Thursday, July 6, 2017

Nature's Candy

I picked a few raspberries and blueberries the other day while watering the yard.  Most did not make it back into the house.  I love nature's candy!  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Peonies 2017

I'm a bit behind on blogging but I wanted to share photos of these beauties.  Peonies are one of my favorite flowers.  I have this bush growing in my side yard.  These buds started blooming on May 29th.  They're continuing to flower.  The smell is intoxicating and they're very lovely.  I've long since forgotten the name of this variety of peony, but they're pink with a hint of cream of yellow.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Farmer's Market - 6/10/17

It's June in the Pacific Northwest.  Here's what I've been buying at our local farmer's market this week.  Yakima Valley asparagus are beautiful and delicious!  I also couldn't resist the pea shoots.  These veggies will make for delicious side dishes for the week.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Meatless Monday: Kale and Grapefruit Salad

I wanted to make a nice salad with my freshly picked kale.  I also had some yummy grapefruit that I needed to use up.  I thought they would make an excellent pairing in a salad.  This was a nice and refreshing salad for the warm weather we were having.  It also was great for a Meatless Monday meal!  I also love how kale keeps well as leftovers even after the salad is already dressed.  Bonus!  I was able to take my leftovers to work the next day without it being a soggy mess.  Bring on more kale!

There wasn't really a recipe for this salad.  I threw in things I already had at home.  I made a grapefruit/dijon mustard vinaigrette for the kale and poured the dressing on and made sure I tossed them well.  I let it sit for about 15 minutes to wilt a bit while I segmented the grapefruit.  I added some candied pecans and shaved parmesan cheese to the salad too.  It was delicious!

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Matador

Working late at night can be a drag.  When my coworkers and I want to get something to eat at 11:30pm, there are very few places with legit dining options that are open.  Dive bar food sometimes does not cut it!  One of our favorite places for late night happy hour is Matador.  They serve delicious margaritas and their nachos that are on the happy hour menu is your best bet for $5!  It is a beast of a plate of nachos and is easily shared among a few friends.  Their tacos are good as well.  My favorite is the chorizo tacos.  Yum!  

Hanging out at The Matador during nice weather is fun too.  They open up their big windows and let the breeze in the restaurant.  It makes for great people watching as well.  I was there on one such warm, sunny Portland day.  My favorite drink is their tamarind margarita.

Of course, friends don't let friends not share a communal plate of the delicious grande nachos!

While I usually order the chorizo tacos, I decided to try their grilled pork al pastor tacos today.  It was delicious!

There are several locations in Portland.  I highly recommend stopping by during happy hour because of the nachos on the menu for cheap!

Harvest Monday 5/29/17 and 6/5/17

I didn't post last week's harvest because I was out of town.  Last week I decided to pull the rest of the lettuce that was inter-planted in my brassica bed.  The broccoli and cauliflower had grown enormous and was shading out the lettuce.  Besides that, it was getting harder to get to the lettuce and wage war against the aphids.  I ended up with a nice lettuce harvest and salads for the entire week.  

This week, I've been monitoring my broccoli.  We had very crazy weather over the last few weeks.  It went from 60 degrees to 80 then 90 then back to 60.  The broccoli was having a fit.  One of my broccoli heads appeared to be bolting.  I made a mental note to harvest it but when I finally did, it was sprouting flowers.  I also harvested a second broccoli head because it appeared that it may start to bolt soon.

Now I'm no broccoli expert but can someone give advice?  Did I harvest this one too soon?  Should I have left them a little longer?  It looked like the little florets were going to start to open up.  This one was about the size of a softball.  The rest of the broccoli are still small and appear to be doing okay.  We'll see.  It's supposed to start to warm up again this week - a high of 77 today and 82 tomorrow.  🙀

Besides broccoli, I also harvested some near perfect kale!  This was exciting after having aphid lettuce.  The kale was buggy free and will make for delicious eats this week!

Last week's harvest totals:
- Lettuce 0.6 lb

This week's harvest totals: 
- Kale 0.77 lb
- Broccoli 0.3 lb

Happy Harvesting!!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Farmer's Market - Hood Strawberries

I've been stalking the local Farmer's Market for the past few weeks for my favorite early season strawberry variety, Hoods.  Because of a wet and cold winter/spring, berry season has been pushed back a few weeks.

