asian stir-fry with swiss chard & green onion

Just a short time ago, I had no idea how to cook greens. The only greens I ate were in the form of salad. For me, salads get old quick even with different toppings so learning how to cook them was awesome.

Al and I went to Lauren’s house this past weekend where she made a VERY tasty kale stir-fry. She didn’t even use a recipe! I bow down to people like that.

I asked her lots of questions that night so that I’d be able to attempt my own soon. Today was that day and I have to say it turned out quite well!

Of course I winged it and added in some extra items as always. I skipped the carrots in the picture above but I did include swiss chard, green onions, garlic, peas, and ginger.

We now have a box from Walnut Hill Farms so each week we head to the Lakeside Farmer’s Market and they fill ‘er up with whatever vegetables or fruit they have. Needless to say we have A TON of vegetables to use which is why I tried to put so much into the stir-fry. I don’t want anything to go bad! It’s one of my new year’s resolutions after all.

The prep took a while since I had so much to chop. I cut up all the green onions I had and froze a good amount. I figure I can toss them into more stir-fry dishes down the road.

I got my big wok off our cool peg board to fit everything.

Then started a swiss chard assembly line. Lauren mentioned that I should cook the stems before the leaves since they take longer. Great tip!

I’ve had some candied ginger in my pantry for a long time now so I chopped it up and added it into the mix.

Per Lauren’s instructions, in vegetable oil I cooked the stems and green onions first then added the garlic, ginger, and finally the swiss chard. Lastly, I added rice vinegar and soy sauce to braise it all for a while.

I was concerned in the beginning that not everything would fit in the pot but as you can see, it cooked down a lot!

This dish was great – lots of healthy vegetables and flavor. It’s definitely not as tasty as Laruen’s version but I figure with time I’ll get out the kinks! I think it still needs a little heat but the ginger did add a nice little spice to the soy sauce flavoring. It was like sushi in a bowl. 🙂

I hope to add this into our weekly dinner rotation. Now I just need all the extra asian sauces to top it off! YUM.

What’s your favorite greens dish?

fireplace numero dos

I wanted to get a good amount of projects done over this long weekend and we sure did. We worked on the mailbox, vegetable garden, decor and lighting but what I didn’t do was paint the big wall o’ brick in the den. Instead I avoided it and moved onto our other fireplace in the living room.

I’ve got to tell a little back story of the fireplace and built-ins because I think the previous owner would be excited. The shelving you see in the photo below are antique display cases from a beauty salon (early 1900s) and the mantel is also antique although I don’t know where it’s from. The lady’s husband told me she just found those pieces and built out the entire fireplace herself! Maybe she had help but from the looks of her elaborate greenhouse, I’d like to believe she did it alone. Super impressive.

I do appreciate the backstory but I thought the look needed an upgrade. A little paint perhaps?

I decided to paint the surrounding wall of the fireplace as well as the back of the shelving to give the fireplace and all my glassware a little boost.

I had a can of gray/blue paint so I went for it… at three o’clock this afternoon. I had a strong desire to get just oooone last project in!

The sun was setting so it’s tough to see the gray behind the shelves but with a little help from my sister I got this baby done in just a few hours.

I love the contrast of the crisp white and gray. I already feel like the gray has always been there. It just fits so well!

Do you see that big rock on the fireplace? I found it on a trip to a rock quarry in NJ when I was in middle school. I flew with it on the plane back home to FL. BTW it’s SUPER heavy. Ha. I may or may not still have a rock collection somewhere in this house.

Back to the main topic. You can see a similar gray in the carpet. Matchy but not too matchy.

My things would get lost in our house before when there wasn’t any personality but now they shine – one of my paintings, a bell from my grandma’s collection, sand dollars fossils from Lily Lake (FL), and a tiny brown elephant I got from the grab bag one Christmas in NJ.

It’s starting to feel more like home. Well, specifically it looks like the home of a single person! I need to get Al’s tchotchkes out of hiding. 🙂

Did you tackle any projects this weekend? Or did you soak up some sun instead? It was a beautiful weekend!

my veggie garden

Not to be confused with my greenhouse garden.

Speaking of my greenhouse, I’ve been having a little trouble with it. There are two issues: 1. That there is too much shade and therefore not enough sunlight and 2. I might have watered the veggies too frequently.

The overwatering has resulted in yellowing bottom leaves and gnats galore. I’ve somewhat fixed the problem by being really stingy with watering. If I feel any moisture in the first two inches of soil then I leave the plants alone. Since doing this, I’ve gone up to 5 days without watering! I have to remember that the plants are in a greenhouse in pots so they don’t need much. So far so good now that I’ve changed my ways.

As for the sun problem, I did a couple things. First, I cut back a couple of pine tree branches to let in a little bit more light.

I also bought a GlowPanel 45 LED Grow Light that covers 5 square feet. Even though it was pricey, I figure it’s a lot cheaper and ‘greener’ than buying vegetables that I have traveled across the country to my plate! It also only uses 28 watts of power but produces 250 watts of sunny light. Super cool. I wish I could tell you that it works great but I got it out of the packaging yesterday and it wouldn’t turn on! Hopefully, once I get a new one, I’ll be posting about giant tomatoes and peppers.

The last and final thing I did to try and combat the shade was to move some of the plants to a spot outside that gets more light. To the right of our side entrance we had a huge mess of weeds and plants so I thought it’d be a good location.

The week before I started my solo work, my sister and I uprooted all the weeds and transplanted the plants in the foreground of the photo (that need mulch!) from the area in the back. Because this was already done, I was able to start tilling the soil right away using a hoe.

Can I just say that I feel quite silly using these gardening/farming terms? Especially when one reminds me of my love for Ludacris.  Does that explain a lot? I hope not, ha. Please keep reading!

Anyways, tilling is tiring!! I had to stop ever couple minutes to take a breather and rest my weary arms.

After I was fiiiinally finished, I mixed in my new top soil with the existing soil per the instructions on the bag. I then dug out little trenches to help water filter out. I don’t even know if I was supposed to do that part but it’s what I always see online.

I laid out my 2 feet long bamboo sticks to space out where I wanted to plant my veggies – every 3 feet for tomatoes and squash and every 2 feet for the peppers.

Then I carefully dug the plants out of their pots and planted them next to their poles.

And tied them to the poles using twist ties. I know they aren’t very tall but I figured a little support this early wouldn’t hurt.

I’m still a bit worried about the amount of sun these plants will be getting too. I know they should be getting at least 8 which they aren’t BUT I’ve got nothing to lose!

I wish there was someone that could come over and just tell me what to do with everything but hey, it’s an experiment! This gardening stuff is fun and if I get a couple tomatoes at the end of the July it’ll be icing on the cake pasta sauce on the spaghetti!

Are you taking any risks in your yard? Any new plants?