Monday, October 24, 2011

Just some quick food for thought!

Please check out this link! It is an inspiring article....
http://organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/no-lawn-just-food

Here is an amazing article that I came across today. Essentially a landscaper is hired to tear out your front lawn and landscape a full garden. He mentions how wasteful it is to have a front lawn that is never even used. My house has a lovely front yard that my children spend a lot of time in. I can relate to this idea though. I think there are many people who don't use their front yards. This is a great way to influence your neighborhood in a positive way.

How spectacular would it be to walk out to your front yard and pick some fresh veggies for dinner??? This is just a quick commentary on how fantastic I thought this idea was. It really got my brain thinking differently about landscaping in general. What a lovely thought.

xxoo,
Ursula

p.s. Please leave any comments you may have. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall-ing for the cool food

I was searching for Fall recipes today. I have come across so many amazing apple recipes. I was drooling thumbing through recipes of apple tarts, candied apples and caramel filled chocolate cupcakes. I am not savvy yet in the desert or breakfast department. I have solely been focused on cooking good dinner food. There is something to be said for a decadent desert. I for one do not eat a lot of sugar. I try to avoid it.  However my lovely home beckons me to bake. It is so comfy and homey. I also feel the need to make memories for my children that focus around being in the kitchen and enjoying baking.

Here are a few yummies from the family kitchen......
http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/07/07/caramel-filled-chocolate-cupcakes-with-chocolate-buttercream/

http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/10/14/9-delicious-ideas-for-caramel-apples/?pid=4679#slideshow


I remember making cookies with my mom at a very young age. My memories are so special and very vivid in my mind. I remember stirring the batter, putting in the peanut butter or chocolate chips.  I remember licking the spoon. It was delightful to hang out with my mom in the kitchen.  I can only hope to leave these impressionable memories with my children. So I need to get crackin. There is one thing I need to do before I invite them into the mix.

I really need to get comfortable baking.....

Therefore I am starting to collect some recipes that I want to make with them this fall. I will print them out for my farmers market trip this weekend and start anticipating the fun. My sister and I are planning a day of baking with our children. I simply cannot wait! Searching for great fall recipes is quite fun!!

 The kitchen and the table are a wonderful place to bond with family and friends. There is no technology to distract from having heart to hearts, sharing stories and  making memories.  My dinning room is really quite lovely. It feels like a  little European cafe. It does need some lace curtains though.   

My first fall desert is a pie that my husband picked out for me to make for his birthday. I was so nervous. I have NEVER made a pie before. The experience was as exciting as it was daunting. He got a cool cookbook focused around bbq'ing for his birthday. In this book was a recipe called, Reminiscent of Big Bob Gibson's Peanut Butter Pie from Peace love and Barbecue.  I looked at the recipe that my husband handed me for his birthday treat with terror in my eyes.  All I could think about was that I may mess it up terribly. To top it off he wanted me to make two pies....ah crap, I was scared!!!! 


I got in the kitchen, put some music on and got to work. I really thought it would be a dense pie with peanut butter in the ingredients.  It turns out it had a custard base and ended up tasting quite light but just dense enough for Fall weather.  We didn't get to try it on his birthday because the custard needed to set up in the fridge. However we had it the following day as an afternoon treat. I gave my husband and son the first slices. I stood waiting with anticipation to see if it turned out OK.  My heart was beating so incredibly fast!!! Then there was the yum, yum, yummy mommy moment I was waiting for.
And this is why I love to cook for my family. A touch of adventure, lots of love, a dash of talent and a bit of skill(knowledge) equals a fab finish. Bravo....happy baking for Fall all........

