Thursday, July 31, 2008

Drying Basil

I just finished drying a batch of basil last night, so it is perfect timing for this post! Drying basil is so darn easy. I am a bit embarrassed that I ever purchased it.

First, harvest your basil. Remember 10 & 10 when harvesting. Don't start harvesting until the plant is at least 10 inches high and then again no later than 10 days later. According to Organic Gardening magazine, the more you harvest, the better the flavor. Also trim just above the second set of leaves so that you'll get new stems and more leaves.

Rinse the basil and pinch the leaves from the stems. Place leaves on a tea towel (I place a plate underneath the towel so I can move it around). Set outside in the sun or in a warm, dry place inside. Stir the leaves daily. Dry completely - the leaves will be delicate and crisp - about 3-5 days.

I use an herb mill for chopping the dried basil, but you can also use a rolling pin or just your fingers. Store in an airtight container. I actually like to store mine in small canning jars, but couldn't find any extras last night. Save for later in the year when you can't walk outside to snip a little sprig of basil!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recycled Paper Products Sale

Let's Go Green is having a sale on their recycled paper products. I might get some of the tissue pocket packs. As "green" as it may be to use my children's shirts for runny noses, it is kinda gross... LOL

AND if you enter the coupon code FRIEND at checkout, you'll get a 25% discount. Can't pass that one up.

(I'm late posting this discount code, and I didn't see an expiration so I have no idea how long it is good for!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More From Your Basil

It is the hottest part of summer in Colorado, and basil in the garden is starting to produce flowers. In the past, I've always been disappointed when the plants mature and reach this point as it means the end of my basil is coming soon. I've tried pinching off the flowers to no avail. The flowers keep coming, and the leaves quit growing.

Earlier this summer I read in Organic Gardening that instead of pinching off just the flower, cutting at least six leaf nodes down the stem will cause the basil to leaf more. I have been following that advice this summer, and I can already tell I am going to have a bumper basil crop!

Tomorrow I'll post about how I am drying all my extra basil!

Check out other Works For Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer

Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival

I am back to participating in the Make It From Scratch Blog Carnival this week. I plan to participate weekly and have a bunch of MIFS ideas to post - including the homemade cheese I keep hinting at! It is a fun carnival, so go check out this week's edition at Novel Experiences.

I'd like to do some more blog carnivals once the kids start back to school in September, so let me know if there are any good ones you recommend.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wild Dill Giveaway

I have been promising a giveaway for awhile and have been remiss in actually getting it done. I figured the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival is the perfect excuse to get going again!

The giveaway comes from Wild Dill which is a great little online shop filled with products that are organic, fair trade, sweatshop-free, natural and/or recycled. You don't have to do much thinking or research when shopping there - you know that all the items are earth friendly plus the item description also includes the earth friendly information. My favorite is her selection of toys, but there are also great linens, clothes, and gifts.

One Greenstylemom reader will win a $35 gift certificate to Wild Dill to spend on whatever you pick. All you have to do is go to the Wild Dill site and leave a comment on this post letting us know how you would choose to spend the gift certificate (you can change your mind - we won't hold you to it!). And be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win! The contest will close on Sun, Aug 10th, and I will announce the winner the next day.

FYI: If I was eligible to win, I would probably choose the Zoom to the Moon toy for Jack or the Green Toys Tea Set for Kate. I might have *need* them next week with the consolation prize for anyone who didn't win. Check back at Greenstylemom next week after I announce the winner!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

I haven't been doing much menu planning this summer because we have mostly been fixing meals based on what is ready in the garden, but I do have some plans for this week that I'd like to share.

**Don't forget to check out my Monday giveaway**

Monday - taking the kids out to a local spot for dinner then meeting friends for ice cream!

Tuesday - leftover grilled steak, greens from the garden, summer corn and rice pilaf (from Martha - you must try this! It might be my favorite summer recipe. I use brown rice instead of white)

Wednesday - Chickpea salad (another Martha favorite) with homemade bread

Thursday - Dinner out - woohoo!

Friday - Dream Cafe Black Beans & Brown Rice (I love this dish - stole the idea from the Dream Cafe - one of my favorite restaurants in Dallas)

Saturday - cohousing campout - more on that next week!

Sunday - shrimp kabobs with peach salsa (recipe below - peaches are getting so good here!), couscous or quinoa, tomato and home-made mozzerella salad (the cheese making post is coming soon!)

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Dream Café Black Beans & Brown Rice
Cooked black beans (see below)
Cooked brown rice
Pepper Jack cheese
Pico de Gallo
Sour Cream
Bean Sprouts
Corn Chips

Place rice on plate, top with black beans and cheese. Add pico de gallo, sour cream, and bean sprouts. Garnish with corn chips

Black Beans
1 ½ cups black beans (rinsed and soaked)
1 clove garlic
1 chopped onion
1 tsp chili powder
salt
cayenne pepper
broth

Cover soaked beans with water and boil until just tender. Drain. Add other ingredients and enough broth to cover. Simmer slowly until the beans fall apart a little and make a thick, rich sauce.

Shrimp Kebabs with Peach Salsa
For Salsa:
2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and diced
¼ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup minced green bell pepper
3 Tablespoons minced red onion
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Toss to combine. Season to taste with sugar, salt, and pepper

For Kebabs:
1 lb large shrimp
2 zucchini cut into 1 in cubes
2 yellow squash cut into 1 in cubes
olive oil
cumin

Preheat outdoor grill, stove-top grill pan, or broiler. Skewer shrimp and veggies. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin and black pepper. Grill or broil kebabs 4-6 min until shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, turning skewers halfway through cooking.

