Monday, June 29, 2009

Homemade Pizza

We like to have pizza night once a week. We've tried several dough recipes over the years and then a friend told us about Jamie Oliver's pizza dough and that became our favourite. We've always made all whole wheat dough but with this recipe we use mostly all purpose flour ( we still use at least 1 cup of whole wheat). I finally remembered to buy some semolina flour last time I was at the Mediterranean market and used 1 1/2 cup of that in the recipe as well. I quite liked the crust with this flour and will be sure to have it on hand from now on.The same gardening friend we received the rhubarb from also gave me some garlic scapes (these are so yummy) to use. I was going to put them in pasta salad but then thought they might be tasty on pizza. They were! The pizza above is mine - we each top our own. We all like to make half with tomato sauce and the other half with pesto as a base. I'm looking forward to when my own basil is ready so I can make fresh pesto again, I've used up all of last year's frozen supply now.

Rhubarb syrup and rhubarb pie

A generous gardening friend gifted us with great armloads of rhubarb so I set about making rhubarb syrup on Saturday morning. I made this years ago with frozen rhubarb to use as a base for a Christmas party punch (out of a Company's Coming Christmas cookbook which is still packed so I just made it up as I went along here). It is simple to make and delicious. This year I wanted to freeze some in ice cube trays so that we could have some to pop into a glass of sparkling water whenever we wanted.I love the colour.
And the boys love the drink - the tartness of it is so refreshing. I used about 8 cups of chopped rhubarb simmered for 20 minutes in 6 or 7 cups of water with 1 1/4 cups sugar added. Then strain and there you have it. Delicious! (But don't throw out the cooked rhubarb mush left after straining off the juice. I popped it in the fridge and am using it for topping my scotch oats each morning.) By making it not too sweet you can serve it with sparkling water for a rather tart drink or you could serve it with a sweetened lemon/lime type soda and it still wouldn't be overly sweet.
Pink seems to be the theme around here just now as our home has wild rose buds everywhere.

I chopped up some to save in the freezer and decided to make a strawberry rhubarb pie as well (since we had been strawberry picking the day before).
The pie filling is based on this recipe and then I just made a crumb topping for it.
Now I'm thinking I'd like to make some more of these rhubarb apple muffins for tea time today except I didn't copy down the recipe or if I did it is still packed somewhere which hasn't occurred to me yet. I've found another recipe for Apple Oat muffins from Vegetarian Times scribbled down in one of my books so I'll try that one out with some rhubarb added. ;-)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

If you give a girl some ground...

My boys loved the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie books and this past week as I've been planting things here and there around this property I couldn't help thinking that I was in a sort of If You Give a Girl Some Ground...She's Going to Plant a Garden situation. I was given some squash plants and then some herbs and tomatoes and that got me started. Then I was looking at our squash hills and thinking that I might as well plant some pole beans in those hills...

E wanted us to plant some corn too - "you know mom, like 3 sisters" - but we're a bit late for that up here. Since I had an herb bed going I might as well get some basil in and since I was at The Greenery for basil and they had a sale on I might as well get some more tomatoes...and zucchini...and some flowers. I have a bank of tomatoes now and a couple hills of zucchini.

Of course it only made sense to plant some salad greens and spinach too. I dug some horse muck into this and then broadcast some seeds in it. It is in shade for a good portion of the day but should be fine for lettuce and spinach.Then the boys wanted a few flowers as well and so now E has a little garden that he worked so carefully on and W will put his in when he gets back from his mountain biking race. Since I normally scorn won't buy annuals but my husband loves petunias I bought some of those for him and E and I planted them in the front flower garden I've been making. I guess it goes to show that you can take the family out of their garden but you can't take the garden out of the family. ;-0We also found a patch of nettle not too far down the property so yesterday I cut some for making nettle "tea" for my plants. I think with the rocky, poor soil and the colder temps up here that the plants might need all the help they can get.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh my, but life is good...

Sunday morning we left our home of ten years and I spent some time during those last days taking more photos of things I thought I would miss.

Some favourite flowers.

E wandering through the garden looking for something to snack on. My rose garden just beginning to bloom.

The boys playing in their "dirt pit" which they have always preferred over a sand box. (and making sure they had all their hotwheels before we left)
And my veggie garden...oh, my lovely veggie garden. :-(
But actually...we're having such a good time in this new place that we aren't missing anything at all. E had a good cry as we left the only home he's ever known and then hasn't stopped smiling since we arrived here. We've walked down to the creek; sat on the deck and watched hawks; the boys have made trails in the woods and we've picked wild roses to make garlands.

We've found lots of wild plants like raspberries, strawberries, lupin as well as loads of daisies just about to burst into bloom.

And...I know I said I would be taking a year off of gardening up here but when I went to plant the tomatoes that E and I had grown from saved seed at someone's house in town they gave me some extra squash plants...and I couldn't say "No", could I? So we wheeled up a barrow of horse muck, put some caging around to help prevent deer from getting in (am I being really naive?) and made some squash hills. And there you have it...the beginnings of a garden. ;-)
And then yesterday another friend brought me some more plants so the second she left I began to turn this sandy soiled, weed-filled area
into this,
an herbal salad bar for the deer. ;-) (really, I was already hauling the horse muck, why not put it to good use?)

I know, I know...Hello, my name is Heather and I'm a gardening addict. (but an intensely happy one nonetheless)

Life truly is good!! I feel very blessed...Very!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What's blooming...

There's been lots going on around here but not much time to post about it. I've still been enjoying my flower gardens even though I know they will only be mine for a short time now. It seems as though everything is in bloom all of a sudden -lilacs, allium, peonies, daisies, lupin, iris, California poppies, the Kerria Japonica I brought from my folks' place and much more.
I'm enjoying seeing all these in flower and really noticing how much we've done here over the 10 years we've been here. I'm feeling OKish with letting go of all these flower gardens and moving on - a little short-term pain for a big long-term gain, right? - that is my motto just now (repeated at regular intervals as I work through all this packing business) ;-) garlic bed (that I planted last November with all those cool sounding varieties of garlic) and asparagus bed... I'm having trouble lettin' go of those. Look how gorgeous that garlic looks!!
And although I love this quote because I love the sentiment behind it - the idea that "dirt" is precious -

They're making more people every day, but they ain't makin' any more dirt.

Will Rogers
still, I respectfully disagree. We can, in fact, make more"dirt" can't we, just by composting our waste. Love it!
And so I'm also having trouble with the thought of leaving all my compost behind. So...I'm not. I've given some to a friend to fill her new raised beds and I am going to take some with me for my garden pots. (yes, I know I said I would take a year off gardening, but really...just how would I go about that?!?! just a few pots, is all...)

And E, the youngest gardener (and the most avid grazer) in the family has been busy chowing down on everything edible that he can find in the gardens - strawberries, dill, sorrel, lambsquarter and more. He was pleased to find masses of wild strawberries in bloom at our "place in the woods" on a recent visit and he feels quite happy to know that he will still be able to so some grazing at this new place.

So all in all, things are going well. It is quite interesting sorting through Every Single Thing We Own and deciding what to keep and what to pass on. I'll be glad when we are done and moved but I am also glad for this stretch outside my comfort zone too. I recently read on an interesting blog that "space and clutter can't co-exist" and I just love the simplicity of that statement. My family and I are wanting more space - space for living, space for loving, and space for learning - and I am finding that this shake up may be just the way to create that space for ourselves.