New Toy

Did I tell you I got a new camera for Christmas? A real, grown up, digital camera. I am so blessed. The wanderlust wells up in me all over again every time I take it out to play. Several months ago I drove up to the beach at Semiahmoo hoping to stretch my rusty photography loving muscles and to maybe catch a decent sunset. Well, the sky more than delivered that night. Sunsets are funny. You often think they’re over, as they softly set into those pastels of honey and cream, but, more often than not, you have only to wait a bit longer. Wait until that ball of fire just dips below the horizon, then… POW! An explosion of neons so bright my mind can hardly comprehend them. Sherbet? Wildflowers? The sun cannot be compared to anything other than itself. And here it is, throwing one last party before bedtime.

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IMG_0418How do you describe that inner peace that you feel when it’s just you and your camera and everything else fades away? That meditation. That prayer. Every flap of a bird’s wings, every roll of the waves, and every reflection in every sandy pool is magic. And you can’t help but linger to soak up every last drop of it, even when it’s freezing out and your nose is running and your hands are numb. It’s all worth it, isn’t it. Moments like these make my soul sing praises.

Green things and tomatoes like my daddy taught me

This month seems to be going by so quickly. Recently I’d been coveting pictures of incredibly creative deck gardens and some raised bed ideas for smaller spaces but hadn’t intended on taking any action on it. Knowing near to nothing about gardening, I thought I had already missed my window for planting and figured it was too late to add any new life to my very bare and very boring deck. I’d resolved that this spring was not the spring for deck gardens. However, when a friend so graciously gifted me some herb, berry, tomato, flower, AND succulent starts (Thanks, Joan!), the flame was fueled. I got so excited about putting together my little potted garden that I picked up two more sweet strawberry plants and a cherry tomato. To all of the veteran gardeners out there, it gets a bit addicting, no?

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Basil – For fresh pasta, pesto, or caprese salad

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Mint – For mojitos, mojitos, and mojitos. Just kidding. How about watermelon, mint, and feta salad? Or mojitos?

To my excitement (and confusion), these things are actually growing. It’s as if they like me or something.

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Strawberries! This is all so new and exciting!

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Those little flowers will turn into strawberries, right? Oh, I so hope at least one of my three plants produces at least one little berry. I probably wouldn’t even eat it. I would just set my little strawberry on a very large plate and let it be the very proud centerpiece of my dining room table until it molds over and I must tearfully throw it away. Grow berries grow!

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And this, my friends, is also happening. Cherry tomatoes planted like my dad taught me. Five gallon bucket, dirt, cage, and trash bag. Okay, I’m sure he did it better than this. My pa has mother nature in his blood. But out of all of the wonderful gardening that we did as a family growing up (and I mean wonderful, magical raised garden beds overflowing with sweet snap peas, and sugary carrots, and candy-like tomatoes, and crisp lettuces, and anything else you could possibly want to snack on as a child during a brief break from play outside in the sun – The kind of wonderful/magical that every child should have a chance to experience), this is what I remember the most. Drill a hole in the bottom of a bucket, add some rocks (I actually used pieces of recycled styrofoam as an experiment. Same idea, I think), add dirt, plant the plant, water until the water drains from the hole, add a cage, wrap in plastic to create a lovely green house effect. I remember these bucket tomatoes producing so well. Fingers crossed that lots of sun and me speaking very kindly to my little green babies will make it happen. How about you? Do you have anything special growing in your yards or decks or patios this year?

Don’t judge a book by its cover…

…or vegetables by their ugly. Not long ago, I read an article on how a European supermarket took a stand against food waste by promoting and selling the ugly cast-offs of the produce world in their stores (at a discount, of course). They touted these quirky veggies by proving that they were just as nutritious and delicious and worthy of love as any other. And they sold out quickly! (Their marketing video, here, is actually really great and definitely worth a watch).

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Well, I have to tell you that these little purple potatoes that I had in my pantry aren’t so sexy looking either. The skins are wrinkly, the ends lumpy, and what’s up with that root?! However, I was beyond excited to get my hands on these little guys. Any idea why a girl like me would get this pumped about a potato? Well, just cut into one and see!

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Wow! That color! The modest purple potato, everyone…And hey, the bunch was only $1.00. Of course I couldn’t wait to eat them. With pigment like that, you know they’re going to be good. I cleaned their nubbly skins by scrubbing under running water and cutting off anything too unsightly (like eyes and roots). There is no need to peel since the skin tastes great too (and just think of the extra vitamins, ya’ll!).

I prepared them by boiling in water until just tender, about 15 minutes. While the potatoes were boiling, I sautéed some sliced Kalamata olives in a little olive oil along with some fresh chopped rosemary. Once the potatoes were cooked, I drained them, sliced them into thick rounds, and added to my skillet. I added a small dab of butter (aka flavor gold) to the pan and sautéed them for a bit on med-high just until the skins began to brown. I then finished with a little sprinkle of Kosher salt.

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You can see how they turned and even darker shade after cooking. So fun. These babies are actually pretty sweet, almost like a yam, so I would consider that when pairing with other foods. I tossed mine with some fresh steamed green beans (not only for taste but because of the beautiful complimentary colors), added an extra drizzle of olive oil, and just a pinch more of salt. Fresh, quality ingredients need little fussing over. Delicious!