Last night, we ate crispy Brussels sprouts in a balsamic vinaigrette and rice noodles fried on a hot griddle and loaded up with lots of carrots, juicy slices of mushroom, cilantro, crushed peanuts and beansprouts all at Lakeland’s Food Truck Rally downtown (thanks, Off The Griddle!). Crowds of folks and their families gathered in Munn Park to partake in the same gastronomic indulgences. Men and women bundled up from the cold and stood in long lines waiting for a cup of hot tea or coffee. Children ran through the park, enchanted by all of the holiday lights. Last night was one of those that I will keep tucked away in my heart and remember for a long time to come. When we finished eating, we walked downtown and happened upon some live music coming from the Irish pub. We stood inside, warm and contented. The air inside smelled subtly yeasty. While we enjoyed all of the musician’s repertoire, I loved the most his version of Coldplay’s The Scientist; maybe it was the way he connected with the song. We returned home to put our daughter to bed and enjoy one of those rare moments to ourselves where we just tuckered out on the couch snacking on popcorn and watching a holiday movie.
For breakfast we took a suggestion from Daphne Oz. In Relish, she details a quick breakfast of toast with Harissa and avocado. We warmed some hearty bread and spread a bit of Harissa (a fiery and aromatic North African chili paste) on top, followed by a slathering of mashed avocado. From there we drizzled the whole thing with a tiny bit of olive oil, added a sprinkle of chili flakes and sea salt, and finished it off with the smallest drizzle of coconut nectar (or you could use agave, Daphne Oz suggests honey). Mmmm, how I love a savory–or better yet, sweet and savory–breakfast! For those adventurous spirits, I suggest you try this one.
We worked a bit in the garden first thing this morning. We have tomatoes popping up almost everywhere. Our kale and cabbages seem to love the cold nights, as they are standing proud and green and their leaves taste sweet. We ate some of our sweet potatoes the other week–they cooked up so quickly and had a mellow sweetness to their flavor. Plenty still line the windowsills and need eating before too long.
I have three tips for anyone new to gardening; tips that we have come to learn while working in our own.
- Start a compost pile. Plenty of our kitchen scraps such as vegetable shavings, old and withered produce, and the odd knobby end here and there go straight into the compost. We also add clippings from the backyard–anything that is not a pernicious weed. When we make coffee and remember to do so, we add the grounds — you can do the same with tea leaves I think. With turning and the occasional moistening, your scraps will eventually turn into a gorgeously humus soil that your garden will love.
- Choose a groundcover or mulch. We finally bought some hay a while back and it has done wonders at preventing weeds from overtaking our garden. Even though we still have to weed occasionally, we spend more time enjoying the garden and setting about other important tasks like checking leaves for pests, watering, transplanting, etc.
- Make weed tea. Whenever our plants seem a bit droopy and unhappy, we dilute some weed tea and give them a drink. Weed tea makes convenient use of those pesky weeds in your garden; all you have to do is put them in a bucket with some water and let the sun do the rest of the work. After a while you have a nutrient dense liquid (those weeds leach a lot of nutrients from the soil!). A word of warning, though–it has a tendency to smell if it has been sitting out too long and will attract flies if you’re not careful.
That’s all for now! Enjoy your weekend…hopefully with plenty of delicious food, loved ones, and some time outdoors.