Saturday, October 11, 2014

Garden progress and Bruschetta

So despite having no job and no car (I have inquired about both though), I have been up to a lot lately.  I planted my garden, made my own laundry detergent, got a new iPhone 6, cooked a few new dishes and even made up one of my own.

Peter has been busy beautifying the outside and has done hours of yard work.  Just tearing down stuff and bagging leaves and cutting hedges.  Everything looks really nice.  All of that below was overgrown with vines and leaves and you couldn't even tell that there was brick there.


I'm thinking about planting something in the corner, but I'm not sure what to put there because that area gets little to no sun.  I'll figure it out though.  I made my own laundry detergent out of Borax, Washing Soda, Baking Soda 2 bars of soap and essential oils from THIS "recipe" that I found on Pinterest.  When you do the math, it ends up costing only 2 cents a load of laundry.  The recipe makes a HUGE amount.  If I were to do this again, which I probably will, I would add more essential oil because my clothes come out clean, but they don't smell like anything.  I guess that's not a huge deal but I like it when my clothes smell good.


Also, I finally got around to filling in my raised garden bed.  I seriously think that using an old bookcase as a raised garden bed is the best idea ever.  It is perfect for the lazy or carpentry-challenged gardener! All you have to do is reinforce it if it's a little bit wobbly and you are good to go!  I feel like it my responsibility to inform everyone in the world about this so I'm going to pin this on Pinterest.  There isn't really a "how to", you just rip off the back and the shelves and put it on the ground.

You can see from the picture that I have kale, spinach, basil and tomatoes growing.  I bought all of those plants because I wanted something to take care of.  But what you can't see are the onions, garlic, arugula, carrots and green peas.

The carrots and green peas poked out of the soil today and I think I got more excited about that than I have about anything in a very long time.  Look at them! Aren't they cute?!
If I was to ever describe a plant as "adorable" this would be it 
Eeeee they're so cute and small
I put the tomato in the ground two days ago and it's already grown a pretty decent amount.  I am a proud plant-mother.

In other news, I came up with a recipe for bruschetta.  If anyone knew me in Naples, my favorite pizzeria that isn't Da Michele's or Di Matteo's is Panda Pizza.  It is a 2 minute walk from my house and I've been eating there for years.  The only thing that they do better than pizza (in my opinion) is bruschetta.  I compare every bruschetta that I have to Panda's bruschetta.  There are a few that come close, like Cerbero's or Old Friends and there are some that taste like garbage... I'm looking at you Fratelli la Bufala.

I always say that I'm going to try and come up with something similar, but I never actually have.  This is my attempt and it was pretty darn good.  It wasn't the same as Panda.  But let's be honest, nothing will be the same as Panda.  Their bruschetta has a zing to it, that I have determined to be white vinegar.  

Bruschetta alla Pomodoro 
A few tomatoes - diced (I used 5 plum tomatoes)
A loaf of crusty bread cut into slices about 1 inch thick
a bunch of fresh basil finely chopped(I used the plant from my garden... so fancy) 
1 clove of garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the tomatoes, vinegar, basil, about a table spoon of olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.  I know this isn't how you make traditional bruschetta but it's worth it! Trust me.

When you're ready to serve, toast the bread on both sides.  Rub the clove of garlic on the side that you will be putting the tomato mixture on, then drizzle with olive oil.  Spoon the tomatoes on and you're done!  I like to splash a little bit of balsamic vinegar on it.
very sharp and new knife!
Peter did this. So fancy.
I can't wait until I have my own tomatoes to make it with! I just applied for a job at World Market, which I hope comes through for me.  I can't wait to get my degree and maybe I apply for some higher level jobs.  One of my online classes ended today, I'm pretty sure I got an A.  One ends in a month, but I start two more in two weeks! That two weeks of overlapping classes is going to be rough but I'm sure I can deal.

Ciao ciao
xo Katelyn






Sunday, October 5, 2014

Balsamic Tofu Burgers and Gardening

I feel like it's finally fall here in Penacola.  The air has a coolness to it, and it isn't so humid that every inhale feels like you're drinking a glass of water.  I have a recipe for this week!  Most days, I just make up meals but I never take pictures or write down the ingredients, so I can't post about it.

