Gardens Vs. Year

A little re-cap of my gardens since 2008, I don't seem to have a picture from 2007 but it was a small shared garden with my down stairs neighbors. It's been a bit of a learning experience, what works and what doesn't. But in general if your nice to your veggies they'll be nice to you!

2009 When everything was first planted and of course the ubiquitous flamingo.

2009 after we moved to the new place, narrow little bit of thing but I packed stuff in and it grew!

2009 -Before we moved mostly herbs and lettuce and a lot of things potted up in anticipation for a smaller garden. Though just realized I forgot to bring my columbines with me. *pouting*

2008 double the size of 2007 and 2009, It needs 2 pictures to show how big it was, the pea rows in the middle block the view a tad.

The other half... (2008) It was a lot of fun having a large garden and the backyard to accommodate it !

Taste of Summer - Steak for Two

It's gone from fall colors to very cool 35F, very quickly this year. Fast enough that I didn't take any fall foliage pictures this year or enjoy a warm but slightly brisk hike around one of the parks. The one day we did get out was over cast and threatening rain, but we hurried on and picked tons of berries for my invasive species jam. Promise I'll blog about that soon....

In any event this is a fun meal that we made a couple times during the summer. We're not huge beef eaters, not that we don't like it, its just well the industry, I'd prefer grass fed beef, but its hard to find. Anyway so we tend to splurge on steak rather than burgers. The big find for us is that one strip steak feeds the two of us just fine. Served with any types of sides, though go for easy and quick to make it a relaxing summery meal! This version has a Southwest feel to it with the addition of the lime and cilantro for a quick chimichurri sauce, and chili pepper to the salad dressing.

Mmm this I think was the best picture and example of our steak for two meal.

1 strip steak, room temp, & marinated
8 corn tortillas
Lettuce (romain, arugula etc)
Cheddar Cheese
Guacamole (premade or make homemade)
Salad dressing

Bring the marinated steak to room temperature, heat gril to medium/high heat. Takes about 10-15 minutes to grill a steak so plan the sides accordingly. Heres a good guide about how long to grill steak. Take the pesto base, about 1/2 cup and squeeze 1/2 lime into it and handful finely chopped cilantro season with salt pepper to taste. Set Aside. Make a quick vinaigrette with the other half of the lime juice and chili powder, really how ever you like it. Begin assembling the quesadillas, heat a pan with oil and gently fry and flip quesadillas until cheese is melted. Assemble plate with guacamole on top of the quesadillas or inside, and little diping bowls of the "chimichurri sauce" Cut steak in half for two portions and enjoy!

The key to strip steak is the marination, its a slightly cheaper cut so I like to start in around 11am. This is a how ever you like it type of marinade. Oil, salt/soy sauce, pepper, chili powder, and some salad dressing for vinegar or apple cider vinegar, even some honey is nice. The focus being flavor, and the acidic to tenderize the beef.

Side Variations: salads, sauted veggies, potatoes, or quesadillas with guac, quinoa, etc. another variation with potatoes salad and tomato salad, and of course a good malbec

Little Update

I haven't been posting much, aside from spending to much time on facebook. But! that doesn't mean I haven't been a busy bee. Things have been cooking, and I've tested recipes on my willing though some times reluctant boyfriend. Have I mentioned that I just can't follow a recipe. No matter what I always change something, add something, or do it a completely different way. Which also make writing recipes a little challenging because I try and give my meals a lot of wiggle room. Since the likely hood of me running to the store 10 minutes before dinner to get that one all "important" ingredient. Not likely. And if I'm really hungry - not taking a picture of the final project, is bound to happen.

I've been squirreling things away all month. If the Apocalypse included working freezers I'd have a head start on surviving the nuclear winter. Of course I'd be full but I sill need a personal fallout shelter... working on that. (Though I'm probably just sensing fall.) I have made and tucked away delish english muffins, tasty blueberry muffins, two quart bags of frozen basil, frozen parsley, bread crumbs, and sliced bread loaf. I've also canned two kinds of jam, and whipped up wonderful peach pie.

