Thursday, May 31, 2012

Using Dried Celery Leaves

I had read somewhere that celery could be hard to grow in a home garden.  Last year I tried to grow them from seed.  It was a long process.  The seeds were sown indoors on 1/23/11 and babied until they were transplanted outside on 5/5/11.  Once outside however, the celery needed virtually no care at all.  They quickly flourished.  When I finally harvested the first plant on 8/15/11, I thought it was 2 plants but it was actually one enormous plant!  It weighed 4.6 pounds.
The celery I grew had lots of lovely leaves.  It seemed like such a waste to toss them into the compost bin.  You know some countries think Americans are crazy for tossing the leaves!  I decided to save them to dry.  I tried drying them in the oven.  Later in the season, I invested in a dehydrator.  I dried more leaves in the machine.  
I liked the machine because I was able to dry a lot of leaves all at once with minimal extra heating of the house during the summer.  It worked out really well.  
After they were done drying, I crushed the leaves into smaller pieces.

I keep them in an airtight container and use them in my cooking whenever I want a taste of celery but don't have any in the refrigerator.  I also use it in place of dried parsley in recipes.   
This week I used my stash to make split pea soup.  Although my soup had celery in it, I added a few tablespoons of dried celery leaves extra to give it extra depth and flavor.  The split pea soup was delicious! 

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard at The Garden of Eden**

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What's Cookin?: Strawberry Guri Guri

You maybe asking what the heck is guri guri?  Guri guri is a homemade treat we grew up with in Hawaii.  It's a cross between sherbert and ice cream.  The most famous on all the islands is made on Maui.  Tasaka's Guri Guri Shop in Kahului, Maui is well known for their version of this delicious treat.  It's really simple to make and boy is it tasty.  

I made some strawberry guri guri for the kids (bigs kids and little kids) while I was in Las Vegas.  We had it with Aubrey's birthday cake.  It was a winner!!  It was perfect for the hot Las Vegas weather.  

Of course feel free to substitute any flavor.  I've made it before with POG (passion-orange-guava juice) and orange soda but strawberry has always been my favorite.  

Strawberry Guri Guri

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. can 7-UP (I highly suggest using the brand name here.  
2 (12 oz.) can strawberry soda (I like Fanta brand)

1) Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl that will fit in your freezer.  Stir.  
2) Place the bowl in the freezer for about 2-3 hours (or as long as it takes to be semi-frozen).  Remove the bowl and stir thoroughly.  Place bowl back in the freezer for another 2-3 hours.  Remove and stir again.  Place the bowl back in the freezer overnight.  

3) The next morning, remove the bowl from the freezer and scrape until the guri guri is flaky and reaches a scoopable consistency.  Place the bowl back in the freezer.  Remove immediately before serving.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Aubrey's Birthday Feast

I was in Las Vegas last week for my niece Aubrey's birthday.  We took the kids to the park to play and have a picnic lunch.  Earlier that morning I made spam musubi.  If you're not from Hawaii, I know what you must be thinking.  Eww....spam!!  We grew up with spam in Hawaii.  Hawaii is spam capital of the world.  

These days I eat a lot less spam than I used it.  In fact, I can't remember the last time I had it.  My favorite way to have spam is in a musubi.  Spam musubi is a staple in Hawaii.  For our spam, my brother cooked it teriyaki style.  It is wrapped in nori (seaweed) and sandwiched between two layers of rice.  For good measure, I sprinkled some furikake on one of the rice layers.  Yummo!!  I forgot how good it could be!
We had a great time at the park although it was a little windy.  The kids had a blast.  It was fun to picnic together.  

The night before, I had marinated some mixed vegetables and shrimp.  For the veggies, I had sweet onions, bell peppers in red, orange and yellow, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, green and yellow zucchini & asparagus.  I skewered them up and my brother cooked them on the grill.  I love love love grilled vegetables.  It's one of my favorites!

I forgot to take a photo of the main course, nicely grilled ribeye.  My brother did an excellent job of grilling them up perfectly! While he was busy grilling away, I whipped up a batch of baby potatoes.  I roasted them in the oven with a little oil, Hawaiian salt, pepper and rosemary.  They turned out nice and crispy.  Yum!

