My industrious hubby, who was not raised in a DIY family, has become very resourceful over the years. We've been thinking of doing raised beds for our vegetable garden for a few years now. (We've grown veggies in the past but last year failed to plant anything.) Our friends Katy and David are great inspirations for us and recommended a book called The 20-Minute Vegetable Gardener, which advises how to build raised bed frames. We are definitely lazy gardeners, so anything to make the process less complicated is appealing!
Mike went to the lumber yard and Lowe's to buy materials, and spent hours outside on Saturday building the frames and preparing the garden plot. Next: to fill the plots with dirt and compost. And of course plants!
While Mike was laboring away Saturday afternoon (even through the rain patches!), I was doing my typical weekend-overambitious-cooking thing. Mike cooks during the week, and when I cook, I tend to go for the more time-consuming dishes! First of all I decided to use some parsnips we had in the fridge (my handsome carpenter husband LOVES parsnips!), so I tried a recipe for carrot-parsnip custard. It was meant to be a dessert, but it was sort of sweet-savory. The kids hated it! I didn't take a photo of it, but it wasn't particularly appetizing-looking anyway--though it tasted good. Here's the recipe, in case you want to try it:
(from the Winter Harvest Cookbook, by Lane Morgan)
4 Tbsp butter
2 cups finely grated carrots (I ran them through the food processor grater twice)
1 cup finely grated parsnips
1/4 cup flour (I used spelt flour)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup maple syrup (I ran out of maple syrup, so I used honey for half of this)
1-1/2 cups half-and-half (I used the fat-free variety)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a large saucepan, add carrots and parsnips, and saute gently for about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Remove from heat. Combine flour, salt, and ginger, and stir mixture into vegetables. Add eggs, maple syrup, and half-and-half and stir well.
Pour into buttered custard dish and set in pan of boiling water. Water should be about 1 inch up on sides of dish. Add more boiling water while baking, if necessary. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Serves 6.
I made homemade mac and cheese for the kids (which Nicholas eshewed in favor of Annie's mac and cheese!), and for the adults, I tried another new recipe--which I would highly recommend. We had leftovers last night, and I ate the final serving for lunch today. Yum!
Broccoli Dal Curry
(also from the Winter Harvest Cookbook)
1 cup lentils (the cookbook recommends using pink lentils for a prettier look, but we had brown)
4 Tbsp ghee or light oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp turmeric
juice of half a lemon
2 medium heads of broccoli
2 cups water
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut (I didn't have any, so I used a can of light coconut milk instead and cut the water in half)
1 Tbsp flour (I used spelt flour)
1 tsp salt
1 cup cashews or roasted peanuts
Wash lentils well and drain. Heat ghee or oil in a large saucepan and saute onions until they begin to soften. Add chili powder, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Stir and cook briefly. Add lentils, stir well, and add lemon juice, water, and coconut. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 25 to 30 minutes or until lentils are soft.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli into individual florets. (Save stems for another use.) Steam 5 or 10 minutes, until almost tender. Plunge broccoli in cold water, drain, and set aside.
Remove 1/3 cup of liquid from the lentil mixture, add to flour to form a smooth paste, and return it to the pan. Add steamed broccoli, salt, and nuts. Simmer another 5 to 10 minutes, until the lentils make a thick sauce. Serve with steamed basmati rice. Serves 4.
On Sunday I took Kieran to see a Cajun musical version of Little Red Riding Hood, called Petite Rouge, at the Oregon Children's Theater. We enjoyed it! When we came home, Kieran announced that he wanted to make stone soup. (He often gets this urge!)
His original plan was to start a fire in the "fire pit" in the back yard (which he created), and cook the soup over the fire. I eventually nixed that plan when I realized he was dead serious...on the basis of (1) not having any way to suspend the pot, (2) it taking far too long to cook soup over a fire, and (3) the lack of an old pot that could get blackened in the fire! But we allowed him to make it on the stove. The soup basically consisted of some edamame, a potato, water, and a stone!
Unfortunately, Mike and Kieran neglected to wash the stone very thoroughly, so Mike discovered some dirt in his soup! I suggested that next time we run the stone through the dishwasher! But I dutifully took a bite anyway. A little dirt never hurt anyone! The fun, after all, is all in the making.
Kieran's stone soup adventures always remind me of one of our favorite children's musicians, Tom Chapin, and his song, "Stone Soup." I can't find the lyrics online, or the video, but I did find this little gem on YouTube...just in case you miss making fun of Sarah Palin (who continues to be in the news!):