Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"What in the world do I do with garlic scapes?"


I heard that question about 700 times in the last two market weekends. It totally makes me cringe sitting here right now. lol... But it is a good question. Garlic scapes are one of those things that are at the market for about three weeks. In marketland, that is gone in a flash, and within those three weeks people naturally want to take advantage of the most local, most seasonal, freshest food available. For the last two weeks, garlic scapes have been it.

So what are they and what do you do with them?

Well, garlic scapes are the young flowers on the garlic stalk. If you leave them on the stalk, they will have seed garlic in them... which if you are wondering, takes two years to grow into a decent head of garlic. So most people don't plant garlic from the seed. They plant it from 1 year old cloves for a 9 month (instead of 2 year) harvest. So each season they will have the garlic flowers for harvest!

Enter scapes. Garlic scapes taste... well, they taste like green garlic. lol... They have that same spicy garlic flavor, but somehow they taste fresher... greener. If that makes any sense.

What do you do with them? Anything that you would do with garlic! Saute them with stir fry, saute them with butter and olive oil and eat them crunchy, chop them up tiny and put them on top of salad, bake them slathered with cheese, add them to roasted root veggies.... or puree them for a wonderful pesto like I did last night.

A little bit about this recipe: It took two tries to get it right. I underestimated how spicy these suckers were! They are not just mild little garlic flavored flowers... they are just as hot as the garlic that you use in cooking... about 5 flowers makes for 1 clove of garlic. The first time I made this recipe I have 18 or so scapes in the processor... that was not good. Burnt every ones mouth and the kids couldn't even eat it at all. Best to tone down the garlic if you are worried about heat.

Garlic Scape Pesto

5 - 10 garlic scapes
1 oz (small handful) basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds
sea salt

Cut up the scapes really well and add them to a food processor or blender with some of the olive oil. Process for about 2 minutes (I know... it's loud, you can stop if you like more chunky pesto. I like mine super smooth.). Add in the basil, cheese (get the good stuff if you can, but the freeze dried stuff works too), and almonds and process for another 2 minutes. Stop and taste. Add salt if you need and toss a generous spoonful with a plate of pasta. I topped with tomatoes. :)

I also found that it has a wonderfully sweet garlic flavor that makes AMAZING guacamole!

Here is the recipe I used today:

Guacamole with Garlic Scapes

4 large avocados
6 garlic scapes
2 small tomatoes
handful cilantro leaves
2 Tbs lime juice
3 slices large sweet onion

Add all but avocados in food processor or blender and process for about 1 minute. Mash avocados in a bowl and pour in the puree. Mix well and salt to taste. It was amazingly delicious. I may make some scape puree to save for other guacamole days.

25/52 ~ Flower girl

I have never grown flowers. I always thought that if you have enough sun for roses, you have enough for something that you can eat. And I was always ok with that.

This year, I bought a house with pretty much nothing but flower beds. It has a veggie garden, but even that is lined with roses and bluebells, the apple is right next to flowering bushes.

I love it. I don't just love it, I can't believe I ever lived without growing flowers! I go out and touch them, smell them, pick them every single day. I make bouquets for the table about twice a week and change them out as the flowers fade. I can't believe that I never felt the lack of flowers.

When we got the walk through from the previous owners, Betty and Don, they kept telling me about the flowers and how they bloom all year long... One thing after another, it blooms until it freezes, and when it stops freezing, it starts blooming again. And I kept thinking "Wow, pretty... I bet I could plant an apple tree there." lol... Those seasonal things are ingrained in me for food. Strawberries for Don's birthday, Blueberries for Alex's, planting peas on Memorial Day and harvesting Garlic on the 4th of July... these dates are in my head and my body craves the foods I love for the season we are in. But now I can't wait to live years in this house... to know things like when the Yellow Chain Tree blooms, when the Roses start, and when the Lavender is ripe for harvest.

Who ever thought that I would be a flower girl?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Of lavender and built-in shelves...

Out gathering my first lavender harvest I met a little friend.

She hung out with me for about 20 minutes, tasting the blooms I missed as I made a bouquet out of the beauty of my new yard.

Then I got to come inside to this:

My first built-in pantry shelf in my new kitchen. I even made a toe box at the bottom so I could place the molding that was along the floor back on the shelf (so it matched the rest of the room). I watched lots of 'remodeling for dummies' and 'e-how' episodes to figure out how to do this... I also got about an hours worth of council from the pros at Home Depot on how to support this without the boards warping under the weight of beans and oatmeal over time. I think it turned out ok. I have never made anything that fits this tight before. Let me tell you... this puppy is FITTED. 42 inch wall = 42 inch shelves. Snug to the point of having to take the molding off so we could see if it fit.

