Sunday, February 28, 2016

I'm making a quick grocery list at the moment, to make the recipes I've decided to make this coming week, and one of the recipes I want to make is beans on toast for breakfast - updated style!  I'll share the recipe link, after I've tried the recipe.  It's from one of my favourite recipe sites, so I'm sure it will be delish.

The recipe calls for 1, 15 oz can of navy beans.  Naturally, I have dry navy beans (a lot apparently...I need to tidy up my pantry again...  More on that to come LOL.

Anyway, I was at a complete loss to what the conversions were, until I found The Reluctant Gourmet!




They have a great conversion table, so I thought I'd share it with you:  Bean Conversion Table

I'll be making them in my Instant Pot, which means they'll be ready in about 15 minutes.  I freaking love that thing!!



Friday, February 26, 2016

I'm so bad.  I take pictures to share of healthy food I've made, note the ingredients I've used, and then completely forget to actually share them.  Honestly...

Anyway, since sharing that I was starting another 100 days of real food, and also that I'd had a very interesting series of tests done for food sensitivity and nutrient absorption, I've made lots of healthy meals, so here are a few of them:

Home-made from scratch chicken and rice soup:


Chia pudding using almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, topped with frozen fruit:


Some sort of fish (salmon?) with lemon, salt and pepper, and mini red potatoes, all made in my Instant Pot:



Pea pod soup, which I discovered the recipe for when I just happened to be eating fresh sugar snap peas right out of the bag:




A spicy tomato/kale/egg dish that I found the recipe for online.  I didn't care for the kale (I'm not a big cooked greens fan) but other than that it was delish:





A FABULOUS fermented salsa recipe.  I tried both the all-salt and the salt and whey version, and I think I might like the salt one better.  I had been wanting to make salsa with some of the tomatoes that I want to grow in the spring in my first-ever urban kitchen garden, and wanted to try it before using tomatoes I grew myself, to make sure I like it.  You see, I loathe raw tomatoes, so wanted to make sure I actually liked the taste--and I can tell you, it's AMAZING!  There first image is of the freshly-chopped ingredients, the second is of the salt/whey version, just after I finished combining it in the jar:




Green muffins made with quite a bit of spinach, which, believe it or not, were actually quite tasty, and had the texture of a firm cupcake.  I used all organic whole wheat pastry flour, instead of 2 types of flour, because it's what I had on hand:



Several green smoothies with a whole lot of greens in them:




And steel-cut oats made in my Instant Pot, with frozen blueberries and cashews:



With regards to my first-ever kitchen garden, I'm going to have (barring some calamity) 4 plots, 4x10' each, so 80 square feet to garden.  I'm going to do the no-dig garden method, partly because I hear it's much better for the beasties and the soil, and thus for the crops, than digging everything over each year, and also because frankly I have better things to do than constantly amend the soil, constantly weed, and constantly water. 

I sourced as many things as I could free or very cheap, so that I could spend the money on quality organic vegetable and fruit seeds.  I even got some heirloom and rare varieties!

I'm currently planning out the plots.  I plan to grow vertically as much as possible, to maximize the space.  I'm growing:

Basil - Mix
Beans/Legumes - Hildasta, Rattlesnake Snap, and Speckled Cranberry
Beets - Mix
Cabbage - Red Express
Carrots - Coloured Mix, Danvers Half Long, Paris Market, Scarlet Nantes
Cauliflower - Snowball
Corn - Double Standard Sweet
Cucumber (not really a cucumber but classified as such) - Mexican Sour Gherkin (aka Cucamelon)
Garlic - I had to order from way over in the west coast to get them!
Kale - Heirloom Mix
Lettuce - Parris Cos (Caesar type Romaine), Red Romaine (apparently it's a little spicy!)
Leek - Giant Musseluerg
Onions - Evergreen Bunching, Red Wethersfield, Cippolini White
Peas - Sugar Snap (not sure how much of this will actually make it home vs getting eaten at 'the plot'
Peppers - Alma Paprika (making home-made paprika from these!), King of the North (fresh)
Radishes - French Breakfast, White Beauty
Squash - Butternut Waltham
Tomatoes (all paste, for making tomato sauce) - Amish Paste, Black Plum, Gilbertie Paste
Watermelon - Small Shining Light, Sweet Siberian

I also bought Celery - Peppermint Stick and Lettuce - Marvel of Four Seasons from the UK.  I couldn't resist them, since I've never seen either of them here.  The celery is pink and white!!