I was so full after our birthday dinner feast!  Everything was delicious and most of all, Aubrey had a fantastic day!!

Las Vegas Gardening

While I was visiting in Las Vegas, my oldest niece (5 yrs old) wanted to do our annual plant some vegetables that she won't eat ritual.  She's cute like that.  One day while the little ones were taking their afternoon nap, she and I snuck off to the nursery.  

Unfortunately, it's past prime vegetable planting season for Las Vegas.  It was slim pickins.  We purchased some strawberry plants and flowers from the nursery.  I forgot to take a photo of the strawberries.  We got 4 strawberry plants total.  Two were June-bearing and two were everbearing type strawberries.  We planted them up in a hanging basket.  

The flowers were my nieces selections.  She liked the purple helitrope and a red salvia.  She insisted on orange marigolds and red petunias to finish out the pot.     
On the way home we stopped at Lowe's to see if they had more vegetables.  We were in luck.  We purchased 2 tomato plants.  One cherry tomato (Sweet 100) and a heirloom plant (Mr. Stripey).  She liked the pretty striped tomatoes.  We also got a Sweet Basil plant.
We also found 2 different cucumber plants.  One burpless cucumber and another pickling cucumber.  For fun, I planted some green beans (Blue Lake Bush and Royal Burgundy Beans) in the same pot.  
The day after we planted up our plants, Las Vegas was hit with a wind storm.  The plants hung in for dear life.  The next day when I checked in on them, the plants seems to be doing okay.  The basil got blown around a bit but I think it'll recover.  Since it was looking a little droopy, I pinched back the heads of the basil to hopefully encourage side shoot development.  

Between the heat and the two curious dogs, I hope our plants survive.  My niece said she'd try the tomatoes and cucumbers if they grew.  I'm not holding my breath.  She usually says "yucko" to most vegetables.  It was a fun bonding project.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Meatless Monday: Cilantro Lemon Shrimp

I harvested some cilantro this week because my volunteer cilantro plants were getting big.  I did not want them to bolt!  After making a harvest, I also thought it was best to pick some parsley also so that it too wouldn't decide to bolt.  After picking my herbs, I wondered what to do with them.  
I found a quick and easy recipe on Food Network by Emeril Lagasse for Cilantro Lemon Shrimp.  It calls for marinating the shrimp for 1 hour.  I ran out of time and couldn't cook it right away so my shrimp marinated overnight.  I also didn't grill them but cooked them in a skillet over the stove.  Either way, it turned out great.  The shrimp had lots of nice flavor.  I served it on a bed of freshly harvested spinach.  It made for a delicious and light salad!  

Cilantro Lemon Shrimp
Serves: 4-6
Adapted from: (contributed by Emeril Lagasse)

2 lb. large shrimp (about 30 pieces), peeled, tails removed and deveined
1 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves
6 cloves garlic
3 lemons, zested & juiced
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
1 c. olive oil

1) In a food processor, add the cilantro leaves, parsley leaves, garlic, lemon zest & juice, salt and pepper.  Process until smooth.  With the food processor running, drizzle the cup of olive oil through the feed tube until it is completely incorporated.  

2) Place clean shrimp into a ziplock bag.  Add the marinated to the bag.  Squeeze out the excess air and seal.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour to overnight.  
3) Cook shrimp by either grilling or cooking in a skillet pan over the stove.  Cook shrimp until just white.  Do not overcook.  Serve as an appetizer or a main dish or on a bed of spinach or lettuce for a nice salad.

**Join Wendy at Greenish Thumb for GTTC.  See what others' are making with their garden harvests**

Harvest Monday 5/28/12

I just got back from a visit with my brother's family in Las Vegas.  More on that later.  I didn't worry about keeping my garden watered while I was gone because I looked at the forecast before leaving.  Rain, rain, clouds and a splash of sunshine.  I felt my garden would be fine in my absence.

When I got back, I checked on my garden.  I had heard that there had been a couple of crazy storms here while I was away.  There was a freak rainstorn and thunderstorms.  My hoop house for my greens had partially collapsed.  Luckily, it was all fixable.  I decided to harvest some greens for the upcoming week.  

