Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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The Return of High Garden

One of my favourite things about summer is growing food on my balcony – I like to refer to my little balcony oasis as High Garden (as my condo is on the 10th floor and I’m a Game of Thrones fan.)

And my garden seems to get bigger and better every year. This year we actually are fertilizing on the regular and, who knew?, fertilizing really helps the plants grow1.

This year we decided to plant a few vegetables:

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • onions
  • potatoes
  • spinach

and some herbs:

  • rosemary
  • chives
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • savory
  • mint
  • oregano
  • dill
  • parsley

and, of course, the cat garden:

  • cat grass
  • cat mint
  • cat nip

Planted on May 15, 2018:

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

June 16:

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

June 26:

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

Starting to see some flowers on the cucumber plant

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

Potato and tomato plants looking quite full of leaves!

June 28:Savory & Oregano

Cucumber flowers

Cucumber flowers

Potato flowers

Flowers on the potato plant

We’ve been eating herbs all throughout the summer – I use them in homemade salad dressing, scrambled eggs, with various meats on the BBQ, etc. We managed to get enough dill to make a delicious dill dip, but then the dill plant died. The savoury plant looked pretty grim from the time we planted it and never really took. The parsley, which I planted from seed (all the rest were seedlings), didn’t grow at all.

The cucumber plant ended up only yielding two cucumbers, but they were big:

Cucumber that grew in High Garden!

The spinach plants yielded enough to make a small spinach salad for each of us (I’m not convinced it was more than the amount of spinach leaves on the seedlings we originally planted!):

Spinach salad - made with spinach from High Garden!

Last week when my friend Kim and her boyfriend Tad came over for dinner, we made mint juleps with mint from High Garden:

Mint juleps
Yes, I realize that those are Moscow mule mugs, not mint julep cups. I don’t have any mint julep cups, so the mule mugs had to suffice! And suffice they did – they were pretty darn tasty – a very refreshing drink on a hot day!

Tonight’s dinner included these three potatoes (which popped up above the surface – there are still more to harvest):

Potatoes

and this onion was sautéed to go with our steaks:

Onion

All in all, I’d say it was a successful growing season for High Garden. I’m kind of sad that summer is coming to an end though (as evidenced by leaves on trees changing colour and Halloween candy appearing in the local grocery stores) – I’ll have to enjoy the last bit of my garden while I can!

  1. The answer is everybody. Everybody knew. []

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I Declare December The Month of Vegetables!

Vegetables
I’ve decided to get serious about vegetables. Along with my slothiness when it comes to exercise, I’ve been rather lackadaisical when it comes to my fruit and vegetable intake. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been eating *no* fruits and veg, but I haven’t been eating enough and I certainly haven’t been getting enough variety. I’ve been better in recent weeks, since I started making a bit of an effort to up the fruits and veggies, but I think it’s time to kick it into high gear.

Now, I know you are probably thinking, “Beth, have you forgotten that December is the month of shortbread and gingerbread cookies and egg nog and other such tasty treats?” Rest assured, I have not. I really do expect that I shall be partaking in festive goodies. But that’s all the more reason to focus on the veg! Filling up on healthy fruits and veggies will (a) make sure that I just have one tasty treat, not an entire tray, and (b) don’t feel guilty over those treats!

I do have a few specific plans in place help me be successful in this month of plant-based goodness. These include:

  • planning my meals in advance, so I’m not just throwing something together quickly and forgetting the veg
  • keeping stocked with cottage cheese that I can have with fruit for breakfast1
  • keeping stocked with some canned fruits and vegetables so that if I run out of fresh stuff, I’m not completely fruit & veg-less.
  • keeping stocked with V8 juice2
  • stocking up with veggies that I know Devon also likes3, so that he’ll be inclined to make a tasty veg on the nights he makes dinner.

I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more strategies, but these should get me going.

Also, just after I posted my blog posting about using my epic fail from the November Threeway Challenge of Awesomeness as a learning experience rather than beating myself up over it, I saw this article over on Lifehacker: Want to Create a New Habit? Get Ready to Break It. It’s all about how we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we try to create a new habit – like exercising every day – and then we don’t succeed every.single.day because it that’s just setting one’s self up for failure4.

For the record, I have actually scheduled in my exercise for this week. Today I biked 11 km on the stationary bike when I got home from school; tomorrow, Thursday, & Friday I’m going to yoga; on Wednesday I have a hockey game; and Tuesday & Saturday I’ll do some biking. I shall keep you posted on how this experiment of thoughtful scheduling and veggie-focusing goes!

Image Credit: Posted by Martin Cathrae on Flickr.

  1. This will also help with my desire to actual eat breakfast regularly. []
  2. Yes, I know it’s crazy high in sodium, but I like it, so I know I’ll drink it, and I have low blood pressure, so I’m not overly concerned with sodium. []
  3. He’s picky about veggies, but does like, for example, asparagus, beets, and kale, and can tolerate squash. []
  4. In conclusion, the Internets say I’m right! woohoo! []

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Giant Fruits and Veggies and Freshly Baked Bread

I was in the mood to cook something exciting for dinner tonight, but I couldn’t seem to find any recipes that got me jazzed up, so instead I decided to channel my creative cooking energy into baking some bread. I baked some last week, but it turned out too dry, so I went in search of a different recipe, which I ended up getting from Rebecca.

Before I embarked on the baking, I went to the produce store so I’d have something to cook to go with the bread1 At said produce store I came across what seemed to me to be the biggest plums I’ve ever seen:

IMGP0968

And then I saw this potato, which is about the size of my head!

Day 43Tomorrow I shall turn this into the biggest French fries you’ve ever seen!

I also came across these two strange looking things:

IMG_1001IMG_1002

which were labeled only as “Assorted Indian vegetables.” Anyone have any idea what they are?

Also, do not fear, the door in the produce store is never far away:

IMG_1004

After my produce store run, it was time to bake some bread!

First up was “foaming” the yeast. This is where you mix together active dry yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water. The yeast will start to eat the sugar, resulting in this bubbly looking fluid:

IMGP0978

Once that was sufficiently foamed, I added the rest of the ingredients and then kneaded the dough2. The dough had to rise for 1.5 hrs, which gave me enough time to putter around and then go for a run. When I got back from my run, I discovered this:

IMGP0980

Apparently when they say that the dough will double in size, that’s your cue to put the dough in a bowl that is double the size! D’oh! 3

Next up was punching down the dough, splitting it into two and putting it into the loaf pan and allowing it to rise again.  Now, I only seem to have one loaf pan4, so I made one traditional loaf:

IMGP0981

And used the rest of the dough to make some buns and some other bread shapes:

IMGP0982

And then baked to perfection:

IMGP0985IMGP0983

Thanks for the recipe, Rebecca!

  1. for the record, I made teriyaki stirfry with a bunch of veggies with Beefless Tips from Gardein. So. Yummy. []
  2. and why I say that “I” kneaded the dough, I mean “I” kneaded the dough by attaching the dough hook to my Kitchen-Aide mixer and let it do the heavy lifting []
  3. In truth, I knew the dough would rise about the top of the bowl. I just didn’t think it would be quite this much above the top of the bowl! []
  4. could have sworn I had two []