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Cattle, cupcakes and plants!

Hello, Readers:

Well, I’ve got a couple of things to tell you about, so let’s get started.

First off, reading the Houston Chronicle online this morning, I discovered that the empty space in the Houston Downtown Tunnel I’ve been walking past for the last month on my lunch hour is the spot of a newly-opened cupcake spot called New Addiction.  I knew they were doing something back there, but I didn’t know what. Well, today I went back there for a minute and talked to a couple of nice ladies who I will attempt to interview this week, just for you, and some pictures, too. I did ask about gluten-free; they are working on the recipe and should have it in about four weeks.

DARNIT!!

The article also discusses another cupcake shop that does have gluten-free already available, so I may check them out tomorrow.

So later, I’m ridin’ on the Metro into downtown (anyone remember that song?), reading my Wall Street Journal, and what do I see but an article about Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! No kidding, the fifth season of her cooking show starts Saturday on The Food Network.

I’ve written about Ree before, and met her at a book signing back in November when she came to nearby Pearland to sign her new book Charlie and the Christmas Kitty.  I got to read the book while in line (it’s a kid’s book and not very long) and since I had the time, told her what I really thought of her TV show–it’s like a visit to the country every weekend, and hanging out with your country cousins for a while.

I also told her that a few months before, I made her Orange Marmalade Muffins for a Buddhist activity. We had some new members attend our little meeting, and they were very surprised to learn that I baked them from scratch THAT MORNING. Well, DUH–but they didn’t know me, so they didn’t assume anything. Then when we were leaving, everyone scooped them up! I was glad, of course, because I didn’t want to take them home. They were that good that I would have eaten them all myself. Really, they were scooping up these little morsels and couldn’t get enough. They’re not an everyday item, and as Ree told me, “one will give you a sugar rush.” (I think it’s in her first book.)

Yes, I know, it’s a 22-minute cooking show, but it’s really much more than that. You learn what it’s like to live in another part of the US that most of us will likely never see or experience, and see real cattle ranchers in action–not a Hollywood rendition, the real thing. Remember that Ree is also a college graduate of USC, and lived in California for many years–that’s why she’ll occasionally wish for a Starbucks in the middle of one of her pastures. (I’m sure when she makes it to Tulsa, Starbucks is first.) She’s a redhead with a sense of humor much like mine, and took a turn that completely changed her life’s direction.

Irony alert: Ree was a vegetarian for many years, and Ladd reintroduced her to the pleasures of the flesh. Oh, that’s a story in her bio that’s hilarious.

I met Marlboro Man, too, separately in Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport last year in late April when I was leaving Phoenix and he and the boys were arriving. They got off the plane I was getting onto, I think. He really is that handsome, very nice when I ran up to him, suitcase in tow, and the boys are absolutely adorable. It’s great that he has a sense of humor and enjoys doing the show, too.

Note: the link here is to the video; you have to log into the site to read the article, but you can log into WSJ.com with Facebook if you like, or open a free account just to access it. You don’t have to subscribe to WSJ. If you like The Pioneer Woman, it’ll be worth it to sign up for an account.

One more thing on The Pioneer Woman and I’ll shut up: if you want to read something very funny, check out this article, and the one before it that’s linked, on how she had more experiences doing a Bobby Flay Thanksgiving Throwdown than you saw on TV. I couldn’t stop laughing when I read it. I didn’t really pay attention to Ree until 2011, when her bio came out. I needed a good read after a bad breakup, and that fit the bill–I finished it on a Saturday night. Hey–no date, why not?

And now for a change of subject. . . .

A few years ago I dated a guy who had this bizarre idea that I would just LOVE to live in a mobile home in the middle of nowhere. He was partially right. I would like to live out of the city, but under no circumstances in a mobile home, anywhere. He’d actually done the mobile home thing and loved it. Me, I’ve been in one or two. They’re lovely on the lot. . .and then the word “tornado” turns that lovely abode into a pile of rubble. No. But I did start doing a bit of gardening, and although last year was mostly a wash after I was laid off (long story) I did, finally, after our recurrent spring-winter ended, get started on my own garden.

The plot I have is 5′ x 8′, a lot smaller than Ree Drummond’s garden (she has oodles of room to grow stuff!) and so I’m particular about what I’m growing back there. (Basically, I want food.) I worked my paws off getting the weeds dug out and the plants I bought up and running. For the last year or so, the rosemary has been growing just fine, and the mint plant I’ve had for probably 3 or 4 years. Sometimes I forget to water it, and there aren’t many leaves; then I remember to water it, and POOF! Mint juleps all around (or whatever you like fresh mint for.) Mint MUST be planted in a container, or it will take over the garden; it’s very invasive. (I know that from Martha Stewart.)

