June 29, 2008

The Jones Cottage

This is a summer of changes around the Jones Cottage. We've been here a year.Most of the time I don't think we accomplish much...
 know, keeping the house at a minimum level of clean feels like about all we can do. But, I'm learning to give us more credit.

I have been trying to get edible landscaping approved but it looks like that isn't likely to happen. I had even given up on raised beds. Then one day, Andrew came in a said he thought they would be okay in the strip between the driveway and the alley. Great! And, since we are replacing the fence, I knew exactly where I would get the wood to build them.

I have great ideas but not always great follow through. Andrew knows he's going to get sucked into working on something he had no intention of being a part of. Anyways, I built the first box, quickly figured out it was really deep and decided to stagger them. So, the first two boxes are four fence boards deep, the next two are three fence boards deep, and the last two (which I haven't built yet) will be two fence boards deep.

We (notice how Andrew got involved) spent a Saturday finishing these four boxes (building and filling with soil). I would have never gotten them done if Andrew hadn't stepped in when he did. If you followed above, you realize I still have two more to do. I also intend to put in a drip-irrigation system on a timer but I'm thinking that will just have to wait for a while.

Green beans, celery, tomatoes, purple potatoes, peppers, delicata squash, lemon cucumber and basil all made it in this year. It has really amazed me how well everything is doing. It was late in the year, the weather was weird and some of the plants had a rough time before getting in the ground, yet in less than a week everything was going strong.
This picture is from the first week when I planted the green beans. They were seeds Mom and Dad saved from last year. I would say germination was spotty.

Just one week after planting!

But that isn't all that has been going on. Mom and Dad came up and Dad cut down the awful holly tree in our backyard and the arborvitae in the front yard. Plus, we're getting that new fence!

Maybe there is more going on at the Jones Cottage than I think.

June 11, 2008

But I Don't Like Spinach!

As I learn to be wheat and dairy free, I am exploring new foods. My current favorite is quinoa. This is the "mother of all grains" and no I'm not cursing. This grain has been a staple crop for thousands of years in South America. It was the Incas that referred to it as the mother of all grains.

For those of us who are sensitive to wheat, it is a great find. It is not technically a grain and is in the Chenopodiaceae family which also includes spinach and beets. It has a balanced set of amino acids which other grains and rice do not have.

Even if you're not sensitive to wheat, it makes a tasty addition to your cupboards and comes in a variety of colors. Use it in place of rice or couscous or as a breakfast cereal. Tonight I combined red quinoa with a fresh fava bean sauce and made a tasty dinner.

Fresh Fava Bean Sauce with Quinoa

4 tsp olive oil, divided

1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced

1 T fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, frozen

salt and pepper, to taste

1 c. cooked, peeled fava beans

1 c. dry quinoa

(garlic powder, cayenne powder, dried oregano, dried basil, dash TABASCO® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce)

1. Cover chicken breast with water. Add garlic powder, cayenne powder, dried oregano and basil and the Tabasco (I just add a little of this and a little of that). Cover and bring to a boil. Boil until chicken is done. Remove chicken breast to cool and save the "broth."

2. In pan, heat oil and saute garlic until light brown. Add fresh oregano. Add 1/2 c. of reserved chicken broth, 3/4 c. of the fava beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for approximately 3 min. Puree in separte container. Return to pan. Add additional 1/2 c. chicken broth or more to make a sauce. Add remaining 1/4 c. fava beans.

3. Bring 2 c. chicken broth or water as needed to a boil in separate pan. Add quinoa. Bring back to a boil, cover, and turn down to low. Cook about 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

4. Dice chicken. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large pan and add chicken. Add cooked quinoa. Pour fava bean sauce over chicken/quinoa and toss. Heat until warm.

5. Enjoy! Goes well with a green salad.

Note: There are a number of ways one could approach this recipe. You could use pre-made chicken broth and pre-cooked chicken. In that case, skip step 1.

June 2, 2008

Do You Belong...Do You Even Want To?

Most of us want to belong. We want to have that sense of community, of being part of a group.

On one hand, I want to be an individual. I've been taught my entire life to be an individual, yet being an individual isn't always enough. Is this a character flaw? At times it would feel as if it is. I should be strong enough to do things on my own. I don't want to have to rely on others. I'll do it myself! Yet, I still seek out community in my life. I want to be part of a group.

According to Sarason (Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Yale University), sense of community is “the perception of similarity to others, an acknowledged interdependence with others, a willingness to maintain this interdependence by giving to or doing for others what one expects from them, and the feeling that one is part of a larger dependable and stable structure.” Others have defined sense of community as “a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”

A problem can arise when you don't have a perception of similarity. It's us vs them, but what about when feel like you're neither an us or a them? What if you feel like both.

Can you really be both?

Some days I'm not sure where I am. I feel pulled in many different directions. You see me one way, she sees me another way, and I don't see myself either way. None of these things are negatives, they are just opportunities to look outside of ourselves and open up to the greater world. If you don't feel the need to belong, good for you, I guess. If you do, maybe you want to think about the different groups and how you belong to each. What strengths do you see in your various groups? What are they sharing with and teaching to you? What are you providing in return? Each of us has talents and strengths that we share with those around us. Many times we don't even realize what those talents or strengths might be. Sit down with an honest friend some time and ask them what they see as your strengths or talents. It might just surprise you!

Maybe you belong more than you think and matter to those in your community! And, others are committed to you and you to them, even if you think you have to be an individual and don't yet know how to ask for those things you need.

Love Letters to My Sons..