Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm movin' on...

My blog has moved and I hope you'll come with me!

Growing Green is now Seattle Seedling (!

Same ideas, same mission, same blog, just a different name, a name that's much easier to share and remember than the old one.

Here's to new beginnings!



Sunday, August 1, 2010

An Incredible Feast!

I just bought my tickets to attend the 6th annual fundraiser farmers' market dinner titled, An Incredible Feast – Where the Farmers are the Stars, and I am SO excited!! Last year, I didn't see the poster for this event until the day before and I was so bummed. By then, it was too late to get it together to go. I just told Jake this week that I've got to look up the event information ahead of time so I don't miss it this year and to my delight, on Saturday, there was a chalkboard at the U. District Farmers' Market advertising this year's dinner.

I talked to some of the girls at the market and they gave me to the scoop. Basically, all these amazing local chefs convene to create lots of gourmet dishes with local produce, showcasing our local and seasonal bounty. The flier says it best, "guests can sample over 30 gourmet dishes, enjoy excellent local (Salmon Safe certified!) wines and beers, and meet the chefs and farmers behind the food." And this year, because it's a 21 and over event, you'll be able to walk around and enjoy the food and festivities with your wine or beer in hand rather than being confined to a wine/beer garden area. I also heard through the grapevine that one of the fun country-fair-style games might be skee-ball! It doesn't get better than that! Oh! And bring your own plate and fork to the event and you can be entered into a drawing. I love that!

The tickets are now available at, which you can access while also getting more information about the event by visiting I can't speak from experience, but I think this is going to be a delightful event and I can hardly wait!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Sometimes, the littlest things make me so happy. Like this reclaimed wood caddy I got at Red Ridge Farms in the Willamette Valley. I filled it with a bunch of differently sized tin cans my dad's been saving for me. I lined them with plastic, punched drainage holes in the bottoms, filled them up with potting soil, and used them to pot up the little broccoli, kale, chard, and bok choy seedlings I started a few weeks ago. I filled the smallest ones with chives. Now, every time I go through the front door, I see them and smile.

Now, I've got to talk basil. Maybe I missed the boat and everyone already knows this, but I just learned that putting freshly harvested basil in a jar full of water is the best way to store it until you're ready to use it. I used some basil the other day that had been in the mason jar for a week and it was still vibrant and just like new. This has been a simple, but amazing discovery! I've always had a hard time harvesting and eating all the basil I grow before it starts to flower, but now, I know I can harvest it and keep it fresh for a bit until I'm ready to use it. Plus, it makes a beautiful bouquet! Right now, I have a jar of fresh picked basil next to a larger jar of huge dahlia blooms from the garden and it's the best centerpiece I've created in awhile. And it smells great too!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Seed Saving Class, this Saturday!!

It's not too late to sign up for the Saving Seeds class at Seattle Tilth, which will be held tomorrow, Saturday, from 10am to 12am. I stumbled upon the class listing in a Seattle Tilth e-newsletter this week (not sure why I didn't see it earlier) and faxed my registration just yesterday. Unfortunately, because of low enrollment, it might not actually happen. And that would be such a bummer! It is being taught by the author of the book Edible Heirlooms, which you might remember hearing about in this post. I saved my own tomato seeds last year for the first time and I've got to tell you, it's the coolest thing to have tomato plants flourishing from them this summer. I think the class will be super interesting and informative! You should join me!

Here is Seattle Tilth's class description:

You can grow vegetables from your own seeds. Save your favorite variety, make your plants truly local, perpetuate and pass on heirloom varieties and save a bit of money in the process. The class will cover pollination types, how to choose your seed plants, how to hand-pollinate, how to save seeds using dry and wet methods, and how to harvest and store seeds.

Bill is the author of the recent book “Edible Heirlooms: Heritage Vegetables for the Maritime Garden,” which tells the lore and cultivation of more than 100 heirloom varieties of favorite home-garden veggies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I heart summer!

Oh, summer! How I love thee! Let me count the ways!

I love peach and blueberry pie!

I love how happy the chickens get when they graze on the sun-kissed lawn.

I love leaving the car at home and riding my shiny new bike for business (trips to the market) and pleasure (jaunts down the boardwalk at Alki).

