It was a hot week here, the hottest of the season. Monday started out in the high 90’s and the weekly continued in the 90’s. Today is not supposed to be as bad, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
The garden is enjoying the heat, and plants have started to “think summer”. We started picking many cucumbers this week (pickles recipe coming soon!) and our pepper plants have exploded. We had to pick these just to make room for the others inside, there’s alot of peppers. This year the peppers have shown up early, but I’m not complaining.
Other recipes I have been dying to try, I finally made Marin Mama’s Frozen S’mores. They were everything you can dream of and more. They basically get requested every single night for dinner now. And having a box of graham crackers in my house is very dangerous. Sometimes I just sit on the kitchen floor and eat them, everyone does that, right?
I made Miss Messy’s Chocolate Banana Muffins because I had 3 bananas that have been staring at me in the face this last week and I was sick of the mean things they were saying to me. So I put them in muffins and ate them. This is great because it’s just a little bit of a chocolate kick, and the middles are so moist. If you are going to make them and need help with ml/g conversion here is what I did: 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup regular sugar, 2 cups flour. These are perfect for breakfast!
I made Easy Cheesy Potatoes from My Yellow Farmhouse. These were a side to Manwich sandwiches, do people still eat Manwich, or only me? I love it. Anyways, these potatoes were great, I additionally added broccoli and radishes to mine and put in 2 squirts of Sriracha instead of Tabasco.
Speaking of the garden, sometimes you look over from the plants and this is what I see. Maybe that’s why our plants grow well, they get this view.
Did everyone see Super Moon this week? This is the Moon in Matthew’s eye.
I have been making some props for a upcoming project. I had to figure out how to make cotton candy. So I got some water color, mixed it with water and sprayed it on quilting batting.
This was the outcome, I’m pretty happy with how it looks.
This past weekend we took a big walk and met some friends on this way, like this precious baby. It hurts me when they follow us for blocks, I want to pick up every single one, put them in my bag and take them home.
Pratt is a art school here in NYC. There is alot of cats that live on campus that the students love and play with on the grass. This feline staff entrance was made for them. Everytime I walk by it I smile.
I hung out at Best Buy picking up my Animal Crossing special item, a raccoon wall clock. It looks pretty good in my home.
Xanadu loves the mornings. On the weekends when we can sleep in she’s on top of us, purring and loving us dearly. She’s a real sweetheart.
I like to take pictures of Bofinkles nose when she’s sleeping. She snores. Very loud.
This is precious Brother Bear running for hugs. We love this guy so much.
And this is Brother Bear laying on top of his beloved plastic bags. Whenever we get a package he waits for the plastic and jumps on top.
To end, I need ideas for using up dill. I had to buy a whole bunch just to get a few pieces. Any help is appreciated! So far I only have ideas for pickles (why it was bought), mixing it with scrambled eggs and cheddar dill scones (which sounds great).
Also, thank you for all your thoughts on my question last week: washer/dryer vs disney world. The answer is coming very soon!
Also, Also, for my next garden update, I’m thinking about doing a video walkthrough instead. Does this sound cool to anyone?
Creamy Lettuce Soup is a delicious recipe that uses 1 head of lettuce. Combined with heavy cream, chicken broth and spices, this is a great way to use your garden lettuce!
Do you want to come in?
I’m going to make us some soup. It will be delicious.
Oh, what kind of soup you ask?
*LOCKS DOOR, REALLY QUICK*
That is how I feel everytime I bring up lettuce soup. Most people are frightened of it, the idea of lettuce pureed into a creamy soup doesn’t sound that appetizing to most. And I will be honest, when I first heard about it I was like eh? When I told Matthew I was making lettuce soup for dinner, first he asked “Is that is?”, then after he smelled what was going on in the pot he asked “What is that great smell?”. Lettuce soup does that to you. It turns your frown upside down. It makes your fears turn into smiles. It holds you tightly. It kisses your bruises. I don’t know where I’m going with this.
But here’s what I’m saying. You should give this a try. Not only is it a truly pretty soup (the lettuce + the cream makes it a lovely light green), but it’s full of taste. Not only are we adding lettuce, but we’re adding broth and lots of spices. So next time you have a head of lettuce and you’re not sure what to do.. lettuce soup!
This is when your lettuce starts to wilt, the smell of it with the spices will be real good. Just keep stirring it until completed wilted.
This is your soup pureed in a blender. Be careful when using a blender, hot liquids will shoot up, so do it in batches with smaller amounts. I learned the hard way with some tomato soup one summer, had to wear a bandage for weeks!
And when it’s all done, you’ll be surprised by how creamy it is. I like to add some additional cream on top because who doesn’t like more cream?
I love the summer because it’s strawberry season. And I love strawberry season because it means I get to pick the sweetest, most delicious strawberries right off the plant and throw them directly into my mouth. It’s hard for me to save the strawberries to make it downstairs because I am often found looking through the strawberries, eating them one at a time exclaiming “These are so good! Try one!”. Matthew doesn’t like strawberries, he’s weird, right? If you’ve ever grown your own strawberries then you know nothing can beat them – they are hands down the most sweetest, full of flavor strawberries ever. Every summer I get so excited, I just can’t help it. Strawberries – yay!
And I have to say it feels a bit wrong for me to do anything with our homegrown strawberries but eat them raw. I mean they are just so perfect and juicy and sweet, they don’t need anything else. Isn’t a bowl of strawberries such a delicious snack? Or on top of my cinnamon cereal in the morning?
