pumpkins and fall scenes of the farm

some of the pumpkin collection

I warned you. It was a bumper crop! In this picture we have melonette de jaspee vendee (little yellowish ones). And Winter luxury pie pumpkins. So far, I’m made pumpkin bean soup, pumpkin leek soup, and a maple pumpkin pie. Sheesh, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Yes pumpkin will be on the menu this sunday! Thinking to do maybe a pumpkin spinach gratin, and of course a pie, probably my regular one.

Here’s the rest of the collection.

grand entrance to casa turdacres!

Don’t ask about the ladder!! These big ones are musquee de provence. It said they would be about 20 lbs, but these are more. Yikes! Hard to lift them. I’ve given away a few of the bad boys, but clearly need to start delivering them to unsuspecting neighbors or something!!

Yep, we’re working on our trashy yard vibe this year. Here’s our new patio arrangement…

casual seating plus water garden!

Featured in this area is our *new* aluminum glider (2.00 and came with free cushion!), alongside part of our 150.00 haul of old metal furniture. The water garden is a new thing. Notice the white pipe at the top left? That’s draining water off a flat roof over the patio which, for some unknown reason, was never fitted with a drainpipe! Water just accumulates up there and then it runs off on in one corner–rotting the roof line! Well now, we fixed that!

Water now runs out the pipe and into the galvanized trough which our neighbors had discarded. The plastic bit of gutter guard is in there, can you guess why? It’s an animal escape system. We learned the hard way that animals can’t get out if they fall in. RIP squirrel buddy 2010.

Yep we’re doing crazy rustic round here. Including a newly installed hoop house (cost 10.00 for a screen door). We made this bad boy from a trampoline frame, plastic sheet, some rebar stakes, plastic electrical conduit and…binder twine! It still needs some work, but we were happy to test the design. It gets pretty hot in there. Clocked it at 122 one day!!! So we’ll need some venting options.

dad likes to do a project when he comes down. this was a doozer!

While we have a lot of projects on the go (I won’t even show you the cardboard mulch project in the lower garden, or the new brick project for the potager)..one thing remains the same. Sure love that barn. It’s just so pretty!

barn with new hoop house neighbor


escarole and white beans
July 6, 2011, 9:26 am
Filed under: beans, escarole, gardening, recipe

Escarole and white beans
Friday night dinner for two ala turdacres.

Escarole, endive radicchio overwhelmed by mint and sage!

I love the Winter Greens mix by Renee’s garden. I don’t get too much of the curly endive, but the other two do really well. Great in a salad, though I left them a tad too long I think, and if that’s the case, cook em up italian style, in some greens and beans. Make sure you use white beans (cannelini or navy). So delicious!!

Escarole and white beans

1 head of escarole rinsed and chopped large
1 15 oz can white beans
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

In a big saute pan heat the olive oil. Add the escarole, 1/4 cup of water and wilt. Add in spices and beans cover and heat. Takes about five minutes total and you have a wonderful healthy dinner for two!

who knew you could love quinoa?
February 4, 2011, 11:16 am
Filed under: beans, quinoa, recipe, salad

Especially not the folks around here. Quinoa is derisively talked about in these circles, usually along the lines of “oh no, not the ancient grain!”
But in spite of their stated dislike, I persist. I mean it has all the amino acids in one perfect little grain!! Come on people, get with the grain.
And last night, I found the ticket.

Quinoa Salad with Feta Chickpeas and Veggies

1 cup quinoa
1 15 oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
1 green pepper diced
1/3 cup parsley chopped
1 handful broccoli chopped
5 oz feta

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
splash of sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dijon mustard
lots of pepper

Ok, so I bought a box of quinoa that had two cups in it (7.5 serving). I made the whole thing. 2 cups quinoa/ 4 cups water. Bring to boil for 5 mins covered. Let sit covered for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water. (I have about half left for another recipe day in the freezer).
I added the broccoli to the water a tad too soon. Next time I’ll add the smallish salad like pieces to the sit time alone.
Put other ingredients in bowl. Mix up dressing in a jar with lid and shake well. S & P to taste.

You can see where I was going with this recipe. We know they likes chickpeas. Check. We know they like the greek pasta salad. Check. Whoops no kalamata olives on hand. Waaa. But feta, good. Check. Pepper. Good. Check. Nice healthy dinner. Yum. Bodies are happy.

indian split pea soup with spinach, carrots and potatoes
November 24, 2010, 1:00 pm
Filed under: beans, carrots, recipe, soup, spinach | Tags: , , , ,

Back in the early days of our relationship I would occasionally make the dude a fancy soup. These health tonics, as I called them, were not much appreciated. Dude recalled later that he dumped the Beet greens soup I gave him for lunch. And I have captured on film the inimitable expression of *pain* that accompanied my personal favorite, the Indian Split Pea soup. Sigh. Dude did, however, struggle on gamely with the strange parade of healthy soups, and for that he got the big prize–the live-in cook (who sometimes makes him good desserts, right?!)

Well last night he said he was in the mood for soup. I have been on a carrot rampage of late, having bought two five pound bags of the things in separate shopping trips. We’re almost through the second bag! Woo hoo! So as I was googling I found this recipe. I kind of missed the indian part, but noticed that it called for a block of frozen spinach and it was labeled fast. So off we went.

The Food and Wine recipe. I really didn’t follow the instructions so much as it required two pots. And we can’t have that, now can we? Not when you don’t have a dishwasher you can’t.

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
1 cup yellow or green split peas
9 cups water, more if needed
2 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled, 1 piece chopped
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound boiling potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Here’s what I did. I put the green split peas and 3 cups of water and a chunk of peeled ginger on to boil. I cooked them for about 10 minutes or so, they were still a tad crunchy. Then I added the chopped carrots jalapenos and potatoes. I only felt like using 2 carrots and found that that was enough. I added the spices. I cooked the soup again for about 10 minutes and then added the frozen block of spinach. The pot simmered along and the spinach slowly melted.

