Monday, December 28, 2015


Green Smoothies by Fern Green

Okay, so I'm kind of obsessed with Fern Green's Green Smoothies.

It starts with detailed, but easy to read, information about equipment and the benefits of different "super greens."  Then she talks about her 7-day detox plan  Now, this is not that idiotic, craziness of water, cayenne and lemon....who thinks that sounds healthy.  Instead, it's a good mix of smoothies and juices, with the occasional tonic or shot.....ginger, for example, not alcoholic, obviously.  A ten ounce juice for breakfast, followed by a 24 ounce smoothie to sip throughout the day as your mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner.

screenshot 1

This book is chock full of pictures.  I love that.  The recipes are a little vague, using terms like a handful or a sprig.  I tried a few recipes, and that vagueness is not a big deal.  The recipes were all really good.  The Cinnamon-Date Digestive has a head of romaine lettuce!  And it's still really good, who would've thought!

The only thing I wished the author did was to include a list of what to buy for the 7 day detox.  But that's okay, I made one for you!  I mostly think it's accurate.  I did have our new kitten walking across my keyboard, so I think some unintentional editing happened. 

2 springs basil
4 springs mint
3 handfuls spinach
1 cucumber
3 1/2 lemons
1/2 lime
4 thumbs of ginger
3 red apples
2 bok choy
2 handfuls strawberries
2 small and 1 large bunch of red grapes
2 banana
1 1/2 heads of broccoli
a small bunch of green grapes
1/4 green cabbage
3 handfuls of kale
5 oranges
21 tsp agave nectar
2/3 cup coconut water
4 handfuls arugula
a small bunch of cilantro
1 jalapeno
either 3/4 small watermelon or 1/4 large watermelon
1 romaine lettuce
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 head radicchio
a handful of dandelion greens
2 tsp dried goji berries
1 mango
1 tangerine
3 celery stalks
1 butter lettuce
2 handfuls wheat grass
1 avocado
2 small bunch of parsley
2 sprigs of dill
5 oz almonds
2 TB coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups water
2 beets
1 TBS of aloe vera juice
1 red leaf lettuce
2 kiwi
1 small bunch of dandelion greens
1/4 cantaloupe
2 handfuls of blueberries
1 TBS chia seeds

I was all pumped and ready to do the detox, but I realized a lot of the recipes were for fruits and vegetables that were not in season.  I'm going to keep trying random recipes in the book  When the weather warms up, and I have access to fresh strawberries and mangoes, I'll do the detox and let you know how it went.

WOULD I BUY IT:  Absolutely.  I really like how it's laid out.  I was surprised by the originality of the recipes  If you have a juicer and a blender....I just got a fancy one and I love it....then this is definitely a book worth buying.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook
I do a lot of baking.  A lot.  Starting in the fall, I bake every Sunday.  Bread, pies, cakes, pizza, pretzels, pita, name it, I've probably baked it.  I was interested in reviewing The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World in hopes it would expand my baking repertoire.  In leafing through the book, I went from interested to excited! 
I have never heard of The Hot Bread Kitchen before learning about this book.  Apparently, it is a non-profit bakery run out of East Harlem, New York.  They help foreign-born, low-income men and women become financially independent working at the bakery, and then assist them in finding jobs  or even starting their own business.  You can read about them on their site, or in their book, where author, founder and CEO, Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez explains her amazing story of how she created this amazing organization.

Back to the book.  So, yeah.  The business has a great story, but that doesn't mean the book is worth buying, does it?  Yes, it absolutely does.  The pictures are beautiful.  The recipes are easy to follow.  I like that they include information and recipes on how to eat it, or what to eat it with.  A pita bread recipe is great, but it's even better when it's followed by a recipe for hummus.  More importantly, this book is filled with tips on how to bake and even stories of their origins.
I originally thought I'd start with The Dark, Crusty Loaf chapter.  But I have so much kale growing, that this Sunday I'll be making Kale, Onion, and Cheddar M'smen from the chapter on Primordial Bread: Unleavened Flatbreads.  I'm sure my family would prefer if I started with the Challah and Beyond: Enriched Breads, Rolls and Buns chapter that has this beautiful looking Monkey Bread.  Real Monkey Bread, people.  Actual monkey bread.


For the love of God, stop using Pillsbury biscuit dough for everything!  It's not "just as good."  It's not "the same thing."  Just.  Stop.  Please.

WOULD I BUY IT?  Absolutely.  And I am saying this as someone who regularly buys bread.  The tips and bread shaping information alone makes The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World worth buying.  So people stop buying bread that lasts for months and never seems to go bad, because that's gross and creepy.  Instead of buying gross, full of weird ingredients you can't pronounce biscuit dough, buy this book.  Once you realize how easy it is to make bread, you will never go back to store bought. 

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Harvesting Kale Seeds

Remember, at the beginning of the Spring, my kale looked like this.

Then suddenly, as if a miracle occurred, it morphed into this.  Well, it didn't really morph into this.  I pulled of the dead leaves after these pretty ones started to grow.

And this started happening.

