Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Garden Obsession Grows

You may have noticed that my time online has been much less these days.  I have been obsessed with gardening and trying to read as much as possible to decide how to set up my plot.  Also, I have been working more the last couple of weeks, causing me to choose wisely how I spend my time.

Is anyone else gardening this year or has in the past?  If so, I would love to hear any stories, tips and thoughts you have on your experience.
The weather has been driving me crazy!  I finally put some cold crop seeds in this week (it's a little late, I know), but I am still afraid that the wind or rain will rip them away.  Despite these concerns, I did it anyway and am determined to just  pop in a few more seeds if in doubt!  We have plenty of seeds this year (I may have gone overboard).  Really, I will just be happy when something green starts sprouting up for me (fortunately we do have some Egyptian Walking Onions standing tall!).
I'm trying out the square foot garden method and this is my current set-up: 

Adam and I blocked out four squares and covered them with newspaper.  We now have one square topped (it's a slow process right now) with four bags of topsoil, one bag of vermiculite and a wee bit of compost.  Our compost really isn't "garden ready," but I couldn't help throwing a little in.
Here's one more image to show all the seeds in their places topped with a little vermiculite.
Ruth and Edna, my friend-relatives who I see at least once a week (Ruth is my aunt's mom and Edna is her sister), have been kind enough to allow me to start some seeds under their grow lights.  I do have a few sprouts there!  Some Cauliflower and Millionaire tomatoes have sprouted.  I don't have pictures of these yet, but will post when I do.  Since I haven't mentioned Ruth and Edna before, I would like to let all of you know that these are two ladies to be greatly admired!  They garden, read, and exercise.  Ruth knits and Edna cooks.  And that's really not all, but why are these things especially amazing?  Well, Ruth just celebrated her 91st birthday!  What cool ladies :)  I learn so much from them and am so happy every time I see them. 

Soon to come: A few reviews and FOOD (of course)!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Awesome Things

For those who visited my blog in January, you might remember Weekly Intrigue posts where I listed some of the wonderful things I came across on the net.  (If you want to check any of those out again click here or just click inspiration under labels).  In that same spirit, and because I just couldn't keep up the weekly thing, here are some new awesome things I have come across.

TREEHOUSES!  What is not cool about tree-houses?  I remember dreaming of living in treetops or inside of trees as a kid.  And now I realize people build these dreams and it is absolutely amazing!

Wilkinson Residence:  This looks like something out of a sci-fi movie and is super sweet!  It is located in Portland, OR, somewhere I still dream of visiting.

Recycled Houses:  This is actually something I heard about awhile ago (thanks to Gina Marie - fellow librarian friend) and it is so cool!  Not only is this guy building up in the trees, but he is using recycled items to do it!  He, also, encourages and teaches others the skills to build their own.  He is truly an inspiration :)  The link above features a cool image of this guy and one of his houses.  Here is a video that shows you what it's all about.

Villages in the Sky:  East Wind, an intentional community in Tecumseh, Mo, is hosting a festival in June.  People will have the chance to help build tree houses and windmills.  It's an opportunity to bring people together to promote sustainable building, renewable energy and volunteer efforts.  This one's close to home, so I may have to check it out!

Interested in FermentingA quick visit to Green & Crunchy is sure to give you any motivation you need to get started!

Vegan sausages, pasta, and apples?!  You bet!  Head over to Healthy Happy Life and you're sure to get excited by this combo.

I miss croissants and am extremely inspired by these rolled up fellas over at Cupcake Kitteh.  Mmm, almond croissants even!

SWEET TREATS!  Yep, the sweets belong in a category all their own :)
Over at the Crafty Kook, River is making some mighty fine sweets with coconut milk!  Check out this thick and creamy Mousse and some deliciously fudgy looking Eureka Brownies!

Decadent Chocolate Caramel Bars await you on Seitan is my Motor.  Your mouth is sure to water as soon as you see these!

How cool would it be to have plants growing on the side of your house, literally?Mo Zone is a really cool blog that features all kinds of planting ideas and helpful tips for those on a budget.  Especially rad are the many recycled planter ideas that pop up!

As excited as I am about gardening, I'm worried that my aims are a little too ambitious this year.  It's important to me that nothing goes to waste (which may involve some free food for family and friends).  This entry on Living the Frugal Life provides helpful tips for meal planning with your garden.

Roof gardens, like these pictured on Fresh Dirt are amazing!  And I must say I have been very intrigued by succulents lately, which are part of these garden schemes.

Heathen VeganI've visited the blog many times, but this is the first time I saw the new front page.  It is FULL of reasons to be vegan, very motivating reasons.  Check it out!

Canadians on Seal:  Many of you have probably already heard about this, but it sickens me, so it deserved a mention.

Food Safety Offender:  America PLEASE get your food act together!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Recent Eats

Here are a few recent eats, unrelated to the Eat World extravaganza.

Recently I've been trying to add more side dishes to our meals.  In the past I've been mostly a one dish kind of gal with the occasional canned veggie or potato on the side, so we're trying to mix it up a bit.

This was a quick dinner that was quite tasty!  This dinner included a baked potato covered in salsa, margarine, nutritional yeast and ground pepper, roasted nuts, wilted spinach with Thai peanut sauce, and oranges.  The Thai peanut sauce was the real "wower" of this meal!  I highly recommend checking the link out and trying it.

