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Dreamer

26 Aug

The last few weeks, I have been extremely busy day-dreaming and making plans for my future. Daydreaming takes a lot of energy and time you know? I am a big dreamer and what I believe I want for my life changes with the wind. But I realized, there is something that always remains.

And I am going to share it with you right now.

It is ambitious. And a little unusual for a single woman with a child.

It might look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And may include some of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And definitely this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There won’t be much of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But a lot of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it most likely will be in an area like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhhh…. yep, that’s a little piece of heaven right there.

Farmer’s Market 8.6.11

6 Aug

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Colors of the Rainbow

3 Aug

Recently, I made a trip to downtown Salt Lake City, where my two 4′ x 20′ plots are located in a community garden. I weeded, trimmed and cut back plants to my absolute satisfaction. With the sun warming my skin, I looked over my plots with pride, taking in all the lush green, yellow, orange, red and pink. I lazily breathed in the earthy goodness. Why is gardening so therapeutic anyway?

The only plant ready to harvest was my Rainbow Swiss Chard. I carefully plucked the outer leaves off of my plants and I had an array of colors- red, pink, yellow, orange and green. I have never actually eaten Swiss Chard before, but I was told it is great for juicing, which I am an avid fan of. So, I thought I’d give it a shot. It is by far the easiest thing I have grown to date. I grew it from seed and it grew to maturity really quickly; 45 days or less. It was quite resilient with all the flooding rains and the opposing heat we’ve experienced this summer. You go swiss chard! Sadly, my spinach wasn’t blessed with the same tenacity.

I headed home with my surplus (seriously, I have a ton. If you want some, lemme know) of chard and began to prepare it. I enlisted Carter to help me with the washing and separating of the chard. He was marginally interested in the project- only because he had been the one to plant the seeds. We had an assembly-style operation taking place. I would inspect the chard (for damaged stems or worse- bugs!), wash the chosen chard and give it a quick shake. I would then pass it off to Carter who would blot the chard with a paper towel and lay it out nicely on a dry towel. Our system was very efficient and quite methodic. As I inspected, washed and shook, I would occasionally hear a snapping noise behind me. I noticed it the first few times and kept right on with my job. Eventually, there became a real rhythmic way to the snapping;  Snap-crunch-crunch-Snap-crunch-crunch-Snap-crunch-crunch

What the?

I turned around and to my sheer horror, I found Carter biting off a piece of stem off every. single. piece. of chard! What the?! What the?!

Now, let me just tell you- Carter is pretty much a carnivore. I have done my best to subtly impress my views on refraining from meat and eating a mostly plants-based diet. Let’s just say it hasn’t stuck. Or so I thought.

For some reason beyond my comprehension, Carter actually enjoyed eating swiss chard. So I didn’t interrupt him. I didn’t interfere into his exploration of this new vegetable. I didn’t shout, “You’re contaminating the chard!!” (I must admit, contamination always crosses my mind. I’m a bit of a germaphobe). I was simply content with the fact that if he CHOSE to eat vegetables, who was I to get in the way?

Perhaps because of his involvement in the gardening process (picking out seeds, preparing soil, planting the seeds, watering multiple times a week and finally, harvesting the chard), he saw more value and appreciation in this miraculous plant, and therefore, it appeared more appetizing.

According to Health.com, studies of after-school programs suggest that kids who garden are more likely to eat the produce they grow as well as the ones you put on their plate.

Here are some good ideas on growing a garden with the kiddos in mind and hopefully in turn, encouraging them to eat just a little more healthily.

Colors as vibrant as the rainbow helps too.

Family Food Throwdown 2011

29 Jul

Image courtesy of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

I like food. I like food a lot. Get use to lots and lots of posts about, surrounding, and including food on this blog.

My family has the same love affair with food.

Every year, my mother and stepfather sponsor a Family Food Throwdown (think Food Network-style food competition).  Ma and Pa choose a food item, and each individual or individual family does their own rendition of the selected item.

Combine a love of food with competition- you are welcome into my family at any time.

