Archive for October, 2013

Winding Down

Posted on October 31, 2013. Filed under: Plants | Tags: , , , |

Plants - KaleKale is a trooper plant, continuing right into winter, losing all its leaves in the snow and sprouting right up again when spring arrives.  Here is one of mine that will continue producing even in frost.  The leaves will be frozen crunchy hard.  Doesn’t matter.  Cut off and bring inside, they thaw beautifully.  I don’t know how they do it!  I just hope the snow holds off.

Plants - Lemon ThymeAnd here is my lemon thyme, fully harvested for winter about a month ago.  It has already grown back quite a bit!  I may get a little more harvested.  There’s nothing like fresh lemon thyme thrown into eggs and soups.

I’m amazed at how alive the garden still is even though the blanket of leaves is falling rapidly.

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Kitchen Sink Peanut Butter Soup

Posted on October 30, 2013. Filed under: Health, Soup Made Simple | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Food - Soup with Peanut Butter

This has got to be the simplest soup I ever made!  Mostly I wanted some stuff out of my freezer to make a little room!  The stock, beans, zucchini,  tomatoes and celery root all came right out of the freezer and into the pot.  As usual, my recipes are vague – make it your own!  This is my new normal – make soup on Monday – enjoy 2 days off of cooking dinner!  It really hits the spot, too, with the weather turning cooler.

Simple Soup

A shlock of butter (maybe 1-2 Tablespoons – vegans can easily use coconut oil/olive oil)

1 big onion coarsely chopped

3-4 Cups grated zucchini

5 big tomatoes – whole with just the cores cut out

1 Cup or so celery root or parsnip

3-4 Cups cooked beans – any kind – I used small red and kidney

3 Cups turkey stock (could be any kind of stock you have on hand – vegans can easily use veggie stock)

About 3/4 Cup organic, natural peanut butter (could also be almond butter – it doesn’t really flavor the soup, just thickens it and adds heft to the broth)

Seasonings:  about 1 Tablespoon Penzey’s Cajun Seasoning (a nice blend from our local spice company worth looking into:

about 1 teaspoon Penzey’s Berbere Seasoning (careful – very hot – if you use a lot, just a nice little warmth and zing if you use a little)

If you don’t have the above seasonings just use plain old chili powder as a substitute.  Also, try hunting around in your spice cabinet and adding some others like Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Old Bay Seasoning – all would be great additions.

about 1 Tablespoon dried garlic pieces (could be fresh)

about 2 teaspoons sea salt

Water to fill pot

Chopped yellow bell pepper for garnish

Chopped fresh garlic for garnish

1.  Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until onion starts to smell good and create brown stuff on the bottom of the pan.  Scrape up brown stuff – that’s the flavor!

2.  Add other veggies and beans except tomatoes.  Use a variety of what you have.  Can be fresh or frozen.

3.  Add seasonings and then stock and water.  Get it all steaming hot and then add tomatoes for just a few minutes after which you can slip the skins right off of them to compost.

4.  Right before serving stir in the peanut butter.  Then top each bowl with peppers and garlic.  (Other toppers work great too – chopped herbs like parsley/basil, chopped avocado, grated carrot or beet, use your imagination!)  Yum!

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Growing Garlic 101

Posted on October 30, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Plants | Tags: , , , |

Plants - Garlic 1Now is the time!  Go to the farmer’s market and buy some garlic bulbs.  Break them apart.  Put the pointier end up and the flatter part down – about 2 inches down and about 3 inches apart.  Cover with the plentiful leaves that are everywhere right now and forget about them!

I planted about 50 plants the other day.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.  Perfect.

Plants - Garlic 2Now they will grow their roots.  All winter they will settle in and get comfortable,   readying themselves for the spring that is certain to come!

Plants - Garlic 3In spring they will steadily grow to about 3 feet tall.  Come June they will produce flowers, called scapes, which I will cut off to sauté and enjoy like asparagus.  And by mid-July the greens will be about halfway dried up.  Time to harvest!  I then dig them out, hack off the tops and place them in a box to cure in the basement.  Then I’ll be eating and re-planting next fall.  Easy peasy!  Garlic is extremely healthy, it’s a great first crop for anyone, even kids, because it is super successful (no pests bother it really) and it’s yummy!

I got a good question on facebook:  What do you mean by cure?

Here’s the answer:  Cure is for root vegetables like sweet potatoes and garlic that benefit from a drying time which is why I put them in the basement near my dehumidifier.  You can eat the garlic fresh, but curing the bulk of it by just letting it rest and dry for about a month will make it keep longer/better.  Some people bundle it together by the stalks and hang it up for good air circulation during the curing time.  It also stops all the growing and readies it for planting.  Thank you to Glenda for the question!

