Saturday, August 15, 2009

Urban Vegetable Garden Series - Part VI: Pre-Vacation Garden Check

Today we are leaving on a one-week road trip back to the motherland. We'll make our way from Boston to Vermont with a stop over at the Ben and Jerry's factory -- flavour graveyard here we come! Then we'll continue on to Ottawa, where I grew up from the ages of 2 to 22. Then it's further north to North Bay where my bro's family lives by a pristine Canadian lake. Our last stop will be in Toronto for some serious feasting with some old friends from my second degree and my first job working as a slave to the London, Ontario hospital system. I'm hoping that last part won't give me any undesirable flashbacks, but more likely it will make me happy to see all my friends that I used to spend 80 hours a week with and even happier that I never have to do that again!

My vegetable garden, cooking exploits and time to write this are a testament to the joys of working half as much as I used to. I used to think that I was the kind of person that only needed 6 hours of sleep maximum per night, but now that I can get 9 hours on a regular basis, it's miraculous how much less crabby I am. Also contributing to my less irritable nature, are:
1) I have time to make and feed myself and E yummy food, and
2) being able to get exercise in a form that is not brisk walking down the hallway of a hospital towards the next potential disaster.
In summary -- vast improvement in quality of life.

Now that I don't have to worry about how to minimize my crankiness, I can turn my worries towards how to keep my veggies healthy while I'm away and also how to use up said veggies before leaving for the week. I thought the answer for part one of that question would be aqua globes, but since my patio gets so hot, I will have to enlist neighbors and friends to keep an eye on the babies so that they won't get parched. I think I'll move them indoors temporarily so they won't be in direct sunlight because most days the temperature registers close to 100 back there.

Now for the veggie usage question. I think the jalapenos will do okay being left on the plant for another week because they are still pretty small and haven't changed colour yet (from green to red) or gone through "corking" yet. I contemplated, cutting up some and freezing them, but then read that they get mushy so I wasn't so keen on that.

But what about all these tomatoes?

The basil and tomatoes got a lot of use yesterday. Here is a salad with Roma tomatoes, basil, chick peas and hot banana pepper bits. It made a nice and refreshing lunch.

Then for dinner, I chopped up the remaining tomatoes with some oven roasted garlic in the food processor. Added a little basil and served the sauce with some left over peppers, mushrooms and shrimp over some whole wheat pasta.

The only bowl that I have that is big enough to serve this in is a bowl that I got from Target for a Halloween party, so that's why you see the hint of skeleton trim around the black bowl!

So my fridge is clean and off we go to pack the car and embark on some Canadian eating adventures! Tim Horton's, Harvey's, President's Choice products, ketchup flavoured potato chips and poutine, here we come!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The basil on my patio has gotten out of control (the picture above is from several weeks before the overgrowth) and some of my tomatoes are vine ripened. This was a good excuse for me to buy a food processor. Actually, I haven't needed much of an excuse to buy a new kitchen doodad as of late (please see the imminent post on the Titan Peeler... and no I didn't make wood shavings from a table leg for dinner). I've always resisted buying a food processor because I have a really good hand blender which is pretty good to make smoothies and soups and is so much easier to clean than a blender/food processor. But I figured since I had so much basil and someday I'm going to want to try to make baby food to convince myself that this will prevent my kid from wanting to eat McDonald's everyday, I should finally break down and get one. This Cuisinart one was very well reviewed and was under 40 dollars. It holds 24 oz, which sounds pretty small, but the plethora of basil I had fit in there just fine and since my kitchen is pretty small it doesn't take up much space in a cupboard, which is key.

Here is one of my breakfasts this week which did not involve the food processor but had some basil and some tomatoes. It looks like a lot of food for a little person like me, but if I don't eat this much before I go to work I get grumpy and hungry by 10:30.

Here is the basil-nanza being washed, then sitting in my new kitchen toy with some olive oil and going into some ice cube trays for use in pesto, dressings, marinades, sauces etc. I figure since it's frozen I won't get really sick of eating basil-y meals in the next couple of weeks because I can spread the consumption out over a few months!