Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ahh Spring-back in the 50s...

After 4 brief days of super hot 90 degree weather we are back in the low-mid 50s and rain rain more rain...That's Portland for you. If you are a gardener in Portland and wait for the sunshine to garden, you'd NEVER get anything done. So, once again it's out in the puddles to prune and plant!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chilled Asparagus in Dilled Mustard Sauce

Chilled Asparagus in Dilled Mustard Sauce
Recipe from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest

Oh, asparagus season. It is briefly here in late spring in the Pacific Northwest. How I love asparagus. Which is a good thing, because during asparagus season I try to eat at least 2 asparagus recipes each week. This recipe is great because it is so simple and really features the lovely taste of fresh lightly steamed asparagus. Nothing complicated, no rich layers of flavor. Just plain asparagus and a lip smackin complimentary sauce. I could eat this every night...

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

1 pound fresh asparagus, pencil thin
1 cup organic nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup organic mayonnaise
1/3 cup organic Dijon mustard
2 heaping Tbsp each: freshly minced dill & freshly minced chives
sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
1. Snap the very bottom-most tiplets from your elegantly thin asparagus spears. Leaving the spears whole and long, steam them until they are just tender (i.e. still crisp at the heart). *miss jolie's note: about 8 minutes if they are thin spears* As soon as they are done, run them under cold water, and drain.
2. Combine all remaining ingredients and mix well. Place the asparagus spears in a long, shallow dish, pour the dressing over, and chill.
Miss Jolie's note: You can also chill the asparagus and sauce separately and then serve next to each other. That way your guests can decide just how much sauce they would like on their asparagus :)

Spring Garden Update-2nd Week of May-90 degrees!?!

Greetings from my Kitchen-Garden in the 2nd week of May!

Well, the continuing trend of wacky Spring weather moves on in Portland...This week we went from rain and upper 50s & low 60s to 90s with no 70s or 80s in between. In hurried desperation I busted out my window a/c from it's winter hibernation in the garage and used it every evening for 4 nights. Then after 5 days of 90 degree weather we went right back to 58 and rainy today. Once again, I'll just say this is WEIRD weather even for the unpredicatable-ness of Spring in Portland. And, this kind of up and down extreme weather can just wreak total havoc on your garden.

Last week 2 days prior to the "heat-wave" I got planted the tomato bed. Usually I wait until the end of May around Memorial Day to plant my tomatoes. But, since we are expecting such high temperatures I'm giving it a try now. Unfortunately to plant the tomatoes I had to pull out the tiny spinach, chard and cilantro seedlings I planted from seed in March. This was supposed to be a good use of succession planting, but these guys all took too long and never developed in time. Oh well, honestly, I'd rather have the tomatoes. To prepare my bed for planting I used an organic soil amendment called Bumper Crop by Nurseryman's. It's awesome and loaded with all kinds of good stuff for veggies. I also tried red plastic mulch sheets under the tomato plants this year. I planted 5 tomatoes varieties I'm very excited about: Yellow Pear (cherry), Sweet Million (cherry), Stupice (early slicer), Persimmon (heirloom slicer), and Brandywine (heirloom slicer). I companion planted my tomatoes with alyssum, cosmos, zinnia, marigolds, nasturtium, borage, dill, basil & cilantro. The herbs & cosmos did well but the marigolds and nasturtium totally wilted and died. I don't know if it was the HEAT WAVE or maybe the bumper crop that killed the flowers. I am glad that I got my tomatoes in because they literally doubled in size in the 4 day heat wave.

The Scarlet Runner Bean seeds planted 2 weeks ago have germinated and sprouted up little seedlings. My sugar snap and snow peas are finally growing bigger and bigger. They are really developing late, but I'm glad better late than never, eh?

Just prior to the heat wave I planted another raised bed with more veggie starts: dinosaur kale, rainbow swiss chard, and romaine lettuce. I companion planted with nasturtium, marigolds, snapdragons, cosmos, calendula and alyssum. And, again the marigolds and nasturtium totally died, so I think it was the heat, because I didn't use any bumper crop in this bed. The chard and lettuce totally wilted in the heat but have bounced back fine now that the temps are returning to normal. In this bed the arugula I planted last month totally bolted in the heat. Sadly now I have lots of little white flowers and no much anticipated fresh arugula leaves. Darn that sudden heat wave! It knocked out my entire arugula crop.