Additional googling revealed a review on cooking.com. She confirmed what I was afraid of, the soup needed more spice. She had some good tips for sauteing garlic and spices and adding them at the end (basically 2 garlic cloves, and another hit of all of the spices and more jalapenos and fennel). I might do that next time. But the extra pot thing, remember? So I just added more spices.

Serve with yogurt on top. Yum.

Next time I would do the extra saute step. If we get that dishwasher that is.

cauliflower salad, yes really
October 19, 2010, 11:35 am
Filed under: beans, cauliflower, dahlias, recipe, salad | Tags: ,

I wanted to make something with cauliflower and something different. We love the roasted cauliflower, indian style with potatoes, and we love the mashed cauliflower with boursin (bad rachel ray, bad!).

But I needed something, I don’t know, salady. We were going to have some boiled fingerlings just dug. What goes with that? Ta da.. Cauliflower salad! Of course. The surprising thing was that it was actually pretty good. And fits the bill for vegetable + protein. A nice crunchy winter salad.

cauliflower salad and dahlias

Inspired by this recipe.
Feta Cauliflower and White Bean Salad
I head cauliflower diced small
1 15 oz can white beans rinsed and drained
2 stems of celery chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup parsley chopped
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1 1/2 tsp lemon peel grated
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan heat up oil and rosemary until you can smell the rosemary. Set aside to cool. Pour over cauliflower and the rest of stuff in a large salad bowl. Mix up lemon juice vinegar and lemon peel in a small bowl. Pour over top and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Our other “white” salad is Dama Bianca.

our view on fish–and mock tuna salad
July 19, 2010, 8:25 pm
Filed under: beans, food issues, meat, recipe, salad | Tags: , ,

Here at the acres we eat a vegetarian diet. I really hate having that conversation with people–well do you eat ___? how about ___? It just ends up getting into a place where you’re feeling like you’re not militant enough, or something. And it’s weird when you think about it. You don’t ask a meatarian that many questions about their diet do you? How many meals have you had without meat meatarian? Are you really a meatarian? Ugh. Dislike this convo.

Anyhow for the record, we’re living a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. We’ve got the chickens to get serious about it. Can we deal with the ethical issues around keeping an animal and using its products? That’s the challenge.

Our commitment is pretty pure I think, no gelatin in the yogurt and that kind of thing. But who knows there’s lots of animal products hiding in some difficult to pronounce ingredients I’m sure. And then, if you eat out, who knows what’s in there. I ask about the kind of stock in innocuous sounding things, cause it’s always in there somewhere. But we do what we can. See I’m feeling bad just writing it. We could be better. And I know I make an exception for a marshmallow or two in the summer for a smore. But I don’t feel good about it!

And then there’s the fish. Ok, so now we sound even worse. Fish tacos are good. I like fish tacos. That’s the only fish we cook at home–a couple of times a year. We haven’t had them this year, as I’m trying to really get more serious about no fish no where. Fish fry, well that’s ok to have out now and again. Of course, it’s hard to find a good one in Pittsburgh.

Well for what it’s worth, that’s the story. We eat what we eat and try to be thoughtful about it. And on that note, this article about Tuna is worth sharing. I think it’s a good argument for being more serious about avoiding fish. We have other options to eat so why don’t we eat more of that? I sure wish restaurants would help us with that. We have no trouble at home, but dining out, it’s just plain annoying to see that in many cities it’s unnecessarily difficult to find a good vegetarian option on the menu. And why is there no great vegetarian cooking show on food network?? How hard is it? The food is fantastic people!!! There are unlimited options for great vegetarian food. Is the food network sponsored so heavily by the meat industry or what?? Please explain?!

Oh and read the article on tuna. It’ll make you think twice about your tuna sandwich, or fishburger.

I’m going to try this tuna-free tuna salad recipe and work to eliminate tuna from my diet.

Mock Tuna Salad Turdacres Style
1 15 oz can chickpeas drained
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 small dill pickles (1/4 cup?)
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp soy sauce
2 green onions chopped
1 tsp dill
pepper to taste
enough mayonnaise to suit you at least 1/3 cup
1 tbsp bottled lemon juice

Mash up all ingredient in bowl. Serve as you would a tuna sandwich. It’s pretty good.
The original recipe creates a big of a smoky kind of taste. Maybe the kelp would brighten it up a bit. Anyhow I made it up the original way and then decided to doctor it up as we like our tuna salad–lots of pickles, more green onion, lemon for some zip and dill. The kids and I pronounced it pretty good! Definitely a keeper. You should try it and save a tuna!

the bean salad–3 bean, plus tomato and celery
July 17, 2010, 5:06 pm
Filed under: beans, recipe, salad | Tags: ,

I went out to the garden to see what I could find for lunch. Here’s what I came in with.

lunch time?

I needed lunch for 6. Hmmm. Aha. Time for a bean salad. This is the entire (days) harvest of sungold tomatoes, and all the yellow beans I could find. A sprig of greek basil and parsley. Little doode loves this salad (almost as much as the kale pasta salad). He’s a vegetarian and his growing body is probably really craving the beans!

Bean Salad

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
handful green beans cooked 5 mins and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 stalk celery chopped
1 big handful cherry tomatoes
parsley chopped
basil chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or more to taste
1/4 cup olive oil or more to taste
1 tsp salt
good amount of pepper
1 clove garlic chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients in bowl. Best if it stands for an hour or two in the fridge. Adjust seasonings to taste–usually this means more vinegar or mustard.