Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fattoush Salad

If you are a salad lover, tell me you  can't love this salad?  This is from Insalata's Mediterranean Table Cookbook by Heidi Insalata Krahling.  OMG.. The dressing is really great. 
the vinaigrette::: 1/3 C blended oil(Which she believes is a 3 to 1 mix of canola oil to olive oil )
1tsp minced garlic
1/4 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 C EVOO
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
To make the vinaigrette: In a small skillet, over low heat, gently warm the blended  oil and garlic until fragrant.  (This is an extra step but well worth it if you have time ) In a medium bowl , whisk together the oil and garlic mixture, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cumin and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.
The salad:
In a large bowl, combine: 3 hearts of romaine, torn roughly by hand ( about 6 cups )
3/4 C crumbled sheep's milk feta cheese
3/4 C vine ripened cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 C peeled, seeded and diced english cucumber
1/3 C pitted kalamata olives
1/3 C finely chopped cilantro
1/3 C finely chopped mint
Serves 6 as a side dish or 3 as a light lunch
She also serves this with toasted  pita breads that are crumbled and underneath the salad.,Personally I don't see a need for that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

More about Butterflies

  From the egg that is laid on a Host plant's leaf to the day a butterfly emerges, the insect goes through 4 stages and takes approximately 28 days.  The egg sits for 5-7 days, then the tiny caterpillar emerges and eats almost non-stop for 10 days.  It wraps itself in a chrysalis where it grows and morphs into a butterfly anywhere from 10-14 days later.  There are 150,000 kinds of butterflies and they and their caterpillars come in all sorts of colors and sizes.  Butterflies have a head, thorax, abdomen, six legs and 2 antennae.  Most have four wings.  The wings of a butterfly are covered with tiny scales, that seem to shimmer in the sunlight. When a butterfly is at rest their wings are closed.  The view of a butterfly from the front is usually much different than the view from the back.
     The Painted Lady Butterfly is found throughout North America.  The adults will eat from any nectar filled plant, but as caterpillars, they love lupines and sunflowers.  Add a mud puddle to your garden in order for the butterflies to get all the nutrients they need, nectar alone isn't sufficient.  Simply fill a saucer with a mix of one half composted manure and one half sand.  Then pour water over it and top it with an overripe banana.  It may sound gross to you but the butterflies will love it. 
     Don't forget to put a large warming rock near their water supply, so their cold blooded bodies will have a place in the sun to perch and warm up.
     The odds are that if you plant a butterfly garden, you'll attract hummingbirds too.  If you really want to draw in the birds, plant tube or trumpet shaped flowers like crocosmia, honeysuckle or hyssop.  These flowers are perfectly shaped for hummingbirds to sip from.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Butterfly Gardening

I went to a Butterfly Gardening class at Majestic View Nature Center a few nights ago. Now that it's the middle of February, much of my time is spent thinking about my yard-thinking and planning. Oh yes, and surveying...everyday, I must check to see how much further out of the ground the bulbs have grown since the day before; yes... I'm a little obsessive.
This picture is of a Two Tailed Swallowtail drinking nectar from Lantana plants that were in window boxes just under the kitchen window.  The picture was taken in July.  This particular species frequents the Colorado Front Range from May through August.  According to the Colorado Front Range Butterflies Web Site, it is the second largest, exceeded only by the rare(for this area) Giant Swallowtail. They grow between 4-5".
Unfortunately,  butterflies have a short life span, at the most it's two months.  However, there is one particular species, that travels from Canada to Mexico, and is an exception to this rule. 
At the class I was given a sheet listing the best Butterfly garden plants, and was very happy to see that I have 32 of the 43 plants on their list.
A fun fact I learned..Lantana actually announces if it's nectar has been drunk or not by changing it's flower color.  A kind gesture on nature's part I think, which the insects must surely appreciate.  In case you didn't know, butterflies are insects.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Meyer Lemons

My Meyer Lemon Tree, ta da.!!!!  Last year I got 3 lemons off of it. My outdoor growing season is so short, especially for fruit trees. When I brought my citrus trees in the house in October, the lemon tree had 9 small lemons on it, but  I didn't know if they would have enough sunlight to ripen.  WELL..they did!!! All 9 are doing well on the tree, you can only see 8 in the picture.  I'll be picking the lower ones in the next day or so.  Meyer lemons are sweeter than regular lemons, but it's still a lemon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Darby in her bed

