Sunday, September 21, 2014

Our Wildflower Garden

Each year, we plant a wildflower garden as well as several flowers in two corners of our back yard.  It's one of my favorite things of summer because other than the beauty of it, it provides food for bees & butterflies.  It also has special meaning to us because we spread some of Crystal's ashes in the soil.

It's a perfect place to lay a blanket down and get some sun, too!

The poppies are usually the first ones to bloom.  They're one of my favorites!

In the corners are purple coneflowers (aka echinacea) and sunflowers.  I wasn't happy with the sunflowers this year because they were supposed to be a variety of colors with some teddy bear sunflowers scattered in them.  However, they all came up as regular yellow sunflowers.  Still, I can't complain much since everything else did so well and the sunflowers are still fun to have around.

I usually just churn the soil up a bit and then throw a variety of seeds down, including at least one wildflower mix.  Each year we get something new and this year one of the new arrivals was especially cool.  We had two of these gorgeous musk mallows come up.   They look so much like hibiscus flowers!

It was by far the most colorful year for the garden with the most variety.  I couldn't get enough of it!

The poppies were joined by a lot of morning glories.  They compliment each other so well.

This tiny blue flower was another new arrival.  I have yet to find out what it is, though.  Anyone know?

Now that summer is almost officially over, all that's left are a bunch of cosmos.  I love them because they bloom early and keep blooming well into autumn.  The bees love them, too, which is always a good thing!

Yet one more thing we love about the garden is all the little finches that spend time there.  We made it even more inviting for them this year by adding a hanging bird bath along with the finch sock.  They made good use of both!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cheesy Sauce for Canines

This is a great dip for treats!  We also use it as "frosting" on their birthday cakes.


Cheesy Sauce

½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. tahini
½ tsp. liquid smoke

In a medium saucepan, combine flour and nutritional yeast.  Add milk and whisk together until the lumps are gone.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients.  Cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble, then turn the heat down slightly.  When it thickens, remove from heat (it will take about 10 minutes for it to thicken).  Let cool and serve slightly warm.  Store leftovers in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Noodly Ginger Tofu Soup

I'm a very lucky woman because Mike loves to cook.  While I can cook, it's not something that I find myself having the urge to do very often.  Most nights I'm treated to whatever meal Mike whips up in the kitchen and sometimes, it's a "Mike Original".  He's never disappointed with his creations!

One of those creations is a soup that he's made several times now, tweaking it each time until it's been perfected.  The days are getting cooler, so he made it again the other night using carrots and scallions from our garden.  So delicious!  

It makes a very large batch and in our experience, it doesn't freeze very well.  So, you may want to cut the recipe in half.  On the other hand, it's a great meal to make at the beginning of the work week, leaving you with a pre-made lunch to bring to work!  

Noodly Ginger Tofu Soup

8 cups veggie broth (we use low sodium)
1/2 pound flat rice noodles
1 carrot, sliced
1 1/2 cups edamame
6 ounces very firm or firm tofu, pressed & diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup tamari

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with oil.  While it's preheating, put the diced tofu in a bowl and toss it with the tamari and 1/2 teaspoon of the ginger powder.  Let the tofu sit for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then lay it on the baking sheet.  Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tofu starts to brown.  

While the tofu is baking, put the broth, carrot, edamame, scallions, and mushrooms in a large soup pot.  Bring to a simmer, then add the remaining teaspoon of ginger and cayenne pepper.  Keep it simmering and add the tofu when it's done baking.

Cook the rice noodles according to the directions on the package, then add them to the soup.  Serve and enjoy!  

This is a very versatile recipe, so don't be shy to adjust it to your taste.  Please let me know if you make it!  
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