I’ve lost track of how many strawberry plants we have. When the garden first started, we only had a few plants and they grew ok, but they were kinda small (picture above). I did some investigating and I learned that strawberry plants last multiple years, each year growing larger berries. So if you have new plants and your berries are on the small side, don’t give up! Big berries are on it’s way!
Because with some love and care, eventually your plant will start producing bigger, beautiful berries! That’s alot of B’s.
Earlier this season I decided we didn’t have enough strawberries so we bought some more buckets. I did a Gardenieres video on how to make strawberry buckets so when it goes live I will be sure to post it!
And then we had more strawberry plants!
When you start to notice the first flowers on the strawberry plant, you should smile. This means these flowers will soon turn into strawberries.
You’ll look one day and notice the flowers turned into green berries…
Then they slowly turn colors..
Until they’re strawberry bright red. That should be a official Crayola name.
When our berries are bright red, then I know it’s time to pick. You’ll want to keep a eye on them because they change colors quick and if you don’t pick them, they will go brown. That would be tragic.
And we can’t let that happen because we need this sweet strawberry in our life.
I love the adventure of finding the strawberries. Sometimes they hide out in between buckets, sometimes they hide under leaves. Strawberries, don’t hide from me.
If I don’t eat them all on the roof, when I bring them downstairs I pat them a little bit with a paper towel. This makes sure it gets any water off on them in case it rained, or because I squirted the hose a little too high. I do not wash them.
Then I throw them in a mason jar and put them in the refrigerator.
This is hands down the best way I ever found to keep fresh strawberries.. well, fresh. They can stay in the mason jar for about 10 days until they start to turn mushy. But they never last that long.
Even after a week, you will open up your mason jar and the strawberries will still be crisp.
When I take them out of the jar to eat, then I wash them…
We’ve harvested alot of broccoli this season. Every single plant produced a beautiful big head of broccoli. You guys know I love broccoli already, but do you know I love macaroni and cheese too? Macaroni and cheese is a comfort food and it holds dear memories of my father making me dinner every single day he was home from work during high school. He knew I loved that mac and cheese so he made it once a week, I was a very happy girl. Thanks Dad!
So what happens when you mix comfort food with happy harvest? You get one of my favorite broccoli dishes: Baked Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese. I love macaroni and cheese of all sorts. I’m fine with the box, I’m super fine with homemade. I’m fine with it made with cheese that comes in a foil package (Where my Velveeta fans at?), I’m super fine with a baked version. This recipe is a in between, yes it’s baked, but the inside of the dish is still soft and cheesy and gooey. It’s just perfect, the best of both worlds.
So if you like mac and cheese and you like broccoli, this dish is for you!
These were notes I made earlier this week to figure out new recipes with harvest from the garden. Lettuce soup was totally going to be made on Tuesday but then we realized there was a basketball game on and it felt wrong eating lettuce soup during a NBA finals game. So instead we had cheeseburgers and fries. Anyone else sad that the NBA season is over? The Finals this year were great.
Anyone have any radish recipes? Maybe somehow they can be used in a casserole, or pasta dish? I made a creamy pasta dish this week with them and it was MIND BLOWING. Recipe will be posted soon enough!
I’m going to attempt to make Matthew onion rings and then complain about the smell afterwards.
I also realized how great organic milk is this week. The price always knocks me out at the grocery store so I never get it, but this was on sale and the store I was at only had organic milk (yes, one of those stores). Turns out I’ve been missing out on some greatness my entire life. 2 big things: the taste, honestly I think this tastes amazing, I usually never sip my cereal milk but with this milk I slurp it down. The other thing: Check out the expiration date. I’m lucky if I get milk that lasts 10 days in NYC, but this expiration date was about 35 days away. 35 days! Which in the end saves money as you never throw milk away. Man, what a discovery!
This was my breakfast one morning, on the go. Walking down the street, eating some dried figs, shopping for clown costumes. More on that in another post. 🙂
I’ve been waking up to do some hand pollination in the garden (more about that in a future post). The sunlight is so beautiful in the morning.
We picked our first green pepper which we immediately ate for dinner.
I stopped by the Nike shop where they have the Nike Design studio where you can customize your own sneakers. Clear neon sneakers? I think I’m in love.
Then I stopped by Nintendo World and saw a Animal Crossing diorama. I’ve played Animal Crossing for so many hours this week. Anyone want to visit my town? I have apples, cherries, lemons and coconut!
I played tennis, or tried to. The best (worst) is when people stop on the sidewalk to watch you play then quickly move on realizing this will not be fun to watch.
I saw this donut cat. I really don’t understand, but I like it that way.
We had a book shop giftcard to use up, so we stopped in and after thinking about buying cookbooks, graphic novels and game history books, we decided to just buy classic kids books.
Dr. Seuss puts Bofinkles to sleep.
I teased Xanadu because she loves it.
Brother Bear is not a lap cat, but he’s a protector bear. Here he is sitting outside the bedroom while I’m in there. Eventually he will come through the cat door and cozy up on the bed with me.
I made a bunch of bright colored yarn pom poms. I need these for some costume pieces I’m working on..
And what they say about cats and yarn is 100% true. I had to stop what I was doing many times because someone got their leg stuck in yarn.
I saw this cat sitting outside a balcony enjoying the sunset. I tapped on the glass to say hi, the cat said leave me alone.
I received this package in the mail and isn’t it just great? Christmas wrapping paper, a penny taped to it, Have a Swell Day stamper? This made my day.
And with that, I hope you have a swell weekend – doing anything fun?
