Getting started

June 12, 2011

I finally got around to planting a few things at the Ballard P-patch this weekend. I have to admit I’m a little intimidated trying to grow new veggies. I don’t want to spend a ton of money and then somehow kill all the plants. I went to Swanson’s and decided I’d plant 1/2 the plot with flowers and decorative plants and the other 1/2 with edibles.

My favorite flowers are: Peony, Tulips and Lilies. I looked all over for a nice deep red, or peach colored peony, but all they had were white and pink. I went with a light pink color. The bees were all over it.

Ballard P-patch Peony

My Peony

Koda

My lazy companion. He didn't even offer to help.

Balalrd P-patch plot

Getting started on my plot

Balalrd P-patch plot

Lemon cucumber, tomato, chives and bush beans...

I loved the lemon cucumbers we grew on the deck last year. I like how full the plant gets. They are easy to grow and they make me feel somewhat successful as a novice gardener!

I’m going to plant some peppers and maybe some arugula as well. Stay tuned…

hori hori dig dig!

The light in the sky is changing and there is a slight chill in the air. I like to call it pre-Fall. Since we had such a late start to Summer, I feel weird admitting that I am excited for the change of season. Growing up in Michigan I experienced 4 very distinct seasons. Here in Seattle we have basically 2 seasons and the cold/grey season is the longest. So why am I feeling just a little excited?! Maybe because I get to pull my Hunter boots out of the closet. And my basket of scarves. I love them.

It’s been a while since my last garden update. I am happy to report nothing has died! In fact it seems that the plants are quite happy right where they are getting loads of sunshine and plenty of water.

I’ll hopefully get to make a few jars of pasta sauce with the tomatoes. I usually make a chunky tomato sauce with loads of garlic, shallots and white wine. The Cucumbers are basically just a method of transportation for hummus. I also like them in salad. If we get enough of them, I may try my hand at pickling. Finding a pickling recipe for Lemon Cucumbers has been tough. I may just try a few recipes and see what works best. Brussels Sprouts just seem like a Fall dish. Sautéed with onion and sometimes a little bacon. Just for fun. They are comfort food. I didn’t realize I liked them until 4 or 5 years ago when I was living in Portland and made them as a side dish for Thanksgiving. I don’t remember having them often growing up in Michigan, or maybe like most kids, I turned up my nose when they made an appearance. I’m a big fan now.

It has been amazing to watch the tomatoes. I can’t believe how quickly they grow! This is a Speckled Roman variety tomato plant, and while it looks a little worse for wear, it seems happy and the tomatoes are getting bigger by the day. They look a bit like swollen peppers.

The Lemon Cucumber plant is my favorite. I love how it filled out and is creeping slowly and looking for a place to climb. The flowers that become the cucumber are pretty and it’s fun to watch the transformation.

The other morning while watering the plants I thought this little guy was getting trapped between the pot and vine, so I tried to move it gently but it came off. I think it is a little young yet, but I may try it this afternoon with some hummus. M’mmmm…

The Brussels! I started with 4 plants and 1 was losing the battle so I pulled it from the pot. I think this pot is a little small for 3, but we’ll see what happens. I have to do some research on how to maintain these as the sprouts grow. They are forming veeeerrrryyyy slowly in the armpit of each stem/leaf, but I heard somewhere that you have to snap off the bottom leaf to promote growth. I’m not convinced that I didn’t dream that, so I want to be sure. If you have advice I’d love to hear it!

Now I feel a bit more confident with my gardening skills. I’ve heard a rumor we might get a new P-Patch in Ballard, so I have to try to get my name on the list for a plot. Stay tuned…

We just got back from our San Juan boating trip. I’ll share the details soon. It was so relaxing.

hori hori dig dig!

Volunteer Park Conservatory

October 13, 2009

Even if you don’t care for gardening or plants, you have to admit this is kind of cool:

There are plenty of plants at the Volunteer Park Conservatory that are obviously not native to our climate here in the Pacific Northwest. I found out that the Conservatory is a US Fish and Wildlife Rescue Center and when the US Customs seizes illegally imported plants some are given to the Conservatory to display. Which explains why all of the orchids were behind locked screens. Cool, right?

If you haven’t been to Volunteer Park Conservatory in Capital Hill, you need to go. Especially now, because the trees in the park are lit up in their Fall colors. It’s a really nice place to take a stroll. I recommend donating some money if you go, because the Friends of the Conservatory and the Seattle Parks and Recreation department do such a nice job maintaining the plants and the property. On my recent visit to Olympia I was disappointed that the conservatory at the Capital had been closed permanently. I love to see the variety of plants; their colors, texture and climate. Since I am always cold, I’m particularly fond of the fern house since they keep it kinda toasty in there. Go check it out!

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Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair

September 13, 2009

I’ve been so excited to attend and volunteer for Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair. Two of my favorite things in one place, food and gardening. Harvest Fair was this past Saturday at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. I went early to see what vendors were participating and what local restaurants and roving food carts would be there. It was perfect weather for an outdoor festival, 85 degrees and sunny. I was able to reclaim some of my lost freckles! I volunteered to greet people and gently remind them there was a “suggested” donation. I also directed people to the restrooms. It was a very important job.

