Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vertical Gutter Garden!

I've been dreaming up this project for a few weeks and finally got it done!  In a few months, I should have a beautiful vertical lettuce patch!

You'll need:
Ywo 2 by 4's cut down to the height of your fence - mine were 5ft.  
I had them cut down at Loew's when I bought them.
A sharpie or pencil.
Four sections of old gutter cut to the same length - 5ft here.
Hammer and nails.
A few square feet of dried coconut planter liner and garden twine.
Long screws and a drill.

First, stand the 2x4 up next to the fence and mark where it will be screwed in to the fence board.
This way you can make sure not to nail a gutter into this area.

Lay the 2x4s parallel and layout the gutters as below.

You want to make sure the gutters are diagonal and each lines up with the next below. 
 The idea is that the water will flow down one to the other.  
Since the gutters don't have holes, this is create good drainage.

Nail the gutters into place - I used the side of the hammer to start because it was the only way it fit.

Once the nail is started, you can hold back the top of the gutter to make room for hammering.

Make sure those upper gutters are flowing into the bottom, like this...

Wrap the sharp edges with the coconut liner and twine.

Screw the whole thing into the fence with two long screws.

Voila!  Vertical Gutter Garden!

I'm waiting for my lettuce seeds to sprout - a few have come up!  Pretty soon, I'll have a vertical lettuce patch!  I plan to plant each gutter a week or two apart so that I can harvest in a rotation.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Things that make me happy...

Farmer's Market Veggies Made into Art

Wet Dog at the Beach

Breakfast Sandwiches at a Newly Discovered Cafe

Kitty Cat in a Lettuce Patch

Fresh Lavender Bouquet Drying in the Kitchen

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Napa Cabbage Wraps

I love spring and summer cooking because of all the fresh produce available.  This recipe is delicious and FULL of healthy veggies!

Chicken Napa Cabbage Wraps with Cucumber Relish and White Rice = YUM!
I find the napa cabbage holds up better than other lettuce and is easier to eat.  Make sure you make lots of stir-fry because everyone will ask for seconds.

First grab some asian ingredients from the pantry for a stir-fry sauce.  I used ready-made stir fried sauce and jazzed it up with some other seasonings.

Brown your chicken pieces and deglaze with sauce.

Saute some fresh spring veggies;  Here I used carrots, asparagus, onions, and zucchini.

Chop some cucumber, bell pepper, radish, and herbs.  Season with mirin, lime juice, and olive oil for a light relish to add even more crunch to your lettuce wraps.

I love extra condiments, so I also made a quick spicy mayo.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Cucumber Relish and Spicy Mayo
Serves 4

Chicken Stir-Fry
2 large chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" cubes
3 TB Stir-Fry Sauce (or hoisin sauce)
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB mirin
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce
3 cups of chopped veggies, like grated carrots, diced onion, zucchini and onion
1 small head napa cabbage

Cucumber Relish
1 cup diced fresh veggies, like grated radishes, diced cucumber and bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped herbs, like parsley and mint
1 TB lime juice
1 TB mirin
1 TB olive oil

Spicy Mayo
1/4 cup mayo

1 TB lime juice
1 TB mirin
1 TB chili garlic Sauce

Brown the chicken in some oil.  Mix all the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce and add to deglaze the pan.
Set the saucy chicken aside, stir-fry the vegetables in the same pan.  Re-add the chicken and sauce.
Cut and wash napa cabbage leaves, 2-3 per person is good.
Mix all the ingredients for cucumber relish and spicy mayo.
Serve with white rice.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hawaiian Inspired Dinner

My boyfriend loves Hawaiian BQQ fast food restaurants - you pick a meat with an asian flavored sauce and it's serves with macaroni salad and white rice.  A little too much starch, so I just went with macaroni salad filled with lots of veggies with teriyaki steak.

I LOVE pickles.  Pickled anything.  At any time, you will find at least 6 jars of pickled things in my fridge.  Hopefully, they will all be home-made and from the garden in a few months!  Pickle juice and mayonnaise make an amazing pasta salad dressing.

Whenever it comes time to chop herbs, I'm always short on cutting board space.  This is a good tip - place your herbs in a small bowl or a cup and use scissors to clip the herbs!

Teriyaki Steak (Serves 4)

2 pound london broil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1TB ginger, minced
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB sesame seeds
1/2 of a granny smith apple, grated

Marinate the london broil for at least 45 minutes.  Remove from marinade and pat with paper towels.  Place on a rack and broil for 10 minutes until it begins to caramelize.  Flip it over and cook for another 10 minutes.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing thinly.  While the meat rests, pour the marinade into a pan, bring to a boil and reduce to a syrupy sauce.

