Carlos cooked octopus

Around two weeks ago, Carlos made octopus for dinner….
Every Monday night in Audubon Park, there is a community farmers market. Every week, my husband picks up locally made cheese, bread, fresh caught fish, and organically grown veggies. One particular week he brought home frozen octopus. Knowing that octopus seemed quite difficult to prepare, I left it up to him to figure out how to cook it.
After it defrosted, he cleaned out the eyes and ink.

While he was preparing the octopus, I had to leave to go play volleyball. He prepared the following octopus recipe –Polpi in Umido -Italian Octopus Stewed in Wine and Tomatoes.
When I returned, I was pleasantly surprised at what was prepared.

We ate it on its own with a side of boiled beets and sliced burpless cucumbers. The octopus and sauce would have been spectacular though as a pasta topping.

New Garden Additions

At the organic gardeners meeting last Wednesday we became the proud owners of a Sweet Potato slip and a Seminole Pumpkin plant. If you are not familiar, Sweet Potatoes are just awesome. The Seminole Pumpkin is a butternut squash-like veggie that is supposed to grow well here. As of now, I still have the sweet potato on the porch until I can determine what to do with it. And the Seminole Pumpkin has been transplanted to a larger pot and put under a bottle brush on the side of the house ( so it can climb it).

Home made pizza

I am a pizza freak. If unrestrained, I could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have been talking about making home-made dough for a while now. I decided to try making pizza from scratch about a week ago. My goal is to come up with a dough recipe that uses alternative grains such as buckwheat and to possibly eliminate the use of yeast in the recipe. However for this pizza, I used the tried and true whole wheat pizza dough recipe that is in the The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso. It was not a difficult recipe to follow. We love to make our own tomato sauces so the pizza sauce is a variation of the spaghetti sauce we normally make.

The following ingredients were used in sauce:

  • Muir Glens Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • Veggies sauteed in olive oil (eggplant, zucchini, green pepper, onion, garlic)
  • Medley of fresh and dry herbs (bay leaf, oregano, basil, thyme)

Finally, I shredded Organic Valley mozzarella cheese for the cheese topping.

Final Notes
The pizza was quite good but the dough was a little thick and crunchy. The dough recipe allows to make two pizzas. The extra dough can be stored for a day or two in the refrigerator as long as it is covered. For the first attempt, I had preheated the pizza stone. I did not do this on the second pizza. Additionally in the second attempt, I used a rolling pin to flatten the dough to make it look more pizza like and to even the dough throughout. Finally, in addition to the mozzarella cheese, I added some grated cows milk cheese that I purchased from whole foods. The cheese had a similar taste to a parmesan. While I enjoyed both pizzas, the second was definitely better. Sorry I did not take pictures of the latter because we were rushed to eat it before a Broadway show.

Preparing square Foot Garden

After a late start, I finally finished the square foot garden. I used the book Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew for advice on how to prepare a garden. Carlos assisted me in clearing a spot in the garden. After the area was cleared and leveled off, a weed sheet was put down and the garden frame was assembled. The garden frame was purchased as a pre-configured set to save time.
The potting mix used is a combination of peat moss, vermiculite, and compost in 1/3 amounts. Large quanties of vermiculite was hard to find, I was only able to obtain it in an old school feed store (that sold baby chicks and live turkeys). The sq ft gardening book recommended that the compost be a mix of different brands and types of compost to ensure diversity of nutrients. I mixed the soil on a large tarp.

The last step in setting up the garden was setting up the grid system. A theme you might notice is lazy gardening. Instead of setting up the fancy wood grid as specified in the book, I made a grid from leftover garden string. I used old popsicle sticks to hold the strings.Finally, I prepared a diagram of what I plan to grow in my new garden. I was able to use Carlos’s old graphing paper for this one 🙂

Fail : 3 Bean Chili

As I have said earlier, this blog is to show my kitchen, garden and photo successes as well as my failures. The 3 bean chili is the first failure I have to share. I was attempting to modify a recipe I found in the Cooking Light : Slow Cooker Cookbook (sorry can’t find a link – I think it is out of print). The following is a link to pretty much the same Mexican Black Bean Chili recipe.

I chose a vegetarian chili because my husband is mostly vegetarian. I found it challenging to replace the flavor lost by omitting beef from the recipe.
I made it 3 bean because we have a crap load of dried beans that we buy in bulk that I wanted to use. For this recipe I used organic black, red (not kidney) and mung beans.

My favorite brand of can tomatoes is Muir Glen Organic. The tomatoes are always so tasty and contain less of the other crap that other canned tomatoes add. We are usually too lazy to use fresh tomatoes for sauce so this is a great substitute.

The multicolor 3-packs of peppers are also great to add lots of fun flavor to recipes. If you want to buy organic like we like to, you are going to have to pay premium $$. Furthermore, many of the organic food we find here in Florida comes from California or Mexico. I personally don’t like it when my food has to travel that far. Hopefully we will soon have crops of our own organic peppers.

What I would have done differently

The chili turned out rather bland. Although the cilantro, sour cream and Monterey jack cheese toppings (the latter two are not mentioned in the online recipe) did help add some flavor. Next time around I would choose another tomato. I love the Fire-Roasted Crushed Tomatoes but they didn’t work for the chili. Next time I will choose either the plum or some other whole tomato. I was afraid the jalapeno would make the chili too spicy. In reality, the chili needed more. In the future I will add more jalapeno (sans seeds) or even throw in some poblano pepper.
Finally, I would add more garlic and a pinch more of some the spices. I will update the blog if I attempt the recipe again in the future.