Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the garden

We have been getting much interest in our front-yard garden lately, so I thought I'd share our progress with some evening-light photos. Above is some bolting cilantro, and below is our pole bean teepee with basil in the background.

Tiny leeks.

A long trellis with 4 varieties of cucumber. Hello pickles!

Ground cherry, dill, butternut squash, and french green beans. Cal poppy and lavender too.

And in the backyard, Seascape strawberries ripen in the sun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

loving sprouts

I love eating sprouts but what pass for sprouts at the grocery store are sad plastic boxes of thin, pale, dirt-tasting strings. So, I usually make my own. The best method, I've found, is the simplest. Although I've tried sprouting systems engineered specifically for this process, I now use just a canning jar and some flexible screening. The key is to able to rinse the sprouts every few hours, and I've been known to carry my sprout jar along in my car and fill it from a water bottle on the side of the road. With my stay-at-home-mom gig these days, it's pretty easy. Goodness knows I am in the kitchen every couple of hours anyway preparing snacks and whatnot!

So here's what I do: Measure 2Tablespoons alfalfa (or other sprout-able) seeds into a 2-quart canning jar. Use the metal ring to secure a piece of flexible screening over the opening. Cover seeds with cool water and soak overnight. Empty the next morning, and proceed with rinsing the seeds/sprouts every few hours for several days. It helps me to put a sticky note on my bathroom mirror reminding me to rinse them right before I go to bed. Rinsing entails filling the jar, through the screen, with enough cool water to get all of the seeds/sprouts nice and soaked, then emptying the water right away. With our drought here, I actually walk out to the garden with the rinse water and use it on my landscape plants.

When the sprouts begin developing leaves, around day 3 or 4, it helps to rotate the jar each time you rinse it so that all of the sprouts get sun exposure. This helps to get them nice and green, which is not only prettier but I'm guessing more nutritious as well. The sprouts are usually mature enough to my liking around day 5 or 6. At this point I remove them from the jar and soak in a big bowl of water to separate out the seed hulls and unsprouted seeds from the good sprouts. Strain and store in a wrung-out cloth in plastic in the fridge; I use a plain white flour-sack dishtowel that I get real wet, wring out, and use to wrap the sprouts completely within a tupperware-type container. This keeps the sprouts succulent rather than dried-out, and they can keep over a week this way.

I've been eating them for breakfast every morning on a piece of whole wheat toast with mustard, red onion, and melted smoked cheddar cheese. My favorite sandwich is a combination of avocado, smoked mozzarella cheese, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, and sprouts.

We also eat a lot of salad, including this one below (pictured before the addition of homemade dressing and sprouts though) with home-grown red and green lettuces, cooked quinoa, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, home-grown baby carrots, home-grown fresh dill and cilantro, avocado, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Yum! And yes, Sam ate every bite!

Friday, June 19, 2009

hello molars

We have a few nicknames for our little guy: Sweetpea, Lovebug, Sunshine, Cuddle Muffin, Cute Boy...but lately we've been referring to him (out of earshot) with some entirely new monikers: Mr Aggro, Hair Trigger, Wave of Destruction. Despite our very best efforts at prevention, we've had way more than our share of tantrums, vigorous refusals, emotional reversals of opinion, material damages, embarrassments in public, and even bruises. One night Sam woke up six times between 10pm and 6am, and then the next night took two-and-a-half hours to fall asleep. We've all been saying No more than we'd like and taking a lot of deep breaths. A few days ago, desperate for an explanation, I poked around his upper gums and noticed the tiniest sharp points poking through. I felt immediately justified in dosing my little land mine with baby tylenol in a desperate hope for relief. Today, finally, it appears that the storm has passed. Meltdowns, refusals, tears?...oh yes, but in manageable proportions. Hello molars, so glad you are here. All the better to munch on our early summer garden harvest of baby carrots and sugar snap peas. We are so happy our human sweetpea is feeling a bit better.

Friday, June 12, 2009

random sweet stories

We had my little 12-month-old niece visiting last week. A few times she cried, and Sam ran to get a washcloth to wipe the "water" off her face.

When she would drop something, Sam would pick it up and say "That's ok!"

Yesterday before nap, Sam and I were saying nightnight, and we hugged and I said "I love you Sam." Then, for the first time, Sam said "I lub you Mommy." (This was the first time it really seemed to come from the heart rather than just repeating what I said to him, which he has done before.)

Tonight at dinner I bumped the table and jostled the glasses. Startled, I said "Oh! I am so sorry!" Sam said, "That's ok Mommy!"

Also at dinner tonight, Sam said to me,
Know what Mommy?
Me: What?
Sam: Know what?
Me: What Sam?
Sam: Know what?
Me: What?
Sam: Know what?
Me: Sam, when you say Know what? and then I say What? then you're supposed to tell me something cool.
Sam: (...thinking...)
Sam: Know what Mommy?
Me: What Sam?
Sam: Daddy's here.
Me: Oh! That is cool! We like it when Daddy's here, don't we.
Sam: Know what?
Me: What?
Sam: Daddy's right over there.