Posts Tagged ‘baby spinach’


quick dinner: roasted red pepper with baby spinach soup

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

This was about all I had in me after a long first full day of daylight savings. We spent it hanging out with family, sledding, and enjoying the wonderfully sunny 47°F weather. Kiddo off a wee bit all day because of the time change and the constant reminder that her teeth are very much bothering her. Sunday night is bath night… followed by the usual bedtime routine. Except an overtired, bewildered and bothered gal makes for a long and drawn out goodnight.

Soup. It’s what’s for dinner. We’ve been having homemade lentil soup the last few nights, but I feel like it’s giving my gal trouble after nursing, so tonight I heated lentil for Craig, and I opted for Trader Joe’s. Their boxed roasted red pepper and tomato soup is pretty tasty. I added lots of organic baby spinach that wilted perfectly while the soup was heating. I topped the soup with sour cream, horseradish sauce, and the leftover crumbs from our garlic bread I had just sliced.

Love quick dinners. We are zonked. Wonder what the rest of the night will bring with my babe. Where are her two top front teeth? We have been teething for weeeeeeeeeks now. When will they make their appearance?

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, On the Subject of Parenthood, The Daily Balance | 107 Comments »

good june pickings

Friday, June 10th, 2011

We are already enjoying many treats and delights from the garden this year. Here’s a peek at the front bed, filled with lettuces, baby spinach, radishes, beets, broccoli rabe, carrots, and garlic.

We’ve been feasting radishes for a few weeks now. And the lettuces are wonderful. Fresh, tender baby romaine and an assorted mezclun mix. Mixed with baby spinach leaves, we are loving garden-fresh salads!

lettuces and baby spinach

Lettuces on the left, baby spinach on the right.

The sugar snap peas are starting to go crazy. They are trellising away.
sugar snap peas

And now they are blooming and beginning to form actual sugar snap peas! By the end of the weekend, they will be ready to pick.

sugar snap peas

Such delightful white flowers that bloom to make way for sugar snap peas.

Meanwhile, I can’t seem to pick the cilantro fast enough.

We have been clipping cilantro to use in garden salads, a red quinoa salad that I made, in marinades for roasted chicken thighs… cannot get enough! Soon the cilantro will begin to flower, and then I will clip it all back. I will use what I can and freeze the rest to use all summer long while I plant the next round and wait for it to grow.

What’s coming next? Garlic! The scapes are about ready to burst forth from the garlic plants. Garlic scape time is the best time of year! I’d say we are about a week away.

And it just wouldn’t be right to talk about good June pickings without mentioning WEEDS.
weed bed

What should I do with this bed? This is where I planted potatoes last year. But I didn’t get my act together on time this year to get starter potatoes to plant. Hmmm… I am thinking I will plant a fantastic herb garden here perhaps. Or I could use the space for flowers. Indecision. But clearly the weeds have got to go!

Weeding this bed is one of this weekend’s projects. And eating well. Weeding and eating. The perfect way to celebrate good June pickings in the garden!

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spring! forward and oh, my back…

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Spring is here! So wonderful. And oh, what a complete mess I am.

Where to begin? So I finished up watching my nephew on Sunday, and after my older sister came to pick him up, I got ambitious. Really ambitious. Apparently, decidedly overambitious which is just so typically me.

I set off to the garden store to pick up some organic compost and garden soil to amend my raised beds for the start of the growing season! Well, of course! The weather was in the upper 40s and rather delightful for the first day of Spring! I hefted big, honkin’ bags of compost and soil into the back of the car. On a whim, I decided to buy 4 blueberry bushes for the flower garden, too.

Why? Because last year I attempted to grow from seed all sort of flowers: sunflowers, asters, dahlias, and zinnias. And well, the chipmunks had other plans for me. Only the zinnias came up. And one solo dahlia.

And I just didn’t want to go through that again. So I thought, on a whim, how about blueberry bushes? Even if they don’t produce for a few years, they do flower, and it will look nice!

So 12 bags of compost and soil later, along with 3 varieties of blueberries, I returned home around noon and set out to reclaim the garden beds.
raised bed

I used the pitchfork to turn the soil in 3 raised beds. I turned and I churned. Then I hauled out the bags of soil and compost and dumped several bags in the beds, making a compost/soil salad. And then I turned and churned again.

In the front squarish raised bed, I decided to throw caution to the wind and plant some late winter/early spring seeds.
spring seeds

I bent over in all sorts of decidedly awkward and contorted positions over my large squared bed in order to plant three rows of carrots, interspersed with radishes and beets. And then I decided to keep going. I planted baby spinach, some lettuces, broccoli rabe, cilantro, and parsley. I planted the entire square bed. Even though it is entirely early.