Chocolate Zucchini Mini-Muffins

I adapted this from a Cookie Magazine recipe a couple years ago. It is Kate's favorite zucchini recipe, probably because they are chocolate. It is one of my favorite zucchini quick bread recipes because there is lots of zucchini and not so much sugar.

Chocolate Zucchini Mini-Muffins
1 cup sugar (add up to 2 cups for a sweeter muffin)
3/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbls molasses
3 eggs
1/3 cup milk or yogurt (or I've substituted pureed butternut squash or canned pumpkin)
zest of 2 lemons (oranges are good also)
juice of 2 lemons
2+ cups shredded zucchini
2 1/2 cups flour (I use whole wheat, but the muffins are a bit denser than with all-purpose)
1 Tbls ground flax seed
1 Tbls wheat germ
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk sugar through lemon juice. Mix in zucchini. In a medium bowl, mix flour through cinnamon. Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients, stir until just moist. Spoon batter into greased mini muffin tins. Lightly sprinkle each muffin with sugar for a sweet, crispy top. Bake for 20-25min. Cool in pan for a few minutes, remove, and completely cool before storing. Makes about 4 dozen.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bike Riding

The Bike

Remember awhile back when I blogged about Kate learning to ride a bike and the cute lil' retro bike we got from a neighbor. While I was on my hiatus, Matt finished up the fixing-it-up project and gave it to Kate. She loves it. (It still doesn't have a kickstand or a basket, but it has gotten a bell since this photo was taken.) It took less than 30 seconds, and Kate was zooming around the community on her little hot rod. Jack isn't far behind. He is really whizzing on his Sprint bike. I bet he'll be riding a real bike by the end of summer. I'll try to get some video of both of them riding this weekend.

Before




After


Friday, July 25, 2008

Broccoli Gone Wild

My garden is doing magnificently! We eat fresh greens from the garden almost every night, and we often add garden fresh beets, radish, and carrots in the salad. I've started getting a few yellow squash and zucchini, and the peppers, beans, and eggplant are coming soon. The best yet from my garden is probably the broccoli. Now I didn't set out to grow broccoli in my garden this year. I've never grown it and had heard that it was difficult to grow, but the broccoli had different plans. It came up wild in a few places (I much prefer the term "wild" to "volunteer"... much more romantic, don't you think?). I am a sucker for wild plants and have a difficult time pulling them. Sometimes I try to transplant them to another spot, but usually I watch to see what will happen. So I watched the few broccoli plants, and they grew and thrived. Last week while my mother-in-law was here, the first head was ready for harvest. We picked it, steamed it, added a little butter and salt, and ate the most succulent broccoli I've ever had! We've enjoyed a few more heads since (one we split with a neighbor since the wild broccoli decided to grow on the border of our garden plots). Lots of broccoli is definitely going in my garden plan for next summer!

The photo is from my garden. We also have some "wild" beans, romaine lettuce, parsley, and cilantro growing! That is part of the fun of a community garden... you never know what will wander in from someone else's plot!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm Baaack!!

Seems appropriate that I start blogging again on my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of starting my blog, huh?

So 5 sets of guests in under 4 weeks took a bit more out of me than I expected, but we sure had a lot of fun! Even though I didn't have time for much else (including blogging, obviously!), I wouldn't have wanted anyone to stay away. I dropped my last house guest off at the airport yesterday and am now trying to get back into our regular routine. I should have some personal updates, reports on activities, and giveaways coming up soon. Oh... and there are some BIG changes that are going to be happening in my life over the next few months. I can't blog about it yet, but I will soon (and, no... I'm not pregnant! *rolleyes*)

Friday, July 11, 2008

I know, I know...

I haven't gone this long without blogging since I started!! It isn't easy to blog with back-to-back guests (we've been having a GREAT time!), more computer issues, blah, blah, blah...

BUT we have been doing all kinds of fun things that I can't wait to blog about! Recap of the 4th, making cheese, riding bikes, etc.

So I promise I'll be back soon!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My Boys

I haven't been blogging about it much, but I am still working on my photography. I really *need* a new lense, but I think I am going to be *needing* it for a long time.

Here is a shot from last weekend that I just love!


Disconnected

I have been so disconnected from the world since Tuesday!
  • No internet
  • Limited home phone
  • No cell phone
The first two are due to the cable company. The last is my fault (still can't find that darn cell phone!). The universe is definitely sending me a message.

So I am back. Hopefully. Got a lot of catching up. Was going to do a big giveaway this week, but it is going to have to happen next week instead.

*edited to add: the post yesterday was a "pre-post" that worked! And I just checked my Bloglines... over 2500 posts to catch up on! Don't expect many comments! LOL

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Catching Fruit Flies

It is that time of year in our house when the fruit flies start to invade. I tend to have lots of fresh produce sitting in bowls on my counters, and I'm not always the best at taking out the kitchen compost... So we often get a swarm of fruit flies in the kitchen during the summer. A few years ago I learned a secret for getting rid of them pretty quickly.

First put any produce in the fridge (and empty your compost pail!). Then fill a glass* with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and place a funnel in the glass (a rolled up paper funnel works just as well). Let it sit all day or night. The flies will go down the funnel to get to the apple cider vinegar, but won't be able to get out again. When you've captured the little guys, just dump them all down the drain (if there are any still flying around in the glass, go outside before taking out the funnel!).

Check out other WFMW at Rocks in my Dryer.

*The glass in the photo are the glasses from made out of wine bottles that I blogged about last year. I still LOVE them. Very sturdy!