Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What else can I make with Sourdough Starter?

When Aimee over at Red Garden Clogs gave me sourdough starter, she was quick to warn me of one thing... The jars of starter multiply like crazy if you don't use them to make breads.  Boy was she not kidding.  At one point I had 4 containers of sourdough starter in my fridge, and I didn't want to throw out any of it.   I've been obsessed with finding ways to use it.  Until one day, I was getting ice out of my freezer when I saw a box of store bought frozen waffles, upon which a "ding" rang off in my head.  I can use the sourdough starter to make a ton of waffles that I can just freeze or keep in the fridge for quick breakfasts.  Awesome!  I found a way to use up some sourdough starter!!  These are so great, especially when I am in the rush to go to a client meeting or too lazy to cook breakfast.  So this weekend, I made a large batch of Belgian waffles using the waffle maker that I got for Christmas. This is my new go to breakfast!  Do you use sourdough?  What do you like to make with it?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Trying Wintersowing Again

Last year, I tried Winter sowing for the first time, and I loved it!  I only did a few plants last year, broccoli and cauliflower.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants didn't do well in the garden... it was plagued by bugs and mites, and never ended up growing any crowns, so  I decided this year that I wasn't going to waste garden space on brassicas at all.  Waste of my time in my opinion.  But the seedlings from winter sowing were so strong, much more so than seeds started indoors. If you are a non-believer, just look at my seedlings comparison from last year.  The brassica seedlings had thicker stems and were larger than the ones I started inside.  Last year, I had volunteer tomato plants all over the garden.  Dozens and dozens of them.  Since there were dozens of volunteer tomato plants, I knew that winter sowing would work well for tomato seeds.  I have been saving these plastic juice bottles to use as mini greenhouses to plant in.  Here's a great explanation from Dave over at The Home Garden that explains how to winter sow, or check out the Wintersown.org website's article
Here they are all sowed and outside near the house.  I labeled each one using the plant tags that I made out of plastic milk cartons.  This is soooo my kind of lazing gardening.  Sow and let nature do it's job.  Now all I have to do is wait until spring to see if this worked!  Fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm a Liar.

Three days ago, I wrote about how I was not going to buy seeds this season. Yeah right. (haha, nervous laugh) Then this morning, I got this email from Urban Farmer saying that they are offering Free Shipping until 2/1/12.  #$%@#!!!!  Apparently, all it takes is an offer for free shipping for me to cave in and buy more seeds.  I am so pathetic! So I bought a packet of Utah Celery Seeds and heirloom Habanero seeds.  I seriously need an intervention.  For free shipping from Urban Farmer use the Promo code tom21 at checkout valid until Feb. 1, 2012.  Note: when you enter the promo code hit the "go" button to see the shipping deducted from your cart.  Happy Shopping!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Lied, I Do Need Seeds!

I took a look inside one of my seed boxes tonight.  Gosh, what a hot mess!  I need to organize this pronto!  I thought I had all the seeds that I needed for this season, but I forgotten that I don't have any celery seeds.  Last season, I grew Utah Celery from seeds given to me by Food Garden Kitchen, and I realized that I really loved growing celery. What I loved about the celery was that the taste was totally amazing and I used the entire thing, especially the leaves in soups.  The celery was so flavorful, so much more so than celery you buy at the supermarket.  It's also super fresh and fun to just clip a few stems off the plant and let it continue growing.  Love that, it's like having a constant replenished supply of celery!  Also, it seemed like no bugs liked celery at all, so it wasn't plagued by insect bites.  I told myself that I won't buy any more seeds, but that doesn't mean I can't trade for some! Does anyone out there want to swap seeds with me?

Here is a list of what I'm looking for.
1. Celery
2. Any variety of cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom variety
3. Pepper plants that do well in containers
4. Eggplants that do well in containers
I'm also open to try any new variety of seeds that I haven't tried before, so if you have something unique, I'm willing!

Here's a list of seeds that I have to offer.

