Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter Bloomers

Snapdragon 2
I should have titled this post Winter Blooms, but that wouldn't have been as fun!

I took this picture of my snapdragon plant on Sunday. While all the other flowers in my yard died off months ago, this little plant has toughed it out through snow, freezing rain, sub-freezing temperatures, and the crazy warm spells we've had this winter.

I first planted the snapdragons in spring 2011, and the plant died back that fall of 2011. I expected the plant to die back again this past fall, but it's still here.

There is still snow on the ground from last Friday, but tomorrow it's supposed to be in the high-60s! I don't know how this flower has toughed out the wacky temperatures when none of the others have, but it's nice to see this little red flower every day. I hope it lasts through the rest of the winter.

And since I mentioned bloomers, I feel like I should include some of those too. If they came in flannel I would probably buy them and wear them throughout the month of February:

Source: bing.com via Renee on Pinterest

Any winter bloomers in your garden?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

SSFC: Bubble and Squeak

Local potatoes

I love potatoes. Always have since I was a little kid. I eat them in some form or another about 6 days a week, baked being my most favorite way, and fried coming in a close second. If I go out for dinner and have to choose two sides with my entree, I've been known to pick two different kinds of potatoes. In fact, a few years ago I was in Alabama and had one of my most favorite meals ever (also the most memorable BBQ I've ever had): a BBQ chicken sandwich with tater tots, potato salad, and tea so sweet that my teeth actually cried.  

As much as I love potatoes, it can become challenging to think of different ways to eat them. Lately my favorite way is to make bubble and squeak, which I made for this week's SSFC Eat Local challenge. 

Bubble and Squeak ingredients

Bubble and squeak is an English dish made with vegetables leftover from the previous night's dinner. Potatoes are one of the main ingredients, along with cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, or any other leftover veggies. According to Wikipedia, this dish became popular during World War II as an easy way of using leftovers when most food was subject to rationing. The name "bubble and squeak" comes from the sound the vegetables make while they are cooking.

As you can see, I deviated from the traditional list of ingredients for the purposes of the Eat Local challenge. I don't like cabbage, but I thought this might be a good way to use up some Swiss chard I had picked up at the farmers' market. 

Local Ingredients
1 tbsp butter - Pennsylvania
4 medium potatoes - farmers' market
1 cup Swiss chard - farmers' market
1 small onion - my garden
1 clove garlic - my garden

Here's how I made it:
Boil the potatoes until you can spear them with a fork, then drain them in a colander. While they are draining, put the butter and olive oil into a frying pan on medium heat. Dice the onion and  garlic clove and add to the pan. Begin to add the drained potatoes to the pan, stirring and pressing down on them with a spatula so they mash a little. Continue to stir and mash ingredients until the potatoes are fried. Then add the chard. Stir for about a minute until the chard is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bubble and Squeak

Although I made this as a side dish for dinner, we've also had it with breakfast. Bubble and squeak is actually part of a full English breakfast, and it's a nice alternative to the hashbrowns I typically eat with my eggs. 

You can see what other Challenge participants are eating this week by clicking on the SSFC photo above. 

Have you ever eaten traditional Bubble and Squeak? How would you make it?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Love Note to Seed Catalogs


Remember those ground cherries I harvested last summer? I don't either, I only I harvested almost a full pint, not really enough to do anything with...

Ground Cherry Crisp recipe

But now I have something to shoot for this year. My Baker Creek seed catalog arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. I found this recipe in it for ground cherry crisp. I was debating whether to grow ground cherries again this year and when I saw this recipe, I got inspired to try again.  I hope to grow enough to make dessert.

2013 Baker Creek catalog

Baker Creek is my favorite seed catalog. The pictures of food and flowers are so good. They're worthy of framing, I think. They certainly inspire me to try growing different things, which is probably why the company invests so much effort into making such a gorgeous catalog.

Look at that purple cauliflower! I'd love to see something like that at my farmers' market.

2013 Baker Creek catalog

Look at all these carrots! Makes me want to try growing them again.

last year I grew a cucumber variety called Beit Alpha, which I ordered from Baker Creek. It did well. This year I have their Bronze D'Amposta red onions that I want to try. I need to get them started soon.

2013 Baker Creek catalog

I can't wait to grow sunflowers again!

This time of year is probably very difficult for gardeners. As all the seed catalogs arrive we have to decide what our garden will look like for the coming seasons. The tough part for me is not getting carried away. I hope one day to have a real back yard with more space where I won't have to restrict my seed purchases so much.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pine Syrup

Here's something random I found on FoodNetwork.com : How to Make Your Own Pine Syrup.  I've never heard of pine syrup, but they said to try it in cocktails so now I'm intrigued.

We've already taken down our Christmas tree and recycled it. But maybe I'll snip some branches off the trees outside and try it...

Have you ever heard of pine syrup? Have you ever made it? I'm curious!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just an Omelet

We're seven days into 2013 but it wasn't until today that I felt like it was really the New Year, and not just because I'm in withdrawal from not hearing "Winter Wonderland" or "Sleigh Ride" 200 times a day. Last week at work a lot of people were still on vacation, but yesterday many meetings started popping up on the schedule. The Metro is crowded once again, and --here's how I really know the new year has started -- the number of people in my gym classes has doubled.

January is the time to get back to my routine, and I'm playing catch-up in a few areas, such as with my local food challenges. I recently missed our themed Brunch Week, and while I had ideas about whipping up some fantastic apple pancakes, on Sunday we decided on just a plain old omelet. I tried to make it fancy with spinach and mozzarella. 

Omelet - all local ingredients 1/6
Locally sourced ingredients for omelet
It may  be hard to see where everything came from in the pic so I listed it here.
  • Eggs - Bivalve, MD (but purchased at WF in the local food section)
  • Mozzarella - from the Blue Ridge Dairy in VA
  • Butter - this butter came from PA, but I;m actually switching to a non-dairy/non-soy butter
  • Spinach - farmers' market (frozen)
  • Onion - harvested from my garden earlier this year
  • Bell pepper - from my garden. We have overwintered some pepper plants indoors and they're still producing!

Omelet - all local ingredients 1/6
 Here's the best part--all that gooey cheese inside. You can click on the SSFC badge above to see what other Challenge participants are eating this week.