Monday, May 31, 2010

Garden Report 5.31.10 & possible detox diet

I've been considering a detox diet to figure out what foods make my gut go crazy. No, I'm not going to give any details about my bodily functions! I've been reading about elimination diets such as this one:, in which you eliminate eggs, soy, dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, nightshade family plants (tomatoes, peppers & eggplants) and other items from your diet for anywhere from 7 to 28 days. This allows the inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract to subside. Then, every 4 days or so you introduce one of the food groups previously eliminated and record side effects (if any) of eating that food group.
Anywho, this seems like a perfect time to do an elimination diet because my garden is kicking off. I already have way too much lettuce and spinach for one person to eat. My peas, kohlrabi and radishes are ready to eat. If I do this diet soon enough, I'll be able to start eating the yellow pear tomatoes that recently set on the plants.

So what I did today, and have planned for later:
I picked several handfuls of peas, both snap peas and snow peas. The shelling peas aren't quite ready yet. I think from now on I'll only plant snow peas and shelling peas. This year I had seeds to get rid of though.
I continue to thin out the lettuce and spinach.
I brought in another handful of strawberries today. I've had about a handful every other day for the last two weeks.
I decided I really like the Chinese red meat radishes when they are allowed to get larger. I had one earlier this week sliced very thinly on a salad of spinach, feta, and snow peas with poppy seed dressing.
I staked all the asparagus again. The first round of stakes didn't hold very well. I also staked the tomato plants that I don't have cages for, which is 5 of the 13 plants. I'm looking forward to lots of tomato paste and sauce and stewing tomatoes as everything I canned last summer was eaten by February this year. My tomatoes taste so much better than store bought!
The cucurbit bed needs diatomaceous earth reapplied. Last week, I replanted some Charentais melons because only one of the 4 plants was still growing. Something ate the other 3. The new seeds have germinated and are poking through the dirt.
I am going to plant more okra and green beans, as some of them were also eaten and some of them never germinated.
Also, when I was home last weekend mom and I split a 4 pack of Rosa Bianca eggplant. And of course, mine are now starting to look healthy....

I'm really liking the way I planted everything this year. There are barely any weeds.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Making friends

After several days of not being weeded or thinned, my garden was looking a little hectic. I went home to Cape for a long weekend, worried that my lettuce would bolt while I was gone. The temperatures were in the upper 80s and low 90s all weekend. But when I got back it was still looking good.
I shared lettuce and spinach today with Dave. He's our neighbor to the north. And he confessed to me that his favorite thing to eat garden-fresh is tomatoes. We're both guilty of standing in the garden and eating tomatoes straight off the vine, only to have a mouth full of canker sores and wondering to ourselves "why did I do that??". Well, because garden-fresh tomatoes are the best!
There weren't many other vegetables ready to eat. I had four snow peas, a chioggia beet, a very small golden beet, and a chinese radish. I'd never eaten beets raw before. The chioggia was a lot sweeter than the golden beet.I'll eat the radish tomorrow. I am going to try to be better this year about eating produce as it's ready to eat. Last year I was so overwhelmed with peppers, tomatoes and eggplant that half of it went bad. Granted, it's all good for the compost pile, but it would be even better in my belly! Last week I ate the first kohlrabi that was ready. I grated it and ate it like a slaw, but without any dressing. I also ate a chinese radish last week, but it was really hot. The package says they're supposed to be sweet radishes, and are ripe at 4 inches. The one I ate last week was only about 2 inches and I picked it before I double checked the package. I picked one today that is 4". I hope it really is sweet. If not, I'm going to try growing them in the fall. I'm going to have to do a fall planting for beets, kohlrabi and parsnips anyway because the seed didn't germinate very well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garden report 5.13.10

I love when vegetables start blooming!

Yellow pear Tomatoes

And I love when everything starts looking healthier- nothing like those spring rains to perk up the plants! Above tomatoes and onions, with carrots (being slow about germinating), beets, marigolds and castor beans (not for me, but for the moles.)
These beets are almost ready to eat.

I haven't had kohlrabi since elementary school. I hope they taste as good as I remember!
It might be easier to say what ISN'T in this bed! Along the trellis are melons, cukes, zukes and squash. In the middle are okra (recently planted, only three are poking through), green beans, spinach, lettuce and cippolini onions.
The strawberries have been shared with the birds. They apparently like them as much as we do. I brought in about half a cup this morning. There will be plenty more next year, when I won't disturb the bed to get mint out....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

And a pretty photo

One of my irises finally bloomed today. These irises are special. They are from Grandma Betty. Grandma Betty has them because Grandpa Wilman used to work for the Niswongers, who breed/cultivate irises. When I went to school, the bus would drive past the iris fields- so beautiful in springtime!

