Sunday, May 24, 2009

Randoms and A Quick Dinner

Usually I plan my posts in my head a little before I start typing, but this post is a random, unfocused collection of the things bouncing around my life (and camera) at the moment, and an overdue review of some new kitchen equipment.

First: the garden.

I have been keeping a dedicated garden journal, which I highly recommend to any gardener out there. It's been very helpful to have garden events on record, and has forced me to reflect on the process in a new way. This diligent recording has left me with the feeling that things progress very slowly this time of year. That is until I left town this weekend on Friday, returned on Sunday, and could barely believe how much everything had grown in between. (Thanks in no small part to the watering services of the BFF)

To give you an idea of the plant life around here, here's a brief tour of the green things growing around my yard right about now, some of which I've planted and some of which are the glorious surprises that come with purchasing a home.

First, meet the iris. They are around this time of year and absolutely majestic. They don't last long, but their blossoms are huge, beautiful, and fragrant. They vary around my neighborhood. Mine are fluffy white, but my mother has smaller deep purple blooms.

Here they are outside.

And here where they belong, on my kitchen table in a tall thin vase.

Here is the single peach iris from my backyard.

Next meet the peonies that are starting to push out of their green shells. These and hydrangeas were my wedding flowers because they come up right around early June. Well, that and that they are both voluminous bursts of color. Soon, these will be big white pillows.

I've got the plot around back that we tilled. It currently houses kale seedlings that I started in the basement

new green beans-

and a few other seedlings that haven't shown their faces yet. (Carrots, peas, and beets.)

There are also lots of plants waiting in peat pots to be planted into the second plot we'll till this weekend. (yes we're late I know)

Some onions-

and a TON of tomatoes. I don't think most of these will fit into the beds, so we'll see where they end up.

Oh I planted this little basil from the coop.

We also have a planter with chives from the old owner and me.

and of course, the best food-gift we inherited from her, the raspberries. Very soon these will look like this, about a year ago.

So as you can see, the yard has been keeping me very busy. I really find solace milling around back there, moving slow and taking good care of these guys, as best as I know how. It's been a learning experience, and I can barely wait until things start producing real food!

I also wanted to share the quick dinner we had tonight to clean out the fridge and avoid going to the store.

I made rice with coconut milk, onions, garlic, tumeric, chicken stock, and black beans, and served that with red bell peppers I'd sauteed with some thinly sliced onions and this jerk sauce (funny how it's back this time of year again...)

This was delicious, entirely vegetarian, VERY cheap, and very fast.


oh hey, I should tell you about the cocktail I made up!

Ginger & Gin

Take a high-ball glass and some ice.

Add one shot gin (Seagrams is just fine, Tanqueray is better.)

Add the juice of 1/2 a fresh lime

And ginger ale to the top

mmmm.... Yeah, make one of those.

Finally, my ice cream machine! Scoop has asked for a review of it and my cast-iron griddle. I don't use the griddle often, so I plan to post a review the next time I use it. As for the machine, I've used it a couple times to make yogurt and ice cream, neither of which was based on a custard. Making ice cream and frozen yogurt has been very easy and successful. I simply added a little sugar, vanilla, and the fruit to my ice cream, and I used Alton's recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream.

I found the machine for around $35 on, in the box, only having been used a couple times. The machine is in great condition, and they even gave me rock salt! I highly recommend looking for cookware on craigslist.

Here she is! The biggest challenge with using an ice cream machine for me is having enough ice, since I don't have an ice machine. Keep the bowl and spinner in the freezer

Here's the motor and bucket

and some rock salt

You simply pour your cream mixture into the body, layer ice and rock salt surrounding the rotating chamber, and let it process for 30-45 minutes. If you're like us, you use that time to clean out your gutters.

So easy, cheap, delicious, and healthier than commerical ice cream or frozen yogurt.

In case you've forgotten...

Until next time readers, enjoy the brief pleasure that is spring!


Anonymous said...

just a note, to make it vegetarian you would have to use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock you used : )

Alicia said...

(Julia, is that you?!)

Thanks, reader, for pointing out my silly error. My dear husband remarked the same thing when I packed his lunch. I always forget to note that veggie stock=chicken stock in recipes like this.

In fact, in rice dishes, stock is usually just a nice substitute for water and salt, but is by no means necessary.

Likewise, I always forget to note that homemade stock is far superior to canned.

Linda said...

Linda (aka Scoop) here... thanks for the ice cream maker review. I just bought an ice cream maker from the same Rival brand from Target, but I think it doesn't require rock salt. I hope to use it next weekend.

Your garden project looks like a lot of fun (and hard work). You're growing so many things. Do you mainly eat veggies from the garden during the summer?

I look forward to seeing how the veggies turn out later this summer...

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