Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Monday, January 25, 2016

Curried Winter Squash Soup


By now you know how much I love seasonal cooking. Winter squash is one of my favorite winter foods. Though once the new year rolls around my husband is thinking "please can we have a break from squash." Determined and inspired to find new ways to surprise our taste buds with another round of winter squash, I created this curried winter squash soup. It is vegan, and while lacking any sugary sweeteners it packs a punch of natural sweetness. Enjoy! Jolie

1 medium kabocha squash, about 4 cups cooked
1 leek, sliced
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
1 yam, peeled & diced
1 carrot, peeled & diced
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
sea salt
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Lay cut side down into a baking dish. Add enough water to cover bottom of squash. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour until squash is soft.

2. While squash is cooking, sauté over medium heat in a splash of olive oil the yam and carrot, for about 10 minutes until they are soft. Add the leek, shallot, and garlic and continue sauté for 5 more minutes. Add all the spices and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring until incorporated with vegetables and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Once squash is done baking, remove from baking dish and let it cool for 15 minutes before handling. Scoop out flesh and discard the skin.

4. Place the vegetables and spice mixture with half the can of coconut milk into food processor and pulse until pureed. Place in stockpot on stove. Repeat this with the squash and remaining half can of coconut milk until it is also well pureed. Add this to vegetable puree in pot.

5. Add stock and salt to both purees in pot. Stir and cook together on medium heat. Once warm taste for spice level and salt. Add additional salt and spice to your taste preference.

What to Plant in February

Good afternoon gardeners,

Today's bright warm sunshine and 55 degree temperatures may trigger an early gardening spring fever for you. If you are tempted to start planting your edible garden, please trust me it is still too early!

Our average last frost in Portland is March 15 and this is conveniently close to the spring equinox when we are halfway between winter and spring. This is important because it means the longest days and closest sun distance are on their way. Edible garden plants benefit from the warmer air temperatures, warmer soil temperatures, longer days, and brighter closer sun.

January is a perfect time to do your garden planning, enjoy your seed catalogs, begin purchasing seeds, inventory, repair and purchase new gardening tools and supplies. During the winter month of January you could expand your gardening knowledge by taking a gardening workshop, reading a gardening book, or subscribing to a gardening magazine.

Check out my February workshops: Gardening Planning and Organic Vegetable Gardening Basics for Beginners by visiting my website.

February weather in Portland is extremely unpredictable. Though February can afford us more opportunity to garden if the weather is mild. If you are growing tomatoes from seed, now is the time to start those indoors.

February direct seed outdoors with protection of frost blanket, cloche, cold frame, tunnel or greenhouse:

Escarole & Endive
Florence fennel
Mesclun mix
Mustard greens

February is an excellent time to purchase fruit trees and plants, as selection is abundant at nurseries. It's also a good time to plant fruit trees and small fruit in Portland.

Trees: apples, asian pears, european pears, cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots
Vines: kiwi, grapes, hops
Bushes: blueberries, currants, gooseberry, huckleberry
Canes: raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries
And don't forget about your strawberry crowns. Strawberries grow awesome in Portland!

Happy gardening and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts,

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter Sunshine

Good morning gardeners!

One week ago Portland was blanketed in snow and ice. Yesterday it was sunny and a beautiful 45 degrees. I seized the opportunity to do some much needed clean up in my own garden, and I’m glad I did because today is back to rain & wind. My front deck is home to nearly 30 containers of all sizes that I garden in year-round. I cleaned off an abundance of winter muck from the outside of my ceramic, terra cotta, and plastic pots. Several winter storms over the last month landed autumn leaves, branches, twigs and all kinds of debris blown in from all over Portland to gather upon my front deck! Sweeping off leaves from the deck, I gathered enough to fill an entire yard debris bin to bursting.

Removing debris from the top of my containers I discovered a multitude of bulbs pushing through the soil. Crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, muscari, and even tulips are poking up their brave little heads. Perennial hellebores are unfurling their new growth with blossoms to be enjoyed throughout the late winter and into spring. When my hellebores sprout new growth, I prune off last years foliage so that the emerging flowers are showcased.

Indeed I was not the only Portlander embracing yesterday's winter sunshine with gardening. My best friends told me they "reeked of rosemary" from doing so much winter pruning, which is by far the sweetest gardening sentiment perfect for the beginning of a new year. They happily showed me the pile of pruning they had done of the gigantic ancient climbing rose that was threatening to take over most of their back yard. Well done!

