Monday, July 7, 2008

Harvesting -

It's time for the annual joint harvesting of the golden yarrow and the lavender -

-Baskets of the stuff is cut and trimmed and hung on the wall - for future tea, sachets, shortbread, tub-teas, etc... This is the biggest harvest of the season, with a smaller one or two later on. For several days the house smells of lavender (much to my kid's dismay).

Still picking strawberries and loads of borage and chamomile.

And today - the first bowl of raspberries of the season.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Strawberry Decadence -

How many ways can one enjoy the strawberries you picked this morning? This is my favorite way this week -

Toast two slices of Apple Strudel Bread (purchased at the local Yakima Fruit Market) and butter.

Slice the larger berries and scatter on top.

Take the smaller berries and the very ripe ones and mash with a fork and spoon on top.

Drizzle the entire thing with sweet balsamic vinaigrette*.

Yum! Strawberry shortcake, eat your heart out.

*Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

3/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Whisk or shake until the sugar dissolves.
My favorite dressing to use on fruit and green salads (try with Romain lettuce, strawberries, mangoes and onion)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer is finally here

Looks like summer has finally come to the Pacific Northwest, and with it, our local produce choices seem to increase almost daily. Over the past couple of week I've gone to the Lake Forest Park Farmers' Market on Sunday afternoons, and it's just getting bigger and bigger.

A couple of weeks ago the big thing was peas, a big spring crop in the Northwest. For the first time in my life, I bought English peas and shucked them so I could make a lovely braised pea and mushroom dish. Served it alongside Salmon caught just two days before I bought it from the Washington fisherman and his family at the same market.

And finally, fruit! Cherries are big right now. I bought a pound of those, and a pound of apriums (apricot + plum) this past weekend. Delicious! Definitely going back for more.

This week the big deal is local strawberries. They had been delayed by our freakishly cold spring, but they finally made it. Over at Yakima Fruit Market, they sold out within hours the first day they got them in. We have been waiting for these luscious beauties. Today, my own balcony strawberry pot yielded the above tiny bowlful of the sweetest strawberries I have ever tasted. And there's lots more fruit waiting to ripen. Not bad for a container garden.

Tomorrow is the Strawberry Festival at the market. Can't wait!

I think I'm going to have to make jam this year…

…if I can stop eating them. :)

Chickens - at home!

Now that I'm home for a bit, I was finally able to go retrieve my chickens from their fostering place a couple of nights ago (thanks again Suzy!!!)

These chicks had never been in a coop before - so it has necessitated physically putting them in and locking the door at night for a few nights until they get used to it. Here they are rather dubiously examining their new abode.

Also, never really having been in a 'yard' before, they were quite cautious about leaving the coop for the first time and coming out to explore (they've totally gotten over that already).

The yard has branches and stumps to roost on. Lots of dirt to scratch in (I'm beginning to wonder if they're going to dig holes big enough to go under the enclosure fencing), their food, water, and 'treats' from the garden and the kitchen.

My other animals are absolutely entranced. Jack, the black lab, keeps running around the coop - tail waving and barking his 'playplayplay' bark. Mia, on the other hand, can hardly keep from stealth-attack mode (undeterred as she is by the chicken wire separating them. I think she's going to have chicken wire shaped bruises on her head if she keeps this up).

All in all, they seem happy and content with their lot. We're working on naming them now that we can watch their personalities. They're young enough (2 months old) that they still 'peep' instead of cluck, and they don't have all of their adult plumage yet, so there is more growing to do.

I suspect Mia thinks they should be called McNugget. :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Early summer berries -

Picked my first bowl of strawberries of the season today -

It's always interesting, after spending a bit of time away, to see what has happened in your yard without you there watching.... Some things didn't get watered as much as I would have wished. The weeds grew regardless. Some things are finally sprouted and look like they are growing nicely. Some things never did come up...

Spent a bit of time outside doing some basic clean-up. Got the lawn mowed, the gardens and pots watered, some weeds pulled, some lanky vines tied to their posts - and a few things harvested....

Fresh-picked strawberries for dessert tonight...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finally, the Sun!

various lettuces I planted back in May before the sun went into hiding again

Reading over Tara's recent posts, I've realized a few things. First off, I'm so jealous of her yard! Her wonderful garden and her beautiful chickens! How can an apartment dweller like myself compete?! Following on that thought I remember that was my purpose in starting this blog - sharing how I do go about trying to lead a more locavore lifestyle, even without a yard, and within a budget. So often I see people saying they can't follow a locavore diet and/or eat organic food because it's too expensive, and I want to show that healthy eating can indeed be done on a budget.

And lastly, I really need to post more often.

Well, the sun has finally made an appearance here in the Seattle area, and it's making me feel all sorts of rejuvenated, and I feel a renewed commitment to keeping up with this blog. In the near future look for posts on my little container garden, the farmers' markets I've been attending, books I've been reading, recipes I've been trying…

Talk to you soon!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Teen-age chickens -

Got to visit my chickens one last time tonight before my Big Adventure. They'll come 'home' to their nearly finished coop (it just needs painted) after my return.

Here is my 'dark blue-lace Wyandotte' - which is apparently no such thing! Looks an awful lot like a barred rock to me... (I did find reference to a blue-barred Wyandotte online.... Maybe it's that?)

The auracana - with just a hint of the 'ear muffs' beginning..

And the other 'blue-lace' - ha! She is now barely dusted with grey, with a small sprinkling of dark speckles... No sign of lacing in sight. I'm not impressed with labeling of chicken-breeds-as-chicks at the store where I bought them...

We'll see if they morph into anything else as they continue to mature...

My friend who is hosting these for me has a number of lovely chickens, including a flock of tiny, rare suramas. Here is the handsome little rooster. Don't you love the shape of this guy? The large, upright tail which begins nearly at the base of his neck....

No roosters for me!