Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Garden 2012: Week Ten


It's week 10 for the cabbage and bibb lettuce. The bibb lettuce shown in the top right photo is over 2 feet tall. (I had no idea lettuce could be 2 feet tall.) The cabbages have started to form solid heads and should be ready to pick in a week or two. I plan to make some of my jalapeno cole slaw but I think we also need to start looking for a sour kraut recipe or two! 

The strawberries are ripening one by one... I wonder if we will ever have more then one at a time. 
I added a watermelon vine today. It's our first time trying melon; I'm excited to see how it grows. Fruit should be ready to eat just in time for the hottest part of the summer! 

The three tomato plants are doing well. The top photo is the Phoenix Hybrid; the bottom photo is the Beefmaster. Not shown is the Rutgers heirloom. We transplanted it from a pot into the ground today and it's not looking too good. Hoping it rebounds soon. 

Also in the garden but not shown here: many pepper varieties, eggplant, spinach, leeks, spearmint, kale and arugula (left over from winter), onions, carrots, basil and thyme. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grant Park Farmers Market - now open for 2012


The Grant Park Farmers Market opened today! We didn't buy any vegetables because most of the offerings were items we had growing home. Instead we shared a honey fig jam gelato from Honeysuckle (southern inspired gelato). The rest of the day has been spent in the garden adding new plants and moving around old ones. Will share a garden update on Monday. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Steak fajitas


One $16, ethically raised, London broil from YDFM made five nights of different, homemade, delicious dinners for two. That's $1.60 per meat portion per meal! Two of the dinners included something we grew in the garden. Two more of them COULD have if we'd tried broccoli this winter or if it were summer and our pepper seedlings were bigger.

Add to that, the pot of oatmeal we ate from for every breakfast and the pot of black beans we ate from for every lunch - this may go down as one of our cheapest, most delicious, real food weeks ever. Even Oliver's dinnertime beer was homebrew!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's for dinner? Beef and broccoli

The London broil from Monday has proved to be quite the versatile dinner food. Four* nights, four different meals. Tonight Oliver stir fried it with broccoli and served it over rice. Hello homemade beef and broccoli! (Poor little Toph had to watch from the window... "Where's my beef!?")

*Last night was sandwiches!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday is brewday

Wednesday is local-brew-day; or at least it used to be. In 2006 I was working at Carters (on 14th and Peachtree) and the (then*) Atlanta Brewing Company's brewhouse was just a few blocks to the west. My friends and I had a standing engagement to meet every Wednesday after work for $4 drafts. We'd sit on the loading docks and watch the sunset. It was perfect. 

Six years, several miles and a couple dollars later the operation is still going strong. The brewery now operates on the other side of town and the brewtour prices aren't quite as thrifty they used to be. A handful of new microbreweries have opened around town but they have been unsuccessful at breaking our loyalty to ABC/Redbrick*. (Sweetwater be damned - we're Redbrick folks.)

Those friends from the loading dock drinking days are the same ones that introduced Oliver and I in 2009. No matter how much everyones' lives have changed we still know we can count on weeknights at Redbrick for great beer and friendship.  Suffice it to say:  I love my local craft brewery. Thanks Redbrick. 
*ABC vs Redbrick:. The brewery recently rebranded, going from "Atlanta Brewing Company" to "Redbrick". It's been a lively transition, full of design work and new catch phrases, but who cares about the name as long as the beer is awesome. With the rebranding, they've given the brewer a lot more freedom (and that's a great thing). 
**Visit our Facebook page for photos of the old brewery.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dinner salad from the garden: in pictures


Dinner: London broil (from last night's dinner) served cold on a bed homegrown lettuce with a side of black beans (made for this week's lunches). Our garden lettuces have been so easy and so prolific; I hope more people will give them a try in their own home gardens. It's a been a fun and satisfying experiment!

Monday, April 23, 2012

We're back!

You may have noticed we didn't post much over the weekend. It was a busy one for us here in Atlanta. Friday night we saw a great show at the Center for Pupptery Arts and then rushed over to Antico for pizza. Saturday we biked to Candler Park for the Sweetwater 420 Fest and then had dinner at the home of our friends Laura and AJ (of the LB Collective) before biking home again in the rain. And Sunday was the Piedmont Park Dogwood Festival! Lots of time outdoors and on bikes - not a lot of time in the kitchen. 

But now, a new camera plus a week's worth of YDFM groceries later and we're back in business! We've started this week off right too. Breakfast: steel cut oatmeal with golden raisins and coconut. Lunch: turkey sandwiches (YDFM's own smoked turkey with pepper) on fresh whole wheat bread with homegrown arugula, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and shavings of Parmesan. Dinner: London Broil* with a side salad of homegrown arugula and baked potato with Greek yogurt and chives (and two glasses of pinot noir). 