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Flat Lands

Posted on October 28, 2013. Filed under: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

Travel - North Dakota

So far

in this Dakota land

my eyes can see

this working land


and strong

sugar beets




Ready for

the winter sleep

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The Toasted Frog

Posted on October 27, 2013. Filed under: Restaurants Worth the Visit, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

Restaurants - Toasted Frog 1         Restaurants - Toasted Frog 2

If you find yourself in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I highly recommend The Toasted Frog for dinner.  This place is comfortable, with a friendly, happy staff, a great wine list, but most impressively for a small town on the prairie – great food.  When you order your food will not be coming out in 5 minutes.  You can tell nothing is reheated in a microwave!  The open kitchen shows you the chefs working diligently to hand-prepare your dinner just for you.

Restaurants - Toasted Frog 3         Restaurants - Toasted Frog 4

I was so hungry this first night in town I took a bite of my mahi-mahi before remembering to take a picture!  That’s grilled mahi-mahi with fresh green beans and their killer sweet potato fries which was one of many great potato options.  Bill tried the walleye fingers with the sweet potato fries.  When we returned last night I found out I could have the same meal without any coating on the fish and the veg was broccolini which was even better.  Yep, I had the same meal with some tweaks.  Bill had the mahi-mahi tacos with such good grilled fish he didn’t even want the tortillas.  He just enjoyed the fish mixed with the mango salsa and lovely homemade coleslaw.  He also got their excellent garlic mashed potatoes on the side.  The waitress saw me hesitating about whether to order the fish tacos and thoughtfully included some of the mango salsa on my plate which was a great condiment with my fish.  When we got to the car another waiter ran out with my favorite gloves I had left behind!

We come to Grand Forks once a year for work and we eagerly anticipate our meal the whole day we are driving across Wisconsin and Minnesota to get here.  And then we return at least once in the trip because we haven’t found any place close to The Frog in the area that is nearly as good.

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Giant Cottonwood

Posted on October 26, 2013. Filed under: Photography, Plants | Tags: , , , , |

Plants - Cottonwood 2               Plants - Cottonwood 3

Out for a lunchtime stroll with Bill on a break from my class, we came upon this enormous tree.  I couldn’t recognize it.  With the shape of an elm, but leaves I didn’t know, we took some pics, grabbed a leaf and wandered on, puzzling over it.  Then we found a ranger’s cabin actually manned by friendly rangers who easily identified it as a cottonwood.  Well that explains the mystery, these trees have been banned from sale for quite awhile in my state because of the mess they make with their cottony seeds in spring, but here, in North Dakota along the Red River that is known to flood it makes perfect sense:

“The cottonwoods are exceptionally tolerant of flooding, erosion, and flood deposits filling around the trunk.”  Wikipedia

I love a little mystery like this – solved.  Such fun and such a beautiful tree!

Plants - Cottonwood 1

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Hey! That’s My Foot!

Posted on October 25, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - White DevilHey!  That’s my foot!

I know, it makes a nice place

to sit right down

and look at me with your wistful eyes.

You ARE pretty sweet,

coming and going

into and out of the shop.

And stopping to greet me in this funny way.

What’s your name?

White Devil!

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Sistine Chapel Awe

Posted on October 24, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

109 sistine chapelThis is the Sistine Chapel from the outside.  It’s pretty plain considering the treasure inside.  I had recently read Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King.  This was right before seeing it with my own eyes and the book really brought it to life for me.  I love Ross King’s books!  I often read one right before or during a trip when I’ll be seeing the very things he is telling about.  Here is a very cool website where you can navigate your way through the whole room and inspect anything close up without the crowds:  Sistine Chapel.  Enjoy the beauty and the mesmerizing music – a great little computer escape!

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Isetta – The World’s Cutest Car

Posted on October 23, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Italy - Isetta 2What a sweet little car, complete with tailer!  This Italian-designed mini-car from the 1950s was quite a sight to behold while we waited for a bus.

The couple that got out of it were like rock stars.  People swarmed around snapping photos and asking them questions.  They were very gracious.  I’m sure they are used to the attention.

Italy - Isetta 1 It’s the funniest thing how the whole front of the car opens and that’s the only door!  The steering wheel actually has to pivot with the door.  That’s the little motor there above and to the right of the back wheel.  It sounded like a lawn mower when they pulled up!

You do see the most interesting things while traveling!

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The Mountain is on its Side

Posted on October 22, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Stratification 2This mountain in the Italian Dolomites had huge vertical lines of rock.  The mountain was very forcibly pushed onto its side at some point in its past.  The glaciers look to be still, but they are powerful movers, and any rock in their path better watch out!

I think the colors and patterns of the pushed rock is interesting to look at.

Travel - Stratification 1

Isaiah 64:1      Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence…

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