Lettuce Eat

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the massacre of my edible plants by  cute, furry, long-eared,twitchy-nosed, brown eyed gits. I solved the problem, for some of my edibles at least, by locking them away in a rabbit-proof cage next to my herb garden.

lettucea (Copy)

This has proved to be so effective that I’ve become a victim of my own success. I’m drowning in lettuce. Never one to eat a salad by choice when dining out I now have to find creative ways to munch through unbeleafable quantities of the stuff without turning into a rabbit myself. Fortunately my long-suffering other half likes a lettuce leaf or two and isn’t yet rebelling against the greenness of his dinner day after day.

lettuceb (Copy)

I admit he raised his eyebrows at my raw garlic mushroom salad arranged in a retro lettuce-lined bowl, but who can complain when it’s been freshly picked? Me, actually – but not about the lettuce. I tried somebody’s recipe for the salad, and it was….unusual. Kinda slimy. Way too much garlic. But the lettuce was good.

lettuce-bowl (Copy)

A slightly more creative dinner was chilli wrapped in lettuce leaves served with a steaming bowl of rice.

chilli-lettuce (Copy)

Below is my collection of greenery for tonight’s dinner. Curly lettuce, flat-leaf lettuce, a bit of radicchio, some frilly little leaves (yes, I know all the correct names lol) and a random snip or two of french tarragon, lemon thyme, rosemary and chives. “What? No parsley?” I hear you ask. No……not until the ones now hiding in my cage have grown big enough to harvest. My garden ones got severely munched. My next door neighbour has also lost all his parsley, so I’ll give him a pot of mine if the plants do well.

lettuce3 (Copy)

I’ve made a dressing to go on tonight’s rabbit food, shaking together 2 Tbsp avocado oil, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp coarse salt and 1 crushed garlic clove. I mixed in 1 tsp fresh tarragon, 1 tsp lemon thyme, 1 tsp rosemary and a few chives, all finely chopped. No, that’s not the only thing we’re having…I’ll be knocking up a black bean, red pepper, corn, Italian veg-sausage and rice dish (no recipe, I’m currently on strike til I get my book back from my editor) to go with it.

The strange thing about eating all this lettuce is that other people can sense it, and feel the need to add greenery to my meals. On Saturday Alan and I popped downtown to the flea market and decided to grab lunch in a thai restaurant before heading home. “Which dishes can be made vegan?” I asked our server. She thought for a while. “The shrimp and mango salad can be made vegan, and I’ll ask the chef to add some lettuce instead of the shrimp.” I looked at Alan to check I’d heard correctly. He looked amused. “We can make the vegetarian vermicelli vegan by replacing the fish sauce with a peanut one. That dish already has lettuce in it, but we can add more if you like.”  I swear, I’m not making this up! I have a witness who will confirm the offers of more lettuce. I’m still laughing.

Now that my bunny vs lettuce battle has been won  I can turn my attention to other pressing matters. We have bird feeders in the garden, protected by a “squirrel baffler” to stop the feeders from being emptied by our resident long-tailed fluffy rodents within an hour of being filled. The baffler is a hollow tube which is too wide for a squirrel to hold on to, and blocked off at the top to stop them from climbing up inside. It worked great last year, but this year we have a huge black squirrel who refuses to be baffled. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s emptying our bird feeders at an amazing rate, tossing seeds down to her baffled family and while sitting on top of the squirrel-proof tube to eat her own lunch.

squrrel (Copy)

I’m not sure how we’re going to fix this problem, especially since I can’t put the feeders inside a cage, but she’s emptying them daily so something has to be done. Perhaps I could bribe her with some lettuce?

I’ve just looked out of the window and there’s a groundhog munching on the dandelions in my lawn. I hope she doesn’t like sweet things – I’ve just planted some stevia in the garden. I’ll keep you posted!

groundhog (Copy)

Karen 🙂

 

Help! There’s a Vegan in the Garden!

Yes, I know it’s been 6 month since my last post, but I’m back 🙂 Where have I been? Oh, you know, here and there. Recently got back from Japan (yes, I have some tales to tell) in fact. And what have I been doing? This and that. You know. Stuff. But, the point is, I’m blogging again. Once a week (or more if something really profound happens), starting today. Hurray?

You’ve probably spotted the blog title by now. The vegan I refer to isn’t me – it’s a really cute, speckled, furry, bouncy, adorable bunny, hereafter referred to as “that damn rabbit.”  I’d post a picture of the beastie if she didn’t keep running away at lightning speed whenever I point a lens at her. Boy can that bunny move! Sometimes she moves so fast that it looks like there’s more than one rabbit in my garden….. Fortunately Biggles let me photoshop her slightly to show you what the damn rabbit looks like. You can barely tell the difference!

catrabbit (Copy)

Last year, as some of you may recall, I planted an herb garden (please note the correct use of “an”) at the side of the house. This year I decided to embrace the whole vegan-hippy-gardener thing and added some new crops. Alan’s got garlic growing (which is kinda odd since he didn’t plant any this year) alongside his leeks and carrots. I really pushed out the boat and bought 3 broccoli plants and 4 brussel sprouts. There should have been 4 of each, but one was MIA so I got a discount, saving me a whole 20 cents!!!!! Bargain! Anyhoo, I diligently planted these in the garden, watered them well and went to bed after asking our resident gnomes to keep an eye on them.

