Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Snowing in the Early Spring Garden-Portland Style!

Today it snowed in Portland. Yes, I said snow. It is March 26. Clearly I should not be surprised.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Fresh Herbs

Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Fresh Herbs
Recipe adapted from Potato-Leek Soup in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

In 2006 I discovered Mollie Katzen's Potato-Leek Soup recipe and it's been in my TOP FIVE FAVORITE SOUP RECIPES ever since. (I don't really have such a list, but if I did this recipe would be on it!) It's perfection is in simple ingredients and easy preparation. The secret ingredient that packs lots of flavor is garden fresh herbs. I use whatever seasonal herbs I can gather from my garden at the time of cooking. I've used a combination of fresh chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, tarragon and parsley. Use whatever you have handy! :) Another reason that I love this soup is it is so CREAMY without any milk or cheese-it has no dairy at all and is totally VEGAN. Really, that was the only thing I tweaked about the original cookbook recipe, omitting the dairy. I never get tired of this soup. It's great during the winter and in the spring when leeks are harvested. Yummy....

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Creamy Potato Leek Soup with Fresh Herbs
3 large organic yukon gold potatoes, washed and diced-keep skins on
2 large organic leeks, yields about 3 cups cleaned & sliced
1 stalk organic celery, chopped
1 large organic carrot, chopped
4 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups vegetable stock or Imagine brand "no-chicken broth"
2 cups organic unsweetened plain soymilk
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (use your creativity with what you have fresh-chives, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, tarragon...)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the potatoes, leeks, celery, carrot and salt. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, until they are coated in oil and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the stock or broth, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the veggies are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3. When the potatoes are tender, remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the soymilk. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until it is smooth and creamy. I leave some small chunks of veggies, especially little potato pieces with the skin still on. (*If you don't have an immersion blender, you could also blend the soup in small batches in a traditional blender, then return to the pan).
4. Add the fresh herbs and grind in some black pepper. Check flavor and add more salt if you so desire.
5. Heat the soup gently, covered until just hot. Do not let it boil again. Serve right away. Plus, it makes great leftovers and stores well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy First Day of Spring!

In honor of the Spring Equinox I potted up several early spring flowering containers. It's a great time for cool hardy bedding annuals like pansies and violets. (You can also get primroses this time of year-but yuck! Personally, I am not a fan of primroses-I think they are ugly wrinkled up little flowers) At this time of year you can also get a wide variety of potted spring flower bulbs like daffodils, tulips and hyacinth. I even added some white allysum to my containers which has done just fine on my covered front porch. Suddenly my front porch and entry stairs are filled with color which is so refreshing after winter! I also keep a small potted hyacinth on my kitchen windowsill to enjoy it's very fragrant blossoms.

My favorite container creation: This week I planted a container for my front porch that I am really enjoying. I used a dark green 18 inch bowl container and filled it with...
1 Black Delight Viola
1 Black Monda Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' )
2 Dark Dancer (Trifolium repensoxalis )

4 Purple Tulips (I bought them potted and separated the bulbs for transplanting into my container)

My favorite garden color combo...I tucked in some blue violas in with my existing flat leaf and curly parsley in my raised beds. It provided a great splash of color in my flowerless late winter garden.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Easy Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Lemon

Easy Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic & Lemon
Original Recipe by Miss Jolie Ann

Maybe you are one who wrinkles up their nose at the thought, sight or smell of Brussels Sprouts. I used to be one of those people, because I had only ever eaten frozen sprouts that were then boiled and over cooked. Mushy, watery, brownish...blah, who'd like that? Nobody, especially not scores of small children such as myself tortured with "eat your brussels sprouts." Oh dear God NO!

Flash forward 20 years to a friend buying fresh sprouts in the produce aisle and sauteing them up in some butter and spices for me. Delicious. Brussels Sprouts done right are bright green, slightly browned on the edges, soft yet crunchy, and nutty and "horseradishy" in flavor. They really don't need much to be delicious. Just grown organically, harvested and purchased fresh in their season (the frosts of winter give them a better flavor), and not OVERCOOKED!