But I wanted to try something new and see if I really could get these supposedly hardy late Winter/early Spring veggies going.

And then! Not to forget the blueberry bushes! I churned the soil in the side garden, mixing in new organic compost and soil. And more planting: 3 varieties of blueberry bushes—northland, bluecrop, and elliot. I dug and planted 4 bushes total.
blueberry bushes

Now, the planting instructions say to give each blueberry bush close to 6 feet of space. Hah! I went with about 4 feet. We’ll see how this experiment goes. My goal is to watch these babies grow, and then use the front of the bed to plant random flower seeds. Probably more zinnias. I just love flowers to be able to cut and make bouquets—that’s my goal.

So here it was, this glorious first day of Spring. I was outside digging and planting for 6 hours. Totally in the zone. Totally content. So happy! I even hung my Spring dogwood wreath and put out my new outdoor mats.

I felt great! Accomplished! Pumped! Grateful.

Turns out I was an idiot for not being more conscious of what I was doing to my body. Gardening uses all sorts of crazy muscles. And if you haven’t been doing it for a long while, then you are in for a BIG surprise. I was rather reckless the way I was lifting and bending and squatting and stretching and reaching and whatnot.

Fast forward about 6 hours… I WAS IN PAIN.

Ridiculous, angry, mortifying, humbling pain.

I did myself in. More specifically: I did my lower back in. I did NOT sleep hardly a wink Sunday night. My back was so upset with me. I could not find a comfortable sleeping position in the slightest. My lower back right side was spasming and wrenching, and I felt miserable. I was crying out in pain.

I stayed home from work on Monday, barely able to move. No joke. It was embarrassing. How could this happen? What had I done? When did I get so OLD?

To add insult to injury (literally!), it snowed yesterday. Yeah. Snow. I was so busy diving into the garden the first chance I got, that I failed to consult the forecast. Had I bothered to check, I would have learned that at least a few inches of snow was coming.

Late morning I did finally fall sleep after strategically placing a hot water bottle up against my side as I curled into the most awkward fetal position. When I awoke, this was the scene outside:
snow bushes

snow lillies

Snow-covered lillies in the front garden.

snow gardens

To the left is the bed I had just planted one day before.

Yeah. Kinda funny. And kinda not.

It’s Tuesday now. The snow has pretty much melted. My back is still not too good. I returned to work today, and I’ve been very, very gentle with my back, trying to do all the right things.

I still feel really old.

The funny part about all this, is that instead of being super concerned about ME and making sure that I recover and heal my back real quick, in my mind right now I’m more concerned about whether or not my seeds will make it.


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potato frittata with roasted red peppers and feta

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

It has been so much fun to come up with recipes for my excellent potato harvest from the garden! I made a made a delightful potato frittata that generously stretched for two dinners. I was inspired by a recipe from Martha Stewart and embellished from there.

I started by scrubbing the dirt off of the harvested potatoes, giving them a good wash. I keep my potatoes dirty after harvest to “protect” them from light. So far it has worked very well. If you store your potatoes in a cool, dry place they will stick around for a lot longer.

garden potatoes

The hues and colors are incredible! So pretty.

Once the potatoes were cleaned and patted dry, I sliced them thinly—about 1/8″ each.

all-blue potatoes

This organic variety is called all-blue.

sliced potatoes

Then I sliced up two shallots.
sliced shallots

I sautéed the potato slices and shallots in a deep-dish skillet with some olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and a dash of sea salt.

sauteed potatoes

I cooked the potatoes for about 10 minutes until they were just tender.

Once the potatoes were pre-cooked, I pressed them down into the skillet to create the base potato layer. To that layer I added some diced roasted red peppers.

These organic roasted red peppers were a sweet Big Lots find for $1.50!

In a separate bowl I beat 8 organic eggs and added a little rosemary powder. Then I poured the egg mixture into the skillet to cover the potatoes. On top I sprinkled some crumbled feta cheese. Then I popped the skillet into the oven and baked the dish at 400°F for about 25 minutes. Oven-proof cookware is the best! One pan does it all.

potato frittata

Wallah! Potato frittata with roasted red peppers and feta!

I cut the frittatta into 8 pieces and served the slices on a bed of organic baby spinach and mixed greens.
sliced frittata

potato frittata

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Posted in Cooking Adventures | 4 Comments »

3 cheers for compost!