First,  I finally decided to pull the mystery carrots.  One of the tops was starting to send up seed pods.  These were carrots I planted last year but had no idea which kind these were until now.  SURPRISE!  It's Parisian Market Carrots that are small and bulb shaped.
Next, I decided to harvest some daikon and turnip greens.  The tops of these root vegetables were getting so big and taking over other plants that I decided a haircut wouldn't hurt. I've never cooked with these before but I know they can be eaten.  I'm not sure I've even tasted them before.  It'll be interesting to figure out how to use them.   
Here's my carrots and some freshly harvested kale.  I'll use some of the kale in my juicing and maybe make a nice salad later this week. 
Last but not least are some Swiss chard and a few stems of spinach.

This week's harvest totals:
- carrots = 0.06 lb
- spinach = 0.07 lb
- Swiss chard = 0.6 lb
- turnip & daikon greens = 1.59 lb
- kale = 0.9 lb

Happy Harvest!!

**Join Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday to see what every else around the world is harvesting in their gardens**

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Aubrey!!

My niece Aubrey turned 2 on Saturday.  I was in Last Vegas helping her celebrate her special day.  My brother (the blooming cake maker) made her a special cake for her birthday.  It was very yummy and gorgeous!!  She loved it!  
He's making a second (larger) cake for her actual birthday party which is next Saturday.  It's a Yo Gabba Gabba themed party.  If you're not familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba, don't worry, I wasn't either.  I'll tell you all about it in another post and post pictures of our awesome handmade banner.  

Happy Birthday Aubrey!  Aunty loves you!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Using Your Harvest

Since I've been out of town, I haven't been doing a lot of cooking.  I did manage a few throw togethers this week.  After using up my Swiss chard leaves, I always hate to waste the stems.  Last year I found a great recipe for a quick refrigerator pickle using Swiss chard stems.  I made sure to save my stems for some of these yummy pickles.

Since I harvested a lot of Romaine lettuce, I have also had a lot of fresh salads this week.  I bought a rotisserie chicken and threw together a quickie chicken Caesar salad.  I had so much lettuce (even after giving some away) that I brought 2 bags of Romaine lettuce to Las Vegas with me.  My brother made fun of me bringing lettuce in my carry on but he had no problems enjoying a chicken Caesar salad. 
How about you?  How have you been using up your garden harvests?

**Join Robin at The Garden of Eden for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard**

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Volunteers Everywhere!!

I've been very fortunate this year with volunteer plants.  They seemed to have popped up everywhere.  I had tons of self-starting cilantro plants this year.  I think it was because I allowed the plants to go to seed last year and I let the seeds dry on the plant.  I then harvested them as coriander.  Along the way, some of the seeds got away from me and fell from my deck down into my tomato tubs.  I eventually dug up most of the volunteer cilantro plants and replanted them here in one spot.  I also gave away about 5 more starters to a friend.  

I also had a few carrots pop up.  I'm not sure what type of carrots these are.  I guess we'll see later.  
I also have found a lot of volunteer tomato plants this year.  I know most of them are cherry tomatoes but there are a few that maybe paste or heirloom tomatoes.  I tried to keep as many as I could.  I'll be surprised later when the fruits start to form.  
Lastly, I had a whole patch of snapdragons appear out of nowhere.  I let them grow.  Snapdragons are so pretty and the hummingbirds enjoy them too.  
What about you?  What type of volunteers have you found in your garden this year?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Meatless Monday: Swiss Chard & Leek Scramble

This week's Meatless Monday post isn't really a recipe.  It's a throw together of some great garden harvests.  I chopped up some homegrown leeks and Swiss chard and minced a few cloves of garlic.  
I sauteed the leeks and garlic in olive oil to caramelize them.  Then I tossed in the Swiss chard leaves (save the stems to make pickles!) and sauteed until they wilted.  You can serve this as a quick and easy side dish or use it as a filling for an omelet or a quiche.    

I chose to use it as a scramble.  I scrambled up a couple of eggs and added in some of the sauteed mixture.  I topped it with some fresh dill and viola.  Quick and easy but very tasty!!

Harvest Monday 5/21/12

Here's some of the things that I harvested this week in Portland, Oregon.

