Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Update- and for the locals - Paradise Organics!

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken."

 ~James Dent

Wow! Summer is really in full swing around here! A gorgeous 83 degrees is the temperature here and I'm loving it. I've taken some pictures that I thought I'd share. So here's an update in pictures.

 And if you live local to Yelm, Washington I have a great tip for you, which is my favorite place to shop for food, Paradise Organics. They are having a sale this week, so I thought it was a perfect time to mention it. Scroll down for that.

A picture of Mount Rainier I took. It was such a clear and sunny day today so the mountain could be seen well. Sometimes when it's rainy or foggy you can't even see it. So when it's really clear, it's like it pops up out of nowhere.

We've become bird watchers. Meaning we put out bird food and see who comes to dinner. This was a particularly beautiful visitor, I thought.

A blue Jay! I wish it was a better picture, but this was taken through the window screen.

I have lettuce growing in hanging planters. They are looking great I'm happy to report. Lettuce is easy to grow from seeds.

My rose garden in bloom

These are my favorite roses, they are called Blue Girl. They are especially fragrant. I've used them to make rose petal jelly. I plan to make it again this year.

This is one of my new chickens. I had purchased some chicks to add to my flock. They are about 2 months old now. Isn't she cute?

This is one of my chickens catching a break in the shade

I have lots of strawberry plants, and some are just starting to ripen.

 Paradise Organics

First I would like to point out that this is totally from me, absolutely unsolicited. I am not getting paid anything for this whatsoever. I told Bob I would like to write about his place, and he agreed.

Paradise Organics is a farm located in the Bald Hills area of Yelm Washington. Bob, the owner, sells vegetable starts, fresh veggies, and garden soil amendments/fertilizers along with many other items. (Get on his email list and he'll send you a full list of what's available weekly.) Here is his page on Local Harvest.              

They have a huge selection of plant starts
I'm a great shopper. Period. I know where the best place is to shop for almost everything. Of course there are different reasons to shop at different places, convenience, price, excellent product, etc. Paradise Organics has many great reasons to shop there.

1. Quality - Everything is organic and the best quality produce I've ever seen. Since I love food and love to cook, this is the most important for me. Check out the pictures of the butter lettuce below. His produce rocks. In a few weeks he'll have tomatoes. Imagine big bright red homegrown tomatoes that you didn't have to grow yourself! You can't buy those at any grocery store.

2, Customer Service- His plant starts are guaranteed. (ask him for the details.) He also has a no questions asked guarantee policy, meaning let him know if something isn't right and he'll work to make it right.

3. It's local. (I mean if you live near here.) But yeah, if you live a mile away, your lettuce is being grown a mile away. If you buy your lettuce at Safeway, who knows how far away it's being shipped from. Also you're helping the local economy and a small business.

4. Price- The prices here are amazingly low. They are about the same as the prices at Safeway.

5. Freshness- Since everything is grown there, it's super fresh. He picks lettuce and other items just for you in the upper garden. Imagine that!

(I have nothing against Safeway, I shop there myself, it's just where is a better place to buy produce than from the farm it's grown on?)

These are gorgeous starts. They even have a guarantee on them.

The lower garden where there is green houses and the chicken coop. They have ducks and chickens so they sell both species of eggs. The chickens have plenty of roaming space and are totally organic just like everything else here.

Have you ever seen a head of romaine so big and beautiful?

More delicious lettuce

Big tomato starts, some already have tomatoes growing on them, it's not too late to grow some.

Parsley starts here, they sell all kinds of herb starts

This is a head of butter lettuce I purchased there about a month ago. It was so gorgeous I had to take a picture!

Beautiful beets purchased at Paradise

They are having a sale right now, through July 13th, 2011. Below is an example of some of the great deals going on right now.

Vegetable Starts
* Large Tomato, Eggplant and Pepper Plants 6” - $2 ea.
* Large Tomatillo Plants 6” - $2 ea.
* All Herb Starts 4” – $1.50 ea.
* All Pony Pack and 4” Veggie Starts - $1 ea.
* Artichoke Plants 6” - $2 ea.
* Parsley Curled and Italian 6” - $2 ea.

Fresh Vegetables (while supplies last):

* Zucchini - $1 per pound
* Cucumber - $1 per pound
* Beets - $1 per pound
* Lettuce - $1.50 per head
* Red Cabbage - $1.50 per pound

So if you live in Yelm, Washington or the surrounding area, I highly recommend Paradise Organics. I live a bit of a drive away, but I feel it's worth the extra distance for the high quality products I receive there. Now is a great time to experience them with the sale going on till July 13th.

And if you don't live in this area, go check out Local Harvest. Where you can find a farm near you. Who knows? Maybe you'll find a farm that is equally great!

Paradise Organics

18819 Sorenson Road SE
Yelm, WA 98597

Contact Information

Bob Foster


paradise@inetsupermall dot com

Farm Stand Schedule

Open 10 AM til 7 PM - 7 days a week (April 15 - Dec 15) Other times by appointment.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fresh Peach Pie with a Shortbread Crust

"Do not regard the critics as questionable patriots. What were Washington and Jefferson and Adams but profound critics of the colonial status quo"?

 ~ Adlai Stevenson

Happy Fourth Of July!  Here in the U.S. this means fireworks, BBQ's and picnics. A celebration of  Independence. I wish you all a wonderful and enjoyable holiday.

A measuring cup is a good tool for getting the crust into the corners and up the sides of your pie plate.

