Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blooms and Bill....this Saturday!

Pin It This Saturday is starting to turn from a ho-hum kind of weekend day to one we'll be talking about for a long time. First, (and to tie it all to the theme of this blog) is the annual plant sale by the local Master Gardeners. Read more about it here. I plan on going first thing for best selection, and so I can get back home in time to see in Bill Clinton.

Yes, Bill Clinton is coming to little ol' McMinnville, Oregon this Saturday. We went online to see if we could get tickets as soon as we saw the article in today's local paper. Apparently there are seats available (or they're not turning anyone away) because my online reply was, "Thank you for your RSVP." OK! I guess we're in. How early will the line be forming? Will we all have seats? Can they fit us all (it's at the high school)?

We're taking Katie, who is less than enthusiastic about giving up precious weekend time to hear a speech by an old guy named Bill. But there is no choice in this matter...I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to see a former president? Neither my husband nor I have ever seen a president, and I truly think this will be one of those things she remembers for the rest of her life...even if she's fidgeting the whole time.

So, after buying some blooms, we'll be off to see Bill!

UPDATE: After getting some great plants (at FABULOUS prices...this is an annual must go to in our area!), I drove by the high school on the way home...just to check out the length of the line. At 10-ish there were about 20 people in line. It was a BEAUTIFUL day...not too hot; not too cold. When I arrived home, I decided to head out and save our group a spot in line. I got some food ready, brought a chair and a book and got in line. I was able to park directly in front of the school...right by my place in line. COOL! From that point, the line rapidly formed, and I was glad I'd come early. My family and some friends joined me, and we basically picnicked at the high school.

About an hour before Bill's expected arrival, they let us into the gym. We immediately dashed to the front, right near the podium. Our little group took up space in the second/third row...about 50 feet from the podium. That was exciting!

They played some music; someone spoke to get us a little excited, and then...we waited. We waited for a couple more hours in the CRAMMED, hot gym. And, because we were so far up front, people were pushing us forward. The girls, bored and hot, sat down, sipped on the one water bottle our group had, played games on a cell phone, and listened to the one iPod we had.

And then, all of a sudden, he arrived. He has a tremendous presence and is a great speaker. He really was captivating. Did he make me want to vote for Hilary? Well, as another of my friends put it, "No, but he made me want to vote for Bill!"

At the end, he came around to shake hands with the locals. We made sure our kids' hands were close to the front, and sure enough we all shook hands with a president. He reached far back into the crowds, shaking as many hands as he could reach. The kids didn't really care too much, but someday, they'll get to say they shook hands with a president. Pretty cool and well worth the wait in my opinion, regardless of your political position.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bright spots in the yard....

Pin It Spring is one of my favorite seasons. It's the season of renewal. Trees are blooming and filling out with leaves. Perennials are coming back to life, filling out with buds and blooms. I love taking daily walks outside to see what is new; what has come back again.

Right now, some bright spots in the yards are:

"Horizon Monarch" Rhododendron. When we first moved into this home, there were three rhodies in the front yard. All of them were similar to this one, which is one of my least favorite colors. And as much as I like plants and flowers, I'm just not willing to keep them around because they were there. One day my next door neighbor was using his truck and a tow rope to pull out a large shrub from his front yard. I excitedly asked him if he would take my rhodies out too. Out they went!! Shortly afterward, they were replaced (in a different, shadier location) by these peachy-yellow rhodies. I like the color against the house, and like that they're a little different from most of the other rhodies in town.

Draconium "Little Leo" in front of sedum.
Rock Daphne "Ruby Glow". It is the most fragrant little evergreen mound I've ever come across. I only bought one because of its spendy price tag (I think 19.99) . The nursery said it wouldn't survive division, so I'd like to propagate (semi-hardwood cuttings, I hear) the plant. I'd really like a couple more of these! Here is a great little guide to propagating plants from cuttings.
"Cecille Bruner" climbing rose. I planted this last year, and am hoping to see some fabulous blooms this year. I love how it's arching over the window frame (a bargain from the Habitat Resale shop).
Rhubarb. YUM!! This plant is in its third year, which means I can harvest all the stalks. The plant experts recommend not taking any the first year, taking up to half the second year, and then from the third year on you can harvest it all.
Erysimum (wallflower) "Apricot Twist". This seems to bloom 10 months out of the year. I'm still trying to figure out if it does best cut back to the ground in fall, or if it's best to deadhead it as it goes. I've tried both, and I think that cutting it all the way back might be more healthy for the plant. What do you all do?
Bugleweed "Bronze Beauty" is in front of a dwarf female (has berries) skimmia (not at its healthiest...may not keep these around...have to do some research on them), and a large bush of Spanish lavender, "Otto Quasti".

