Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘tomatoes’

To the new garden

I’ll admit that I haven’t been to the blog too much lately.

But I have a very good reason. ( Other than the fact that my WordPress was broken!!)

The Chef and I have moved to a new place and it has been one thing after another stopping us from getting on with it.

So I haven’t been doing much cooking and I haven’t been doing much gardening and I certainly haven’t been doing much blogging!

But I am looking forward to this being a full weekend of no outside responsibilities, so I can concentrate on getting things in order, so we can start “living our life”!

There!

But have a LOOK at the new kitchen! Coarse this is before we moved all our stuff into it!! I will update you when it is settled!

The New Kitchen

And this is the new patio, again, before we moved in!

But how are the plants in my garden doing you ask?

Chick HERE if you want to catch up on the trials and tribulations of my balcony garden!

Well, when we got back from the Oregon trip, the birds had really had their way with things!

They apparently got a taste for beet greens and so they didn’t make it.

beaten beets

And then they went for the cabbage!

Tormented cabbage

But since we’ve moved, the new deck is pest free so any of those who made the move are faring quite well.

The crazy arugula just keeps on growing! We cut it and eat it and it just grows back! Marvelous!

Active arugula

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Do you remember my ONE tomato? Well this is him!! All grown up and red. I must eat him soon!

Original tomato

And look, now he has all kinds of friends! Didn’t I predict that? That come October I’d have all kinds of tomato!!

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And these are the cabbage now, since being bird free and able to grow in peace. They still don’t seem to be turning into a nice cabbage ball that I am accustom to at the market, but they are at least decorative!!

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And last but not least, the most pleasant surprise!

BEANS!

It took forever for them to even sprout! And now the little plants are growing all kinds of beans!!

Fantastic!

But it is October now and even though it has been sometimes warmer than in the dead of summer lately, I think it might be time to wind things down for this season.

Growing stuff – August 3rd

It’s pathetic really.

I don’t know where I went wrong with these tomato plants.

Grew them from seed on the window sill then nurtured them all winter in the living room where they grew to be strong, confident, healthy tomato plants!

They sprung all sorts of little flowers and seemed so healthy.

So why is it now August and this is ALL I have to show for my effort??

One lousy tomato

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But on a good note, we have been enjoying eating “local” ( as in from the balcony) when it comes to the greens.  The arugula has been a spectacular success and the mixed lettuce leaves delicious!  We’ve even been adding some of the young chard to the salads and it tastes great!

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But now the birds seem to have decided that they like beet greens and have been having a go at them!

I decided to pull up one of the beets, you know, just to see how everybody is getting on.  It was just a tiny thing so I shoved it back in.  Hopefully it will continue to grow!

And then I pulled on one of the stray potato plant branches and found this little nugget!

One potato

Well, I guess it’s still a bit early for the underground things!

Fattoush Salad

                  When I lived in Montreal, one of my favorite things to eat was Lebanese food.  I have travelled far and wide ( well not to Lebanon but….) and have lived in many cities but have never tasted any Lebanese food as good as they seem to have there.   Not to say that other cities don’t have great Lebanese places too……it’s just that I’ve yet to find them.

                   So to round-up “Salad Week” I thought I would make a Lebanese “style” Fattoush Salad.  I say “style” cause this one isn’t the real deal, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice!

Fattoush Salad

                   A traditional Fattoush is made with the  spice, Sumac.   I neither had, nor care for Sumac so I did not include it in this recipe.  But feel free to try it out for yourself, or use it if you already know you enjoy it.

So we are going to start with some nice pita bread.   I had nice thick ones so I split them length wise to have more.   Brush them with olive oil ( and this is where you would sprinkle on some Sumac) and then I sprinkled smokie paprika just to give a little colour and then toasted them in the oven at 350 degrees till they are nice and toastie.   Remove and let cool.

oil and toast pita bread

So then for the salad in no particular order chop and add to a large bowl:

  • romaine lettuce
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • green onion
  • flat leaf Italian parsley
  • water cress ( except I didn’t have any so I didn’t use)

Toss those together well.

For the dressing:

  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 cup ( or what ever double the juice is) of olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp of Sumac ( if you are using)

Shake it all up and pour it all over the salad and then mix well.

Then take the toasted pita and crack up into random pieces and toss that into the salad.

Let it sit for a few minutes before serving so that the flavours can soak in to and soften up the pita just a little bit.

There we have it.  Serve up with some shish taouk or Shawarma.   Yum YUm.