My sweetheart Darby, a Catahoula Leopard , is not happy that we have so much snow in the back yard.  Our outdoor temperatures are below freezing.  She would much rather stay inside curled up in one of her 4 beds that are scattered throughout the house.  You can only imagine why some of our friends say they want to come back in their next life as one of our pets.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Soda Oat Bread

Dinner tonight:  Roasted Vegetables, yum.  Sweet Potatoes, butternut squash, sweet onions and green beans.  Tossed those with Olive oil, ground cumin, garlic, pepper and a dash of salt.  Roasted the orange veggies on 400, for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Then added the sweet onions and green beans for another 20 minutes, stirring half way, and drizzling  balsamic vinegar in with the last stir.  Broiled shrimp also, but ate those so quickly, no time for a picture.Also
This is my favorite Soda Oat Bread, from the RunnawaySpoon blog site.  It's quick and easy to make. You  process your own organic oats to make oat flour, in addition to regular flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.  Add two Tbl of seed on top and bake.  Good and wholesome.
Already slicing it up.  Here is the recipe:
butter, to grease pan
2 cups / 7 oz rolled oats
10 ounces / 285 g / ~2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 3/4 cups / 415 ml buttermilk, plus more if needed, and 2T. for brushing
mixed seeds - sesame, caraway, poppy, etc.
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 205°C with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan (or one with ~8 cup capacity) with parchment paper and set aside. Alternately, you can bake this bread without a pan, shaped like this, on a lightly floured baking sheet.
To make the oat flour, use a food processor to pulse the rolled oats a few times. Then process into a fine powder - another minute or two. If you are buying oat flour, not making your own, measure out 7 oz / scant 2 cups.
Sift the flours, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Stir just until everything comes together into a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead for 30 seconds or so, just long enough for the dough to come together into a cohesive, slightly flattened ball without many cracks or fissures. If your dough is on the dry side, add more buttermilk a small splash at a time. Now ease the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan - see photo if you need a bit of guidance.
Brush all over the top and sides with buttermilk and sprinkle generously with mixed seeds or flour, 2 tablespoons or so. Slice a few deep slashes across the top of the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes, then quickly (without letting all the hot air out of the oven), move the rack and the bread up a level, so the top of the bread gets nice and toasted. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until a hard crust forms and the bread is baked through. It will feel very solid and sound hollow when you knock on it. Carefully lift it out of the pan, in a timely fashion, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with a good slathering of salted butter.
Makes one loaf.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

SuperBowl Sunday

The weather report last night was that we would get a light snow fall, maybe an inch..This picture is walking out onto the deck at 6:30am, as you can see, it's closer to 6-8".
Here's one of the bird feeders we keep  well stocked this time of year.
Looking even further into the backyard, it is beautiful.

This is the arbor entrance for my vegetable garden.

These last two pictures where taken while standing in the same place.  The snow covered one was from this morning.  Below, the winding path  that takes you back to the hammock was last July.  It makes me smile and reminds me to recognize the beauty in these snowy days, because they won't last, their days are numbered.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Last summer I fell in love with the little Mexican Husked Tomato's called Tomatillo.  Even if they didn't produce any tomato's I just adored the way the plant grew.  Their little papery husks covered the greenish-yellow fruits and split open when the tomatoes were ripe for the picking.  Well, I just discovered that there are Pineapple Tomatillo's also.  Of course I had to buy the seeds. These should be great for making fruit salsas. Another bonus, Lake Valley Seed is a local company out of Boulder.  The days are getting longer, and spring is getting closer.  Soon I'll be planting.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Ground Hog Day

We are having sub zero temperatures this week.  Yesterday's high in Denver was -3.  Not a typo, 3 below 0.  Low for the night  was -32.  BUT on  Friday we are going to be reaching the low 40's.  yeah!   OK, it is winter, we get it  Spring is coming.
This morning at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa,  Phil the Groundhog, was raised from his burrow at sunrise.  It was reported that he looked around and did not see any shadows, therefore, we will have an early spring.