Archive for the 'Gardening' Category

Garden Laboratory


May 9th, 2010

garden lab
Well, the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating with our garden plans thus far. As a result, we have quite the burgeoning garden laboratory going now. We started a fairly extensive batch of SEEDLINGS a few weeks ago (though most of them are still pretty small and frail).

plant saleSo much like LAST YEAR, I went to the infamous FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE to pad our repertoire. The plant sale is AMAZING. They have everything you could possibly think of. I went with good intentions, but it’s difficult to draw parameters around the endless possibilities. Just think of all the food I could make!  I mean a girl could really go balls to the wall gourmet with so much to work with!

plant sale
Just to give you an idea of why my boyfriend was so annoyed with me, here is a list of all the plants I got:

Black Cumin
Culantro (not cilantro…I don’t know either)
Lavender, Fred Boutin
Thai Basil, Siam Queen
Sweet Basil
Lovage
Marjoram
Marshmallow
Milk Thistle
Mint, Spearmint
Mint, Chocolate Mint
Parsley
Sage
Rosemary
Thyme
Papalo (described as cilantro on steroids)
Parsley, Curly
Parsley, Italian
African Blue Basil
Boxcar Willie Tomato
Sweet Banana Pepper
Caspian Pink Tomato
Coyote Tomato
Habanero Pepper, Chocolate
Habanero Pepper, Orange
Heirloom Lettuce, Forellenschluss
Arugula
Celeriac
Stevia

seedlingsI should note that this was AFTER we had already purchased a wide variety of lettuces/greens (curly kale, dino kale, swiss chard, and a few butter lettuce varieties). Where I’m going to find room to plant all these is anybody’s guess. But every raw food catering business needs all this! Right?! We did inherit an extra bed this year at the COMMUNITY GARDEN that needs some TLC. Someone let it overgrow with weeds. So it kind of needs a nanny for a year. But I think I’m still going to need to get creative..

sq ft garden
Here’s a draft of our SQUARE FOOD GARDEN grid. The blank boxes represent the number of plants I was SUPPOSED to get at the plant sale. (He should have known he was sending me on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE). 🙂

goji bush
In other news, look how well my GOJI bush is doing! ANTHONY would be so proud…

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Watching the Future Unfold


May 7th, 2010

leftovers
Leftovers are great for contemplating the future. Less work and business leaves more time for philosophy. This was a variation of a salad I made for my TASTING EVENT.

two fist
My boyfriend took this beautiful picture. It looks innocuous enough, but it’s actually a huge milestone in our juicing experience. In the past, our tendency would be to mix these drinks together to make sludge. My boyfriend is all about maximizing nutritional density which I can appreciate. But not when it tastes bad. Yesterday I convinced him to make two separate drinks, and they were AMAZING! One was a spicy green concoction with lime, cucumber, ginger, cilantro, and wheatgrass. The other was lime, carrot, and ginger. Two great tastes that DON’T taste great together. 🙂

wheatgrass ointment
Wheatgrass is also great for healing scars. My overly active immune system has a proclivity towards scarring. Little scrapes take months to heal. Wheatgrass noticeably improves the healing process. Apparently, they used to use it for wound healing way back when.

blossomsIt’s supposed to snow tonight! That’s Minnesota weather for you. The CHERRY BLOSSOMS have already come and gone, and now it’s going to snow. My boyfriend took this picture of me with the infamous blossoms to send to my mom.  Speaking of (SCREAMING) CHERRY BLOSSOMS, I’ve started playing guitar again. I brought my guitar down to OKLAHOMA with good intentions, but I was a lot busier than I thought I would be! It’s good to be back in my element again.
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setlist I played a solo show last week, and my boyfriend took a picture of the setlist on my arm. Since my health isn’t really good enough yet to pursue my musical ambitions fully, I decided to start working on my chops. Yesterday was my first guitar lesson with my favorite guitar player in Minneapolis! You can check out his cool, green guitar in this VIDEO. I’m pretty sure that having a green guitar is eco-friendly! 🙂

In the meantime, I am patiently waiting for the future to unfold. Not as patiently as I would like, mind you. The hardest part about change (for me) is that it always seems to take longer than you think it should. It’s human nature, I think, to want to fill in the gap that you have to leave open for it. It feels so uncertain and vulnerable sometimes that a person yearns for the comfort of certainty. But I’m determined this time to let things play out as they should. I have a good feeling that everything is going to work out beautifully. I just need to give things their due time and space to unfold.