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Compost! Compost! Compost! Between moving several wheel barrow loads of delivered organic compost from its giant mound to our raised garden beds and the annual digging out of Darth Vader (our compost bin), Sunday was quite a dirt fest.

To begin, on Saturday night Craig and I joined forces in the basement to put together our new cedar raised bed that I ordered off of ebay from Threemanproducts. I recommend! Great price, and it was fairly easy to assemble—4 cedar boards, corner posts, and screws. All we needed to supply was the drill/driver. And oh, did I bring it. I managed to not once, but twice, jump the screw and catch Craig’s finger. And not just his finger, but right in the crease where the nail and finger meet. Eeeeewwwwww!

finger injury

I still feel really, really horrible about this.

There was some initial swearing on his part and a plethora of apologies on mine. But he kept reassuring me that he was fine. After that I refused to drive in any more screws. Craig was all too happy to take over. A little blood and sweat, but no tears or hospital trips, thankfully. We got the bed put together in under an hour, which for us is pretty darn good.

cedar raised garden bed

Here's what the raised garden bed looks like upside down.

raised garden bed detail

The cedar spikes help anchor the bed in the ground.

Sunday morning we were so excited to get outside and get the bed situated, but we were greeted with a raw and steady spring rain. Luckily the heaviest of the rain stopped just after noon, and we got started.

First we dug holes to help ease the spikes of the raised garden bed into the ground. And then we dug up the ground inside the bed to loosen the soil. This new bed is 3′ x 6′ and 10″ high, so it’ll be great for growing carrots amongst other things… TBD!

digging up the raised bed

We found a serious number of rocks in the soil. And check out the richness of the compost!

cedar raised garden bed

It took roughly 5 wheel barrow loads of the organic compost to fill the bed.

Once that bed was done, we moved on to excavating Darth Vader!
compost bin

compost bin

Raise the gate! What do we have?

Our compost bin was jammed full, so it was really exciting to see our compost in action since last Spring. Craig scraped and dug out the bottom, and he got almost a full wheel barrow of schtuff.

compost bin

Dryer lint, egg shells, corn stalks, orange peels, biobags, and all!

compost bin

compost bin

Then Craig took the pitchfork to the remainder to give it a good turn. We now have a little breathing room to add more fresh green and brown scraps.

We added our homemade compost to our first two beds. I like to think of them as the “control” since it’s our third year tending the original 3′ x 6′ x 10.5″ and second year tending the 5′ x 6′ x 7.5″.

adding compost to raised garden bed

Can you see the eggshell bits? Not quite broken down all the way, but great for the soil.

Last year I moved our original 3′ x 6′ bed back a few feet to create more growing space when we added the second bed, and this year I built a little add-on front bed for even more growing room.

add-on raised bed

This is where I planted radish and beet seeds.

We then added more of the organic compost to our new landscaped beds.

adding compost to flower beds

The back of this bed will be the cutting garden. The front will be lettuce and baby spinach. And we leveled out the surface under the slate, too.

potato bed

This round garden bed is where I am going to plant potatoes. Yesterday I planted cilantro, green onions, parsley, dill, and thyme seeds as a border.

Now here is my disclaimer. Until now, I have mostly been a plant-start-kind-of-gal. Last year I planted just 3 things from seed: radishes, carrots, and beets. I started slowly so that I could learn the ropes.
radish carrot beet seeds

My radishes were incredible. The carrots took forever but were amazing. The beets sucked—they never formed actual beets. But I planted them again this year. Maybe with their own dedicated space, they’ll fare better. Last year my tomatoes sort of swallowed them.

As for herbs, I’ve never grown them in the garden directly from seed. I did grow herbs for my wedding centerpieces last year, but I started them in peat pots. It was a long ordeal, but I’ll save that for a whole other blog post. And I’ve never grown lettuce at all. But I planted lettuce and baby spinach seeds, too, in the front of the new landscaped bed.

lettuce seeds

I chose this Gourmet Mezcla lettuce blend and Giant Ceasar (Vivian) romaine.

So, to recap… Putting together a raised bed. Carting soil. Shoveling soil. Digging and turning the soil with the pitchfork. Using the wire rake to smooth the surface of the soil. Making seed holes. Dispensing seeds. Covering them up. Patting gently. Over and over. And when we were all done, here was the final product.
raised garden beds with organic compost

Naked and beautiful.

If we’re lucky, we should start to see some sprouts in 5–6 days on the radishes and beets. It’s roughly 7–10 days on the lettuces, spinach, and herbs. The carrots are slow little buggers, so they’ll take a bit longer. I’m more than willing to wait.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 13 Comments »