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Community Garden Swap

Pin It Today was the day of the Spring Garden Swap. Yesterday I dug out a bunch of variegated eunymous shrubs. A couple years ago I lined my driveway with them thinking I'd like an informal hedge along the side. After living with them for awhile, I realized my front gardening style is too eclectic and hodge-podge for any kind of hedge. They really were out of place. So, out they came! (Well, at least half of them. My mother-in-law asked for three, and I decided to keep a couple for other parts of the yard. Those are still in the ground until we are ready for them. But the other 5 did come out.)

I also dug out the sorrel plant from my herb garden. Some like this in salads, but I never got around to trying it, and found it was a very pesky plant. I don't recall it going to seed, but it must have, because there were dozens of little sorrels in the garden this spring. Though the new plants were tiny, their roots were already about 2" long. I hope I got out every little bit of this. The large sorrel plant went to the community swap.

And, since I have a bunch of it, I dug up some Creeping Jenny groundcover. I also found a flax plant that I bought last year. I really have no spot for this. They get HUGE. I only have small spots left. So that went to the swap as well. I figured the more I brought, the more I could take!

I was so excited to see goodies I might find. I got there shortly after it opened, and the parking lot was full of cars. There were master gardeners on hand to answer questions and just chat about plants.

The first thing that caught my eye was a 5' tall euphorbia plant. It was very pretty. I was about to snag that when I saw some smaller pots of the same thing. I'm no fool: smaller plants mean smaller holes to dig, and less stress to the plant. So I left the large one for someone else, and took one of the small ones.

I also found a bunch of daffodils (wanted more anyways), some orange daylilies, some bluish/purple spring bulbs (will have to ID them next spring), a lot of iris (no clue what size or color...hope I like them!), a few heuchera (coral bells), and some poppy seeds. I feel it was a great trade!

This swap is held twice a year, and I made sure to add my name to the email list for future notices. It really was a great event. I can't believe I've never gone before!

Tri-blossom camellia

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So, the other day I was talking about my camellia that has two completely different blossoms on it. Well, as we were sitting outside yesterday, Brian noticed that in addition to the rosy blossom and the white w/rosy stripes blossom, there is also a solid pale pink blossom. All on the same plant that was labeled "EG Waterhouse".

EG Waterhouse should look like this:

This is what my plant looks like:

The vase at the top of this post shows a close-up of all three blossoms on my camellia. The little vase is actually a cut glass salt/pepper shaker. I simply took off the metal screw-on lid, and use it for a mini bouquet. I LOVE using these small vases for short-stemmed flowers.

One bouquet tip: If you're bringing in woody-stemmed plants like camellias, you'll want to take a hammer (or meat mallet) and smash up the ends of the stem. That allows them to soak up more water.

Tulips: Open in the morning; close up at night

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Last fall I bought a bag of tulips, but never got around to planting them. About a month ago, I stuck them in some empty planters and pots, hoping for the best. Well, whaddaya know? They're the first (in my yard) to bloom. They're short yellow ones with a salmon colored stripe.

If I could find the plant tag, I'd tell you exactly what kind.* You see, I really do save all my plant labels. I have this nifty little binder that is divided into sections of my yard. Within each section are all the plant labels for that space. It really helps me keep things straight...though I must confess I have a hard time figuring out what is marjoram and what is oregano. I have too many varieties of each to keep them straight! Anyway...the main problem with this binder is that I don't add the plants right away. I plant them, stash the label/tag somewhere (usually an empty pot) and then add them after I've acquired a bunch. Yeah, this method does lead to losing a few, though some do turn up a year later when I'm cleaning out my gardening bench area.

So, back to my nameless tulips*...

I just love them! They open up all the way in the morning, start closing up in the late afternoon, and completely close up at night. I know other flowers (and some tulips) do this; I've just never seen the tulips that do it. All of mine gradually open up until they're scraggly and fall apart.

When I find the plant tag, I'll let you know what they are!!*

* I found the plant tag!! The package says they are "Greigii Quebec" tulips. Click here to learn more about them.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

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It was a beautiful day today...our first day in the high 70s (maybe even reaching 80), the skies were blue. It really was a perfect day. I was so excited to head out to the Tulip Festival!

