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Beets & Broccoli Fettuccine

June 12, 2011

Sauted beets and garlic broccoli combine to make a sweet, savory, and nutritious combination.  The thick fettuccine mellows everything out and gives the dish a good base.  I prefer 1 or 2 notes in my pasta dishes, and these 2 veggies complement each other really well. Serves 4 – 6.

Beets & Broccoli Fettuccine

INGREDIENTS:

2 large or 3 medium-sized Beets (trims removed, cut into short french fry-shaped pieces)

2 cups of Broccoli crowns

4 cloves of Garlic, minced ( I really like garlic, so I add even more than that.  You’re welcome to reduce or raise this measurement to your liking)

1 lb box of Fettuccine pasta

2 Tbsp Earth Balance

2  Tbsp Olive Oil

1.5 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 tsp Nutritional Yeast

Salt & Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Cook Fettuccine according to directions on the box, or however you usually cook pasta.  Once cooked, rinse to cool, then toss in 1 to 2 tsp of olive oil to keep it from sticking.  Set aside.

2. Use the remaining olive oil to heat a medium saute pan.  Add garlic and saute for 5 minutes at medium-high heat, until garlic is starting to brown at the sides.

3. Add broccoli, saute to combine.  Adding salt & pepper to taste.  I would make it slightly saltier, so that it will even out when you add the pasta later.  Cook for 5 – 8 minutes, until tender and bright green.  Be sure to mix/flip the broccoli for even cooking.  Set aside in a separate bowl when done.

4. Using the same pan (now empty), add the Earth Balance and allow it to melt and simmer – no more than 2 minutes.  You don’t want it to start burning.

5. Add the beets and saute to cover in the melted Earth Balance.  I like cooking beets this way when I’m pressed for time, since they cook so much faster.  Cover pan with lid or foil for 5 – 10 minutes, until beets are just tender.  Uncover and saute, until all sides are slightly browned from the carmelized Earth Balance & beet sugar. Yum!

6. (I like to do this next step in a giant wok, but you can do this in anything big enough to hold all of the ingredients and that can be heated over the stove.)  Using a large pan or wok at medium-low heat, combine the broccoli & pasta.  Toss to evenly coat, while sprinkling in the Nutritional Yeast.  Add additional salt/pepper to taste, if needed.

7. Add the sauted beets and toss until evenly mixed.*  Serve & enjoy!

* I do this step last so that the entire dish doesn’t turn pink.  I don’t really mind it, but others might find magenta pink pasta a little off-putting. )

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Growing in the Spring

June 11, 2011

Updates from the backyard garden!

Globe Artichokes, Sweet Basil, Carrots, & Beets

Baby Sweet Bell Pepper

Passiflora Passion Flower – There are a ton of these on the vine.  I hope a few of them turn into Passion Fruits!

Gobo (Great Burdock) & Tomatoes

Ciabatta Sandwich with Home-grown Lettuce

March 6, 2011

Most of this sandwich was made from store-bought ingredients.  The ciabatta bread is from Whole Foods – one of the less expensive things there.  You can get a 2 pack ciabatta loaf for $3.  This sandwich includes the following:

  • Ciabatta bread cut lengthwise
  • Spicy sprout mix
  • “Turkey” wheat meat
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Veganaise
  • Yellow Mustard

The combination of ingredients is very tasty & satisfying, so we tend to make this particular sandwich on a regular basis.

The lettuce is from the garden, which I’m quite proud of since I could only get lettuce, onions, & peas to grow from this past Fall.

For the 2 of us, I’ve found that we only need 2 or 3 leaf lettuce plants to get us through the winter.  I like that this lettuce grows leaves you can pick rather than the kind that you have to wait for the entire head to grow.  I can just pick a couple of leaves off each plant, the lettuce will keep growing, & I don’t have to worry about an entire head of lettuce going bad before I can get myself to put together a salad.

Quinoa Mid-Way

March 6, 2011

Quinoa is a staple food item in our kitchen.  I like to cook it pilaf-style with vegetable or mushroom broth and I usually throw a handful in whatever soup/stew I happen to be making.  It made sense to try to grow it in the garden this winter.  Quinoa is a short day, cool weather crop, which means in Los Angeles, I should be planting this in the middle of winter instead of waiting for March.  Basic growing information for this high-protein food crop can be found here.

Like almost all of the plants I’ve had experience with, the Rainbow Quinoa did not grow as expected.  I planted 2 rows of 6 in the raised beds in January.  I only saw two sprouts come up from this location, which i attribute to a combo of strong winds, suddenly warm weather (90 degrees F), then a downpour of rain…all during the week I was looking out for seed germination.  The two plants that made it are now about 3 ft tall, and there are seed heads growing at the head of every branch on each of the plants.  I can’t wait to see these guys change into their red, gold, & yellow colors when it’s time to harvest.

