Happy Monday!

Since today is the day I usually post my Food Matters Project challenge post and I don’t have one to post – I thought it would be great to tell you why.  See, I had a recipe fail this week.  The challenge, selected by Evi and Sam from Fifth Floor Kitchen was Vegetables au Vin with Coq.  The recipe basically is a version of Coq au Vin with extra vegetables.  If you are not familiar with Coq au Vin, it is a French dish featuring braised chicken and mushrooms in a red wine sauce.  Sounds great right? Done well, it is wonderful!

So, I had this great idea to use up these dried Fava Beans burning a hole in my pantry and make a Vegan Fava au Vin using most of the ingredients in Bittman’s version except the bacon and chicken.  I learned a few lessons from the experience.

Lesson 1: do yourself a huge favor and NEVER buy dried, unhulled Fava Beans unless you want to spend 2 to 3 hours of your life peeling individual half-cooked beans.

Second, not sure if it was really such a great idea to take most of the Coq out of the Coq au Vin. I probably should have used Turkey Bacon or Chicken for an additional layer of flavor. Now, don’t get me wrong – the dish actually tasted pretty good but like I said I think another layer of flavor would have been great.

But here’s the truth, it looked disgusting. I mean disgusting.  Like I think there are nicer looking piles of brown stuff at the dog park disgusting.  And the texture was off.  The fava beans and eggplant melted into the sauce (which lent a nice earthy flavor) and without the Coq all I was really left with was a bowl of brownish-red sauce, some soft onions, mushrooms and green beans.  I don’t know about you but not my idea of a great meal. Definitely not delicious and not good enough for you guys!

I am not going to lie, I’m pretty upset.  Mostly because I wasted half of a bottle of delicious Merlot.  Secondarily, because I was hoping it would be awesome. That’s why I went with the great Merlot, I took a chance. But sometimes kitchen experiments fail and that’s OK!

The moral of the story is always experiment in the kitchen but never waste good wine.

If you want to see what the other Food Matters Project participants conjured up from the Vegetables au Vin with Coq, check it out here!

So now on to my (mini) organic garden endeavor.  Living in a place like Seattle, it’s pretty hard to NOT to want to garden, have chickens, compost, reuse rain water and probably have a goat – all while living less than twenty feet from the next house.  At this point, we just compost and have started a mini garden but give us a few more years here and who knows what we will be up to!

We went to the first Organic Edible Plant Sale of the season hosted by Seattle Tilth and finally pulled the trigger by buying a huge bag of Organic Soil, a variety of Gourmet Lettuces, Collard Greens, Dinosaur Kale, Totsoi (an Asian green I love!) and five herbs (Flat Leaf Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Mint).

While we are lucky to have a large backyard, it is not suitable for gardening.  First reason is it is mostly shaded and this being Seattle, that’s a bad start.  Second reason is that it is paved and set up for entertaining and Barbecuing.  Not such a bad thing in the big scheme of things and I’m not complaining but doesn’t leave us much room to grow things.

My husband got excited and committed to building me some raised beds out front but after some discussion, we decided to get these Biodegradable Fiber Grow Pots and pot everything out front for maximum sun.  These pots are really inexpensive and can last one or two years. We figure if the gardening thing works out, we can compost them and build some raised beds.

Taking a tip from the knowledgeable woman at Swanson’s Nursery (amazing store!!), we threw some clean, empty cans in the bottom of each pot to use up some space and allow us to use less soil.

Next we carefully transferred all the plants into pots.  The Mint is alone in the smallest pot.  Next are the lettuce plants and lettuce seed.  Then from front to back we planted Collards, Kale and Totsoi (probably planted a bit too close together), and finally the remaining herbs; Parsley, Oregano, Thyme and Rosemary.

Some things I learned are:

  • Mint should be potted alone because it grows like crazy and will take over anything else it is near.
  • Try to place your plants at least 6″ apart to give the roots room.
  • Loosen the roots/soil a bit when transferring the seedlings to the pots.
  • Once you plant everything, leave it alone.
  • Don’t over-think the whole thing and be a lunatic.

I’m really excited to (hopefully) start growing some greens and herbs here.  I plan to write progress posts every couple of weeks and will be sure to include tips.  As well, I am hoping to feature these greens and herbs in many recipes coming your way!