My recipe is very improvisational. Simple. Adjust the amounts to meet your needs. I am the Brussels Sprouts cheerleader...Cook & eat some Brussels Sprouts today! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

About 20 fresh organic Brussels Sprouts
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove organic garlic, chopped
Juice of one large organic lemon
Sea salt & black pepper
1. Wash the brussels sprouts, remove their outer leaves. Cut off any bottom stem. Cut each sprout in half.
2. Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sprouts and garlic. Saute about 8-10 minutes until the garlic and sprouts are browned. The sprouts should still be slightly crunchy, you don't want them mushy! Squeeze lemon juice over sprouts, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
*Brussels Sprouts are GREAT with mashed potatoes! :)

Mashed Potatoes with Kale

Mashed Potatoes with Kale & Olive Oil
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks

Last Spring Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks site inspired me to take my mashed potato recipe from my tried-and-true Thanksgiving garlic mashed potato tradition to a whole new level of taste and textures. Her Mashed Potatoes with Kale & Olive Oil recipe rocketed me into adding all kinds of stuff to mashed potatoes. Now mashed potatoes with add-in's are a staple in my winter kitchen. They are great on their own as a filling main dish or accompanying a protein recipe as a side dish. And, what I love about this recipe is there is no butter! Only olive oil and it is still totally tasty. This week I used yukon gold potatoes for this recipe. If they are organic, don't peel them-just scrub them well. There's lots of nutrients in the organic potato skins. Did I mention how much I love this recipe?

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Olive Oil
Serves 6
3 pounds potatoes, peeled (I don't peel them) and cut into large chunks
sea salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped
1/2+ cup warm milk or cream (I used unsweetened plain soymilk)
freshly ground black pepper
5 scallions, white and tender parts, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish (optional)
fried shallots, for garnish (optional)
**I used the cheese and skipped the shallots)
Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and saute just until tender - about a minute. Set aside.

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side keep adding milk until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.

Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions, Parmesan cheese, and shallots.

Burrito in a Bowl with Winter Squash & Broccoli

Burrito in a Bowl is another fun, tasty, easy twist on the "Big Bowl" recipe idea. I make Burrito in a Bowl when I have leftover ingredients to use up or when I just don't feel like elaborate cooking. It's simple to whip up if I get home late from work and am hungry and tired. Having cooked brown rice is handy! The basic ingredients of burrito in a bowl are rice, beans and cheese. I enjoy vegetarian refried beans, but you could also substitute cooked black or pinto beans. The other ingredients are all up to you. I like to include avocado, sour cream, salsa, steamed or sauteed veggies, roasted yams, corn, olives...Use your imagination. One of my favorite local eateries Laughing Planet whips up a Cuban Bowl with plantains, yams and blacks beans--yummy!

This week my burrito in a bowl recipe includes some steamed broccoli, leftover baked winter squash, fresh cilantro & scallions from my garden, and avocados sent from a friend in Southern California. A note on winter burrito in a bowl...Salsa: since tomatoes are not in season and therefore no fresh salsa...during the winter I use canned salsa that I find in the Hispanic food isle of my market.

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Burrito In A Bowl with Winter Squash & Broccoli
First, is this meal for you or more?
Second, get the appropriate sized "big bowl"
Third, ingredients...(these measurements are purely approximate)
1/2 cup cooked organic short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup vegetarian refried beans
1/2 cup shredded organic cheddar cheese
1/2 cup salsa
I throw all that in my bowl and microwave it until until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Then I add to the bowl:
1/2 cup cubed cooked winter squash (butternut, delicata, acorn...)
some steamed broccoli spears
I top it off with:
a ripe avocado, sliced or diced
a spoonful of organic lowfat sour cream
a handful of chopped cilantro and scallions, fresh from my garden
Mix it all up or leave it orderly--either way eat while warm. Mmmmmmm... Yeah, any way you mix it, burrito in a bowl rules!

