Sunday, February 27, 2011

What's Cookin?: Beef Pot Roast (Slow Cooker Recipe)

I had some leftover beef broth sitting in the refrigerator so I decided to try a beef pot roast that used beef broth. Being lazy, I threw everything into the slow cooker. The beef was fall apart soft and tender. Yum!

Some revisions I would make next time are to add more salt once the ingredients are in the slow cooker. I just salted and peppered the beef before searing it and it didn't have enough salt. The other thing I would do is cut slits into the beef and stick in lots of cloves of garlic. That would be awesome and give it lots of flavor!

Beef Pot Roast (Slow Cooker Recipe)
Serves: 8-10

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil (for browning meat)
3 lb. boneless chuck roast, fat trimmed off
salt & ground black pepper
1 c. dry red wine
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 (14 oz.) can fat free, less-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
5 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
5 celery, cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2 inch chunks

1) Salt and pepper the beef generously. Bring a large dutch oven or pot to medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Sear the beef chuck on all sides for about 3-5 minutes.

2) When done, remove beef from pot and place into the bottom of your slow cooker. Add red wine, thyme, rosemary, beef broth, bay leaf and garlic. (This is where I would add more salt and pepper).

3) Add potatoes, then carrots and celery to the top of the roast.

4) Slow cook for 8-10 hours. When it's done, remove vegetables to a serving platter or bowl. Remove meat and slice or shred with two forks.

5) The sauce is thin so you can either use it as is for a jus type or thicken it up. To thicken the sauce, strain into a medium saucepan to remove large bits. Over medium-high heat, heat sauce. In a small cup, add a few tsp of cornstarch. Add a little bit of warm water and mix until lumps are gone. Once your sauce comes to a small boil, add some cornstarch and stir well until it is as thick as you like it. You may need to make another batch of cornstarch to achieve your desired thickness.
6) Serve your sauce with your pot roast and vegetables.

Late February Sowing

I took advantage of my free snow day to plant some seeds that I meant to do over the weekend. I wanted to start my peppers, tomatoes and eggplants a little earlier this year because last year my starters were small and spindly. These were planted on Thursday, Feb 24th.

I’m not sure what I’m thinking because I really don’t have that much room in my raised beds for all of these. I’m thinking that I’ll be using a lot of pots this year! I just couldn't’t decide which ones to leave out.

In most cells I planted 2-3 seeds (if they were commercial seeds). In others, I planted 5-6 seeds (if they were home saved or unknown). I was very excited to see if these Hawaiian Chile Pepper seeds grew. My dad sent some from his own plant back home.

From left to right & front to back:

1) Hot Cherry Bomb Pepper (3 cells) – 5- 6 seeds per cell

2) Hawaiian Chili Pepper (3 cells) – 5-6 seeds per cell – shared by Dennis

3) Anaheim Pepper (3 cells) 5-6 seeds per cell

4) Jalapeno Pepper (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell – shared by Minji

5) Patio Red Marconi Pepper (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

6) Shishito Pepper (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

7) Green Zebra Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell – shared by Becky

8) Italian Pepperoncini Pepper (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

9) Cherokee Purple Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

10) Organic Kellogg’s Breakfast Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

11) Pineapple Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

12) Paul Robeson Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell – shared by Suzie

13) Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

14) Chocolate Cherry Tomato (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

15) Verde Tomatilo (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell – shared by Jessica

16) Waimanalo Long Eggplant (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

17) Komasu Eggplant (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell – shared by Suzie

18) Listada de Gandia Eggplant (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

19) Tiger Eggplant (3 cells) – 2-3 seeds per cell

I started some plum tomatoes too: Roma and San Marzano. Last year my Romas did not do well and I had no plum tomatoes for sauce. Boo!

I also started more herbs. This time 2 types of basil:

1) Lemon Basil

2) Italian Large Leaf Basil

I also sowed some flower seeds:

1) Snapdragons (Deluxe Mixture)

2) Coneflower Magnus (Echinacea)

3) Verbena (White Blush) – shared by Bea

4) Monarda (Panorama Mix)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Restaurant Rambling: Ten Ren Tea (Anaheim, CA)

While we were in California and searching for restaurants, I came across Ten Ren Tea on Yelp. I've always found a reliable source of great local hole in the walls. This place had some great reviews for their bubble tea. If you follow my blog, you'll know that I *heart* bubble tea!

This place is located in a strip mall and very inconspicuous.

Inside, at the back of the store, it's a Chinese tea shop. At the front, they sell a variety of bubble tea drinks. They have an excellent selection!

We tried the lychee green tea, passion fruit green tea and a strawberry smoothie (minus the tapioca balls for my niece).