1. Jaune Flamme Tomato - (heirloom saved seeds)
2. Persimmon Tomato - (heirloom saved seeds)
3. Rutgers Tomato -  (heirloom saved seeds)
4. Yellow Pear Tomato -  (heirloom saved seeds)
5. Cherokee Purple Tomato -  (heirloom saved seeds)
6. Chioggia Beets - (Sustainable Seed Co. 2011)
7. Alfalfa Sprouts - (Botanical Interests 2011)
8. Cayenne Pepper - (Mike the Gardener 2011)
9. Sweet Banana Pepper - (Sustainable Seed Co. 2011)
10. Purple Plum Radish - (Sustainable Seed Co. 2011)
11. Chocolate Beauty Pepper - (Sustainable Seed Co. 2011)
12. Roma Tomato - (Gurneys 2010)
13. Chinese Mao Qwa squash or hairy gourd - (saved seeds)
14. Jalapeno Pepper - (saved seeds)
15. Buckwheat (cover crop) - (Johnny Seeds 2010)

If you want to do a swap send me an email here!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Chocolate Craving

I had a craving for chocolate tonight so I decided to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are my absolute favorite cookie.  My go to cookie recipe is the one posted on Bo's Bowl called Neiman Marcus cookies.  I omit the espresso and only use 1 cup of chips, 1 1/2 cups of chips is a bit sweet for my taste.  Boy are they good!  What I like about this cookie recipe is that the cookie when cooled is not really chewy, it's more of a hard cookie, which I like.  It holds up well for dunking in coffee or milk.  Try out the recipe!  It's a good thing I have a party to attend tomorrow, I'm bringing these cookies with me.  I can't imagine all of these being in my house, I would be tempted to eat too many!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Seeds from a Great Company!

So in my last post, I wrote about how I have been getting a deluge of seed catalogs in my mailbox and I swore to myself that I would not buy any new seeds for the 2012 season.  That was the goal at least, until I received a customer appreciation email from Urban Farmer who sent me a $10 gift certificate to use on any of their products on their website.  Who can turn down a free $10 and especially from a seed company that I love?  I wrote about Urban Farmer's recycling efforts before here,  and once sponsored a seed giveaway of their herb seeds here.  Urban Farmer also has a safe seed pledge that guarantees that they do not sell any GMO seeds.  You can read the seed pledge here on their site.  They offer many seeds that are organic and many are also heirlooms.  They are serious about their recycling efforts, in fact all of their seed packets are made from recycled magazines.  Check out the seeds that I chose, I kinda love that Brooke Shields is on the cover of one of my seed packets. LOL.  Maybe my plants will grow as pretty as she is!

So I ordered the following seeds, Lemon Grass, Oregano, Cherokee Purple Tomato, Parsley, Cherry Belle Radish and Sweet Pickle Peppers. I am really excited about the sweet pickle peppers, which is a heirloom plant. They grow short so I can probably grow these in pots!  So cool!  I hope to pickle these too!  Since they gave me $10 as an appreciation for being a good customer, I only had to spend $2.60 plus $3.95 for shipping.  I love this seed company for what they stand for and also love a good bargain! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

And They Keep Coming

My mailbox is being clogged by seed catalogs.  Seed catalogs are fun to look through, but I don't like getting catalogs from random companies that I don't order from.  I find it really annoying because I don't know these companies and how reliable they are.  Those catalogs just end up getting recycled.  I have to be good about ordering this year. I told myself that I won't be ordering any seeds or bulbs this year because... I went a little overboard last year and still have lots of seeds.  I have to force myself to not order anything.  I KNOW... that is going to be impossible.  LOL. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

And Then Came the Dragons

Today marks the Lunar (Chinese) New Year, the year of the dragon! They say that the year of the dragon is the luckiest of all the zodiac years. It should be a year of good fortune. Traditionally, the family gets together for an end of the year dinner. A feast to bring in the new year. This year's dinner did not disappoint. We ate walnut shrimp, steak with gai lan, steamed flounder, tofu soup, crispy chicken and sweet and sour pork.

For dessert, my sister picked up this yummy fruit cake. It had a Boston cream filling topped with fresh fruit. It was delicious! Gong Hay Fat Choy to all! Bring on the dragon!

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

White Wonder

It snowed yesterday and blanketed the backyard and garden. It looks so white and pristine! We have had a very mild winter with very little snow and temperatures reaching up to 64F at times. Much different than last year's record snowfalls. When I see snow like this, it makes me really anxious for spring's arrival.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Grow Your Own Organic Tea

