Thursday, March 29, 2012

Adventures in Container Gardening

The idea of being able to grow my own vegetables and herbs is very appealing to me.  Unfortunately, living in an apartment in an urban area isn't exactly conducive to gardening.  Or so I thought.  Little did I know that you can grow a wide variety of vegetables  in containers on your porch/patio/balcony.

I'm really happy that this is the case, because I really like growing my own herbs and whatnot.  I started growing basil and parsley during the summers when I was in college, and just last summer tried my hand at cherry tomatoes.  It was a pretty successful venture, and as a result, I've decided to branch out a bit and try my hand at growing some new things.

A disclaimer: Now, I do not profess to be some sort of expert in this area. Any of my successes can be attributed to some combination of: 1) luck; 2) fortuitous Googling; and 3) good advice from my Dad. However, I still wanted to share with you some of my adventures and misadventures in container gardening.

Oh, also, I don't have enough confidence in my gardening abilities just yet to start my plants from seed. I cheat a bit and go pick up the plants from Lowe's or Walmart. 

What I'll be growing this spring/summer:

Basil (LOTS of it)
Flat leaf parsley

Husky Cherry Red tomatoes
Better Bush tomatoes
Bell peppers (still looking for these in stores!)

This is what I'm working with.  Nothing too fancy.

I decided to fill my flower box with basil this year rather than pansies or petunias or something.  Can't wait for this to start growing out of control.  I have so many recipes that use tons of basil bookmarked.
Rosemary, with too much soil
in the pot.  Whoops.

Parsley (left) and cilantro (right).  Looking a
little droopy before I watered them.

Better Bush tomato plant that already has...

I didn't include a picture of my Husky Cherry Reds because I ran out of potting soil and haven't had the chance to plant them.  Also, like I said, I'm still on the lookout for bell pepper plants.  Aaaand... as anyone who follows me or this blog on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/HeyWhoCutTheCheese) might know, I just bought a dwarf Meyer lemon tree!  It should be shipping this weekend.  Can't wait to see what it's like when it arrives.

Check it out: http://www.starkbros.com/products/fruit-trees/additional-fruit-trees/meyeri-lemon

But anyway, this is what I'm working with this season.  Stay tuned and I'll try to bring you weekly updates on how my vegetables and herbs (and lemons, eventually!) are progressing, as well as some tips that I've found to be helpful.

What are you planning to grow this season?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Woodchuck Draft Cider Sorbet

Okay, everybody stop what you're doing. *insert record screech here*  I found a recipe for a Woodchuck Cider-based sorbet.  Yeah, ya heard.  Anyone who knows me fairly well can tell you that I love Woodchuck.  Love.  It.  

I originally stumbled across this recipe while perusing Pinterest.  The recipe comes from Elle's New England Kitchen.

You'll need:

2 bottles Woodchuck Cider, ice cold (Whatever variety you prefer. I used Amber.)
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs lemon juice

In a medium bowl, whisk the cider, sugar, and lemon juice together.  Keep whisking until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Give it a taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary.

Unless you have been putsying around in the kitchen, your mixture should still be very cold.  However, if you feel like it isn't cold enough, stick it back in the fridge for an hour or two before putting it in your ice cream maker.

However, if you've kept your eyes on the prize, go ahead and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker.

Easy as that!

This was really refreshing, and though perfect any time of year, would be amazing on a hot summer night.  I can't wait to try this out with some of the other Woodchuck varieties (Pear, Raspberry, etc.), because I'm sure they will all be really tasty.

Don't forget that this sorbet contains alcohol!  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

White Bean Salad w/ Oven Roasted Tomatoes

How is it possible that it took me this long to discover the deliciousness of oven roasted tomatoes??  I mean, honestly.  They are so good, and so simple to make.  If you haven't tried them yet, you will be pleasantly surprised.

In keeping with my promise of giving you more healthy recipes this year (even though I've obviously dropped the ball several times already), I bring you a delicious side dish/lunch option: White Bean Salad with Oven Roasted Tomatoes, from the blog Pink Parsley.  I've modified it just a bit based on the ingredients that I had in my fridge.

You'll need:

1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs sugar
salt and pepper
2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans (or great northern beans)
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
arugula, for serving

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the tomatoes in half and place them cut side up on a baking sheet.  You probably want to line that baking sheet with foil, since things are going to get a little messy.

In a medium bowl (or large measuring cup, or whatever), whisk together the olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture over the tomatoes.  Roast for 45-60 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to caramelize.  You'll notice that the edges start to shrivel up.  Let them cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, combine the 2 cans of beans, almonds, lemon juice and zest, and cheese in a large bowl.  Once the tomatoes are cool, stir them and their juices into the bean salad.  Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

You can eat this salad as is, or serve it on a bed of arugula.  Personally, I could eat all of this as is.  However, nestling it into a bed of arugula is faaantastic.  The peppery flavor of the arugula goes with the sweetness of the tomatoes and brightness of the lemon juice really, really well.

Enjoy!! =D