Veggie Filled Macaroni Salad with Pickle Dressing (Serves 4)

2 cups macaroni, boiled till cooked through and drained, but still warm
2 cups diced vegetables, I used carrots, radishes, and broccoli
1/4 cup chopped pickles, I used pickles, banana peppers, jalapenos, and olive mix
2-3 TB pickle juice
1/4 cup mayo, I always use light mayo
2 TB chopped parsley

Mix pickles, pickle juice, mayo and parsley.  Add macaroni and vegetables.  Warm macaroni soaks in the dressing better than cold.  Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pork al Pastor in Baked Crispy Tacos

I love Mexican food!  Pork al Pastor is traditionally shoulder layered with onions and pineapple, cooked on a rotating rotissere similar to Middle Easter Shawarma.  

I used pork chops since I had them in the freezer.  Take your pork chops and dice them up.  Marinate them with pineapple juice, cilantro, cumin, and chili powder.  Make a quick salsa by pureeing some tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and some spicy peppers in the blender.  While the pork is marinating, start your taco shells by placing two corn tortillas on a piece of foil and spray both sides with non-stick spray.  Like so.... 

Cover them with another piece of foil.

Take the top of the foil and fold it to the bottom.  Scrunch up the ends to fold it together.  Your tortillas are sandwiched inside in the shape of a crispy taco.

Bake at 400F for 12 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 12 more minutes.
While those are baking, brown the marinated pork up in a little oil.

Remove the pork and set aside.  Deglaze the pan with a little water and add the salsa puree.  
Pour that onto the reserved meat.  

 In the same pan, saute some onions and peppers.

When the onions and peppers are nice and brown, add the reserved meat and salsa.

Earlier, I made a simple cucumber guacamole by mashing up some avocado with lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Then mixed in some small diced cucumber.

To plate it up, put your pork into the crispy shells and topping with some shredded cheese.  Serve with some shredded cabbage and the cucumber guacamole.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Making a raised garden bed and a cool tomato trellising tip!

Yesterday I went to a home improvement store looking for some more containers to add to my garden.  I got quite a work out cause  I must have walked from one end of the store to the other about 6 times.  All the pots seemed like too much money to spend on plastic.  Then I saw the raised garden beds!  I decided that was the way to go, but not cheap at $70-90.  I had a stroke of genius - hammer four pieces of wood together and voila garden bed!  It just so happened that I had some old wood boards in the yard, so I bought some nails, wood glue, and four small square post that I found in the wood molding section.  I used these pieces to create some more stability.  See what I'm talking about...

The old wood planks are glued and hammered to the posts.  I filled the whole thing up with some organic potting soil and planted 3 different squash plants, 2 bell peppers, and a lettuce patch!

My tomatoes were ready for training so I bought a wire frame trellis.  I also bought some little hair clips to use as moveable tomato clips!

Now my tomatoes are training up the trellis but are free to grow as they please!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Green Curry Kitchen

Since this blog is called Sarah Jeanne's Kitchen, it seems only appropriate to post a recipe today.  For dinner I made one of my favorite meals - Green Curry Chicken.  I make it for two reasons:  one because it's delicious and two it's a great recipe to clean out your vegetable drawer.  I usually make it when I'm down to the last few veggies that need to be used up.

I need to get better at taking more pictures during the process... but here's the end result!

Recipe for Green Curry Chicken
Serves 4

2 large chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks

3-4 types of vegetables, about 3 cups raw, medium dice
Use up whatever you have - tonight was onion, red bell pepper, celery, and swiss chard

1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken stock, I make a big batch once in a while and freeze it in ice cube trays
3 TB green curry paste **see note below
2 TB fish sauce
1 1/2 TB lime juice
2 TB fresh herbs - I used some from my garden! Mint, Oregano, Chives, and Lemon Balm

Season chicken chunks with salt and pepper.
Brown the chicken in a hot pan with oil.  No need to cook all the way as you want to finish it in the sauce.  Remove the chicken and set aside.
Saute the vegetables in some oil with salt and pepper.  If you're using a leafy veggie, like my swiss chard, leave it to the end.
Once all the veggies are soft, add 1 can coconut milk and chicken stock
Add green curry paste, fish sauce, and lime juice.  You can add more or less of each ingredient according to your taste.  I like lots of seasoning.
Add the seared chicken and simmer for 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Finish with chopped herbs and serve with white rice.

Somehow I always end up cooking enough for 4 people, although there's just two of us eating.  I'm a big fan of leftovers in the freezer.  Because of this I am a hoarder of containers.  Tonight it's going in an old sauerkraut jar!  I always write the name of the dish and date it was made in good old Sharpie.  Makes organizing the freezer much easier and the marker comes off most containers during a good wash.

**Green Curry Paste
Here's a recipes for green curry paste, although I will admit, I often by it in a jar.  Most stores have it in the Asian section.

10 Serrano Chilis
1 Onion (or 3 shallots)
2" piece of Ginger  (Galangal if you can get it)
6 Garlic Cloves
1 Bunch Cilantro
2 TB Lime Juice
2 Stalks Lemon Grass
1TB Corrindar Seeds
2 TB Cumin Seeds
2 tsp Black Peppercorns
2 TB fish sauce

Grind it all together with a mortar and pestle, blender, or food processor.  Keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks or the freezer for 3 months.