I love the amazingly beautiful blooms that adorn my new pathway and love the bees that visit them!

And I love enjoying fresh basil and the first zucchini from the garden!

Zucchini Basil Pizza
Adapted from Local Flavors.

This recipe is almost too simple to post, but I want to share because I just devoured way more of that pizza than I should have. I used the pizza dough recipe from Deborah Madison's cookbook, Local Flavors. It always turns out amazing!

homemade pizza dough
1 medium zucchini, cut into thin slices (about 1/4 inch thick)
8 or 9 large basil leaves, slivered
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Roll the dough into a circle and place on a pizza pan.

Place the zucchini slices and slivered basil leaves in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and a couple splashes of vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss zucchini until well coated.

Brush the dough with olive oil and spread the zucchini slices on the dough, covering completely if there's enough. Dot the pizza evenly with crumbled, fresh chevre.

Bake for 15 minutes. When the crust is golden, remove from the oven and brush the outer crust with olive oil. Cut into wedges and enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Willamette Valley Wineries: A Green Getaway

Jake and I were originally supposed to go backpacking this weekend, but Jake injured himself while running this week, so we had to change our plans. A quick, last minute search on the Internet and led us to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, about a half hour outside of Portland, for the perfect low-impact activity – wine tasting!

I've never visited any of the local wineries in our area, but it's something we've been talking about doing for awhile. Especially after traveling to Mendoza, Argentina for Malbec tasting. Granted, we didn't trek all the way to the southern hemisphere just to taste wine, but once we did, we had so much fun, we talked about checking out the wineries available in our own backyard (or hemisphere). Washington and Oregon have many to choose from. And what a fantastic discovery it was!

I had no idea how lovely our local wine country is! It is absolutely beautiful! We left Seattle early Friday morning, which put us in Dundee Hills, one of the large winery areas in the Willamette Valley, just after noon. Before we started our tour, we stopped in at the Newberg visitors' center for a winery map. They gave us several vouchers for free tastings at two different wineries and were also able to give us some good recommendations, which was nice since there are so many wineries to choose from. On our first day, we visited the following wineries: Four Graces, Winderlea, Lange, and Erath. This area is known for its Pinot Noir, which is one of Jake's favorites. We're normally partial to red, but were suprised to discover several whites that we really liked, especially the Chardonney from Lange.

After a hard day of wine tasting (wink), we had both worked up an appetite and I was delighted to find the most perfect restaurant for dinner, right in our hotel. First, I've got to say that the Inn at Red Hills, the boutique hotel in Dundee where we stayed, was lovely! I loved everything about it – the organic/farmhouse chic decor was right up my alley and the owner, Kendall, was super welcoming and cheerful.

Even the gifts they sold in the lobby were adorable! I loved everything – the ceramic farm kitchenware, the reusable bags, the "Who's your farmer?" bumper stickers, the hand carved, wooden pig bookends, and the turquoise bird salt and pepper shakers that I just couldn't resist.

And the restaurant! The lovely, little restaurant in the hotel called Farm to Fork focuses on creating delicious meals with locally sourced and super fresh ingredients. Our dinner and breakfast, which we ate at the restaurant, were amazing! Saying that Jake loved their delicious and uniquely crisp breakfast potatoes would be an understatement.

And it was all I could do to focus on the meal and stop making comments like, "Oh, Jake! Look at that picture of chard! Oh, I love those tables! Aahh, look at those wood pigs! Oh, I should put my lavender cuttings in vases like these!" There was no doubt that we had found the most perfect spot!

Our second day in the Willamette Valley was lovely as well. We started by taking a drive to Carlton, another little winery town in the valley. We didn't end up doing any tastings there since we weren't quite ready to start drinking wine before noon, but we decided we'd have to come back when we were. It was definitely worth the drive though – I was able to hit up some cute antique shops there, including a sale in a big red barn!