DSC06642 (Copy)

The next morning someone had eaten most of the leaves on my broccoli plant. The small round pellets nearby gave me some clue as to the perpetrator of the crime. It was that damn rabbit. The one who ate my cucumber plant last year within a day of it arriving, and may or may not have also demolished my basil plants. I frowned at the destruction then went inside to have a fortifying cup of tea. When I came back out my sprouts had all been nibbled. Grrrrrrrrr. Something needed to be done. I’m not running a restaurant for feckin’ bunnies, no matter how cute their twitchy noses are.

And then I had a fabulous (?) idea. Alan and I spent a very hot, humid Saturday putting together the heavy metal den our cats enjoyed at our previous home. Our current home has a screened porch with carpet and comfy chairs and a fab view of the bird feeders, so they don’t need their den. We put up a few of the original wood shelves, added some plastic shelving I found lying around in the shed et viola! A rabbit-proof pot house, so called because we put pots in it. I might be turning into a hippy vegan, but the only weed I have here is the type you pull up and dispose of 🙂

DSC06643 (Copy)

In a fit of madness I rushed off and bought enough lettuce plants to feed a family of 20 for a year, some baby eggplant plants, green beans for growing in a pot and bok choy (spellcheck wants to change that to bonk soy for some reason) along with some kohl rabbi and white radish to plant in the garden where my broccoli and sprouts used to be. Rabbits don’t like kohl rabbi, do they? I’ll go check. Be right back. Phew – so far so good!

I’d like to see those bunnies trash my veggies now! Although, of course, they might bully the squirrels into climbing up the cage and ripping leaves off from them to much on. In which case I’ll have to cover the whole thing in fine mesh chicken wire and ponder the cost of growing veggies when I could have gone to the farmer’s market and just bought some instead….

And what am I going to do with all that delicious lettuce when it grows big enough to harvest? Make a meal or two and probably feed the rest to the rabbits. I’m not a big fan of salad lol.

Karen 🙂

The Herb Hunter

When winter finally fled from Ottawa a couple of months ago I braved the great outdoors and planted a herb garden (an herb garden for the purists out there), dotting tiny plants around the place and hoping they wouldn’t die. All I had to do was get one serving of herbs from each plant and they would have paid their way for the year. To my delight they’ve all grown beautifully, with the exception of one thyme which I really need to dig up and move to somewhere else. It’s too close to the drip-water-hose-thing and would prefer to be somewhere drier.Tomorrow. Or tomorrow’s tomorrow. I hate gardening. Maybe in the fall. It’s not dead yet.

I had romantically imagined myself skipping out to my herb garden, skirts wafting in the gentle summer breeze, wicker basket in hand, whenever the mood took me. I’d stop and smell the lavender and nip flower buds on some of the herbs before they bloomed. The weather would be pleasantly warm and I’d spend time sit among the plants reading a book while sipping on some hot lemon balm tea.

DSC02335 (Copy)

What I’d neglected to take into account were the scorchingly hot Ottawa summer and the native wildlife, which combined to shatter my idealistic dreams. Mosquitoes shelter from the blazing sun in the herb garden, hiding under leaves and sitting on the mulch, waiting for an idle gardener to pass by. They’re a cross between an elephant and a stealth bomber – huge but silent and deadly. A quick run to grab some fresh leaves always left me covered in bites….until I discovered my secret weapon. Herb hunting camouflage clothing. It’s neither pretty nor romantic, but it keeps those blood suckers at bay while I snip a few leaves here and there. I laugh in their faces while they try to bite mine. I’m even hoping to take a trip down to the states to buy some mosquito spray for my clothes, which kills blood suckers when they land on it. No, it’s not very vegan of me, but I have my limits, and it will stop them hitching a ride into the house on the back of my bug jacket. Yesterday’s stow-away bit me four time last night while I sat minding my own business on the sofa. Git.

mosqClothing (Copy)

Today’s herb-hunting netted me a fine catch. Curly parsley, lemon thyme, lemon balm, chives, chamomile (I’ll be making chamomile tea later), greek oregano, spicy oregano and marjoram. Some of these will end up in a herby lentil soup for dinner tomorrow, served with mushrooms in filo pastry.

herbs (Copy)

The parsley and mint (I had to go on a second hunt to grab my mints – spearmint and peppermint) have been added to bulgar wheat to make tabbouleh. I’ll be munching on this when I get back from dance class, along with some home-made hummus, olives, pita bread and some falafels which I picked up at the local grocery store. The air conditioning is turned on, but it’s too hot to think about cooking anyway. I might not like gardening, but I certainly enjoy eating the results 🙂

Karen

Herb-Hunting Tabbouleh

  • 1/2 cup medium grain bulghar wheat, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes then drained well
  • 1/2 cup bulghar wheat, unsoaked
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large bunch of parsley, about 1 cup, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp oil – I like to use avocado oil, but olive oil would be fine too
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Mix everything together, cover and pop it into the fridge for at least half an hour to let the flavours mingle before eating.

tabouhli (Copy)

Hormones? Or Herbaceous Hallucinations?

