We love cheese. We love bread. We love onions, too. So of course french onion soup is the perfect dinner in our house (Yes, dinner. None of this pre-dinner appetizer stuff). The only thing that has held us back from fully realizing our french onion dreams have been the perfect crock to broil the end product in. However, after a trip to our local summer hippie festival, we laid our hands on 2 matching, handmade, ceramic crocks. Let the festivitating begin!
- Boil 1 beef bone, 4 chopped celery stalks, 3 chopped carrots, 1 chopped onion and 1 bay leaf for 15 minutes, then simmer for 2 hours with 12 cups of water (it will reduce & evaporate). Set aside.
- Peel and slice width-wise 4 large sweet onions, & 2 garlic cloves, add to empty stock pot with 1 stick butter and saute until soft, approximately 15 minutes.
- Pour strained beef broth mixture into the pot with the onions and add 3-4 bouillon cubes (it depends how beefy/salty you like it), simmer for 10 minutes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pour broth and onions into crock, top with sliced and toasted french bread and 2 slices of the cheese of your choice (I like provolone or mozz).
- Broil on low until brown and bubbly. Eat. Love. Awesome.
I love grilling season because that means I get to make my no fail, no fuss, life changing salmon. It’s super easy and guaranteed to impress anyone you serve.
- Quickly spray your salmon filet lightly with olive oil (we have a Misto and it rocks)
- Sprinkle with a dash of salt, pepper, garlic salt, & cayenne
- Drizzle a few lines of honey across the filet and give 2 quick squirts of lemon juice to the top
- Place the filet skin side down on your grill grate (a nice medium heat) and cook for 13-15 minutes depending on the size of your filet. Don’t flip it!
- Using a spatula simply pull the fish from the skin and serve. You can just peel the skin from the grate when it cools – no more skinning!
Since salmon is best served a little on the medium side this finishes your piece with just the right amount of moisture and is packed full of flavor despite the short ingredient list. I doubt you’ll have any leftovers to deal with.
I was so excited to stumble upon our first little cucumber while I was trying to coax a vine back to the trellis – I had no idea it was even there! So exciting! The whole ‘grow stuff’ thing is really working! We also have a squash which is starting to form and most of the tomato plants are in blossom at the moment. I’m amazed at the sense of accomplishment and straight up pride I’m taking in these little plants started from seed….!
Our little garden has finally made it outside and the growing seems to be speeding up (Huzzah!). The peppers have been staked and the tomatoes have been re-homed into cages (it’s very humane, don’t worry) or those upside down Topsy Turvy things. I have had mixed reviews as per their performance, so we’ll see. So far the plants are trying to bend back up toward the bag (?), hopefully they will figure it out soon and stop fighting gravity. The cucumbers have sort of stopped doing much of anything, so I’m not sure what to do with them, but the squash has continued the whole ‘world domination’ plan.
Of course I have learned a few more lessons….
Lesson 5: If you are going to restart your herbs and/or lettuce, stop trying to be nice and start them in the house (see previous post where I killed them all in eggshells). These guys need tough love and need to start their entire existence outside in the elements (nice elements, not too crazy). After a few of my lettuce sprouts got to 2 inches high, I put the basket outside and they promptly shriveled up. The next batch is doing much better with a full life of outdoor love. Parsley also curled up and had to be reseeded.
Lesson 6: What you think is enough light may not actually be true. I had placed my recycled soup and coffee can planters in some pre-made wooden garden boxes figuring they would just continue to flourish in the sun. This is hard when your wee plants aren’t quite big enough to see over the edge of the planter. I used the plastic boxes from some of my starts to prop the cans on until the plants are big enough to sit flat.
It really doesn’t get much better than fresh, local eggs.
The city recently changed an ordinance allowing for more folks to raise chickens in their yards – 5! I don’t think we could convince our HOA to allow it (for now) so I will be thrilled to support our friends and neighbors with egg laying ladies instead. So. Good.