Ten Ren Tea
665 N. Euclid Street
Anaheim, CA
ph: (714) 635-6665

Restaurant Rambling: Ruby's Diner (Corona del Mar, CA)

While at the beach, we stopped at Ruby's in Corona del Mar. It was a small diner just off the main road.

Ruby's had some great milkshakes. I tried the chocolate peanut butter. Yummy!

I had the albacore melt with sweet potato fries. Double yummy!

Ruby's Diner
2305 E. Coast Hwy
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
ph: (949) 673-7829

Travels: Corona del Mar Beach (Newport Beach, CA)

Just catching up on some blogging. These photos were taken on my trip to Southern California in October. We drove out to the coast and spent a few hours at Corona Del Mar Beach. It was a beautiful day at the beach!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Second Chance for the Onions?

In a panic, I caved and bought a table top grow light. I got it on sale so I felt better about it. I put my onion seedlings under it for a few days to see if it was the lighting that was doing them in. They seem to be rebounding a bit. They're looking straighter and a little more perky. Maybe they have a second chance?

Thank you to all of you who offered advice and comments. I don't think it was a water problem because I kept them on the drier side. I will try giving them a light fertilizer to see if that helps.

1st sowing - Walla Walla Onions
This one looks the most pathetic. Remember though, this is the one I overdoses on light in the beginning. I had spaced it and forgot to turn off the lights so for a bit, they were getting 24hrs of light. DUH! The seedlings in this bunch are very thin.

2nd sowing - Copra Onions
These look that best out of the bunch. They've rebounded nicely and almost all of the onion seedlings are now standing straight (with the help of an overhead growlight).

2nd sowing - Walla Walla Onions
These look a little better than before. Hopefully they're salvageable.

If all else fails, I will bite the bullet and purchase onion sets. But for now, I haven't quite given up hope!

Snow Day!!??

The weather forecasters predicted up to 4-8 inches of snow for us last night and this morning. I woke up at 4am and checked outside. No snow. I went back to bed. I woke up at 7:00am and it was snowing some. I got about an inch over where I live.

My fellow bloggers in other parts of the country maybe laughing right now. I agree. We in Portland haven't really gotten a taste of real snow. Just a few inches in the city seems to shut down the entire city. I enjoyed the little dusting but really wanted more! I got called off of work for a few hours. I went outside to snap some photos. I love how pretty and peaceful it is after a snowfall.

My cat loves snowcones. I made her one this morning.

A few hours later, I looked up at the sky. WTH? Is that blue skies?

A little while after that, I saw a glowing orb in the sky along with the blue skies. Crazy weather!!

So much for a snow day!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Onion Project....A Bust?

My onions are looking more and more pathetic. I think it's because the grow lights in the garage aren't strong enough for them. I put them outside today for a little bit for some sunshine.

I won't totally give up on them yet but they're looking more yellow. The saga continues....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gardening: Harvest Monday 2/21/11

Once again, I'm far from a harvest of any kind. However, I wanted to pretend I had something substantial. LOL!

The veggie seedlings that I started by seed in early February are thriving. They're starting to get big.

This weekend I thinned out each cell. It's always so sad to have to have to sacrifice some for the good of others but I did it anyway. In most cells I left at least 2 plants for now. As they get bigger, I'll probably sacrifice more. *sigh*

On a happier note, I had enough trimmings for a harvest salad. Mmm....these are mostly Asian greens. They'll be rinsed, dried and topped with a yummy Asian vinaigrette! Happy Harvest!

**Updated: Just wanted to add that my microgreen salad was DELICIOUS!! I thought it silly when I saw microgreen mixes in the seed catalogs. Why go through all the work to just snip them while they're babies? Now I see their point. I'm not totally crazy for my thinnings salad. There's method to this madness. This salad looks very tasty too!! It's definitely something to consider during the winter. I could get on board with this tender salad!

We've got Parsley!

Okay, so the parsley started sprouting a few days ago. I'm just behind on my blogging. But woo hoo! They've finally showed themselves!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Celery Seedlings 2/11/11

Here's how far my celery's made it thus far. Doesn't look like much eh? They actually have their first set of true leaves. Go me!

Early February Seedlings Update

I've been a big slacker these days! I found more pics that I never posted. These were taken last week (2/11). The early Feb seed sowings are doing well.


Chinese cabbages

The cabbage were the first to have its first true leaves. Cute eh?


Finally with some babying, my Red Trooper Spinach sprouted!


Leeks are just starting to spring up

My thyme are tiny tiny things

I forget how pretty swiss chard is at all stages. These bright lights variety are especially fun to watch grow.

I planted some greens up in a windowbox and placed it on a southfacing window just to see if it would grow okay. We'll see how well they do.