Still wrestling with going back to school

I have three options in my head that I've been debating since February. I need to make a decision soon. I already filled out the FAFSA for this summer, and for the upcoming school year. I know according to the FAFSA I won't get any student aid; the Hubs and I made too much money when we were both employed. However, since I'm unemployed now, there may be more financial aid options.
Option 1: Go back to school to be a nurse. Cox has a program that would minimize the amount of money paid by me. First, I'd go to school to be a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant). This is the person that takes vitals, changes sheets, the dirty work equitable to an intern. Cox has a program that will pay for the 8 week training course if I agree to work for them for the next year as a CNA. CNAs make about 25,000/year. Then, I could get my foot in the door to be a Registered Nurse. They offer a program for RNs, where they will pay for a semester of school if I agree to work for them for a semester; they will pay for up to four semesters if I agree to work for them for four semesters. RNs make about 60,000/year. (Which is a helluva lot more than I will make in architecture for several more years!)
Option 2: Go back to school to be a medical lab technician. This is the person who analyzes blood and urine to check for diseases and such. There is minimal, if any patient interaction. The prerequisite courses are similar to RN courses. MLTs make about 35,000/year. This program would be through OTC, but Cox offers a bachelor's degree that would earn me the medical lab technologist designation, who supervise technicians and make about twice as much.
Option 3: Go back to school for my masters in business administration. There are several things I could do with this degree. First, I could own my own firm and know how to make it profitable. Second, when we move back to Cape Girardeau I could open a greenhouse, or bakery, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and make any of those options profitable.

It seems so simple in my head to go back for my masters. Most of the classes are offered online. If I got hired back on as an intern I could complete my masters while working an 8-5 job without disrupting work. It is more inline with what I went to school for in the first place. But I'm so intrigued by the human body, its systems and how it works. Nursing classes are mostly in class; if I got hired back on as an intern I would have to choose between the two. It's still early enough in my career that I could make a career change and not commit career suicide. The biggest issue is money. How would I pay for school, regardless of what I went to school for?  I'm afraid that even though I'm initially drawn to nursing because of my curiosity about the human body that it's ultimately the money that draws me in. I care about people, don't get me wrong, but I don't like starting out at the bottom of the totem pole in new jobs. However, when I eventually get hired back as an intern I will most likely be at the bottom of the totem pole, in a new office other than my former employer.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to what I want to do with my life. I have a romantic idea of what I want to do with my life. I'm (finally) enjoying this time off of work, enjoying working in the garden everyday and baking bread on a whim, studying at my own pace and wanting to be creative again. I started architecture school with so much creativity in my brain and by third year I was drained of it. I would tackle a new project and be mentally exhausted and not satisfied with the final product. never. satisfied. I miss when I would draw just to draw, and write poetry and songs and short stories. I miss creativity and I don't get it in the architecture office. It's difficult to be creative with a standard detail when it's already drawn and in the detail catalog and when the standard detail is the way it works best, preventing infiltration of water, bugs and critters. Granted, there's no creativity in nursing or lab tech work. I guess I envision work as having standard procedures and protocol, and then for the rest of my life to be creative. Work is mindless and everything else keeps my mind alive.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Moroccan Chicken with Orzo, and Chardonnay

I found this recipe online a month or so ago and have been meaning to try it but was out of chicken breast until recently. I made my way to the website because it was featured in a article:
It's from a Jenny Craig cookbook, but it sure doesn't taste like diet food!

Moroccan Chicken with Orzo
1 cup orzo, uncooked
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large clove garlic, minced
14-16 ounces chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (1" or smaller)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1) Cook orzo in salted water until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

2) While orzo is cooking, get out a medium bowl. Add paprika, cumin, salt, turmeric, cinnamon and garlic, and stir to combine. Add chicken and stir until entirely coated with mix. 

3) In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion. Saute about 4 minutes, until it's a little soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add chicken. Brown chicken, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 more minutes. Pour in broth and raisins. Drop heat back to medium and let it cook for 5 minutes.

4) Kill heat. Remove skillet from burner. Pour cooked orzo into skillet. Stir until thoroughly combined. Top with fresh cilantro and serve.

How I changed it:
I didn't have chicken broth; I had chicken bouillon. Instead of draining the orzo, I stirred in the bouillon powder into the pasta water.
I didn't add raisins. The Hubs doesn't like raisins and I want to get his opinion on the recipe. If he eats it, maybe we'll eat it more often when he's not on the Atkins diet.
I also didn't add cilantro. If I'd had some, I would have used it but I am currently out!
Saffron threads are expensive. Even if I had a full time job I wouldn't buy them. I used turmeric. 

Definitely delicious. It's not spicy hot, but spicy warm like a sweet curry. I went back for seconds. The recipe is supposed to make 5 servings. But it's the only thing I ate for dinner, so maybe there are only three servings if you don't have a side of vegetables.