 This was a lunch dish all packed up for work!   The sun was shining and I was wishing for Spring and a luscious garden, so I quenched my desires through my taste buds :)  This pasta salad contained an assortment of vinegars:  red wine, rice and apple cider, I think, some agave and a few other things.  I tossed in some onion, carrot, spinach and roasted red bell pepper.  For the wrap, I was inspired by this recipe for a Creamy Avocado and White Bead Bean Wrap.  Our wrap also included spinach, cabbage, and roasted nuts.

Two pics to view the toppings and see it all stacked up!

Oh man, these patties were awesome!  If you don't mind something that goes squish when you bite in, make them!  We mostly used this recipe for Bean patties and Spicy Guacamole on top of grilled homemade buns and served with French Fries.  I really do love greasy french fries!  And yes, the buns were a wee bit small, but we didn't mind!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Okay, originally this wasn't going to just be about contests, but man!  There are a lot of good things out there to win.  Unfortunately many of these have a deadline of TOMORROW because I have not been spending much time online.  Good luck!  (I remember noticing some others this week, so I will post them if I find them again!)

Contest opportunities!!!!
Want to win this
5" Ceramic Kitchen Knife?
Head over to A Bitt of Raw for your chance!

If you could use an extra blade (or are in need of a new one like me!) this could come in quite handy.
Get details about the blade on CSN's website.

How about a fancy new bag to show off at the local grocery or out on the town?  Check out EasyEcoToGo for a chance to win one of these guys.  These are 100% organic cotton and durable.  Sound good?  Head over to Project Green Bag and check out the selection.

Who wouldn't like another cookbook to add to their collection?  After scanning mouthwatering images from these blogs:  Cooking the Vegan Books, The Veggie Patch,and so many photos on Vegan Appetite's Flickr page.  Speaking of Vegan Appetite, head over there to check out the author's blog!  So head over to for a chance to win!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shanghai Tofu (China) and Potatoes with Creamy Tomato Sauce (Colombia)

Back to the food, finally!  You may have noticed that we're not too worried about sticking with one culture at a time.  To me, it's kind of exciting to mix dishes from different cultures and see how they can compliment one another.

It seems that Colombian food is a good choice for mixing cultures, since the food is already a mixture of tastes (see Colombian Cuisine).  Like in many parts of the world, the food will also depend on the region of Colombia.  Sad for veggies on vacation: "Colombia is not a paradise for vegetarians as the Colombian diet includes a lot of meat." (see South America: Colombian Food) And how about this quote from a description of Fritanga (a heaping pile of meat): "Guaranteed to sate any carnivore and send any vegan into therapy..." (see Traditional Colombian Food).  But for those of us making our own food here at home, no problem!  Just a few tweaks here and there.  On the South America: Colombian Food page you can find a wonderful list for common dishes served in Colombia.   For the vegan side of things they have huge quantities of tropical fruit and coffee, of course!

Since China is quite big, here's a bit about Shanghai:  Shanghai's cuisine is mostly a combination of the surrounding areas, being a relatively new city (see Shanghai Cuisine).  Sugar is a very common ingredient, especially in combination with soy sauce, and more is used in Shanghai dishes than in any other city in China.  Speaking of soy sauce, Shanghai chefs are known for their use of heavy and highly flavored sauces (see Shanghai Food).  Alcohol is also commonly used, like in "drunken" meat dishes.  On a vegan note, smelly tofu is a popular local treat in the street.  

Potatoes with Creamy Tomato Sauce or Papas Chorreadas (Colombia)
  (adapted from Extending the Table)
2 T. margerine
6 green onions
1/2 an onion, diced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. soy milk
1 t. cilantro
1/4 t. oregano
pinch of cumin
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup cheezy sauce - more if you like! (we used a recipe from Vegan Vittles)
8 large potatoes, cut into four pieces and boiled

In a skillet, over medium heat, melt the margarine.  Add and fry onions (green and red) and tomatoes.  Stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes.  Lower heat and add everthing except for the "cheese" sauce and potatoes.  Cover, while cooking over low heat, stirring often.  Meanwhile, fix your "cheese" sauce.
After 5-10 minutes, add the "cheese" and heat everything together for about 5 minutes or so.  Pour sauce over potatoes and serve.

Shanghai Tofu or Hongshao Zhurou (China)
  (adapted from Extending the Table)
2 pkgs Firm Tofu  (more if you like, the sauce is supposed to cover 4 lbs of meat)
3/4 c. soy sauce
3 T. agave nectar
2 T. lime juice
1 in. ginger root, sliced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2-3 anise stars
2 c. water

Bring everything, minus tofu, to a boil.  Add tofu, cover and simmer over low heat for 1 or 2 hours.  Be sure to turn the tofu periodically to help it absorb flavor more evenly.  Remove cover, increase heat and cook 15-20 min., until only about 1 cup of liquid remains.  Slice and serve.

Both of these dishes were extremely tasty and will be served again!  Adam suggested cutting the tofu up ahead of time to absorb more flavors.  The taste was very much like a ham baste and the tofu was juicy!  The potato dish was saucy, creamy and wonderful! 

More about the food and Recipes:
Colombian Food Recipes
South America: Colombian Food
Recipes Wiki: Colombian Cuisine
Shanghai Food