One last question, random, I know. If you could, which one would you choose:
New washer and dryer – this means going from using a shared laundry room in your apartment building to having your own in your home. I haven’t had my own washer/dryer in over 10 years. 🙁
Week in Disney World – the greatest place on Earth
Do you love soup? Do you love chinese restaurants? Do you love chinese restaurants soup? Ok, then this is for you! What is your favorite soup from chinese restaurants? There’s wonton, which I love. Then there’s shrimp noodle which is great. Then there’s this….
This is egg drop soup and it’s so good.
Can you believe it takes 10 minutes to make? I’m not kidding. And you can customize it if you’d like. Maybe you’d like to add some onions or carrots, that would be good too! For this recipe I wanted to use some fresh garden harvest so I threw in some sugar snap peas and salad greens – *pats self on back * – good choice. The salad greens wilt because of the hot broth making them perfect for this soup. The sugar snap peas still keep their snap and crunch so it’s a nice bite to the soup.
You need 4 and 3/4 cups of chicken broth for this. I usually always use bouillon cubes for my broth but you can use the packaged stuff too. Whatever you do though, use low sodium broth. When I first made this without low sodium broth I found it way too salty. If you absolutely have to use regular broth, I would omit the additional salt the recipe calls for. When your chicken broth is boiling, remove 3/4 cup of it and set aside, we’ll use this later.
My beloved sugar snap peas picked from the garden.
Then you de-string them. Is that a word de-string? I don’t know but that’s all I could come up with.
Then chop them up into bite size pieces. I usually cut each pea up into 2 or 3 pieces.
Then grab your salad greens, I just picked these from the garden so I threw them in a bag to keep chilled.
Rip them up, no certain way, just rip them up.
Great! Now your vegetables are set.
Remember that chicken broth you set aside? Now we’re going to use it to thicken the soup.
Add your cornstarch and stir, stir, stir until it’s smooth.
Now we want to get the eggs ready for this soup.
Take 3 our and whisk with your fork.
I couldn’t take any pictures of the process of dropping in vegetables, eggs as I don’t have a 3rd arm (one day?) but after you put everything in and add your cornstarch broth to thicken…
Then your delicious egg drop soup will be ready!
It’s a messy looking soup, but it’s also a pretty looking soup. I love the greens in it.
Bananas. Do you love them? I do. I’m in this routine where I eat 2-3 bananas, a day. It’s my snack and it makes me so happy. I have to buy 2 bunches a week at the store to keep up with my banana love.
Brown bananas though kind of freak me out. I can handle a little brown here or there, but when they go very brown and mushy, I can’t eat them with a spoon like some people do. So what to do? You can make a smoothie, that sounds good. Or you can make these banana muffins.
These mini muffins are extremely moist. I was blown away by how soft they were inside. They have a banana taste to them, but it’s not overwhelming, although it’s still there. My husband who doesn’t like bananas at all kept saying “I don’t like bananas, but these are really good”. See, they win non banana lovers over too! I baked these and took them to a Game of Thrones season finale (cry cry) party and they were all gone by the end of the night. So bake them up and cheer on Jon Snow (optional, but I highly suggest it)! Or just bake them and eat them! 🙂
Oh broccoli, you know I love you. It might be the way I look at you, or the way I touch every single plant before I leave the garden for the day, or maybe it’s the broccoli stories I tell you so know you can grow big and strong. I hope you know how much happiness you cause us. Every single year you start out as a little seed and then you grow slowly.. and then BOOM you’re a giant plant producing broccoli heads larger than my entire hand.
Remember when you were just little guys growing in our loft under a light?
Happy weekend everyone! I hope you all had a great week and will have a greater weekend!
My Windows Phone finally got a Instagram app so I’m back on it! Make sure to follow me and say hi, I promise many cat and cauliflower pictures! My userame is pamelaz.
Fun things to share: VSL:VSL stands for Very Short List. My friend Karyn is a editor at VSL and I love what they’re doing there. They send out emails that are each curated by a different person who shares some favorites. It’s like a Friday Favorites, but not Friday all the time and usually they have really interesting curators. You’re sure to find some hidden gems such as great links, art, food, apps, etc.
Game of Thrones LOL: Someone showed pictures of Game of Thrones characters to their dad and asked him their names. The results are golden. Favorites: Nedder, Lord Buccaneer, King of the Guys.
Dogs Vs Citrus. Dogs are crazy.
Cats Vs Citrus. Cats don’t care.
Now the past week and a half in pictures…. Lots of them!
First – has anyone tried this? I saw it at Target for the first time.
The summer time is for pig tails and cute accessories.
Cars, Trucks, School buses that park like this so they’re practically in the crosswalk so you can’t see around it make me very angry.
Outsides of houses should always be decorated with cuter inner tubes.
Sometimes Blinky our Roomba does crazy things like pushes a cat bed across the entire loft.
Animal Crossing New Leaf came out. Is there any Animal Crossing fans in the house? I downloaded it at midnight. The game is great. If you’re a Animal Crossing fan you have to try it!
The finale of Game of Thrones happened. Thoughts? I felt kinda underwhelmed. I mean I guess you have to feel that way when the episode before blew your mind and left you mumbling obscenities. Game of Thrones – the best show ever? Possibly. Can you believe we have to wait until April for the next season Agh. Who’s your favorite characters? I really like Jon Snow, Bran, Arya, ok I really like the Starks (or what’s left of them). I also love Tyrion. I love the Hound too. And Hodor wins at everything. Then there’s Jamie who I like alot now too, I hope his friendship (or more?) with Brienne continues. I have high hopes for Gendry too! Tywin is evil but he’s also amazing. Can I say that that Daenerys is boring me, when is something going to go wrong? If you like Game of Thrones I highly recommend this long video where almost the entire cast, George RR Martin, and the directors talk about the show.