The wine I'm trying tonight is Snapping Turtle Chardonnay. It is about a $10 bottle of wine. Even chilled, there isn't a bite. I'd buy it again. I didn't eat it with the chicken and orzo. This is my after-dinner-need-a-drink-so-i-can-sleep drink. I'm exhausted physically after driving, well riding while Jenny drove, to a jobsite 1-1/2 hours away. We had work to do there and drove there three days this week. I'm thinking part time work is for the birds!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Garden Report 5.2.10 and Bakersville Planting Festival

Today, Melissa and I went to Bakersville for their annual planting festival. What a crowd! There were hundreds, if not thousands of people there! Lots of nurseries set up their plants for sale there, as well as crafty people with dish towels, pot holders, doilies, baskets, soaps, candles and more. There were also several old-timey bands playing and supposed to be several speakers there, notably the editors of Mother Earth and Organic Gardening. We didn't stay long after we bought the plants we wanted. Apparently I'm the only weirdo trying to grow artichokes this year, as no one had them for sale as plants. I did find one booth with tomatillos, and purchased two, because mine are not very large. My plants look like oregano, and the plants I bought today looked like full grown basil plants. HUGE!
Also purchased one Corno di Toro Rosso (Red bull's horn), one Olena Red (vendor said they are good for stuffing, so it is to supplement the Red Cheese peppers I grew from seed), one Anaheim (the ones I grew from seed have been chewed on by something!) one Rosita eggplant, and one Ping Tung eggplant.
Probably should have purchased a few more eggplant, as mine are not quite as large as what I purchased today, but they'll go in the garden sometime this week.

I bought a really awesome watering wand at Lowe's last week. It has seven different spray patterns. I was worried it wouldn't have enough pressure to water with my rain barrel, but it does, and it's like a gentle rain shower. (Unlike the pouring-mad-hailstorms we've had in the last two weeks.)

Today when I got home from Bakersville, I put the plants in the ground that I bought. I also planted Jimmy T and Perkins Long Pod Okra, a row of bush Blue Lake green beans, carrots between the tomatoes and onions, and marigolds and sunflowers with the artichokes. All of the castor beans I planted have come up. I think I will need to plant a few more, but I want to see how the pepper/eggplant bed fills in before I plant more seeds. I also planted some cosmos (free seeds that came in the mail) in the asparagus bed. The thyme and a couple of the basils are coming up that I planted the other week. I think I need to re-seed the Thai Basil though. That was old seed and none of them have sprouted yet. Neither has the Cilantro or Parsley. The Cilantro was the oldest package of cilantro seed I had- I have three different packages of that seed...
The green beans that I planted in with the root vegetables are coming up. Some of the second sowing of carrots and beets are coming up too. The marigolds and bachelor's buttons that I planted with the asparagus are coming up, and the acorn squash, butternut squash, cucumbers and their accompanying marigolds and sunflowers are coming up. I dusted them with diatomaceous earth today. The charentais melons haven't pushed through yet.
I need to get some mulch to put around the plants. I would like more of the cotton seed hulls that the Hubs got for me a couple years ago.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sourdough Wheat Bread Recipe #2

For the second week in a row now, I've made this bread. I like it better than the last bread I made. This bread doesn't get that gross yeasty-wet smell after a few days and it puffed up better. However, after the negative experience with the last recipe, I went out at bought two metal loaf pans, which probably aided in the success of this recipe. 

I got this recipe from (,164,149168-246201,00.html):

1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp if you have a jar and not packets)
1 1/2 c warm water3 c. whole wheat flour (I used my 50/50 white/wheat flour mix)
1 c. Sourdough Starter
1/4 c. dark molasses
3 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp salt 
2 1/2 to 3 c. unbleached white flour (I used closer to 2 1/2 cups, but both days I baked this it wasn't very humid in the house)
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. In large mixer bowl, soften yeast in warm (110 degree) water. Blend in whole wheat flour, Sourdough Starter, molasses, butter and salt. I use the bowl from my Kitchenaid mixer to mix everything by hand.
2. Combine 1 cup of the white flour and soda; stir into flour-yeast mixture. Add enough remaining unbleached flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes. Shape in ball. 
3. Place in greased bowl, turning once. I let the dough rise in my 8 cup Pampered Chef bowl.
4. Cover and let rise until double, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down; divide in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. 
5. Shape in 2 loaves; place in two greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour. 
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pans; cool. Makes 2 loaves.

The first rise was closer to 2 1/2 hours because I went to the gym. When I left for the gym, the dough took up about 1/3 of the bowl, when I came back, about 1/3 of the dough was puffed up above the bowl. 
The second rise was about an hour. 
My kitchen temperature was about 72 degrees. 
I turned on the oven about 45 minutes prior to putting the bread in it, and baked it for 37 minutes in the center of the oven.
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