Avolemono Pie

Yesterday, I think I made my signature pie. The pie that P will request when she comes home from college to visit. The pie that friends will request for potlucks. It’s a creamy, cool, concoction that satisfies with just a small slice.

I’ve seen it called other things on various websites (“Frog” pie, “Jagger” pie), but I think I’ll just call it what it is – Avolemono Pie. That’s my usual erroneous pronunciation for this amazing Greek soup but it captures the two main ingredients. I used this recipe from  How About Orange with a few modifications.

Avolemono Pie
Serves 8

Gingersnap Crust
1.5 c crushed gingersnaps
6 Tbs melted butter
Crush enough gingersnap cookies to make about 1.5 c of crumbs. This was fun to do with a toddler. I put them in ziploc baggies and went at em with a rolling pin and a meat tenderizer.

Mix the crumbs with the butter and turn into an ungreased pie pan. Press evenly across the bottom and up the sides about halfway. I put some parchment paper on top and used my hands to do this.Image

Avolemono Filling 
1/2 c lemon juice (approx 5 lemons)
2 ripe avocados
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Squeeze lemons, making sure to remove the seeds. Put lemon juice, chopped avocado, and can of milk into the blender. Blend. Stir and blend some more. Blend and stir, stir and blend until even in color and smooth in texture. The mixture will be thick. Turn into crust and spread evenly. Chill for at least 1 hour.

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Avo-mazing! The flavor is lemon, ginger, and smooth. I topped my slice with a dollop of homemade vanilla whipped cream (blend heavy cream and a dash of vanilla extract until it whips up). Beautiful, refreshing, and full of healthy fat! Yum!

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Painting in the rain

You can’t really tell, but it’s pouring rain! At least I’m nice and dry under the roof of the coop.

Two-Basil Walnut Pesto and Chard Stem Gratin

Today I did something I have wanted to do for a long time – I made pesto! I used my genovese and cinnamon basil from the garden, and some chopped walnuts and olive oil I had on hand.

TWO-BASIL WALNUT PESTO
4 cups packed basil leaves (I used genovese and cinnamon basil)
2/3 cup walnuts
6 garlic cloves (could use more if desired)
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional, I didn’t add any at this point because I wanted to freeze some. I just added it later with the pasta but if you are planning on eating it right away just toss the cheese in ASAP).

Grind up the basil, walnuts, and garlic in the food processor. I just have a little mini one and this project helped me decide that I want a big awesome food processor instead. At first I tried to do this in the blender so that I wouldn’t have to do it in shifts but that was a sloppy mess and had to put it back in the processor anyway.  Add the oil a bit at a time (you should add in a steady stream, but if you have a mini food processor like me this isn’t an option). Then add as much salt and pepper as you like, and voila!

This made about 2 cups of pesto. It is more oily than I prefer, I think next time I’ll reduce the amount of olive oil. But it’s still phenomenal! I froze half of it, ate some on Triscuits immediately, and used about 1/2 cup on some pasta for dinner! I tossed it with some garlic basil linguine from Trader Joe’s and shelled garden peas, and garnished with some chopped walnuts and basil. It was heavenly!
Despite my aversion to turning on the oven in the heat, we had some fantastic swiss chard stem gratin on the side. I really didn’t want to waste the beautiful stems. I read online that you can parboil them for a bit to make them tender. Here’s my recipe, I will definitely be making this again, may even harvest chard just for the stems, I loved it so much!

CHARD STEM GRATIN
Stems from 2-3 bunches of swiss chard
1/3 c. Bread crumbs
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper

Boil the stems for 10-15 min, until tender. Some might still be tough after boiling, discard those. Chop stems on the diagonal into 2″ pieces. Put into baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and toss. Toss with bread crumbs and cheese, salt & pepper to taste.

Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes until bubbly. SOOOO awesome! This will probably be a standard at my house for Thanksgiving, it was so good.