The garden has been very plentiful, and the farmers market fun (until in a clutzy moment you fall and bang your knee...) I'm kind of wishing I had a pressure canning device - I have a small mountain of tomatoes that would be great stashed away for the winter. The 13 habanero plants are grow grow growing away - covered in little hot peppers. The first of which has started to ripen. Can my spice obsessed b/f wait before plucking it so we can see if it will actually turn red? A true dilemma. I'm hoping to make hot sauce out of my habaneros - so could they all please turn at the same time? I have a variety of hot sauce and sambal recipes that I'd like to can, or at the least get the ball rolling. So projects abound and classes start soon, so its get it done or go bust.

Random meal of the week

Lunch time gets random for me, I'm very dependent on leftovers to make a meal. Which is why I generally make a little extra at dinner. Its 80 degrees right now, and a hot bowl of pasta, might send me into a heat stroke! As a result, some of my better lunch time meals are several things at once.

Leftover rice, not much left was heated up, green onions were chopped and sauteed up with a little canola and sesame oil. Once they softened a little I tossed the rice into the pan and mixed it up. A little g/f soy sauce and sambal oleck. Voila.

Earlier I made some hard boiled eggs and made them into a no fuss egg salad. And made some "marinated" cukes. Sliced a large cucumber, one small tomato (from the garden!) , and small carrot that I julienne with my new julienne gizmo. To this I added rice vinegar (my new favorite vin at the moment) a little cider vinegar, a touch of canola oil (or any light oil) , pinch of salt, and red pepper flakes. My motto is that every thing tastes a little better with some heat!

(I'm finding that the less breads (and I mean g/f breads), baked goods and pasta that I eat, and the more veggies and fruit, the better I feel. Which is interesting phenomena since starting out just not eating wheat and gluten had helped. I wonder what it is about those sort of starches that throw me off? )

Anyway, Happy Summer time Random Eating!

Summertime Potato Salad

Starting to get to that point where I need to start doing things with my tomatoes. It's polite to not just pick and eat so that other people can eat them, and they taste so good for dinner. This turned into a slightly more complex way of using them up, than just a little olive oil and vinegar tossed over them, yummy none the less.

Something about Summer says potato salad. But those gloppy mayo laden salads that grace some tables is a little gross to me. Not that I don't like mayo, it has its place in the kitchen, as a back ground seasoning where the yummy flavors of summer can be featured. Its a little like glue, you need it, but to much and it just gets every where. This was also a nice way to have most of dinner ready before noon, and then throw some meat on the grill and serve on a bed of lettuce.
This is a much lighter herby and slightly sweet dressing, the rice vinegar give this really nice smooth taste.

A few notes about the recipe, I used a blender which helped emulsify the dressing and chop the herbs, but I didn't pay any or much attention to the amounts I was putting in. Treat the ratios like you would a regular salad dressing, but a little light on the olive oil since you are adding mayo, and the mayo thickens it a little. Pour the dressing on in small amounts until you get the coverage you want.

About 1 hr prep & make refrigerate over night or 5 hrs to marinate the flavors. Probably serve 4 as a side dish.

For the Dressing:

3 tbs lite mayo (i just got out a spoon and eye balled it in)
aprox 1/4 rice vinegar & red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
honey - probably a tsp.
olive oil
handful of in decreasing amounts parsley, thyme, tarragon, rosemary,basil
large garlic clove
1/3 of sauteed onions

6 russet potatoes
large hand full of cherry tomatoes from garden
2 small corn cobs
10 green beans
2 yellow onions
tbs balsamic vinegar
red pepper flakes

Place potatoes in pot of cold salted water and bring to boil about 15 -20 minutes. Mean wheile start dressing, starting with the garlic and herbs, if doing it by hand everything was finely diced. Then add rest of dressing ingredients to blender. Thinly slice onions and saute until soft with olive oil and about 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes to taste . Chop tomatoes green beans and set aside. When potatoes are done let them cool and chop up, I left some of the skins on, but probably skinned about half of them. Pour a little of the dressing over them to start the seasoning process. Bring pot of water to boil and cook corn cobs. When cooled enough to handle strip cobs and add to potatoes. When the onions are softened add about half to the potatoes and put the rest in the dressing. Blend until smooth. Add the tomatoes and green beans last and then pour rest of dressing in, toss and refrigerate.

* My potatoes and corn were still warm so I added the cold veggies last so I didn't cook them. Also this was what I had on hand, there are lots of other veggies that you could add. The herbs might seem random, but together they create a nice flavor that isn't distinct to just one herb.