Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quick, Easy, Healthy Meal: Sautéed Spinach Baked Potato

I can't think of a period in my lifetime when I haven't answered the question, "What is your favorite vegetable?" with anything other than spinach!  I have always loved spinach.

I buy the big bag of fresh spinach weekly to use in both raw (salads) and cooked meals.  But by far one of the easiest is to simply sauté the spinach in a little olive oil with some added minced garlic towards the end (salt and pepper to taste at the very end).  I love this as a side dish but it's extra awesome on top of a baked potato.  It turns a quick single girl meal up a notch!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Potatoes Coming Up Everywhere

Last fall, when I was debating whether or not to return to the community garden, I decided to give it one more year in hopes of all around better results.  While I can't do anything about the human issues (stealing of produce has brought me to tears!), I can try to work my plot better.

We have rich soil but it's difficult to grow in because it's clay as well as very rocky.  Like many urban community gardens, it is on a spot that once held several homes many moons ago.  So in addition to rocks, rocks, and more rocks, we also have bricks and pieces of foundation and other random formerly house bits.  And then add in the fact that it's a small community garden so we manage to get every pest problem known to man.  There is no such thing as a blight free anything, no matter how hard you try, in a community garden this small.

To attempt to remedy some of these issues, I came up with a new layout for the entire garden (that I already want to change by the badly that it's killing me to leave it this and learn). Then I tilled all of the new grow bed spaces really deeply.  As deep as I could go.  On top of the freshly tilled loose grow beds, I added all sorts of compostables (this is the important part of the stick with me) like food scraps and whatnot.  Then I tilled the walkways.  Once that soil was really fluffy, I added it on top of the grow beds (so at this point from the bottom up it went: tilled soil, compostables, tilled walkway soil on top).  Then I added a really thick layer of fall leaves, a thick layer of newspaper, and finally a thick layer of straw.  So from the top down it went straw, newspaper, leaves, walkway soil, compostables, grow bed soil.  

With me so far?  Geeze you get 100 bonus points if you are!

Fast forward to this year.  To plant, I simply dig into all of that and plant my seedlings as normal.  I've been using this sort of modified lasagna method for years and really love it.  However, there's a glitch this year.

I must have eaten a lot of potatoes and there or had potato scraps in the fall to compost in.  You know, the compostables layer I mentioned.

Guess what I have popping up EVERYWHERE in my garden?  

That's right friends...we've got potatoes for days!  Most of them I am just letting grow where they come up.  A few I have had to clip off at the base because they are a competing for space with something I want more like cauliflower or tomatoes.  But for the most part, I have decided to just run with it and see where it takes me.  Hopefully to a giant, yummy potato harvest!  Because there truly is nothing more delicious than a new potato that came out of the soil an hour earlier.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lake George, Perfect Weather, Kisses, And The Very Best Weekend

It's been a while since I had a weekend that tip to tail was pure bliss.  This past weekend though, was exactly that!  What's sort of funny to me as I am thinking about how to explain just why my weekend was so delightful is that nothing major happened.  I just really and truly enjoyed myself.  It's high time I quit dwelling on my woes and start dwelling on my wows.  So here goes...

Friday was one of those days that saw a lot of boxes checked off the ever-growing to-do list.  Man, isn't that just the best feeling to get stuff done?!  Then I spent the evening with a friend and her family.  It was chaos as she has three littles age 6, 2, and 12 mos.  But they're so cute and funny and as I am just the fun auntie, I thought it was all rather hilarious.  

Saturday I was up at the crack of dawn like every day, because I am still not sleeping.  So as I often do these days, I went over to my community garden to get some things done before the sun was pounding down.  It felt great to dig in the dirt and get some more things checked off the list.  I then ran a few errands, made my favorite curry chicken salad for lunch, made the French toast casserole for Father's Day that needed to sit overnight, showered and got myself ready to head up to Lake George for a wedding, all before noon.  I'm telling you, my lack of sleep has me living an extra lifetime before lunch every day.  Of course I am good for nothing come 8 PM because I am near tears from exhaustion...

My cousin and his lovely bride got married at the most spectacular estate on Lake George in the Adirondaks.  I wasn't overly excited about giving up an entire Saturday for this wedding but once we got there, I was completely proven wrong.  The setting, the cold glasses of bubbly, the good hair day, and the company of my family was all things good in the world.  I think everyone had the most wonderful time.  The weather was perfection- nothing but sunshine and clear blue skies!

Sunday morning was Father's Day, one of my favorite holidays.  As I was raised by my single {gay} dad, this is definitely a holiday I am sure to celebrate, despite my father's protests.  I made all his favorites for brunch and we just had a casual morning nibbling on our favorites.  I ran over to the garden for a few hours too as I am babying all the newly planted winter squash, some of which have already taken their last little breath.  I also planted six new pepper plants as nearly all of those I originally planted have been eaten.  Ugh...the critters are just impossible to beat this year...again.

Early evening I headed out for a date night that once again was all things good in the world.  All the good food and drinks and laughs and smiles and stories and smooches...  See, I told you I am just a better human with summer sunshine!

I needed this weekend.  I didn't realize how badly I needed a weekend that was free of drama and sadness and frustration until Sunday rolled around and I suddenly felt lighter.  I still cry daily because I miss my Sadie so much and I am still not sleeping.  But I feel like I am working hard to find the silver lining in life and my inner jar of glitter is visible again.

Cheers to a summer full of sunshine and smiles for all of us!!  


Monday, June 20, 2016

The Loaf Of Bread That Never Got Baked: Sourdough Starter Failure

A few months ago, my sisters (plus one brother in law) and I all decided to start making sourdough starters.  {I know...we like to live life on the wild side!}  It was adorable because we've had this group text going for months where we nerd out and share photos of our starter yeast and talk about rise and liquid and I do believe we have gotten to the bottom of why I am not married...but the group text has been fun.  We call ourselves #startersister, despite the fact that a brother-in-law is part of this text.  In fact, brother-in-law knows more and does more and in way more into it than the three of us combined.

Are you familiar with sourdough starters?  It's what you use to bake bread, specifically sourdough bread, instead of the store bough yeast.  It takes about a month before you can really do anything with it, but the process itself is very easy.  You simply take one cup of whole wheat flour and mix it with one cup water.  And then daily you remove 80% of it, mix in the 1:1 flour water again, put it in a fresh bowl or jar, and keep going with this process for the rest of your damn lifetime.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

So I was doing fine.  I remembered on like 97% of the days to do it.  All was well in the world.  But then Sadie died.  And my life, internally, grew into chaos.  And I kept forgetting to feed the poor starter.  But then I would remember for a few days so I never moved it to the refrigerator.  Which is really where I failed my poor starter.  Because then it sat on the counter for a full five days at room temperature without a feeding.  And it got gross.  I killed it.  I killed my sourdough starter after feeding the damn thing for two or three months.

So I pitched it.  And maybe I will start again in the fall.  Or maybe I will just walk two blocks to the bread bakery around the corner and buy a loaf when a craving hits.  I'm good at a lot of things in the kitchen, but apparently we all have a weakness and a sourdough starter seems to be mine.

Eh...can't win 'em all!


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