I've got some exciting news. I've taken on a big garden project this spring. I am going to convert our pitiful backyard, into a giant edible garden. Speaking out loud about it, here on the blog, I am hoping this will make me a little more accountable and on schedule, and actually fall through with my plan. I have no idea what I am doing and no idea what I am talking about, but I guess that's the fun of it all. On Valentines weekend Brent and I went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
Initially, I had planned to attend the event to get some ideas and hopefully scout out a landscape designer. But then I slowly realized that we were attending a large conference center with neatly lined booths trying to sell various gardening-related tools, DIY greenhouses, and backyard fire pits, and the chances of finding someone to redesign our backyard was slim. There were some pretty grand flower displays set up by a few landscapers from the area, but they were grand and magnificent and likely built for royalty, and not in my price range. While there, I was also interested in seeing a few speakers they had lined up. One talk in particular really resonated with me - Mow No More: Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Evelyn Hadden. She talked about the idea of transforming a traditional backyard, one with a neat square of grass, into an oasis of plants and trees. It all made so much sense to me. If you would like some information on the pro's and how-to's, I highly recommend getting a copy of her book.
Currently, we have a small patch of grass in our backyard and a few hydrangeas. When we moved in, our back fence was lined with a garden, which I tore out. The garden was failing, and I later discovered it was because the previous owners had buried all of their construction debris an inch below the top layer. We have a small cherry tree, that also isn't doing quite so well. Last fall, I cut back all of it's crusty dying branches and am really hoping that it grows something back this year because it's going to be hella work to dig out that root system. I am thinking about planting some fruit trees. I've got my eye on a peach and sour cherry tree. I'd like to grow a Meyer lemon tree and a fig tree in a pot so that I can bring them indoors during the winter. I want rhubarb, tomatoes, peas, carrots, kale, asparagus, and so much more. I already have a pretty successful patch of alpine strawberries, blueberries, and a few herbs, so I'm pretty excited to try an expand off of what I already grow. Honestly, I am extremely nervous about the whole process, and the amount of time it will take, but so very excited at the prospect of growing my own food. The hardest part so far seems to be the planning and trying to figure out a way to kill the patchy mossy grass that is out back (speak to me in a few months and I am sure that I will have something different to say). In a few weeks, I will be updating my blog with a fancy new design. I will have a section dedicated to my edible garden, plans, drawing, photos, and tips and tricks that I learn along the way. Let's cross our fingers that this is not a huge disaster.
Now let's get down to business and talk about more important issues, like dessert. I made this zucchini loaf yesterday, and thought to myself after taking an extra 30 minutes out of my day to walk to the grocery store and back for produce that I had forgotten to get the day before "how cool would it be if I could walk out my back door into the garden and pick these ingredients?". I absolutely adore this recipe. It's a recipe that I found a few years back, and have been making it religiously ever since. It's moist and tender. Full of all sorts of good things like carrots, zucchini, raisins, and walnuts. I like to eat mine with a generous layer of cream cheese frosting, enough frosting for each bite of cake. It's spiced with cinnamon and ginger, sweetened with brown sugar, and maple syrup. Some days I'll have a slice for breakfast, and others, I'll have a slice in the afternoon with tea. It satisfies the sweet craving but also feels healthy and substantial. You won't be disappointed.
CARROT ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING AND WALNUTS
makes 1 loaf
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 8oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, and butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
Slowly add the dry to the wet. Stir until combined.
Add the zucchini, carrots, and raisins. Combine.
Grease a loaf pan. Pour the batter into the pan, and give it a few taps on the counter to spread the batter.
Place into the oven and bake for 1 hr. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 min in the pan. Remove from the pam and let cool on a wire rack for 50 min - 1 hr.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
Spread the cream cheese icing onto the cooled loaf. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Can be stored in the fridge for a week.