Thursday, May 27, 2010

Celebrating 10 Years Together!

Today we celebrate out 10 year anniversary. 

We are still so in love. When you are first engaged and dreaming of your life together you really don't know how your love could grow. Ours sure has. 

We are best friends. We love working together and playing together. We have 2 amazing children and a wonderful life. I look forward to many more beautiful years together.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Leafy Green Meal Plan

It has been a fun challenge to figure out how to fit all these greens that we have been growing into our meals. To begin with, I wash and rinse greens every day and that is quite a process. I've learned that taking the rib out of collards, kale and turnips make them a lot easier to eat--especially for the girls. Another thing I've figured out is that it is more efficient to go ahead and prepare all of the greens at once. For example, in the past I would only wash the kale that I would be using for the specific meal. Now if I wash and trim all 2 pounds at once then dinner prep is quick and we have left over greens that we can eat the next day.

So this is how I do it now. First I cut out the rib if necessary. Then I let them soak in a sink of cold water for about 10 minutes. Then depending how dirty the leaves are I might do that again. I then take them out (inspecting for bugs on each leaf since I am neurotic about not eating bugs) and dry them in the salad spinner. Then I bag them in a clean bag so they are ready for the meal.

I've never really cooked with Bok Choi before this year. I've found that the stalks can be used just like celery. I chop them up and add them to salads, sandwiches and cold salads like potato salad and chick pea salad.  If you are going to cook them with the leaves then they need to cook about twice as long (cook ribs 3 mins then add leaves for another 3).

Here's a meal plan for a typical weak during this season:

Sunday--Spicy Chick Pea dish and salad
Monday--Tofu and sauted kale lasagna and salad
Tuesday--Burritos with black beans, rice, collards, olives, avocados, salsa and vegan sour cream on top
Wednesday--Harvest bowl with cornbread, leftover black beans, mashed potatoes and turnips, and avocado.
Thursday--coconut milk and curry stir fry with tofu, bok choi, mushrooms and salad
Friday--Cashew cheese macaroni with sauted swish chard
Saturday--Cold chick pea salad sandwiches

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Two new blogs

I started this blog almost 4 years ago. I created it after hearing from my friend Shael that blogging was a great way to keep in touch with friends and family all over the country. Since we had moved to 3 states in 3 years and all our family was out of town I figured I'd go ahead and give it a try. I was surprised at how easy blogger was to use. I also found that it was a great way to record our pictures and stories without getting all my scrapbooking stuff out!

Blogging keeps getting more popular and there are blogs for everything! Blogger now lets you monetize (place ads on) your pages but I want my personal blog to be a space were people are not bombarded with more advertisements.

I've started 2 new blogs. The first one is a gardening blog. It has the same gardening posts that I create for this blog but I modify them just a little so they are not quite so personal. Click on Southern Organic Gardening to check out the page. One reason I chose to name it Southern Organic Gardening is that we've found that a lot of the information on the web and in books about organic gardening is focused on gardening in the Northeast or West (California). Not much is out there on organic solutions for the South and as you know our climate is very different. Especially here in Columbia and in our sand for a back yard. I hope to expand the Southerrn Organic Gardening blog to include pages on our favorite products, local and national links, and answers to frequently asked questions about gardening in the South. I've also put ads and linked it to other gardening blogs hoping to cash in on all this information we are sharing :) I'm still adding lots of new stuff and since it is a blog I'll keep updating it on a regular basis so bookmark it or become a follower to help me spread the blog and the ads!

The second blog is for the new dance classes that I'm starting--Mommy and Me Ballet The class is held at the same studio where I teach other dance classes, but it is separate in that I'm doing all the marketing, class design, and billing. I started the Mommy and Me Ballet blog because I wanted a place for parents to go to get information since I was doing a lot of emailing and answering the same questions over and over again. I'm working on a website but that is taking me a while to create since I've never done one before. So the blog is the place to go for now. I've had one class so far and it has gotten great feedback. I taught this same class in Indianapolis and it was very popular and I'm hoping the moms here will spread the word and I'll be able to open up another class.