Yesterday’s weather was so lovely and mild I did not want to leave my garden. I pulled out patio chairs from under their protective winter tarp and sat on my deck soaking up the sunshine. I admired the winter daphne all budded and hopefully soon opening her tiny fragrant blooms. During the winter my garden contains the evergreen “bones” of native huckleberry, daphne, choysia, fatsia, nandina, cypress, jasmine, rosemary, lavender, ferns-sword, autumn, maidenhair, ornamental grasses-acorus & black mondo. Though truly my garden’s glory is in her abundance of winter-dormant herbaceous perennials. For now my beloved dahlias, lilies, peonies, poppies, echinacea, rudbeckia, agastche, and monarda are all in their winter slumber, gathering strength for their vibrant spring and summer peformances.

In a few months my garden will come bursting to life with the bright colors of blooming spring bulbs. This autumn I planted containers full of crocus, daffodil, tulips, hyacinth, anemones, buttercups, grape hyacinth, miniature iris and checkered lily. Every spring I look forward to their happy faces that signal the beginning of a new spring gardening season ripe with potential.

2016 seed and plant catalogs are daily arriving in my mailbox, but that is a story for another day…

Happy gardening,

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Organic Gardening Workshops Announced!

Happiest of new years gardening friends!

In the depth of winter and with the holidays just over you may not yet be thinking about your 2016 garden. Seed catalogs are beginning to arrive in the mail and the gardening bug is contagious. Winter is the perfect time to learn some new gardening skills and start garden planning.

I have just announced my winter and spring 2016 gardening workshops. This year I will be teaching at several locations in SE Portland, NE Portland, and Gresham.

This year's offerings include:

Organic Veggie Gardening 101: Basics for Beginners
Organic Veggie Gardening 102: Crop Rotation & Companion Planting
Gardens for Butterflies, Bees, and Beneficial Bugs
Organic Culinary Herb & Edible Flower Gardening
Garden Planning
What to do in the March Garden
What to do in the April Garden
What to do in the May Garden
Container Design Make-and-Take

Advanced registration is required and many workshops fill up fast. You are invited to check out my newly updated website with workshop and class information. I truly love teaching, sharing my passion for gardening, and helping beginning & experienced gardeners become more successful.

In 2016 I hope to meet you and your garden!

Happy gardening,

The Bulk Pantry

Happy New Year Friends!

What a beautiful surprising snow day we had yesterday in Portland. Perfect weather for a winter walk with streets covered in white and then snuggling in cozy with a great book and a pot of tea. Today I spent the morning dismantling the Christmas tree, packing away ornaments, cleaning the house top to bottom, and unburying my front deck, garden walkway, and car from under a layer of ice. All the joys of January!

Yesterday I visited my sleepy herb garden coated in a thick blanket of snow, to harvest fresh sage leaves for an incredible butternut squash risotto with leeks and sage.

Winter is prime cooking and baking season for me. After a super hot summer not being able to stand cooking in my kitchen, as soon as cooler autumn temperatures hit I have eagerly embraced cooking. The colder the weather the more eager I am to be in my kitchen creating new recipes.

Bubbling soups, stews, and curries. Simmering risotto, pilaf, and polenta. Flavorful, thick gravies and sauces. Hearty casseroles, gratins, and enchiladas. Fragrant, savory herbed breads, rolls, and cornbread. Sweetly scented quick breads, muffins, cobblers, and pies. And, oh, all the home baked holiday sweet treats-cookies, brownies, fudge, and caramels!

This time of year I assess what is in my bulk pantry. Bulk foods and fresh produce are the staples of my cooking. In January I like to stock up on the bulk foods that get me through the months of winter cooking.

My bulk pantry includes:

Beans-all types including black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, white, pink, pinto, black-eyed peas
Lentils-green, red, french
Split peas-green and yellow
Rice-short & long grain brown, arborio, wild, jasmine
Oats-steel cut & rolled
Gluten-free pasta
TVP (textured vegetable protein)
Soy curls
Nuts-walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts
Seeds-sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame
Dried fruit-raisins, cranberries, apricots, banana chips
Flours, baking powder, baking soda
Sugar-brown, white, and powdered
Olive oil
Maple Syrup

By buying in bulk I save money and I can select the quantities that I will use. I know which items store well and which need to be used quicker. I purchase bulk food in plastic bags that I reuse then recycle. I store bulk food in a collection of airtight glass jars. Some items are stored in the fridge like nuts, seeds, fruit, and sometimes flour. The rest goes inside my pantry cabinet.

To my well-stocked pantry of bulk items I also keep on hand products we frequently use:

Almond milk
Vegan broth cubes
Canned tomatoes & tomato paste
Ketchup & mustard
Peanut butter
Jam & jelly

Weekly I add fresh seasonal produce and few other perishable items like tofu, cheese, butter, and juice. I keep a well-stocked pantry of just what we need so I am always ready for creative healthy and delicious meals while staying within our budget!

I hope that you are embracing all the joys of January!

Happy New Year,