Hundreds of pods of kale seeds.

I wish we had more ladybugs.  Stupid white flies eating my plants....

After they all turned dry and brown, I cut them off the plant.  Then, I left them out in the sun to completely dry.

Inside the pods are little, black seeds.  If you went through, breaking each and every pod open, it would take you ten years.  Maybe not exactly ten, but close.  Remember, I only had one kale plant.  All the pods you see are from one plant.

What's the best solution?  Put all the pods in a garbage bag.  Yes, you heard me right, a garbage bag.  Then you whack the bag with whatever.  This all happened early this spring, so honestly, I don't remember what I used.  Hit it hard, just don't break the bag.  It's not a pinata.

What you wind up with is a bag full of empty pods.

And voila!  Seeds!

Don't leave them in the bag!  The residual moisture will make them moldy.  Learn from my mistakes people!  I left the seeds out on a tray to make sure they were completely dried, then threw them all into a mason jar.  I have homemade seed packets, but there was almost a pint of seeds.

As for my kale plant, it continues to grow.  Even now.  I have so much kale that I don't actually need to plant any of the hundreds of seeds it produced.  Maybe I'll grow some kale sprouts.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Version of Throw Back Thursday

Talk about super creepy.  It was the very end of August, when we saw this gigantic 
grasshopper climbing up my sliding glass door.

It's body was maybe 4 inches long.  Beautiful and creepy at the same time.

Me and the Tryant refused to go outside the rest of the day.

Friday, October 30, 2015



UPDATE:  I will post more specifics later, but I have made quite a few recipes from here and while some were just okay, most were phenomenal!  As a vegetarian, I was easily able to substitute the meat for plant-based proteins, tofu or vegetables.  I would highly recommend this book.

Let me begin by saying, wow.  Like, truly, wow.  

Do you always get take-out Chinese because it seems to complicated to make at home?  But then you get it, and while you're eating you think this really doesn't seem like it's complicated to make, so you Google some recipes and try them out  The problem probably wasn't the ingredients or the even the recipe, but simply bad technique.  

From the introduction of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking, Kian Lam Kho says,“In this book I demystify Chinese cooking by taking a unique approach. I believe that the cuisine is easiest to learn by technique. A dry stir-fry is no more difficult to prepare than a moist one; the key is to know which technique to use for which ingredient and for which final result. Armed with this knowledge, you can not only re-create dishes from all over China and many East Asian countries, but you can cook almost any ingredient in any fashion you’d like.”  

Instead of being broken down into chapters based on region or protein, this book focuses on different techniques in each chapter.  From stir fry, roasting and even cold dishes.  The best part are the little tidbits of information tucked into the pages of the book.  Do you know what to do with leftover oil?  Or how milky soup gets it's color without using dairy?  I also like that he includes detailed, but not overwhelming information about ingredients, equipment and hot to make different sauces to accompany the dishes like XO Sauce and chili oil.

Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper
Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper
We have recently converted to a mostly-vegetarian lifestyle.  Even though, the bulk of these dishes have meat, in reading it, I didn't seem any recipe that I wouldn't easily be able to convert to a meatless, or a faux-meat, meal.  (Side note, I'm still not overly impressed with any meatless ground meat that we've tried.  I'd rather grind up mushrooms and saute them until they are dried out and brown.  I'll let you know if I find anything worth using.)

Let's not forget the pictures.  They are just exquisite.  Most importantly, there are a lot of them!  What can I say, I'm a sucker for pretty pictures of food and this book is full of them.  I was going to list the recipes I was most interested in trying just based on the picture of it, but honestly, everything in here looks amazing.  And for the record, that's not a cop-out, that's the truth.

WOULD I BUY IT?  Do you even have to ask?  DEFINITELY!  I cook a lot of Chinese food at home.  Most of my recipes come from the internet and the results are often hit or miss.  I have a feeling that Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees won't let you down.  I'll come back (as I intended to, but haven't done yet out of sheer laziness) and update you on the recipes I have tried. 

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees

Garden Tour - October 29, 2015

Garden Tour in October?  The END of October?!  Hell yeah baby.  
I have onions galore popping up.

The scallions...they were dying off, but made a comeback.

If you grow dill and don't harvest it in time, it goes to seed.
If you don't get to those seeds in time, they will plant themselves.
You know, nature and science and the cycle of life and all that.
And when that happens, you wind up with a huge blanket of dill.

I didn't plant this bean.  Maybe it'll turn into a magical bean stalk.

The kale is the size of a large bush.

I have a problem.  I planted broccoli and cauliflower.  So far all I have are leaves, 
no flowers.  FYI broccoli and cauliflower are flowers, again science.... I read you can eat the leaves, which at the rate we're going, is probably going to be our only option.

I have no clue which one of these pictures are broccoli or cauliflower.

Oh well.  If it ever flowers, then the mystery will be solved.

I planted a million basil plants, most of which went to seed and died, 
because I was so enamored with the amount of bees that showed up.  Bees are
fascinating.  No I have a ton of dead basil with lots of seeds that I will probably
have a slew of random basil growing next year...not a bad thing...

