31 May 2011

Taters & Plums

We have potatoes! My husband was "cleaning up" the compost pile last week and pulled out a volunteer potato plant. He wasn't sure what he would find since he had transplanted the potato from a different place (we made room for other things but the potato decided to grow anyway). We have more potatoes coming, but they are in pots on the patio.

These beautiful red potatoes disappeared that very night after we roasted them.

volunteer red potatoes
PGE 2011 has been pretty fun. Those peas are still growing tall -- not producing much right now, but still growing and there are still flowers so I'm assuming we'll get a few more peas out of them. We have volunteer tomatoes, squash (or cucumber, not sure which), onions and shallots sharing the pea pots, so as soon as the peas are done there will be something to take over the soil.

What am I most excited about? Something that is NOT on the patio. These babies right here! They're green right now, but before we know it we'll be knee deep in sweet-tart red plums (and elbow deep in our sorely missed plum preserves).

red plums (not quite red yet)
Ooh, bonus cicada for you on the right. This could be the one I almost sat on today in the car. Or, the one that flew into my windshield as I pulled in the driveway. Or, the one that decided it wanted to be in my face and my hair while loading my kids in the car. Or, the dead one that was on the play set today...

This little guy thinks he should eat everything round he finds on the ground.

30 May 2011

Afternoon Snack Attack: Truffles and Muffins

Yes, that's right. I said, truffles and muffins. Since I've been so excited about the little things lately I'm going to start sharing my favorite afternoon snacks with you (well, technically the cookie post was the first).

My buddy ol' pal, girlfriend for life, BFF, la la la la la (she's a bombtastic friend) gave me a parting gift when I left California. To put it plainly, she sacrificed an extra jar of heaven. She has been totally in love with all things truffle and thankfully, she has shared this passion with me.

After melting a tablespoon of butter in a pan, I added garlic and salt. I took some leftover whole wheat spaghetti and tossed it in the butter, then took what looked like a smidge (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) of this Le Trifole and tossed it with the pasta in my plowl (that's what we call the hybrid plate-bowls in our house).

JUMP UP & DOWN HAPPY – that is what I called that dish. I immediately sent my friend a text message to thank her once again for that delicious jar of wonder. Oh, we've used it on plenty of things since I've been home... This is just one of those things that blissfully highlighted the flavor.

No, I wasn't satisfied with a bowl of pasta for my afternoon snack. My daughter and I baked an adaptation of Bananaberry Muffins from Raising Homemakers. We took their recipe and replaced one of the bananas with 1/2 cup plain yogurt.

To use my husband's reaction, they were "Deee-LIGHT-ful!" This is a very moist muffin that did not disappoint. Mind you, I've been trying to bake a good blueberry muffin for a few years now. I've tried different recipes from reliable sources but this one seemed to be the crowd pleaser. I guess experimentation with substitutions pays off!

Enjoy your afternoon snack!

26 May 2011

No more ice packs!

Just saw this today so I have to share. I haven't purchased one yet, but I definitely will!

This product is ingenious. If you're a parent or caretaker of a small child you are familiar with ice packs, blue ice, reusable gel packs, and all means of keeping milk or food cold while out of the house.
PackIt Freezable Cooler Bag | Daily Grommet
During our vacations has been especially difficult because I don't want to have a bulky cooler on the plane, and I want to pack as much food as I can into the cooler bag so I only bring one ice pack. With this product it looks like I can pack as much food & drink as possible without having to make room for the big ice pack that lasts the longest.

