Look how tall our tomato plants are!
Look how tall our tomato plants are!
I tend to write blogs in bunches. Sorry if that overwhelms some of you. I’ve tried to do the whole schedule thing to spread them out, but for some reason it never seems to work right for me and I wind up with a bunch of unpublished blogs that I have to go and publish myself.
So first post today is about my garden. Despite all the morning sickness pretty much immediately following the planting of the garden, I’ve still managed not to kill it. This is mainly due to the fact that my husband installed a timer for our drip watering system so I don’t have to actually remember to or feel up to watering it every single day. It does it all alone.
I was a little worried about my bell peppers because the got all dark colored for a couple days, but now they are turning red. So I guess even though their label clearly showed green bell peppers, they are going to actually be red ones.
In other misleading plant label news… apparently I got a cherry tomato plant instead of an Early Girl tomato plant:
These little guys have been completely delicious, just much smaller than I was expecting. If you have some great tomato growing secrets. please share them because I think I must be doing something wrong. But then again everyone I know is having size issues with their tomato plants this year, at least I know it isn’t just me.
Oh and my Oregano plant is getting a little out of control with its tendrils:
There are a lot of weeds and spiders out there. We’ve had a series of black widows building webs inside and outside of our grill. I am thinking we must have accidentally transported an egg sack with us from Bakersfield because they really aren’t that common here.
The compost bin is still ruminating though, I haven’t had the stomach to open it up and add stuff to it for quite some time. It is kind of disappointing to toss so much green waste, but that’s just the way it is when you have a sensitive gag reflex. Plus, the bin has been germinating some interesting fly species. First we had these little red ones and now there are these weird little black ones. The black ones made me extremely nervous at first because they showed up right after our trip to Mammoth and we did not have good experiences with black flies there (blood sucking ones to be exact), but thankfully these ones are just really lazy and don’t do anything. I think Stephen’s over the whole composting thing and isn’t sure why we did it in the first place. I doubt he’ll let me start it up again next year, but I know we’ll have some great fertilizer for the crops next year.
Anyway, that about sums up the current status of our garden. I did see a much more extravagant and well kept garden today that I plan to share photos of in my next post.
In case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been much Gourmet Lisa around here lately. That is because I haven’t been feeling that well (darn morning sickness) and the worst time of day for me is almost always around dinner time. Since I wasn’t cooking, Stephen is not very confident in his cooking skills, he was dang tired after work each night, and he’s also been filling in my gaps in housekeeping duties, we ate out. A lot. Hundreds of dollars were spent. It was quite ridiculous. After looking at where all our money went last month Stephen said, “This has to end. We’re throwing our money away. Either we have way more expensive tastes in food or I need to step it up and be a better leader in this area.”
So yesterday we spent a good portion of our holiday planning our menu for the week and grocery shopping. It was quite the challenge coming up with meals that incorporated the organic produce from our AH box and were very simple to make in case I wasn’t up to cooking.
A couple days ago I made what I was pretty sure was Caprese Salad as a side for our lunches using tomatoes I had recently harvested from our garden. Stephen didn’t believe that what I had made was Caprese Salad because of the episode of The Office where Michael tries to frame Toby and the cops said, “This isn’t weed, it’s Caprese Salad!” What was in that bag did not contain tomatoes or mozzarella. Of course The Office is an authoritative source on all things gourmet and Italian. After lunch I looked up Caprese Salad and found that I had indeed made what I thought I had made.
So what is Caprese Salad? It is a salad of tomatoes, mozarella cheese and basil. It is usually dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper. However, there are many variations on the recipe. Sometimes it is served hot via arranging the ingredients on some kind of cooking stone and broiling them and there are variations in the dressing of the salad such as adding Balsamic vinegar or Italian dressing. The salad I made the other day was truthfully not very gourmet at all. I simply cut the 10 cherry sized tomatoes we had in half, sliced a couple sticks of mozzarella string cheese, tossed in some basil and then dressed the whole thing with olive oil, salt and Balsamic vinegar. Despite the humble ingredients (ahem… string cheese?), it was quite tasty!
Using that as inspiration, I brainstormed a meal that is very simple to make and a little more substantial than your traditional Caprese Salad. It was quite the team effort, though my husband did have his doubts going into things about whether you could have pasta without sauce. In the end though, he said it looked very good and upon eating said it was delicious. I will freely admit that this recipe is likely to get me into trouble with those of you that like exact amounts for things, but I hope you can figure it out and enjoy this delicious summer meal.
Caprese Chicken Pasta Salad
-1 large chicken breast
-garlic powder to taste
-salt to taste
-pepper to taste
-olive oil to taste
-Balsamic vinegar to taste
-3 large basil leaves
-2 or 3 tomatoes
-1 1/2 cups dry Farfalle pasta
-shredded mozzarella cheese to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook pasta according to package directions. Ours said it would be ready in 11-12 minutes. I do NOT recommend just going off what the time on the package says. We set our kitchen timer for 10 minutes so as not to forget about it among our other kitchen duties this evening and then began taste testing the pasta every minute or so after that until it reached perfection.
Meanwhile, season the chicken breast with salt, pepper and garlic powder. If you are pregnant like me and the thought of touching raw meat is absolute repulsion, it would be a good idea to get your husband involved in this step lest he hear you screaming from the kitchen, “Ew! Ew! Ew! I just got chicken juice all over me when I opened up the package! Ugh!” Then, have your husband grill the chicken until it is no longer pink and juices run clear.
While pasta and chicken are cooking, cut up tomatoes into 1/8 wedges. Salt to taste.
Chop basil leaves. I learned a really good way to cut up the basil from a cooking show once. Stack the basil leaves and then roll them lengthwise as if you were making a cigarette out of them (maybe this is where the producers of The Office got their idea for the sketch). Make thin slices across the roll and you will wind up with perfectly julienned confetti-like basil for your meal.
Drain pasta and place in large bowl. Cut chicken breast up into bite sized pieces and add to bowl. Add tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese (I used about two handfuls). Drizzle with olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste and then toss all ingredients together.
Serves 4 (Yay! Leftovers aka less cooking for us!).
Today I was finally able to make it out into my garden to see what the heck is going on out there. I was disappointed to discover that one of my lettuce plants had gone to seed and was really, really bitter. Straight into the compost bin it went!
There was copious amounts of grass growing out there. So I tried to pull a lot of it out. Then I harvested five of my remaining lettuce plants.
Needless to say we are having some big salads over the next couple days!
I stirred up my compost. And this is the barometer for how very different this pregnancy is. The compost literally smells like day old puke. Really gross. But I don’t even come close to gagging when I open the bin or stir the stuff. It is so weird. I’m planning to apply all that yucky goo to the ground this fall and maybe even renting a rototiller from Home Depot to really get the soil turned up and loosened. Then I’ll try my hand at a winter garden.
I’m wondering if I can convince Stephen to let me plant some dwarf citrus trees back there.
Yes I have big plans.
Anyway, when I was done stirring my compost and putting back the D-Fork, I nearly screamed when I saw this guy because I thought he was a snake at first by the way he kept his legs so close to his body.
Nope, just a lizard. Probably cashing in on the red fly population that has taken up residence in and near my compost bin. Bleh!
Also exciting in my garden today? I finally have some little green tomatoes! I am so excited!
Anyway, I really need to do the sink full of dishes and find a place for all that lettuce. And I need a shower. So that’s about it from me today.