Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More Quick Recipes...and continued spring planting

Back in the day, I enjoyed going to the Dojo on Manhattan's Saint Mark's Place. The busy restaurant's delicious and cheap vegetarian food was a magnet for skint, young people endowed with mega appetites. Not only does their ginger dressing boast of a mention in Wikipedia, the place itself is still going several decades later though in a new location. My recipe is modeled on a fondly remembered menu staple consisting of stir-fried brown rice and veggies topped with an egg. I subbed steamed couscous for the rice and layered it with moderately carmelised onions, crowning the whole lot with an over-easy egg sprinkled with paprika. 


While thinly sliced onions are sauteing in oil over a medium flame (do be sure to stir them frequently) which takes about fifteen minutes, make the couscous (recipe). Remove the onions from the skillet. If there is not enough oil remaining, add a bit more to prevent sticking. Holding a cracked egg near the inside bottom of the skillet, carefully let its contents slip out so as not to break the yolk. After a minute, gently flip over the egg and cook for another minute. On a plate, spread a circular layer of couscous, then one of onions and repeat twice ending with onions. Top with the egg and sprinkle with paprika. I always look forward to piercing the yolk and watching its yellow goodness mingle with the other ingredients.

Some of the late season potato variety, Prospero, overwintered unknown to me as I thought I had harvested them all. Fresh foliage identified their existence so out they came. Some of the early and mid varieties also had remained but their texture no longer resembled that of a potato, but of a turnip so they were thrown on the compost heap.


A good scrubbing made them pretty!


The potatoes were boiled till tender and gently smashed (detailed recipe for smashed potatoes) with the back of a large wooden spoon. Barely cover the bottom of a skillet with oil and heat several minutes over medium high flame. Add the potatoes and saute for about five minutes. Then flip them over and while pressing down with a sturdy spatula from time to time, cook for another five minutes or so till browned and crusty. Towards the end, add minced garlic, a ton of dill, fresh if you can get it, paprika, and salt.

Freshly grated Parmesan goes well with them

When an already prepared, frozen meal is the best answer to a sparsely stocked fridge and general chaos, Mr. Menu Planner aka The Calm One lists the possibilities though I get to choose which one. I recently decided on chicken enchiladas (recipe). He agreed because in his capacity as The One Who Does The Grocery Shopping, he knew we had avocados and crème fraîche with which to adorn these plump beauties.

They take about thirty minutes to heat up in a covered casserole in a 350 degrees F oven

The activity in the sous sol's potting room is still at a high level. Tomatoes and peppers are being transplanted from their flats (recycled, shallow food trays) into separate pots. Cantaloupe, cucumber, butternut squash, and zinnia seeds were recently placed in the incubator.


Since I do not use grow lights, I need to bring out the seedlings each day and return them back to the relative warmth of the sous sol at night.

All the green babies are doing fine!

Walking on or working with soggy soil is detrimental to its healthy structure. The test is that as you pull out your spade, most of the soil will tumble off it. 


À mon avis, there is nothing more courageous than asparagus breaking through encrusted soil. Our planting is just a year old so we will need to wait for next season for their root system to strengthen before harvesting, but these jaunty, spring-green spears cheer me up to no end anyway.

This is a good time to scratch in some complete fertiliser around each plant

Lilacs are beginning to form their lovely buds.


When arriving at chez nous four years ago, the main lilac bush was a towering twelve feet resembling more a leggy tree which made smelling and cutting its luscious, captivating blooms difficult.


One third was pruned for three successive seasons (late winter/early spring). It is now about eight feet high. This gradual pruning allows some blooming each year.

Each pruning was done to lower the height of the lilac

A reflection of a blooming cherry tree and a neighbour's house gracefully augmented the composition of a framed poster which has happily accompanied us from New York City to California to Oregon to Leeds to London to Grenoble and then finally to Angouleme!

It commemorates a Van Gogh exhibit held at the Metropolitan Art Museum in 1987

Box Elders are known for their tasseled seed clusters.


These seeds are also the preferred food of Boisea trivittata.

Halloween bugs!

À la prochaine!


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Basic pruning & the importance of dropped crotches
How to plant asparagus