Here are a few more recipe links from babble...

http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/cakes-and-baking/candy-bar-recipes-desserts/?page=13
http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/cakes-and-baking/candy-bar-recipes-desserts/?page=2

Monday, September 26, 2011

why food...why the plate

Food is a necessity. It is luxurious  and it has so many sides or personalities if you will. It comes from all sorts of places in the world. Some dishes are spicy, delicate, pungent, bright, dull, comforting, or fresh. There is what is called poor mans food, then there is the rich mans food. It is a fascinating topic to all. Unless you diet. Dieting is not my thing. I read a book that inspired me so much. The book was French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireielle Guiliano. It took me to a new place in my life at a time when I needed direction to help me achieve my weight loss goals and cooking goals. My husband worked in the restaurant industry for many years. His pallate is quite finicky and we both enjoy really bold flavors. I needed to find a happy medium that I could be content with to feed him, myself and our two children. I am a stay at home mother, so there is no excuse for me to not make fantastic food. I did not learn much about cooking from my mother. She is a great cook, but I was too busy when I was home to learn. Now her and I share new recipes as a ritual.

So reading this book inspired me at a time that I felt really lost. I was trying to loose my baby weight and wanted so badly to be a fabulous cook. I decided to use my new found inspiration to obsess over
French cuisine. I started cooking any new kind of recipe I could get my hands on. I learned new techniques and found myself buying a Dutch oven, food processor, etc. I set out to not only cook new food but lost my fears of trying new recipes that sounded intimidating. I am very adventurous so I began to be adventurous in my kitchen. There is nothing I would not try. I wanted my dinner table to be exciting every night. Eating out gets really expensive. This was a way to expose my children to all sorts of new food as well. I set the mood by turning on some relaxing music and pouring a glass of wine. Then I just allow myself  to enjoy the stirring, searing, boiling...chopping etc. It is a symphony in my kitchen. I put all my love into whatever I am making, taking my time and it always turns out so yummy.

My husband has taught me so much about cooking. I am thankful for his experience. He still is always teaching me new technique. I feel blessed to know that I won't ever get in a rut with food and that life is too short to have a rotation of the same old dishes. Snore....

The other big tip that I learned from Mireielle is you can enjoy food as long as you cut back other times of the day when you want to splurge. Exercising everyday even if it is a 20 min walk is so important. I love to cycle. I have a beautiful bike path along the creek by my house. I really embraced her philosophy towards food because it is very practical and can be applied without being a gym junkie and resorting to plastic food. I am not that kinda woman. I like to live and as they say, "eat, drink, and be merry," life is too short to punish myself. I love to love, to enjoy life, to play. Especially play....

I wanted to share how I became a foodie because the plate part of my blog is about to set fire...get ready for some dirt and plate journey baby...

http://mireilleguiliano.com/section/sub/14
http://frenchwomendontgetfat.com/content/mireilles-musings-fall-cooking-and-french-women-don%E2%80%99t-get-fat-cookbook
yummy bubbly goodness

Monday, September 5, 2011

Planting morning glory vines for my lattice patio....

My backyard is very beautiful. The only problem is that my patio is just a lattice covering. I have always wanted a vine covered patio. My favorite vine is morning glory. It can cover a lattice patio with a rich green vine and little purple flowers. I think shade with plants is more comforting however it won't keep out the rain. So it's a good thing I have a covered front porch.  Above is a picture of the potential this plant has to climb.
(morning glory photo retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MorningGlory.JPG)

Now that my seedlings have sprouted I am very curious how long it will take before they start creeping and crawling up the sides of my porch. I planted them right at the base of my porch on the two front corners. They should be coming along strong in no time at all.




This patio has a lot of potential. I would like it to eventually have a lot of planters and  Moroccan lanterns. I  already have the Moroccan lanterns. I still need to put them up. I have had a hard time making it inviting because of the lack of shade. That will be a long time coming but it at least is in the making. I want it to have a festive feel conjuring up feelings of relaxation and refreshment right when you walk out to the patio from the house. It should be a place where you can have a cocktail, read a book, or just rest with a cup of joe. So keep your fingers crossed that my inspiration will continue. These are the before pictures. I will keep you posted on the progress. ;)

Pickin the produce....

