Getting Back To The Basics

A place to show the changes in our yard, our garden, our home, and our life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is another pinterest find, with the original being found here.

Rob theorizes he may have a gluten intolerance - yet being a typical man, can't be bothered with going to the doctor to confirm or deny this theory - so I occasionally humor him and make him some gluten free meals. I had been wanting to try this recipe anyway, so found the gluten thing to be a convenient excuse.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Give a light spray with a non-stick spray to prevent cookies from sticking.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in egg whites (start w/ just two) and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened. You're looking for a brownie-like, thick and fudgy batter consistency. If it seems too thick, add another egg white.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds per cookie sheet. I like to use a spring-release cookie scoop. Bake about 14 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • If you use too much egg white, the cookies will spread out flat while baking. I used 2.5 egg whites and they set up perfectly. I read many comments on the original recipe and many people used 3-4 eggs and they didn't set up well. Stick with 2-2.5
  • If you're baking this as a "gluten-free" recipe, just make sure that the brand of chocolate chips you are using is gluten free
  • Let the cookies cool completely before you attempt to remove them from the mat or the parchment. They're delicate, so gently peeling the paper away from the cookie works best.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wine Cork Garden Labels

I saw this idea somewhere on the internet and decided to run with it.  It basically involves wine corks as the label and bamboo skewers as the support that goes into the ground.

I managed to snag a bunch of corks from some friends and family who had been saving them up for various reasons. I had a bunch of bamboo skewers already so the whole thing was a no-brainer. Basically you write the plant label in permanent marker, then shove the cork on the sharp end of the skewer. Then go out and put them in your yard!

I put in the skewer at an angle so that the words would be looking upwards a little, since we'll be peering down on the plants and labels, so it'll make viewing the labels a little easier.

Dogwood Tree (Sadius Maximus Arborus): May destroy nearby vegetation and tennis balls.
(Ignore the huckleberry label. It ruins the joke)

Out in the yard - looks nice! The skewers can go in deep, holding it firmly in place.

Many thanks to Leanna and my Aunt Jeanene for giving up their wine corks :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower, Spinach and Quinoa Salad

Another great recipe found on pinterest is a salad with roasted cauliflower, spinach, and quinoa. Last Wednesday my puppies forced me to harvest my cauliflower because they were trying to eat the last two precious heads of it I had. This is the recipe I found and made to use up the first ever harvest of cauliflower from my own garden.

This is the cauliflower in question. I bought this cauliflower, called Romanesco Cauliflower, from a nursery last spring. The one on the left is a true romanesco. The one on the right is a hybrid between a romanesco and a purple cauliflower. That's our best guess anyway, since they were all supposed to be true romanesco.

The first step involves cutting off the floretes, tossing them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on the edges.

A close up, because it's pretty

Roasted and perfect

While that is roasting in the oven, the quinoa requires cook time. 
This stuff is pretty amazing.

While all that is going on, we made the dressing. Note to future self - add less scallions. Maybe less. I might try cooking some half-way and mixing it into the salad that way.

While waiting on the quinoa and cauliflower I put everything else together in a big bowl. 
Spinach, herbs, capers, toasted walnuts, sundried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes

All mixed up: the above bowl ingredients plus the cauliflower, quinoa, and dressing

Serve, and enjoy

Here is the recipe in it's original form. Personally it was a little too high in the onion dept - I think it was the scallions in the dressing that did it. Next time we will alter that particular aspect of the recipe.