Basic Tofu Tomato Sauce for Pasta

I have not had pasta in at least a month, so I was craving it this weekend! I whipped up my original recipe for basic tofu marinara sauce with optional add-in's: sauteed mushrooms and spinach. I served it over linguine and it sure it the spot. It's a pretty simple recipe that's very nutritious. If you are tofu-phobic, I guarantee you won't even know it's in there!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Basic Tofu Tomato Sauce for Pasta
About 4 servings
1 small organic yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves organic garlic, minced
Organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound organic firm tofu (I use half of the standard 1 lb container)
1/2 cup organic grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
1 tbsp each: organic dried basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
28oz can organic tomato sauce (I like Muir Glen brand)
Optional add-in's: black olives, kalamata olives, feta cheese, sauteed seasonal veggies such as mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, etc...Use your imagination.
1. Add olive oil to a large skillet and warm over medium heat. Add onion and saute 10 minutes until onion is soft.
2. Add the garlic and saute another 5 minutes.
3. While the onion and garlic are sauteing prepare the tofu mixture. Place drained tofu in a large bowl. Add the cheese, dried herbs, salt & pepper. Mash with a fork until the tofu is crumbly and the seasonings are well-mixed.
4. Add the tofu to the pan with onion and garlic. Continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
5. Now add the tomato sauce to the pan, cover, and simmer on medium-low heat for approximately 15 minutes. This sauce can also simmer over low heat for up to an hour while you cook your pasta, clean up, etc.
6. At the end of the cooking time you may stir in the optional add-in items of your choice.
7. Serve sauce hot over your favorite pasta and top with additional Parmesan cheese.

Orange-Pecan Skillet Millet

Orange-Pecan Skillet Millet
Recipe from Mollie Katzen Online

Hi folks, this month I experimented a couple of times with cooking millet. I had some leftover from a cauliflower-millet casserole (that turned out disgusting by the way) so I was excited to try this new millet recipe. I found this orange-pecan skillet millet recipe at It looks like it was adapted from a recipe originally in Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen. While this recipe was cooking, boy did my kitchen smell DELICIOUS! The combination of vanilla and orange was absolutely heavenly. Once prepared I added a little unsweetened plain soymilk and a banana. I ate the leftovers for breakfast about 4 mornings. You should definitely try this recipe for a new breakfast/brunch treat!
In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Orange-Pecan Skillet Millet
4-6 servings
1 cup millet
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used alcohol-free pure vanilla)
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup minced pecans, lightly toasted
1. Place the millet in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse well under running water. Set aside to drain.
2. Place a 10 inch skillet over medium heat and wait about 1 minute. Add the butter and, as it melts, swirl to coat the pan.
3. Sprinkle in the drained millet and the salt, and turn the heat to medium-high. Saute the millet for 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown slightly and gives off a toasty aroma.
4. Add the vanilla to the orange juice, then slowly pour this mixture into the hot pan, about 1/2 cup at a time, waiting after each addition for the liquid to begin bubbling.
5. Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook undisturbed for 15 minutes, then remove the lid and stir the millet from the bottom of the pan, so the grains get redistributed. Replace the lid, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the millet is tender. Remove the pan from the heat, and fluff the millet with a fork. If the millet is too crunchy for your taste, add about 3 tbsp of water, cover the pan, and let it cook for another 5 to 10 minutes over very low heat. (MJA's note: I would do this extra cooking next time to make the millet less crunchy!)
6. Stir in the pecans, and serve hot or warm-plain or with a little honey and/or milk drizzled on top.

Quinoa Big Bowl with Garlic Spinach & Roasted Yams

Quinoa Big Bowl with Garlic Spinach & Roasted Yams
Recipe inspired by "Delicious Big Bowl-Quinoa Recipe" on 101 cookbooks

Last spring I discovered a simple, delicious, seasonal recipe for quinoa, potatoes and asparagus on Heidi Swanson's 101 cookbooks website. At that time local asparagus was in season and I enjoyed this recipe on several occasions. I was also inspired to create quinoa big bowls with different seasonal produce throughout the year. Thank you Heidi! Quinoa big bowls are another great way to get creative with what you have in your refrigerator or garden or what seasonal veggies are looking good to you at your market. Last week my big bowl involved a bag of organic baby spinach, a can of black-eyed peas and a lonely garnet yam.