We had intended to get our feet wet in the container garden arena last year as we had a deck put on our condo. However, the best laid plans and all that, as well as the deck building crew taking all summer to build the damn thing, put us behind schedule to an entirely new growing season. So here we are. Still gardening virgins. We read all the books and the blogs and thought we were ready, and then mama nature showed up and put a wrench in our plans by snowing in May of all ridiculous times. So needless to say, the seeds I started in March (Lesson 1: too early for everything but tomatoes) either didn’t make it or were barking to get outside. I have already learned a lot in our foray into the world of seed starts…Shall I share the knowledge? I hear it has power.
Lesson 2: Eggshells are great to start your heartier plants in (squash, zucchini, etc) but too tough for delicate things like herbs. I lost most of my herbs because I either lost track of watering in the shells (whoops) or their root systems were too delicate to maneuver in the small space.
Lesson 3: A grow light is great to get your starts green and growing, but after the first 2-3 inches of growth, doesn’t supply enough light to keep them growing any larger (except of course for the squash which is apparently a super plant and just wants to take over the world) – they stay the same stagnant size until presented to actual light on a windowsill or (someday, maybe) outside. Most of my tomatoes and my pepper plants just sort of stopped growing – it took forever for secondary leaves to come in, and I fear I wasn’t as ahead of the game as I would have liked.
Lesson 4: Dirt is expensive! I know this is a big investment for the moment and doesn’t need to happen each year, but the cost for (on sale!) bags of dirt was more than I had planned for. My suggestion: slowly buy bags throughout the year or when they are on sale to help offset the cost (or at least spread it out).
We definitely still have a ways to go as these little guys aren’t ready to go outside yet. Strike that, the outside world is not ready for these little guys. We’re still dipping close to freezing at night and though the days are sunny, we’re not quite there….So for now, all available windowsill real estate is spoken for and then some. I took all of the cucumbers and remaining peppers to my shop where I planted them (inside) in the containers there. I am still unsure as per whether they will stay the summer outside the retail space, or come home to hang out on the deck….the learning continues!
It’s true. These pulled pork style tacos don’t last nearly as long as they should in our household of two (I should probably be embarrassed, but I’m not. I’ll own it. They are so good.). I have passed the recipe along to a few folks and they agree, this stuff is good. I mean, good.
We prefer to use our pressure cooker to make these bad boys, but I know a few folks that have used their crock pots too (we don’t have one, I call them crack pots, but I digress) and they have turned out just as well – just be sure to follow cooking time instructions per pound of meat for the device of your choosing.
What you will need:
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander (did you know coriander is the same thing as cilantro? Mind blowing.)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (3-4 pound) boneless pork shoulder/rump roast (Have your butcher remove any bones and fat as much as possible)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chicken broth
- A few jalapeños for good measure
Mix the dry ingredients together (except the bay leaves, just in case you were wondering) and rub your roast so the tasty bits get in all the nooks and crannies. Pour your chicken stock, bay leaves and a few jalapeños (pickled or fresh it’s up to you) into your pressure cooker, and set the little metal trivet on top of all of that. Place your perfectly seasoned roast on the trivet and set to High Pressure for 60 minutes (all you crock pot folks can pull your chins off the floor now). After the timer beeps, release the pressure and remove your roast from the pot. Remove the trivet and then replace the roast (you’re almost done!), running one last 30 minute High Pressure cycle. (we throw a few more jalapeños in this step too – we like life spicy)
After the last cook your mouth watering meat hunk is done and may even start to fall apart as you remove it from the pot. Set in a bowl or deep plate and slowly pull apart with a fork and a ladle a scoop or two of the delicious broth over your meat and you’re ready to go.
Fill tiny tortillas with meat, freshly chopped cilantro, perhaps a little salsa, and whatever else your heart desires. This pork won’t last long and you’ll be foaming at the mouth to make it again. Seriously.