  • 1 head of cauliflower, florets removed
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 cup/170 grams of quinoa (uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
  • a big handful of baby spinach
  • a few fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 8 sundried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
  • a handful of walnuts, toasted then roughly chopped
  • a big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • French vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat your oven to 475°F/245°C and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cauliflower florets in a drizzle of olive oil in a bowl until uniformly coated. Place on parchment paper evenly, add Salt, pepper and slide into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is browned.
  2. Make your quinoa by putting 2 cups of salted water onto boil. When it boils, add the quinoa, turn off the heat, and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes or until the quinoa absorbs all of the water. Fluff.
    As an alternative to this cooking method (it didn't quite work for me, it required more heat and cook time) you can follow these cooking instructions I found on youtube. It's the same water/quinoa ratio. Video on how to cook Quinoa
  3. Put your salad together by mixing the cauliflower with the quinoa, capers, spinach, sage, sundried tomatoes, walnuts, and red pepper flakes. Add a bit of the E-Z Dijon French vinaigrette to this and toss. Taste for seasonings and serve warm, room temperature, or cold.
    Video on how to toast walnuts:
French Vinaigrette
  • ¼ cup/60 ml of sherry vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, chives)
  • ½ cup/120 ml of olive oil
  1. Put your sherry vinegar, minced shallot, mustard, a big pinch of salt and pepper, and herbs in a jam jar and shake until combined. Let rest for about 10 minutes — this softens the intensity of the shallots’ flavor and allows the salt to dissolve; then add the olive oil. Taste for seasonings.

Gooseberries & Currants

Picked up a few things at the nursery today.

First up is 'Poorman Gooseberry' - gooseberries have thorns. They're a deciduous shrub with thorns that give off good sized round fruit in the summer. I plan on getting a few more varieties in the future.

White Imperial Currant
Currants are in the same family as gooseberries. Also a deciduous shrub, there are no thorns and the berries are much smaller.
 Final plant to go in the ground today - Crandall Black Currant - apparently has a nice orange foliage in the fall. I'm gonna need to pick up a post so I can bring one of the branches over.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Northwest Flower & Garden Show buys

We went to the NW Flower and Garden show yesterday and picked up a couple things.

First up - this heron. I think it is a heron x peacock hybrid. The peacock part reminded me of my gramma, so I bought it.  Now I just need a (safe) metal rooster and I'll be content.

Next booth we went to had these pretty fountains. I already have the pot, I just needed something pretty to make the fountain complete and these fit the bill. It's not running yet, but this just shows us how nifty it'll look when it's set up.

And lastly - the bulbs are coming up!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes

Thanks to pinterest I found this great this great blog post that I had fun trying out tonight. Pretty easy and tasty. I may try it again some time in the future with sweet potatoes.

Potatoes prepped for the oven

The finished product

Turned out great and a nice option to throw into the usual rotation of side dishes.

  • Medium sized potatoes - however many you wish to prepare for dinner
  • Garlic cloves thinly sliced, to taste
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Preheat the oven at 425 degrees.
  2. Start on one end of the potato, slicing nearly all the way through. Leave the bottom intact. Make each slice 2-4 mm thick.  
  3. Slice the garlic clove into thin slices and stuff between the wedges of the potato.  I used one clove for two potatoes and slipped in some garlic every 2-3 slices of potato. 
  4. Place potatoes on baking sheet. Drizzle with butter, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the insides are soft and the outside is crisp.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vegetarian Puppies

The girls like veggies. A lot. If I have any hopes of a garden in the future I am going to need to put up deer fencing to keep them out.

They have been ringing the bells to go outside for 3 days and nights and you can hear them through the darkness munching on cauliflower like a pair of really  big bunnies. 
Days later, this is all that remains of the broccoli and cauliflower in two raised beds.

Video of the crime:

The Year of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

A little late (I keep forgetting to post this) but I have the yearly video of the girls.

2011 was a busy year for Sadie and Violet, filled with flyball, agility, rally obedience, general training, tugging, fetch, sleeping, eating, playing, and tormenting their human parents. It's been a blast.

A day in the dirt

Today we got outside and planted a few things that had been sitting in pots waiting for me to get down and dirty.

Red Pearl Lingonberry

Dwarf Lingonberry

Japanese Maple 'Aobo Jo'

Flowering Quince 'Cameo'

Growing in my raised beds - Romanesco Broccoli

Lenten Rose (winter rose) getting ready to bloom