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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Garden Grows: Chapter 1

I love vegetables. I really really love them.

My parents made sure to constantly expose us to a variety of fresh vegetables when I was growing up, and I am forever grateful.

The problem? Good, fresh veggies are expensive, especially when you try to get local, organic ones. Dishes like this can really rack up quite a bill at the grocery store, which is a bummer. My solution? Plant a big garden and grow my own produce! That way I know where it comes from, what it’s been exposed to, and, most importantly, they’re way tastier and waaaaaaaay cheaper.

Last summer we had just moved into the house, and between new jobs and planning our wedding, I intelligently decided not to tackle a large garden. I did grow tomatoes and basil in pots, peppers in one of the front beds, and a bunch of herbs in our herb garden, but that’s it.

This summer, I’m tackling THIS bad boy:

The previous tenants had dug out this flower bed, and we cleared it out last fall. However, it is full of weeds, and I really don’t want to weed that much. Plus, even if I pulled out all of those weeds, who knows how many more are just waiting to come up. I really don’t want to spend my entire summer weeding, so here’s the solution:

Weed cloth! Hooray! Lay out this bad boy, cut to fit, and pin it down.

The next step will be covering this with mulch, then bye bye weeds. Can’t grow, can’t live. Boom.



Foodie Friday: Asian Noodle Salad

The great lunch experiment is going very well! This is now the second week in a row that I’ve made my lunches ahead of time, and I’ve only eaten out for lunch twice. Once was an unexpected half day at work, and once was to meet up with friends, so I don’t feel too bad.

After Josh saw how the first week went, he asked me to make double the amount of food for this week, so that he could take a lunch too. I did, and luckily he loved it (orzo, black beans, chickpeas, corn, and a cumin citrus vinaigrette. Yum). We realized that between the two of us, we’d save between $80-$100/week if we brought our lunch every day. Sheesh. Obviously, this needs to happen.

This next recipe is one of our favorites, and the perfect thing for lunches. What I’ll do is pack up individual salads, then give each of us a big jar of dressing to leave at work for the week so we can just add it each day before we eat. Nobody wants a soggy salad.

I’m just copying the recipe in its entirety here, but we definitely tweak this one depending on what we feel like/what’s on sale. I can’t wait til our garden (details soon!) is able to provide some of these ingredients, which will cut way down on cost. I also love to cook a little chicken in soy sauce and sesame oil, dice it up, and mix it in as well. I might also double the pasta to help this go further. Prep work for this does take a while, since it’s a LOT of chopping, but I’ll just crank up some music and get it knocked out on Sunday afternoon.

PW’s Asian Noodle Salad

  • 1 package Linguine Noodles, Cooked, Rinsed, And Cooled
  • 1/2 head Sliced Napa Cabbage, Or More To Taste
  • 1/2 head Sliced Purple Cabbage, Or More To Taste
  • 1/2 bag Baby Spinach, Or More To Taste
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
  • 1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 bag Bean Sprouts (also Called Mung Bean Sprouts)
  • Chopped Cilantro, Up To 1 Bunch, To Taste
  • 3 whole Scallions, Sliced
  • 3 whole Cucumbers Peeled And Sliced
  • 1 can (about 10 Oz.) Whole Cashews, Lightly Toasted In Skillet
  • _____
  • 1 whole Lime, Juiced
  • 8 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 8 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons (up To 3 Tablespoons) Sesame Oil
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger Chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 2 whole Hot Peppers Or Jalapenos, Chopped
  • Chopped Cilantro

Preparation Instructions

Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on a platter.

Note: dressing keeps for up to three days before serving, without cilantro.


Foodie Friday: Ramen Soup, sorta

When we first married I wasn’t much of a cook. I loved good food, I just didn’t know how to make it. It took a bit of education before I felt somewhat comfortable in the kitchen. One of the big influences in my cooking was Mark Bittman and his legendary book, How to Cook Everything. I became a huge Mark Bittman fan that first year or so. He had a great column in The New York Times called the Minimalist. Its great for people, who like me, enjoy good food, but don’t have or want to spend the time and energy. Its simple, delicious food.

I bookmarked this video and decided it would make a perfect Saturday lunch. You know when you have been cleaning the house all morning, but can’t bring yourself to eat any more of that casserole and just want something fresh and comforting? I’ve adapted it over the years and made it my own. My husband loves it. He mentioned it the other day asking why I haven’t made it for him in a long time.

Ramen, sort of (Allyn says its more noodle soup, I still call it ramen)

Noodles, I use ramen
Chicken broth or water
soy sauce
rice vinegar
chili paste or chiles
Optional: frozen veggies, fresh herbs, cooked meat, anything in your pantry

Bring 2 cups of chicken broth or water to a boil. Season with 1/4 cup of ketchup, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, a tablespoon or two of rice vinegar, and maybe some chili paste. I literally do not measure anything. I throw in whatever looks good from my pantry. Stir it up.

When the water is boiling add in your noodles. I always use a packet of ramen. Two if I’m feeding my husband.

Cook for about 2-3 minutes until the noodles are done. Ladle into a bowl and top with siracha or your seasoning of choice.

Occasionally I throw in a cup or so of frozen veggies if I want to feel healthy. You can’t mess this up. Be creative and make it your own.