Somehow the mint starting growing through a crack in the faux greenhouse.
I'm going to leave it and see if it will last long into the winter.

I don't remember if I ever posted a picture of this path.  I used to have a pretty unimpressive
path from the deck to the gazebo, so I moved them along side the garden. The key
is to try to get a straight line along the border and then just fill in the rest.
I half assed filled the cracks with sand, which if you know my yard, didn't deter the growth of weeds.
Nothing stops them in my yard.  And no, I'm not going to use Round Up, because I'm not an idiot. 

 For the love of God, please everyone stop using Round Up.

The rabbits eat the weeds.  I pull the weeds.  My Hubby weed whacks them.  It's not a big deal.
My dog is obsessed with walking on this path, it's weird.  I love being able to go out barefoot
and not worry about stepping in something gross.

At the end of the path, are the artichokes.  This one did nothing all summer, 
then has magically taken off now that it's cold.  No artichokes though.

The brown sad looking artichokes on the left are the ones from my previous artichoke pictures.  That plant decided to start growing a whole new plant by itself.  You can see it in the bottom right corner.
Well, you can kind of see it.  I stopped pulling weeds a while ago, and everything's kind of a mess.

I started everything too late this year.  We didn't wind up with half as many tomatoes as we usually do.  But it was still a pretty good gardening year.  Time to start planning for next spring.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: FOOD52 VEGAN by Gena Hamshaw

People that weren't raised vegetarian, or vegan, have hard time understanding how to put together meals where meat isn't the main part of the meal.  The reality is, there are a million dishes out to waiting to be made that don't involve meat, are healthier and delicious.  Food52 Vegan is a great introduction for people looking to change the way they eat.

Obviously, vegetarians aren't only eating salad and pasta.  I search the web all time for ideas, and one of my favorite sites is Food52.   While, I will admit their site has so many vegetarian recipes, I thought this book would be bigger.  That's the only negative I can give you about this book.

Now we're not vegan, but it great to see that vegan recipes aren't that much more complicated than any other recipe.  I made the Go-To Pancakes this morning, and I was leery at first.  Coconut oil and no butter?  More baking powder than I would normally use, for sure.  But they turned out great!  Who would think an eggless pancake could be any good?  My husband ate seven if that gives you any indication of how good they were.

Then for lunch I tried the Mushroom, Pecan Lentil burgers.  My husband liked them and my daughter loved them.  I thought they were great, but not as firm as I hoped, in fairness I overcooked my lentils...  I also used walnuts instead of pecans, but I doubt that make a big difference.  For the record, this recipe says it makes four big or six  regular burgers.  I made eight!  I guess her idea of a regular burger is way bigger than mine.  I froze the extras, so no big deal.

WOULD I BUY IT:  Yes.  The photography in Food52 Vegan was beautiful. The recipes were easy to follow and didn't have a million weird ingredients that I didn't already own.  It was easy to see how substitutions could be made.  As someone new to the world of vegetarian and vegan cooking, I felt like this book provided a great beginners look at how to make vegan food in a non-threatening, not overly complicated way.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Artichoke Flower

While it's annoying that we didn't harvest most of our artichokes in time, 
I will say, the flowers are really beautiful.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Garden Tour - August 13, 2015

While we were away visiting the folks, the garden really took off.

For the record, I did not plant cherry tomatoes. Ying and Yang love them, but they never want to spend the time harvesting them.  Unfortunately, my garden is spiteful and likes to grow random cherry tomato plants all over the place.  The Tyrant has actually been helping to pick them this year, so I guess it all worked out.

The regular tomatoes are growing nicely, but I feel like there aren't as many as last year.  I guess starting all the seeds late really did make a difference.

My mom gave me these bean seeds, I have no clue what kind they are.  Two plants supplied us with beans for many, many meals.  They turn green when you cook them!

Every year I grow basil and something goes wrong.  I never wind up with more than a few handfuls.  This year, I think I went a little overboard.  I know, that's an understatement...

No bell peppers, just bell pepper plants.  All the cilantro bolted before I used any of it.

I love all the eggplants!  I have to grow more plants next year.

Something ate the leaves off of the broccoli and cauliflower, as well as lots of the beans.  I'm guessing it's the groundhogs.  I thought they were happy with the pears, I guess not.

I feel like the cantaloupe are taking forever to ripen.

Same with the watermelon.

Most of the cucumber plants are shriveled up and dying, but there are a few still growing. 

The kale is going strong.

My beautiful white onion flowers are now all black seeds.

 I only made one batch of lox before the dill flowers dried up and turned to seed.

We only ate two artichoke.  Someone, who will remain nameless, never cut any while I was away.

See!  A million pears!  Why couldn't the groundhogs just be happy with them? Our squirrel and our cardinals seem super happy eating them.

It's good the wildlife can eat them, because they started getting these weird dark spots and never get soft or sweet anymore.  Granted, the tree is over twenty years old, so it is what it is.

I started a new batch of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seeds.  Hopefully the groundhogs will be hibernating by the time they go into the garden.