Also Game of Thrones was taco night.
And afterwards I tried a chile pepper kit-kat from Japan. YUM I love spicy chocolate so I’m in love with them.
Cat Talk, my favorite kind of talk:
I met these cats out in the hallway on the way to the garden. I love them, they’re so friendly, especially that one up front.
Xanadu loves a lazy morning.
Brother Bear loves a lazy afternoon.
Essy love a lazy evening.
FiFi Bofinkles love a lazy.. whenever.
This is a hole that a air conditioning tube goes into during the summer. When it’s not inside, Xanadu uses it as a door. She walks through it about 8 times in 10 minutes. She’s very unpractical about it.
Bofinkles doesn’t believe in brainstorming meetings.
I wake up to this little baby doll under my blankets every single morning.
Xanadu jumped off the ladder, hoping to make it onto the sea turtle and the tall wall where she could reign over. Unfortunately she overjumped the sea turtle, over the wall and landed on the bed on the other side of the wall. Good job.
FiFi Bofinkles loves me like noone else.
My 2 boys, Brother Bear and Matthew.
We changed the cat’s hard food this week since their beloved Natural Choice brand changed and the ingredients aren’t the same and the reviews aren’t good. So we are easing them into this Purina ONE brand. From the first taste.. it seems to be a hit.
And one minute later, it continues to be a hit. Do you notice though 2 cats switched places? What just happened?
Not a cat, but I met this dog outside on the street and immediately after I took this picture the dog tried to kill me. Which leads me to say again, cats rule.
Our friends Lia and Will got engaged although noone was surprised because we all knew they would. So happy for them! So they threw a celebration engagement party.
There was grilled vegetables and meat. No meat is pictured here.
There was also alot of yummy food here, including marinated pork (mmmm). I brought Cake Batter Squares.
Then there was a going away party for our friends Paul and Cliona who are moving to London. They will be missed a whole lot.
There was lots of yummy picnic treats, but check out those cupcakes…
William has been promising cupcakes for the past year and finally he did it. Here’s my custom cupcake that was made with edible markers and paper on top.
Here is William, me and Matthew. I have no idea what the boys are doing. Matthew also looks like he’s going to pick up that little boy.
This was all bittersweet though because William and Lia, 2 of our best friends not only got engaged but they also are moving to Seattle today. Weep Weep. I cried last night. I want to be selfish and keep them here because I love them so much, but they are going to do great things in Seattle and I’m really happy with them. But I’m also very sad. You know how it goes. So last night on their last night in NYC we made a rainy dinner at Fu Run in Flushing, Queens, home to some of the most authentic and yummy Chinese food.
There was so much to choose from, and also alot of unknowns.
I went with the shrimp and broccoli because you can’t go wrong with it. It was yummy and I was so full afterwards.
Other deliciousness at the table was fried eggplant, pork and chives dumpling, fried fish, chicken and broccoli, and wong lo kat which is a herbal tea (and incredibly sweet).
A big highlight was the Muslim Lamb Chops which are spicy and covered in cumin, black and white sesame seeds and chile. The portion is super big.
The restaurant also had a random dinosaur so you know it is cool.
I’m really going to miss these people. ALOT.
After we said our teary goodbyes on our rainy street, we came home and had a rootbeer float to remember all the good times we had with them. And to think of all the good times we will have with them in the future. 🙂
It has rained here so much in the last week which is horrible for pollinating cucumbers, but is great weather for the broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, etc. Even in the rain we harvested some cauliflower.
Lots of cauliflower, onion, sugar snap peas, spinach, lettuce harvest going on. I’ll have a cauliflower post coming up soon with some recipe to go along!
The tomatoes got their 2nd cages on top. It’s just wild how big these guys grow!
We did a video for Snapple to recreate one of their facts: Fact #685: Dogs can make about 10 sounds, cats make about 100. It went live last week and we were super excited to share it. Snapple has some great behind the scenes pictures up here too.
We’ve also testing lots of new technology. We’re really into somehow incorporating the Microsoft Kinect, and building virtual worlds. Those are important future goals, especially the virtual worlds.
We’ve been sharing some experiment videos on Vine this week:
So that’s the weekly round up! Let me know if you’re doing anything fun this weekend.. hope you have a good one! 🙂
You’ll start to love lettuce once you make this Braised Lettuce recipe! Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew for full flavor!
I love this braised lettuce. Love, Love, Love.
As we have been harvesting our lettuce plants, I have been requesting this almost every single night. Most people use lettuce in salads or as a topping, but in this recipe you can use it as a entire side dish. When I first learned about braised lettuce I didn’t think twice about making it because just lettuce as a side, really? Then I tried it and my opinion changed immediately. It’s such a easy recipe consisting of just a few ingredients, but it packs such a hit in taste. Braising consists of lightly frying, and then simmering like a stew. Just as you would expect in the greens family, lettuce wilts much, so as it simmers, it gets tender. As it simmers, the lettuce will pick up the garlic and broth. Your lettuce will be full of flavor. It’s so great.
Please, please see this past recipe as “just lettuce” and give it a try.
So what to do when you pull your plant and can’t eat all the lettuce right away?
We know there’s a great range of recipes, but how about we just store some lettuce leaves to grab for salads, burgers and more for the next month? Lettuce can last that long if you store it right. I find the best way to preserve lettuce the longest is by washing it, drying it, storing it in airtight Ziploc bags. To wash and dry them I use a salad spinner (this is the one I have) and it’s changed my life, I’m not even kidding. The great thing about the version I have is, is that it’s also a colander, so you can soak it the bowl to wash off your dirt. Then drain. Then spin to dry. After that, I wrap the lettuce in 2 pieces of paper towel to keep fresh and crisp, then put in a Ziploc bag. Get all the air out of the bag and close. Then you’re all set. Your lettuce will stay fresh for a few weeks. Also, reuse those plastic bags!