More positives?
* Freeze a little drink container of tea in the bag, it'll be nice and slushy for you by lunch time. (see Daily Grommet video)
* You won't forget the ice pack since the whole bag is the ice pack.
* Earth friendly solutions are having items that you can re-use, and help you remember to pack your own lunch, for a long period of time.
PackIt website

22 May 2011

What's the buzz on the patio?

crisp, fresh peas from the patio garden
I know there has been much debate about whether or not the "year of the cicada" is actually as bad as people say it is. In parts of middle Tennessee it really has been! In our little subdivision (which has not been around for more than 13 years - the length of time in between said years of said bug's invasions) we have not experienced the tremendous volume of bugs. However, in the tree line that was undisturbed, on the edge of the neighborhood... You can hear them buzzing like a giant stereo needing to be grounded. How's that for an analogy? That one was for my siblings.

While harvesting the peas shown above, I was startled by some loud buzzing coming from the pea plant. Lo and behold, my first sighting. Ugly bug, yet fascinating.

This particular cicada did not fly away, but it's companion did. This one hung on to the plant and subsequently died while holding on. My little boy decided to squeeze it and I heard my daughter yell, "eeeeuw! He has cicada juice on his fingers!" Nice.

It looks like a mechanical bug, or the alien thing that is featured in the opening montage of Men in Black.

Here is a lovely shot of the onion flower that shares the pea plant's pot. I didn't want to leave you with a cicada nightmare image.

21 May 2011

Toasted Bliss!

toasted oat flax bread with coconut oil & sunflower seed butter
Part of yesterday morning's breakfast involved a new product that I just purchased. I don't even know where to begin... I'm a bit too excited about this toast!!

Ok, I'll start with this:

1) I received an offer on Daily Candy$10 for $20 of soap.com products. You can still get in on this if you've never ordered from them before!

2) I purchased a list of things I've been needing, plus a few things I want to try. One of those things is Coconut Oil (as a food additive or supplement).

3) I opened said coco goodness and spread it on my oat flax toast. I topped that with my new sunflower seed spread (I've developed an allergy to peanut butter so I'm trying substitutes) and took a bite.

4) I ran to grab my camera and took a picture of it to share with you all! I just couldn't believe how incredibly delicious it was!

I felt ridiculous, but at the same time there was an urgency. When something is THAT good, my friends that love coconut need to know. They just need to know.

16 May 2011

Patio Garden Experiment 2011 (May)

Pretty little pea flowers at sunset

One of the most spectacular things about living in the mid-south is the miraculous growth of all things green, once the weather warms up. While we were away in California, lightning, rain, wind and warmth all brought abundant life out of our potted wonders.

Check out the size of our pea plants! Sheesh, they were just creeping onto the first ring when we left. Now (as you can see from the pea flower shot above) they are towering above the top ring!

We've been eating peas this week and it is a wonderful thing to see our kids appreciate their greens. My daughter loves that she has participated in planting, watering and harvesting vegetables.

Here is one of our potato plants, which has already grown a few inches since this photo was taken at the beginning of the week. The cute little white flowers have also bloomed on top.

another potato plant, accompanied by hosta, strawberry and young japanese iris
The rest of the photos are some of the iris flowers that I look forward to every year. It is so nice to see our planted areas filling up with lush greenery!

Thanks to my mom, Auntie Melodie (and a few of Mike's former patients), we are enjoying a variety of colors and frills in our iris beds.

09 May 2011

Glassical Music

We're back! After 2 weeks in California I am ready to get back into the groove of our life at home. While I prep the photos of the patio garden, take a look at this musician Carrie shared with me. It made me laugh because we spent one evening ardently arranging my wine glasses into a glass harp -- just to play the theme song from Doctor Zhivago, "Somewhere My Love" (or "Lara's Song")! We had another piece that we started but I can't think of what it was... All I know is that we were SO excited when someone came home so that we could share our magnificent musical feat. It is a LOT of fun, so if you're looking for something to pass the time or to entertain your guests, try a glass harp challenge.

By the way, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is the video I first saw. It is over 7 minutes long so you can leave it playing, or just check out the first few minutes to understand the brilliant musicality of Robert Tiso (search "roberttiso" on YouTube). He has other familiar pieces uploaded so you can listen to your heart's delight.