Monday, March 31, 2014

Harvest Monday, 31 March 2014

Dinners have become really predictable. My protein, brown rice, and a couple of vegetables.

The vegetables might change but are mostly from the garden. All of the ones pictured above are.

But my favorite meal was a lunch. It was a coconut milk and squash soup. The butternuts were from the garden. I also added some ground turkey, brown rice, an apple, onions, celery, fresh ginger, cumin, and garlic (from the garden). But for various reasons, I ended up with a lot of left overs that needed to be eaten up. So I ended up freezing most of the soup so nothing would go to waste. This week I'll get to defrost it and have some again.

This week will see a warm up. So I think I'll be able to get some of my seedlings out to harden off. These are just some lettuce and baby Asian greens. Not many, but I can't wait to eat some fresh food from the garden. I've been buying a lot from the grocery store recently. Dinner vegetables are still mostly from my stores, but the rest of the day is bought from the grocery. I even tried to find some mizuna at the store. Sadly no one seems to sell it. The lettuce looked so sad. There wasn't much of it and what was there was not a great quality. Is this the fault of the drought in California? Spring had better come soon so I can have some good greens. But at least we have normal temperatures after today (yes our "warmup" means normal temps). That will be a welcome change.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sowing Seeds

My earlier sown seeds are doing well. Usually my onions would be downstairs by the back door now. They would be going in and out each day and night, but with the weather, they have been stuck under lights. I think next week after the rain stops on Monday I'll be able to bring them outside though. The temperatures have started to moderate.

Today I sowed many of the brassicas and some more lettuce. I filled up a whole flat. I really wanted a few more rows, but I didn't want to start another flat.

Basically I didn't want to have to turn on a third light. I do have it, but I don't like to use it unless absolutely necessary.

So instead I decided to put the second sowing of baby Asian greens into little trays to start growing outside. They have covers that I can take off it gets hot, or leave on if it is cold. Well for the first week maybe. Then they have to come off as the plants will get too tall. But I can always bring them inside if it gets too cold outdoors for them.

I'm starting to feel more confident that spring is really here. I know the light is here as our solar panels are finally making enough to cover our electrical needs. But the warmth has been pretty late. The seeds I sowed today were a week later than my printed planting schedule says to start them. But I wasn't confident that it would be warm enough for them if I started them at the normal time. Usually I've planted my peas, favas, and spinach by now. But my garden is still frozen. The circle garden seem to be thawing out fine, but the main garden is still solid. I'm thinking of moving the baby Asian greens to the circle garden this spring. My plan has them elsewhere, but the soil there will be so much warmer. They will have to be out by June 1st so I can plant my melons, but that is not a big issue.

Interestingly enough last year was a bit late too, but not nearly as bad as this year. I planted my peas exactly a year ago today. Two years ago I planted peas on February 28th, which is so early as to be unheard of. But that was the winter that wasn't. This was a winter that didn't want to leave.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Harvest Monday, 24 March 2014

Most of my meals have been pretty boring since I've gone on my elimination diet. Luckily it won't last long which is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I'll get to eat other things again, but a curse because it is short enough that it isn't worth the time to develop recipes that are interesting. (Frozen kale from the garden.)

(Butternut squash and frozen broccoli and dried onion, garlic, and Italian seasonings from the garden.)

So until it is over most of my meals are plain veggies, a starch that is either brown rice or buckwheat, and a protein that is either turkey, chicken, or fish. (Frozen spinach from the garden.)

Sometimes I get a little creative by mixing things and making sauces. But DH won't eat these so I don't try very hard at it. (Frozen spinach from the garden. Dried onion, garlic, thyme to season the rice.)

Soups for my lunches are a good change of pace. I can't add beans, wine, or soy sauce, but otherwise they tend to be much like my old soups. The above has lots of garden fair. Celery, butternut squash, zucchini, garlic, and sage.

My after dinner drink has been replaced with a mug of peppermint tea. I'm not sure I saved enough peppermint to get me through the whole month. Usually I just drink tea occasionally when I'm really cold in the winter or as a social drink. I do have some chocolate mint too. Usually I drink that with chamomile and the peppermint with green tea. But I might have to drink it straight when the peppermint runs out.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elimination Diet Update

Well the first week of my elimination diet is going both good and bad. Breakfast is cream of rice or buckwheat and a chopped up banana. I'm used to eating eggs for breakfast with cereal and a banana. So it doesn't stick with me as well as my old breakfast.

For a while I was cooking lunches every day. I got tired of that. I used to eat leftovers for lunch much of the time. Or make a soup and eat it over days with an add on of cheese and bread. Now when I make soup it lasts only two days as I need to eat so much of it. So I made some cut up veggies and found a good tasting rice cracker and I make too much protein one day and eat it as a semi sandwich for a couple days after. So now at least I don't have to think ahead every day before lunch. Because cooking really isn't the issue. It is planning. I know I have to plan for dinner, but I'm not used to having to plan for lunch. Now I don't have to if I'm busy with something else. I can just throw lunch together.