Here’s the steps.
So you pick your gorgeous lettuce – first, a high 5 is deserved!
First, you want to wash it. Take apart all your lettuce leaves on the head. You can fill your sink up with water and push the leaves down, rinsing until clean. Or if you have a salad spinner, you might have a built in bowl that you can just fill up with water and do the same thing.
Keep rinsing with water and scrubbing the lettuce every so slightly until all the dirt is off.
Now it’s salad spinner time. For the version I have, you just put in the spinner, put the lid on top, press the pump a few times to make it spin around really fast. Then push the stop button to make it come to a quick stop. This will make sure the water pushes off the lettuce, drying it. Do this as many times as you need to until your lettuce is dry.
Here’s a Vine I made demonstrating it. (click to play if needed).
Great, we got some gorgeous green lettuce leaves – all dried!
Then I set them out on a few pieces of paper towel. I pat them just to make sure there is no excessive moisture on the leaves.
Then just wrap them, like you are rolling a blanket burrito.
Now you want to try to get all the air out of the bag so the lettuce stays crisp. Do you know the straw trick? It’s one of the many tricks Matthew has taught me. Zip up the straw in your plastic bag you are using but let the top part out. Then using the straw, breathe in and suck all the air out. Keep sucking in until you think you’ve vacuum packed it as much as possible. Then quickly pull the straw and zip the remaining part up.
Now your lettuce is stored and will remain fresh for weeks to come! Pull out a piece whenever you need it.
Overnight Blueberry Maple Oatmeal is a quick breakfast that’s waiting for you in the morning! Healthy ingredients include oats, blueberries, milk, syrup, flax seeds and cinnamon!
I can’t get enough of overnight oatmeal. It’s easy, quick and perfect for those summer days where you wake up, leave your air conditioned bedroom and the humidity just smacks you in the face tossing you back into your bedroom to cry under your chilled blankets.
I made Overnight Cookie Dough Oatmeal a few posts ago and it was delicious, especially if you love peanut butter. But I wanted to try something with more fruits and reminded me of pancakes, so I added in some syrup and fresh blueberries and Overnight Blueberry Maple Oatmeal was created! I love this so much I had it 3 times already this week. Last night while laying in bed at 2AM, I was thinking about it so I got up and made it so I could have it the following morning. It’s that easy where you can make it half asleep while a cat tugs at your toes to come back to sleep. (In case you are wondering, FiFi Bofinkles is the toe tugger).
Stay tuned for more upcoming overnight oatmeal recipes – I’m obsessed.
It’s a hot Sunday here and just being on the roof, I majorly felt it. Note to self: Bring sunglasses to the roof, always. You never do and you are constantly blinded. You squint and then you immediately get a headache. It’s really bright up there, the way the sun reflects off the silver roof is intense. Protect yourself!
So how’s your garden doing? What’s growing, what’s ending, what’s beginning?
Here is how our garden is looking in Brooklyn today as it slowly transitions from Spring to Summer…
Come on in as I give you a guided tour. The plants are in no particular order, just as I go along the garden. I’m just saying that incase any of the plants read Brooklyn Farm Girl and think I’m picking favorites – I’m totally not.
The pumpkin plants have started to grow big, but there are no female flowers yet to pollinate. I am on the lookout! These plants will eventually just crawl all over the ground.
Watermelon plant is looking the same way, it’s beginning, but no females yet.
The cucumbers are looking great. No cucumbers yet to be spotted…
But I have been mingling the females and males, so hopefully they make some babies.
We’ve seen some of our worst enemies on the cucumbers this week: aphids. So we’ve been jet hosing them off this week. If we keep on top of spraying every single day, it usually helps prevent aphids from expanding their horrible colonies that cause tears.
Hello giant tomatoes.
Remember I posted the tomatoes grow so tall they need 2 cages stacked on top of each other? Well it’s June 9th and the tomatoes have already grown out of their cage. So the next cage is going on top later this week. Wild, right?
There are so many flowers on every single plant which makes me very happy.
Because these flowers lead to these glorious people. Hello Roma tomatoes!
Hello Big Beefs!
Hello Cherry tomatoes!
We also moved some of the tomatoes around this week so they are in 2 separate structures. We put cucumbers between the tomato plants as cucumbers grow low to the ground and tomatoes grow tall, so we’re able to get in there and more easily water, harvest, etc.
Here are the pepper plants!
We already spotted some peppers!
Random herbs, Rhododendrons, Beautiful weeds.
The potatoes have exploded. We’ve been mounding them up the past few weeks but we’re pretty much at the top of the container now. Potato plants are hands down one of the prettiest, perfect plants.
The new radishes came up!
While some of the older radishes are like “hey lady, pick me”.
We have onions of all ages. These ones are big, ready to pick, have been picking a few a week to eat with dinner.
We picked him to bring to a taco party later this night.
These ones are mid age, and young ones. You can see some bulbs forming off to the left, while the ones to the right are still getting there.
Kale – it just rules.
The broccoli was all picked this week and let me tell you, it was delicious. Recipes, Harvest Pictures, Lots of exclamation points coming to a post very soon!
The cauliflower has shown up and is causing us great happiness.
The cauliflower is just beautiful. We had a steamed head for dinner a few nights ago and we ate it in silence because it was that delicious.
