Blanching the Kale

We grew a ton of Kale this year, huge bushy plants that required no maintenance. The only problem was they got aphids on them, and aphids gross me out. Sometime in late September I noticed the aphids had all but disappeared (yay!) so I decided to harvest the whole garden, and blanch and freeze the Kale.

First up I also dug up all my purple potatoes, and my walla walla sweet onions. My onions didn’t get very big, but I kind of like a little onion! You don’t end up with waste.

I ended up cutting a lot (it filled my sink and the dish drainer) of Kale, which was hardly even a dent in the massive Kale plants we have growing. I followed Not Martha’s instructions for blanching and freezing Kale. Although I didn’t have a salad spinner, so I ended up using a bunch of towels to ring out the blanched Kale. It was quite a messy process, and my whole house smelled like Kale (not the most delicious smell), but in the end I got a fair amount of Kale to freeze (think of it like spinach, it cooks down a  LOT). SO I can now toss lumps of the frozen Kale into a pan with a little olive oil, and voila, Kale all winter! Kinda cool.

1. Picking, and Washing.

2. Removing the spine

3. Cutting into bite size pieces.

4. Boiling for 2 minutes

5. Placing in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

6. Drying with towels or a salad spinner

7. Put in freezer zip-lock bags

8. LOVE KALE!

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Swiss Chard Year 2

Last year I planted Swiss Chard in the early spring (like they tell you to). I’m obviously no master gardener, so when September rolled around and my Swiss Chard was still tiny, I assumed I just did it wrong. When we did our fall clean out of the garden, I chose to leave the Swiss Chard, as it still looked like it was growing. When the plant sprouted seeds, I cut them off.  Shockingly it made it all the way through the winter (despite articles I read about frost killing it), and about a month ago it began growing like a weed! How cool. I don’t know if this is common, I couldn’t find any articles that said this was normal, but who knows. Washington is so mild in its seasons, and the soil is so moist and rich that things seem to just love to grow here.

Tonight for dinner Mr. Gaunt grilled turkey burgers and I made french fries and our first batch of Swiss Chard. I sauteed it using this recipe, and it was delish, Mr. Gaunt even liked it. I’m excited to eat a lot more Swish Chard, as there are a ton of recipes out there for using it. Anyone have any favorite recipes? Ive made lasagna with it, but nothing else.

Balsamic Asparagus and Zuzana Light Workouts

Roses from Mr. Gaunt. Tulips from my mom.

Tuesdays are our eat early nights. Although there is something weirdly nice about eating dinner at 5pm. It just sort of gets that task out of the way, and reduces the likelihood of it getting “too late, and too tired” to make anything. Resulting in eating garbage.  I wish I could convince myself everyday to just come home, straighten my house and make dinner. I’m working on it. So Tuesdays I have yoga and Mr. Gaunt has class at 6:30, so we eat early.

Using what we had on hand I went for easy and classic. The chicken is just breaded with Italian bread crumbs, and the Black Beans and Rice is a boxed thing. The Asparagus though was done Mr. Gaunt’s favorite way, with balsamic!

It’s nothing fancy, just trim, throw on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oi, balsamic, and salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes on 345. Comes out a little crisp on the edges and very tangy.

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The last couple weeks I’ve been working 9 hour shifts at work to help train new season employees. It’s definitely challenging, but more entertaining than my previous task of doing NOTHING! Our busy season has just started, so the hours may get longer and longer. I need to stay on top of my working out and not use long work days as and excuse to be lazy. I’m continuing to go to the gym right after work at least 3-4 days a week, plus yoga on Tuesdays. Recently I read a post from Emily Martin (The Black Apple) about a great online workout video series that I have decided to try! They are short, like 12 minutes and super intense I guess. Has anyone tried these?

Zuzana Light from bodyrock.tv

Rumour Has It

Tonight between 8:04 and 8:13 I JOGGED ONE WHOLE MILE!

