Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Carnation Farmers' Market

We finally had a Tuesday this May where it wasn't pouring down rain in the afternoon - and that means that we also finally got to go to the Carnation Farmer's Market! Neither Jon nor I had been to it before, but now that we are living in the area, we thought we would start going to it and the Duvall one (which opens this Thursday, and is within walking distance from our house! Squeeee!) to buy our weekly summer produce.

The Carnation market is not a very large affair, but oh, what nice goodies can be found there. This is what we walked out with today in the way of produce:





We didn't buy a lot this time around because we didn't have a real plan for what we wanted and would use this week. We were mostly going to see what was there and get a feel for it.

There are also some plant vendors there. I knew going in that I wanted to buy a tomato plant if anyone was selling any. There were several varieties and it was difficult to choose. I finally decided on Better Boy tomatoes. I don't know much about them, but the seller claimed that they are a fairly sweet paste tomato that's a good all around, use any way you like it, tomato. That sounded like a good kind to start out with.



We also bought a Japanese lace leaf maple. We have wanted one for years, but have been reluctant to shell out for one. We were dumbfounded to find a really healthy looking, not too tiny one for much less than what we have seen anywhere else. We couldn't pass it up.



At home with our spoils, Jon set up the barbeque and I washed the portion of greens that we were planning on consuming with dinner. We halved the largest baby bok choy in the bundle, drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Then, after grilling up his famous marinated flank steak, Jon lightly grilled the seasoned bok choy. It was very tasty. We also made a salad with some of the mesclune salad mix and spinach, and a sprinkling of my home grown arugula, which is finally getting large enough to start thinning it a bit. I tossed it with my own recipe for a creamy dill vinaigrette that I made up one day while trying to imitate the dressing on a spinach salad that I had at Anthony's Home Port one day.

Here is the recipe, if you would like it:

Creamy Dill Vinaigrette

1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Stone Ground Dijon Mustard
3-4 tsp milk (to desired consistency
1/2 tsp dried dill
approx 1/2 tsp sugar (taste test as you go)
salt and pepper to taste
a few drops of lemon juice to taste

Wisk all of the ingredients together until you have a nice emulsification. Toss with a salad of baby spinach, sliced raw mushrooms, and chopped cooked bacon. (Or just toss with some mixed greens, if you prefer)

Tip - if you are cooking bacon to put in your salad, put a little of the leftover bacon fat in the vinaigrette as well. It doesn't take much. Mmmmmm. Bacon fat.

You may have to fudge some of the ingredients to find your own preferable tartness/sweetness balance. Mine turns out slightly different every time, depending on what my taste buds are telling me that day.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Must Remind Myself...

...my house does not have to be perfect. I just need to do what I can, and that is good enough.

I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to make my house perfect because we are having my son's second birthday party tomorrow. All the guests are family. They all know that I am not a perfect housekeeper, and not a single one of them has ever commented on it, because they don't care. That's exactly how it should be. And yet, here I am, stressing about it all when I should be enjoying the fact that my son is 2! Granted, a few of the guests haven't seen the new house yet, so they will be getting the grand tour. That means the upstairs will be viewed, including the master bathroom (which is really awful right now - and that would even be thought by someone with lower standards than mine), and the office and the sewing room, which are filled with boxes and weird random objects that we haven't created homes for yet. Why exactly do I think anyone will care?

So tomorrow, I will get done what I can, and I will stop worrying about the things that I can't get to (although I will at least get the bathroom tidied up). I will enjoy the day and the company. I will laugh away the fact that there are still random unpacked boxes in odd corners of the house. I will make cupcakes. I will joke about the one small picture hanging forlornly in the middle of the largest wall in the family room (hung there in a panic before hosting Christmas to cover up a square of green paint that we were sampling). Most of the guests have been over several times since then anyway. You just think I would have done something about these things by now.

But I haven't. I will get to them when I get to them, and I will stop feeling guilty about not having done so as of yet.

Yeah.

So there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Actually, I shouldn't say that - rain is good for the garden. Well, some rain is, anyway. We sure have been getting a lot of it the last few days. I've had to take my herb pots out of their saucers so they don't sit in too much water and drown.

Since it has been so gloomy and gray around here, I thought I might cheer myself up and post some pictures of how the garden is progressing. I actually took these pictures about a week and a half ago, intending to post them here, but I got busy working on title graphics and colors and never got around to it (I'm still working on all that stuff, just not very quickly).

This first pic is of Jon digging out a vegetable bed with, yes, a miner's pick.



The builders did not leave us with much in the way of top soil - everything is hard clay and rock - so this is what it took. Ultimately, this will end up being a semi-raised, semi-sunken bed, due to the fact that it's on a slope. This spot gets the most hours of sun though, so we're going with it. The second bed is yet to be dug-out. I'm kind of wondering if we will be able to get to it in time for spring plantings this year. I've already started the pumpkins indoors, so those have priority if we only get one vegetable bed ready. Does anyone know if carrots and beets can be grown in deep pots?

That's what I have decided to do with my Arugula this year:



This is the first batch that I blogged about a while ago. The second batch is in the hardening off stage, and will probably be ready for planting in a second tub in a week or two. I'm a little concerned - the first batch is not growing as fast as I expected it to. Maybe I just have high expectations. I really have no idea what I'm doing. Each cluster sprouted from 2 or 3 seeds. Am I supposed to thin them down to one? (See, I'm a total newb).

Here are my pumpkin sprouts:



I'm a little concerned about the pots that they are in. For a few days, I had to keep the door to the sewing room (where they are currently residing) closed because one of the cats finally figured out that it could jump the baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs (the other two have yet to realize their ability to do this). The peat pots developed a bit of white powder on the exposed surfaces that Jon and I suspect is mildew, probably because the room was not getting enough air circulation. However, now that I have solved the gate problem (big foam tube and cable ties to extend the height - eh, you use what you have), I have been able to leave the door open again and it appears that the mildew is disappearing, which is now leading me to question whether it was mildew at all, or just some strange property of peat pots.

Wow, I'm long winded today. Okay, so to wrap up, we also bought some things at Flower World, and planted them in the front.

Jasmine:


A type of flowering Spirea that I suddenly forgot the name of:


Purple Pasque Flower:


and Bleeding Heart (my favorite):

We staked them because they were a bit droopy after transplanting and looked like they needed a little help. Whether it was really necessary, I don't know. But it can't hurt.

These are what remained of my tulips a couple of weeks ago. They have since opened up and are just gorgeous:


I say "remained" because the larger blooms opened earlier, and I picked them to enjoy inside (same tulips - one large and several small sprout from each bulb):

I'll have to get back to you on what variety they are.

Oh, and I can't forget the crazy two-headed tulip:



So, if that isn't cheerful on a dull dreary day, I don't know what is!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Still Tweeking

Ah - I like this title graphic much better. I have to mess with the size a bit still, and change text colors again to match better, but that will have to wait for another day.