Friday, March 30, 2012

How To: Make a Meal from the Pantry

It started with a desire to make a recipe I saw online, as it usually does.  But I filed it away in my brain as something to make later.  I knew I would have the ingredients on hand so I wasn't worried about hitting the grocery store before making them.

Then I saw another recipe a friend pinned on Pinterest, and the just fit so well together, and I had all of the ingredients on hand for that recipe, too, so I had to do it.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Modified From Tasty Kitchen

1 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 onion, cut in wedges
1 red pepper, seeds removed
3 cloves garlic
1 egg
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1-2 cups panko bread crumbs
olive oil

Place black beans in a bowl and mash with fork or potato masher.  Set aside.

Place onion, pepper, and garlic on cookie sheet and broil until the lightly brown.  Blend in food processor until a smooth consistency.  Add to black bean mixture.  If there is extra liquid, strain through fine mesh strainer.

Add egg, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, Sriracha, salt and pepper to bean mixture and stir well to combine.  Mixture can be refrigerated at this point for up to two days.  Add enough bread crumbs (~1/2 - 3/4 cup) to make a consistency that will stick together in a patty, but has some bulk to it.  Form into 6 patties, thinner and wider rather than smaller and thicker.  Coat both sides with panko.

Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Gently place patties in skillet, being careful not to burn yourself on the hot oil.  Cook 5- minutes on each side, or until both sides have a dark crust and are heated through.

Serve on bun with favorite toppings, including something to give it a little crunch, such as romaine lettuce, pickles, or onions.

40-Minute Hamburger Buns
From Taste of Home

2 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup plus 1 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil or 1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add oil and sugar and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add egg, salt, and 3 cups of flour to form a soft dough. 
Knead on floured surface for 3-5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Immediately divide into 12 pieces for large rolls, 16 for medium rolls.  Shape into balls and place 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet (or a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet). Cover and let rise for 10 minutes.  Heat oven to 425.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Makes 12-16 rolls.

Have I mentioned the newest trick I learned that I'm in love with?  I had a spare spice shaker in the kitchen and I filled it with flour.  Now when I'm kneading I just sprinkle from the shaker onto the surface and get a nice even layer across it instead of spooning a glob on and spreading it too thin with my hand.  Magic!  Also works wonders if my sauce needs to be a little thicker - just add two shakes of flour! More magic!

I took these to dinner at my nephew's house (three months old and he totally rules the roost there now). I made only 4 burger patties instead of six out of the recipe and they were a bit thick, in addition to being really soft in the middle.  Next time I will definitely make them thinner and give them a good crust to add some crunch.  The combination of very soft bun, soft burger, avocado and spinach made for a gummy, if tasty, dinner.

For dessert, I made another recipe that used only things on hand, and could quickly make right before heading out - Two Minute Cookies. Ahh, the wonderful tastes of childhood.  No matter how bad for you they are, or how much sugar there is, they will always be delicious.

Two Minute Cookies
From Mom's Recipe Box

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
3 cups oatmeal
3 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

In medium sauce pan, melt butter and add milk and sugar.  Heat to rolling boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.  Quickly spoon into mounds on parchment or wax paper.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Makes 30-36 depending on size and the cook's share.

PS.  Be careful.  It's a tomato jungle out there.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dear MG

Dear Master Gardener,

I need your advice.  The tulips you gave me are coming up quite nicely.  No buds yet, but the leaves keep growing despite the attacks from the yard maintenance weedwacker.  As I pulled some weeds from around them this morning, I got to wondering about what could be planted to protect the area once the blossoms die back.  I have all of this poppy seed, and was considering sprinkling some over the area to effectively become ground cover during the summer.  Do you think this will work?

Seeds in Seattle

P.S.  The rest of the new flower bed is coming along.  Sweet peas are just starting to poke up from the corner of the side yard nearest the gate.  So far they are the only thing planted on this side.

The shasta daisies don't look like much right now, but I think they are starting to grow a bit.  There are one or two new leaves unfurling from the center of one plant, so I think the rest will survive.

The day lilies look about how they did when you gave them to me.  No growth, but they haven't turned brown yet, so I'm considering that a good sign.

One of the mums has put on some greenery.  The other one hasn't done anything.  I'm not sure which one is the bronze and which is the deep red.  Hopefully we'll get to find out in a couple months.

Other happenings in the garden include radishes finally sprouting in the cold frame, lettuce seeds sprouting from unprotected soil (I just put a milk carton cloche over about 1/4 of the sprouts to see if it makes a difference), and peas.  All of the peas I planted on George Washington's birthday are starting to come up.  Maybe the old adage really has something to it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hello Spring!

(ok, so I cheated and used the picture from last year.... mine aren't open yet!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Control, Out of

The tomatoes were all starting to get their second or third set of leaves, so I decided to repot them in something a bit bigger.  Then, since I had extra soil out, I started two small applesauce containers of cosmos.  And two larger containers with heirloom tomato seeds I got from the Master Gardener. At this point my kitchen was covered not only with loose dirt, but with pots of dirt that I couldn't just wipe up and throw in the compost bin because they were there intentionally, to grow things.  Bigger things than before. And that, of course, meant I was over capacity of the grow light.

I was pretty well at capacity before I upsized, so I'm not quite sure how I was planning on managing the rest of the spring indoor growing season.

Somewhere in the haze of vermiculite, I apparently decided to upgrade my lighting system.  Before I knew it (a day later) I had purchased the cheapest shop light the Home Depot had, two bulbs, and some chain to hang it down from the ceiling.  This gardening thing might not be cheaper than my CSA after all...

Hopefully my upsized plants will be very happy in their new homes with the new light. 

Due to the weird mold stuff, I decided to cut off the toilet paper roll instead of planting the whole thing together.  There was still some mold under the roll, but it was an amount that I'm much more comfortable with, and I think the tomatoes will be able to handle the stress on the roots.  I planted them up to the seed leaves, so they'll have a little less than two inches of stalk buried to grow roots from, in addition to the old ones. 

Outside I'm gearing up for spring as well.  Technically it's on Tuesday, but I'm not holding my breath on that one here in Seattle.  My new beds have their driftwood border, and I even got some transplants in this week when it wasn't raining too hard (two colors of mums, shasta daisies, and daylillies from the Master Gardener's garden).

This area will get sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, poppies, snapdragons, and nasturtiums, if I can get any of them to grow from seed.  We'll be hoppin' with bees this summer! That's the hope, at least, so my veggies all get pollinated and I can have nice flower arrangements inside all season.

The side bed will eventually be the home of our runner beans, maybe a zucchini, and more sunflowers.  Can you tell what flower this house likes the best?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


My sprouts are starting to get their first set of true leaves.  I left them for the weekend with no signs of growth, and returned to all of the tomatoes growing hairs on their stems and getting that set of leaves.  Broccoli is just behind, and the kale is a few days back.  I've kept the kale on windowsills instead of under the light and I think it's time to reevaluate.  They go out in a couple weeks (Territorial says after the third set of true leaves) and should be strong enough to survive the cool weather.

I'm a little concerned about the flower situation.  All of the hollyhock didn't fare too well over the weekend.  I'm worried they either have damping off or just got too dried out.  I think I'm paranoid about the damping off.  The zinnias haven't done anything since sprouting in the germination test either. I want all my little guys to survive and thrive!

Basil and thyme are doing their thing in yogurt containers.  I planted them really thick because the seeds were so tiny I couldn't help myself, so they will need thinning before they get to their final destination.  No clue if they will survive if I chop each pot into four... But the good news is that the snapdragons are sprouting! Only about three of them, but that's three more than none, and I'm happy.