With help from Miss Adele…

It was awesome. I just got in this groove and kept going. Usually its my breathing that stops me, but tonight it just never got too hard. I mean I was still huffing and puffing, but it was much more rhythmic and never out of control. I like to blast my music so I can’t hear my own breathing. When I can hear it, it distracts me and makes me freak out. i hate when a song ends and there is that 10 second silence where I can really hear myself, awful. Tonight though I focused on a target, I’m lucky that my blocks are straight and I can see the end from the beginning. It gives me a destination.

After my first mile I almost felt like crying, but realized that would cause be to hyperventilate and decided it best to not cry. none the less I wished there was someone there to celebrate with me (Mr. Gaunt was on a bike ride). After that I walked a 1/2 mile, then jogged 3/4 of a mile, then walked/jogged off and on until I got home. I did 3.5 miles in 43 minutes.

This gives me hope that by the end of the summer I might be able to RUN a 5k….maybe.

When I got home Mr. Gaunt had BBQed some pork chops (from that pig my mom bought) and we picked our first head of lettuce from the garden! This was very exciting as it’s the first thing we have grown and eaten. We also clipped some herbs and made a very simple salad. Oh and we topped the pork chops off with grilled onions. Yum!

Garden Update (for Rita)

Our yard is looking really good these days! I’m always super impressed with how quickly a little sun and rain came make everything so lush and green here. I’ve tried to do a little upkeep here and there. We water on days it doesn’t rain, I pull weeds sometimes…that’s about it. I’m still trying to understand the whole gardening thing. Its coming along I suppose. Our first batch of plants are almost ready to be picked (another week or two) and with the weather warmer these are some things I would like to add to the garden:

-Zucchini

-Yellow Squash

-Carrots

-Tomatoes

-Acorn Squash

-Pumpkins

-Peppers

-Beans

-Cilantro

-Cucumbers

-(more) Kale (first batch didn’t do so well)

-Rhubarb

Although I think we might try the seed route instead of planting Starts this time.

On thing I’m SUPER proud of was our amazing grass transplant to fill in some of the beds we didn’t want. It worked PERFECTLY! The big bed is slightly lower than the rest of the yard, but it’s ok. The two little circle beds are nearly invisible.

Alright I’m going to show you some BEFORE (March 20th & April 10th) and some AFTERS (Saturday)

BEFORE April 20th

AFTER - May 28th

BEFORE April 20th

AFTER - May 28th

BEFORE- April 20th (these are raspberries)

AFTER- May 28th

BEFORE - April 20th

AFTER- May 28th

The rest are just shots from around the yard. The raspberries took off like crazy, but the Blueberries bushes appear to be totally DEAD. I had planned to rip them out until I realized the bottom is full of strawberries, so I’m going to leave them for now. I may just cut them off at the trunk so I can plant more strawberries.

As you can see our lettuce and Kale struggled a bit. A few of them completely disappeared. I’d do more Kale, but not necessarily more lettuce, as we eat way more Kale, and Kale can be cooked and frozen and lettuce cant. Our little baby apple tree is also doing so well! It makes me so happy to know that in 10 years it will be a real big apple tree! Our Hops are currently lying on the ground as they had to remove them to paint (which hasn’t even started yet!!!!!!!!!!!!) and they will stay there until the painters are done (next year at this rate). Other than that there are some rose bushes and grape vines growing along the back fence that are pretty cool.

Can anyone take a guess as to what that purple stuff is? We didnt plant it. Oh and thats the apple tree!

Rose vines

Grape Vines

Grilled Leeks

I put a post on facebook this morning that read: “Anyone want Leeks let me know!” (we have a bunch growing in our yard)

But I take it back….you cant have them, they are all mine!!!!

While I was at work I left out this recipe for Grilled Leeks for Mr. Gaunt to make. Simply Amazing. I will eat these until they are gone. Try it, you wont be sorry.

SIDE NOTE: We had our Leeks with grilled Turkey burgers. Last week I bought Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls instead of buns, they save major calories and you don’t have all that excess bun. Win!