I have a few perennial herb plants that I grow indoors. And then it dawned on me one day that I should make a tea out of them. Here is my spearmint plant.  I have been growing this plant for two years.  In the summer, the potted plant goes out into the backyard. I am so tempted with planting one in the ground, people say they hate how it takes over the yard, but I would love it! I can't get enough mint, I love the stuff!
This is the pineapple sage plant.  It sits on the kitchen counter by the window and does really well here.  It's also 2 years old and grows really well indoors surprisingly.  When you clip the stems off, it grows back really nicely.  I love the smell of pineapple sage.  It really does smell like pineapple, and tastes a bit like it too.
I clip the stems and hang them with magnetic clips on the fridge to dry out the leaves.
I finally filled a whole jar full of dried herb leaves.  In this jar contains pineapple sage, spearmint, and lemon balm.  I am so excited that I made my own organic tea!
I brewed the tea for the first time today.  I added a little honey.  It's a very light tea, and very refreshing.  Yum, it's my new favorite drink! I would like to add more herbs to the mix, like chamomile or lavender.  Do you have any suggestions?  I can't wait to experiment!   I wish my meyer lemon tree actually grew lemons, it would be a nice addition to this tea.   If you grow herbs, try making your own tea!  You will love it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Love... Trader Joe's

A new Trader Joe's just opened up near my house and I could not be happier. I've written about my love of Trader Joe's before.  It's my favorite grocery story....ever!  My sister and her family were visiting me the other day and we decided to make a run there to pick up some goodies.
Not only does Trader Joe's have an amazing selection of food, they also have an amazing selection of plants.  Especially orchids.  Look how gorgeous this plant is!  And it's only $12!!!!
There are so many orchids to choose from.  I had to use all of my willpower to not take one home with me.  I have killed 3 orchids last year, so I didn't take one home.  I can't keep them alive at all.
I went a little overboard with the food shopping.  Here is my stash! 
So much yummy stuff!  And most of it, I went for the organic stuff.
Of all the things I picked up, my three favorites are this peanut butter made with sea salt.  I love sweet and salty things together, so this is pretty much amazing.  This Himalayan pink sea salt, I've always wanted to try this type of salt because it's pink, but never could afford it.  Anytime I've ever seen this type of salt elsewhere, it's always been super pricey.  But Trader Joe's has great affordable prices, and they don't chintze on quality.  That jar of Himalayan Pink Salt was only $2. Two bucks!! I also picked up some vanilla beans. I'm hoping to make some vanilla extract with this.  I've read about it before, how you simply put the vanilla bean into some good vodka. I've always wanted to try it.
We were so hungry after we finished grocery shopping that we order a giant platter of sushi.  I can't think of a better way to end the day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Discarded Trees

I love a real pine Christmas tree for the holidays. You just can't beat the smell of fresh pine.  However, I've always felt bad about having a real tree though.  Even though for the last couple of years, I've had a real Christmas tree, I've never felt happy about it.  I've always felt guilty about a tree that is cut down just to be in my house for the holidays.  On Friday, I was standing at the bus stop in the morning waiting for my bus into Manhattan and I saw a garbage truck come by and picked up the discarded pine trees on the side of the road.  I couldn't help but feel super sad about it.  It's kinda sad that the tree was cut to live in someone's house for a few weeks, and then left on the side of the road for a garbage truck to pick up. 
I watched them crush the dead tree in the trash compactor part of the truck.  The only thing that makes me feel slightly better is that the city turns most of the trees into mulch.  Every year, the city holds a mulchfest, where you can drop off your Christmas trees to designated areas to have them mulched.  The mulch is then used throughout the city parks, or you can also go there with a bag and collect free mulch for your garden. Also during the weeks from January 3 - 14th, the trees that are left on the curbside are also mulched.  This tree is probably on it's way to get mulched somewhere.  I'm glad that the trees get re-purposed for mulch rather than going to a landfill.  You go NYC!
Next year, I'm considering getting a live potted pine tree for Christmas, and then I can plant it afterwards.  Perhaps, maybe I will.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Moo Business Cards

Lately, many people who I know, or new people I have been meeting have been asking me about gardening and what my blog web address is.  I have business cards for my web design business, so I figured, why don't I go ahead and get business cards for blogging?  I have Moo.com mini cards for work, and I love the quality of the cards.  They are a UK based company, that now prints in the US.  What I like about Moo's cards is that they allow you to have different designs on each card, so if you want to use different images, you can.  You can upload your own photos or use your own designs, but I decided to pick out designs available on the site.  How cute are these?  I so love the bear gnome and carrot one.  I also bought a card holder keychain to hold all my cards.  Moo also uses 100% recycled stock for their paper.  Now that's a company I can stand behind!  If you are interested in making a purchase with Moo, send me a comment, and I'll send you a discount code for 15% off your first order.  (Oh, and btw, Moo.com did not in any way compensate me for this review.  I use and like the product and just want to spread the word.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Red Boots for Gardening!