The three of us got in the car, in a great mood. Katie was singing along to her iPod, Brian was listening to NPR, and I was driving with the window down, the wind (and gas fumes) in my face. The view of Mt. Hood was incredible.
We were cruising along the back roads until we decided to head over to I-5 before St. Paul (McKay Rd.). As soon as we got on the interstate, traffic came to a stand-still. All three lanes were just inching along. We figured there was an accident, as we kept seeing bed linens on the side of the road. I envisioned a truckload of moving items strewn all over the road, with the owners scrambling to tie it down, and cars trying to dodge all the stuff.

As we continued on ( 1-2 MPH; 5 MPH---TOPS), there was no sight of an accident. I remember saying aloud, "This can't be for the tulip festival, can' it?" No... Well...maybe. There was an article in the Oregonian today with pictures of it. Could all these people be heading to the tulips? Some had to be going to the outlet mall nearby. They just had to.

It would be a couple hours before we got our answer. There was nowhere to turn off. I had to pee badly. VERY badly. I seriously looked for bushes alongside the road (there were none). I also took a few glances at the empty plastic cup in the car, thinking of what I could do in a dire emergency. I tried to wish it all away.

FINALLY....the outlet mall was in sight, which meant the turn off was just ahead. It took us 45 minutes to drive past the outlet mall, and across the overpass (a good 1/4 mile tops). Best of all, the closest pit stop was mere minutes away....relief was coming. (Yes, I'm sure you're dying to know all about my bladder...) As I got to the restroom, there was a line. A line of one, but nonetheless a line. I politely asked if she had been caught in the traffic as well. No, she was just in line. I explained my situation, and asked in my nicest voice possible if I could please go ahead of her. I've never asked to do that, not even when I was pregnant. She was very kind, and did let me go ahead of her. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

Back on the road, we were now officially in Woodburn. All we had to do was drive through town, turn right and we'd be there!! I did ask if they wanted to turn back, but the traffic looked a lot lighter, so we decided to forge ahead. We were cruising at 45 MPH, and our spirits were high again. 5-10 minutes tops. And then it happened. We caught up with THE LINE. Again. We were back to 1-2 MPH.

Again, I asked them if they wanted to turn back. Again, we'd come so far we decided to keep going. In the meantime, Brian started grumbling, "This better be worth it." A few minutes later, "It's not even the Super Bowl." Katie was starting to complain to. Helicopters flew overhead. They quickly made a "Help me, I'm trapped!" sign, which brought no one to our aid. We continued on....

Finally the last turn off was in sight. It would probably take us 20 minutes just to get the turn off, and then another hour to go the final three miles. It was our final chance to turn around. By this time it was 3-something, and we knew that ALL these cars would have to leave the same way they came in. And we'd be with them. This was our breaking point. We turned around to head back home.

I fell apart, crying, because we'd come so far, it had taken so long, we were just a short bit away, and we were heading home. I knew it made sense, but I had really been excited about going out there. The fields would be dry, it was peak season, the day was perfect, the view of Mt. Hood was spectacular. But it wasn't meant to be.

Brian drove home, and I started to feel better. I was determined to see tulips. I had my camera ready. We actually had fun on the way home, pointing out every little tulip we saw along the roads. Here are the highlights:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Save the Date!