There are too many pictures to post, so I’ll give you a summary of the event. First, let me say that when you walked into the fair, you were greeted with the delicious smells of food from local restaurants and roving food vendors. There was live music all day and kids everywhere with face paint and decorated hats made out of paper bags. There were goats and chickens and a beekeeper selling honey. Several local farms were there selling organic produce. There were canning classes, winter gardening classes and compost demonstrations in the afternoon. Skillet was there with their super cool airstream trailer selling mouth watering lunch goodies. They are obviously mobile and you can find their scheduled locations on their website. You’ll most likely have to wait in line, but it’s worth it. Two words: bacon jam!  Swansons, my favorite nursery, was at the fair talking to people about native plants and general gardening advice. I learned about Seattle Youth Garden Works, a local organization that educates, empowers and helps find employment for kids ages 14-21 that would otherwise be living on the street or in general may not have had the opportunities or tools to exceed. They sell the produce they grow at the University District Farmer’s Market. Cool, right? Here are some pictures of the day.

hori hori dig dig!

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Risotto to celebrate pre-fall

September 6, 2009

I spent the morning/afternoon with a girlfriend shopping downtown, something I don’t attempt often because of the crowds. It was so nice to catch up with her and stroll around the city. The weather was blustery and the minute I stepped out the door to meet her, it was a dogs and cats downpour! Luckily the rain stopped. I think we are firmly planted in pre-fall. I’m not sure if I am excited about it yet. However, I get to start making fall dishes and that makes me happy. I love nesting and spending an afternoon preparing a new dish, the house filled with the smell of home cooking. So, after shopping today I made Risotto with Chard and Prosciutto. The chard was harvested yesterday when I volunteered in the garden at Seattle Tilth.

My boyfriend is out of town this week (I miss him…) and I went to his house this afternoon to watch movies and cook. Also, he just bought a Le Creuset dutch oven, and I thought I would take it for a test drive! Turns out, it works just as well as mine even though it is a different color. Hehe…

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As always, I treated myself to some wine as I cooked. Listen, I will drink the Rose’ until it is officially Fall you guys! This one happens to be my favorite.

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I’d definitely make this recipe again. I would use a scosh less salt and maybe add another green like spinach or arugula to help balance the prosciutto flavor. The day ended with a bit of sunshine. Perfect.

hori hori dig dig!

Seattle Tilth-tastic

September 5, 2009

I made it to a Seattle Tilth garden crew volunteer session this morning. It rained earlier, and it has been one of those pre-fall, blustery, it might rain again kind of days, but warm enough to wear a t-shirt. I love days like this! Perfect gardening weather. I think I should explain a bit more about what Seattle Tilth is about and why I love them. Tilth’s mission is this:

“Seattle Tilth inspires and educates people to garden organically, conserve natural resources, and support local food systems in order to cultivate a healthy urban environment and community”

Next week is the annual Harvest Fair. I’ve been meaning to go for 2 years now and this year I will be volunteering most of the day at the event. I can’t wait. Harvest Fair is a celebration of local food, teaching people about urban gardening, raising urban livestock, eating fresh food and getting together with the community. I think food brings people together and I’m looking forward to learning from all the gardeners and gardener hopefuls (like me)! Also, Tilth has a children’s garden. How cute is that?

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Today, at the Good Shepherd Center location in Wallingford I harvested lemon cucumbers (so, so cute), tomatillos, basil, beans, tomotoes and chard. We also weeded the garden and prepared a bed for cover crops to let the soil rest a bit.

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Here is my bounty from today! I am going to make chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa this weekend. M’mmmmmm….

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hori hori dig dig!

Hello world!

August 18, 2009

Welcome!

Recently, I was telling some friends about a great new restaurant in town that I had been to. One of my girlfriends told me that when she moved to Seattle she couldn’t find any blogs that talked about great restaurants, fun neighborhoods, lovely little boutique shops, weekend getaway ideas etc… so here I am. A local girl that loves to frolic in this Pacific Northwest playground and share her experiences with you! Oh… a hori hori is a Japanese multi-purpose gardening tool. It means dig dig in Japanese. I recently bought one at my local nursery and I thought the name was cute.

EAT: There is no shortage of amazing restaurants here. I often hear of new restaurant openings on Daily Candy. As of today my favorite restaurant in Seattle is Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor. The lobster rolls are to die for! It is a little off the beaten track, but a charming space that will have you place them neatly in your back pocket the next time you want to impress your friends. When I’m feeling particularly domestic, I’ll whip out my America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks and look for the perfect recipe. A little geeky, I know, but I love that show. They test their recipes so many times and alter the ingredients until it is just right. So, assuming I follow the recipe it should turn out perfectly, and it usually does. I had a rib-off this summer and used one of their recipes. Sweet, tender, saucy ribs! I’m pretty sure I won too. There was some wine involved.

TRAVEL: While I’d love to tell you how worldley (I think this is a word, I would use it in Scrabble for sure) I am, my budget mostly calls for staycations these days. Whistler, Vancouver, Portland, the Olympic Peninsula, the San Juans or maybe just checking out a new neighborhood. No matter where you go, there is beautiful scenery, amazing food and no doubt a good story. I went to Whistler this summer for the first time. It was breathtaking. The new Peak to Peak gondola is amazing! Oh, and they have a new restaurant, Araxi. We went there 2 nights in a row it was so good.

GARDEN: I am a novice in every sense of the word here. I started volunteering with Seattle Tilth recently and now I have a great big crush on this organization. I give my time in the garden and they teach me everything I need to know about growing and harvesting edibles. They also help support other local farmers, which I love. Last week I harvested lemon cucumbers. Have you seen these things? First of all, they are adorable. Second, they taste delicious, and third, since they are the size of a lemon I waste less food!

These are the things that make me smile. I took pictures the first time I used my new Le Creuset 7.25 qt. dutch oven. It was a little present to myself. Why? I can’t remember. I must have done something I was proud of! Also, here is a picture of my first rustic apple tart from scratch.

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Isn’t it beautiful?! I can’t help it.

hori hori dig dig!