In case you are unfamiliar with quinoa, it is a small seed that looks kind of like millet and is often mistakenly called a cereal or grain. Quinoa is not a true cereal because it's not a grass. It is actually a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) grown as a crop primarily for its edible seeds. Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and followed in third place by maize. In contemporary times this crop has come to be highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete food. This means it takes less quinoa protein to meet one's needs than wheat protein. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest. (Info gathered from various sources including wikipedia and my studies at the Australasian College of Health Sciences.)

Now that you know Quinoa is really a SUPER FOOD, here's the recipe!
In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Quinoa Big Bowl with Garlic Spinach & Roasted Yams
about 4 servings
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 organic garnet yam, peeled and diced
organic extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
1 bag or bunch of organic spinach
1 cup cooked organic black-eyed peas
sea salt & black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Rinse well the quinoa is a wire mesh strainer (fine enough that the quinoa grains don't fall out).
3. Warm a tbsp of olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes. Add the water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Once quinoa is cooked, leave the lid on pot and set aside.
4. While the quinoa is cooking place the diced yam on a cookie sheet with a splash of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the pieces are soft and slightly crisp.
5. In a skillet warm about 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and lightly brown for a few minutes. Next add the spinach and cover the pan. Let cook for about 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat.
6. In each serving bowl combine a portion of the quinoa, roasted yam, garlic spinach, and black-eyed peas. Devour.

Broccoli Quiche

Broccoli Quiche
Original Recipe by Miss Jolie Ann

Quiche is good. There's something so yummy and satisfying about it. You can eat it for dinner, lunch or brunch. I make a veggie quiche for every season. Spring & Fall: broccoli or spinach; Summer: tomato or summer squash; Winter: mushroom. They are all delicious and relatively quick & simple when I use frozen pie crust. Yes, sometimes I feel like making homemade pie crust from scratch. Which really isn't that difficult except I don't own a mixer or food processor so sometimes I want things to just be quicker. So I stock up on frozen pie crusts from Trader Joe's. They only carry them during the winter holiday season so you have to get them then. Come late January you are out of luck. I buy several and they freeze well. That being said, with pre-made pie crust you can focus on whipping up the quiche fillings. While the quiche bakes you can make a salad and clean up your dishes. Voila! Beautiful quiche in under an hour. This week I used broccoli, swiss cheese and fresh marjoram because that's what I had. Once you have mastered the simple formula of crust, cheese, filling & custard (which I learned from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest) I encourage you to experiment to your heart's content. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Broccoli Quiche
6 Servings
Pre-made or Home-made Pie Crust
1 cup grated organic swiss cheese
1 large organic broccoli crown
1/2 of an organic lemon
4 organic brown eggs
1 cup organic unsweetened soymilk
Fresh organic marjoram, chopped about 1 tsp
Sea salt & black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Wash the broccoli crown and chop it into small pieces.
3. Place a small amount of water in the bottom of a sauce pan and insert metal steamer basket. Bring water to boil over high heat. Add the broccoli and lightly steam for approximately 3 minutes. I like my broccoli to be bright green and still firm. Remove broccoli, still in the steamer basket, from the heat and plunge in cold water to stop it from cooking. Place drained broccoli in a large bowl. Squeeze lemon half over broccoli and set aside.
4. In another bowl place eggs and soymilk and beat with a metal whisk until fluffy. Add broccoli and marjoram and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place cheese in the prepared pie crust. Pour egg broccoli mixture over cheese.
6. Bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Herbs

Roasted Root Vegetables
Original Recipe by Miss Jolie Ann

This dish is a winter staple in my house. It's a great way to use all those winter storage vegetables and feature whatever herbs are surviving the winter in my garden. I improvise every time I make this dish, using whatever I have on hand or what looks good at the store. Use a little or a lot of veggies depending on how many you are feeding. Sometimes I pair this dish with quinoa and a leafy green salad. This week I served it up with a broccoli quiche. It's a colorful dish with deep flavors. Enjoy!

