Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

One of my favorite staple recipes from Vegetarian Times is their Quinoa Stuffed Peppers. Talk about a complete meal in one dish! Nutty quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and pepper jack cheese all stuffed within sweet red bell pepper halves and baked - YUM.

This is one of the many dishes that I've found is greatly enhanced with the use of my canned tomatoes. Anyone can buy tomatoes at the grocery, but I can guarantee it won't have the flavor of mine! Plus, my tomatoes don't come sealed in a BPA-laden metal can.

Few things can sooth the back-to-work blues like a delicious homecooked Sunday night meal.

I Spy Some Green...

My first sprouts poked their heads through the soil this week!

First to make an appearance was a Sungold Select II tomato seedling:

This brave little guy was quickly followed by a forest of baby thyme sprouts:

Next, one lone basil sprout decided to join the party:

Yesterday another tomato peeked through - Aunt Ruby's German Green:

And today yet another tomato was gently unfolding - Carbon:

And the newest addition to the family (and a new herb for me this year), my first Lemon Bee Balm!

I can't believe how fast that first tomato germinated - I believe it only took 4-5 days? I guess these seeds are as impatient for spring as I am!

Today I manned myself with a snow shovel and started to carve my outdoor pots from their snow/ice prisons. It was NOT an easy job - the pots were frozen to the ground still. I wanted to remove most of the snow so the sun could finish melting it. I need to be able to get my new raised beds in place and filled with soil within the next few weeks so that I can plant my cold weather veggies. PLEASE NO MORE SNOW!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More Planting

Yesterday I planted my second round of seeds for the garden...


...and herbs!

I planted 3-each of these heirloom tomatoes (all new for me this year):
  • Riesentraube
  • Aunt Ruby's German Green
  • Sungold Select II
  • Carbon
  • Mule Team
I also planted most of my herbs for the year:
  • Basil, Genovese
  • Oregano, Vulgare
  • Thyme, Common
  • Catnip
  • Bee Balm, Lemon
  • Lavender (going to see if I can actually get this to sprout this year)
My eggplant and pepper seeds from last weekend aren't up yet, but that's to be expected. Last year it took them longer than I would have imagined for them to sprout. I have the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant sitting near one of our radiators, just to give them a little extra love and warmth. Once I start to see sprouting I'll move them into the basement under the grow light.

I'm patiently waiting for all of this snow on the ground to hurry-up-and-melt-already so that I can set up my raised beds. I need to get them placed and filled with soil sometime between March 1-15 so that I can get my cold weather veggies sowed directly into the soil - radish, beet, lettuce, onion, carrot, arugula, dill.

Here's to hoping for +32F degree weather for the next few weeks!

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Toys and First Seeds

So very excited - I received my order from Gardener's Supply this week. My new raised beds are here!

I have to say, the simplicity of design and ease of assembly impressed me. Each side is made with sturdy black plastic and is anchored on the corners with several hinges, a large pin, and a cover to protect the joint. Even I had no problems assembling the beds - and that's saying something.

The only trepidation that I have is with the netting, which I bought to cover one of the 3' x 3' beds in the hopes that wildlife will be unable to steal my tomatoes this year. The design of the netting is quite ingenious, but I can easily picture a manic squirrel chewing through the nylon webbing. We'll see. I might need to just break down and install some chicken wire.

In other garden news, I planted my first seeds of the season indoors today! I am taking it easy, beginning with the slow-starters: Black Beauty Eggplant, Purple Jalapeno Pepper, and Sweet Jimmy Nardello Pepper.

I learned from last year that these plants need a little longer than others to grow. Just 3-each of the peppers and 2-each of the eggplant, as I'm trying to keep my excess seedlings to a minimum.

Despite the 6-8 inches of snow we're getting today, it is indisputable - the gardening season has officially started in this house!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How Foodies Do Valentine's Day

We're not ashamed, we'll admit it - we're foodies. There are worse things in life. Everyone has their priorities - some love cars, some love to travel, some love shoes, we happen to love food - GOOD food.

My husband and I aren't huge Valentine's Day people, but we do usually celebrate with a nice meal. We were contemplating going to brunch at Honey today, but in an effort to save a little cash, we decided to have a quiet night at home with one of our favorite things to make together - homemade pizza. And when I saw homemade, I mean crust from scratch and sauce from scratch. None of this pre-made crap you can get in stores.

I know I've posted about our pizza adventures before, but it was just so tasty today that I felt the need to document the deliciousness. In the past we have been fairly traditional - basic margherita and basic white pie with fresh arugula. Tonight we decided to throw in a few new toppings, including sauteed cremini mushrooms and sliced green olives. Here is a picture of an olive pie, fresh out of our dinky electric oven:

And the earthier mushroom:


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter's Not Over Yet

Winter is DEFINITELY not over yet. It's actually been a fairly low-key winter in Southern Ohio, aside from some bone-chilling temperatures - we haven't had tons and tons of snow. So I guess this past weekend and today it's trying to make up for that.

This past Friday/Saturday we were blanketed with a good 4-5 inches. Today we woke up to several inches and are expected to get several more before the day is over - probably a good 6-7 inches when everything is said and done. My husband and I both stayed home from work today - getting snowed-in at work is NOT my idea of a productive (or happy) day.

This weekend I snapped a few pretty pictures of our yard after most of the snow had fallen:

Our neighborhood mockingbird, trying to keep warm:

We were quite excited on Saturday - excited as well as a little frightened. I had gotten up from the couch and was walking through the kitchen when I happened to glance outside into the back yard and saw something huge in the middle of the snow-covered lawn. I did a double take, and then another take for good measure, and then yelled for my husband.

There was a extremely LARGE bird just SITTING there on the ground. After grabbing the camera and getting a zoomed view, we knew it had to be a hawk of some type. Earlier this year my husband had seen a large hawk perched on the roof of our porch - maybe this was the same bird?

After a few minutes of observation and "oh my god"s, we realized why he was just sitting on the ground - he was harboring his latest catch, some small bird that was probably feeding on our freshly-stocked bird feeder. He eventually flew away in a dramatic sweep of wings and feathers, carrying his meal with him.

After researching online, we're fairly certain that the bird was a Cooper's Hawk, but it could also possibly have been a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. Either way, I was feeling guilty for filling our bird feeder and "luring" our poor neighborhood birdies into a death trap. I come from a long line of bird feeders, so I can't just NOT feed the birds. I wonder if there's a way we could get "WARNING, BIG SCARY HAWK TERRITORY" translated into "bird" and put on a sign for our back yard.

In other news, I finally made my purchase from Gardeners Supply that I've been ruminating over for a couple of months:
Whew, it feels good to have it ordered and done with - it's not a small commitment to spend money on stuff like that! Now I just have to hope that all of this snow doesn't delay the delivery - it's scheduled for tomorrow!