I've also found that I've gone tropical. For some reason I'm eating pineapple, plantains, and mangoes. Plantains are especially nice as I've had trouble getting fat into my diet. I'm used to snacking on nuts and cheese which satisfies my hungers. But with all the lean meat, rice, veggies, and fruit I feel like I'm starving not long after I eat. But plantains fried in olive oil really kill the hunger. I've also made a dip of mangoes, olive oil, salt, ginger, and garlic for my veggie sticks. That helps too.

My biggest issue is my meds. I went off two of my OTC ones. The undenatured whey was the hardest. It really helps my asthma. I had to switch my OTC antihistamine so it didn't contain corn starch. Sadly now it contains sorbitol. You just can't win. But I can't go off some of my prescription meds and two of them contain lactose. So the diet isn't perfect. I did switch my toothpaste too. Most have carageenan in them. Whether it is a problem or not is debatable, but if it is a problem, what it does is inflame the gut and the whole point of this exercise is to heal the gut. I took it out.

Another big issue is cross contamination. My husband snacks on whole grain crackers that were kept on the kitchen counter. The crumbs get all over the place. Ie all over the fruit in the bowl, the counter, my inhaler. Not good for me. I don't know of the other proteins are as bad, but I know even a little wheat contamination can keep you from healing up at all if wheat is your issue. And to a certain extent even if it isn't as wheat makes everyone's gut a little more permeable for a short time after eating it. So I really have to keep the cross contamination to zero.

All in all the diet isn't that hard to follow. But I'm used to cooking from scratch to start with so not much has changed except the lack of variety. I'm guessing it will get a little boring over time. But I only have to follow it for a month before I start putting things slowly back in. I thought the hardest thing to give up would be my nightly indulgences. Chocolate and an after dinner drink. Instead I've been eating these yummy little yellow mangoes for dessert. Or occasionally an apple or banana. So it has been OK. Though I've been having the hugest craving for cinnamon rolls. I think there is nothing in a cinnamon roll I can have except the cinnamon. Sugar, wheat, and dairy are all forbidden.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Harvest Monday, 17 March 2014

I tried making my risotto slightly differently and didn't like it nearly as much. My husband agreed. The main difference was trying brown rice instead of the traditional aborrio rice. I won't do that again. From the preserved garden fare there is garlic, thyme, and broccoli.

Then I wasn't paying any attention and cooked my chicken leg upside down so the skin didn't crisp up. Now none of my family actually eats the skin as I've been well trained that skin is bad for you. OK maybe I sneak a little now and then, but usually not. So I took this one upside down leg and didn't feel too deprived. At least the preserved veggies from the garden were plentiful and good. The squash was done up as a casserole with some maple syrup. Yum. I can't believe that I just took photos of my mistakes this week. I had a beautiful salad made with preserved sweet potatoes and corn. It also had green onion and apple with a lime dressing. Yummy. And it was so pretty and colorful, but I guess it was camera shy. I also had a beautifully colored pizza. But again no photo.

And does preserving count if you take a squash and cook it and freeze it? One preserving method to another. When I roast squash I usually cook up two of them and puree them down and freeze them as it is easier to use them this way.

This week cooking will be different. I've decided that I shouldn't put it off any longer. Today starts my elimination diet. I've been having GI issues along with some weird health problems. If you haven't had to go on one (lucky you) it basically eliminates most of the typical problem foods and stick to that for about four weeks and then start putting them back in one at a time. So I can eat all fruit except for the citrus and all vegetables except the nightshades (of course I already know I have trouble with them, but it is a common problem). The only grains that I'll be eating are rice and buckwheat. No legumes, no nuts or seeds, no dairy or eggs, no beverages except water, peppermint tea, and homemade rice milk. No fats except EVOO. Only cold water fish (but no shellfish), trout, and turkey as meats (though I'm contemplating letting in chicken as some elimination diets allow it and then I can use things like my homemade chicken broth), no canned or preserved meats. No sweeteners at all (though again I'm contemplating letting in very small amounts of maple syrup) and no chocolate. As to condiments I can't have any prepared things like mustard, mayo, relish, and vinegar, but the fresh or dried spices and herbs are OK. Vinegar for me will be a problem. How do you make a dressing without some kind of acid? Citrus is out and vinegar is out. And I don't like greens nearly as much without an acid. But I love them with it and just think they are OK without.

My suspicions are that I won't be able to put soy or beans back into my diet. Though I could be wrong. Food might not be an issue at all. But I won't know until I try. Wish me luck. It is going to be a hard month not eating any real treats. Last night I had chocolate cake and scotch. I won't be seeing those for a while.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I have six trees that are espaliered along my fence. Five of them didn't really need any pruning. I tend to keep these pruned as they grow so they don't get out of control. But the above Liberty apple tree was not cooperating. As you can see the bottom left branch never grew. So sad. So I had to chop it off a bit above where I want the branch to come out. Sadly there is no good bud down there facing the right direction, but I can make due. I'll turn one that is going a bit out or in to go sideways like I want.

