Fresh From My Garden

Fresh From My Garden
This year I finally built a small 4×4 raised bed garden. I filled it with peppers, tomatoes and a few herbs. I have had good luck with small containers of cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes over the last few years. This year I decided to try out a couple more types of tomatoes since I had a little more room with the raised bed. For the past week I have been giddy watching the green tomatoes sprout all over the plants. Last night I had my first ripened, yellow cherry tomatoes ready to be picked. The larger varieties of tomatoes and the red cherry tomatoes are not quite ready, but their day is coming soon.
The basil is growing so much that I have to pick a handful everyday to make sure it keeps producing. It looks like I need to invest in some pine nuts so I can start making some pesto. I don’t cook as much with basil as I used to, but it grows so easily in my yard that I have a hard time not planting it every year. There are so many herbs that I love that I have difficulty growing. It’s nice to have easy plants.
Although I was happy to pluck a few tomatoes last night, it wasn’t enough to make the tomato salad that has been calling to me. I read a wonderful tomato salad recipe yesterday. The recipe was on Food Network yesterday. It was created by the Neely family. It had two types of cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and a buttermilk sauce. The decadence of the buttermilk in the recipe intrigues me. Normally when I read a recipe, I can somewhat taste it in my mind. I’m stumped with this one. I’m guessing it will be similar to a Ranch style dressing on the tomatoes. The picture they displayed was very enticing so I have high hopes for loving this recipe.
So hopefully tonight I’ll pluck a few more tomatoes. There’s nothing like plucking something fresh from my garden.
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Willow Walk 2014 Rocked

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Willow Walk is a biennial event at Willowbrook Park in Burlington, NC. It is hosted in part by the Alamance County Arts Council and the City of Burlington’s Parks and Recreation Committee. It’s a two day-free event. Incredible sculpture created by artists from our state are on display throughout the park. My sister and I took the kiddos on an adventure there.
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They really liked the bunnies.
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Little J was fascinated by the tiny mouse sculpture at the base of this one.
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And this was one of my personal favorites.
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And this was just cool.
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DG thought running gave her a fresh perspective of the art.
Bands played throughout the two day event and food trucks were lined up to fill bellies with local goodness.
Sunset at Willow Walk was a ticketed event for Saturday evening from 6:30-9:30pm. The City really did a fantastic job in showcasing the park and the artists. The event featured local home chefs and local restaurants for an upscale tasting. I, along with my husband, sister and brother-in-law had a table set up there. We served fresh Gazpacho Mary Shooters with Vodka-Lime Grilled Shrimp. I made sure to buy the freshest, local ingredients available. We had a little bit of a party the night before chopping fresh ingredients for the gazpacho. The nice thing about gazpacho is that it needs to set in your cooler for a day. My help was stellar.
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My team was amazing!
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Everyone was really nice and we had a great time serving our shooters.
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My yard doesn’t really allow for large metal sculptures, but this piece was just right.
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Willow Walk 2014 rocked this year!

Less Than Ten For Two

 

ImageGrilled Chicken & Veggies over Wild Brown Rice & Spinach with a Honey Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:

3-4 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Garlic Powder to taste 

3 small to medium chicken breasts -skinned and de-boned

1 bag of Pictsweet steamable veggies 8.5 ounce

1 Bag of Uncle Ben’s brown and wild rice microwaveable 

1 Handful of raw spinach

Heat your grill pan to medium high heat. Pour one tbsp of the olive oil. Salt, pepper and garlic the chicken breasts. Place the chicken breast in the hot pan. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Image While cooking the chicken steam the veggies in the microwave for approximately 6 minutes .  Add 1tbsp of oil to the same grill pan and sauté for 3-4 minutes.Image While sautéing the veggies, heat the rice for 90 seconds in the microwave. Serve rice as the nest for the chicken. Pour veggies on top of chicken. Immediately add the last tbsp oh olive oil to the grill pan and toss in the spinach. Add salt and pepper to the spinach. Cook for 2-4 minutes. ImageServe on top of the veggies. Stir or whisk the balsamic glaze and honey together and drizzle over spinach. Serve immediately. 

I started this meal at 6:10 and had it sitting on the table at 6:29. I cooked everything in one pan and the microwave. Woo hoo. I know there was a little bit of processed food, but it was mostly nutritious and inexpensive. The cost was less than $10.00 to make a nice Tuesday dinner for me and the hubs. 

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The Players:

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How Does Your Garden Grow

How Does Your Garden Grow
As a child I had no interest in gardening. My mother was an avid gardener and bird watcher. (She still is) I was well into my thirties before the gardening bug struck me. Over the years I have tried different things. I’ve never had a large garden like the one I remember loathing as a child. Most years I have had small container gardens and occasionally I even plant a few things in the ground. Last year I really wanted to try a raised bed, but it just didn’t happen. This year I decided that it was a must. As a trial, I thought I would build a small 4×4 raised bed and create a salsa garden. Once I built the raised bed and loaded it with nutrient rich soil, I was thrilled.
When we bought our house six years ago, there was a lot of work to do on the inside and the outside. In fact the backyard was so overgrown that I was actually scared of it. There was even an old shack in the back that we referred to as Freddy Kruger’s shed for the first year until we had it taken down. The original owner of the house lived in the house for fifty years and judging from the things we have unearthed over the years, she loved it. I wish I had a picture of the backyard when Mrs. Jeffrey’s lived there. I’ve unearthed hundreds of old bricks that were once pathways around the yard. I assume they led you through her beautiful gardens. After 6 years of cutting down dead trees and raking and digging…I’m still amazed every spring with what new exciting bulb sprouts from the ground. She must have had thousands of daffodils. I started making piles of bricks and other “found” items in the back of our yard from the get go. I used one of the piles of old brick to create a small walkway around my new raised bed. Of course, I thought it was perfect and the hubs thought it needed to be properly leveled. I disagreed and told him I was going for a more natural and rustic effect. He grimaced and let it go. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I came home and it was redone.
This garden, although small and more of a trial, has really given me a lot of pleasure. I look forward to watering it in the morning before I go to work. I have a routine of letting the dog out and then watering my containers on the porch, followed by watering my garden. It sits in the back of my yard. This spot was a part of the “unfinished” yard. About 1/3 of the backyard is still under our construction, but it’s come a long way. I hope to start posting some before and after pictures soon. If for no other reason, than to chronicle it for myself. I’ve watched with anticipation as each bud sprouted and now I’m eager to watch these peppers grow bigger and these tomatoes turn red. I can taste the fresh salsa already. How does your garden grow?