Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Patio Garden Transformation - Before and After

Back in January I took a video of my back patio and talked about cleaning it up and getting it ready for the spring planting. A couple of weeks ago I took another video showing the changes.

Before:



After:




Big difference between the two videos. Lots happening in the garden as tomatoes are now growing and everyday I wake up hoping I will see red poking out from the leaves. So far I've been able to harvest herbs and sugar snap peas.

I've had a lot of ups and downs. I lost my pickling cucumbers to a disease that will stay in the soil in the container for up to two and a half years. I lost my spaghetti squash to powdery mildew that became too invasive. Lost many marigold seedlings after some bug ate the leaves off.

I'm growing everything organically and I'm learning how to nourish and protect my plants through organic means.

My ups, besides the many plants that are doing well, finally sprouted lavender after weeks of soaking the seeds in water, better luck sprouting marigolds, and I learned how to brew vermicompost tea (very exciting)!

I'm learning about when to plant what to have the best harvests and to have veggies year round. Many experiments and growing new things and more than I've ever grown in the past.

Check back on Wednesdays as I update what is going on in my garden and what I'm cooking with my harvests. If you can't wait until then, check out my Instagram feed and see what's happening on a daily basis. 

What's happening in your garden? Do you have a patio space where you could be growing food?



PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a poet, foodie, and urban gardener (zone 7b) using a pen, shovel, and ladle to create a better world.  
You can also find her on Google+

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Gardening Hyper Drive - A to Z Fail


I will definitely have to create my posts for the A to Z Challenge ahead of time next year. My gardening has completely taken up my time so that I haven't had much or any time for the challenge or anything else for that matter.

Here are a few things I've been doing this month.


Sowing seeds and potting up seedlings as I try to keep them from drowning in all the rain we've had lately. Moving all of them back and forth, in and out of the sun and rain.


Digging a trench to help with flooding on the patio although in the end, it didn't help that much. Still trying to figure out how to keep it from flooding.



Fun watching my Sweet Potato slips growing.


Transplanting into their containers.


And so much more gardening that's happened and so much more to go! Trying to get my patio garden beautified by Thursday for a lovely family BBQ.

I'll keep you posted, hopefully more frequently as to how my garden grows!



PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a poet, foodie, and urban gardener (zone 7b) using a pen, shovel, and ladle to create a better world. 
You can also find her on Google+

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Life Lessons and Recipes - G is for Gardening and Grilling

I have dabbled in veggie gardening over the years but I never did more than 4 to 12 plants in a summer. Either I didn't have the space or I didn't have the time or mostly, the thought of doing it wrong kept my projects small. I didn't even start gardening on my own until my 30's and that is when I recognized I had a problem, my anxiety went through the roof.

Lots and lots of seedlings (only half are showing) in my, fast becoming, patio nursery.


Luckily I didn't let it stop me, though it has taken years for me to really explore gardening and see how much I can grow. This year I have probably over done it, I now have over 100 seedlings and I am beginning to wonder if I am going to have enough room for all of them on my patio and in the community garden.

Potatoes, tomatoes, sugar snaps, fava beans, cucumber seedlings

Of course another part of me is so excited by all of the happy seedlings I have (though not all have survived) and that I am now beginning to plant them into their final growing place (containers, raised garden beds, and community garden plot).

I'm looking forward to the future recipes and yummy fresh fruits and veggies.

What's growing in your veggie garden?

Life Lesson: Pushing through the anxiety brings much satisfaction later. Things don't have to be perfect for them to be lovely.


We grilled over a camp fire recently and I was amazed by the deliciously smoky flavor. We grilled squash, bell pepper, hamburgers and hot dogs. If you haven't grilled over camp fire coals I highly recommend it.

Recipe


Potatoes cooked in the campfire coals.

Prep

Peel and slice potatoes and onions. (about one large potato per piece of foil and a few slices of onion)
Place them in a large piece of foil (about 12 to 18 inches long)
add slabs of butter
Add salt and pepper, close up foil around potatoes, add another piece of foil around the whole thing for double protection from tears while in the coals.

I place near the coals but not in them. If the coals are very hot this works perfectly especially if there is a metal fire ring around it which adds to the heat.

Depending on how hot the fire is, it should take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook fully. To check if done... Carefully take one of the foil packs of potatoes out of the coals and open. Check with a fork for tenderness. If not quite done, reseal foil and place back near coals. Enjoy!