In another raised bed buttercrunch lettuce, red romaine lettuce and giant red mustard greens are doing well. I harvested the first head of red romaine lettuce, on hot day, and it was a little bitter. Luckily none of it has bolted in this hot heat. In this bed my dahlia bulbs have sprouted and the companion planted dill, cosmos, and calendula doing well-blooming. This is the raised bed I used "weed whomping mulch" in a a few months ago. It's pretty mixed results as weeds have continued to sprout. Last winter's parsnip tops are growing huge and I wonder what's going on with the tasty roots under the soil.

I tried a new product in my flower bed: Cocoa Mulch and a granular "Shake Away" cat repellent. They both are natural products aimed at keeping cats out of the garden. My flower bed is the neighborhood cat's favorite litter box. Well, the products did keep them out of the targeted flower bed, but apparently it forced them to retaliate in another flower bed where I'd started sunflowers from seeds. Their litter-box-style-scratching destroyed my sunflower seedlings. Now I'll have to buy some sunflower transplants from the nursery. Bummer. I really love sunflowers.

Another sprinkling of sluggo-I've been consistent about every 2 weeks. Sluggo seems to be working well. No signs of slugs yet. I've seen a few aphids here and there, but I also have seen ladybugs here and there, so I'm not worried, yet. Last year we had the aphid summer from hell. The aphids were literally raining from the sky (out of the completely infested plum tree) and they knocked out my entire brassiaca crop. There are definitely masses of cabbage moths everywhere, damn them! Or it could be one really active moth. So I sprayed some BT solution on the veggies, which is a natural product that only targets cabbage moth larvae. It is safe for beneficial bugs, pets, wildlife, and ok to use on my food crops. Hopefully that will do it before they can do too much damage.

For now that's it from my kitchen-garden. Hope you are enjoying your garden!

In Sunshine,
Miss Jolie Ann

Spinach & Arugula Salad with Indian Spiced Chickpeas and Charred Red Onions

Spinach & Arugula Salad
with Indian Spiced Chickpeas and Charred Red Onions
Recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop


In this recipe I found a very unique tasting salad. I was pleasantly surprised how red onions from my garden came together with some of my favorites-spinach, arugula, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and Indian spices. Wow, what a combo! This recipe really was something different from my normal repertoire. I ate it 3 days in a row for lunch. The only thing I'd adjust is I think 12 cups total greens is a little much-I'd cut the amount in half. It seems like a better proportion of salad to bean/onion mixture. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Spinach & Arugula Salad with
Indian Spiced Chickpeas and Charred Red Onions
2 medium red onions, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
8 cups packed flat-leaf spinach with tough stems removed
4 cups packed arugula leaves with tough stems removed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. Move an oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler. Place the onions on a baking sheet, brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Broil the onions, turning once, until lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Coarsely chop the onions and set them aside.
2. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds and stir-cook until the seeds begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Cover the pan and continue to cook until the seeds finish popping, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chickpeas and cook until just warm and coated evenly with spices, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the mint and salt to taste. Cool slightly.
3. Toss the spinach, arugula, onions, warm chickpeas, and lime juice together in a large bowl. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus on Feta Toasts

Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus on Feta Toasts
Recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

Asparagus Lovers,

Hi there! Asparagus season is here, and are you loving it or sick of all the asparagus recipes yet? I'm still eating asparagus once or twice a week while I can. Some day I'll own my own property with a perennial asparagus bed. Until now I'm reliant on my local produce market...But, I do have lots of fresh homegrown mint varieties in my kitchen-garden. Perfect for this recipe.

In Health & Peace,
Miss Jolie Ann

Scrambled Eggs with Asparagus on Feta Toasts
Feta Toasts
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons milk (**Jolie's note: I used unsweetened plain soymilk)
2 large slices country white bread, at least 8 inches long and about 1 inch thick
Scrambled Eggs
4 ounces thin asparagus, touch ends snapped off
5 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1. For the toasts: With a fork, combine the cheese, mint, pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl. If the mixture is still lumpy, add more milk as needed until smooth. Place the bread slices in the toaster, but do not toast them yet. (The bread slices can also be placed on a baking sheet, ready to go under the broiler, if your toaster wont' accommodate such large slices.)
2. For the Eggs: Bring about 1 quart water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt to taste and the asparagus and cook just until crisp-tender, about one minute. Drain the asparagus.
3. Beat together the eggs, milk, and salt and pepper to taste with a fork in a medium bowl. When combined, add the asparagus and beat just to incorporate.
4. Place the butter in a medium nonstick skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter foams, swirl to coat the pan bottom with the butter. Add the egg mixture and wait until it just begins to set on the bottom, about 20 seconds. With a rubber spatula, begin to fold the set eggs back toward the middle of the pan. Continue using a folding motion to turn the set pieces back on top of each other. After about a minute or so, the eggs should be fluffy and piled about 1 inch high. Use the spatula to divide the eggs into several pieces and flip them to finish cooking. The whole process, from start to finish, should take about 2 minutes. The idea is not to scramble the eggs, but rather to fold them so they emerge fluffy and light from the pan.
5. To finish the Dish: At the same time the eggs are cooking, toast the bread. Spread the feta mixture over the two toasts and place one on each plate. Divide the eggs between the toasts, piling them high over the feta. Serve immediately.