Let me know if you have a great Lebanese restaurant in your town so I’ll be sure to check it out if I am ever round there!

Growing things and veggie storage tips

What with it officially summer now and the growing of produce in full swing, I thought I would share this veggie storage chart with you to help maximize the life of your produce!

veggie-storage

Meanwhile, life on the balcony garden is doing as well as can be expected.

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The cabbages are growing like gang busters!  But cabbage is a hearty plant so I suppose we can count on them.

But I don’t know, in the close up I’m not really seeing what will be a head of cabbage some day.  I don’t think that these big leaves suddenly curl up in a ball??

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The beans are still pushing away.  But doubt anything will come of them with their late start in the season!

Beans

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The tomato plants have lots of flowers now but no little tomatoes yet.   The wind lately has just been relentless and so I think it has tired them out.

Tomatoes

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And the potato plant is so big and strong and flowering.  I only hope that the potatoes growing underneath are half as hardy!   And I really have to resist the urge to “look at them”!  Last year I couldn’t help myself and pulled them up way too soon.   But luckily I shoved them back in the dirt and they kept growing until that “unfortunate incident” that occurred last year!  ( click here to see that )

Potatoes going strong

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I have had an unfortunate development with the patty-pan squash plant.  Heart breaking really, for no apparent reason he seems to have given up the will to live.

It was neither over watered, nor under-watered, nor do I see any evidence of foul play when it comes to squirrels or other critters.  The only variable to report is the incessant wind of late.  Maybe he just got exhausted.  He started off so strong and healthy.   Sad development.

Poor poor patty pan

I did however add some arugula seeds to the rest of his box and they are sprouting beautifully!

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The beets are in fine shape, but I guess like the potatoes, I will have to be patient and not yank them out to see “how they are doing”!

Beets

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And last but not least, I am very pleased to say that the Swiss Chard has made a fine come back.  It was touch and go there for awhile.

Although, I must admit, I have not yet let them stay outside.  They continue to be in the living room away from those nasty birds!

Swiss Chard

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Happy Gardening!

Click here if  you would like to catch up on my adventures in the balcony garden.

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Stuffed Peppers three ways

The Chef is a fan of three ways.

You know, when it comes to preparing dishes.    He really likes taking one ingredient and preparing three different versions of the same item.

The other night he made three different coloured peppers stuffed with three different stuffings!

Let’s break down the fillings.

Filling # one:

  • corn
  • black beans
  • cooked rice

Filling # two:

  • cooked green lentils
  • green olives
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Filling # three:

  • cooked red lentils
  • crushed tomato ( or tomato sauce)
  • sun dried tomatoes

Feel free to add anything extra that you might like, but these are the basic ingredients.

So make up all these different fillings separately.

I know all that  seems like a lot of work, but just keep the left overs because they make great “salad” accompaniments for your lunch for the rest of the week!!

Cut the peppers in half removing the insides.  Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes till they are a bit wilted.

Then stuff each pepper with one of the fillings, try to make the colour contrasts interesting.  Or not.

These particular versions are all Vegan, but if you wanted to add some cheese on top to melt in, that would be very tasty too.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are heated through.

Stuffed peppers three ways

Enjoy with side salad or other veg.

Something Simple

Do you ever crave something just so simple it seems silly??

I had just that craving for my lunch.

How simple was it?  Well let me tell you.

I took a slice of my favorite Dimpilmeier rye bread and lightly toasted it.

Then added a generous layer of Boursin garlic flavoured cheese, then a few slices of beautifully ripened tomato.

A few turns of the pepper mill, a little sprinkle of sea salt and I was in heaven!

Tomato and Boursin on rye

Growing stuff – May 4th

We are rapidly approaching our “Victoria Day” weekend here in Canada.

To some it is to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria which is May 24th.

While others use it as the opening to party season and refer to it as “the May two-four weekend” which if you are from around here, or Ontario in particular, that refers to a 24 pack of BEER!

But then there are others who consider the Victoria Day weekend as the kick off to gardening season.   Thought of as…..although this year we can’t be sure…….a safe date to assume it will no longer SNOW!   And therefore safe to plant things!

But luckily here on the West Coast we can get a jump on planting early.

So here is an update on how things are going on the “Balcony Garden“.

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This is the lone flower produced so far from the weird mystery plant that was supposed to be Swiss chard.   As suspected, it seems to be some sort of sunflower.  But the plant is rapidly dying.  Either because the birds are picking at it, or because it is simply too crammed into that pot!

random sunflower

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Sprouting potato plant?

