Happy Vernal Equinox!

It’s Spring!  Toss the coats and hats! The longer days are exactly what the garden needs. Which brings me to my annual balcony garden update. Like that segue? I have gardens and plants on the brain. Anything I talk about will lead to that topic. Anyway, as crappy as the balcony is with generally insufficient sunlight, I just can’t not put something in my piles of dirt. They call out to me every Spring.

Up until this crazy sub-freezing winter, the oregano had survived winters. The mint, kicked it again too. The chives survived, surprisingly. They’re growing very well. I got some Thai Basil from the market which I hope to root and grow from the stems. I know they like sun, but eh, worth a try. They’ll do well until the Summer Solstice at least. I’m not sure if I’ll grow oregano again this year.

One new plant I’m trying to grow is the nasturtium. They have edible flowers. I’m starting it indoors.
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This is a paper bag with dirt and 2 halves of toilet paper rolls with dirt. There are nasturtium seeds in there but I’m not sure if they’ll germinate because they’re a few years old.

This was the weather today by the way.
Vernal Equinox
It snowed for a good part of the morning. And it’s freezing cold at night. Brrr… March came in like a lion. Did a little lamb. Then went full on lion again.

Dumplings with handmade wrappers

It’s snowing pretty steadily outside and accumulating too.  I steamed some dumplings to warm up the house.

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Filling:

  • Napa Cabbage
  • Chives
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro
  • Tofu – frozen then defrosted (to make it spongy)
  • White pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Mirin
  • Cooking wine
  • Sesame oil
  • Grated:
    • Garlic – 3 cloves
    • Lotus root – 1/2 cup
    • Ginger root – 3 tablespoonsite pepper

    Chop everything up finely and stir it up.

    For the wrapper,
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  • Whole wheat flour
  • Oat flour
  • Water

I tried rolling it out and cutting out circles versus dividing them into balls and rolling them out one at a time. I found it easier to roll out smaller circles one at a time. It’s just easier to handle small pieces of dough.

Then, get to wrapping!
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When I had a good number of them, I started steaming batch 1 while I made a second batch.
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I used napa leaves to line the bottom of the steamer. Then arranged the dumplings inside. Once the water boiled, I put the steamer on the pot.
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20 minutes and then gobble gobble.

Fer-reeakin’ cold!

It has been sub-freezing these past few days with howling winds and some snow.  Hearing the howling wind makes me want to wear many layers of tops and bottoms and eat and hibernate.  The groundhog was totally right this year.  We’re going to have winter weather for a while longer.

You’d never know it was winter by the looks of the cymbidiums which have started blooming. They peak when Spring arrives.

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I love the colors of this flower.

Fall is here

Actually, Fall’s been here. Our Summer was relatively mild this year so the transition into Fall hasn’t really been too noticeable. I’ve been trekking out to work in the dark in the mornings and the evenings are cool enough to warrant a light jacket. I’m ready to do my annual Summer-Winter clothing swap. Bring on pumpkin everything!

Summer Bean Salad

It’s Summer! If you ask me, it’s been summer for the past month. Especially the past week. Whew. Eh, let’s be honest here. I’m holed up in air conditioning. Haven’t broken a sweat all week, except in an air conditioned gym.

Anyway, here’s a dish that keeps me cool from my walk between the air conditioned car into an air conditioned building.

  • Red onion (and/or shallots)
  • Lemon juice
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cherry or Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Cucumbers (diced, then soaked in salt for about 30 minutes, then rinsed and drained) and/or avocados
  • Fresh herbs: Any blend of parsley, basil, oregano
  • Cooked beans (pinto, or canary or any other large soft bean)
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

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Dice red onion and/or shallots. Squeeze lemon juice over it and add balsamic vinegar so it covers the onions. I feel like pickling the alliums helps take the bite off a little. Add the halved tomatoes.

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Chop the herbs and into the bowl of oniony vinegar they go. Parsley combats onion breath! Add the diced cucumber. I find “cooking the cucumber” with salt helps keep them crunchy and makes the salad less soggy. I didn’t have any ripe avocados on hand, otherwise, they’re great in this dish too.

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Add the cooked beans, cracked pepper, and lots and lots of olive oil.

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Admit to yourself that your mixing bowl is too small and swap to a bigger one.

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I served it with some olives because yum.

Summer Weather in Spring

This weekend has given us a taste of summer with temperatures in the 80s. It seems too soon to be turning on the A/C so we’ve just been keeping our windows open. Breezy but still warm. If it feels like summer, I’m going to eat like summer – bean salads and pickled vegetables. I was tempted to get a watermelon at the grocery store too but it doesn’t seem like the right season just yet. Where are these watermelons coming from?

The bi-annual clothing swap

Time to put away the winter sweaters and bring out the summer T’s. I know it might be still early yet but I’ll take my chances. In the process I’ve also packed away a bag of clothes that are ready to go to another lucky soul. It felt really good to purge. I could probably get rid of more stuff. I’ll see after this summer season what I end up wearing and what keeps ending up at the bottom of my dressers.

Wait, what?!

It’s snowing outside right now. I’m not so much surprised that it’s snowing in the Spring. It snows into April. But all the forecast and weather websites were calling for rain. Actually this is coming down like a mix. Brr… no wonder I feel chilly. I’m wanting more of that hot chocolate from Woodberry Kitchen.

March Madness

I’m not talking about basketball. I’m talking about the weather! I just went out for some groceries and it was so warm! How can it snow tomorrow? Does not compute. The temperatures would have to drop 35 degrees at least.

Anyway, I went out in a sweats. Perfectly appropriate grocery shopping attire. Still, I felt really out of place because as soon as I crossed the street, hoards of fancily green-clad beautiful people walked by me heading to the bars downtown. I passed dozens more party people on my way to and from the grocery store. Oh well, at least my sweatpants were green. Every bar had a line snaking around the street corners. Madness I tell ya. I overheard a young lady state matter-of-factly, ” I just wanna get drunk.”

I felt over dressed by the time I was hauling the groceries home. Should’ve gone with a t-shirt.