Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life at the Lincoln Park Conservatory

I found these two little guys at the Lincoln Park Conservatory in the Orchid Room.
Much to my surprise, I asked the nearest employee If he knew anything about them, and whether or not they had been placed there. The Gentleman was as surprised as I was, and then came to the conclusion that they must have been brought in with one of the flowers, and decided to make themselves comfortable. They were no bigger than a penny..never in my life had I seen such a small frog. Just goes to show you, there's alot more life in the Lincoln Park Conservatory than we possibly will ever see..
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More Than Meets the Eyes

          It seems that over the course of a few years, gardening has become the latest trend. Mostly due to the downward spiral the economy has been going through. Everyone wants to "Be Green" and "Eco-Conscious". So, just like myself, they start to garden, and attempt to reduce their Carbon footprint. Educating themselves, attending seminars, doing research, and possibly even trying to educate others. Shunning the use of "unnatural" items, such as styrofoam and plastic. There's nothing wrong with this, by any means. Let's just hope that it isn't the latest trend, that will end up yesterday's news like Hammer Pants.

Gardening will never fade away, it's a necessity. However, the people's interest might, which is a concern. When you start to garden it can definitely be overwhelming, causing some people feel like a failure because they weren't an instant success, when recycling seems too much of a hassle, or a person stops caring (or for some, never cared) what he/she puts into there mouth, a true crisis, will have evolved. That is why Gardening has become something that is more available to the public. Chef's are and have been writing books about gardening/ cooking. Gardening books themselves are geared towards the people and not just other Gardeners or Horticulturalists. The President even agreed to have a vegetable garden in the White House.

I personally fall under this "trendy gardener" title because I began gardening two years ago. The first year, I felt like a failure. No matter what was done, I could not get anything to grow, and became very disenchanted with the thought of gardening. The Second year, there was an opening at the Crepe stand at the Green City Market, and knew it would be a great way to meet farmers that would be able to give me some tips on growing vegetables, and keeping them alive. I gathered all the info that was shared and used it as fuel while I gardened, keeping everything in mind and doing extra research on my own. I gave it another shot, and the rewards were great! Not knowing that I then would be consumed by gardening. Taking care of the soil, making plans for the following growing seasons, recording the success and trouble with some of the vegetables I tried to grow. Then looking for ways to improve them for the following year.

Gardening will be a part of me from now on, becoming something that comes across my mind more frequently as I realize there is MUCH more for me to learn.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Carbonara For DINNER!

Lately, because I have been gardening, I've become very conscious about what I've been eating, now that doesn't mean eating healthy by any means. Instead, I've been trying to eat locally, meaning eating food from a Farmer's Market, Made by a friend, such as sausage or bacon, or grown by me in my Garden.
By all means, I'm not saying I only eat local, but it is something that I strive for, I'm just not there yet.
A couple of my friends have been working on making sausages, and recently bacon, it's a hobby currently, but they are working on starting their business, in order to be able to (officially sell their product). I was lucky enough to be able to try this bacon, and it was good. So I convinced them to let me have some (for a small donation).
Dinner time came around, and the thought of pasta came to mind, but what to make?
Here were my options:
  • Canned Corn
  • Canned Peas
  • Cranberry Jam (made by me)
  • Grits
  • Pasta
  • Bacon (made by friends)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Butter (bought at the Green City Market)
  • Milk
  • Organic Flour
  • a can of PBR
  • Eggs
  • Tortillas
  • Chihuahua Cheese
  • Cereal
  • Peach Vanilla Preserves (from Seedling orchards)
I know, I know, I should keep a better stocked refrigerator...but I'm hardly home, I cook for a living.

Instantly, I began to think..what can I make that everyone will enjoy.. Pasta was gonna be the star but what to accompany it with? There wasn't anything to make a tomato sauce with, which its always a winner if A fallback is necessary. An emulsified garlic and butter sauce would have been to simple and not really appreciated.
That's when it hit me! Carbonara!!
So I grabbed the Bacon rendered it down and reserved it, cooked half an onion small diced it and sliced two cloves of garlic, sweating them down, getting slight color and then adding a touch of flour creating somewhat of a roux . While this was happening, I heated up three cups of milk and added it to the bacon onion mix, and heated it until slightly thickened, and it was the right consistency. Right before serving, I added peas, and tossed it in pasta.
And there you have it!
Make-Shift Carbonara

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In the Dead of Winter

I have become a product of Gardening. My every thought seems to be about my Garden and how i can improve it this year. Flipping through Seed Catalogs in order to find the best seeds, anxiously awaiting the day i can actually plant them, and watch them grow. Thinking up plans as to how and where everything will go. The thought as to whether i'm buying to much, or maybe not enough...
I'll have more space this year to plant, which gets me even more anxious, knowing that i will have hard work ahead of me, but more of a challenge than the last.
Chicago winters are cruel in the sense that they love to play with our emotions..Especially now when the days begin to warm again..just to drop back down to where they were in a week or so..Chicago winters are definitely a test of patience...the snow..the ice..the cold cold winds..the short days and loong nights...Yet I have been using this time to learn from my mistakes as well as to Learn new things, in order to ensure a hopefully healthy garden.