Pin It As the rain starts tapering off, and the sun starts making more of an appearance, the outdoor activities in McMinnville get in high gear. Here are some local food/gardening events I recommend:
  • Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival: Not in Mac, but close enough, and it is truly spectacular. It's going on right now through April 27. Click HERE for an up-to-date field report, complete with pics of what's blooming. Woodburn, OR
  • Spring Garden Swap: Bring plants & gardening supplies to this community swap. It's all free! Sunday, April 13th. 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Coldwell Banker parking lot (2077 N. Hwy 99W)
  • Linfield College's 36th Annual Luau: The Linfield Hawaiian Club puts on a pretty decent production. The food served in Dillon Hall (in my opinion) is not the highlight, but the performance (Ted Wilson Gymanasium) is quite fun. There is also a little Hawaiian store where you can purchase Hawaiian food and goods (including fresh leis). Saturday, April 19, dinner starts at 5:00 p.m.
  • McMenaman's 9th Annual UFO Celebration: OK, this really doesn't have a whole lot to do with food or gardening, but it is QUITE the event. There are serious seminars on UFOs and a fun parade which brings out lots of local families. Alien attire optional for the parade, but you'll probably wish you had some if you come unadorned. Event: May 16 & 17; Parade: Saturday, May 17, 1:00 p.m.
  • McMinnville Farmers' Market: This is the heart of the community in the summertime. Come and browse, listen to some live music, have some dinner. Bring a re-usable bag for your weekly produce. The peaches here are out of this world! Sign up for Oakhill Organics' CSA early, as spaces tend to fill up quickly. Thursdays, May 29-October 16, 1:30-6:30 p.m. Cowls Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
  • Brown Bag Concerts: Bring your lunch and chair (unless you arrive early) down to the US Bank Plaza (3rd Street and Davis) and enjoy the live music. Thursdays, June 5-August 21, 12-1:30 p.m. (Then head on over to the Farmer's Market!)
  • McMinnville Garden Club's Garden Tour & Faire: Visit some fabulous gardens in private homes throughout the community, and then stop by downtown for the Garden Faire of local nursery vendors and artisans. This is where I bought this piece of cheery garden art. Sunday, June 22 10 a.m. -4 p.m.
  • Downtown Festival at Turkey Rama: I'm curious to see how it goes this year. In the past it's been a hodgepodge of booths: some local, some not; some good non-profits;a lot of junk; small-town carnival rides; junk food galore. This year they're moving the carnival away from the downtown area, allowing local 3rd Street Businesses to use their sidewalks for their own space, and putting the booths down the center of the street. They really seem to be focusing on family activities and local food/business vendors. We may not be able to call this "Turkey Trauma" any longer. The changes look promising. July 11 & 12, 3rd Street.
  • Summer Concert Series: The Rotary Club & McMinnville Parks and Rec. are co-hosting this annual concert series. Gather with your friends at Linfield's Oak Grove on Tuesday evenings (usually 7-9 p.m. on occasional July/August nights) for music, food (bring your own, as well as chairs or picnic blankets), and a delightful evening. We look forward to these stress-free evenings, always meeting up with a group of friends. The adults chat and listen; the kids twirl, dance, and play games. Best of all: it's free! Dates will be posted as they're announced.
  • Flapjacks & Fiddles, Bluegrass Festival: Is this a new event? I know they've had pancake breakfast benefits around this time, but this is the first I've heard of it being combined with bluegrass music. It might be worth checking out! August 16, US Bank Plaza (3rd Street & Davis).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Blogging Ideas

Pin It Some posts come easily to when I'm making a new (to the blog at least) recipe or when something spectacular is happening out in the garden. Sometimes it's harder. There are always recipes to share, but in the Pacific Northwest, the lighting isn't always optimal for food pics. I take them anyway, but do wish our natural winter lighting were, well.....light.

Then there are times when ideas come to me, but are lost because I haven't written them down. Or I've written them down on a scrap of paper that is lost somewhere in my piles. Until I find those scraps, I'll simply start an idea list here:
  • favorite cookbooks
  • favorite gardening books
  • favorite local restaurants (add pictures too)
  • favorite local nurseries
  • favorite local u-pick produce places
  • my dream kitchen
  • Food-Saver tips
  • canning tips
  • more useful cooking gadgets
  • more useful gardening gadgets
  • yard art
  • lilies
  • progress on blocking the view into our home from our neighbor's house
  • update on the strawberry tower
  • update my holiday meal plan
  • my eight two-week meal plan rotations complete with recipes, shopping lists, food prep steps, etc.
  • vegetarian dishes
  • our side patio construction
  • before/after pics of the yard
  • plants I cannot get to grow
  • plants I will never plant again
Any other suggestions? Requests? Have you been searching for a specific recipe? Is there a McMinnville restaurant you'd like to know more about? Just let me know!

Crunchy, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

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If I had to pick a favorite cookie it would probably be oatmeal. But not just any oatmeal cookie will do. Some are flat as a pancake and are more of an oatmeal crisp. Others are so soft and gooey. My favorite is a crunchy, yet chewy oatmeal cookie.

Crunchy, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together:
1 C shortening
1 C sugar

1 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

Add in:
1 ½ C flour
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Stir in:
3 C raw, quick cooking oats (not instant)

Place drops of cookie dough 1" apart on a cookie sheet. If you are placing them on a cold cookie sheet, they really don't spread too much.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 1 minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool. That one extra minute is essential, as the insides seem to firm up.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More on...How do people find this blog?

