Archive for May, 2009

Onion Planting at Riverbend Farm

May 26th, 2009

For Memorial Day this year, we went on an interesting adventure. We went to see where some of our food is made. Tracy Singleton (owner of our favorite restaurant, the BIRCHWOOD CAFE) invited us to an onion planting on an organic farm.

me on farm
I’m actually not sure if I’ve ever even been on a farm. It was a fantastic experience.

I saw some things I’ve never seen before.

This is the inside of one of the greenhouses.

lettuce seedlings
They had every variety of lettuce you could think of.

onion face
But we were just focused on onions this day.

We loaded up all the seedlings on a flatbed (or actually three flatbeds daisy-chained to the back of a truck) and moved them out to the field.

planning stage
Then, we started getting organized – matching varieties to the row they were to be planted in.

Did you know that there is actually a variety of onion named after me? It’s a pretty well kept secret.

alisacraigOne of the other people there (I think it was Adam from COMMON ROOTS) kept calling them the Jenny Craig strain because he couldn’t remember my name. And somebody else commented that if they were Jenny Craig onions, they would have pesticides and MSG.  (A little farm humor to brighten your day).  Yep.  Jenny Craig has Valerie Bertinelli.  But Alisa Craig has yours truly. 
Anyway, back to the onion planting.  Once we got everything organized came the hard part…

…the part where we actually started planting things.

I came prepared with my gardening gloves. They actually came in quite handy.

The rows were already marked for us. We just needed to stay in the lines (tire treads).

farm yoga
I invented a new yoga pose in the process. It’s called the farmer. This was actually doing some amazing things for my chronically tense upper back.

These girls were hard at work.

I didn’t catch her name, but this little girl was the hardest worker there. She lasted longer than I did.

flourescent bug
They have strange fluorescent bugs on the farm. This one kinda reminds me of the Willem Dafoe character from the Spider Man movie.

obama hat
What a wonderful day! We planted somewhere between 35-50,000 onion seedlings. We got some inside tips about growing arugula. We had a fantastic lunch. Best of all, we got to connect with lots of other people who really care about food. I met another foodie blogger, Lee. You should check out his blog, SIMPLE GOOD AND TASTY.


Square Foot Gardening

May 12th, 2009

me and garden Hey everyone! Check out my new garden. It’s my very first one (besides the one I started in my WINDOW). My boyfriend calls this the shot of me taking credit for all his hard work. 🙂

It all started a few weeks back when I started some SEEDLINGS in my window. I had little to no idea what I was doing. I planted maybe 150 seedlings! Most of them didn’t survive my incompetence. But the tomato and arugula seedlings seemed pretty determined.

square foot gardening Everyone kept talking about this book. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. So I picked up a copy. It seemed to make sense. More vegetables in less space. Who could argue with that really? And it was a better idea than anything I had come up with personally. So I went with it. Admittedly, the plans seemed way more ambitious in terms of yield than any novice gardener could hope for. But I suppose it doesn’t hurt to dream big dreams, right?

plans These are my inital plans (now waterlogged). It’s going to be really funny to look back after it’s all said and done to see how much of it actually came true. Our garden has a tree on one side. So one side is sunnier and one side is shadier. Thus, we tried to plan accordingly.

seedlings Once the seedlings got to be about so big, we started planting…Can you tell we’re new at this?

seedlings planted Well, they looked really impressive in my little pots in the window. But once they got into the ground, they looked kinda pathetic.

tomato seedlings Don’t laugh! Apparently, it’s better when your tomato plants are small. They survive the transplant better. Though they didn’t survive the squirrels so well. OY! The Squirrels!!

It became clear before long that we were going to need some help beefing up our garden. We went to the FRIENDS SCHOOL PLANT SALE (a GIANT plant sale at the State Fairgrounds) and picked up a few things.

plant sale Mostly, we got herbs (chocolate and orange mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, milk thistle, some peppers, more tomatoes, and some hostas for my boyfriend’s mom).

fighting back I also picked up some kale and swiss chard from the SEWARD COOP. Once I started transplanting, things started to take shape. Except for the squirrels who were munching on everything and digging up plants. Did I mention that SQUIRRELS ARE MY NEMESIS?! (ASIDE: My battle with squirrels began several years ago. I was getting bombarded with calls from STRANGE old ladies and people who later died on my answering machine. My calls were also getting rerouted to Canada. Very bizarre! I called the phone company, and the phone guy literally told me that my problem was squirrels first. Then terrorists. Terrorist squirrels. That should be a band name. Anyway, I did a radio show about it when I used to be DJ. You can check it out here…VOLUME 29: MYSTERY CREOT.)

netting system Anyway, back to the matter at hand. We needed to find some gentle way of encouraging the squirrels to eat someone else’s food. That’s when my boyfriend designed this netting system to keep the squirrels out. It seems to be working so far (keep your fingers crossed). Plus, now we’ve earned a reputation for being the most anal gardeners in our community garden! Our neighbor saw what we had done and kind of giggled to herself. Like, ‘hey guys, trying to keep the bears out?’

shady side This is a closer look at the shady side of our bed. This is going to be focused mainly on different varieties of lettuce. Here we have swiss chard and kale I just planted. There are some marigold in the back (supposedly to deter pests). And my little arugula seedlings are still hanging in there. We also have a square for the mystery lettuce which was left behind by last year’s gardener. And a square for micro greens.

sunny side The sunny side is mostly tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The eight squares in back are all different tomato varieties. In front, we three kinds of peppers, and herbs. I’m still filling these in. So I’ll keep you posted on my progress…


Strawberry Chocolate Parfait

May 6th, 2009

This is another recipe from ENTERTAINING IN THE RAW. The recipe actually called for raspberries, but I made it more than once. And the strawberry picture turned out better. Either way, it’s really good.

ginger crumbles
The secret weapon in this recipe is these yummy ginger crumbles – made from macadamia nuts and ginger. YUM! I would have never thought of that…


Avocado Soup Redux

May 3rd, 2009

avo soup
We’re still getting ready for CINCO DE MAYO over here with this BLAST from the past, avocado soup. It’s really easy and simple. I like to drizzle mine with a little hemp oil. I also tend to sub the rosemary in the recipe with cilantro. Rosemary is good and all, but who celebrates Cinco de Mayo with rosemary? That’s for the SCARBOROUGH FAIR.