Sunday, May 25

Kids today! They grow up so fast!

Well, I thought it was high time for an update on my little gardening project! When was it that we began? A few months ago at least. You'll recall we started with nothing but SEEDS and a humble beginning in a laundry room in Norway.

I have become quite attached to my little seedlings. I mean, I planted them! I germinated them! I watered them! I talked to them! I lovingly tended to them through all of their awkward phases. Convincing the pepper plants that just because they were smaller than the tomatoes didn't mean that they weren't equally important!

I am emotionally invested. I am a proud plant parent!

And I think I might have killed all of my charges today.

Let me explain.

Today was a big day in Oslo. We knew it was time. The plants were simply too big for their teenager pots! They were getting big and leafy, and pardon the pun, were growing like weeds! Check out my tomato kids:

Can you believe how much they have grown!!?? So, I had a nice wooden planter prepared for the tomatoes. I put plastic on the bottom so all the soil wouldn't fall out of the slats, and punched holes all through it for drainage. For extra drainage, I put a layer of nice chunks of quartz and granite which seems to just lay around here in Norway. I also had some gorgeous, nutrient rich organic soil:

So, I filled the planter, and transplanted the tomatoes. I buried them about half way since the extra leaves will form more roots and make a stronger plant. Patted the soil securely around them and went to the gardening center to get more soil and an organic fertilizer and some stakes to tie up the tomatoes with. When we got home, I was met with this sad situation:

Are they dead?? Did I kill them?? I immediately came inside and consulted my good friend Google. Google had a lot of opinions, the most common being that the plants were in transplant shock. Do you think this is true? That maybe they will perk back up?
I will be so sad if I have killed the plants after all we have been through together these last few months!

The bell peppers and jalepenos don't look much better:

However, the tomatillos are looking ok:

I also have some peas and beans growing behind the door:

And a little potato project going on as well. I read about growing potatoes in a bag. So, I got some potatoes, let them sit in the sun for a couple of weeks til they were covered in tons of creepy little eyes, then I took a plastic bag, rolled the edges down, put down a layer of soil, popped the multi-eyed monsters into the dirt like so:

Then I covered them with soil. What is SUPPOSED to happen is that in about a week, the potatoes will shoot some leaves up through the soil. At that point, I roll the the sides of the bag up a bit, and cover it with soil again. The leaves will turn into roots and have more potato babies and will keep pushing up. So, basically, you just keep rolling up the bag and covering in soil until the bag is full. You let the last leaves come up, bloom and die and come September, you will have a bag full of new potatoes!!! I will certainly keep you updated on the potato project!

So, that is the gardening update!!!! I hope someone can tell me that I did NOT kill my little plants! That would be sad!!!

Lets all cross our fingers that the little kids will perk back up and continue on to their destiny of feeding us in a few months!

Monday, May 19

My little week of BIG adventure!

Hello friends!

So, last Thursday evening I was on the phone with my darling sister and we were talking about Mother's day and how sad it was that I couldn't be in Texas to spend the day with my mom.

Now, I need to preface this story with the fact that I had partaken of a few glasses of wine BEFORE said conversation with my sister.

Well, somewhere in that conversation, we decided it would be a FABULOUS idea if I, Kathryn, were to fly from NORWAY to TEXAS to surprise our mother for Mother's day. It seemed like a really great idea and I admit, we got pretty fired up! There was a flurry of credit cards and phone calls, and suddenly, I was booked to fly to TEXAS. On Saturday, which was about 24 hours away!!!

It was CRAZY. After I got over the initial shock that I had actually BOOKED tickets to fly to Houston, my sister and I started laying the groundwork for Operation Surprise.

Long story short, it was a long flight, my sister picked me up from the airport, we went to Outback Steakhouse where my sister had arranged to meet my mom and stepdad Chuck, for dinner. I was ALL nerves! I couldn't believe that we had actually pulled this off. So we are sitting in the bar and my back is to the door. They arrive, and Kindel gets up to say hello and suddenly I stand up and turn around and say 'Mind if I join you for dinner???'

It was a moment of sheer beauty my friends!! The look on my mother's face was priceless. The utter SHOCK. The confusion. The tears. The JOY!!!!

I still can't believe we pulled it off!!! We had a GREAT time. As the few days passed, I realized how much I NEEDED to be there. To be with my sister and my mom. It was so good for me! We had a whirlwind week of eating, shopping, hanging out and just fun and 5 days later, I turned around and came back to Norway!

So that was my little week of BIG adventure!!

One thing I love about going back to the states is the FOOD! So many choices and so much GOOD stuff! I ate my share of Tex Mex! Last night here in Oslo, I started craving Spinach Artichoke dip. I didn't make it to Houston's Restaurant to have some this trip, so I decided to whip some up as a kind of closure to my whirlwind trip.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

As usual, all ingredients are approximate, if you need exacts, just pop on over to Recipezaar, where the worlds recipes are!

About 4 cups of fresh spinach
Can of artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
About 1 cup finely grated white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-3 garlic clove, minced, to taste (or more)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
A few tablespoons of skim milk

So, take your artichokes and chop them up in small chunks:

Then grab your spinach. You can use frozen, but I just love fresh:

Chop it finely and throw it in a dry pan and saute it:

I told my husband last night that I really felt that spinach was a dishonest vegetable. Without fail, I am ALWAYS amazed at how it shrinks! Seriously! Like 5 cups of spinach cooks down to about 3 tablespoons! Ok, maybe not that much, but it is ridiculous! So, after your 3 cups of spinach has reduced itself, add it to the artichokes:

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, the sourcream, the milk, salt and garlic and about 3/4 of the cheeses and mix it up until it is well combined:

When that is smooth, add your spinach and artichokes to the mixture and stir well:

Put it all in an ovenproof casserole dish and top it with the remaining cheese and pop it into a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes:

Now, usually this dip is served with tortilla chips, but I am trying to shrink myself in time for our beach vacation, so I decided on pita chips. Well, this being Norway, we don't have pita chips, but we do have pita bread. So, I took 3 pieces of whole wheat pita and split it and quartered it:

Put them on a baking sheet and spray them with Olive Oil Pam and sprinkle them with sea salt:

Bake those at about 400 for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and crisp, flipping them half way through.

So simple and so delish:

Want a bite??