Thursday, July 24, 2008

Garden Updates

The Square Foot Garden is coming along...this past weekend I had to thin out the sprouted plants. This is right before I got down to business:

I felt I was pretty conservative - I don't really like cutting the little plants! I will probably have to do some more in a week or so.

Also, yesterday one of the little pods that had been growing on our passion fruit vine opened into this flower:

The plant is going to be covered with these in a week or so - should be pretty!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dinner: Grilled Chicken, Baby Bok Choy, Garlic Heirloom Cherry Tomato Scarlett Runner Beans and Nectarine Slices

The other night we made a fun dinner. It was our first time making Scarlett Runner beans, which we sauteed with some mini heirloom tomatoes, onions and a variety of spices. The beans were put on a bed of baby bok choy, then the chicken was put on the bed of beans, creating three layers of yumminess! Nectarine slices on the side added a sweet, summery flair.

In case you want to try your own Scarlett Runner beans, you must know that they take FOREVER to cook. I thought it would be 45 minutes to an hour - I think it was 2-3 hours before those beans were tender enough to drain and rinse!

Gardening Improvements

Last weekend Dylan built a self-watering container for my passionfruit vine. This is something that he had read about in a book and on the web, and is a fairly inexpensive project that allows your plants to self-regulate their water intake.

We also added basil and lavender to our plant collection:

And were delighted at the first signs of life in the square foot garden, mostly from the radish square (and a little wong bok action):

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday Dinner : Lamb Burgers, Kale, Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Tonight we had lamb burgers - minced lamb (from New Zealand!) combined with diced yellow onion, crushed garlic, rosemary, mint, hot pepper flakes, sweet Mexican chili and a dash of olive oil, formed into patties and grilled outside. The buns were toasted, and while Dylan grilled, I made a little garlic mayo to spread on the buns. Then I sauteed the kale and made a cherry tomato/mozzarella salad in the white leaf dishes that Chelsea gave Dylan for his birthday. The leaf dishes are great - we also used them recently to serve ice cream when we had people over.

This dinner was fantastic! The lamb reminds us both of our trip and is delicious with kale. I have to mention some important things about the tomato salad. These tomatoes are possibly the best baby tomatoes I have ever tasted. They come from Valdvia Farm in San Marcos, and we pick them up at the weekly La Jolla Farmers Market, where we get all of our great produce. I bought one container of these tomatoes last week, and after experiencing the sweet, juicy, flavor explosion of the six unique varieties (reddish purple, bright red, orange, yellow-orange, green, pale yellow) bundled together last week, I stocked up with three containers this week. They are incredible!

Sunday Dinner Facing Each Other

Sunday night after all our gardening, we had Tad and Jen over for appetizers and wine, then they left for a concert and we moved on to cooking our dinner. Dinner was grilled pork chops, collard greens and garlic marinated Japanese eggplant:

The pork chops had a pepper/spice rub on them, and the collard greens were just our standard farmers market variety sauteed in garlic and olive oil. We've been enjoying our steak knives that Dylan's parents gave us a few months back - I really have trouble remembering how we cut pork chops before we had them!

Dylan and I realized on Sunday night that the counter top in the kitchen extends enough so that we can sit across from each other at the kitchen bar. This means that we can light candles and gaze into each others' eyes while we dine:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

SFG: Day 1

This afternoon we finally put together our Square Foot Garden (SFG). The process started with a trip to our local nursery for the seeds. While we were there we picked up a passion fruit plant (Dana hasn't forgotten about eating these in New Zealand), which we hope will grow up the trellis on our deck:

After a slow drive home with the passion fruit plant sticking out of the sunroof, we were ready to put together the garden. We mixed the compost, vermiculite, and peat moss:

And the moved the box onto the deck where we think it will get a good amount of sun:

Then I attached the grid and we dropped the seeds in:

It may be hard to see from that picture, but each square is a different plant. From top left, going clock-wise we planted (per square):

  • 16 yellow onions
  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 swiss chard
  • 16 radishes
  • 4 basils
  • 16 carrots
  • 9 spinach
We labeled the squares so we wouldn't forget:

I'm expecting to see the first sprouts within one to two weeks. Waiting is...

Sunday Farmers Market run

Today we walked to the Farmers Market from our new house in PB. We normally walk to the market, but we are a considerable amount further away now, so the whole trip (including shopping) took about 2 1/2 hours. We were ready to be home after carrying everything back. Here is what we got:

From top left, going clock-wise:

  • Blueberries
  • Tangerines
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Garlic and Artichoke Hummus
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Dozen Jumbo eggs
  • Cherry tomatoes (3 pints)
  • Plums
  • Avos
  • Plumcots
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Collard Greens
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Red Onions
  • Japanese Eggplant
How much did all this produce (and hummus and eggs) cost? $56. I'll leave it to you all to say whether that is a good deal or not. We think it is money well spent.

After all that walking Dana made a great lunch of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and red onions on toasted Rosemary Garlic Demi loaves, with tangerines and cherry tomatoes on the side:

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Garage Clean-out & Flower Boxes

After our long walk and stop at Bird Rock Coffee this morning, we set up our garage and put some of the least-used things in the attic. After sending a round of stuff up to the attic, we were able to fit a large red desk, lamp and chair in the corner of the garage. This means that we can now work on projects out there! I can be the artist and Dylan the mad scientist that we've each always dreamed of :-)

In the early afternoon, we did our first bit of gardening at the new house. A trip to Green Gardens on Cass St. led us to pick out 12 pots of African Daisies in white, yellow and royal purple:

Dylan pulled out the dead begonias from the last tenants, and also got rid of some of the dead soil, mixing in new potting soil and organic compost:

Streak then came outside briefly to do a bit of sniffing around:

About 30 minutes later we finished up, and gave them a good watering. They look nice:

And I was able to create a fun new hairdo for the BBQ at the Wildrick's this afternoon: