Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So Much Zucchini!

I was worried I wouldn't have enough but I can't handle anymore zucchini. We've had some sort of zucchini dish with every meal. My freezer is filling up fast and I've been giving them away to whoever will take them. I'm still getting 2-4 zucchinis out of the garden everyday. HELP! I'm going to be overrun by zucchini.
The above picture was all we got in just one haul. It's ridiculous!

Monday, July 27, 2009

I made Bagels!!

Like real bagels! I'm so proud.

Here they have just been dunked in boiled water and coated in sesame seeds and ready to go in the oven.

And here they are fresh out of the oven and ready to be eaten. They were wonderful. I'm definitely going to make them again.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Some of my many canning jars.

A garlic braid from the market.

We are babysitting my dad's bird for a couple weeks.

More flowers from my garden.

The crutches I had to use this week because I did something to my foot.


We look forward to Luminara every year. It is the lantern festival here in Victoria, that happens every July. It is a great atmosphere and it is full of interesting lanterns made by local participants. However, this year just as the sun went down and the festival was about to begin, the thunder and lightening began. It was pouring as we made our way down to the festival but we weren't going to miss it.

There was a rainbow as we were driving down so that gave us some hope it might clear up.

The sunset was gorgeous but it was still pouring.

One of the many costumes on display at the festival.

The Cheshire cat was the first lantern we encountered.

I think this was one of my favorite lanterns. It was floating on the water and was framed with dragonflies and Koi fish.

The lantern village.
All-in-all it was great to see all the lantern but many of the lanterns we out from the rain so we really couldn't see them and we were completely soaked.

New Additions

I have new items to the harvest! Both are right from my backyard!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Pumpkin flower.

My first sunflowers and my neighbours roses.

My Roma tomatoes.

And some cherry tomatoes. I had one of these the other night.

My blackberries!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Today's Harvest

Today we had our first harvest of potatoes and our last harvest of lettuce. I didn't get as many potatoes as I hoped considering I pulled a whole row of them. I had planned to leave them in the ground until August but I needed the space for my winter crops. You can also see the pickle cucumbers, some more peas, dill and mint. The lettuce is done, the leaves are beginning to rot so I'm clearing it out to make room for more winter planting.

A Very Busy Summers Day

We began our very busy Saturday day as usual at the Moss Street Market, where we scored some yummy Qualicum Cheese, local herbs and raspberries, some bread and some local organic bacon.

Then we made our way along the Moss Street Paint-In. It is an annual event where local artist display their paintings and work on some pieces of art. There was some really gorgeous stuff but sadly it was all way out of our price range.

There was also some really good music. We stopped and listened to a man who was playing some wonderful drums and a didgeridoo.

More of the excellent art, shown on someones front lawn. It was a stinkin' hot day so it was nice to find some shade.

Look at all the people. The Paint-In is a huge event, it runs the entire length of Moss Street (about 4-5 blocks).

Then we made our way out to Sea Cider farms for their annual birthday celebration. The property itself is beautiful and they have an amazing variety of apple trees.

The lovely interior of the barn is also their store and the top floor offers more displays of local art.
The view of the orchard also overlooks the ocean. Such a beautiful property, we had a great time sampling ciders, trying some local cuisine (made with local ingredients) and listening to some bluegrass music. It was still really really hot so we really only stayed for an hour but it was fun none-the-less.

Finally, we stopped at Silver Rill farms to pick up some local fresh corn (the best corn on the island in my opinion), blueberries and Okanagan cherries. We were also allowed to visit with their goats! I totally want one now.
Finally we finished the day by making a yummy 100% local dinner, working a bit in the garden and doing some more pickling. Phew...busy day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Look Up!

I have a not-so-secret love of the night sky. It is one of the most timeless and stunningly beautiful things that is completely free to see. And summer is the best time of year for gazing at the heavens. Every year I look forward to the meteor showers, there is still something so magical about falling stars. The best one is the Perseids, which occurs every August. Recently, I haven't had the opportunity to get away from the city lights to enjoy the showers as I did when I was young (my family and I would often ferry over to a small island and watch the meteor showers in near total darkness). So this year, I plan to be out in the wild for the showers.

Upcoming Meteor Showers:
Delta Aquarids - July 28-29
Capricornids - July 29-30
Perseids - August 12-13
Draconids - October 8-9
Orionids - October 21-22

For a list of year round meteor showers visit http://www.theskyscrapers.org/meteors/

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recipe: My Lasagna

I've had a couple people ask me for this recipe and it's really hard for me to write it down. I've never measured anything for this recipe. I add lots of veggies to mine, it's sort of a way to use what's in the garden or in the fridge so feel free to add your favorite veggies. These are approximate measurements and it should be done to your own taste.

You will need:
1 box of lasagna noodles
1 can of crushed tomatoes (I use the large cans since I make large batches)
1 can of tomato paste
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 chopped onion
around 500g lean ground beef
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cups of shredded spinach
(1 cup of chopped red pepper, optional)
1.5 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 container of ricotta cheese (approx. 1.5 cups)
2 tsp dried or fresh oregano
2-3 tsp basil (fresh or dried)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
dash of tarragon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure pan for noodles (I do 3 layers, 4 noodles across so I need 12 noodles).