Chard Nugget

Coop’s not done yet. We’re not going to get into that here, though. The heat’s been sweltering, and my greens bed was crying out for help.

I’ve been meaning to saute up some kale and swiss chard, but there was no way I could find a use for the amount that I have! Rather than just letting my crops go to the rabbits, I decided to freeze my greens.

I followed the procedure on NotMartha, it was easy to follow and successful. I used the same process for the chard and the kale, I think the blanching was a bit too long for the chard and if I were to do it again I’d probably only blanchthe chard for 1 minute. But overall I’m very happy with the results! I processed about 4 bunches each of the

chard and kale so now I have some frozen chard nuggets (wouldn’t that make a great insult? YOU CHARD NUGGET!) and kale patties! Now we’ll have freshly frozen greens at the ready to pop into anything!

Beautiful swiss chard stems! I wish I had something to dye! I think I’m going to try and make a gratin out of them:

My processing station:

Kale all rinsed, trimmed and waiting:

Kale laid out to dry (left) and chard nuggets ready for freezing. I promise, these are dark leafy greens and not an illicit substance!

Coop almost done!

If all goes well, today we will finish the chicken coop and get the chickens off the front porch and into their new home! This coop is going to be awesome! Sunny yellow with a cedar shake roof, detachable run (haven’t built that yet), vinyl flooring for easy cleaning, 2 nest boxes, a ramp that raises in the evening to keep predators out, and moon/sun cutouts for extra cuteness! One side of the roof opens up entirely for easy cleaning. For the winter, we plan to possibly install a lightbulb for heat, or maybe even move the whole coop into the garage. This thing has taken much longer than I had planned, but B is all about making this the best coop ever. We have been calling it “Overkill Coop” as a joke but I think it will all be worth it in the end!

Here are some construction photos, finished photos to come!

Let the blogging begin!

I needed a change, something different in my life. I wavered between getting a tattoo or getting chickens. I chose chickens, since they are more productive, exciting, and will be a fun learning experience for P! We figured, why not.You only live once, and my dream is to live on a little farm, sustaining ourselves off the grid as much as possible. I don’t see a way in the near future that we could pull this off since both of us work in the city and we’re doing so much work on our little house it would be hard to pick up and leave it now! So, maybe we can try to live sustainably right here in the city. Since most of our friends and family seem pretty amused by the whole situation, I thought I’d blog about our adventures so you can all live (and laugh) vicariously through us!

Here’s what we have so far on our little farm. Animal:  One man, one woman, one toddler, and one brother; an 80-pound Labradoodle, an angry cat that needs some antipsychotic meds, three chickens, various wild urban rabbits and some mosquitoes.

Plant:  12 or so tomato bushes (and I mean bushes, these things are insane), peppers (poblano, banana, jalapeno, bell) , peas, green beans, zucchini, pumpkins, eggplant, cucumbers, swiss chard, kale, corn, collard greens, spinach (is already spent), mesclun mix, acorn squash, red onions, cilantro, dill, oregano, lavender, lemon balm, lemon verbena, basil genovese, cinnamon basil, spearmint, echinacea, rosemary, sage, chives, thyme, strawberries, plums, raspberries, honeycrisp apples, and hops. That’s just the edibles! My goal is to cover or front yard with flowering perennials and we’ve got a prettygood start so far (blanket flowers, asiatic lilies, daylilies, bee balm, blanket flowers, russian sage, lambs ear, salvia, rose, iris, clematis, catmint, delphinium, peony, lilacs, hollyhocks, bleeding hearts, columbine are the ones I think of right away) plus a bunch of annuals.

Mineral: not sure what is considered a mineral. There’s lots of dirt in our yard, and a stone patio B built, does that count?

I’ll try and post a photo of our house after I get done writing this. Other adventures planned include:  quilting, sewing, canning, root-cellaring, pickling, soapmaking, cheesemaking, sprout sprouting, who knows what else. You, dear blog reader, will be the first to know! Let me know if you’re interested in learning any of these skills along with me!