Thursday, March 19, 2009

The official end of winter and comfort food season!

It's finally here- the last day of winter! It's a bit dreary here today. We got some pretty heavy rainfall last night which has left our lawn looking like one giant mud puddle. Of course, it didn't help that I started digging up grass for my vegetable garden plot. I spent a few hours playing in the mud yesterday afternoon trying to lay a nice foundation for my future garden. From all the research I have done, it's very important to make sure the soil is top-notch prior to planting. There are still several weeks before planting begins so I will be spending the next month or so playing with dirt. I have drawn out a diagram of where I want everything- I am going to place bamboo poles and trellis for the tomatoes, beans and peas to climb. But, the first thing I did was scoop up some of the soil and drive it down to my local garden shop. Here is a thrilling picture of my dirt- if you look close enough you can almost visualize the watercress and basil... 
The man at the garden store told me that my soil is in pretty good shape. I just need to get it all dug up and pull the remaining grass roots and weeds out. I will need to add some organic material and fertilizer but overall it's not too full of clay nor too full of sand. It's exciting to think that in a few short months there will be beautiful green plants growing in this space. I can almost taste my garden salad of freshly picked lettuce, tomatoes, carrot, and cucumbers.

Speaking of garden salads- it's official: comfort food season has come to a close. I brought in the new season of spring cuisine last night with Chicken Salad Sandwiches and Homemade Potato Chips. Simple yes, but tasty also.

Chicken Salad:
2 cups shredded chicken* 
3/4 cup mayo- maybe more? I really didn't pay that much attention- start with less and then add until you like the consistency
1 stalk celery diced
1/2 sweet onion diced
1/2 c toasted almond slivers
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix together and serve on bread or a roll with lettuce and tomato- how easy is that???

* Barefoot Contessa has an easy method for preparing shredded chicken- just take bone-in chicken breasts, drizzle with some olive oil and salt & pepper and bake at 400 for about 40 minutes. After they cool, pull off the skin and shred the chicken. I had made about four cups worth and used half for tortilla soup the night before. Nice way to prep a couple of meals during a busy week.

I will keep you posted on the progress of my gardening... if you happened to watch 60 Minutes last weekend- there was a nice piece on Alice Waters. She's leading a movement toward eating local and organic foods. While I think it's difficult to fully adapt to that lifestyle- a few simple changes are worth trying. If you aren't going to plant a vegetable garden- try hitting up your local farmers market and experience the beauty of freshly picked crops. For no other reason than the food simply tastes better when it hasn't been sitting in a box and shipped across the country. Yay for Spring! 


Emily said...

Amen to that! Wherever you are spring...

Dielle said...

Oh, I'm jealous about your garden-in-waiting! I had such a great time getting my hands and feet (I garden barefoot) dirty last year, planting my biggest and most productive garden ever. But being 7 months pregnant now, and knowing that I'll be just about ready to have this baby come planting time, it's just not happening this year.

Here's the one thing I learned from last year, that you may already know... don't plant pumpkin and zucchini too close. By the end of the season, they'd cross-pollinated and the zucchini had super thick rinds, were orange inside and smelled just like pumpkin (they looked like zucchini on the outside, though).