Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lucky Dog!

Tater plowed through the Snickerdoodle Poodle Poos that I made him last week, so tonight I mixed up some Cheese, Please! cookies. Super cute!

 I'll be honest, they didn't all look so perfect.
(Somehow I'm guessing Tater won't notice.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Glutton for (Delicious) Punishment

A few months ago, there was a night when Eric was going out with the boys and I decided to spend my evening alone by ordering take out and watching a girlie movie. My take out choice ended up being a small pizza from a local Italian-Greek restaurant...and onion rings...and a piece of cheesecake. Go big or go home, right? (And by big, I apparently mean fat in this instance!)

I ended up saving one piece of the pizza (couldn't finish the whole thing, of course - I mean, that would be shameful!) and saved the cheesecake for another evening. But the point of this (other than to tell you that sometimes when a girl has a craving, all common sense goes out the window) is to say that I was amazed at how much time I had that evening!

I was done eating my dinner by 6:30 pm. On an average night, we're finishing dinner around 8 pm! And then there are the dishes to deal with!

But while that may be exhausting, on most nights I'm happy to have chosen to spend my time in that way. We're eating healthier meals made of fresh whole foods, and not only does it taste great - but the pride in having created something tasty from scratch is priceless.

Case in point: I lost my mind on Friday night. After working 8 hours (and commuting 50 minutes each direction on the metro), then coming home and walking the dog for 45 minutes or so, I:
  • whipped some of my bread dough out of the freezer and baked it and then turned it into garlic bread
  • made pasta from scratch for the first time (outside of the class I took at Sur La Table)
  • made my favorite cookies, you know the ones I'm talking about by now - the oatmeal chocolate chip walnut ones? Yeah, those. Drooool!
Needless to say, we didn't sit down to eat until 9 pm. Unthinkable to many, I know (like both my and Eric's parents!) but hey - go big or go home, right? It was a delicious meal, and while I might have been ready to pass out after the last dish was washed, I sure was proud of what I had made from raw ingredients.

The sauce we put on the pasta was homemade from our garden tomatoes back in September!

And then tonight, I decided that I was going to make rolls for our buffalo burgers from scratch. As soon as I got home I made the dough, much to Tater's chagrin. ("We'll go for a walk in just a minute, Tater, I swear." Queue dog to freak out because I said the "w" word.)

Between making those and sweet potato fries (which turned out pretty terribly - I still can't figure out the best way to bake those to get a good result) I was a bit stressed out in the kitchen again - maybe several of the rolls slid off the baking sheet into the oven at one point when I was moving them from one rack to another...maybe I uttered a few choices curses...but hey, I never claimed to be Martha Stewart. The end result (for the rolls anyway) was yummmmy. A little dense for a burger roll, Eric said, but would be perfect with a stew. I'm pretty excited to turn the leftovers into sandwich rolls for my lunch this week, or croutons to go with the wild salad greens we have in the fridge.

See the indents in a few of the rolls? That's from my snatching them out from the various crevices of the oven that they slid off of the parchment paper into.

We had some landscaping done yesterday but that's a whole 'nother post - so I'll get to that later this week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Frau Farmer? Yeah, we'll see about that.

When I got home from work this evening, I saw that my veggie seeds had finally arrived! After walking the Tater Tot in the gorgeous 70 degree weather, he and I headed into the back yard and got right to work. (Well, me to work - him to eating dirt and random stuff he found on the deck, that little weirdo.)

After reading the seed packets and separating them into piles of "plant now", "plant later" and "plant inside ASAP". The "plant now" ones, well...I planted them now! Brilliant, I know.

Planting veggie seeds in the garden could not be easier, especially because we use raised beds with nice dirt in them. I simply drag the mini shovel, as I like to call the trowel (I had to look that up - I honestly didn't know what the hell that thing was really called) in two rows, 24" apart, to create a little trench and then I sprinkle the seeds. Then you cover the seeds with dirt again and water them. Done!

Sprinkling the seeds always makes me laugh. They all come with 50 to 200 seeds in each packet, and generally the instructions say to plant them between 3 and 12 inches apart. Do you realize how much land you could plant with one packet of seeds that costs $1.50? So with the space I have set aside for the broccoli, I only (technically) needed SIX seeds! But of course, I sprinkled more than that just in case one of the six seeds doesn't feel like coming up to greet the sun this year.

Third garden bed is to come once the pool construction is finished.