What's your favorite campfire recipe?



Check out the other bloggers participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.




PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of  #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at Playing with Words. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can also find her on Google+

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Life Lessons and Recipes - F is for French Toast

Recently I discovered the BEST, LARGE French bread at Whole Foods. I had to have it! I ate on that bread all week and at the end of the week I decided what better thing to do with the last little bit of the French bread than to make French Toast!

Life Lesson: Don't let any of the good bread go to waste!

As I've said before, I love bread and I love breakfast. This recipe allows me to mix those two things together and I must say, it is quite delicious!

Comfort Food:


Yummy!
Fancy French Toast

Prep: Turn the fire on under the griddle about medium to medium low heat. Rub a little grape seed oil onto the griddle with a paper towel.

Slice thick 2 to 4 pieces of French bread (about 1/2 to one inch thick) and set aside.

In a large bowl (with a big enough bottom for your bread to fit in) add one raw egg out of the shell.
a splash or so of buttermilk (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon or so of vanilla
tablespoon or so of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of of cinnamon

Mix well until the egg is all creamy.

Dip one piece of bread on both sides (quickly you don't want the bread to soak up too much of it, you just want it covered) and then place on griddle. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly brown and then turn over. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes on the other side until lightly brown. Do this with all pieces and place on a plate. Add a slice of butter on each piece, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon and enjoy!

Do you have a special way that you make French Toast?

Check out the other bloggers participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.




PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of  #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at Playing with Words. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can also find her on Google+

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Life Lessons and Recipes - E is for Eggs

I've always wanted to own my own chickens so that I could have fresh eggs and fertilizer for the garden. So far that hasn't happened for me yet and only very distant relatives have had chickens in the family. Not sure why my great grandparents, that lived on an Orange Ranch, didn't have chickens - they did have gardens and they did eat eggs (and definitely had room for them).

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to cook. Eggs, biscuits, sausage, potatoes, pancakes and more. My youngest daughter knows how much I love to cook breakfast and whenever she had friends over she would tell them that her mom would get up and cook for all of them. I think it is some of our fondest memories, cooking a big breakfast on Sunday mornings and all of us sitting around eating together.

Life lesson: The first meal of the day really is important. Life isn't always what you expect it will be but it is as good as you make it.

I love eggs cooked many different ways but my most recent favorite is the recipe I am going to share today.

Comfort Food:

Eggs in Bread

I saw this online awhile back and decided to try it for myself. Once I did I now make them quite often. Probably because without the bread to hold the egg in place, it runs too far on the griddle.

Prep:

Turn the fire on under the griddle to medium low to medium and lightly oil the griddle with a paper towel.
Carefully tear a hole in the middle of the bread leaving the crust and a little of the bread. 
Place the bread with a hole in it over the burner part of the griddle and place the cut out piece from the middle on the middle part of the griddle that isn't over the fire.

Carefully break open the egg and pour it into the middle of the bread.

When the whites begin to look white, flip over.



I like to slice cheese and put on my eggs at this time. It is your choice whether you eat your eggs in bread plain or with your favorite topping such as cheese, gravy, hollandaise sauce or another of my favorites, sliced avocado - so good!

When the egg is cooked to your liking (remember uncooked eggs have the possibility of having Salmonella although I like a good and runny yolk myself and have never had a problem.) put it on your plate. Take the bread that you took out from the middle of the bread and put it on top. Enjoy!

Decided on fresh pineapple to go with it this morning.


What is your favorite breakfast?



Check out the other bloggers participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.




PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of  #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at Playing with Words. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can also find her on Google+

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Life Lessons and Recipes - D is for Dessert

Ah dessert! That wonderfully delightful part that comes after the meal, most of the time. Growing up we almost always had some kind of dessert after dinner, usually cake,  pie, cobbler, ice cream, or pudding. I don't know if it was just a tradition that started way back in my family (great-grandparents and beyond) or if my family just had a major sweet tooth. Of course they probably received that sweet tooth from their family growing up themselves. I know we had plenty of desserts at our family gatherings.

By the way, you will hear me talking about my great-grandparents because I was blessed to know mine on my mother's mother's side and my mother's father's side. I was an adult when both of my great-grandmothers passed away and one of them lived until my own daughters were in high school.

