Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 1 of Unrealistic Optimism

I started my "garden" yesterday. Nevermind that we got inches of snow two days earlier or that there was a Winter Storm Warning in effect for my region or that I live in a motorhome. Nope, it didn't deter me. That brilliant spring sunshine was glittering down, warming up my hair and hands and I looked over at the sad, listless cilantro that I'd been carting around and it was like a little bell sounded. DING! Time to garden!

I still find it surprising that even though I do live in a motorhome, that desire to get my hands in the dirt is as strong as ever. I'm like a baby sea turtle that will not be stopped from getting his flippers in the salty sea. I must garden even if it means I garden contained. Not my favorite but, hey, what's a travelin' gardener to do?

Not sure if I told you about this but, to add to my garden fever and in true optimistic gardening fashion, this year I took up dig this chick's challenge of the Virgin Harvest and decided to commit to attempt my vegetable garden in containers. Have you signed up? It's not too late!

So, my first challenge? (Well, besides the weather and the cramped, movable living quarters with lack of garden space). What should I use as containers? Hmmm, this was a tough one. Being mobile presents issues all on its own like limited storage space and the need for recyclable gardening containers. When the harvest is over, I just can't take them all with me and I wanted to find something I could use that would recycle easily at the end of the growing season, was portable enough to move around, was cheap (I really didn't want to sink a ton of money into pots or materials only to leave it all behind) and yet would give the mature plants enough depth of root to flourish. So, I racked my brain and came up with...milk cartons. What do you think? I know they won't work so well for lettuce and spinach but for the squash, tomatoes and herbs, I'm going to give them a try. By the way, any and all suggestions for alternative gardening containers from my fellow green gardeners out there would be greatly appreciated!

So, with the spring sunshine warming our skin, the dogs and I (well, they just laid there and supervised but, hey, I appreciated the moral support) hauled out the supplies and the lackluster herb plants and...ahem...dug right in.

A shell I picked up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Beautiful and functional. I love it!
The day before, on my trip to Missoula for my pastry class (the post is coming, I promise!), I stopped at our lovely version of a Whole Foods market and came across some seed packets that I just could not say no to. Again, unrealistic optimism at its finest. Even in our home, growing seedlings was a shitload of work and why I think I can be successful in a drafty, always cold motorhome is beyond my comprehension.  Be that as it may, for better or for worse, the seeds made the trip from the Good Food Store to the Dillon KOA and were promptly, and with great ceremony, cooing and encouragement, deposited in tin cans originally meant for the recycle bin but which have now, instead, been drafted into duty as seed starting containers. We'll see. If they even sprout, it will be a small miracle but...I have hope.

I am happy to report that the herbs looked immediately happier and more content in fresh soil with room to grow but I am sad to report that in a blatant attempt to quash my gardening optimism, no sooner did I have everyone planted, labeled and watered, Mother Nature let loose with an almighty thunderstorm and my freshly contained, baby-stage garden, the lazy dogs and I had to run for cover. Then we all watched dejectedly through the window as cold rain fell and the temperatures dropped. ....sigh...

But, that's ok. I'm still clinging to my unrealistic optimism.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's For Dinner? Vegetarian Chili

As a vegetarian, I get asked a lot, "Well, what do you eat?" No joke, people really do ask me that question. It's always amused me a bit but now I'm also being asked for recipes as more and more people have started looking at healthier meal options. 

Look, I'm warning you right now that I am in no way a great cook. Baker, sure, I can hold my own but cooking? It's just not something I do for fun. You're going to find that most of my meal ideas are quick, don't have a ton of ingredients, and aren't too involved. With that being said, I thought I'd occasionally post a recipe or two for those who have asked (you know who you are) and tonight, it's one of my go-to meals, Vegetarian Chili. Simple, easy, hot and filling. Plus, it is one of those recipes that I love to call my One-Pot Wonders. Hope you enjoy!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 or 1 whole jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced (optional and depending on how hot you want your chili. I usually go for the whole)
  • 1/2 pasilla chile, seeds removed, diced (optional)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cans (19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained or 1 can of black beans and 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 ounces) organic diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • Avocado, sliced (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. In a 5-quart heavy soup pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno and pasilla chile; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

  2. Add zucchini, carrots, chili powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes and water. Simmer for 20 minutes until chili has thickened and ingredients have melded.

3.  Ladle into bowls and top with sliced avocado and/or shredded cheddar cheese and serve with warm corn tortillas if you're not afraid of carbs (Erik does, I don't...sigh...)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Cruising Home and Settling In

We made it! Ahh, our feet are firmly and happily planted on Montana soil once again and we haven't stopped moving since we arrived. We've reconnected with friends and family, I've started my pastry class (more on that soon!), we went and checked out the old motel we bought (that's a whole post on its own) and Erik even raced in the Rocky Mountain Roubaix. 

I'm still trying to unpack and settle us in our new location, Dillon, MT but here are a few photos of our roadtrip home and our first week back.

We went from this.... this. Well, hello, Dillon.

Our movable sporting good store

Downtown Durango. Finally, mountains and microbrews!

We went treasure hunting in Gallup, NM. I just couldn't resist these beauties.
What?! Green grass and no stickers? Riley thought he'd died and gone to heaven.

The new project, Hotel Albert.

Racing the Rocky Mountain Roubaix

Life is sweet thanks to my new friends at Posh Chocolat.

Everybody Challah! Loving my pastry class. Yes, mine's the round one in the middle.

Oh, those Pioneers! Looking forward to getting to know you better.

A view out my window

Sneaking off for a little fishing. This is our new backyard.

Evening fly-fishing. At least I'll know where to find him.

Friday, April 1, 2011

See you later, Clovis

So, yea, it's to get to know you but I've really gotta go now. Oh, sure, yea, maybe someday we can do lunch....NOT!

My time in Clovis, NM. This about sums it up.


Related Posts with Thumbnails