And could it be?  That my little potato eyes that I planted what seems only a week ago is already growing?   How wonderful.

They’ll be French fries for everyone REAL soon!!

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Sad little chard sprouts

And I’m afraid that the “real” Swiss chard pants are progressing very well at all.  Not sure if it is because I have them covered with a basket to keep the birds from taking them, or if they are just slow starters?

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And then there are the tomato plants that I started inside from seed!  Those coffee grounds as fertilizer SURE seem to be working!!  They are almost two feet tall now!  I don’t think they are supposed to grow quite THAT big…..they are only Roma tomato plants!   Hopefully they will stop growing tall and start producing some flowers that will turn into tomatoes!!

Out of control Romas

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And finally as a little treat I really MUST show you a couple of nice Spring pictures from the near by park.

Flowers a bloom

Just waitin around

Last one in is a rotten egg!

Happy weekend and happy gardening!

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Growing Stuff April 20th

I’ve decided to try and grow some potato on purpose this year. 

Last year I was trying to grow cauliflowers when suddenly a potato plant started growning in the middle of them and took over the whole party.  I suspect it was from peels that I had tossed in to compost.

Potatoes growing in the cauliflower! ( last year )

So this year I have a nice little potato with some eyes on it.  I’ve cut it into a few bits.

Potato buds

Then I have planted the bits in a nice deep tub of dirt.

I’ll let you know what happens.

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If you look REALLY closely you can see a few tiny weeny Swiss Chard sprouts trying to grow from the new batch of seeds I planted outside.  I really think these ARE chard because they are red!

Chard sprouts

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I am happy to see that the oregano plant has a few little leaves trying to grow.  Last year it was completely dead but then came back full blast!

Oregano trying to grow

 

 

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I found out that a friend of mine is actually an award winner tomato growing expert!!  The things you find out about people! 

Anyway, I had been telling her my growing troubles but commented on how pleased I was with the progress of my tomato plants that I am growning inside from seed.

She told me that it is very important to mound the dirt around the base of the plant.  This helps make it stronger for when the tomatoes appear.   So that’s what I did!

AND I added coffee grounds to the dirt as a fertilizer

( click here to read from Grounds to ground)

 

 

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As for the mystry plant?

The concensus is……..that is it some sort of sunflowers!

Rogue Sunflowers!

Weekly update April 13

I just realized that it is Friday the 13th!!

I don’t think plants care about that!

Well, I think that I figured out what the mystery plant might be………seems the neighbour kid “Jack” traded his family cow to some questionable character for some lousy beans!  And he hid them in MY flower pot!!!

No…..not really.

Truth is, I still have NO idea what the heck these are!   ( If you are just joining us, CLICK HERE to catch up on what I am on about )  But it seems they grow bigger by the day!

Mystery plant

And now they seem to be developing a bud of some sort! 

Mystery bud on mystery plant

 I think I will keep them indoors till they flower, because I know the birds will go crazy on them if I put them out on the balcony!

I planted some “new” Swiss Chard seeds in a bigger pot outside and am trying again.   So far nothing has sprouted and when I came in yesterday I noticed that “someone” ( pesky squirrel) has been digging in the pot!  “Why I otta………”

But I am pleased to report that the tomato plants are coming along wonderfully!

AND the little container of “micro greens” which is really just lettuce that you cut before it grows into its real self, are doing just fine too!

Micro greens

Although I have had to take extreme measure to protect them.  Seems birds LOVE micro greens!

I think it will be warm enough to start planting some other things really soon!

Can’t wait!

Something has gone terribly wrong

Now I’m no horticulturist, but I am pretty SURE that what I’ve got growing in my pot is NOT Swiss Chard!!

I can’t imagine how this happened.  I keep a basket with all of my little seed packages that I use over the years and so I went back to review the pictures.  I mean….I could have absent-mindedly grabbed the wrong packet of seeds and not put chard in the pot……..perhaps?   But there is really nothing in my seed collection that looks like THIS stuff!!

What is this??

My only thought…..it that over the winter I used this particular pot to toss a few handfuls of bird seed into now and then.

When it came to planting the chard, I just used the same pot that was already half full of dirt, tossed in from fresh dirt on top and then added the chard seeds.  Perhaps whatever bird seed is…..was lingering underneath and grew up crazy!

If I look closely there ARE a couple of red stemmed spouts that could actually be chard.  But obviously what ever this stuff is has smothered it to death!