My local farmers markets are my go to place for produce. We used to live 10 minuets from downtown Sacramento. It felt adventurous and interesting to be so close to all the hustle and bustle and not live right in the middle of it. One of my favorite things about living there was the X and Y farmers market. During the summer it expands almost double in size. It goes until 12 o'clock on Sundays. So on Sundays I made it part of my morning ritual. I got to go back to this market last Sunday because we were on that side of town. It gets very crowded and the prices get better the closer it gets to 12. The parking is free and the produce is absolutely beautiful. I did score some pretty incredible deals. The best deal I got was a large grocery bag of bright red juicy beefsteak tomatoes for 5 dollars. This does not happen often!

It is so important to support your local farms. Not only is it more fun to be outdoors but you are supporting your local community and can look for the best deals possible. I like to look for pre-bagged  and bundled deals. You can think you have found the right price but if you wait five minuets you may find a better one. I believe in cruising the whole thing first and going back to the hot spots.

The piles of eggplants were so glossy and gorgeous. The onions were also looking quite lovely. I always feel like a kid on a treasure hunt looking for the best deals.There is always a variety to choose from for quality and beauty. I always smell my tomatoes and melons to see if they have that ripe delicious aroma.



I was crazy and decided I would make Anthony Bourdain's homemade spaghetti recipe with all the tomatoes I scored. I thought it would only take an hour or so to make it. Sure enough four hours later, my labor of love was born.  Next time I think I will stick to plum tomatoes. The beefsteak tomatoes are just too huge.

Green beans are one of my family's favorite vegetables. I love to saute a little bit of bacon and add blue cheese to my roasted green beans. It is amazing how food can be cooked so simply if it is quality produce. Zucchini and cherry tomatoes are great to dip into homemade hummus. These are some refreshing fresh produce snacks I love to eat in the summer.

I made a fabulous grilled veggie burger called "The Girl Burger" that I found on the Food Network recipe website, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aida-mollenkamp/the-girl-burger-recipe/index.html. I used Giada's pesto recipe with fresh basil from my garden. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/grilled-vegetable-panini-recipe/index.html All the veggies were so tasty. This was a fantastic way to use all the produce I picked up. My son wasn't interested in it at first, however after finishing half of a burger he was sold and asked for more. I did also add one piece of bacon per burger, per request of my husband. I figured if they were all willing to eat a burger stuffed with grilled veggies piled high to the sky, the least I could do was add a piece of bacon. ;)




Monday, August 22, 2011

Wilflowers sprouting to my delight and pleasure....


I am not quite sure if seeing seeds sprout will ever be a dull experience. I can't even describe how exciting it is to see the little sprouts come up. It seems to wet my anticipation for what is to come of these sprouts. Being that there are some specific flowers, others are part of dwarf mixture, (picture on the seed packet is in a previous post). I have learned that these may not flower until the following season(insert very long sad face here). However, the benefits of planting them far exceed the length of time to wait for them. Not only are they so beautiful and, well, wild looking, which I very much prefer, but they are excellent bee feed and ground cover.

Note:"Wildflowers are naturalized plants or native wildflowers that are not invasive or aggressive to the natural order of plants in a given area. Each wild flower species has developed over time to genetically become disease and insect resistant to that particular area, soil conditions, climate and other environmental factors. Some wildflowers should not be planted in new areas because of their aggressive growth which can take over native species and wipe them out. Every region has Eco systems within Eco systems and competition is regulated by the genetics within each separate system. It is always best to plant the NATIVE wildflower seed varieties that can be obtained for your region."   http://www.wildflowermix.com/

I have found that the textures of wildflowers are pleasing to view. There is a natural variety in the seed packets to enjoy visually. My daughter loves to pick flowers so this is another good reason to plant them because she will have so much fun picking out specific colors and varieties. I have decided that I may need to plant much more just to keep her occupied. It is difficult to tell a 2 year old that she can't pick the flowers because quite frankly I want to pick them too. So I can hardly blame her or get upset when she comes to hand them to me or tries to put them in my hair. I look forward to watching them grow. I am extreemly tickled about the visual journey to come.....