If you are like me and have had trouble in the past remembering which is which - desert or dessert - my daughter once said, "The one you want more of has more s's in the word." I've never forgotten which is which ever since.

Lessons learned: Always be open to learning new things especially from those younger than you. Life is better with dessert in it. Everything in moderation and sometimes the sweet can be something healthy.

When I find myself reaching for something sweet, I ask myself (sometimes) do I want it because of a craving or because I'm feeling depressed and I'm trying to "sweeten" my mood. Sometimes I just don't care what the reason is, I just want the sweet.

As a grown woman I crave sweets frequently but I don't have a dessert after every meal anymore. But when I do... sometimes I try to make it at least a little healthy.

Comfort Food:

This is a healthier but oh so good dessert that I often have when it is warmer outside. 

Yogurt Delight

Ingredients:

1 cup organic Greek yogurt - Or yogurt of your choice
1 tablespoon honey (or more to sweeten to your taste)
1/4 cup or more frozen organic blueberries
16 pieces (approximately) dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon or so chopped almonds, nuts, or cashews (optional)

I use the honey to sweeten the yogurt by dribbling it in, approximately a tablespoon and stirring until mixed. .
Add the blueberries in frozen because it makes it a little like ice cream. I have tried it with fresh blueberries but I prefer it with frozen.
Sprinkle in the dark chocolate chips and nuts. 
Mix well and enjoy!

Did you grow up in a family that had dessert after most meals? What is your favorite sweet to eat?



Check out the other bloggers participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.




PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of  #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at Playing with Words. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can also find her on Google+

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Life Lessons and Recipes - C is for Cheese

I love cheese, whether it is good for me or not. I would of course like to believe it is good for me because I often think I could live on good bread, cheese, and wine.  Of course that wouldn't make for a balanced diet and I do love my veggies!

I'm originally from California and they used to have a commercial for the lottery where this guy would stand at the end of an aisle filled with cheese in the grocery store and say, "I could buy all this cheese."

One day when my daughters were in high school and this commercial had just played, my youngest turned to me and said, "That's you mom!" and she was right because if I ever won the lottery I would so buy all that cheese!

I have stopped buying the regular brands of cheese in the store. I now worry about GMO that they are feeding to the cows, their ill treatment, and what they actually do to the cheese (it tastes like plastic to me). I now buy specialty cheeses from Whole Foods or BJ's that are either organic or from countries that don't allow GMO's in their country.

You would be amazed at the difference in the flavors, so rich and creamy.

Lessons learned: If I am going to eat something that I enjoy that much, I'm willing to pay a little more for it and get the good stuff because I deserve it.

Comfort Food:

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Sauteed Mushrooms 

This isn't the grilled cheese sandwich you grew up with, or at least I doubt it is.
  • Begin warming your cast iron skillet on medium to medium low and pour in about a 1/4 cup of white wine or so (covering the bottom of the skillet). 
  • Slice two or three Criminis (baby portobellos) medium thin (about 1/8 inch thickness or so) and throw those into the skillet. 
  • Add a couple of slices of butter to the skillet and a teaspoon or so of Tarragon and either sprinkle in a little granulated garlic or you can slice up a clove of garlic and toss in. (you can choose to add sliced onion or onion powder)
  • Cook until the wine has evaporated and mushrooms have shrunken a bit and darkened. Set aside on a plate or bowl and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel or clean dishrag and then lightly wipe grape seed oil or olive oil over the pan with a paper towel.. 
  • Start out with good, GOOD, French bread (or homemade bread) slice two pieces medium thin (about a half inch or so thick). Butter one side of one piece and place butter side down into skillet on medium low heat.
  • Slice Havarti cheese about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (enough pieces to cover bread) and place on the bread in the pan.
  • Scoop out the mushrooms onto the top of the cheese. 
  • Butter one side of the second piece of bread and place butter side up onto the mushrooms. 
  • Put a lid on for two to three minutes and then flip sandwich over carefully. Lightly brown on the other side (two to three minutes) . Enjoy with a tall glass of raspberry iced tea! Or drink of your choice.

I often have a bowl of tomato soup with my grilled cheese, it makes a nice pairing.

Sorry, I don't have photos for this one.


Check out the other bloggers participating in the Blogging A to Z Challenge.




PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of  #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at Playing with Words. She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can also find her on Google+

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