NOT chard!

What an unfortuante turn of events.  I shall let this stuff continue to grow……see if it grows up to be anything….even a flower perhaps……but I tasted it and it wasn’t very good.

Back to the drawing board on the chard!

But in better news, the little tomato plants are coming along very nicely and I am 99% certain they ARE in fact tomato plants!!

Yes, these ARE tomato plants!

Growing inside

Well if you are from around British Columbia or have been following our weather of late, you will know that it has been appalling and unseasonably ( if not historically) cold and miserable.

So getting my balcony garden on the go has been a challenge.

I’ve had to resort to growing things inside in hopes it will warm up enough for them to go outside soon enough!

We got a new fridge recently and I had the produce drawer left over from the old one.  It seems to make a great planter for my little tomato seedlings!

And I’ve started my Swiss chard in a pot.   Course even if it was warm enough to put the chard outside, the birds with desecrate it in an instance!

Swiss Chard sprouts

Vegan Vegan Vegan!

Okay, after yesterday’s Pot Roast, I just wanted to prove that I can be open-minded and versatile and am just as comfortable eating the “non-meat” meals as any respectable Vegan!

I don’t think I have ever had as many vegetables in one meal at one time as we had last night!

Please indulge me as I try to recall the list:

  1. Arugula
  2. Asparagus
  3. Beets ( red and golden)
  4. Brussels sprouts
  5. Carrot
  6. Chives
  7. Garlic
  8. Leeks
  9. Lettuce
  10. Mushrooms
  11. Onions ( red and white)
  12. Peppers ( red and yellow)
  13. Squash
  14. Tomato

Add to this, three kinds of lentils, two kinds of nuts, couscous and rice!

The meal started with a salad trio:

Salad one:

Roasted beet, thinly sliced red onion, walnuts on a bed of mixed lettuce

Salad two:

Arugula bundles, tied with chives, topped with pine nuts and a lemon & oil dressing

Salad three:

Shredded brussel sprouts with thinly sliced red and yellow peppers.

Salad Trio

The next course consisted of:

Mushrooms stuffed with couscous, carrot,  mushroom stem, carmelized onion and roasted garlic

Roasted asparagus topped with carmelized onions and sliced red and yellow peppers.

Roasted asparagus and stuffed mushrooms

The main course was:  stuffed cannelloni and spaghetti and “meat balls”

Stuffed cannelloni

cannelloni “shells” of  rounds of steamed leek stuffed with black, red and green lentils with carmelized onions and couscous.   Baked and then topped with organic tomato sauce.

Leek “cannelloni” shells

Three kinds of lentils

Lentil stuffed leek “cannelloni”

 Spaghetti and “meat balls”

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with “meat balls” made of black Thai “forbidden rice” , carmelized onion, roasted garlic and rice flour to bind.

cannelloni with spaghetti and meat balls

See, TOTALLY Vegan and not a DROP of tofu in sight!!!Veggies do not have to be boring!

Spanish Rice

Spanish class is coming along nicely.

We had a substitute teacher this week and she clearly thought we were a lot smarter than we actually are.  I mean we DO know a lot of words but clearly we are missing a few of the fillers because when she spoke to us completely in Spanish, we all stared blankly.  It was comforting that everyone had the same reaction and that is wasn’t just me!

But in keeping with the mood, I’ve keep trying to make pre-class dishes to get us in the mood.

I cooked up a little meal size Spanish rice to tide us over.

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper of your choice, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of chili flakes ( more if you like)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Heat up your dutch oven and add olive oil.  Then add all of the above and cook till wilted about 5 – 7 minutes.

Then add:

  • 1 cup brown short grain rice ( I’m a brown rice kinda gal but any rice will do)

Mix the uncooked rice in with the cooking vegetables until it is well coated with everything.

Then add:

  • a splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tin of diced tomatoes + some water or stock if it is a small tin

Bring this up to a boil and then turn down to #2 on the dial, put on a tight fitting lid and let the rice cook.  The time will depend on what kind of rice you are using.

When the rice looks nearly cooked you will then add:

  • 1 tin of black beans ( rinse them first)

Stir them in and replace the lid until the rice is nice and tender.

At this point it is still a vegan item but you could have added some chorizo sausage somewhere along the way or on the side.

But tonight I just served it up in a bowl and sprinkled with some grated cheese and a few chopped green onions.

Very satisfying.

Buenas noches!

Spanish rice

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