Thursday, July 7, 2011

My First Organic Garden

I haven't planted a garden in a couple of years and my last attempt wasn't very fruitful to say the least.  I really wanted to be able to walk out my back door and pick my own fresh veggies again and know they were pesticide free.  I was in sort of a dilemma, however, since I severely injured my back last year and could not do the labor involved with the tilling, digging, bending, etc.  Luckily, I found a gardener who puts organic gardens in for those who don't really know much about the organic thing, don't have the time, or just plain don't want to do the dirty work.

The small 4 x 10 space was filled with certified organic seeds and plants. I was shocked at how much was planted in this tiny space! I could probably fit eight of these 4 x 10 gardens in my existing garden space! Some "extras" such as a lime were added to the clay soil to balance it out as well as worm casings. Mulch topped off some of the plants such as the tomato plants to help keep moisture in.  I had never used mulch in my garden in the past and wondered how much of a difference it would really make. 

Fast forward about six weeks and I was amazed at how full and beautful the space was!  At this rate we were going to have a huge bounty all summer!  Fast forward another week or so and we got about 5 inches of rain in a 2-3 day period - not good. I literally walked out to the garden on a Friday after the rain had stopped and it still looked great.  I walked out there Saturday and the entire garden looked like it had been fried by the sun and leaves were brown and shriveled as if I had forgotten to water it for weeks! How could this happen overnight and what the bleep killed my garden so quickly?

I frantically called the gardener and she told me she had just been to another clients house that had the same issue.  Seems that so much rain in a short period of time combined with the mulch trapped too much moisture and caused a fungus/mold.  I was told what to get from the local garden store to apply and also told to pull the mulch away so the soil could dry out.  Several plants didn't make it but some seem to be coming back to life. I'm holding my breath to see what is actually going to produce and hopefully I still end up getting more from my garden than from the store.  The verdict is still out on using mulch as it seemed to cause a huge problem with too much rain.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Lamb Chops

Holy Mother of All Hops!  What could be better than being a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher and given the opportunity to create something great with any New Belgium Brewing Company Beer?!!!  I was ecstatic when I was notified that I would receive a stipend from New Belgium Brewing to create a recipe or pairing using their beer.  Fat Tire has been at the top of my list of faves for awhile, but after this challenge I have found another to give Fat Tire a run - Sunshine Wheat.

 I definitely envision myself sitting outside this summer cooling off with several of these!

Since it was Easter, I knew I wanted to come up with something to use on my lamb chops.  Now I have used beer marinades before on other cuts of meat, but I have never used a marinade on lamb.  I'll admit that my first attempt had me wincing and I was ready to pitch it but continued to tinker with it and will post that one later.

I love rosemary, mint and garlic with lamb but needed to expand my safe repertoire.  I am known for pantry surfing and coming up with pretty great dishes on a whim so I surfed and conquered!  After opening one Sunshine Wheat to take a few sippy sips and explore all the wonderful flavors, I ended up having to open another due to more than sampling!

 After making the  marinade I let the chops bathe in the goodness overnight and grilled for Easter dinner. Let me just say that those were the best lamb chops I have concocted, even those who don't usually like lamb were licking their chops!

New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Marinade
1- 12 oz. Bottle Of New Belgium Sunshine Wheat Beer
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Liquid Aminos *see note below
4 large Shallots diced
6 cloves Garlic minced
6 Tangelos juiced (can use any citrus orange in color)
2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1 - 3/4 oz. package of fresh Mint torn
1/2 cup Oregano (fresh) roughly chopped
1 cup Parsley (fresh) roughly chopped
1 large Jazz apple diced
1-2 tablespoons Aged Balsamic Vinegar * I used an 8 yr. aged Balsamic
1-2 tablespoons of Peppercorns (I use a mixed Peppercorn)

Stir all ingredients in large bowl.
Transfer to a food processor or blender and mix well.
Put lamb chops in a single layer baking dish and pour marinade over chops, turning lamb over to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Pull lamb out of refrigerator and let sit until close to room temperature.
Pour marinade from lamb into a saucepan and boil approximately 2 minutes.
Grill  chops 8-12 minutes  making sure to baste both sides with the marinade.  Grill until desired internal temp/doneness is reached.  My grill has a separate side for searing that I used to sear chops first 1-2 minutes on each side before transferring to grill side.

*Liquid Aminos  is a great alternative to soy sauce (tastes just like soy) and the perfect way to make a healthy substitute.  Non-GMO Soybeans are used and is Gluten-Free.  Can be found in most grocery stores in the health/organic/natural  food aisle. My grocery carries the Bragg brand.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Life Happens

Wow! I have been absent from my blog since November due to LIFE, yes, LIFE HAPPENS. I feel as though I have been so removed from the foodie world these past months that the above picture from Siberia is so apropos (thanks to Marty Friend for his great camera skills).  As much as my passion for food brings joy to my life, sometimes LIFE is such a stronger current and something has to give.  Giving pause so that LIFE could happen, I have been absent from blogging for five months.  I hope to get back in the swing of things this week, however, I can't seem to find my USB cord for my camera.  Alas, LIFE  has also shoved my camera to the backseat and the kids have been on a scavenger hunt for the past couple of days. I wish them luck!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Foodie Blog Roll And Marx Foods Iron Foodie 2010

Contest time!  I absolutely love a great foodie contest that brings out some awesome bloggers and their creativity!  The other day I opened an email from Foodie Blog Roll announcing a contest sponsored by the creme de la creme of fine gourmet foods, Marx Foods, looking to crown THE Iron Foodie 2010.  Mention Marx Foods and I'm up for whatever!  The best part of this contest is that Marx Foods will actually send the 25 contestants chosen for this contest a goodie box with 8 secret ingredients  and only 3 are to be used for a signature dish. How generous to not only be provided with the ingredients, but to also have a bonus of 5 extra foods to sample!  So, to even be considered, I need to answer the following questions by November 5th.

Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
This foodie contest is right up my alley!  I'm not the kind of gal that follows recipes, I prefer to just go with the flow and use what's on hand.  I'm at my best when I can get my creative juices flowing combining some pretty unusual things.  I love that this also gets those I'm cooking for out of their "limited culinary box" by presenting them with something they never would have tried!  Oh yeah, I also really want that secret ingredient delivery (just being honest here and probably speaking for many others)!!!

Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
Ok, this is a hard one since I remember watching Julia Child at my grandparents house and am pretty sure that she had a huge influence on the meals I ate that went hand in hand with my French heritage.  However, I would have to pick the Swedish Chef to spend a day with!!!  I never was a big Muppet fan (gasp) but loved watching the Swedish Chef  who defines the epitome of what I think cooking should embrace - the love of food and having fun!

What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
Lordy, another hard question.  I have to give two replies here since they are polar opposites - vegetable dishes and desserts.  I love fresh vegetables and my body craves them but I also have a HUGE sweet tooth.  I have been know to eat dessert first with no regrets.

 Sum your childhood up in one meal.
I was truly privileged growing up due to being exposed to such wonderful foodie adventures.  Everytime the family gathered there was enough food to feed an army (nevermind the fact that my family is as big as an army) from the appetizers through dessert. So I guess I'm going with a vague answer here and saying the meal can't really be defined and was more of a cornucopia of international proportions! Let me just end this by saying that my brother and I thought it was a grand treat when my parents went out and we had a babysitter because we got to eat TV Dinners!  I know that sounds pathetic but we ate so well all the time that it was nice to experience something our friends considered a staple. 

The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
Mainstream to me means something that is mass produced and can be found in any grocery store so this is an easy one - Spam! I literally gag at the smell of it and the gag reflex is going now just thinking about it!

I feel like a school child in class who is so anxious to answer a question so picture me in my seat bouncing a little with my arm thrashing up in the air screaming in my head "PICK ME, PICK ME" knowing that I will create something wonderful of the challenge set before me!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Peppadew Pepper Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to the three winners of the Peppeadew Pepper Giveaway!  Winners were chosen using  The winning numbers are 14, 5, and number 10.

Serena over at Seriously Soupy
Kim over at Liv Life
Lynne over at Milk n Cookiezzz

Ladies, you need to contact me and send me your mailing info so that my good friends at Peppadew Pepper can ship your loot to you!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm Back And With A Giveaway To Boot!

Wow!  I feel like my lifeline to the world has been gone forever!  My 6 month old laptop crashed and I had to wait for a new hard drive and discs to fix the darn thing.  I did manage to snag my teens laptop for a few minutes each day,  but that was like pulling teeth and not really worth those few minutes on line.  I must say that not moving on in Project Food Blog was a blessing in disguise since I really would have had a panic attack with my laptop out of commission. 

Enough of that and onto the giveaway!  I'm very excited to post Another giveaway from my friends at Peppadew International! is one of my favorite gourmet pepper lines and they have been generous enough to let me host this giveaway for 3 winners again!  Please visit their site and get creative and let me know how you would try Peppadew Peppers and post a comment here on the blog.  Let me just say that whether you eat them straight out of the jar, top a dish with them or make a Peppadew Pepper Hummus like I recently did, you will be hooked on them!

Peppadew Pepper Hummus

So what exactly is Peppadew International? Peppadew is a South African company that has designed a line of gourmet products from the sweet piquanté pepper. They have found a way to balance the sweetness with the spice and keep the pepper crisp all at the same time. Here is a link that will give you more information on just what made Peppadew a top ten out of 50,000 at the NY Fancy Food Show in 2003.

Contest ends October 29, 2010 and done one of the following and leave a comment for each one. Additional entries for tweeting about giveaway and a third entry for following my blog!

1.) Leave a comment on how you would enjoy trying Peppadew International
2.) Tweet about giveaway and leave comment
3.) Follow my blog and leave comment

Don't forget to leave your email address as this is how you will be contacted if you are one of the winners.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nature's Pride Foodbuzz Tastemaker Entry

Nature's Pride Tastemaker

I decided to participate in the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program with Nature's Pride Bread.  Nature's Pride sent me a coupon for a free product and I chose their Healthy Multi-Grain Bread.  When I saw the opportunity for this Tastemaker opportunity, I knew exactly what I would make!  It's simply called Laura's Veggie Sandwich.  This sandwich is one of my absolutely favorite sandwiches to eat!  Several years ago I was craving something vegetarian that was full of flavor for lunch and this is what I came up with. 

Laura's Veggie Sandwich

Laura Veggie Sandwich
2 Slices of Nature's Pride Healthy Multi-Grain Bread
1/2 Cup Fresh Organic Baby Spinach
1/2 Avocado, sliced
8 Slices of Organic Cucumber
1/3 Cup of Mixed Organic Sprouts
3 Slices of Tomato
2 T. Spicy Pepper Hummus- I made my own Peppadew Pepper brand spicy hummus (make your own or purchase your favorite brand)
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

This sandwich is so quick and easy to put together.
Spread 1 T. of hummus on each slice of bread. 
Layer cucumber slices on bottom slice of bread followed by the baby spinach. Add avocado slices on top of baby spinach.
Add mixed organic sprouts and top with tomato slices.

Laura's Veggie Sandwich
I like to have some fresh fruit and cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with the sandwich to round out a perfectly balanced and healthy meal. Enjoy!