Need to mark this in the gardening journal (that’s what this blog is!). Today, May 18 at about 11am I saw our first real monarch activity around the crown flower. It’s been months we haven’t had much, and today I rescued 6 itty bitty caterpillars and put them in the IKEA mesh hamper for safety from birds until they decide to leave and make their chrysalis.
I’m a neglectful blogger and perhaps an even more neglectful gardener. This is my biggest selling point for planting permaculture style plants: no fuss required. I go out every few weeks and harvest food. That’s my gardening method. Because I’ve planted (or allowed to grow on their own) things like papaya, chard, chaya, banana, citrus, mamaki, kale, popolo berry, mint, oregano, mountain apple, asparagus and a few other things that can withstand some munching from bugs and still make food. Even more “annual” style plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and beans, when mixed in with this bunch of other wildness needs very little care. Plant a seed or plant. Wait. Harvest food. That’s it.
I just wanted to share some photos of the food in the yard this morning. Not everything is “food” yet; the mountain apple tree has been eaten pretty badly, but there’s new growth, so it will bloom again. And our orange tree has tiny little green fruits for the first time. It’s like welcoming new friends :-D
Most meals at this house are fridge to table in 30 minutes or less. It is out of sheer desperation for lack of prep time that I have read about, implemented and even come up with my own time hacks. (Things like pre-making big pots of brown rice and freezing in portions; slow cooker everything and 20 minute soup 3 nights a week!)
Sometimes, when I have the time and an extra set of hands to keep the kiddos from running in the street, I like to make stuff that requires more than “chop, cook, serve.”
I give you: Colcannon Topped with Kidney Bean “Meat”balls and Mustard-Glazed Brussels Sprouts
This whole meal was about an hour of prep/cook. WAY more time than I usually spend in the kitchen, but as I get the luxury of blogging this my boys are busy loading the dishwasher. <3 them!
So here’s the details:
Kidney Bean Meatballs
Make the meatballs first, they take the longest. (Make this your own by adding hot sauce, steak sauce or liquid smoke if you want. All would be great!)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic
Handful of baby carrots
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
3/4 instant oats (or regular oatmeals pulsed a few times in the food processor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In your food processor put onion, carrot and garlic. Pulse a few times until well chopped and mixed. Add rice, pulse a few more times. Add beans and pulse until most are smashed. This should be chunky-ish though, you don’t want a paste. Scoop it out into a bowl and add ketchup, sauces and oats. Mix really well and using hands to form into balls, place on cookie sheet. (I made about 20)
Bake 20-30 minutes or until outside gets firm and golden. Let cool for a bit (they firm up as they cool).
While those are baking, prepare-
Colcannon= Irish side dish consisting of mashed potatoes with cabbage (or in this case, kale that was taking over the garden) Make this dish as big or small as you need!
Potatoes , quartered
Kale or cabbage, de-stemmed and chopped
Green onions, sliced
Boil the potatoes till soft. Turn off heat and throw in the greens. (Let them steam for 10 minutes while you prep the Brussels Sprouts.)
After greens have softened, drain the whole pot and mash well with non dairy milk, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Add in green onions and still well.
Agave and Mustard Glazed Brussels Sprouts
2 cups Brussels Sprouts
2 tbsp agave
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Slivered almonds (garnish)
Whisk agave, mustard and oil together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Place them in a skillet with enough water to move them around a bit and steam them until bright green and tender. As water is getting low and evaporating, pour in mustard mixture stirring until nicely glazed, about 2-3 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
If you timed it all right, everything should be ready when the almonds go on! The meatballs had cooled enough to be firm and the husband and son had theirs with gravy (but it wasn’t vegan so I skipped that) but if I make this again, I’m doing it up with gravy too. Total Iowa comfort food, veganized (and gluten free!)
Enjoy friends, Aloha.
(Credits: Recipes adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas and Happy Herbivore Abroad by Lindsay Nixon)
Awhile back I posted that a new species of butterfly had found us. The Gulf Fritillary butterfly first appeared on our dining room light at dinner, then we saw the spiky caterpillar in our yard and then discovered a (strange!) chrysalis hanging on the shed.
About 2 weeks ago another spiky caterpillar appeared and we put it in the “hatchery” to see if it would form a chrysalis and it did! This morning, it hatched. It’s so tiny compared to the monarch! But I love the wing patterns and it liked the flowers. :-)
See another bloggers comments on this butterfly in Hawaii here: http://hawaiinaturejournal.weebly.com/hawaii-plants-and-animals-in-the-backyard-and-beyond/butterfly-kisses
With a completely neglectful approach to gardening, you get good surprises. Like huge popolo berry that pop up, seemingly overnight!
Popolo berry is a an important native Hawaiian plant, and one that you can’t pick up at your local garden center. It just sort of pops up wherever it feels welcome, I think. The one pictured here is the biggest one that I have right now, but there are at least 5 others of various sizes that I have welcomed by not weeding! Now that I have a few growing, I’m going to try my hand at propagation of this useful plant. I know a few healers who would love to have a supply of this on hand.
Other delights I encountered on my early morning look in the garden include blooming nasturtiums, celosia, lettuce sprouts, kale sprouts and daikon sprouts. I have abandoned my once ambitious seedling growing efforts to now just throwing some seeds on loosened soil and see what happens. This has yielded far better results than expected. In summary, everything so far, has grown. And I was able to dismantle my seedling growing station with lights, etc which took up a lot of space and if I didn’t tend to it would quickly die.
Here’s a few more shots from the lovely morning here on Oahu. Aloha, Friends.
There’s a whole lot of internet chatter on parenting. Most of it I don’t read. Sometimes an article will pop up in my inbox or newsfeed that has added some more fuel to so-called mommy wars. I don’t participate. I do like to take part in writing and activities that encourage, support, spread love and generally help humanity. Because my husband and I want to raise kids that care. And kids are watching how we grown ups are interacting with each other. Beyond all other traits, this one matters most to me.
How do you raise kids that give a shit? (About the world, and not just themselves?)
I don’t know if I have the formula or not, but our little people care about stuff. They have interests beyond what can be found on a screen. When my little guy wanted to save all the little worms we found in our cucumbers last year, I knew we were doing something right. Now he is an experienced butterfly farmer! He participates in all aspects of our little hatchery. He helps get the caterpillars and saves the butterflies with wet wings so the geckos won’t eat them. After he is finished examining the dried up chrysalis, he smashes them, because he is 5 after all.
He grows things. Six weeks ago we mixed a bunch of flower seeds together in a cup and he sprinkled them in a spot of his choice in the garden.
This is how it looks today!
Today we spent more than 3 hours just piddling around outside with bugs. We discovered a praying mantis in one garden and a new species of butterfly that is now frequenting our yard (Chinese Swallowtail.) It was really fun.
Now we have a very mobile 1 year old that is crawling circles around her mama! I let go of the worry of injury and mud and let her go in the garden today. She crawled, scooped, touched and covered herself in mud. And was so content, so happy and after 2 hours was so TIRED that she actually napped! :-)
So get outside, friends. Even if it’s cold, windy or rainy wherever in this beautiful world you happen to be. Spending time outside with the kiddos fosters a sense of love and wonder for them and a whole heap of love and appreciation for me. We all win this one. <3