Monday, June 14, 2010

Is my thumb green yet?

A few days ago, I realized that I haven't really written about our garden in the backyard much at all. While not as experimental as my indoor windowsill garden attempts in our old apartment, the new backyard garden is still quite the learning experience for me. Especially since I have no idea what I am doing.

We are following Mel Bartholomew's square foot gardening method and learning about it all from a book that I received for the holidays last year. It's been great so far, especially since our backyard is not all that big, and I would eventually like to do more landscaping with flowers and such. This method allows us to grow a bunch of stuff in a very small amount of space, as you'll see from these pictures.

I learned my lesson about thinning my sprouts from this first crop. As you might be able to see from the photo above, some of my radishes are rather puny and thin. I didn't have the heart to pull something out of the ground that worked so hard to get there. I did thin out my pole bean and bush beans, though. I also went ahead and clipped a few from the cauliflower squares today, too. We'll see if it helps or hinders at this point in the game.

All in all it has been a blast. I am absolutely loving the whole "growing stuff" thing.

We'll be slowly harvesting this spring time crop for the rest of this month, and replacing what we take out with some summer time veggies. I have a few seeds started for pickling cucumbers (an adventure in itself if they grow), eggplants, and bell peppers. I have a bunch of space for other things, too. I might even see if I can grow some things through the winter as well.

Here's to veggies!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wedded Bliss is a Piece of Cake

Yesterday, the hubs and I celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary. Here is a glimpse at the celebratory spread...

I made a creamy spinach, mushroom and pepper lasagna, we opened up a delicious bottle of red wine that had been a gift from some family friends, and I splurged just a bit on a Gateau Basque (cream filled cake) from a lovely place in Olympia called The Bread Peddler.

Needless to say, we stuffed ourselves with all of these delicious things.

Here's to plenty more anniversary feasts to come!

Recipe for creamy spinach mushroom and pepper lasagna:

3 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded blend of mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and romano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ( I love pepper so I used a bit more)
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta ( I used a low fat version)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 onion sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped (I used cremini)
1 cup pre-browned TVP/vegetarian "meat" crumbles (optional)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ( use less if you want it less spicy)
approx. 8 lasagna noodles

1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 1/2 cups milk over medium heat until steaming. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with the flour. Whisk into the hot milk; cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens. Continue to cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from the heat; whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese and the black pepper.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together spinach and ricotta. Set aside.

3. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic, stirring for about a minute. Add the bell peppers and mushrooms. Cook, stirring as needed until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the TVP if using, fennel seeds, pepper flakes and 2 Tablespoons of water. Cook until heated through, approx. 3 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or use olive oil to coat the bottom. Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese sauce on the bottom of the dish. Line the bottom with noodles. Spread with half the spinach mixture, then another 1/4 cup of the sauce. Add another layer of noodles. Top with all of the sauteed vegetables, add a 1/4 cup of the sauce. Add another layer of noodles and the remaining spinach mixture. Finish with another layer of noodles and the rest of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on top.

5. Spray a large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray, and use it to cover the dish tightly. Bake about 30 minutes; uncover and bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy.

- Note - I did not pre-cook the lasagna noodles and the cooked just fine in the oven.

This makes super tasty leftovers, too, since the flavors really get to mingle together.

I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Help me Irish Spring, you're my only hope...

Turns out I have some little friends that covet my yarn stash even more than I do...yep, I got moths! Boy, do they suck!

I managed to get rid of a few skeins that seemed to be their breeding ground this past weekend (ewwwww)have a few balls of yarn in the freezer (I read that that can kill off any eggs/larvae things?) tucked my stash in plastic bins and bags, and have dried lavender and irish spring soap to deter any winged creatures. Yep, I said Irish Spring soap. I read on Ravelry that if you take a bar and cut it into pieces and store it with your fiber it will deter the moths. Who knew?

If anyone out there happens to stumble upon this blog and has any tips for moth issues, please do share!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

books and fish and books and fish

I've been pretty horrible about posting lately. But, for once, it is not due to lack of crafty projects/stuff being worked on! Thank goodness for my weekly knitting group (big shout out to the Lakewood Area Knitters, what WHAT!!!), my little garden out in the back, and the public library for that.
The lack of posting is more about my brain going in multiple directions at once, and getting myself working towards some sort of semi-structured day now that I am working from home.
I definitely plan on more regular posts. But for now, here is a glimpse at some lovely things of the moment...

One of the latest (of many) books from the library, A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg - the creator of the Orangette blog, which seems to have slipped past my blog radar somehow. The knitting is a project the knitting group is working on for the charity Project Linus. We are all making fish that create a tesselated pattern and form a blanket.

More to come soon.