Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Saturday, August 29, 2009

End of August Update

Hello friends & blog followers,

I just wanted you to know that I'm still here and the blog is still going. I'm in the process of trying to improve the format to make my posts more readable and the overall blog more user friendly. Thanks for your interest and your patience. I'm going to be working with my new blog guru Crystal Waters and looking forward to what we create together. In the meantime I'm still researching, creating, and trialing recipes for you. I've taken a lot of photos and hope to have lots new to share with you really soon.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Apple-Pear-Ginger Snap Cobbler (Gluten Free!)

Mmmm cobblers! Such a great way to use the bounty of berries and fruit while it's at it's freshest. Cobblers are delicious and really easy to make. Easier than messing with a pie crust! They are basically a layer of fruit baked until soft and juicy with a biscuity layer on top. I made one almost each week during the late Summer and into Fall. You can use blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, apples, pears, plums, etc etc. One of my favorites was blackberry-peach. Once I started decreasing my gluten intake I found these great gluten-free ginger snap cookies at Trader Joe's. They have awesome ginger flavor-very snappy! They make the perfect topping for a gluten-free cobbler. When you bake this cobbler your house is going to smell so good you will be salivating long before it's out of the oven. Enjoy!

In Sweet Sweet Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Apple-Pear-Ginger Snap Cobbler

3 tart apples, peeled, cored & chopped
3 ripe european pears, peeled, cored & chopped
1 stick butter, at room temperature, thinly sliced
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinammon
1 package Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Ginger Snap Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Butter a 10x10x10 baking pan. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the apples, pears, 1/2 of the butter, honey, cinnamon and lemon zest. Stir until well mixed. Pour this mixture into the baking pan.
4. In the empty mixing bowl combine the ginger snaps and remaining butter. Use a pastry cutter or forks to crush the cookies into small chunks. The consistency should have mix of small sandy pieces and larger chunks. Add this mixture on top of the fruit mixture in the baking pan.
5. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes-1 hour. The fruit should be soft, the cobbler bubbling, and the top browned and crunchy. Serve warm with optional ice cream or soy dream or coconut bliss frozen desserts! I ate mine straight out of the pan.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Portland Community Garden Work Day

Just when I lose faith in humanity I am inspired & in awe of the community spirit and generosity demonstrated by the people of Portland. A week ago I read an article in the Oregonian about the vandalism of the Earl Boyle's Community Garden. This is a relatively new community garden in outer Southeast Portland near SE Holgate & 112th. It is in the park behind Ron Russel Middle School. The community garden is patronized by local low-income families, Russian immigrants, the elderly and an elementary school. Throughout the spring it was subject to numerous small acts of vandalism. Last week it was virtually destroyed by a major and senseless act of vandalism. When I read this in the paper I was heartbroken. I felt so sad for these people and could not figure out WHY someone would do this. I immediately called the Community Garden office to help in any way I could. I volunteered for the upcoming work party to help rebuild and volunteered to bring seeds & fall veggie starts from my own garden. It's not a lot but as a gardener my heart ached for this people. I talked with my friend Peggy, the community outreach director, at my job and she donated 2 flats of veggie starts and seeds on behalf of Portland Nursery.

When I headed over to the community garden this morning it was the first time I had been there. It's on my side of town, but not my neighborhood. I expected a small turn-out of people. I was shocked by how many volunteers showed up to help the cause. There were easily 50 people there. Apparently the office had over 200 calls during the week with offers of support. I added our plants to the row of already 20 flats of veggie starts. There was a truckload of compost & soil amendments from Concentrates Inc, a guy with a rototiller, entire piles of tools. Then New Seasons & Fred Meyer grocery stores showed up with loads of fresh produce. It was all bagged up so each gardener who's plot was destroyed now had replacement food. A construction company designed and was building a secure shed for gardeners to store their tools safely on site.

People of all ages were there to help, children alongside senior citizens. The Mayor Sam Adams, City Commissioner Nick Fish, the head of Portland Parks, the Commander of eastside Portland Police, and Leslie the founder of the Portland Community Gardens were all there to speak at an uplifting rally. I worked alongside police officers, park rangers, neighbors from all over Portland. I met some of the gardeners who have plots at this garden. A Russian woman who spoke no English, a deaf woman, and Richard...

I spent the morning working on Richard's small plot. Richard is an elderly man in a wheelchair. He loves to garden. With him are his children, grandchildren, and great grand daughter. Richard's small plot at the community garden contained corn, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, egglplants, cauliflower and beets. The vandals chopped down his corn, broke his tomato plants, removed his cauliflower plants entirely and picked his one pumpkin off it's vine. Richard planted that pumpkin for his Great Nephew to have as his halloween jack-o-lantern. As Richard tells me the story of what was in his garden he and I both tear up. Seriously, this elderly man in a wheelchair flying an American flag. It's killing me. I am devastated at the senselessness of the vandalism. Why? Why would anyone do this? In addition to Richard's family, our work party consisted of me & 3 other volunteers. 2 of whom were senior citizens who had the need to help like I did. We weeded Richard's garden plot and removed all the dead material. Then the guy with the rototiller came by and tilled the soil. We fertilized and got busy planting. A woman from La Grande drove all the way over that morning with 5 huge 3 gallon containers of tomatoes and eggplants. She dug them up from her own garden to bring and share. Richard was planting these luscious fruiting plants in his garden. A blessed miracle that will allow him to harvest summer crops after his were destroyed. Richard was very sad and not understanding why someone would take all his cauliflower plants. I was happy to tell him I brought traypacks of cauliflower seedlings! We planted more cauliflower today. He would have his cauliflower if I have to patrol that place at night with a shotgun!

The city collected all the debris to take and compost. Some life will come out of the senseless destruction. I met many new people and was in complete awe of the community spirit of generosity. I signed up for the community foot patrol to protect this garden. Nick Fish & Sam Adams announced there would be a special, very exciting announcement at this week's council meeting. It has something to do with gardening. And, this week kicks off NATIONAL COMMUNITY GARDENING WEEK as declared by the US Secretary of Agriculture. Portland loves to grow things. And, you cannot keep down our gardeners!

In Hope,
Miss Jolie Ann

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Caprese Salad

I am a connoisseur of tomatoes. I could live on tomatoes. This Summer I grew 6 varieties of tomatoes in my small space: Oregon Star, Oregon Spring, Green Zebra, Taxi, Sungold and Yellow Pear. Sungold was by far my favorite tomato for stupendous taste. Sungolds rarely made it into the house as I happily snacked (gorged myself!) on them while watering the garden. Oregon Star won for not only the size of the slicers which had good flavor, but also the production & yield was mind-blowing! Once tomatoes ripen, Caprese Salad is a staple for me Summer through Fall. It's so simple and captures the quintessential Summer garden flavors in one juicy perfect bite. There's really not even a real recipe for this salad. Honestly, it's perfection is it's simplicity. Garden fresh tomatoes & basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. My friend Katy P puts Caprese Salad on toasted french bread and calls this "Summer Food." I call it "finger licking good!" It's the best. Enjoy it now before Summer & her gorgeous tomatoes slip away until next year!

Full of Tomato Love,
Miss Jolie Ann

Caprese Salad

1. Pick fresh tomatoes from your garden or the farmer's market.
2. Wash & slice them
3. Arrange slices of fresh mozzarella on a plate
4. Add tomato slices
5. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil & balsamic vinegar
6. Sprinkle with salt & pepper
7. Add as many sliced basil leaves as you desire. I recommend a handful