I was pretty darn proud. :)

Local living days

Since my big market days are Sundays, I have an overabundance of good food come Monday morning. I came home with two bunches of carrots, a bag of summer squash and baby turnips, two heads of beautiful lettuce, a bunch of spinach, cilantro, parsley, 1 lb of garlic scapes (see pic at bottom), and 1 pound each Rainer and Bing cherries. And of course this:


I got STRAWBERRIES! After a long market day yesterday, my husband and I sat in front of a movie and topped, washed, and bagged 3 full flats of tiny, sweet, organic strawberries. I sigh with happiness just thinking about it. So good! There are a smaller variety that they grow at the farm I work for... they are more flavorful than any other strawberry I have ever tasted. They are sweet too... not like those ones you buy from the store (You know... the ones that taste like strawberry flavored cardboard). Those cold winter days where all I need is a taste of summer... they will be so much sweeter with these babies packed away.


Up next, what to do with garlic scapes and my new pantry shelf (my first built in!)!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Spontaneous Gratitude for today

I was sick last night with some yucky stomach bug. It sucked! So today I thought that I would count my blessings in the spontaneous gratitude way. :)

This nature table, complete with a birds nest I found on the ground, a bees hive that was in our back yard, and with my kids newest crafty addiction: Needle felting!

This sunbathing sweetheart.

This sunbathing beauty!

New plants for the front of the house.

Pictures, hung securely to our walls. Our walls. :)

The best garage sale find EVER! ($5!!)

My newly re-found electric pencil sharpener. Oh how I love thee.

And yep... this is another blue rose bud. :D

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My 'blue' rose blooms!

Remember my blue rose? It bloomed day before yesterday and this is what it looks like:

It is beautiful! But certainly not blue. lol! I am excited though, as it looks to have stayed really healthy. Never having flowers before I totally thought I would kill it dead. But it is healthy and beautiful and has two more blooms on the way!

I need to pick up a couple books on caring for roses from the library to learn about what they need. I hear coffee grounds are good. As is Epsom Salts. Anyone have any good organic rose gardening tips? And what about the yellow wilty leaves? I have a lot of those on the other rose bushes (not this one yet, thankfully)... does anyone have a good cure for those? If they were veggie plants, I would say they need better soil and more nutrients. Am I on the right track?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ecolovies ~ Cardboard Castle!

Part of the joy of moving with kids is letting them cut up all the wonderfully ready-to-be-recycled cardboard right???

Ever since I saw Made By K's cardboard castle, I have wanted to build one with the kiddos. We have SO much cardboard running around this place that it was amazing we hadn't thought of it before. So a couple boxes and a set of toddler crayons later, we had this beauty to call our own in our livingroom this last weekend, morgage free.


Logan loved the idea of being able to color on the castle. He happily ran around drawing where everyone else was... which made my little girl not so happy.


After I explained to her that it didn't have to be perfect, then both the older kids seemed ok with letting Logan in on the fun.

He sure was proud of himself. :)


The kids spent all evening in laying in the castle listening to a story on CD. Doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A good first market day

A few people have asked me lately why I work on Sundays at the market. I figured it may be a relevant question to answer on the blog. :)

First off: I love it. Working with a great friend for a place that I trust, love, and believe in... I don't know that there can be a better reason to have a job (when you don't need to have one, that is).

Second: I love the connection and the 'me' time. I get to be without the kids. I am a homeschooler with a husband who has a crazy (and heavy) schedule, who doesn't really have hobbies outside of the home. Even when I am working out at the gym I usually have one of the kids with me. So this is a great opportunity for me to get out and talk to adults like adults. lol... and that is very rare in my world.

Third: A connection to local food and seeing people that have similar life beliefs that I do. This is a big deal for me. It has been hard moving so much and not knowing where my niches were in the community I am in. I am not sure how to describe this one. But I just don't know where my place is in this community yet. I am not talking about friends.... but finding stores I share values with, seeing farms that I trust and love... well I am just not there yet where we are. And that has been harder than I care to admit. We are a bit outside the norm in our beliefs. (As I believe really everyone is.) Even in my house, I have to stand hard for the things I believe are right to get them into action. (My dh is less than crunchy.) A melding is required and sometimes that take inspiration and a bit of a reminder that I am not crazy.

Fourth: Well, the haul is nice. lol! Yesterday I came home with what is in the picture above:

From the organic farm I work for: Dill, cilantro, 2# shelling peas, 1# sugar snap peas, 2 bunches Tatsoi (an Asian green similar to spinach mixed with bok choy),1 bunch spinach, 2 bunches Asian broccoli, 4 heads various lettuces, and a pint of the best strawberries EVER.