We've also happily given away many of our lettuces! (We even convinced the mailman to take two.) They're looking good but they're starting to fade. I don't mind because that means we're finally sneaking up on my favorite garden time of the year - TOMATO TIME! Of the three tomato plants currently in our garden the heirloom just won the award for "first fruit" of the season. Tomato season has begun! 
*Not a true London Broil because it was dry rubbed rather than marinated. Long acidic marinades make the surface mealy and don't penetrate a dense cut enough to really tenderize. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Garden 2012: Week Eight

I took pictures of the garden just before I picked salad greens for our party on Saturday. Our lettuces are at their peek. We have so many that I think we're about to start giving them away to our neighbors. (If anyone wants some free organic lettuce give us a shout!) If you compare the photos of  arugula from two weeks ago with those taken today you'll see that the plants grew a foot and bloomed. I just pulled out two and bagged the leaves for salad later this week. In their place we added more eggplants and peppers. The cabbage are still a big source of pride for me. I showed them off to every party guest that would humor me (thanks you guys). They're just so unexpectedly BEAUTIFUL! They've certainly added a new level of interest (to me) for cool weather vegetable gardening.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Backyard dinner & a Braves game

Saturday we invited friends over for dinner, drinks and a Braves game. Oliver made jambalaya and a salad from our garden greens. Guests brought side dishes and dips. After a couple of hours of eating and drinking in the backyard 15 of us walked the one mile to Turner Field and watched the baseball game from the Bud Deck (that patio bar behind 2nd base).  It was there that I dropped and broke my camera. Opps. Oliver was able to retrieve my photos by putting the memory card into his laptop but it will be a few days before I get my hands on a new camera. Until then, no new food photos...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What's for dinner? Green curry with shrimp

Dinner on Wednesday and Friday was green curry with shrimp, eggplant, snap peas and red peppers. In an effort to cut back on the high fat content found in coconut milk Oliver replaced half of of the coconut milk with homemade shrimp stock. I enjoyed mine with a glass of Riesling because sweet goes so well with spicy! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

What's for dinner? Carrot, Ginger & Sweet Potato soup

My New Year's resolution was to learn to cook. And like most New Year's resolutions I did it once on the third day of the year and then went back to my old ways (ie: letting Oliver cook every meal). In my defense I had a lot going on: I lost 10lbs in six weeks (which required extra evenings at the gym) and I got a promotion at work (which requires overtime at the office). Making time to learn to cook got pushed to the back burner. 

Also, I'll be honest, I have a motivation problem when it comes to cooking. I rarely come across healthy dinner recipes that inspire me to make a mess in the kitchen. Oliver's cooking style is so effortless. He doesn't follow recipes! He just throws ingredients into a pot and BAM - they're delicious. I want to cook like THAT. But getting to that level takes practice (practice, hmph). And that brings us back to my New Year's resolution...

Last weekend, while in Louisiana, I came across a recipe in a magazine that seemed tasty and easy. 'I can do this' I exclaimed to Oliver's grandmother. I copied the recipe down, brought it back to Atlanta and on Tuesday night I braved the kitchen alone for a Carrot, Ginger, Sweet Potato soup.

It went - okay. The actual recipe tasted  boring (meaning: what I made wasn't that good) but Oliver swooped in with a dash of paprika, the juice from one lemon, a second sweet potato and the recommendation that next time I use half a box of chicken stock combined with water instead of the full box the recipe called for.  

The good news is: my meal made a great lunch for two days. The more time it spent in the fridge the tastier it became (mixed with Greek  yogurt and chives it was actually good). Plus, I learned about adding acid (lemon) to recipes lacking brightness and I used the immersion blender all by myself (awesome).  I believe my New Year's resolution is back on track! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Blogger: Amanda in Philadelphia - Sugar Junkie

It's been three months since our guest blogger, Amanda's, last post; that post remains the third most popular on And Topher Too (so go back and read it)! She recently committed to improving her overall health and today I'm very happy to be sharing a few of the challenges and successes she's faced along the way. Thanks Mandy! - Cullen

Sugar Junkie by Amanda D
September 2011 was when I made a conscious decision to be healthy. Not to diet, and not to lose weight, but to change my habits. Though I walk or bike every day as a means of transportation, I wanted to make sure my body was strong so I joined a gym. And while I ate relatively well, with lots of real foods and fresh vegetables, I regularly indulged in full fat local yogurt, humanely raised local beef, and many, many home baked goods.

Cutting back on red meat was easier than I expected. I choose chicken sandwiches or vegetarian options when I eat out, but don’t deny myself a cheeseburger when all my friends want to go to Five Guys. After a few months I found my body craving beef less and less, particularly when I upped my intake of kale, spinach, and other leafy greens. Habit #1 broken!