Boil water in a large pot with oil and salt. Add noodles. Boil until tender, strain and set aside.

In a large pan at medium heat, cook onions and garlic. When onions are almost translucent add the beef. Cook thoroughly. Add zucchini and 1 cup of spinach (and bell pepper if you are using it). Cook until zucchini and spinach has darkened. Add can of tomato paste and stir. Then add the can of crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine. Season with basil, oregano, pepper, garlic salt and tarragon, stir. Cook until sauce begins to bubble, turn heat to low.

In a medium bowl mix the entire container of ricotta cheese with 1/8 cup Parmesan, 2 cups shredded spinach and 1 tsp basil. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Lightly oil the bottom of your lasagna dish. Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom and top with a layer of noodles. Then add another thicker layer of sauce and top with noodles. The next layer is your cheese layer so spoon the entire ricotta mix on and spread. Top with 1 cup mozzarella and another layer of noodles. Spoon remaining sauce on the top, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Cover dish with tin foil and bake in oven for 45-50 mins (remove foil for the last 5 mins) or until the cheese and sauce on top begins to bubble. Remove from oven, let cool and serve.

This recipe can be made vegetarian by replacing the beef with a bag of mushrooms (and I would chopped them a bit in the food processor) and if you want to thicken the sauce further you can also add some eggplant.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Nasturtiums from my garden.

First broccoli from the garden.

A rose from the flower garden.

We have a pile of dog biscuits hanging around from puppy-sitting this weekend.

The new pots I bought for my herbs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I really love...

My Garden!My tomatoes seem to be being doing ok and it looks like we are going to get some more cauliflower and some broccoli.

I have so much zucchini and it looks like we are going to have a ton of pumpkins.

Look how many peas we got last night!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Green Tips: Every Little Bit Helps

The little things we do that use energy or create waste are often the easiest to change; if we recognize them. Think of the things that you do daily that uses energy or creates waste and then multiply it by how many times you do those things in a month and you might be shocked by the impact. This post is about those little things.

1. Air dry or shake off your hands after washing in public washrooms. Avoid electric blow-dryers or paper towels.

2. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. The elevator uses a lot of power and the stairs are better for your personal fitness.

3. Know when to roll up your windows and when to turn off the AC. If you are driving at highway speeds having your window down creates drag and you use more gas, so switch to the vent or AC. But at regular speeds, AC wastes gas so roll down the windows for some natural ventilation.

4. Say no to the receipt. Unless you need to keep track of your purchases say no to a receipt, then retailers will only to print one or no copies and will save paper. Plus, your wallet will lose some bulk if you ditch the paper.

5. Recharge. Rechargeable batteries or solar charging items are great money and energy savers. Plus recharging reduces waste, so really it's the best anyway you look at it.

There are tons of other little things you can change! Pay attention and give your actions some thought and step by step our world will become a little greener.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Harvest

This harvest took the work of both of us.

We collected beets, carrots, some chard, and peas.

Yes, lots and lots of peas. And some onions.

We also collected some herbs and did come drying. Here we have dill, thyme and oregano. There was also some chamomile that had to be hung to dry.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Organic Islands Festival

This weekend was the 5th annual Organic Islands Festival and Sustainability Expo. We always enjoy the festival but this is the first year I got to enjoy it not as a volunteer. It is so enjoyable to be surrounded by like-minded, eco-conscious people. We tried some yummy organic goodies, amazing organic wine and ciders and a whole bunch more cool stuff. We also talked to people about solar and wind energy, organic gardening, composting and collecting rainwater. Very interesting.
Some of the treats we came away with were:
- organic Sage plants
- local rhubarb concentrate from Sea Cider Farms
- bamboo towels from Good Planet
- native flower seeds from CRD
- natural soaps from Rocky Mountain Soap Co.
- Yerba Mate iced tea
If you are in the area next year I highly encourage you to visit the festival. It is always the first week of July. Visit the website for a list of exhibitors and info on the festival itself.

Snapshot Sunday

My goodie bag from the organic festival.

The pickles I made yesterday. My first canning experience!

Yummy organic drinks from the market.

The cool new sage plants I got at the festival. One tastes and smells like honey melon.

My massive stack of piano music (and this is only HALF). I'm a bit of a music junkie.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

If you've read my other posts you'll know I suddenly have a lot of zucchini. So I decided to make some zucchini bread and freeze it. This is my favorite recipe thus far.

You will need:
1.5 cups shredded raw zucchini
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan and set aside.
Grate the zucchini and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. In a the bowl of an electric mixer beat the oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Fold in the grated zucchini. Add to the flour mixture. Stir until combined. Then fold in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick comes out clean, about 55 to 65 mins. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
This recipe can be frozen as well as eaten on the spot!