I'm also growing, in pots around the plots (but out of the way of walkers), a number of flowers for the bees and other pollinators.

The onions and garlic, I'm growing partly because I use a lot of them, and partly for companion planting/beastie control.  The corn, one of the beans, and the squash, are being grown in the same space, using the Three Sisters Method.

I'm growing a number of lettuce plants, in less space than normally allotted, because I'm doing something called "Cut and Come Again", where you harvest the outside leaves for a meal that day, and leave the rest to keep growing.  Apparently you can do that until the plant goes to seed, at which point you will put in another seed.  If I stagger the planting times (called successional sowing), I should have lettuce all season long!  I'm also going to do the same thing with the pretty pink celery.  I often buy celery heads, and don't use it up before it's not really usable anymore, so with this method I'd just pick a couple of stalks as I need them through the week, and they grow back.  How cool is that!

I know it seems like I'm growing an awful lot of stuff for 2 beds, but I plan to use as much of spring and fall as I can.  

In spring the first to go in are the radishes.  They add nitrogen to the soil, and since they're a variety that only take 3 weeks (!!) by the time they're done, the other main crops will go in (I'll be starting them indoors).  Then, in the fall, more radishes to be added (and maybe some in the summer too...maybe with the watermelon?  I hear they need a lot of nitrogen), leeks will be added when the beans are finished (all my seeds are short-season), more lettuce, onions, kale, and the garlic to over-winter and grow fat until the following late-summer.  The cauliflower will be a fall crop, as well as another generation of carrots, cabbage, and beets.  Short-season seeds are DA BOMB!

I've really tried to maximize not only the space I have, but the full season, and also keep in mind that it would be nice to have stuff to enjoy outside of the growing season, and through at least part of the winter.  To that end, I'm researching how to preserve some of my crops (which I am growing with a mind to doing this), preferably mostly not in the freezer.

*  My tomatoes I'm canning (first time!) in 2-cup jars, to use as tomato sauce through the winter.
*  I'm trading some of my stuff for non-paste tomatoes, so I can make a few jars of fermented salsa, using my fresh peppers, onions, and garlic also.  
*  The Cucamelons (Mexican Sour Gherkins) I hear are very prolific, so I'll be eating some fresh (hopefully I like them!), and also making fermented pickles!
*  The beans I'm growing, one is for fresh eating, one is for either fresh or dried, and one is just for dried.  I'm not sure that I'll have a massive crop (how many pods does each plant have??!!), but I wanted to enjoy them for as long as possible, thus the 3 kinds.
*  The cabbage I'll be eating some fresh, and also making sourkraut in jars.  So many times I've bought cabbage, and it was WAY too much, even when it's small!  This will use the 2 or so that I will be growing - one in summer, one for fall harvest.
*  Butternut squash, of course, will be harvested late summer/early fall, and will hopefully last over winter.  
*  Watermelon - I freaking LOVE watermelon!  I'm going to really research how to have the best watermelon (flavourful, not mealy) because it's so heartbreaking to buy a watermelon, only to discover that it's not tasty at all.  Sooo sad!  I'm also going to successional sow these, one plant every week or two, and since they're short-season (about 85 days!) I can have 2 crops.  In theory, I should have at least one, 10-inch watermelon each week starting in late June/early July, and through the summer.  Amazing!

The plants I'm growing just to harvest in the fall, I'm growing with a mind to the kinds of things I'd want to make in the fall, like potato leek soup, etc.  Leeks are SO expensive here!  I'd love to grow potatoes, as they're so tasty when they're super fresh, but they just take up too much space.  Ah well.  One can only do so much with 80 square feet, and a relatively short season.

Of course, all of this is in theory.  I feel like I've finished the in-class part of my growing degree, and I'll be doing my placement this spring/summer/fall to learn the hands-on stuff LOL!  

I'll be blogging about my growing stuff, and also about eating fresh/cooking with the veggies and fruit I've grown.  I'm also toying with doing videos for Youtube about my complete-newbie experiences, and how it progresses/what works/what fails, etc.  There are lots of food garden blogs and videos out there, but I have yet to come across one which is truly from a newbie perspective, where we learn together, and doing it organically.  If I do it, it will be very informal, and probably presented like the viewer is there with me, and we're doing it together.  We'll see! 

This is my two plots, just after I finished digging out the remains of the previous owner's crop.  Picture this in white, for what it looks like now. ;)