I finally found some this week!  They're very sweet but these were very tiny berries.  I'm a little disappointed but beggars can't be choosers.  Next week they'll be out on abundance!!  Wish you had smell-o-vision cause these are when strawberries should smell and taste like!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Late May Vegetable Garden

It's mid-spring here in the Pacific Northwest and everything in the garden is a few weeks behind because of the cool and wet spring we've had.  My spring garden is coming along.  Some of the seeds I've sown have come up - here you see the spinach and some swiss chard. 

The peas I pre-sprouted inside then planted out are doing well.  These photos are from a week ago.  Today when I looked outside they've grown quite a bit more.  The peas are about 4-5 inches tall now. The second batch of staggered planted peas are about an inch tall now.  Radishes are sprouting in the same bed as the peas.  My brassica are doing well in the raised beds with row covers.  They're probably planted a little too close together, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  😏

I'm hoping the hot spell we had won't cause the spring veggie to bolt.  It was 90+ today.  Wowzas!  

Harvest Monday 5/22/17

My spring garden has been thriving in the cool weather.  I have my brassica covered with row covers to keep pests off.  I've had issues with cabbage moths and cabbage worms in the past.  I'd rather not have to hand pick those creepers so prevention is key here.  

It was a beautiful weekend here in the Pacific Northwest.  Yesterday I was able to pick a basketful of kale.  They're perfect (and bug free!!)!

The weather is finicky.  It went from wonderful 80's to 90 today!  Yikes!!  But as you can see from our unpredictable weather, it's supposed to cool down again by Wednesday and will bring rain.  Smmmehh.  Welcome to spring in the Pacific Northwest.

This week's harvest totals:
- Kale: 0.53 lb

Happy Harvesting!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Harvest Monday 5/8/17

It feels good to finally harvest from my own garden again.  😀😻 I took a break from gardening last year due to travels.  Believe me, buying my produce all year was a real bummer.  This year I got a late start in the garden.  It's been a really cold and wet winter/early spring here in the Pacific Northwest.  They say the farms are 2-3 weeks behind schedule.  

I'm happy to report that I was finally able to harvest the outer leaves from my lettuce this weekend.  These are the same lettuce that I complained about the aphids attacking.  The aphids are still there.  I'll have to try the soap spray on them.  Believe me when I say I washed this batch of lettuce really really really well.  Triple wash has nothing on me.  I'm happy to report harvesting 0.435 lb of lettuce leaves today.

Happy Harvesting!   

This week's harvest total:
-Lettuce 0.435 lb

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Farmer's Market 5/6/17

Today was the first day of summer hours at the Beaverton Farmer's Market.  That means on Saturdays, the market is now open from 8:00 am - 1:30 pm.  I thought it was a great time to check out the spring produce.  I also heard that there would be some early strawberries so of course I couldn't pass that up!

There were beautiful displays of the spring bounty - onions, leeks, radishes, greens, and rhubarb. 

One of my favorite spring finds are these delicious and gorgeous fresh asparagus spears from Alex Farm in Wapato, WA.  I always buy them when they're offered.  These delicious spears were just picked fresh from the Yakima Valley.    

My search was a success today as I found the organic strawberries from Denison Farms from Corvallis, OR.  Denison managed to outsmart mother nature by growing these beauties under covers.  Most other farms are about 2-3 weeks behind their growing season due to the cold and WET winter we've had this year.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Pan Seared Halibut in Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce

I brought some halibut from Costco and had some leftover cherry tomatoes and basil that were leftover from bruschetta for a work potluck.  What to do with them?  I was thinking of doing a baked fish in parchment paper recipe when I came across this stove top version of some of my favorite flavors.  I also had a bag of spinach that I needed to use as I incorporated more vegetables in this dish.  It turned out delicious and healthy!

Pan Seared Halibut in Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce
Adapted from:

4 x 6 oz halibut fish fillets
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes
1 bag baby spinach
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. dry white wine
juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. fresh basil, thinly sliced

1) Set fish out on the counter for about 20 minutes to bring it to room temperature.  Pat fish dry with paper towels.

