Monday, August 29, 2011

A Simple West Coast Lunch

Smoked salmon on multigrain tortilla chips with greek yogurt for dipping is one of my favourite meals or snacks. It is delicious. And strange. But mostly delicious.

For a quick lunch yesterday, I added in some carrots from my balcony garden (they are getting bigger!) and some local blueberries. To go along with the meal, I made up a pitcher of Hint-style water, flavoured with lime and home grown chocolate mint.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sew Green

For Christmas this year, I am planning on sewing all of my gift wrapping. I am hoping that, if I do this for a few years, I will have created a nice little stash or reusable gift wrapping that my family can pass back and forth each holiday season. It might not be as fun as picking out a new paper each year, but I love the idea of simply sticking something in a nicely sewn bag an tying it up with a ribbon.

I decided to to test this idea out for my brother's birthday earlier this month. Because I bought him BBQ supplies, which would have been nearly impossible to wrap in paper, a gift bag seemed to be the way to go.

I didn't use a pattern and almost made the bag too small, but it worked out fine. I even lined the inside (with an old piece of curtain!) to make sure that the bag will be sturdy and last a long time.

Perfect! And, shhhhh, don't tell anyone that I am talking about Christmas already, but I am looking forward to picking out some cute fabrics covered in snowmen and stockings!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Container Gardening Update

Although I have attempted vegetable gardens in the past, this year is the first time I've really gotten to reap the rewards.

It's hasn't all been successful. I had to throw out both of my pots of strawberries after they developed some sort of fungus (which was very sad as the fruit was coming along nicely) and had to restart my basil several times before the weather was nice enough for it to survive. I also decided to ditch my spindly tomato plant and replaced it with one that was a little further along. Between the unseasonably cool west coast summer and my west facing balcony, my first tomato plant was so far off schedule, I don't think I would have gotten fruit.

Despite all of these glitches, I think things are going pretty well.

I have a tonne of herbs: mint, chocolate mint, rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena, golden sage and parsley. I have no idea what to do with them all!

I also have basil, and this, I know what to do with! I can never have enough basil and wish that it had a longer growing season here in BC. Next year, I will grow LOTS of basil and start it inside. If I can get the basil organized and growing properly, it has the potential to save me lots of money.

My spinach and lettuce have done well and have no problem thriving on my west facing balcony. Throughout June and July, I had at least 2-3 salads a week from my spinach/lettuce pot. Unfortunately, the spinach is now bolting and the lettuce has disappeared. I will replant both again as a fall crop.

I've just started harvesting carrots and I am thrilled with them! I am not sure if it is worthwhile to plant such a small little crop of something that takes so long to grow (and is eaten so quickly), but they feel like a true balcony garden success. Root vegetables are perfect for my partially sunny spot. I will do a fall crop of carrots and perhaps one of beets as well.

Lastly, as I mentioned above, I replaced my scrawny tomato plant (which I had gotten for free) with one from the local garden shop. The new one was already fruiting when I purchased it two weeks ago and more tomatoes are popping up each day. I really hope they ripen!

Lessons for next year:

* Plant more lettuce and spinach.
* Start basil inside and keep it indoors until July (and plant lots!).
* Buy fruiting tomatos in July.
* Expand root and leafy vegetables.

I think I will also attempt strawberry hanging baskets next year, hopefully the increased sun of a raised location will keep the fungus away!

How does your garden grow?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I (heart) Salad

There are two eating seasons for me: (1) salad season and (2) soup season. All fall and winter long, I eat soup almost every day. I love homemade soup. It is so easy and so nutritious. But, by the time spring rolls around, I start thinking that soup is gross and hot and boring and that I. will. never. eat. soup. again. And so, I switch to salad. Salad I find a little more challenging to deal with because it requires fresh veggies (which means more shopping and food preparation), but it does allow me to use food from my own little garden and farmer's market. Usually, I obsess over two or three salads all season long. This year, I started off with a minty spinach and fig salad, moved on to a roasted asparagus, yam and spinach salad and am now all about a shredded veggie, lettuce and smoked salmon salad.

The goods (lettuce, carrots, beets, garbanzo beans, feta, pumpkin seeds).

Made even better with local maple smoked salmon, one of my very favourite foods.

And topped with homemade basil vinaigrette.

What could be better than that?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Eats

I try to eat seasonally and locally. Right now, that means:

Salmon (the raspberries are also local, but the asparagus is not, whoops!)

and Peaches (in peach cobbler topped with honey sweetened yogurt)!

Salmon and peaches are two of my favourite foods, but I am a bit of a snob about them and refuse to eat them unless they are very fresh (salmon) or tree ripened (peaches). This means that August and September are two of my favourite food months. Yum!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

To Market, To Market

I didn't make it to the farmer's market yesterday as I had no cash (cash is a necessity at farmer's markets!) and decided to have a lazy morning at home. But, I did go last weekend and I bought some yummy food:

The haul: honey (the honey man now refers to me as a "regular," apparently I buy a lot of honey), blueberries, cucumbers, lettuce and Cold Comfort ice cream!

The ice cream was Popcorn with a Caramel Butter Swirl. Slightly strange, very delicious!

I also went to the Oak Bay Night market a few weeks ago and got this beautiful loaf of bread:

It cost about a kazillion dollars, but was fantastic (and huge). The wheat was grown right here on Vancouver Island which, if you have seen Vancouver Island, is a pretty amazing feat.

I've heard a rumour that there will be Fresh Peach, Brown Sugar and Bourbon ice cream at the market next weekend and I will be there to buy it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Block of the Month

I almost didn't complete the June block for my monthly "Yours, Mine and Ours" quilting class. My shoulders and neck were feeling pinchy and sewing did not appeal at all. But, at the last minute, the night before the class, I decided to make the donation block. And, it ended up going so smoothly, I made a block for myself too!

The June block was called the British Columbia Dream.

My Block

My Donation Block

I am running out of blue fabric and didn't have enough to do all of the points for my donation block in one colour, but I really like how the alternating colours turned out. It gives the block a bit of pinwheel effect.

Some of the ladies from my quilting class have started to piece together the blocks we have made so far. The toppers will be donated to Victoria Quilts Canada, who will put the finishing touches on the quilts. Victoria Quilts Canada gives finished quilts to individuals with cancer. What a great organization!

You can see the toppers that have been completed here. Can you spot my blocks?