A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chickens and Ducks in Redmond

So, faithful readers, you know that I want to have some ducks in my backyard. This has been based on one main fact: Most eggs that we eat come from crapwagon places like this:

Chickens are cramped, shot up with hormones, and let's just say: not so happy. There have been diseases and recalls and just general unsavory behavior from general egg-producing places. Although there are labels like "cage-free" and "free-range" those really have no strict guidelines in place to show much difference between this and the battery cages. (In fact, this picture might actually be "free-range" chickens as they are not in cages and there is some light coming in the corner. Yeah, not so great.)

In comparison, how happy do these chickens look?:

Exactly. Having backyard chickens lets you have fresh eggs for most of the year, and they can help eat bugs and leftover food scraps! But, to be honest, I don't actually like chickens that much. I prefer ducks: They are cuter, have less scarier beaks, and are waterfowl! (i.e.: They love it when it rains, which let's face it, we live in Washington and it rains a whole lot here.) Duck eggs taste the same to me as chicken eggs, (some people think they taste differently) are somewhat higher in cholesterol and protein, and ducks are heartier creatures in general. And, added bonus, they eat slugs! But I digress. Apparantly, in the city of Redmond (where I live) you cannot have any kind of backyard animals (chickens, ducks, or goats) unless you live on 1/2 an acre or more. My house is on a third of an acre, and it's one of the biggest lots in our neighborhood-so you can imagine my dismay. There is a town meeting this Wednesday in the hopes of changing this. You can learn more about it at the Chickens In Redmond FB page, and if you live here, I hope to see you there on Wednesday!! (They are asking for an RSVP by tomorrow, Monday, but you can do that by calling: 425-556-2440.) I really hope this law will change so that I can get some ducks next spring! They already have three councilmembers voting in favor of it, and they need a fourth to pass it. If you can help, please come and support us!

Brunch Ideas

Have some fruit:
Add some yogurt and grapenuts. :) Or you could always make some crustless quiche:

I made this last weekend, but had lost my original recipe (oops!!) Good thing I have a search function on this blog!

Have a great breakfast!! :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Easy food for a hot day

Today we will be making a veggie version of a delicious hot dog. "Delicious veggie dog?" you say. "Unheard of!!" But, it's true!! Start by carmelizing some onions:

(Cut up onion, cook over low heat with about a Tbsp. of olive or canola oil for about 15 minutes.)
Then get some of these:

Cook the hotdogs on the bbq; but, in foil and with a little oil. Since they are ultra low fat and well, fake, they will stick; not only to the grill, but also the foil. They also cook really fast, so you only need to grill them for 5-8 minutes. You can also toast up the buns on the grill if you want.

Assemble with some ketchup and mustard, and you are set!! (I also like this with veggie chili; this summer is probably the most veggie hot dogs I've ever eaten!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crazy Garlic!

You may recall that last November, I planted some 60+ cloves of garlic. Well, after much growing (and using up every spare pot and square inch I had)... I present, 40+ heads of garlic!!

It got a little too heavy at this point:

(This is a classic face that both my sister and I make, just about every time someone takes a picture of us. We both find it hilarious!)

But I digress... Garlic is a great plant to grow; it's easy, mostly done over winter when not much else is growing, and can grow in full sun to partial shade. (I grew some last year in the backyard, if you can believe it; it actually made it!) You know that garlic is ready to be picked when it turns yellow, looks dead, and falls over. You want to pull it up pretty soon after that, or it can start to rot- and that's just a waste! Some of these were kind of hard to pull up, so you may have to dig around to loosen the roots a bit. After you pull them up, they need to "cure" or dry for a couple of weeks before you eat them. I just had some yesterday that I pulled up 3 weeks ago. Fresh garlic is waaay better than the stuff you get at the store; but it's also got a milder flavor, so you may want more of it. I'm planning to save at least a few heads to plant this fall, and hopefully this will be enough to last me a long while!

You can cut off the tops when you're ready to eat the garlic, or braid them together if you want to be all fancy and hang it somewhere. I'm not so fancy, but I DO have a lot of it to deal with; so I may actually braid it once it's dried.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gardening Excitement!

I saw the most exciting thing as I drove up the driveway yesterday:

An actual artichoke! Growing in my yard! Not just thistly bits! Or tiny plants that survived the winter only to get eaten by a squirrel! A REAL ARTICHOKE!!

In truth, there are 4 of them coming!!!

See, a tiny one!

I also have 4 kinds of mint this year. This one is regular spearmint.

Teeny tiny Corsican mint.

Chocolate mint (I also have orange mint, but missed a picture of that one. Oops!)

This is my biggest tomato plant. Guess it's called "Goliath" for a reason! $6 from the Redmond Farmer's Market.

Here is my newly completed bed! It's got some transplanted strawberries, some beans, and greens coming up soon.

Here's the lettuce!

And beans! (note the high-tech zip ties for trellising)

One of the first two roses from our "Everlasting Love" roses. They smell so good!

Most of this lettuce died in one of the random heat wave days we had (surrounded by days of cold and rain); but this much has already come back or managed to survive!

The first Calla Lily to emerge from the bunch John gave me when he proposed last year! It's a bit different in color than it was originally, but I love it!

Side view of driveway bed; I've cut back the rhubarb three times already, and it's still going strong!

Also notice: this giant squash plant? I did not plant it. It sprang up out of nowhere; either leftover in compost or just from the air. We'll see what it turns out to be soon! (and FWIW, it's doing the best of all the squash in my garden, crazily enough.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Orondo Cherries!

