Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lessons in tilling and marital bliss... an organic garden in progress!

Well... tilling doesn't always cause marital bliss but for my husband and I, it was a really fun joint project that made for an awesome day! He's been working or in class every night this week so we were really excited he had Saturday off. So how do we spend it? Not sitting around eating bon bons and watching movies but creating a garden in the backyard. And I didn't even have to bribe him! We had a lot of fun and learned a lot as well.
The first thing we did was go to Home Depot and get a tiller. After reading online and talking to people, we thought we needed a rear tine tiller... until we saw it. The rear tine is much bigger and was never going to fit into the small hatchback we have. We went with a mid tine tiller (Farmer Matt, you were right :-). It cost $39.00 for four hours which was perfect. It was definitely worth the cost for what it saved in sweat.
I'll tell you a little about what we learned using a tiller for the first time. My husband tilled the most for the first 30-45 minutes. After a few initial tries we figured out the wheel on the front definitely needed to be pulled up and out of operation. Also, the lever on the back was a good thing. It kept us from running away with it like a cartoon character. If you push down on the handles and let the lever drag in the dirt it's much more manageable! Here's my cheesy info graphic:

That's really it! It's much easier than I thought it would be and honestly kinda fun. You're sure to be sore the next day but it's worth it.
Then it was compost time! We called The Compost Farm in Brentwood & they helped us figure out how much we needed. Their compost is organic and they also sell soil & mulch. You can find out more about them here: For our job we needed 10 bags and they were $7 each. It was pretty expensive but since this was our first time creating the beds, we went with it.
Here's us spreading out the compost:
Our lab, Bama, thought it was the greatest thing that mom & dad were outside with her all day!
I've read that you don't want to till too much or you'll destroy the composition of the soil, so once we spread the compost we went back over the beds once or twice and we were done!
Now I'm waiting for my seedlings to get bigger and I'll transplant. Later this week I'll talk about what I'm planting and how the seedlings got started.
If anyone has advice or expertise to share please leave some comments! I'm really, really excited about my first garden and any input would help!
Goodnight everyone!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's "Me" night!

As we speak I'm sitting on the couch in PJs drinking a great Pinot and eating a snack of organic pear and manchego cheese:
It sounds snooty - I know... but trust me, it's delicious! I didn't come up with the combo on my own, it's from a great local restaurant named Margot where everything is local and mostly organic. The chef is amazing and has never disappointed with the menu. The husband and I went for brunch one day and this was an appetizer but it also had prosciutto, I just don't have any tonight.
After a couple of bad days this week, it's gotten much better and it helps when you make the conscious decision to not let things get the best of you. Everyone these days is dealing with something and if we all sat around upset about it we'd be a sad community. This week was about feeling and dealing but not wallowing.
I hope some of you get to have a "me" night soon! I'm off to watch mindless TV and read my new Real Simple & Food & Wine magazines.
Look for some posts about progress in the garden tomorrow. I'm hoping it'll be a great weekend to get things done!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Affordable Gluten Free flours!

Well... God always has a way of putting little surprises in front of me to remind me of the small things to be happy about. After a bad day, I was so excited when I got home to find my shipment of GF flour had arrived! Yay!

I've been on the search for affordable GF flours around Nashville and I've had a hard time finding them. It seems like every recipe I'm excited about uses some random flour I can't buy at the store. I finally stumbled upon Barry Farms on the internet. It's not fancy, definitely a mom and pop operation but if you read the "about us" they like it that way! They're in Ohio but you can purchase items on Amazon or straight from their website. There are a lot more options on their site so I suggest ordering straight from there. Best of all - they're affordable! You unfortunately have to pay shipping (mine was $15.00) but until I can find these items in Nashville it'll work.

These are the flours I ordered:
Garbanzo Fava- 1lb
Sweet White Sorghum- 2lb
Tapioca  - 1lb
Sweet White rice- 1lb
Potato- 2lb
Brown Rice- 2lb
Garbanzo Bean- 2 lb
Amaranth- 2lb
The total was $33.47 + $15 for shipping

They also have items like GF waffle and pancake mix, french bread mix, cake mixes: golden pound, lemon, yellow and rich chocolate. They also have muffin, pie crust & biscuit mix. There's a lot more but you'll have to check out their whole selection at this link:

Kinda out of whack today

Well, it's beautiful outside and I'd rather be gardening right now but I can't. For several reasons. Here they are in my best whiny voice....

