Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Foodie Tots in the Garden: Planning & Planting

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Our first year kitchen garden experiment didn’t yield a whole lot in terms of edibles, but the pride in the four-year-old’s face as he told people (family, neighbors, total strangers in the garden store…) about his garden made it all worthwhile. He may not have liked the sungold cherry tomatoes, but he loved to pick them whenever we had company and pass them around.

This year we’ve got a head start with strawberries already flowering! A rhubarb plant I was sure I had killed — let’s just say it never quite made it out of its plastic pot on the deck last summer… — grew back this spring and is more than ready for a permanent home. I tasked the boy with choosing his four plants for this year, and here’s what he drew:

foodie tots kitchen garden

In case you’re wondering, that’s a hot dog plant between the sunflowers and strawberries. The fourth plant is peas.

We’ll plant the sunflowers elsewhere around the yard, and together we’ve come up with the following list for our garden bed:

  • strawberries
  • multi-colored carrots
  • peas (a warm-weather variety this year)
  • French breakfast radishes (my choice)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • basil
  • peppers

I have a pot on the deck to replant with mint and rosemary, plus my window sill box for the rest of our herbs. I’d also like to put a few berry plants in but we’re still figuring out what to do about our rolling hillside gently-sloping backyard. Also, I’m pretty sure we have a resident groundhog (??) about, as something got through my bunny fence last fall and made of with the carrots while we were out of town.

Have you planted seeds yet this spring? What are you growing? (And don’t forget, there’s just about 24 hours left to enter to win your own copy of The Whole Family Cookbook.)

At Market: Chilled Asparagus Pea Soup

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

What comes after asparagus and strawberries? Fresh peas! I bought both English peas (for shelling) and sugar snap peas this past weekend at the Falls Church Farmers Market. The English peas joined some Black Rock Orchard asparagus in a cold soup for a hot and steamy evening.

While the boy’s favorite vegetable is actually peas, he generally prefers them frozen. And though I couldn’t coax him into helping me shell, he did snatch a handful of fresh shelled peas out of my bowl. (He even tried a sugar snap pea with its pod last night, rather than slurping out the peas as though it was edamame in his usual manner.)

Recipe: Chilled Asparagus Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas (or frozen if that’s all you have)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 leaves fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup half and half (or cream)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Warm olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus, a pinch of salt and pepper, and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Add peas and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Asparagus should be just tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Add mint (torn into small pieces).  Process in small batches in a blender until smooth. Stir in half and half.  Pour into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. (You can also accelerate the cooling by setting the bowl into a larger bowl with ice and water.) Garnish with additional mint leaves. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Note: Make this with vegetable broth for Meatless Monday.

(Sorta Meatless Monday) Coconut Basil Shrimp Stir-Fry

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I’m not sure if there’s an official rule about seafood on Meatless Monday, but I’ve generally avoided it thus far. Since part of the purpose of Meatless Monday is to raise awareness of the environmental impact of our food choices, I figured I’d make an exception for a farewell to Gulf shrimp. This dinner was loosely inspired by Aimee’s coconut rice, in that I had the two ingredients on the mind. The snap peas came from the farmers market, and were just as crisp and sweet as they look. And the basil was the first harvest from my freshly-potted herb planter.

Recipe: Coconut Basil Shrimp Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild Gulf shrimp
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups snap peas
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Toast coconut in cast iron skillet over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Warm olive oil in skillet and cook garlic until soft and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook until pink and cooked through. Add soy sauce, snap peas and coconut and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle basil over top. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

The FoodieTots family participates in Meatless Mondays, cutting out meat one day a week for our health and for the environment. (When we do eat meat, we choose local and grassfed whenever possible.) Visit the Meatless Monday pledge page to learn more, and sign up for weekly tips and recipes you can use to go meatless, too!