For Christmas, I bought myself a gift, although, it's really for the garden.  I splurged on a pair of Crocs rain boots that I intend to use in the garden.  Aren't they cute?
In the past, I had purchased cheapy rain boots that didn't hold up to the amount of time I spent in the garden.  They would wear out in no time, and break by the end of one gardening season.  So this time around, I decided to get a fun color and to invest in a pair of Crocs rain boots.  I bought these online, so I didn't get to try them on before purchasing them.  When I received them in the mail, I was surprised that the material that the boots were made of were really stiff.  It's made out of the same material as the Crocs clogs.  I found them slightly hard to walk in at first, but after a little getting used to, they are more comfortable now.  And I just love the red color!  Very bright, and stylish!  I bought a size 7, but the sizing seems a little bigger than a 7, since there was a lot of space inside the boot.  I think I should have gotten a 6 1/2.  Although, I decided to keep it, because I figured with the extra room, I could also wear warm wooly socks and also used these for the winter.
How about you?  Did you splurge on any fun gardening gifts to yourself?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chick Calendar

I had dinner with my friend Gina the other night and she showed me the most awesome Christmas present that she got from her little sister Maria.  She had to show me because she knew I would get a kick out of it.  Maria is raising egg laying chickens in Upstate New York.  And she made a calendar to give to both of her sisters.  How awesome is this?
Each of the chickens had a little photo shoot.  OMG, I sooo want one of these chickens and calendars!  Don't you?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pierogi Day!

I'm going to keep the food blog posts rolling.  T'is was the season of eating, and eating!  Before Christmas, I was graciously invited to my friend Jen's family's annual Pierogi making day! Jen used to be my roommate many years ago, and when we lived together, every Christmas, she invited me to participate in her family's traditional pierogi day. It is my most favorite day ever!  I love, love going to this fun family event!
This is a day where the entire family, uncles, aunts, cousins, would meet to make about 500 pierogis to be eaten on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Eve, they don't eat meat, but they eat lots and lots of pierogis.  This recipe has been passed down in their family from generation to generation.  In the above photo is a picture of us making the dough and the below photo is the rolling out and cutting of the dough.
The pierogis are then filled with a potato cheese mixture. 
And here are the pierogis assembled and getting ready to be cooked.  They are so Good!!
After we make all the pierogis, we sit down for dinner, however, none of the pierogis are eaten.  They wait until Christmas Eve to eat them!  Can you imagine making these yummy pierogis and not eat one for a whole week!  Hehehe.  One of Jen's uncles flies in from Key West Florida to make it to Pierogi day, and this year, he brought with him lobsters he caught in Key West.  Boy were they ever tasty!!  Does your family have any holiday food traditions?  Happy eating!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Grandparent's birthday

Since it's winter, there's not a lot of gardening going on, but there sure is a lot of eating happening!  During the holidays, we had a lot to celebrate. Not just Christmas, but both my grandma and grandpa were celebrating a birthday. My parents wanted to celebrate with a traditional Chinese dinner!
Here are some of the dishes on the lazy Susan.  Lobster, crispy chicken, chicken and eggplant, sweet and sour porkchops, steak and gai lan greens.  Oohhhh, good stuff!
Crispy chicken with fried prawn chips.  My absolute favorite!
It's a very special birthday celebration, I love my grandparents dearly and it was great to spend time with them on this special occasion.  My grandfather is 99 and my grandmother is 86.  Next year, we are planning a really special 100 year birthday celebration for Gong Gong, (Cantonese for grandpa, or your mother's dad).  I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Christmas Rewind

I am so far behind with blogging because of the holidays.  I had family over my house, so it consumed every ounce of free time.  It was amazing and fun to see my sister's family who came in from Chicago. Every year, my dad, (the professional chef) cooks Christmas dinner, but this year, he wanted a break so my oldest sister and I took on the task of cooking the bulk of dinner. I made some sourdough bread for my family to try.  I am really perfecting these now!  This time, they came out fluffier, kneading the dough more did the trick.  These came out amazing!  And the family was so impressed with the taste!
My dad made 2 dishes, one was a Lobster Fettuccine.  Here I am joking around with one of the lobsters, I'm pretending that I am going to eat it raw.  Hahahaa
Here is the table with all the food!  We did a Christmas ham, stuffed shells, stuffed mussels, and a sweet potato casserole.  Yummy!
After Christmas dinner, we opened gifts. My favorite gift was this Belgian waffle maker.  I've been wanting a waffle maker for some time now.  The next morning, we made waffles for breakfast.
Ooooh, they came out so good!
Here's breakfast, topped with fresh blueberries and maple syrup. And a slice of the Christmas ham and some eggs.  Absolutely delicious!
Hope everyone had an amazing holiday!
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