I got some nods of affirmation this week. I was listed on MASALA (the finest mix of holistic living blogs) in the ‘friends’ category, and I was also listed as one of the TOP 50 RAW FOOD BLOGS! HOORAY!

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Earth Day


April 25th, 2010

hub of heaven
In case you didn’t get the memo, today is EARTH DAY! We spent the day kicking off gardening season at our community garden. Last year, we planted our very FIRST GARDEN, and it went so WELL that we are on the steering committee this year.

garden
Here is an insider’s look at the garden. There are about thirty raised beds.

digging weeds
My job was to orient everyone to the watering system and where everything is and collect the dinero. I also was digging up weeds on the fenceline. There were some pretty monster ones. It looks like an asteroid hit after I dug up some of them. Pretty massive.

team compost
Team compost did an AMAZING job of turning the compost and making the new dirt available to gardeners.

big garden
This is one of our garden beds…It’s the same one we had LAST YEAR.

onions
We had a lot of trouble with the onions last year. They just did not want to come up. Funny thing is they’re the only thing coming up now.

lil garden
We inherited a second little bed halfway through the season that was abandoned. This one has strawberries coming up in it.

flowers
Look! They’re flowering already! This is going to be a good year. I can tell already. I’m ready to dive in. I can’t wait…

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The Season for New Beginnings


April 15th, 2010

pepperland
As luck would have it, I’m starting my new beginning right in sync with nature. Leave it to these guys to perk me up when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. We’ve started our seedlings for gardening season!

garden
Last year, my goal with the GARDEN was just to have one. What came up vastly exceeded my wildest expectations. It was so good that we were invited to be on the steering committee at our COMMUNITY GARDEN. I’m now officially the web hag of our garden. There are still a few plots available if anyone is interested.

two trays
This year, I want to be more efficient with the food that comes up. Now that I have a better idea about timing etc. We have a few seedlings started up. Some are doing better than others.

grow lights
Right now we have them under a couple low tech grow lights we got from the hardware store. The whole contraption was about $20.

peppers
The peppers are loving life!

basil
The basil is doing pretty good too. The lettuce…not so much.

goji
I started some more goji (since that worked out so well LAST YEAR).

sage
The sage overall didn’t fair so well, but I have this one determined little guy that might amount to something.

radicchio
Radicchio will be nice in my salad mixes.

grass
And of course, I have lots of grass!! (I’m almost done with the wheatgrass episode for PRL TV. It’s taking forever, but I think it’s going to be a good one. My BF thinks we’ll be done by Saturday).

baby grass
Some cute little baby grasses..

gilIn other news, my boyfriend got me in to see GIL SCOTT-HERON last night (of ‘the REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED‘ fame). It was excellent. He’s hilarious. Sharp guy.  Really unique.  Even the crowd was unique.  My boyfriend does sound there a lot.  And there was definitely a much more diverse crowd there than usual.  Leave it to Gil to challenge your perception of things and keep things in perspective.  Just what I need at the moment.

trail
In other news, there is a walking path that goes from my new place to Whole Foods. How convenient is that? Things could definitely be worse. 🙂

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First Freeze


October 15th, 2009

hub of heaven
Well, it’s already started snowing here in Minnesota. I’m sad to say that GARDENING season is winding down. Here I am in front of our community garden collecting a box of goodies before the first freeze.

lil garden
We actually ended up with two garden beds this year as we inherited one from a gardener who was MIA. This was our second bed where we grew zucchini, tomatoes, nasturtium, strawberries, beets, and some hot peppers. It’s hard to see behind the fence, but you can see some nasturtium flowers.

packingI suppose I could have tried to greenhouse my bed a little to extend the season (my kale is still hanging on!!). But I’m going to NYC next week to play a show with my band, and I’m leaving for CHEF SCHOOL as soon as I get back. So, it’s time to start saving what I can. I’ve got a ton of seeds for next year already. But that’s not all…