Asparagus with Eggs (Meatless Monday)

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I don’t know how much of it can be attributed to the fact that asparagus is the first fresh new vegetable of the spring, but my love affair with these crisp stalks grows each year. This is my favorite way to enjoy them, and works as the ultimate market-fresh, fast-food meal whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Getting my son to embrace asparagus with the same enthusiasm has been more difficult. One day last spring, after I’d all but given up, he snatched one off my plate declaring, “Ooh, a giant string bean!” — and then proceeded to devour the rest of my serving! Since then it’s still been hit or miss, and I’ll switch between calling them asparagus or “super string beans” just in case the terminology makes a difference. I keep making them the same way I made them that time, though — pan-roasted with butter rather than oven-roasted with olive oil. I think the butter gives a sweeter carmelization, and I prefer it even if he doesn’t always appreciate them.

While I prefer them with poached eggs, the runny yolks serving double-duty as dressing, you can certainly try it with your kid’s favorite style of eggs. Mine is obsessed with hard boiled, lately.

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, poached
  • grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • fresh chives, finely sliced (optional)

Instructions: Heat a large skillet (I prefer my cast iron) over medium high heat. Melt the butter, then add asparagus and cook, turning just once or twice, until stalks begin to brown in spots, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm while you poach the eggs. Divide asparagus and arrange on dinner plates. Gently place one poached egg on each plate, on top of the asparagus, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve with French bread or whole wheat toast. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Toddler-friendly tip: You can trim the asparagus into shorter pieces and encourage your little one to dip them into the yolk.

Welcome to the FoodieTots Kitchen Garden

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

As we traveled down the path of eating more locally, it was hard to escape the feeling that maybe we should try growing some of our own food, too. Because we weren’t planning to stay in our current house as long as we have, I never broke ground for a garden and just made do with an herb pot last summer. We closed on our new house on Friday, though – perfectly timed with the last frost date for our area. So what did we do Saturday? Put in our starter garden bed. (Normal people might pack or move first, but I was afraid it would be too late by the time we got settled in.)

In the past I’ve had a small blueberry bush and a very prolific raspberry patch, so I know I *can* grow something. As we’re expecting baby #2 in just two more months, I tried to start small. We (namely the husband) made a 4’x6’ bed, with 10” wide planks. The bottom is lined with cardboard, and then filled with 6 bags of organic soil and 1 bag of organic compost (the compost was unintentional, I wasn’t paying attention when the garden center employees loaded the car).

I set aside an end row for the boy, and let him pick his crops. Aside from the requested “cheeseburger plant,” we were able to plant the rest of his wishlist: carrots (orange & purple), broccoli, strawberries, and a pumpkin. My rows contain more of the carrots, French radishes, beets, and a low-growing pea, with an open space for cherry tomatoes and peppers to come later. (Why are we gardening? When I showed him my pea seeds, the boy said, “But peas don’t grow on plants! They come from the store!” The husband asked where the store gets them from, and he said, “New York!”)

Of course, I’ve already made a couple rookie mistakes: namely, trying to buy garden supplies on the first day of planting season – and a gorgeous, sunny, mid-60s day to boot. We wound up with fir planks rather than the cedar I wanted – I’d read that cedar is a natural pest deterrent. I can only assume it’s my punishment for going to Home Depot rather than an independent lumber dealer … the characteristically helpful service from Home Depot (note sarcasm) prompted me to proclaim on Facebook that I wanted to take on a new challenge: a year without Home Depot. We did go to an independent garden center for the rest of the supplies (organic soil, seeds, a window box for herbs, and the strawberry plants) – and we have at least two independent hardware stores near the new house which we will be checking out soon. The broccoli and beet seedlings came from our new neighborhood’s farmers market. Between the cost of the wood, organic soil ($14/bag) and those pricey strawberry plants ($3.99/each), I’m not sure we’ll break even on our garden this year. But it’s a learning experience, right?

At any rate, here’s week one of the FoodieTots Kitchen Garden:

See more photos of the construction at Flickr. And stay tuned for progress reports throughout the season.

Do you have a kitchen garden? What are you growing?

This post is part of GrowCookEat at goodlifeeats.com ~ visit the roundup to learn more about kitchen gardening.