It's neighbors the MacFree apple above and the Honeysweet pear grew in just like they should. The above right branch isn't very strong right now, but I'm sure it will get bigger. I've never done espaliers before I moved here, or any fruit tree for that matter. But I'm slowly learning.

I also went out and did a bit of pruning on my peach trees. Like the espaliers I tend to prune as they grow so they go in the right spot. Well as much of the right spots as I understand. The peach trees had a few crossed branches, so they got snipped off. I ought to check my dwarf apple trees in the back. But honestly I don't think there is much to do there either. One of them really doesn't like to grow at all. It hasn't grown more than a foot or so since I planted it four years ago. I might have to replace it at some point, but my townhouse mates don't want to give up on it. They love Honeycrisp apples as do I. But if it never fruits is it really worth it? I suppose I ought to have more patience. It just might take 10 years.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Harvest Monday, March 10th, 2014

This unassuming dinner of turkey meatloaf caused me problems.

Do you see this?

And this? Well they were the last of my onions and carrots and they went into this dinner. The onions in the meatloaf and the carrots as a side. The carrots were starting to sprout tops and roots. I guess they thought winter was over. So I decided it was time to finish them off.

For the rest of the week I had to use store bought onions. So sad. It will be a while before I can eat my own again. I'll buy a huge bag of carrots for my husband's birthday party this weekend and then I'll have carrots to munch on again. You know spring is coming when I start to run out of things. I wonder what I'll run out of next?

Luckily my supply of sweet potatoes and greens seem to be never ending. I could eat a mass of greens at every meal. I don't do a lot with them most of the time as I love them with just some balsamic vinegar on them. Sometimes I'll put them into some of the things I make, but the reality is that I can only put so much into a dish without it overwhelming the dish. And I'd prefer to eat more of them than that. And I can't make a dish like that when my husband is home as then he won't eat it.

Yet more sweet potatoes and greens, but this time orange sweet potatoes and kale instead of the purple and chard.

Last night we had enchiladas. I made separate dishes to keep all the food issues apart. For my daughter I made one with chicken, beans (from the garden), and lots of cheese and the typical red enchilada sauce. My husband had chicken, beans, and a little low fat cheese with the red sauce. I had one with chicken, lots of cheese, and a sour cream cilantro sauce (cilantro and garlic from the garden). And of course I had a side of greens with mine. Can't have too many greens. I think next week I'll have to eat some of the non-greens in the freezer.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Slowly Planting

Weather in the northeast corner of the US is cold. I checked the records from my weather station and it is the coldest winter we have had so far. And March is just being weird. So far the average temperatures in March have been lower than in January or February. So things aren't melting out quickly. Our saving grace is that the sun is getting stronger. That by itself is melting out some of the snow. It retreats a little more every day. We will be getting a light warmup over the weekend getting our temperatures closer back to norms (highs in the low 40Fs and lows in the high 20Fs). Which is a nice change from what we've been getting (highs around 30F and lows in the single digits and teens).

I decided to wait about a week past my normal planting time to start the lettuce, small Asian greens, and parsley. I also haven't started as many as I usually do. I think I'll wait and plant these again. If the weather sticks to the frigid temperatures that it has been, the soil won't be unfrozen until April.

Don't you wish Mother Nature would be a little more predictable? Three years ago we had the winter of massive snow. Two years ago we had the winter that wasn't. And this year we have the winter that won't go away. It makes it hard to know when spring will really get here. I like to plan things out in the garden. Timing is everything to get the most of out my space. But I'll just have to go with the flow on Mother Nature's little joy ride.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Harvest Monday, March 3rd, 2014

I'm a little late getting my Harvest Monday up. I guess it is kind of like not being ready for a party when people start to show up. With my memory as bad as it is (and my family will tell you it is really bad) I'm surprised it hasn't happened more often. But here goes. Dinner number one is pot pie with a biscuit topping. From my preserves it has celery, carrots, onions, and sage.

Next comes shrimp with lobster sauce. Well sort of. It has turkey instead of pork. My husband declared it yummy. It just has garlic from the garden. But the sides of kale and broccoli are both from the garden.

I usually don't get to make pineapple dishes as my husband hates all the tropical fruits. I can get away with cooking with the more northern fruits, but not the really yummy ones. Since he wasn't home I could make what I wanted. Again it was just garlic in the main dish with spinach for a side.

Last but not least was a nice turkey breast dinner with the fixings. The cranberry sauce is homemade, but nothing from the garden. The dressing has onions, celery, and spices from my stash. And the sides were spinach and squash.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.