Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An ode to weiners

The Mr and I have been so busy making mosaics to for an upcoming show that there hasn't been any time for updates on the garden or perty cooking pics. I need to catch up on what everyone else has been up to as well, but until I get a few extra free minutes ........

I just wanted to share a piece we made to give to a dear friend for her birthday. She and her husband have two sweet Dachshund pooches - Gerdie and Sparkplug. They have just relandscaped their backyard with a combo of stone, brick and astroturf (we do live in the desert after all) and she's having a party to celebrate. This is our loving ode to her and her weiner dogs. I thought Annie's Granny might get a kick out of it too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A cool dish for a potluck or a picnic

It's another scorcher here in the............ so the Mr and I jumped at the opportunity to attend a potluck BBQ in Bisbee - one of southern Arizona's cooler towns. Of course there's always lots of meet at these affairs but as I am a vegetarian I usually find it beneficial to make sure I bring my own meat free option.

Now before I hear a lot of meaty eye rolling let me just say I don't have any problems with meat (although I do wish it had a few less hormones), I grew up on a farm where we raised our own food, I have never tried to get anyone else to stop eating meat and I quite frequently cook meat for the Mr........ it's just a personal thing.

I do have to say that cooking without meat has really changed my perspective of vegetables. So much of the produce in the stores is tasteless, bitter, bland or whatever so when you have limited the options of ingredients you better go for quality because those veggies are going to be the star of meal usually. It also has driven me to become quite creative in my cooking style and really strive for variations on the usual that not only surprise people but also sate them. I like to make sure that if I am serving a meal sans meat that no one walks away from the table feeling like they missed out on something so those veggies (and whatever else) better sing!

So here's an easy dish to take to a potluck or on a picnic. It's also great as a cold lunch or as a cocktail hour appetizer with tortilla chips and a "Pink Putty Tat Tini". I'll share that recipe at another time. ;)

Homegrown lemon, orange bell pepper, jalapeno and tomatoes get rounded out with scallions, mango, avocado and parsley. I toss the avocado with lime, olive oil, salt and garlic powder to give them a bit of a kick and preserve their green color.

Toss the ingredients in beautiful serving platter given to me by my good friend and gifted potter Stef. You can see her wonderful wares at www.stefstudio.com

Add in a can of black beans and corn and mmmmmmmmmmm! Well you'll just have to try it for yourself..... especially with your favorite tortilla chips!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

.... Like a Phoenix rising in Tucson

I am diligently trying to nurse my garden through this, the most difficult part of the summer. Except for my continuing battle with white flies and aphids, things are going along decently well. There has been one fatality however.... the bush beans. They gave more than I expected, lasted longer than I would have thought and fought a valiant battle to keep going but in the end it was time for them to go.

With (hopefully) enough time to get another crop in for the fall I gave my bean seeds a good soaking in water and set them out to prosper. To my surprise, the very next day, like a phoenix rising in Tucson........... ta da!

And as I may have mentioned before it's hot - damn hot! At this time of year the stove becomes our most avoided appliance and most of our meals become of the "no cook" variety. I thought I'd share some of those in case any of you are in a similar situation and need a little inspiration.

Here is our spring roll feast made with all sorts of fresh veggies, mango, feta, avocado, chicken, tofu and sweet chili sauce. Just soak your rice papers (found in most asian markets and some grocery stores) in hot water, pick your favorite fillings roll, dip and enjoy!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Home & Hot!!!!!!!

It's supposed to reach 112 degrees this weekend, which is especially jarring because we have just returned from a lovely vacation in cool and beautiful Utah.

Whenever I leave my garden for more than a couple of days I always end up taking mental bets as to whether it will still be alive when I return. There are so many variables that can wreak havoc upon my green leafy children such as hanging out with undesirables i.e. tomato hornworms, aphids and the like or suffering from dehydration if those pesky pigeons break into the water cabinet (drip irrigation timer) and manage to dislodge the batteries.

After 10 days of neglect I found my garden still alive and producing but in need of some love and attention. The blossom end rot that had reared its ugly bottom seemed to have subsided but the largest population of whiteflies and aphids that I have ever seen took up residence in its place. I sprang into action like a mother hen defending her chicks, armed with insecticidal soap and diatomaceous earth in spray form. I will post later as to their effectiveness.

I will also post some updated pics of the garden once I have done some tidying and nursing, until then I thought I would share one of my garden harvest dinners and our latest mosaic.

Homegrown basil waiting to be transformed into a luscious pesto sauce.
I substituted almonds as I was out of pine nuts.

The evolution of a few simple ingredients into what I like to refer to as green gold. I do love pesto sauce!
Tossed here with penne, peas, broccoli and some homegrown red jewels (my tomatoes).

Our latest mosaic - I think it reflects my underlying desire for a pool!