Pin It Most of my blog visitors come here from a link somewhere (website, other blogs, email links, etc.) or directly (possibly bookmarked). But it's always interesting to find out what all the others were searching for when they opened up this little food and gardening blog.

Since August, most people are searching for "potato cheese soup". There are tons of variations on this as well....."marie callender's potato cheese soup", "freezing cheese soup" and so on. This is by far the most popular subject plugged into google that sends visitors to this blog.

Next popular is "rice krispie wreaths" and its tons of variations: "rice krispie wreath", "rice crispy treat wreaths" and so on.

Surprisingly, many are looking for information on "suction lids". Are any of you really using these? I really think they could be useful, but I'm just so set in my ways that I haven't worked them into my normal kitchen routines. Sadly, they just sit in a lid holder in my pantry gathering dust.

Lots of people are looking for recipes that can be made ahead and frozen. They're searching with things like, "freezer meals", "batch cooking", "flash freezing", and "premade meals" among others. There seems to be a resurgence in popularity for freezer cooking, batch cooking, using FoodSavers, etc. 10-12 years ago there was one stand-by cookbook for batch cooking: Once-A-Month cooking. I still have my original copy, though my recipes and methods have expanded since venturing into this type of cooking. Now there are tons of cookbooks, blogs, websites, etc. available. Don't forget the popularity of the fairly new meal-assembly places like Dream Dinners, Super Suppers, and Entree Vous. Did the meal assembly places spark a creative make-ahead cooking bug in other people? I got out of the habit when I needed the most: when I had a child. Thankfully after visiting a couple of these places a couple years ago I came to my senses and started planning my meals again.

People are wanting good steak marinades and recipes/directions for making roulades. (They also want to know how to tie them!).

Since I started posting about good restaurants in my hometown of McMinnville, a lot of people (tourists? locals?) are finding their way here by searching for local restaurant information. Maybe I'll do the same for some of my favorite gardening centers, and some of my favorite U-pick places this summer.

Hopefully visitors are finding some helpful information...whether it's about food or gardening. If you find something especially helpful or interesting, feel free to leave a comment.

I'll be cooking something new (not sure what just yet) for my meal exchange on Wednesday. Hopefully we'll have some nice sun which makes it easier to take better food pics!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

This week in the garden...

Pin It Boy, have we had strange weather! A few days of hail, snow, rain, sunshine, blue skies, warmth, cold...all in a single day. A couple days ago we woke up to it was so nice with blue
skies and a high of 63.

Out in the garden my camellias are just starting to bloom. I must not have early-blooming varieties, because others have been going strong for at least 6 weeks now. I'm not sure what type this one is. The tag said "EG Waterhouse," but the picture of that blossom is a double pale pink flower; not this deep rose. Obviously the tag was mixed up (a lesson to only buy plants in bloom if you really want to know what they are!). Along with the rosy blossoms it also has a white blossom swirled with rosy red.

The hellebores (Helleborus hybrid Immanence) are also in bloom. They're one of the first bloomers in my yard each year. Though pretty, I'm always a little disappointed because the blossoms point toward the ground.

I've always wanted a star magnolia, and finally planted one last spring. It bloomed for the first time today. I can't wait until it's larger, but for now I'll enjoy the 3 or 4 little blossoms... This one is very fragrant. Sadly, it wasn't marked beyond "Star Magnolia" so I don't know the variety. But I do remember smelling several and going with the most fragrant one!

Peonies have always been a favorite of mine, and here you can see the Sarah Bernhard peonies just popping through the earth. I tucked a few more of these in the front yard, where they seem to do better (much better...they actually bloom in the front yard!).

This evergreen clematis (Evergreen armandii) was placed on the part of the fence that faces my dining room window. I hated looking out at wooden slats, and really enjoy the year-round green view the plant provides. This one has grown like a weed. It was cut to the ground last year (had to steal the trellis behind it because it matched one in my side patio...and Lowe's didn't sell them anymore!) and has come back just as full as last year. I'm hoping my others look this good by next year.

My trip to Lowes this week was strictly for paint supplies. I couldn't help wandering through the gardening rows and picking up a few cheery bits of yard art. I need to go easy on this stuff as I don't want to overdo it! But the butterfly and dragonfly work nicely in my side patio raised beds.

And lastly, what the front garden looked like a few days ago full of hail. I love the blue in this Delft Blue hyacinth. Definitely need more of these next year!