These are my new favorite cherries:

They are really juicy and delicious! A little bit sweeter than regular Rainier cherries, they remind me of the very first Rainier cherries I tasted back when I was about 10. My grandmother had bought some from the side of the road, on the way to see her accountant (she used to own a bookstore). They were the most wonderful cherries I'd ever tasted, and I forsook (forsooth!) the regular red ones to second best ever since. But lately? I haven't liked the Rainiers as much for some reason.

Not these though. I'm on my 3rd pound of them already this summer, in about 2 weeks. And since I'm the only one in my house who likes cherries, I know it's all me. Plus? As a bonus, they seem to be cheaper than any other cherry at the market (at my QFC anyway), and they're local; so if you see them, give them a try! Find out more about them here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Figs with Honey

I love figs. I only discovered them a couple of years ago, but since then, I always get them when I have the chance. I even bought a fig tree this year! (much to the dismay of my new husband, who thinks that figs are scary/disgusting/invaders from another planet). But I digress. There are many different types of figs out there, but all of them are delicious with honey.

These are my favorites:
I haven't actually tried green figs, they seem slightly scary to me. (maybe John is rubbing off on me.)

This recipe is really very simple, and perfect for a hot summer night. First get some figs and some honey.

Then, wash and quarter the figs. Put them in a bowl.

Drizzle some honey on top! You could also add some walnuts or Greek yogurt; but I think this is perfect as it is.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Before and After

This is how the front yard top-of-the-hill started:

Now I've ripped out about half of the ivy that needs to go:

I'm planning to line the path with bricks, and make a giant strawberry/other edibles patch, at the one place in my yard that is actually flat AND gets sun. (amazing, right?)

Here is some of the new bed alongside the driveway. I've created it entirely out of compost put over the remains of ripped out junipers. I can never remember this name, and I hate it, so it is now renamed "crapuler". :)

I really did not expect for the plants (esp. rhubarb and strawberries) to get so big in so little time. I've actually had to tie up the rhubarb and cut back some strawberry leaves for the fruits to get enough sun to turn red! Every time I get some more space, I move a few things further out. It's complete insanity!

Finished edge~!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Stuffed French Toast

I am not a huge French toast fan. I usually prefer waffles, actually. Add to that the fact that I usually mess them up in some way, ending up with a squishy mess (I blame too healthy whole wheat bread). But yesterday, I made THE BEST FRENCH TOAST IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. Period. The pioneer woman featured this a long time ago, and for some reason, I was thinking about it lately. If you are ready to cast sadness onto every other French toast you've ever had... then you're ready to make this.

Strawberry-Stuffed French Toast:

1 loaf of French bread
3 eggs
3/4 c. milk
4 tsp. cinnamon

(Filling ingredients to follow)

1 c. or so sliced strawberries
1-2 tsp. sugar (just sprinkle it over the top):

Set that aside. Now you need... Filling ingredients:

4 oz. cream cheese (I used Tofutti, since that's what we had!)
3 Tbsp. jam (Bonne Maman is my favorite)- you can use whatever flavor you have; if I'd had strawberry/apricot I would have used that, but cherry what I used and it was lovely.

Mix them together in (yet another bowl):

Set that aside.

Take your french bread (preferably day-old) and slice it into thick slices. THICK ones! Thick enough to be able to slice another slice in the middle to form a pocket. Observe:

Then, in a shallow pan, whip together the egg, milk, and cinnamon. Take a piece of bread, fill it with about 2 spoons of filling and 2 spoons of strawberries. Cram it in there! Then lay it in the mixture for a minute or so, flip it, and do the other side.

In a hot pan, melt a small amount of butter- like a teaspoon or so. (maybe a little more for the first one.)

Let it get nice and hot, and put in your first toast. Cook it for a few minutes, and make sure you smush it down so that all the eggy mixture gets cooked. (and that nice evenly browned color)

Flip it and cook the other side. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and add syrup at your discretion. (I didn't actually try them without syrup, but John did and said, "These are not sweet AT ALL!" so yes, have the syrup. It tastes like donut french toast! So good!!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Macadamia Nut Encrusted Ahi

Hooray! I finally have some pictures and recipes to share!

To start with... we kind of ran out of money in Hawaii. Like, transferring money off of credit cards ran out of money. And we did not go to a luau (although I hear that they can be really hit or miss, so prolly best NOT to spend the $100/person to either not get food or get food poisoning...) but I had this flyer that boasted what I thought would be a pretty awesome menu:

Sauteed Mahi Mahi with Lemon Macadamia Nut Butter
Sweet Bread Rolls
Molokai Sweet Potatoes
Stir-fry Vegetables
Island Style Fried Rice
Maui Grown Lettuce Bar
Potato Mac Salad (I love this for some reason, despite not liking macaroni salad for the most part)
Green Papaya Salad
Lomi Lomi Salmon
Fresh Poi
Maui Gold Pineapple
Kula Strawberries
Cucumber Namasu Salad

So yeah. We did not go there.. but- I managed to pull together a feast of a dinner and lunch the next day with only $40. Bite me, overpriced luaus!

Here's what I did:

Bought a pound of macadamia nuts. Ground them up in a blender. Then added some sweet bread:

For a bit of bread-y-ness, of course. Then, I dredged some ahi steaks in it, and put it in a pan. I drizzled it with lemon juice, and added a few bits of pineapple and some juice from the core of it.

Bake at 350* for about 25-30 minutes. I wanted it to be really done (not seared or anything) so I waited it out. And it was GOOD! I will totally have to make this again sometime, when I actually have things like cooking spray and spices at my disposal. :)