Friday, August 19, 2011

The plums are ripe for the pickin...

I researched plum season for California and found an interesting article. http://www.sacbee.com/2011/06/15/3700115/plum-crazy.html 
I learned that my plums should be ripe right about now. I went to check them today. They are definitely ready to be picked and jammed. So I have been making some calls to people that I know have experience and will be making jam this coming week. I am so very excited because this is something I have always wanted to learn. Learning something new is always extreemly invigorating. It is amazing how it gets the blood flowing and makes you feel like a little kid on the first day of school. I have butterflies and feel nervous to make jam from the plums on my tree. It sounds so silly out loud, but I can't help myself.



I did find a pectin free plum jam recipe on a site that I love. I found a great web and blog site,
http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/09/plum-jam-recipe-no-pectin-needed/
I am excited to be finding so many treasures along the way as I research different processes I am trying to learn. I also met a fantastic foodie last night that gave me a wonderful pulled pork recipe to try. His salsa site is Carrillosalsa.com. He said his Aztec Chipotle salsa can be found at Corti Bros. downtown and makes a mean pork roast turn delicious. http://www.cortibros.biz/'
 You'd be glad to know that his salsa is all natural with no sugar. (I always love that) I also am a huge supporter of buying local products and produce.



Research is such fun!! So I will keep ya'll posted on my jamming adventure.









BTW my wildflower seeds are sprouting...more on that later...just about fell over when I saw those little sprouts this morning. I am amazed at what tickles my fancy.
xoxoxo Ursula Here are some pictures from my plum jam canning project!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bringing the wildness and pretty to my yard...





My front yard is quite lovely. My daughter drags my booty out in the morning with her blanket and baby doll to lounge under the trees with morning toast and fruit. She adores it as much as I do. (my heart smiles) It needs some flowers though. Some wildness and pretty. I picked out some wildflower packets and thought I would sew my first. Everything I am doing right now in this yard is all new.....new...new. It feels good to come out of my comfort zone. To try, even though I don't know how it will all work out. But, why not? So I thought I would share some before and after photos of my yard. Let us see how wild these flowers really are. Hmmmmm...maybe I am more wild than they are? Let the pictures decide...so here are some before pics...to be continued..........dun dun dun

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My first sprouted seedlings





Today was an amazing day for my gardening journey. Gardening is not the easiest thing to take on. A lot of research, trial and error, as well as patience are required. This morning I went out to water my planter beds, seedlings, and herbs(part of my morning ritual).I had to take a second glance at my seedlings because I noticed that instead of just dirt in the pots there were little sprouts(cantaloupe and watermelon seeds). I almost cried with overwhelming excitement. For those of you who have done this before or are avid gardeners, you must think I am ridiculous. There is a little interesting story behind these seeds....

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start saving my seeds from from my produce. I figured it would save my wallet a few dollars. Most seed packets are about a dollar or two. Since I go to the farmers market every weekend and get fresh produce, it seemed like a frugal and wise idea. I researched and learned how to dry them out and save them for planting in an article by Kylee Baumble called, "Saving your seeds". (Greenlandgardener.com)I planted half of them in little pots and stored the rest. I wasn't very confident they would germinate! But holy freckin heck...by golly they did!!!! I had to share this part of my journey, "from dirt to plate".  It is exciting just getting started. I feel like this journey is going to have so many amazing benefits and surprises along the way.

It is one thing to just cook whatever you come across. However cooking fresh produce that you personally toiled over to bring into your kitchen is a whole other idea. This goal for me and my family has integrity and inspiration wrapped around it. I am also looking forward to having everything right off the vine. WOWZER....wish my soil luck!