons made the meal!
 
the calendar may say it's fall, but many of our summer plants are still blooming! i cut some small sunflowers, cosmos, zinnia, and pineapple sage flowers for a bouquet and am drying lavender in a magnetic clip hanging on my fridge. we've also had goldenrod and coriander drying in our second shower the past two months. whatever works, right?=)

have a wonderful weekend!

xoxoxo

Thursday, October 2, 2014

homemade vegetable broth powder

when you make a lot of soup, the cost for healthy bouillon cubes can get expensive. the cartons of vegetable stock are even pricier, and i noticed that the powder sold in bulk at the health food store contains some questionable ingredients. (corn syrup solids and autolyzed yeast extract?)

so i decided to make my own broth powder. there are several methods for making homemade stock, but i was sold on the dehydration method. adding more veggies to vegetable soup? i like it! plus we already had all the vegetables, herbs and the dehydrator.

not going to lie though, slicing all those veggies as thin as i could get them (so they would dry more quickly) was a bit of work for one cup of powder. but the broth is so wholesome and clean! plus my mandolin slicer made the work a little easier, and dare i say sort of fun?

the bell pepper, yellow squash and red onion were from the csa. the zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, and herbs grew in our garden. i used green and purple basil, oregano and thyme, and later added rosemary and parsley. also, i used some store-bought organic produce, because what's veggie broth without carrots and celery?

the recipe i loosely followed suggested adding a good amount of arrowroot starch. that would really bulk up the powder, but would also thicken our soups, which i don't always want, so i left it out. i also didn't add salt because i like to season as i go to avoid adding too much.

the dried veggies were stored in an air-tight bag a few days until i was ready to process them in the vitamix. they smelled sooo good, i kept opening the bag for a little sniff!


all in all, i say the dehydrated vegetable broth powder is delicious and worth the effort. it'll feel good to know i'm adding local organic nutrition to our soups in the dead of winter, if i can make it last that long. maybe i should make another batch...anyone want to come help me slice veggies?=)

xoxoxo

Sunday, September 28, 2014

recent eats

happy autumn! september has been a busy month in the kitchen as i try to keep up with the csa and garden goodies. i'm making raw sauerkraut, freezing a lot of zucchini and bell peppers and drying some things to make our own vegetable broth powder. i've also got ginger kombucha tea brewing to give our immune systems a boost during the colder months and soon i'll be harvesting echinacea root for medicinal tea!

our meals have been simple but satisfying...lots of veggie bowls cooked in the trusty crock-pot. the first one pictured is rosemary french lentils with summer squash topped with nutritional yeast, hemp seeds and alfalfa sprouts. the second one was supposed to be red beans and rice but i stirred too much and it became risotto! still yummy though.

to be sure we're getting raw nutrition in too we're doing our smoothies a few days a week with spirulina and chlorella. some veg-loving friends and family came over and i made roasted beets, petite brussels sprouts and carrots with thyme (mmm!), a delicious loaded kale salad, and we ordered tomato pie from a local italian bakery.

dessert one night was a raw apple cobbler from sweetly raw. it was really good but we liked it warmed up a little. and that tomato sandwich was probably the best thing i've had on bread in a long time! for the spreads i used some leftover hummus and roasted eggplant and red pepper dip, then piled on raw kraut, avocado, raw eggplant bacon, and the juiciest heirloom tomato.

last but not least you see a hearty azuki bean, beet and barley stew with an assortment of baby sweet potatoes i found at natural health. the beans and barley were on sale and when i did some recipe research i learned that both are staples for a macrobiotic diet! (christina pirello healed her cancer with macrobiotics.) gotta love healing foods.

i hope you're enjoying your first official weekend of fall! the weather has been beautiful over here! today will be another busy one in the kitchen and garden, but i wouldn't have it any other way.=)

xoxoxo

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