Coconut Rice with Edamame & Leeks

Coconut Rice with Edamame and Leeks

Recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop


This week I cooked all of my meals from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. This is a nice vegetarian cookbook that is built around seasonal produce, which the writer gains from his CSA share at his local farm. The book is organized into each season, which makes it easy to cook from. He's located at Sag Harbor New York, so the East Coast seasonal produce is slightly different from the Pacific Northwest. Still I find this a very useful and creative cookbook packed with healthy and delicious whole foods. For this recipe I use the frozen shelled edamame from Trader Joe's. I also substitute long grain brown basmati rice because I never cook with white rice. This is a very simply prepared dish with simple ingredients that come together beautifully. Healthy comfort food for sure. Enjoy!

In Health & Love,

Miss Jolie Ann

Coconut Rice with Edamame and Leeks

10 ounces frozen shelled edamame (soybeans) about 2 cups

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, washed well, and cut crosswise into think strips (about 2 cups)


1 tablespoon minced gingerroot

1 1/2 cups jasmine or long-grain rice

1 14-ounce can light unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place the edamame in a steamer insert or basket and carefully lower it into the pot. Cover and steam until the edamame are tender but not mushy, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the steamer insert or basket from the pot and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leeks and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very soft, about 10 minutes. (Lower the heat if the leeks start to brown.) Uncover the pan, add the ginger, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice is coated with oil and glistening, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the edamame and lime juice, cover, and continue to cook over low heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste. Serve.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Spring Garden Update-First Week of May

Happy May Day!
Happy Beltaine!

It's the first week of May and the weather appears to finally be warming up. I think that we are finally safe from night frosts and low temperatures. I even wore shorts for the first time this week.

Here's the garden update...

Peas that have been very slow growing have doubled in height during the past 2 weeks. My strawberries are blossoming and getting prepared to bear fruit. The lettuce transplants have doubled in size and will be ready to harvest soon. I have lots of huge juicy radishes. Seeds planted in March have had mixed results-spinach is coming along slowly, the chard germinated and then was killed off in the bad weather, and the slow bolt cilantro has still not germinated. At this slow rate the spinach is not going to be done in time to make room for the tomatoes later this month. So I may have to pull it out and try to plant it elsewhere. Carrot and lettuce seeds planted in mid April have germinated and are progressing well. The beneficial flowers and herbs planted last month all seem to be doing fine: cosmos, calendula, allysum, dill, bronze fennel.

This week I also added the following annual starts to the raised beds: nasturtium, marigolds, snapdragons, nicotania, and always more allysum. In honor of May Day I planted sunflower seeds-5 varieties that I had success with last year.

p.s. Yes it is still too early to plant outside your tomatoes, basil, peppers, and other heat lovers. Just be patient a few more weeks and focus on the abundance of cool-tolerant plants...Or grow some basil on your kitchen windowsill like I am! :)

Happy May!
Miss Jolie Ann

White Beans & Greens Crostini

White Beans & Greens Crostini
Recipe from Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook

This made a filling and delicious lunch. The flavors mingled together into a tasty combination of soft and crunchy. I made some extra for my co-worker Katie and it got her "thumbs-up." The recipe yielded 4 large lunch portions. I served with fennel slaw (recipe in another post.) I made the bean mixture in advance and each day toasted up the bread. I will definitely make this recipe again for lunch or a party appetizer.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Olive Oil cooking spray
12-1/2 inch slices of bread (I used 4 large slices of Ciabatta)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
2 pounds fresh broccoli rabe or spinach, trimmed and chopped (I used organic baby spinach)
2 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (I used a 14 0z can organic cannellini beans)
3 to 4 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or pitted olives (I used sun-dried tomatoes)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray oil over the bread and bake until lightly browned, turning once, about 15 minutes. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the cayenne, rosemary, and broccoli rabe or spinach. Cover and cook 10 minutes for broccoli rabe or 3 to 4 minutes for spinach.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the beans and water. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Coarsely mash the beans with a spoon and add to the greens. Mix in the parsley and sun-dried tomatoes or lives. Spoon this mixture over the bread and drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tbsp oil.