In Health,
Miss Jolie Ann

Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Herbs
Use as many as you want:
Beet, peeled and sliced
Parsnip, peeled and sliced
Turnip, peeled and sliced
Rutabaga, peeled and sliced
Carrot, unpeeled and sliced
Yukon Gold Potato, unpeeled and sliced
Yam, peeled and sliced
Purple Onion, peeled and sliced
Garlic Cloves, at least 6 peeled and left whole
Snips of fresh garden herbs: rosemary, oregano, thyme
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt & Black Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare the veggies by washing and peeling. The key is to keep the varieties of veggies cut in equal size pieces so that they all cook uniformly.
3. Place the prepared veggies in a large cookie sheet or casserole dish
4. Place whole sprigs of fresh herbs in between the veggies. Drizzle about 2 tbsp of olive oil over the veggies and herbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes. Flip veggies in their pan and continue to cook for approximately another 15 minutes. The dish is done when all the veggies are tender inside and slightly browned & crispy on the outside.
6. Remove herb sprigs, stir to combine all the flavors, and serve.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Some Thoughts on Seasonal Eating

You've heard me talk about my attempts over the past 2 years to eat more in harmony with the seasons. I am not a purist or perfect in my endeavors at eating seasonal locally-grown foods. But, I do think awareness is very important. Eating seasonal foods means you are most likely getting fresher locally grown food. Eating non-seasonal food means that when you are eating strawberries and tomatoes in December that produce is being shipped from far far way. Getting your "heat-lovin" produce from another continent during the winter means you are getting a less fresh-lower quality product. It also means that for the produce to have a long enough shelf life to survive the extensive journey from far far away farm to your store it is a variety genetically engineered for endurance and not delicious natural taste.

I was thinking about all this during my grocery shopping yesterday. My grocery store is stocking an abundance of peaches, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers all alongside of the seasonal items like winter squash, brussels sprouts, etc. They were even featuring cantaloupe melons and strawberries in their own displays. I heard a father telling his daughter, "go pick out some good strawberries." And I'm thinking "good luck getting GOOD strawberries in March from Winco!" I later heard two women discussing how the asparagus didn't look very good but it was a good price. I wanted to tell them that asparagus is only in-season a brief window of time in the Spring in the Pacific Northwest. I, myself, am guilty of cooking asparagus every thanksgiving. It became a tradition and much loved dish at my Thanksgiving table every year. Once I realized asparagus is only in season in the spring I began omitting it from my Thanksgiving menu and moved it over to Easter in attempt to get more in harmony with the natural growing seasons.

Yes, sometimes I miss asparagus for Thanksgiving or cucumbers & tomatoes on my salad during the winter. I've learned to cook asparagus several times a week in a variety of recipes during it's brief harvest season. I have gotten very creative with my cooking. But, not eating my summer favorites for 6 months out of the year makes me really build desire for them. My anticipation makes me really appreciate the bounty of each season. When July rolls around and the farmer's market and my own garden begin producing tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, zucchini I am thrilled. I savour every morsel while the summer-autumn harvest lasts. As Autumn shifts to Winter I enjoy the frost-enhanced flavor of brussels sprouts and parsnips. A good source for locally grown seasonal eating is Edible Portland quarterly magazine. I always look forward to this magazine each quarter. It is packed with great recipes featuring seasonal food, local resources, and thought-provoking articles. It's free at local stores, published by Ecotrust and you can visit them online at: If you are outside the Portland area and interested in an edible your area magazine check out:

Last year I subscribed to organic produce home delivery from Pioneer Organics. The food was reasonably priced for organic & a lot (not all) of what they offer is locally grown in Oregon & Washington. Check them out at: The past year I've also become more interested in Community Supported Agriculture. With CSA you buy a annual share of a local farm. You pay in advance which assists farmers in their expenses. Then throughout the growing season you receive a share of the produce. CSA is awesome--you get locally grown fresh delicious organic food from a farmer you establish an ongoing relationship with!! To find a CSA near you visit: This year I'm joining a CSA and will feature more on that in an upcoming post.