2) Season fish well on both sides with salt and pepper.

3) Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat.

4) Gently place the fish fillets in the pan and sear for 2-5 minutes per side (depending on thickness).  Use a spatula to carefully flip the fish.  The fish should be cooked but slightly opaque on the inside.  Once done cooking, transfer to a plate and keep warm.

5) Clean plan out and add another 1 Tbsp olive oil to the pan over medium heat.  Add the bag of spinach and cook until the greens are slightly wilted.  Add the garlic and cook for about 15 seconds (don't burn the garlic.  Add the whole cherry tomatoes and a pinch of salt.  Add the white wine.

6) Cover the pan and turn heat down to a simmer.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and burst to release their juices.

7) Transfer the cooked halibut back to the pan and just heat through for another few minutes.

8)  Remove the pan from heat and squeeze in the juice of a whole lemon and sprinkle with fresh basil before serving.

Monday, May 1, 2017

First Vegetable Starts in the Spring 2017 Garden

On April 10th, I had pre-sprouted some pea seeds indoors.  I wet a paper towel with warm water and placed a handful of pea seeds in between the sheets in a ziploc bag.  I placed the bag in a warm window sill and in a few days, they had sprouted.  I used seeds from Sugar Ann Snap Peas, Sugar Sprint Snap Peas and Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Peas.  These seeds were from 2013 and 2015 so I was also testing them from germination rates.  They did very well.  The pea seeds were sown outside on April 13th.  

This photo was shot on April 23rd, 10 days after sowing the seeds.  As you can see, the tender green shoots are just peek out from the soil.  I've been careful to slug bait this area of the garden after sowing the seeds and again when I saw they had started to break the surface.  All I need is for the aggressive slugs to demolish all my hard work!  

I also bought some spring vegetable starts at my local nursery.  The top photo is after I had quickly planted them on a rainy April 13th day.  I have a cover for these grow boxes so they were nice and protected from the elements.

Planted in this mix are the following:
- Snow Crown Cauliflower
- Nero Di Toscana Kale
- Wild Garden Mix Lettuce
- Green Comet Broccoli

The bottom photo was taken on April 23rd.  As you can see, the starters had adjusted well to their new home and are looking good!  I did notice some aphids on my lettuce.  GRRRRR!!  I hate aphids!  I hand picked them off where I could.  I'm considering ladybugs or an organic oil/dishwashing soap concoction.  Anyone have tried and true methods of keeping aphids at bay?  I find spraying with water to be very ineffective.  

Spring 2017 Seedlings

This year, I decided a little late to start my vegetable seedlings.  We've had a relatively cool winter that has been followed by a very very very wet spring.  We even had a crazy wind storm that blew through our area.  I lost power for about 36 hours.  

Despite the crazy weather and it being a little later than normal, I took the plunge and started some seeds.  It was a little late for starting tomatoes but I decided what the heck.  I also had a lot of older seeds that I wanted to see if they were still any good.

I started these seeds on a heating pad with overhead lights on April 6th.  The oldest seeds I used were from 2010!  😳😱

Here's a list of what I started that day:
- Shishito Peppers
- Millionaire Eggplant
- Toma Verde Tomatillo
- Chocolate Cherry Tomato
- Mandrin Cross Tomato
- Organic Green Zebra Tomato
- Organic Kellogg's Breakfast Tomato
- Cherokee Purple Tomato
- Gourmet Green Bush Baby Filet French Beans
- Rainbow Blend Swiss Chard
- Bull's Blood Beets
- Golden Beets
- Green Delight Baby Bok Choy
- Olympia Spinach
- Misome Mustard Spinach
- Osaka Purple Mustard Greens
- Ruby Streaks Mizuna
- Prizehead Lettuce
- Organic North Pole Lettuce
- Outredgeous Red Romaine Lettuce
- Mini Sweet Carrot
- Rothild Carrot
- Carnival Blend Carrot

By April 10th, some of the seeds started to peek out of the soil.  It's always an exciting time for the vegetable gardener!