I am picking strawberries every single day! They are the sweetest!
Sometimes I can’t even make it downstairs and I’m just taking them off the plant and they go straight in my mouth.
Strawberries, you guys are real pretty.
We got some strawberry runners already too. Last year we turned the runners into their own plants.
You cannot tell because it’s in shadow but there is some orange peeking out!
3 sisters boxes! Corn, Squash and Beans!
The corn is looking great, it’s about 1 foot high, if not slightly taller.
The green beans have started their climb up the fence. You can see we have 2 leaders already. Who will reach the top first?
We picked all our lettuce heads, but there is lettuce greens left. I need to cut them before they bolt.
Sugar snap peas! They were just babies a few weeks ago, and now they are taller than Matthew who is a little over 6 feet tall. I love these sugar snap pea guys.
The box is just full of them – all over!
So we’ve been happily snacking on them and are planning some great upcoming dinners with them! They are absolutely delicious just picked right off the plant and eaten right away, what a crunch!
Sugar Snaps, I love you.
Hope you enjoyed the garden walk through this week!
A few days ago we rented a Zipcar and headed upstate to Bear Mountain for a adventure. We have talked about doing a nature hike for quite sometimes but it’s never happened. I was in for a surprise because my idea of what it was going to be turned out to be exactly not that. I was expecting a dirt trail that I would have to occasionally walk over a tree root. And the trip started out that way for the first few steps, then suddenly I started to notice more and more rocks. And next to those rocks was a steep hill that I had to shield my gaze from. Steps later, I realized this was no easy walk, what now stood in front of me was big rocks, boulder size that I was going to have to climb up, with my weak arms. With all the rocks and figuring out how to climb exactly, where to put your legs, what to grab onto, it’s a serious mind adventure puzzle.
The trail we took is called the Major Welch Trail and in some spots it’s very steep and very difficult. Here are some facts about it:
Average Climb Time: 4 hours
Length: 4 miles
Elevation: 1200 feet
On hiking websites the trail is described as “Strenuous”. Matthew told me it was labeled as “moderate” before we started. He totally lied to me.
At one point you climb a vertical distance of about 500 feet in little more than a quarter of a mile. You ache!
Has amazing views.
Makes your heart beat very fast!
I have never done anything like this in my entire life so needless to say after sweating, having a red face, huffing and puffing, I felt like a fearless wizard after we reached the top. It was a personal achievement of exhilaration. If I could bottle up that feeling, I would have.
It was a great trip!
Here are some photo taken along the way.
First, Shudder came along for the hike. On the ride up there we listened to a radio station that was doing throw back rap tunes. Shudder was feeling it.
When we arrived at the park we took a seat next to the lake and ate a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
One duck floated by. He was camera shy and immediately turned around when he saw me.
We then decided we needed a Snickers bar for some more energy.
This was before the hike. Behind me, Bear Mountain. Are you ready for this?
Here is the map. We started out near the Hessian Lake and then you loop all the way to the tip top. On the way down you take the Appalachian Trail.
Ok, to the right, let’s get on the trail.
It started out pretty simple, this is how I thought it was going to be the entire way. I was so naive. Note: I found a walking stick 1 minute in, I love walking sticks now.
We passed a little stream.
Then it turned into more rocks, where did the smooth ground go?
Up past this is the toughest part as it’s about 500 feet straight of vertical hiking.
Our path quickly turned into big boulders.
Along the way we saw some beautiful flowers, like these Mountain Laurels. It was hard to really take in the scenery….
When I had to figure out a way up this!
There are markers on the trees to keep you in the right path but sometimes there is alot of space between them which could get you lost if you take a wrong turn.
Then we made it to this lookout point. I thought that was it!
See how happy I am?
Then Matthew told me we were HALF WAY there.
It was during this time that we heard some Cicadas too. Then we spotted this cocoon.
And more on the trees.
Then we spotted some alive ones. Aren’t they beautiful?
Ok back to hiking…
This one was tough, real tough. I’m pretty sure Matthew was shocked that I did it. I was shocked too.
Then hours later, we finally made it to the top where there is a lookout tower which is not exciting at all, except this Bear on the wall.
I made it! Shudder and I were thrilled!
The views from the top of Bear Mountain are beautiful. I said “oh my” about 24 times.
I nearly cried of happiness. What a great hike up!
We ate a quick snack of dried fruits, nuts, corn and a banana.
After a little more viewing , we said goodbye to the beautiful scenery…
And headed down the Appalachian Trail.
The hike down is much smoother.
There’s lots of rock “stairs” and some small bridges you cross.
When we finally got to the bottom of the trail I left my walking stick there, hoping that someone else will come along and use it for their positive adventure!
Bear Mountain, you were lots of fun. Thanks for the happiness!
I hugged the only bear I could find.
Then we drove back to the city, stopping in a small town for one ot he greatest (and coldest) vanilla milkshakes ever.
This is the time of the year we always pick our lettuce, and I begin googling “What else to do with lettuce besides salads” like a crazy person. I like to try new things!
I’ve posted about this before but I grew up not liking lettuce. It wasn’t actually until a few years ago that I embraced lettuce. That’s another thing a garden does to you, it guilts you into trying every single thing. Well I just grew that lettuce and it was hard work, so I’m definitely going to eat it. Wait, what happened. This lettuce actually tastes good. No way, it tastes way good. Oh my, let’s grow another head of lettuce. Soon before you know it, you have harvesting multiple heads of lettuce, sitting in a corner, eating lettuce leaves whole while wigging your nose like a bunny rabbit.
