Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gardening - a mood lifter

I came across an article this morning about organic gardening enhancing your physical and mental health. According to the article putting your hands in the dirt causes your body to release chemicals to help your immune system. Also picking and eating the food that you grow yourself causes your body to release dopamine which makes you feel happy. 

So apparently it's no wonder I get so excited about getting my hands in the dirt. I think there is also an important mental health piece in the process of growing, starting with this small seed, nurturing it, watching it emerge from the soil and then providing you with nutrients, giving back to you after you invested time and energy in it. The power in a little seed is pretty incredible. Something so tiny and easily missed that grows into food or flowers or trees... we can all be like a seed, we can grow and bloom and feed the world around us, give back that love that we get. 


My garden has already begun bursting with growth. Raspberries are growing up and out of their bed. I've already begun harvesting and enjoying kales, arugula, and spinach. Herbs are coming in slowly.
Buddha is watching over my root bed with radishes, beets and carrots growing down, and kohlrabi and brussels sprouts growing up. 
Beans are starting to vine, reaching up toward the sun
Ganesh is looking out for the tomatoes and peppers.

I'm looking forward to a delicious and happy summer. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spring Fling - Fiddlehead

One of my favorite spring treats is Fiddlehead Ferns. They are often hard to find and expensive, so they are definitely a treat.

They don't keep well so they have to be eaten almost immediately after you get them. You have to rinse them well. It is often recommended that they are boiled for 15 minutes to avoid food poisoning. However I have never cooked them quite like that and have never gotten sick from eating them.

Here's what I do:
Heat olive oil in a frying pan,
cut up garlic and add it to the oil
add fiddleheads and let them sauté for a few minutes
then add some water to the frying pan, continue to cook uncovered so the ferns soften
when they're done cooking add salt to taste
and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

vegan cashew asparagus soup

Every once in awhile on the subway there are adds for the Boston Vegetarian Society and they usually include a good sounding recipe but I've never tried any of them. Today it is raining so it seemed like a good day for soup and I remembered that I'd seen a recipe for Cashew Cream Asparagus Soup by Tal Ronnen. I have asparagus and cashews so I figured I'd try it out with a few adjustments based on what I had on hand.

First - Cashew Cream 
soak 2 cups of cashews in water with a cover in the fridge over night 
the next day, drain and rinse the cashews, I put them in the food processor, just covered by water and blended until smooth 

The Soup 

olive oil
bunch asparagus
2 stalks celery
fennel heart (because I had it on hand)
green goddess seasoning from Penzeys 
black pepper
4 cups water
bay leaf
1 cup cashew cream
2 cups fresh greens - spinach and arugula

put oil in the pot and let it heat but not smoke
add the asparagus, celery, fennel, onion and seasoning and cook for about ten minutes
add four cups of water and a bay leaf and let simmer for half an hour
remove the bay leaves add one cup cashew cream and let simmer for another ten minutes
remove from heat and add fresh greens - I had some spinach and arugula in the garden that needed to be harvested so I used those and blended it all with an immersion blender
add salt to taste

Monday, May 21, 2012

front yard fun

We haven't been happy with our front yard but we've been struggling to figure out what to do with it. Of course the more we hesitate the less gets done so we decided we'd just pick some plants out that look interesting to us and hope they will take. And since it is supposed to rain tomorrow it seems like a good time to get some plants in the ground. So we walked over to Pemberton and got some new plants
Flame of Passion Avens
we added them to a few existing plants that we moved, the hydrangea tree we planted last year, two small hydrangeas  and some bulbs.

On the other side of the yard we kept the rhododendron and in the last few weeks added
Creeping Golden Lemon Thyme
French Lavender

and we added pine mulch on top of everything

Hopefully out plants will be happy and take off. The more changes we make to the way the house and yard were when we bought it the more the house becomes our home.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

training plants

The beans and peas are growing and need a little support to be trained to grow up. 
We lashed together the branches of the tree that used to be in the backyard with a piece of bamboo. 

Then I put screws in the sides of the bed and put twine from the from one screw, around the bamboo and tied it off at a screw on the other side so the beans will have something to climb. I also put a few horizontal pieces of twine and will probably add more as they grow taller. 
For now the heirloom beans, green beans, and sugar peas look happy. 

And the other beds are coming along too... the beets in the root bed, the greens are growing, and one bed that's tomatoes and four pepper plants... 

My veggies seem to be loving this mix of rain and sunny weather we've been having. But the flowers in my backyard haven't don't much yet...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

new burger mix-periment

We just got home. We'd started our trip in New York and met a new friend who was talking about the paleo diet and a website to check out. After being gone for a week, taking a red eye back from the West Coast and a quick nap we got down to business. We bought a new grill and some groceries.... we tried a mix of ground beef, organ meat and mushrooms. It was actually a delicious experiment!

no place like...

Home: the place where one lives, a physical structure, a dwelling place together with family, shelter, a mental or emotional state of refuge and comfort        

My idea/definition of home shifts or perhaps I've changed my definition from the assumption that home has to be a singular location but that people can have multiple homes from where you grow up with your family to the places you live as an adult and that home can be any place you find comfort, even within yourself...  and it is true, there is no place like home however you define it...

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and it is one of the places I call home, especially since my parents are still there and living in my childhood home. When I go back there I'm reminded what an amazing gift it was to grow up in such a beautiful place. There is no place like it.

Don't believe me? Here's some photographic proof which is only a little glimpse from a quick trip home.