We actually ended up back in Dundee, where we stopped off at Red Ridge Farm for olive oil tasting and lavender smelling! The farm was amazing! Their beautifully fragrant lavender plot was teeming with bees! The buzzing sounds and lovely smells could have kept me entertained for hours.
I eventually lured myself away for our visit to Domaine Drouhin, Bella Vida, Crumbled Rock, Torii Mor, and Penner-Ash. The pinots were delicious, the views were incredible – the whole trip was so worth the short drive from Seattle. We finished off our getaway with another delicious, localtarian delight – dinner at the Farm Cafe in Portland. I'm eating the other half of my Farmhouse Veggie Burger on ciabatta bread as I type this – it's unlike any burger I have ever had. Did I mention they posted the recipe for said burger on their website? Yes, I will most definitely be making it as soon as I see eggplant at the market this summer.

I didn't mean to write a novel today, I just had no idea this amazing place existed. And just a quick car ride away! The whole experience was so lovely. I can't wait to explore even more of our local treasures!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pie in a Jar

It's blueberry season, people. I've been waiting quite patiently for this time to come back around and it's finally here! The weather has finally warmed up enough to ripen those beautiful berries and the U-pick farms around Washington are open for business! I could not be more thrilled, which is why I went to Bryant Blueberry Farm in Arlington on Thursday and picked my first 28 pounds of blueberries.

Ok now, I know what you're thinking. 28 pounds of blueberries?! Quoting my bff, "What does one do with 28 pounds of blueberries?" That's a perfectly valid and logical question. So to start, I have to explain the oatmeal debacle. Last year's blueberries ruined us for plain oatmeal. Jake and I were going along just fine, eating plain old oatmeal everyday before work until I started putting blueberries in it. Later in the year, I'd make it with frozen blueberries that I'd preserved from my picking and it was equally delicious. And then, when we finally depleted our blueberry reserves and had to start eating plain oatmeal again, it was a total letdown. It's like this episode on Seinfeld when Elaine and Jerry are on the same flight, but Elaine is in the mundane, crowded coach seat and Jerry is in the decadent first class seat. He tells her he's been in first class and knows what it's like now and can't possibly go back! Having blueberries in your oatmeal is like flying first class; I can't go back to coach now! So, Jake, being the smarty mathematician that he is, dutifully calculated how many pounds of blueberries I'd have to pick in order for us to eat a 1/4 cup of blueberries in our oatmeal every weekday of the year until blueberry season comes again. According to his calculations, I'm going to have to pick around 51 pounds! I know, you probably think I am crazy to be actually contemplating picking 51 pounds of blueberries for oatmeal. Having blueberries in your oatmeal everyday is not a necessity – I realize this. However, if it means I get the day started off right with some antioxidants and a smile, plus have an amazing time picking each and every one of them (at only $2 a pound for organic, local berries), I think it might be worth it.

So, because I couldn't possibly store all of those berries without enjoying some of them while they're especially ripe and spectacular, I put some of them to immediate use this weekend. I made blueberry butter. And by making said blueberry butter, I officially became a canner! That's right – I made a canning recipe that I processed using the boiling water method and can proudly say that I'll be storing those goods on the shelf, thank you very much! And the result (because yes, I already opened one jar – can you blame me??) – toast never had it so good! Believe me, if you think apple butter is good, try this recipe ASAP. It is phenomenal!!

Blueberry Butter
Adapted from Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter,

According to Ashley in Canning and Preserving with Ashley English, the book I've been reading before bed (yep, I'm just puttin' it all out there now), a fruit butter is "a fruit and sugar mixture where cooked fruit is pureed and then combined with sugar and heated until smooth and velvety."

I'm finding that a frying pan splatter screen is a valuable canning tool. This recipe makes a mess. Oh! And note to self - don't wear white while simmering this dark blue butter!

I highly recommend that you check out the original recipe for this butter, which uses a slow cooker. I will most definitely try it out some time. Naturally, I had ten million projects going on at once when I made this, so I just made it on the stove. But, it turned out delicious all the same – like pie in a jar without the crust!

Makes approximately 3 pints

8 cups of pureed blueberries (about 12 cups of fresh blueberries)*
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

Put the blueberry puree, sugar and spices in a stockpot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about an hour, until the mixture has cooked down and is dark and smooth. Make sure to stir often so the mixture does not stick or burn.

Ladle the blueberry butter into your sterilized mason jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

*Blueberries puree beautifully in a blender, no added liquid necessary.