I love having leeks in the garden.  I can leave them out there and when I'm ready to use them, I can pick them.  Sweet!  
The Jericho Romaine Lettuce is still producing a lot.  I had enough to take to my other neighbor (with a family of 5).  They were really excited for the fresh lettuce!  I also picked a few spinach as my plants look like they maybe mildewing.

I also decided to make a first harvest of the Mizuna and Arugula.  I will mix it into my salads for a little different flavor.

I made a quick harvest of some herbs to prevent my plants from bolting.  Here are some parsley and cilantro.  Be sure to check out the post this week on the Cilantro Lemon Shrimp I made with these herbs.  It was quick and delicious!

My chive flowers finally bloomed.  I usually let them bloom and die back on their own but this year I picked them to make Chive Blossom Vinegar.  That post will also be coming up soon.  

Happy Harvest!!

This weeks's harvest totals:
- Leeks = 0.81 lb.
- Lettuce = 1.8 lb.
- Spinach = 0.11 lb.
- Mizuna/Arugula = 0.25 lb.
- Parsley/Cilantro = 0.14 lb.
- Chive blooms = not weighed

**Linking up to Daphne's Harvest Monday on Daphne's Dandelions.  Come see what people are harvesting in their gardens**

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Recycling Styrofoam for Lettuce and Mustard Greens

Earlier this year, I received a shipment of wine.  It was a case of wine that was shipped in a styrofoam case.  I though it was a wasteful use of resources since styrofoam isn't recyclable (other companies have used cardboard or recycled cardboard).  But then it hit me, I could try to use it for something.  It had 12 perfect holes.  It was meant to be re-purposed.

For a few months this styrofoam case sat in my foyer.  Everytime I passed it, I thought I should just throw it out.  It's just sitting there.  One day I realized what I could use it for.  Gardening!  I thought it would be perfect for lettuce! 

Luckily, I had some lettuce that were close enough to experiment on.  These seeds were sown outside on my grow rack on April 22nd.  

I put soil in to each of the chambers and potted up my young transplants.  

Here's the finished product.  Hopefully it's enough room for the lettuce to grow and will be enough to support the root system.  I'll let you know how it goes.  

Transplanted out:
1) 3 x Little Gem Lettuce
2) 3 x Prizehead Lettuce
3) 2 x Butterhead Lettuce + 1 x Osaka Purple Mustard Greens
4) 2 x Outredgeous Red Romaine Lettuce + 1 x Osaka Purple Mustard Greens

Watermelon, Squash, Tomatoes and More

I managed to get a lot of chores done yesterday.  I planted out my watermelon, squash, a few more tomatoes and miscellaneous transplants.  I even managed to direct sow some seeds.  Here's the list:

Planted out Transplants:
Sweet Basil
Asian Cucumber
Delicata Winter Squash

Direct Sow Seeds:
Olympia Hybrid Spinach
Lemon Basil
Mammoth Dill
Envy Edamame
Parisian Pickling Cucumber
Italian Large Leave Basil

Sugar Baby Watermelon
Hokkaido Stella Blue Winter Squash

Delicata Winter Squash

Heinz 2653 Tomato

Paul Robeson

Restaurant Ramblings: Nostrana (Portland, Oregon)

Nostrana is a great Italian restaurant.  The chef is Cathy Whims who was a 2012 James Beard Award Finalist for Best NW Chef.  It's a great spot to grab lunch or dinner.  They have excellent handmade pastas and delicious pizzas that they cook up in a wood fire oven.  
I've been here a few times.  This time, I ordered a Funghi Verde Pizza (shiitake mushrooms, house made mozzarella, garlic, arugula & pecorino) and a glass of the 2009 Cameron "Arley's Leap" Pinot Noir.  The wine went well with the delicious pizza.    

I was pretty full from the pizza but I couldn't resist dessert.  I tried the Butterscotch Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce.  OMG!  This was soooo good!

If you're in the mood for casual Italian, be sure to check out Nostrana.  The atmosphere is fun and the restaurant has a nice vibe.  But whatever you order, be sure to save room for dessert.  You won't be sorry!!

1401 SE Morrison Street #100
Portland, OR 97214
ph: (503) 234-2427