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box
I have a ton of herbs to dry down too. Check out the long, spindly branches hanging out the side of the box. Those are stevia leaves! I had a ton of it.

stevia bowl
Here I harvested all the leaves and dried them down to make sweetener.

steviaLook at that! My own homegrown sweetener! I’m gonna be showing up to chef school in style!  I’m sure there are some fancy Christmas cookies in my future somewhere.  I was dehydrating them at the same time as a batch of KALE CHIPS, and my boyfriend asked me if i put sugar in the kale chips.  We figured out that some of the stevia must have fallen into the batch.  Pretty potent stuff!  It’s apparently up to 300x sweeter than sugar.

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carrots
Our carrots were kind of stubby. I’m not sure why. But they’re kind of endearing that way. Aren’t they?

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Third Time's A Charm


September 18th, 2009

lasagna
This is my third attempt at making the lasagna from RAW FOOD REAL WORLD. I was inspired by the STUDENTS of 105 DEGREES and the abundance of tomatoes and zucchini in my GARDEN of late.

lasagna side
I suppose that now is as good a time as any to mention that I am the latest recruit to the 105 DEGREES ACADEMY. Or one of them anyway. Not entirely shocking, I suppose, given my penchant for following MATTHEW KENNEY recipes. That coupled with the fact that my entire family lives in Oklahoma makes it kind of a no brainer! Anyway, I’ll be there from Nov-Mar. YAY! (Speaking of Matthew Kenney, did you see the article yesterday in the NY TIMES? It’s kind of funny actually. The writer is clearly not a connoisseur of raw food. In fact, he’s still hung up on a pork chop he had in the mid-90’s. That pork chop really must have made an impression. This was particularly funny to me yesterday since we were having a discussion about how the EGGPLANT BACON didn’t really taste like bacon).

nyagous
Anyway, back to the lasagna. Check out this black tomato I grew in my garden. It’s a NYAGOUS variety. They’re apparently highly sought after for their rich flavor. This is what I used for my tomato sauce. Things have come a long way from my FIRST LASAGNA which I cluelessly made in the middle of winter. Last year, I had at least figured out the SEASONS.

zucchini
But this year, I was able to season my own homegrown zucchini with my own homegrown herbs!

caspian pink
I had quite a few varieties of tomatoes to choose from. Everyone said I wouldn’t be able to grow heirloom tomatoes in a community garden. Apparently, our garden had a fungus problem or something. I used some EFFECTIVE MICROORGANISMS in the soil. I’m not sure if that’s what did the trick, but they grew up beautifully. Anyway, these are some CASPIAN PINK tomatoes.

green zebra
Probably our most abundant tomotoes this year were the GREEN ZEBRAS (which is perfect for this recipe). Ours came up this beautiful golden color.

layers
The tomatoes were layered with a pine nut pignoli, a basil and pistachio pesto, and the marinated zucchini in a casserole dish.

lasagna
Bon Appetit! (I wonder if I’ll be talking about this lasagna in fifteen years 🙂 ).

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Harvest Moon


September 6th, 2009

me gardening
I got a cue from the moon that it was time for a GARDEN update. I have to say that after my first season gardening, I am hooked! I absolutely LOVE gardening. It’s so relaxing, and we’ve hardly had to buy any food this summer.

swirls
I was worried at first when I saw this marvelously psychedelic swirl on one of our tomatoes. My boyfriend was convinced it was a worm eating our tomatoes.  I was so relieved to find that it just meant they were growing too fast, and the skin was cracking.

This is my boyfriend’s nephew holding our very first ripe tomato of the season. It was a caspian pink tomato and the flavor was stupendous. It was also perfect and flawless. The prettiest tomato to date. Though we have some really pretty ones that are just starting to turn now.