Previous Food Throwdown Competition Results:

FFT 2008 – Burgers
Winner: Andrea with the “Cowboy Burger”

FFT 2009 – Soup
Winner: Andrea with “Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup”

FFT 2010 – Cupcakes
Winner: Carly H. with “Death by Chocolate”

You’ll notice my name Carly W. does not grace any of those competition results…

I do enter every year and I am convinced that I will win every year. Let’s just say, people like food that they are familiar and comfortable with.

Note: Do not experiment with food when entering it into a food competition.

Andrea (the two-time champ) advised me last year to “always go with the tried-and-true”, meaning choose ingredients or ingredient combos that are always a crowd pleaser. Also, if you want a shot at winning, don’t even breathe the word “Vegan”.

Now, let me just say, I am a damn (yeah, I’m cursing now) good cook. I made a delicious Bleu Cheese Burger in ’08, dreamy French Onion Soup in ’09 and a to-die-for Cherry-Coconut Cupcake in ’10. So what gives?

This year, I was determined to win. The food? Pasta Salad. A BBQ and Summer classic. I pulled out all the stops and even spent $5 on 1/4 c. of pine nuts.

“I got this. I got this.”

Did I win? No.

Did I make it in the Top 3? Nope.

Is my recipe amazing and delicious enough to share here? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Asparagus Pesto Pasta Salad (adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (lightly toasted)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound whole wheat or gluten-free spiral pasta
  • 1/2 pound of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the asparagus spears. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Without emptying the water from the pot, lift out the asparagus spears and place them in a colander. Rinse with cool water.

Bring the water back to a boil. Add salt, if needed, and add pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta with cool water. Put into a serving bowl.

Place the asparagus on a cutting board. Trim off the top 3 inches of the asparagus spears, and put the tips into the bowl with the pasta. Cut the bottoms into several pieces, and set aside to use in the pesto sauce.

Use a food processor to make the pesto: With the processor running, drop in the garlic cloves and allow them to chop. Add 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, and pulse to chop. Add the lemon juice, basil, salt, nutritional yeast, and the asparagus pieces (not the tips!) and olive oil. Puree until smooth.

Toss the pasta, asparagus tips, and tomatoes (if using) with the pesto, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve. As the pasta salad sits, the flavors will develop.

Servings: 8

Carly’s Note: Add fresh bocconcini (mozzarella balls) or seasoned, grilled chicken or shrimp for a heartier version. 

Toasted.

28 Jul

Gladly. Yum.

Today I delighted in three (yes, you read that right) heavenly pieces of toast. Holy smokes people! I never realized how much I am fond of this most basic food- a food staple, if you will.

My favorite? Aspen Mills Squaw Bread with vegan Earth-Balance spread.

Oh. my. goodness.

Side note: Aspen Mills is a local Utah bakery with no website, no list of grocery retailers and no apparent way to order. Although it is apparently found in 7 other surrounding states, Aspen Mills bread is an elusive creature and if you find yourself lucky enough to come across it, snatch it up quickly- toast, butter and enjoy.  You may never be so fortunate again. For any of you local Utahans, I get mine at Whole Foods in Salt Lake City. 

So where did this indulgence with toast begin? I blame it on my father. I spent my entire childhood and adolescence watching my dad’s persistent daily routine. A creature of habit my father is (I just wrote this line with Yoda’s voice in mind).

4:00pm:
Dad walks in the house through the garage door, puts his lunchbox full of empty tupperware containers (my dad always took cereal to work) in the sink, places the mail on the kitchen counter and begins his toasting ritual. One-to-two pieces of toast daily with all the fixings like butter, homemade jam and even from time-to-time, a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

4:03pm:
The distinct, smoldering, toasty smell begins to drift into the air of our home.

4:06pm:
Dad enjoys his warm, golden toast while opening mail. Depending on what bills mail he receives that day, either a cheerful whistling or an aggressive bashing on his drum set would ensue.

Believe it or not, I can’t recall a time as a child or teen actually enjoying toast goodness. It came later, as I aged in life and as I became much more “mature” and wise. Or maybe, this onset of toast fixation came as a result of reaching for my ever-evasive former carefree and juvenile life.

(How can I possibly still be going on about toast?!)

Either way, it is most definitely my comfort food. Is three pieces of toast excessive? Perhaps. At least it’s not three slabs of country fried steak I say.

Don’t you love that toaster? I found the image here and it’s actually available to purchase! Go on and get one!