BTW, when Martha Stewart talks about “container gardening,” she’s using lovely, hand-thrown artisan-made pottery. When Amy talks about “container gardening,” she’s using 5 gallon paint buckets from Lowe’s and Home Depot. I don’t mess around. I’ve used the hole punch to put drainage in the bottom of the buckets. Works so far.

So over the weekend I bought two tomato plants, one Meyer lemon tree, a strawberry plant, one flat-leaf Italian parsley plant, and a bell pepper plant. (I think it’s red bell peppers.) One of the tomato plants is called “The Container Tomato,” and I hope it gives me some. The other tomato plant is something else, but when I got it home, I realized it had three tomatoes already growing on it:

The two larger tomatoes at the base of the plant

The little tomato at the top of the plant

The little tomato at the top of the plant

So, I figure if nothing else, I’ll get three tomatoes out of this plant. But I’m hoping for more.

I’ve not had good luck with tomatoes, nor with cilantro parsley, but I keep trying.

If you wanna just grow something, I do have a suggestion: green, or spring, onions, aka scallions. No kidding, they’re incredibly easy to grow. Next time you go shopping, pick up a pot to plant in and some potting soil (or use what you have already, if you do.) Then next grocery trip, buy some spring onions, and cut off the white root end, and plant the white root end into the soil. No kidding. I read that online, tried it, and I haven’t bought green onions since. That was, maybe, 3 years ago? Now, the ones I bought were big, thick ones, and they grew back skinny. Do you think I care? Just remember to water them. Take a look:

Fresh green onions, basically free after the initial cost

Fresh green onions, basically free after the initial cost

Yes, that’s green onions. However much they cost at the grocery, you’ll never buy them again if you just plant the white root ends and water them. (That’s an aloe vera plant and a few more green onions on the left side; the aloe vera is new, those onions in the round pot are also 3 years old.)

I grow the green onions and the rosemary to make a couple of my favorite dishes whenever I want, and I’m also going to try and re-grow a sage plant (which I had but lost last summer) and also garlic. Now, you can buy garlic seed bulbs from nurseries, but what I’ve done is waited until my grocery garlic sprouts and plant the cloves. I love, love, love, the shoots that grow out of the ground from the pods. However, in order to harvest full heads of garlic, you have to leave them to “over winter,” or give it until next spring. No kidding. I have yet to be successful doing that, but I do love nibbling on them garlic shoots. (I’m not kissing anyone, so who cares?)

Also growing is the top of a pineapple cut last year from one bought on sale at the grocery. It’s a Hawaiian pineapple, and, well, it’s growing, but I don’t know what the heck to do with it. So I leave it in the pot. Maybe one day I’ll have a tree with pineapples growing on it.

Basil, I was hopeful for, but the snails have gotten to my plant once or twice, and it seems stalled. I’ve watered it, transplanted it into a bigger container, and well, it seems like it doesn’t want to grow anymore. Might pick up a packet of basil seeds and plant more around the base of the plant. I want my freezer full of freshly made pesto, darnit!

I’ve also planted some sunflower seeds back there, and will plant some summer mesclun lettuce this weekend (’cause I forgot last weekend.) When they start growing, I’ll post some pictures.

So, to show you my back patio area, here you go:

This year's HeatCageKitchen garden

This year’s HeatCageKitchen garden

Why do this? Because I WANT to. I want fresh tomatoes at my fingertips, and the ability to give them to friends if I can’t eat them all in time. I WANT Meyer lemons that I don’t have to go to Trader Joe’s for. I WANT fresh bell peppers all the time!!!

And if I ever get my wish of a place to hang out in the country and write blog posts all day, I can eat good without having to head to HEB before doing so.

It doesn’t hurt to dream.

And hey–if you live in an apartment, don’t think you can’t grow stuff, either–today’s WSJ also has an article on gardens for apartment dwellers. (Pun alert!) Believe it or not–this apartment gardening industry has its roots in, ah, well, the non-legal green herb trade. (You know what I’m talking about, and it’s not houseplants.) Solar energy and solar-powered stuff also sprouted from these non-legal growers of the herb I won’t mention here.

If you can’t trust *those* herb growers, who have been growing indoors since the 1960’s, who can you trust to help you grow lettuce and basil indoors?

Well, anyway. . .I’m going to bed early, so enjoy the linked articles, and sit tight–I plan more interesting foodie things soon.

Happy Dining!

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