I hate gardening. I’d rather sit in the dentist’s chair than squat next to a patch of sodden earth ripping weeds out by their roots. Assuming they actually are weeds in the first place. How can I tell? They all look the same to me. And, quite honestly, I think if a plant can be bothered to grow in my garden it should be allowed to stay, at least for a while. After all, the vast majority of things I’ve personally planted over the years have shriveled up and died, so if a plant is willing to grow why should I dig it up? “But it’s a weed!” people cry, as if that makes a difference to whether or not I can be bothered to dig it up. I prefer to use the term “native species”, or say “I like the look of wildflower gardens”, but we all know that I simply hate gardening.

At my last house I had a great, self-sustaining, perennial garden. When we first bought the house a friend took me and my credit card to a garden center, put plants on my cart then later placed them in my garden. “Plant that one there” she ordered. I did as I was told. “Cover the soil between the plants with mulch and leave them alone” she barked. Again, I complied. And 15 years later I had a garden full of overgrown, misshaped shrubs surrounded by a thin layer of well-rotted mulch filled with weeds. But it worked for me. I had plants to look at instead of just a mass of grass (moss and dandelions), and it required no effort at all on my part. Hurray!

So why am I sitting here covered in a thin layer of garden grime wondering if I’ve officially gone mad? Is it middle age hormones playing with my ability to think straight? Or is it something more deeply rooted (play on words here!) such as an overwhelming need for fresh herbs when I’m cooking?

We moved into our current house at the end of the summer last year. The front garden has an assortment of plant-like things which seem to be capable of looking after themselves with little or no effort on my part. The back yard is a sea of moss, dandelions and tiny pretty purple low-growing things surrounded by patches of grass, with no flower beds in sight. Great! Talk about low maintenance! But the side of the house had a mass of weeds, mints and dead things, which even I rolled my eyes at. Good heavens – what a mess! And so, in a fit of blind enthusiasm, last week I set to digging it all up to create an herb garden. I grumbled as I dug. I whined as I ripped up deeply buried roots. I complained bitterly as a mosquito bit me. And I did a good impersonation of the Wilhelm scream when a spider ran up my arm. I did not have a good time! But then I stepped back and looked at what I had achieved, and felt a certain smug satisfaction. There was a long rectangular patch of earth devoid of dead plants and weeds. Success! Stage 2 was to order a big bag of earth to be delivered to my driveway, which my hero-husband helped me transport to my freshly-dug garden. Stage 3 was to buy an assortment of annual and (hopefully) perennial herbs and embed them in the soil. Next came a layer of gardening fabric (I have no intention of weeding. Ever.), a drip-hosepipe on a timer (No, I don’t intended to stand out there, surrounded by mosquitoes and black flies, spraying water around) and a layer of mulch. And there it is! My very own low-maintenance herb garden! And did I enjoy creating it? No I did not. I hated every frickin’ minute of it. But hopefully the plants will last long enough for me to harvest a bunch or two to put into my dinners. In fact I think I might make pasta with rosemary-garlic tofu tonight. Or not. Damn! I didn’t plant any rosemary!!!!!!! Never mind. I’ll wait until something dies then plant some rosemary in the resulting hole. Sigh.

herbGarden3 (Copy)               herbGarden4 (Copy)

When my plants get big enough to be harvested I’ll be drinking hot lemon balm tea while hunting for the “nut loaf with fresh herb stuffing” recipe sent to me by my great-auntie-Nellie back in the 80’s to show her support of my no-meat diet. She found it a bit odd that someone would turn their nose up at a steak and kidney or cheese and onion pie, but she mailed me veg-based recipes anyway, many of which used fresh herbs. I’ll be thinking of her this summer while looking fondly at my plants. As a bonus, Alan has planted a variety of vegetable seeds in his allocated spot, which he will be responsible for weeding. It looks like we’re in for a tasty summer!

herbGarden5 (Copy)

Karen 🙂

If you would like to follow my blog (and I really hope you will), look for the small “Follow” icon in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Or in the toolbar at the top. It’s going to be around somewhere! Click on follow, add your email address, and all my pontifications will appear in your email, without you having to put in any effort at all. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.