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stevia
This is my beautiful stevia plant. I’ve dried down the leaves and ground them into a powder to make sweetener. Though admittedly, it takes a lot of leaves to make not very much powder. I should save the seeds so I can grow a bunch next year (or whenever I actually have a yard at some nebulous point in the future).

habanero
Yesterday, I picked the first habanero! I think I’m going to make kale chips with it. I’m really addicted to this new chip we’ve developed. It was inspired by my recent trip to the West Coast. They were HUGE there. Though I think we encountered them first in PORTLAND. They’re a notcho cheese variety that will knock your socks off.

peppers
Everything is coming up peppers right now. We’ve got a couple red jalepenos. And a bunch of this Korean hot pepper. They’re HO CHI MINH‘s. They’re kind of like cayenne…but yellow…and surprisingly hotter.

nasturtium
I also have these edible flowers called nasturtiums. They didn’t really go in this salad so well. They’re kinda spicy. So I’ll check back with you about those…

kale
But all in all, the garden’s good! Now it’s time to start sharing the wealth.

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Exceeding My Expectations


June 27th, 2009

tomato bush
I think it’s safe to say at this point that my GARDEN is exceeding my expectations. Being that it’s my first one, I would have been happy to get ANY growth whatsoever. But yesterday, my boyfriend sent me this insane picture of the monstrosities that our tomato plants have become (Did I mention that I am out of town? I left him in charge of the garden for five weeks. I’m MISSING EVERYTHING.)

sunny side
This is that same area a month ago. AMAZING!

aquacones
I’m wondering if these aquacones have contributed to the growth spurt. It HAS been hot and sunny. But apparently, we’ve outgrown all the plants in our community garden. My boyfriend had to rip holes in the netting to make room.

lettuce side
This is the other side of the garden. The shady side…where we are growing many varieties of lettuce. I am so spoiled now. I can never go back. GOURMET SALADS for FREE.

happy plants
They just look so happy. And they taste that way too.

salad mix
It would cost a fortune to buy this many heads of lettuce every couple days.

marigolds
This garden has been blowing my mind. I’ve been thinking crazy thoughts. Things that I would have never EVER considered. Things like…moving out of the city?!

kale
This is going to be the year of the KALE CHIP. I have at least fifteen kale plants going right now!

chard
I think the chard has been the most persnickety of the greens. There is some kind of pest that is making the leaves get this fungus-like illness. We’ve been mostly spraying with cayenne and picking yucky leaves. And that seems to be working alright.

stone arch
I am a little sad I’m missing this. I miss Minneapolis and going to the garden with my boyfriend. If I weren’t having so much fun, I’d be really homesick. But I’m actually finding Seattle to be really friendly to my dietary issues. More updates soon…

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Herbalism 101


June 23rd, 2009

milk thistle
Admittedly, the medicinal qualities of plants and herbs are something that I am woefully uninformed about. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? This is a milk thistle flower from my GARDEN. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet, but I know that they are helpful for those who have issues with their livers (i.e. ME).

steviaWe also have this lovely stevia plant. Apparently, all I need to do to make my own stevia is harvest the leaves, dry them, and grind them into a powder. Considering how expensive stevia is, this sounds like a great idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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mind
I also have several varieties of mint which are overgrowing their SQUARE.

mintnibic
I have to tell you that they make a MEAN MINT CACAO NIB ice cream.

goji
I also have some goji seedlings that are doing quite well. Three years from now, they will bear some righteous superfood fruits.

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First Harvest


June 18th, 2009

aerial shot
Time for a GARDEN UPDATE. This is an aerial shot of our garden plot. We actually just inherited a second smaller plot, but I don’t have pictures of that yet.

garden back
Being that this is our first garden, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth the investment. I would have just been happy if anything came up. But so far, I can say that the output has definitely exceeded my expectations. I think we will save a lot of money on groceries this season. We trying to keep a tally. So we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.

greens
We have a really lovely variety of greens right now. Here you can see the arugula, kale, a little chard, some romaine-like mystery lettuce, and some of the mixed microgreens we have going.

harvesting
Here’s me pulling our first harvest.

first harvest
It’s a nice mix of greens. The chard is so much puffier than it is in the store.

first salad
This was our first garden salad with some blackberries and dried fennel. WOW. Gourmet greens and they are so fresh.

We got some other things popping up too. But I’ll save that for another post…

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