The strange & amazing thing is that I noticed that these plants grow just about anywhere.  Most of the seeds I planted didn’t end up sprouting in the raised bed.  Instead, I’ve been seeding quinoa sprouts popping up all over the other parts of the garden, and even the front yard!  They are literally everywhere – against the back wall, behind the nopales, next to the sprinkler system controls, under the passion fruit vine.  None of them are in the way or taking over another plant’s spot, so I’m just going to leave all of them where they are and check them out in about a month.  If they’re still doing well, I’ll put up some pictures.

Night Phlox

March 5, 2011

Ever since moving into the house, I’ve wanted to put together a night-scented garden.  The idea of sitting on the porch at night surrounded by the intoxicating-ly unique perfume of night-scented flowers is totally appealing.  Last March I attempted to seed 3 types of flowers:  Night Phlox, Night-Scented Stock, & Night-Scented Tobacco.  They were all seeded in peat pods and started indoors,  just like the other vegetables I was preparing for the spring & summer.   Well, basically, none of them seeded. 😦  I even tried again a few months later in July.      Nothing.

For most any type of plant, there is usually a small portion of seeds that don’t sprout.  I have a large terracotta pot, where recycled soil from these failed attempts are collected.  This is my emergency soil supply for what kind of emergency, I’m not sure yet.  Last November, a single sprout appeared!  Since it could be any number of flowers, herbs & vegetable I left it to see if I could identify it later.

It’s now March again (a year later) and the sprout has grown into an 8″ shrubby plant (still growing).  I’ve been trying to figure out what it could be – trying to match it to sprouts I’ve seen before.  This morning I was looking at it and noticed that it had flowers, but the petals were closed.  I remembered the night-scented flower failure and decided to check it out at night.  It’s 10:00pm now and I just came in from the backyard, having taken the picture above.  Woop, woop! It’s Night Phlox, it’s so cute, and it smells like awesome.  A vanilla jasmine-y with chocolate perfume smell.

In the last post, I mentioned that  I also tried seeding the night-scented stock & tobacco, again, a couple of months ago.  It was a success this time, and the seedlings are currently sitting under an indoor light.  Crossing fingers that these ones make it too!

Seeds for Spring & Summer

January 16, 2011

I finally received my seed orders in the mail last week. (Made orders into Seed Savers Exchange & J.L. Hudson) Most of the order consists of veggies I want to plant now, in January, and then a couple months later in March or April.  This month I’m going to start some of the medium-sized vining plants and some plants that need a bit of cold to taste good, not bolt, etc…  I’m having some doubts about the success of the colder weather plants, though.  It’s been a nice chilly 50 degrees during the day for the last couple of weeks so I thought I might be able to get away with it.  But starting just a couple of days ago,  the weather warmed up to 80 degrees!  What? So, I’ve decided to hold off on trying to plant the Red Russian & Lacinto Kale until the Fall.  Here’s what my January list looks like:

  • Nantes Carrots
  • Dragon Carrots
  • Red Malabar Spinach ( a vining spinach that’s perennial in mild climates.  I love the idea of this vegetable so much, it’ll get it’s own post as soon as it gets going.
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard
  • Butternut Squash (seeds going right into the ground)
  • Nasturtium Blue Pepe (yummy young tender leaves & pretty flowers)
  • Gobo or Great Burdock

Another thing I’m trying for the first time is chayote.  Chayote is a pear-shaped fruit, belonging to the gourd family.  It grows on a vine, which can reach up to 12 meters.  We’re going to trellis-up the side fence and see if we can’t get 2 chayote plants to cover the whole thing before summer’s end.

You can eat more than just the fruit of this plant too.  The root, stem, leaves, shoots, & leaves are all edible, making this a great food plant to add to your apocalypse-ready farm.  And it’s a vertical growing vegetable, saving ground space for other fruits & vegetables.

I bought the 2 chayotes above from Vallarta, a little more a month ago, when they were more plump & didn’t yet have the vine growing out.  I had them sitting on my kitchen counter for a few weeks and, all by themselves, they started sprouting.  Neat!  Now that the vines are a little over 6″, I’m supposed to put the fruits 3/4 of the way into the ground at an angle so that part of the smaller side of the fruit and the tip of the vine are both sticking up from the dirt.  Super excited to see how this goes.

Oh AND – I’ve tried to seed a night-scented garden twice now, with absolutely NO success.  I’ve been trying to grow Night-scented Stock, Night Phlox, & Night Scented Tobacco for the last year and just haven’t been able to get the seeds to sprout.  I decided to try them one last time,  since I was seeding the January veggies anyway.  Amazingly, the Night-Scented Stock started to sprout this morning! I’m not exactly sure why it worked this time, but I’m pretty pleased about it.

Chicken Round-Up!

January 1, 2011

It’s now been about 5ish months since we picked up the first 2 chickens and now 3ish months since we picked up the Cochins.  Here’s a quick photo update on how they’re doing.

From the top left, clockwise: Pinky, Brain, Magua, Elvira & Baby

No eggs yet, but Pinky & Brain’s waddle & crown are getting bigger and redder as the days pass, so hopefully we’ll see something soon!