From other vendors (which I traded leftover veggies from the farm): 1 dozen free range organic eggs (and really free range, not store bought free range... think; happy chickens.), a huge loaf of Turkish Lavash bread (think huge croissant), a pint of raspberries, a bunch of carrots.

And I spent actual money on 4 succulent plants that we had already put outside in this picture.

Just think of an opportunity to get all of the above for $10 out of a paycheck you make doing what you love? Yes... that is why I do this job.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

23/52 ~ Working Mom

Every day I am grateful for my body. Every day I am amazed at what I can do, at what I can think up, and at what I can actually create.

I first started working wood when I was 19 and trying to make toys for my one year old of out pieces of wood from my dads wood pile because I was trying to put myself through college and couldn't always give him new things. Now I feel very glad for that push into the thrifty. My toys have gotten more and more sophisticated but most of them are still out of salvaged or scrap wood. It feels good to my soul to be able to take something that was considered fodder for the fire and make it into something that people exclaim about when they walk through my house. It is a gift, and I know it.

This picture for me, embodies being a 'working' mom. Toddler putting things in his mouth that don't belong there while I am working the a possibly dangerous tool right next to him trying to keep it all balanced so no one gets hurt and still get things done. I don't work outside of the home half the year and even when I do it is only on the weekends. I consider myself a stay at home mom... But I get all up in arms when people say things like "Oh, so you're just a stay at home mom then?" It makes me so angry I could spit. Since when did the greatest profession in the world become a "just"??? No. I am not 'just' a stay at home mom. On any given day I am a short order cook, nurse, tax collector, construction engineer, land scape architect, 7th grade teacher, 2nd grade teacher, preschool teacher, house cleaner, tour guide, dispute resolution specialist, creative genius, professional swing pusher, and photographer of mundane things.

I can think of much easier things to do for a living...

(I was working on the tree coat rack. :) )

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ecolovies ~ Wooden tree coat rack

Remember this blank wall in the newly remodeled homeschool room?

Well, it isn't so blank anymore!

The entire thing was free and recycled. Scrap lumber found in my kindling pile (what I was looking for when I found all my crown molding) along with old rulers, white washed with left over paint from the trim and added hooks from an old coat rack. Not sure how I feel about the little red felt flowers that I added right this second, but I am loving the rest. Luckily, the flowers are only held on with tiny tacks that I didn't stick in all the way, so they should be easily removed if I needed to do that.

What do you all think of my artsy tree coat rack??
My inspiration was here, but I made my a bit more uniform and a bit more splinter free. ;)

Fast food for Foodies

So lately, I have been talking a lot about the move. Of course. lol... it is my world. And the house is turning out to be more wonderful than I could possibly imagine. But along with doing all of these things to the house, I have had to make food. Lots of food, as fast as possible, because you will not believe how you loose track of time when I am painting, or putting up pictures, or planning shelves. Hours can be lost in what feels like minutes when one is so absorbed in something like this.

Enter Fast Food For Foodies. I love food. Well, I love good food. Real fast food (the 'real' being completely subjective) makes me sick. And most of the time I am glad, but sometimes I wish I could survive on Whoppers... No I don't. Never mind. YUCK! But you know what I mean. The drive through convinces can't be beat when you are harried for time. Luckily for me, it is summer. And that makes finding decent good and fresh food relatively easy.

My main staples for quick and easy meals are as follows:

Fruit salad. Fruit salad is easy to make (esp if you have a melon baller) and I keep some in the fridge right now at all times. We don't have local melons yet, but a watermelon added to some local strawberries and some frozen blueberries from last year make a great salad and keeps for about two days in the fridge.

Crackers and cheese. Oh how I love thee... but I usually have a spin on it. Like the dish above. Brie, crackers, and cherry tomatoes from the store, and basil from my garden (*glee*). A wonderful spin on the old stand by for a quick meal that will please just about anybody (except my toddler, who spits it out and makes horrid faces that make it seem like eating brie is torture).


For toddler fast food (which means every one including the toddler love it) around here we have;

~ Frozen blueberries - right out of the bag. We used to have frozen strawberries too, but Logan is allergic.

~ Frozen grapes. Organic grapes are EXPENSIVE! I paid up to $9 for a bag of them before I stopped buying them altogether. So when these babies go on sale, I want them to last a while. Enter my freezer. Who knew? Frozen grapes are delicious. I actually like green grapes this way and I am a die hard red grape fan. ;)

~ Frozen organic yogurt squeezes and organic apple sauces squeezes. Ever wanted an healthy alternative to Otter Pops? Here they are! Find them on sale and buy a bunch! Frozen they keep for months and months.