It's been so long since I posted something that I actually made up, so I figured I should be proactive and document my cooking experience.  I made my own veggie burgers last week, and I saw a pin for a tofu burger on Pinterest, so I thought, Why not?  Here's what I came up with...


Balsamic Tofu Burgers
1 block of firm tofu
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 teaspoon honey
Squirt of barbecue sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon basil
salt and pepper to taste.

Press your tofu to get the water out.  I use the Tofu EZPress.  A really good investment if you eat a lot of tofu! See it on Amazon HERE.  Cut your tofu into desired burger size and shape.  I used one block and made four burgers.

Mix together everything else in a bowl. Pour it on your tofu and let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for at least two or three hours. I flipped them over in the marinade halfway through.

Cook them! They're best on the grill but I just pan-fried them the other day.  Super easy.  Three or four minutes each side.
Should have used a grill pan but I don't have one

Keep in mind that my measurements are just recommendations.  I literally just threw in random amounts of random stuff until I came up with something that I liked.  I think some rosemary would be good in there too.

Also keep in mind that these are TOFU BURGERS.  Tofu gets a bad reputation for being plain, but marinating it helps.  But it all comes down to them being made out of tofu.  So I add a bunch of toppings.  I usually make my burger like this (in order from bottom to top): whole wheat bun, baby spinach, tofu burger, smear of barbecue sauce, some vegetables, ketchup, whole wheat bun.  My favorite topping is a mixture of sauteed onions and mushrooms.  Here's the recipe for how I make them!



Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions
1/2 a white or yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
Five good sized white mushrooms
Tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Splash of white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat up a saucepan.  Add the olive oil and the garlic.  Once the garlic is fragrant, add the onions and then a little while after add the mushrooms.  Add the white wine and the balsamic and let it cook on medium heat until the majority of the moisture has evaporated.  Then eat it alone or put it on something.  Whatevs you want.

mmmmmm

Moving on... I've decided to make a garden and I've become kind of obsessed with the idea of having a raised garden bed.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you can see my garden board here.  I'm pretty sure that half of my pins are just links to raised garden beds.  Peter and I went through a phase where we were going to make one from random wood in the backyard, then where we were going to buy the wood from Home Depot and then finally we were like, let's just buy one.  Turns out those things are like $100.  After I had resigned myself to the fact that I was either not going to have a raised garden bed or I was going to have to make it myself, the neighborhood had a yard sale.

One of the girls that had lived here before me left behind an old book case and the shelves were falling off, so we took out the shelves.  Peter and I looked at each other like they do in the movies and I was like, "Wait.... this is a raised garden bed."  I felt like a genius.

Not sure where we are going to put it yet!

So now I have a few containers and a bed that needs to be filled.  I planted arugula, onions, garlic, peas, carrots and daffodils.  I have no idea how this is going to turn out.  I've never really tried that hard to grow something before so I'm excited.

Because I am a very impatient person, I needed the instant gratification that planting flowers provides.  I can't wait for the months while my seeds grow, I needed something to be proud of now.  So I made hanging planters.  By "made" I mean I bought the hanging things and picked out some flowers and put the flowers in the hanging things.  I put one on each side of the porch.  I'm kind of proud of them.  Also, in case you didn't know Lowe's has a military discount.  Sadly my ID expires on October 28th so I have to use it while I can.  



In other news, I have a few new books.  I'm 75% done with Ken Follett's Edge of Eternity which has 1,120 pages.  It's the finale of his Century trilogy and I'm kind of depressed that it's over.  It is an epic multi-generational historical fiction saga.  I know more about the characters in this book than I know about my own relatives.  Read more about it HERE. I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes historical fiction and European and American history.

I also have the two most recent Phillipa Gregory novels in her Cousin's War series that somehow I just missed that they came out!  This is the fault of the bookstore in Naples who stopped carrying books and magazines because their supplier went out of business.  I'm catching up slowly but surely.

That's all for now! If you have any gardening tips, suggestions for what I should plant or book suggestions, let me know!

xo Katelyn




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