1 - I have a lot of work (fulltime, real job work) to do.
2 - I have a sinus infection.
3 - I need to clean the house but I can't because I have a sinus infection and that wouldn't help :-(
4 - I'm really really tired
5 - I'm whiny today and not proactive like I should be
6 - I wish I was still in San Francisco/Napa

Today's been one of those days. One of those... I'm sick and should stay home because I'm sick but I can't because there's too much going on at work days. So because of my own self imposed negative energy, all kinds of stupid stuff has gone wrong throughout the day. My favorite was just a bit ago when I was heating up my dinner in the toaster oven at work and it caught on fire. My boss and I miraculously couldn't figure out where any of the fire extinguishers

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Black Bean & Quinoa burgers with Red Onion Basil Aioli: UPDATED

UPDATE: I tried this and it's worth making! It's affordable & delicious but take these notes into account:
1 - it was really really mushy. I don't think I strained them enough or they didn't chill in the refrigerator long enough. The leftover ones I had the next day were much better, so if nothing else, try to make them ahead of time so they can solidify more!
2 - I added some garlic - feel free to add more spices because I think it was a little bland.
I'm so excited! I'm about to try this recipe for Black Bean & Quinoa burgers from I have a love/hate relationship with veggie burgers because of their texture. The worst one I've had was one of the most expensive at J.Alexander's. All rice and no substance! This version seems much better and I'll let you know how it goes.

From The Voracious
Black Bean Burger
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed and roughly smashed
2/3 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chickpea flour (with additional 2Tbsp if needed)
1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, the soft kind marinated in oil
1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water, microwaved for 20 seconds
2 tsp liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all of the ingredients and form into 4 large patties
- Allow the patties to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then fry in a drizzle of olive oil until brown and crispy on both sides

Red Onion Basil Aoli
No specific recipe here, just mix a chopped red onion, a few diced garlic cloves and chopped fresh basil with lots of vegan mayo and there you go! Easy and delicious.

I also bought some gluten free hamburger buns from Whole Foods today to round out the meal so we'll see if they're worth the price. They were $6 for 6. Pretty lame but the only option right now so we'll see how good they are!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Photos from Napa & San Francisco!

I still haven't had the chance to put a good blog together about the trip but I did get some of my film developed. Yes, I said FILM :-) As is obvious by my iPhone photos of food throughout the blog, I don't have a good digital camera. So I pulled out the old film camera from photography class in college and tried to get reacquainted! I've really missed taking photos, it's been years since I've shot anything fun!
I'll post more about the amazing food we had later (afterall, that's what this blog is about & it was so easy to eat gluten free and organic in California!) but here are some of my favorite images from the trip. They're a little washed out because I'm still getting the hang of the old camera but I love them. I'm glad to have any images at all to remember our amazing trip, by even if it's not as convenient as digital. We saved for so long to make this trip happen and it was worth every bit of the sacrifice!

Driving from Napa to Calistoga

And then..
At Chateau Montelena in Calistoga

At Merryvale winery

Monday, March 15, 2010

San Francisco!

My, oh my, have I fallen in love with San Francisco. So much so that I'm really worn out and can't post a full blog tonight. I don't even know where to start so I'm going to organize my thoughts better and save it for another day this week! We lost two hours when we got back because of the timezone and then it was daylight savings time so we're virtually lost 3 hours...

Just to give you a taste you should check out This bakeshop had a kiosk in the ferry building within walking distance from where we rented our apartment. We definitely had more cinnamon rolls than my backside would have liked but it was well worth it!
I'll be posting more info about our trip in a few days but I hope everyone had an awesome week!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hodgson Mill has new gluten-free mixes!

Hodgson Mill now offers nine different gluten-free mixes:
  • Yellow cake mix
  • Chocolate cake mix
  • Cookie mix
  • Brownie mix
  • Pizza crust
  • Pancake & waffle mix with flax seed
  • Bread mix
  • Multi purpose baking mix
  • Apple cinnamon muffin mix with milled flax seed
Check out this post from for more info!

Thank you Matteos Pizza!