Eating seasonally has also made me more aware of the traditional practices of "putting up" food for the winter. I am inspired by the almost forgotten traditions of canning, pickling, jam/jelly making of a few generations past. The past year I've attempted to learn more about canning and freezing foods. I've found these books helpful:

Ball Blue Book of Preserving-2006
Completely Revised & Updated Stocking Up, 3rd Edition-1986
Farm Journal's Freezing & Canning Cookbook, New Revised Edition-1976
Additionally you can contact the home canners' helpline at: 800-240-3340
or reach them on the web at:
Another great resource for Portland area residents is Portland Preserve: Check them out for lots of great tips on their website as well as local classes on food preservation.
A source of food preservation supplies (and lots of other cool cooking stuff) in Portland is Mirador Community Store:

So in closing friends, there is no reason to eat strawberries or melons in March. Strawberries are not meant to have a long shelf life, they are meant to be picked from your local farm or your own backyard and enjoyed that day. Once you have tasted local in-season strawberries there is no going back to the tough tasteless mild strawberries of commercial grocery stores. To find a farmer's market in the Portland area visit: I hope that my own process and reflections have encouraged you to think more about the WHAT and WHEN of the foods that you eat.

Lemon Yogurt Muffins with Poppy Seeds

This morning I tried a new muffin recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook: Lemon Yogurt Muffins. I made several adjustments. First, the temperature of 375 was too high and 25 minutes cooking time was too long. The first batch of muffins were overcooked and really browned. I also added poppy seeds, because I love them in lemon baking. I was seeking a stronger lemon flavor so I increased the lemon juice and rind. And I switched the butter to canola oil and reduced the honey. The recipe was unspecific calling for "1 cup yogurt." I used Annie's brand organic nonfat vanilla yogurt. I use Annie's because it's local-produced at Springfield Dairy in Eugene Oregon. Also, this yogurt is sweetened with natural agave sweetener as opposed to most conventional and even natural yogurts that are loaded with refined sugars. With some adjusting I came up with a muffin that is fluffy lemony not too sweet and satisfying. Check it out...

Lemon Yogurt Muffins with Poppy Seeds
Yield 1 dozen muffins
4 tbsp pure honey
4 tbsp organic canola oil
1 cup organic nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt
1 organic brown egg
1/2 cup fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated organic lemon rind
1 cup organic unbleached white flour
1 cup organic whole wheat flour
a few dashes of organic nutmeg
1.5 tsp organic baking soda
1/4 tsp organic sea salt
1 tbsp organic poppy seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter and honey together. Set aside.
3. Beat together the yogurt, egg, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Add melted butter and honey. Beat well until thoroughly mixed.
4. Sift together the dry ingredients (excluding the poppy seeds). Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Stir briefly, using the least amount of strokes to just combine the batter. Add the poppy seeds and stir minimally.
5. Grease a muffin tin-I use Trader Joe's Canola Oil Baking Spray. Fill the cups 2/3 full with batter. (These muffins rise a lot!) Bake approximately 20 minutes.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pea Planting-Update

A few weeks ago I posted that I got started with my late winter garden seed planting-snow peas, snap peas, and 2 varities of radishes. Following my planting, this last week we had beautiful weather in Portland-sunny & high's around 55-60 degrees. It was incredible. This morning I noticed that my radish seeds had finally shot up little seedlings. Portland weather is unpredictable and to my dismay this afternoon's rain turned into a 20 minute heavy hail storm. Yikes! My raised garden beds were completely covered in a layer of white icy hail. I thought for sure my tiny new radish seedlings were goners. But, now it's 3 hours later and all the hail is melted. Radish seedlings are still standing. Fingers crossed they will continue to grow and thrive because I can't wait for home grown radishes and peas in another month!

Wishes for Beautiful Health,
Miss Jolie Ann