My next challenge was sugar. I spent the first month of this new lifestyle staring at my flour and sugar canisters in the kitchen and thinking of a million tasty ideas - Millet muffins! Banana chocolate chip bread! Chocolate orange cookies! It wasn’t these individual items, which I made with cage free eggs from the farmer’s market and half the sugar in the recipe, that were my downfall. It was my addiction to sugar, to having treats in the house all the time, that was the habit I needed to break. And much like the beef, I found after a few months that I no longer craved sugar. An orange or some berries in the evening were all I really needed. Habit #2 broken!

Until about a month ago - when I noticed a big bowl of discounted Valentine’s Day candy on my friend’s kitchen table. I mindlessly began snacking on them. Little did I know that with those little hearts I would awake my sugar addiction. I found myself buying candy bars, baking small batches of cookies and muffins, and eating cupcakes for lunch. I have simultaneously been dealing with a torn rotator cuff, working with a trainer and a therapist to strengthen and heal my muscles. My body has ached horribly and I have been very down on myself. It wasn’t until yesterday that I put it all together.

I came across this tidbit on the internet: “We are most often addicted to the foods we are allergic to.” A quote from Dr. Mark Hyman that rang loud and true in my ears. I’ve been living with this injury a long while, but over the last month I feel the aches and pains everywhere. And I really believe that with every bowl of ice cream cake I have been eating, I have been making it harder on my body to get healthy and heal itself. I have no scientific proof, I have no doctor’s opinion behind me, I just know that I felt better, slept better, and had more energy a month ago, before my sugar binge began.

So today is the first day of breaking my old habit. Again. And I won’t see this as defeat, but a lesson in what healthy really looks like for me. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter with friends

We spent Easter Sunday in Baton Rouge with Oliver's best friends from high school (it works in our favor that they married one another). Mandy's* Easter goodies were impressive as always (her baking and cake decorating skills are second only to my cousin Amber, a full time cake decorating professional). Pictured here are Mandy's hollow Rice Krispie Treat eggs filled with M&M's, coated with white chocolate and individually decorated. Just below them, in those perfect clear take out containers, you'll see traditional Rice Krispies, coated in dark chocolate and each uniquely decorated. There were also very cool ostrich eggs made of white chocolate, filled with pudding and topped with a cake ball to look like egg yoke! 

As a person who barely cooks and never bakes Mandy's skills impress me. Add to that that she did all this with two little boys and a five week old girl and I am speechless. AND she goes back to her full time job at a biology lab next week. High five to super woman!

One of the couple's several sister/sister-in-laws** also made half a dozen of the ever-impressive silk tie die eggs. Except to make this fun decorating technique even better then usual - they filled their eggs with cash! Way to up the intensity of the same old egg hunt! Thanks again to our friends for making us feel like family on the holidays. We'll never be able to find the words to tell you how much it means to us. 

*For anyone at our wedding, Mandy made the mini Whoopie Pies that disappeared in seconds after the dessert table opened. 
** Shout out to Sam's sister Stephanie!
***I also had the pleasure to finally meet Kari and Stewart, of Kari is Mandy's younger sister as well as a fellow blogger. Check out their blog soon - they'll be moving from Texas to India later this month!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Good Friday in Louisiana

My apologies for the lack of posts over the last week. I aim to post at least every other day but I also do not have a smart phone, iPad or laptop so when we travel - I don't post. And yes! That means we've been traveling! We left Atlanta at 4pm on Thursday and jumped on the road for the annual Boudreaux Family Good Friday Reunion in Reserve, Louisiana. 

Boudreaux is a BIG, very common, last name in that part of the country so I should specify that this particular reunion is for Oliver's grandfather's 12 siblings and their countless descendants. ("Pops", Oliver's grandfather, and his wife, Aimee', have 7 children - multiply that by Pops' 12 siblings and you get an idea of how many people we're talking about). 

I consider myself "East Coast" and not particularly "Southern". (This surprises some people because I was born in, raised in and after college returned to - Atlanta. I know my parents consider me "Mid-Western" and my college friends see me as "Southern"... but once I leave Atlanta all surrounding culture is quite foreign.)  My husband's home state of Louisiana is VERY SOUTHERN (read: foreign). I am still fascinated by everything I've married into - including, but not limited to: THE FOOD! I'll let the reunion food photos speak for themselves with promises to return to normal posting ASAP. (After a quick Easter update tomorrow). Things to note: the crawfish in the galvanized steel tub are alive (as are the ones in the nearby purple mesh bag), both casseroles have shrimp and the freshly shucked oysters were huge and delicious. 

Sadly, the rest of our quick trip was taken up with repairs on our rental properties so we weren't able to see the other side of Oliver's family. Our apologies to the Rivets with a promise to see them all next time! So sorry we missed you!