I'm just crossing my fingers about everything I planted. The broccoli should've been started inside ages ag, and what I would've ideally planted outside today would've been little tiny broccoli plants - not seeds. And the onions - well, I've never grown those from seed either, so that's a total adventure. I also put 5 of my strawberry plants in the pot I bought for them last weekend...never done that before either. Stay tuned to see how this turns out!

 I know - this looks completely pathetic right now!
Hopefully not for long, though!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finally an Update (Thanks to a Lazy Sunday)

Wow. It's been more than a month since I last wrote something.There were many times where I planned to post something to this blog, but then I was too tired or didn't have time to upload the photos to my computer or *cough cough* AmericanIdolwason. What was that? Huh? Anyway...Here's what's been happenin'.

Come to me, veggies!

Thanks to a super cool and thoughtful birthday gift from a friend, this week we received our first delivery of locally sourced veggies (and more!) from a local company called Arganica. A description from their web site:
"Arganica is Washington DC's premier local-source food club providing year-round delivery direct to your doorstep once a week. ... Arganica's goal is to provide a healthy, locally-sourced variety of great foods from the best small-scale and artisan producers we can find, at competitive prices, while creating a better market—and thus income—for the producers involved. We put our efforts into supporting the local economy, family farms, and small batch kitchens by seeking them out and bringing their products directly to you."
Does that sound like it's right up my alley or what?

Wait, you may be thinking. Isn't that called a CSA? (Or maybe you weren't thinking that because you have no clue what the hell a CSA is. CSA = Community Supported Agriculture. By joining a CSA you sign up to receive a share of a farm's goods each week or each month. Click here to find out if there's one in your area.)

But Arganica is different from a CSA because they allow you to pick the items you want to have delivered to your doorstep. That way, you're not receiving a basket of mystery veggies - where there's inevitably some item that rots while you figure out what the heck to make with it.

So I signed up for a free trial, which means that for one month I can buy items from Arganica without paying the membership fee that allows them to keep this business up and running. I was able to use the gift certificate from my awesome friend to pay for the products I decided to try out:

2 lbs each of:
    - red onions
    - yellow onions
    - red potatoes
    - white potatoes
    - sweet potatoes
1 lb of white mushrooms
1 dozen free range eggs
2 bottles of seltzer water in antique bottles
1 package of tofu
1 pint of butter pecan ice cream

The produce was gorgeous! The onions were the largest I've ever seen; the potatoes were firmer than the ones we got from our local farmer's market; the mushrooms were perfect and plentiful. The seltzer water has remained perfectly carbonated day after day; the butter pecan ice cream was a delicious dessert as we watched a movie on the couch Friday night.

Good eatin' for Tater Tot

The dog has been eating as well as we have been for quite some time now. He used to constantly have an upset stomach and had lots of skin issues. After one particularly bad tummy problem, our vet told us to feed him bland food - boiled chicken and rice. We did and Tater loved it. So we decided to keep it up. He eased him back onto his dry kibble but switched it to a brand that has limited ingredients in attempt to avoid as many potential allergens as possible, and then we continued to sprinkle it with boiled chicken, ground turkey, peas and carrots, and/or green beans. The dog's digestive system is now 100% awesome and he drools while we portion out his meals. Not so great for the cleanliness of the kitchen floor, but I'm glad he's so pumped about his meals!

Today, I took Tater's food choices to a new level: I made him treats from scratch. When we're talking to him, our word for treat is "cookie" and now it's actually an accurate description!

The recipe comes from a book that I bought when I was waiting in the checkout line at HomeGoods (or Marshall's or T.J. Maxx - I can't remember). I bought brown rice and oat flour at Whole Foods recently for this purpose, and so working with those and what I had sitting around the house, I made him "Snickerdoodle Poodle Poos". He loooooves them! I personally think they're a bit bland. (What? The ingredients are the same as making human cookies minus the butter, sugar and salt!)

The garden starts to take shape

Last weekend, we worked outside in the yard preparing it for spring. We got two of our three raised garden beds into the ground. (We have to wait to put the third one in until the pool construction is finished.) Now the only thing I'm waiting on is for my seeds to arrive in the mail! I ordered them over a month ago but the company that I ordered them from was without power for 10 days during the snow storms we had on the east coast, so their shipping schedule was delayed even further. *sigh* The second they show up, I'm going to have to get the broccoli and spinach seeds planted, and start the onion seeds inside!

I also received the strawberry plants that I ordered through and would have planted them in their strawberry pot today if the dirt weren't totally soaked from the several days of rain that we've had.

I can't wait for things to start growing!