Category Archives: organic garden

green monster

The garden has morphed  into this huge mass of vines and leaves. It’s almost impossible to distinguish between the lemon cucumbers and the Roma tomatoes …or are those pear tomatoes?

While we were in Chicago at the end of June we had friends  – Elliott and Tom – water and harvest the garden to prevent it from dying under our blistering Texas sun. They did a marvelous job keeping the garden going as you can see. When we returned home I was able to harvest 3-1/2 cups of tomatoes, enough to make  the tomato sauce I posted under Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Roma’s were a bit small so I had to cheat a little and use a few pear tomatoes to achieve the 3-1/2 cups I needed. The pear tomatoes worked very well and added a tiny bit of sweetness to the sauce.

I harvested two Ananas heritage melons before we left for Chicago, and when we left it appeared the melon vine had produced all it could this year. On our return home we were pleasantly surprised to see not only a new melon growing, but the largest one to date!

2 days before harvest

day of harvest

delicious!

I am not growing basil this season – In my past garden endeavors – in Eugene, Oregon and Seattle, Washington – I never had luck with herbs, and these are the places where everything grows lush and full. So I didn’t even consider growing herbs here in Austin. My guess is that it would take planting a big crop of any herb, cover them with shade cloth  and water them more than I water the veggies to be able to grow enough herbs to harvest. I could be wrong about the watering, but I definitely think shade cloth is necessary.  I did buy some beautiful basil at Whole Foods in order to make the tomato sauce, and used the remainder to make a big batch my famous walnut basil pesto – which can be frozen if we don’t eat it all first.

Walnut Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil (I start with 1/2 and add more if necessary)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

In a food processor add all the ingredients except the oil. Process for 2-3 minutes or until completely chopped. While processing add drizzle in oil until well mixed and moist enough to mix well with pasta.

Use the pesto with pasta or as a spread.

Gallery

my how you have grown

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Each day when I go out to our little garden square I am shocked by the changes. The green limbs, vines and leaves seem to double in size every night and it reminds me of the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk … Continue reading

Rome wasn’t built in a day …

… and neither was our garden.

The organic garden we just installed is not exactly as I had dreamed it would be when we bought our house, but its a work in progress. It has given me plenty of ideas of what would make gardening easier and ultimately more fun. I’ll have to wait a little while before I start adding major landscape elements though. For now I am happy to have just a little plot of land to dig in and put down roots.

Starting to take shape

Here’s a little recipe to get you dreaming about fresh Roma tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 4 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
  • 3 Tbsp red wine
  • 28 oz. of fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat (do not use a non-stick pan). Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes. Deglaze with red wine and add the tomatoes crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon or with your hands as you add them. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the basil leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for a bout 20 – 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Makes 3 cups. You can freeze this sauce for up to 6 months.

dig in … for a change

So it’s been 19 days since my last post, ‘what gives‘ you might ask? Well since this is a blog about my exploration of health and wellness, and it includes the good, the bad and the ugly, I will tell you what’s been going on.

Over the last two months I’ve been experiencing some changes to my nest, and I don’t know about you, but change sends me into a place where I should pay MORE attention to my overall health and wellness. Change in one area of my life usually has a ripple effect on the other areas – exercise, my food choices, sleep patterns and the list goes on. Well these last couple of months I haven’t been exercising, I definitely have been eating way too much fat and sugar (and boy have I seen the ugly side of sugar) and my sleep has been effected. Change if I’m not careful (and I haven’t been) digs into the things I love like cooking, writing and living life to its fullest.

I have been shooting pictures and documenting the organic garden (a new blog on the garden will be out in a couple days) as well as documenting the food I have managed to cook lately. It’s important to focus on the positives – what I have been doing vs. the negatives – what I haven’t been doing.

So I leave you with these beautiful images to enjoy, and these few thoughts:

  • There’s never a better time than today to make a change.
  • Change happens one step at a time.
  • So what if you’ve fallen off the bike, pick yourself up (check for broken bones) then get right back on there because today is a new day!

The Spanish Steps in April, Rome Italy 2010

 

 

 

spring has sprung

My favorite season has arrived in Austin and the birds, the buds and and the bees are in full swing, and I LOVE it.  I haven’t been in the kitchen for over two weeks – well that’s an exaggeration. I have been in the kitchen, just not cooking. With a recent lifestyle change I’m readjusting daily rituals, but things are starting to find their place so I hope to be back to cooking and back to the blog with more regularity.

Patrick and I bought our home in March of 2007, and from the first time I saw the front yard – in all its southernly sunshine glory – I began dreaming of putting in an organic vegetable garden.  Of course that meant we had to rip up the Asiatic Jasmine in the front of the yard. The Jasmine is like a 10″ shag carpet, and well that’s what has put us off this job for 4 years.  Until now! With the temperatures this week dipping back into the 70s (it’s been in the low 90s already) the iron is hot for striking.

Today we started by pulling up about a 3 foot swath of the menacing ground cover, but you can see how far we have to go. If we can just make it to this side of the Crape Myrtle I would be more than thrilled.  Once we pull up the mat of Jasmine, then we’ll till the soil to loosen the remaining vines and their roots. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and this process will be documented on the blog so you can follow along with us.  Feel free to send me tips, or the names of your favorite seeds as I look forward to sharing this experience with you.  And the most important thing about this garden is that is will supply Patrick and I with luscious organic food to transform into recipes to share with you. So in the end the garden is a benefit for you!