Don't worry my faithful readers, I'm not changing or deleting this blog! I'll be updating it again very soon with a week's meal plan based on greens, dance recital pictures, more recipes, etc.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday harvest and recipe

  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 2.5 lbs collards
  • 3 lbs bok choi
  • .75 lb turnips
  • 1.5 lbs turnip greens
  • .75 lb radish
  • 1.25 lb swiss chard
  • 1 lb kale
  • .75 lb little bok choi
  • 14 oz lettuce
  • 1.75 lb bunching onions
Here is a recipe for a Greens, Tomatoes, and chick peas dish I pulled and modified from Joy of Cooking (my all time favorite cook book.) Rachel Ray also has a similar recipe. It is quick (30 mins) and easy. Spinach is probably the best--you can even use frozen. I use whatever greens we have available. The spices may be unfamiliar but we use them a lot for Indian dishes. You can get them at an Indian grocery or on Amazon.

1 onion
1 can crushed tomatoes (can used diced also)
3 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp.  Garam Masala 7oz
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 tsp of salt (or to taste)
1 bunch of greens rinsed and chopped or 1 pack of frozen spinach

Heat onion in oil or water until soft. Stir in tomatoes, coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric and salt. Cook for 3 mins. Stir in Chickpeas and greens and cook 10 minutes or until the greens are as soft as you like!

Serve over any grain like rice, basmati or jasmine is perfect but we just use brown most of the time. I've also served this with quinoa. I usually double the recipe also.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day Harvest

This was a wonderful and relaxing Mother's Day. I slept in and rested on the porch with a good book (Middlemarch by George Eliot) while Daniel made all the meals, cleaned inside and worked outside. I also wandered through the garden picking these beautiful spring veggies and taking pictures of flowers and bugs. We also planted most of the summer veggies that we started from seed including zuchinni, yellow squash, trombone squash, cucumber, pole beans,  cantelope, eggplant, basil, more swiss chard and bok choi. I re-potted the tomatoes since we have to wait for garden space to come available. Okra, bush beans, sweet potatoes, and watermelon are still waiting to be planted.

As I mentioned in an earlier post we are keeping track of all the produce we harvest by weighing it and charting it on a clip board in the kitchen. Here is the harvest amounts from Sunday.
  • 1.5 lbs collards
  • 1 lb 4 oz kale (lacinato)
  • 2.5 lbs lettuce (butter crunch and green leaf)
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 4 oz peas
  • 1 lb 4 oz radish (or about 10) 
Now you might be wondering what we do with all these greens! Stay tuned for recipes and ideas. Believe it or not by Wednesday night we have already gone through everything but a few ounces of lettuce and collards.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Science and art presentations

Last week the girls had to give presentations on their science and art projects for our homeschool coop. For science, we worked together to build a cardboard box solar cooker.  Here are the directions for the cooker that we built. We took pictures as we assembled it and tested it out on a sunny day on our back deck.

Gluing foil to the inside of 2 boxes.
Here's a picture of the big box with a whole cut into the top and crumpled newspaper in the bottom.
This is the oven all assembled and cooking on the deck. Just as the oven got up to 200 degrees we put a pot of chocolate, peanuts, and raisins inside. The hottest it got was 215 degrees.
We checked on it in an hour and it was nice and soft.
The girls wanted to be able to serve their chocolate treats to the class so they spooned it out on wax paper, put sprinkles on top and let them cool.

As you know you can melt chocolate outside on most sunny days in Columbia. I used this recipe because it was quick and easy and fun for the kids. I did some research and found that a typical slow cooker cooks at 200 degrees on its lowest setting. Later in the week I put a pot of lentils out in the oven and left them there all day. Yes, the lentils were cooked when I got them out in the evening!

In addition to the science presentation, the girls also had to choose 2 pieces of art that they worked on during the year and present them to the class.

Here is Ellen showing her acrylic sunflowers painting she made after studying Van Gogh.

Here is Arianna showing off her tree that she painted using textured paints.

This shows another student giving her presentation. You can see that the group is a variety of ages from preschool to high school--about 20 students in all.