~ Baked potatoes - Any potatoes... yams esp. Our local farm right here in town always has yams and small red potatoes. And all locally grown. Butter and salt is all he eats on yams. Regular potatoes and he will have a whole meal with cheese, sometimes sauteed onions, sometimes bacon, and usually chives from my garden (MY garden!!!).

~ Cold rice - I make up a big pot of fried rice or comfort rice and usually don't even have to heat it up... just add spoon.

There has never been a better time to get into a good food habit than now. I'll be frank... avoiding fast food takes more work. It just does. There is no if, and, or but about it. Packing food, remembering to bring food, keeping it cold and stored well... it adds up to a bit more work. And if you want to go organic, it takes a bit more money too. But you can find coupons for these things pretty easily, and as the market starts to expand, it will get even easier. The benefits far outweigh the pitfalls. Consider it health insurance for your children. It is more than worth it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's clean!

I finished setting up the homeschool room today. I posted about it on the homeschool blog, but I just can't help sending you all on over there to see it. :) I love it. Really really love it. Am excited to start school in this beautiful space and have considered calling off summer vacation just so we can have some educational fun right here and now! lol...



Monday, June 15, 2009

The big reveal...

I cannot tell you how excited I am to reveal our new homeshcool room! When we moved in last weekend it was a horrible dark room, that I was needing to make into something livable fast. And it turned out so great that by the time we are done it may be my favorite room in the house!

Before:

Dark and not very inviting.

NOW:

Of course, when the doors are on and all of our beautiful stuff is in there (plus something extra I am cooking up style-wise) it will be even better, but it is just such a relief to have the painting finished.

Even that, however, isn't as exciting as this:

FREE crown molding for the whole room! I found it in our new kindling pile! Can you believe it? All we have to do is clean it up, sand it down, and paint it white.


I am a very happy woman today.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On eating outside


We have been taking full advantage of the tables Alex and I fixed two weeks ago since we have moved. We have eaten outside nearly every night. A friend of mine fixed this amazing veggie mix on the grill and I can't get enough of it. It was so simple that I have to share it here:

Heather's BBQ veggies

2 sm zucchini
1 med red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 carton mushrooms
4 Tbs butter
a dash of season salt
(she used Johnny's, I use Lawry's, both turned out great!)

Chop all in large chunks and place on a foil covered baking sheet of broiling pan (which Don left at the other house thinking it went with the stove... lets hope our new stove has one with it.) Place in the grill while you are cooking your main course (which for us was BBQ chicken breasts) and toss often. In 20 minutes or so they will all be tender and delicious.

One of the largest things I have noticed about moving is that we eat out FAR too often. In my attempts to curb that, we have bought lots of fresh foods lately. From local places or not, those fresh foods really help with the grocery bill when you don't have your own appliances in your new house yet.

Transitions into a new kitchen are hard for me. I spend most of my day in there in one way or another... so getting a whole new layout, not to mention a couple appliances that work less than well and I really have to get creative not to just jump in the car and hit the closest Taco Bell. So at first, I get really really simple. I like recipes where I don't have to 'find' everything. Brown rice with butter is a great example. I make a really large pot every couple days right now. Bowls of fresh fruit... cut and serve... what could be easier? Baked potatoes and yams in the grill or microwave (8 mins... perfect potato!). Tossed veggies along with some rice cooked in chicken stock with ginger on the grill burner with BBQ chicken. Even roast chicken in the crock pot with baked potatoes from the grill and fresh fruit salad. These have been our main staples lately... along with cold cereal and instant oatmeal for breakfast.

It makes life so much easier when we have these things on hand. My menu has gone out the window this week.... and that is totally ok with me. Sometimes, you just have to look in the fridge and wing it. ;)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What flower are you??

"You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."

22/52 ~ Val, in real life...

Gardening really is a huge part of my life.

Logan walked out there tonight and said "Mama, you a mess!"

Yes, I was a mess... My hair completely crazy, dirt on my face and under my fingernails, totally barefoot, in clothes slightly too big so I have to pull them up while weeding not to flash the neighbors, but making sure my yearly babies have enough water, sunlight, and food in their soil... I was blissfully happy. I didn't realise how much I would miss it when I didn't have it last winter. I thought that I would just be ok with not having hobbies. But I lost something of myself that I am just starting to get back. There are lots of moments of peace in my life these days.

(That other stuff on my fingers is primer from the homeschool room. :) We are almost done!)