Here are lettuce ideas:
Substitute your bread or taco shell for lettuce.
Make your sandwich as usual, then just roll it up!
Make lettuce soup. (recipe coming soon!)
Braised lettuce (recipe coming soon!)
Add it to any soup for a great soupy green.
Make a layered taco salad.
Substitute lettuce in Chinese dishes (for example: use lettuce instead of bok choy).
Cut up small pieces of mozzarella and halved cherry tomatoes, roll in a piece of lettuce. This is a great appetizer or snack.
While the lettuce is getting to a healthy size, we cut off a few outer leaves as we need them. Having a cheeseburger? Few leaves get removed. Salad? Few more. Just be sure you aren’t cutting too many leaves off one plant while it matures. You still want it to remain sturdy and leafy.
Then when the plant looks mature, I find it best to pull the entire plant. You want to make sure your lettuce does not go to seed (start to get flowers and bolt) as it will make your lettuce bitter. When it starts to get very hot out, I know it’s going to bolt quickly, so I keep a close eye on them. This one is ready to pick! Just pull out at the base and keep twisting, it should come out of the ground pretty quickly as lettuce plants do not have deep roots.
One lettuce plant, harvested!
And here’s another!
Remember when the lettuce was just little babies?
Then they grew a little bigger.
To few adulthood! In just a few months.
Not to brag, but we grew some pretty cute lettuce kids here.
Aren’t they beauties? It’s like their leaves form perfection.
During this day I also harvested some of our mixed salad greens too.. I’m feeling like I want a small salad before dinner tonight.
I harvested some radishes too, this is going to be perfect!
I’ll be making a post on the best way to store your lettuce harvest next week.
Do you have any lettuce recipes? If so, share them! I will be posting my lettuce soup and braised lettuce soon!
No Bake Oreo Birthday Cake Batter Squares recipe that only needs 4 ingredients. They are perfect for when it’s too hot to bake!
The last few days have been really hot in NYC. Weather that you definitely don’t want to turn your oven on for! So what’s a girl to do when she’s craving pies, cakes, brownies and breads? 2 words “no bake”. In the summer we should have a rule, only turn the oven on if we are making pizza. Any blog post that ever has the words “no bake” on it, I will click, read, comment that I love you.. because I truly do. So let’s embrace these no bake cake batter treats.
Do you tend to buy things at the store and then they get pushed back to back of the cabinet and you forget about them? Ooops.
That’s how I am about dried beans. I love beans. So whenever I’m in the dried beans aisle, I think to myself “Look at how cheap these are to cans, I should get a few bags, this is a great idea”. Then they sit in my cabinet and the canned beans get used instead. It’s a horrible crime, I know. So when I was cleaning out my cabinets this weekend I found multiple bags of beans that were calling my name. My first thought “soup” was quickly erased when I realized that was a horrible idea for the sweltering heat. My second thought “dip”. Dip is great, especially on hot days. It’s great to dip crusty bread in, or carrots. Or how delicious would it be with these homemade tortilla chips? (Thanks to my friend Owen for reminding me!) It’s great for a party. It’s great to snack during the day as bean dip is nutritious and filling. Bean dip – it’s a champion!
This bean dip is easy! If you don’t want to use dried beans, you can used canned ones, but man, dried beans are cheap! The ingredients in here are navy beans, lentils, lemon juice, olive oil, onion powder, salt, parsley to garnish.. and garlic and a bit of cumin for some kick. I bet you have almost all these ingredients already – how much of a win win situation is this? Because of the garlic and slight hint of cumin, the dip has a bit of a bite to it – it’s slightly spicy – not overwhelming – but it’s there with just the right amount.
Soak beans. Add your dry beans and lentils to a deep pot and add enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
Add your beans, lentils, garlic, lime juice, cumin, onion powder and salt to a food processor. Pulse until all combined.
Add olive oil to food processor and turn on until smooth.
Spoon out and put in serving dish.
Garnish with dried parsley.
If you don't want to use dry beans, use one 15oz can navy beans, one 15oz can lentils.
If your dip is chunky, add a tablespoon of water to food processor and pulse. Keep adding until smooth.
Here is my 1/2 cup dried navy beans and 1/2 cup lentils. The way that I soak these is: Add your dry beans and lentils together to a deep pot and add enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
Then you will start adding your ingredients (except olive oil and parsley) to your food processor. I love my food processor so much.
Once you are finished adding your ingredients, then add your olive oil and process more until smooth. Tip: The olive oil is going to make it smooth, but you might need some more additional smoothness. If you do, add a tablespoon of water and process again. Repeat this step until it’s just the amount of creaminess you want.
Take it out of the food processor and spoon into serving dish. Sprinkle dried parsley on top.
I like to serve this with little pieces of bread, or baby carrots.
Then snack away! Who doesn’t love healthy snacking?
Bonus points: Take to a party, everyone will love you!