Today was a long day. Lots going on at work and at the end of the day we had to take Bama (our lab) to the veterinary ophthalmologist. Yes... you heard me right... the canine eye doctor. We got good news though and she doesn't need any medicine or surgery so the day ended well.
But we were all still tired and just didn't feel like cooking. That's when it's hard staying away from gluten... there aren't many options to pick stuff up to eat on a lazy night. That's where Matteo's Pizza comes into play. They are a pizzeria in Cool Springs which makes AMAZING regular and GF pizza. Here's a little about them from their blog ( & website:

Matteo's Pizzeria is a family owned and operated gourmet pizza shop in Cool Springs just outside Nashville, TN.

We offer healthy, home made specialty pizza including only 100% natural ingredients, dairy cheeses, and fresh pizza crust. For you health conscious folks or celiacs, enjoy our gluten free pizzas - our crusts also available

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The simplest ingredients can make a great meal

Dinner tonight was affordable, so easy and really good! It's from my favorite cookbook by Bette Hagaman, The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods: Creating Old Favorites with the New Flour. I highly recommend it! I bought it from Amazon: All of my favorite recipes have been from this book and my husband swears they don't taste gluten free. There are also a ton of recipes that never use any form of gluten substitute. They are simple veggie, fruit and meat meals that are good for you!
With the basic ingredients of pork, sweet potato, apple, currant jelly, orange juice and some spices we had a great meal! Sometimes I think we forget about the easy ingredients and how amazing they can taste when combined! 
The sweet potatoes ($3-$4 for a bag of 11) and fuji apples (2.99 for a

Great article explaining Gluten

I've had several people ask me about gluten and want to know more. I've posted more details and a few links that describe how I got on this journey in the first post on my blog "Here we go".

In short, I'm not Celiac but I have found out through trial and error that I'm gluten sensitive/intolerant. It causes a myriad of problems, weakens my immune system & aggravates my endometriosis. Since I've been cutting it out of my diet it's made a huge difference.

Sometimes, I talk myself into the fact that I can cheat... but I can't. Case in point was this weekend when I said "I can have PART of this Krispy Kreme donut... it's mainly sugar" hmmm... not so much. The next day was loads of fun for my body and my husband can attest to that. When I haven't had gluten in months, I'm not sure why I was able to talk myself into it. Maybe it was because I didn't know what the gluten was doing to me before. I ate normally just like everyone else and because I didn't have the technical Celiac symptoms, I never thought it could be related to gluten. I thought I just had all these different unrelated problems... but it turns out that what I was eating was weakening my immune system.

That story is why I want to share this link. It's on the Huffington Post and politics aside, while you might love or hate that site it's a good article. Check it out: 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Running, Gardening & Yoga Yoga Yoga

Wow - my muscles are really sore! A good kind of sore though... and thankfully it's from doing some good, productive things.

I tried my hand at running again. Since my last surgery I had not gotten back to it like I've wanted to. My hubby was great and suggested we do one round of the neighborhood together with our dog. I felt good until we had been running a few minutes. Suddenly my asthma was killing me. I was wheezing and starting to feel light headed. We slowed down and took it easy. I was able to drop off the dog and do one more round but I'm pretty sure I walked more than I ran. It was a start and I'm going to keep at it. I'm hoping to eventually train my lungs and it'll get warmer outside. That will definitely help! One day I'll be running 5 miles at a time like my husband!

Later that day I got started outlining the garden area. The biggest lesson of the day was.... I need a tiller (and I shouldn't go running and then try to dig for hours). There is no way I'm going to be able to dig up everything I need to by myself. When we get back from vacation I'm going to rent a tiller and go for it.
I gathered some soil from different areas and I'll be testing that this week. I bought a small kit from Home Depot but there's also a test center at Ellington Agricultural Center. Apparently they will diagnose pest problems as well! It's going to be great to have that resource a few miles from my house!

I also did my first hour and a half of Hot Yoga at the YMCA with my friend Sara. Wow! It was more like "warm" yoga but it was awesome and so hard all at the same time. I've got a lot of strength to build up but I'm really excited about getting further into Yoga. If you really think about it, the amount of Yoga classes I'll be going to at the Y make my membership more than worth it.

Here's to sore muscles :-)