Alot of friends in the city don’t have much space to garden. There’s hardly any back yards, community gardens have waiting lines and hauling potting soil to your rooftop is a bit too intense for some people. But don’t worry – you can still grow herbs and small vegetables right in your home. It doesn’t even mater if you don’t have alot of light, we can make this work! Another bonus, since you are growing inside, you don’t have to deal with insects or pests.. but I can’t guarantee your cat won’t want to nibble on that yummy lettuce. (I had to google cats + lettuce. What an amazing result:)
Let me introduce you to my friend, the hydroponic home farm. Hydroponic growing is a bit different than regular growing as it doesn’t use any soil. The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, are believed to have grown according to hydroponic principles, so it’s been around for quite some time! Instead of soil the roots grow in clay balls. You want to something like clay (or rock wool) because it allows good root ventilation, and doesn’t grow algae. This is going to allow your water drip system to drip right onto your plant, run down into the rocks, get your roots wet (causing your plant to grow) and continue down to the next plant. Because we won’t be getting nutrients from our soil, you will need to use a liquid plant food to feed your plants the vitamins your soil would regularly give you. These plant foods are easy to find online or at a garden center. You’ll need light because we need some photosynthesis action to take place here. If you have natural light, then set up your hydroponic system next to that light. If you don’t have natural light you can use a 6500 Kelvin Daylight Balance Fluorescent bulb. We have grown with these bulbs at the other side of our loft where it’s completely dark and it’s worked well. Now we have it set up next to the window though where we only turn the light on when it’s cloudy out, or during the months when daylight is shorter. If you can’t remember to turn on your light you can also buy a timer which we often use in the winter time, with this you just set a time and the light will turn on and off when you want it to. Lastly, you’ll need a aquarium pump which will push your water from your bottom reservoir all the way to the top and that will start the continuous watering.
There are already made systems that you can buy, we use a first generation Window Farm which was actually made by someone who attended the same grad school (NYU ITP) that Matthew went to. If you don’t want to buy it, there are lots of great tutorials online on how to build your own DIY version.
Because the containers to grow in aren’t huge, I recommend growing smaller plants that do not have giant roots. We’ve had success with basically every herb, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and even small strawberries and tomatoes. We’ve tried experimenting with larger root plants but let’s just say you can’t grow a pumpkin in it. (hey, had to try!)
The other great thing about growing inside your home is you still get the feeling of outdoors. When it’s a rainy, gloomy day and you’re feeling a bit blue, you can still mope around your home and smell fresh basil and grab some fresh mint.
So let me show you how it all works. We usually grow everything from seed. So if you are going this route, just start them in some cups in your home. The tricky part is when you have to transplant them from their cup to the hydroponic system. You do this by delicately digging the root out, and shaking all the dirt away. An alternative is buying herbs that are already started at your local garden center or nursery if you are scared of the whole starting from seeds process. This is tougher because since they are already larger, their roots are bigger as well, so you need to be careful separating their roots not to tear them. If you go this route, you really need to shake the roots as there will be alot of dirt attached. Basically what we want here is the plant and roots, try to get all the dirt you can off.
Or to make it much easier you can buy hydroponic sponges, where you can just plant the seed in that and put the entire sponge into the cup.
Then we add each plant into it’s own little cup and add clay balls. Try to mound the clay balls around the entire plant to support it’s stem. This is especially important in the beginning stages of the plant.
Keep adding the pellet balls to the cup until it’s completely full and the plant feels sturdy in it’s new home.
This cilantro is good to go.
2 to the left are cilantro, 2 to the right are basil. Note how small they are now…
Because just in a few weeks, they will be much bigger and ready for you to start pulling herbs off.
Always remember to keep your hydroponic system full of water. The way ours works is there are bottom containers that we fill up to the top with a little watering can. This can here has a awesome flexible neck so it can bend. The water will constantly bubble as the aquarium pump is pushing the water all the way up to the top and then trickling down the system.
And here is how our plants get their nutrients. Read the back of each container to know how much plant food to give your system. I find the least messy way to get your liquid nutrients into the system is to get a syringe, fill it up in the container then empty into each of the water reservoirs.
Now on to how the plants are doing just a few weeks after being placed in our Window Farm. Here’s 2 of our mint plants. I love these guys because I rip a few leaves off everyday for smoothies and iced tea.
Here’s one of our 2 basil plants. We are constantly picking off basil for pizza, sauces and pasta. I love the idea of just walking a few feet from the kitchen, tearing some herbs and throwing them in the dish.
And can we talk about how pretty those basil leaves are?
A word about basil, these guys can grow to be monsters. Ours grow to be about 2 feet high which means we usually grab some velcro and attach them to the system to keep them supported. As the plant matures, it’s roots are going to grow bigger as well and this can cause blockage with the roots for the water to get to the next cup. This can end up in a overflow water disaster as if there is no place for the water to go, it’s just going to overflow onto your floor. So keep a eye on your plants and if you see the roots growing through the bottom of the bottle, then act on it. When I see this, I try to help the roots grow in a better path, or know the plant has reached it’s maturity in this system and just pull the entire plant to use (and immediately start some new seeds! 🙂 )
Here’s our beautiful cilantro plant. We are growing 4 of them. I use these all the time in salads, bean dishes, tacos, rice. I love cilantro. It’s also one of my favorite smelling herbs. Creepy girl in the supermarket smelling cilantro? That’s me. But now I can just creep out my husband and grow it at home. See, it’s great for everyone involved!
It’s pretty fun to watch cilantro plants expand and get new growth.
I love you cilantro.
Cilantro, Mint and Basil.
So start grabbing your favorite herbs and get planting! Great light or not, you can do this!
What else can you grow besides herbs? We’ve grown lettuce with much success. Just know as the plants get larger they are going to need more water, so keep those containers filled.
We’ve grown cherry tomatoes which tasted great.
With larger plants like tomatoes and strawberries, plan accordingly as they are going to engulf your system. So you might want to keep herbs lower to easily get to them. (Note here: the pumpkin experiment in the bottom left). (Note here again: Everything here is grown with no window light, all artificial light, so you can grow even if your home is like a cave!).
I would like to end this post by thanking my special helper FiFi Bofinkles who stood on the step stool with me the entire time and slept on my feet while I balanced to take pictures. Thank you girl.