This time of year reminds me of fresh peach pie. Growing up one of our favorite places to eat out, was a pie shop, such as Polly's or Marie Callenders. I remember always asking the waitress, "are peaches in season"? "Do you have fresh peach pie?" During dinner that piece of pie would be all I could think about. I would always ask for extra whipped cream. They would tell me, "it comes with whipped cream." I would say, "can you just make sure there is a lot of it?" My love of freshly whipped cream started at an early age.

This pie is made only to highlight the fresh peaches. I can't think of anything much more delicious than a fresh, ripe peach in the peak of it's season. The glaze over the peaches exists only to intensify the sweetness of the fresh fruit. The shortbread crust acts as a buttery, sweet delivery device for each bite. And what would peaches be without softly whipped fresh cream?

I use these dried beans over and over again as my pie weights.

This means that fresh, ripe, juicy peaches at the height of the season is the only peaches to use in this recipe. It relies on it in fact, since the really ripe ones have all that juice that is needed in the filling.

Most fresh peach pie recipes out there involve using peach gelatin as a binding device. I don't want something artificially flavored in my pie. Instead, my filling is thickened with cornstarch, with fresh peach juice and crushed peaches used instead of water, as the liquid, to get as much fresh peach flavor as possible.

To peel the peaches submerge them in boiling water for 30-45 seconds then place in a bowl of ice water. The peels will slip off easily.

The filling is a cinch, so I wouldn't hold it against you if you wanted to use a store bought crust, a nilla wafer one would be particularly good, I believe.

"Equal rights for all, special privileges for none".

 ~ Thomas Jefferson

Want something else to do with fresh peaches?

My Any Fruit Crisp is easy and delicious!

Fresh Peach Pie
FYI- The crust needs to firm up in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight before making the pie.
Ingredients for crust
1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 g.) butter- softened
1/3 cup (68 g.) sugar
1 egg
1  cup (150 g.) flour
1/4 cup (28 g.) cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
Ingredients for pie filling
5 cups sliced fresh, very ripe, peeled peaches (about 8 peaches) (I forgot to weight them, sorry)
1/2 cup (100 g.)  sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups, (1 pint) or (500 ml)  heavy whipped cream, whipped-sweetened with 1/4 cup (44 g.) sugar (this will give you enough for topping pie as well as extra for serving.)
Start by making the crust.
 Blend the butter, sugar and egg using a stand mixer, or an electric mixer until well mixed. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix until it just comes together, don't overmix.
Pat into a 9 inch pie plate and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 200 degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 6. While oven is preheating, prick the bottom of crust with a fork. Then place either a piece of parchment or a piece heavy duty foil  into the crust, with pie weights or dried beans inside of the foil or parchment.
Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil or parchment and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.
To make the filling.
Take 1 cup of your peaches in a bowl and mash them with a fork to release their juice. In a large pan, add the sugar and cornstarch, and whisk them together. Add the crushed peaches, stir and cook over medium high heat. As it starts to thicken and boil, add about half of your sliced peaches so that the mixture doesn't get too firm. Remove from the heat immediately and add the remaining peaches and lemon juice. Toss together to distribute the glaze to all of the peaches. Pour into your pie shell.
Refrigerate the pie till it's chilled. Then garnish the pie with dollops of whipped cream using a pastry bag with a large star tip, such as Wilton's 1M.

Serve the pie cold, it is best eaten the same day. Garnish with extra whipped cream.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fresh Ginger Limeade

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

 ~Erma Bombeck

I feel fortunate to live near the cheapest thrift store on the planet. That's not the name of the store, but it should be. I couldn't believe my eyes (or ears) when I found out the prices. Want a shirt? 59 cents please. How about some pants? Better check your wallet, they raised the price to .79 cents. (It used to be .59)

 One of my favorite things in that little store to shop for, is cookbooks. All hardcover books are .79 cents (I think?) Well, if it's not, it's not much more than that, it might even be .59. Soft cover books are .39 cents. Unbelievable, I know. I keep expecting to show up and they announce to everyone how it's all been a prank. Or maybe I'll go one day and in it's place will be a cement lot and it had all been a mirage.

It's actually a great place that helps the community. I like to offer my support by donating items, mostly clothing. They have a pretty fast turnover, (as you can imagine) so this doesn't happen often, but it's always a trip to check out a shirt, really look at it, try it on even, then realize I'm the one who donated it a week before. Facepalm.

One of my latest finds, is a book named, From Bengal to Punjab, The Cuisines of India. and I am loving this book.

This fresh ginger limeade is the first recipe I've made from it. It's simple. Limeade with some fresh grated ginger in it. Simple yes, but something I wouldn't otherwise thought of, and is a great idea. I love it when a book takes me in a new direction.

This limeade has a bright ginger flavor. I am really enjoying it. First you taste the sweet and tart limeade, then you get the warm ginger. This is so refreshing on a warm day. If you like ginger I think you are in for a treat.

These blue flowers are growing wild on our property, and happen to be ready for picking right now. With the 4th of July in a few days, I couldn't have timed it better if I tried.

I'm incredibly excited to try many recipes from this book. I'm a lover of Indian food. Samosas are one of my faves. The recipe included in the book uses puff pastry. I have some in my freezer so these may be in my near future.  The recipe is straightforward, and uses ingredients I have on hand. I've never ventured into making my own Indian food, and this book whispers to me, "it's o.k. don't be intimidated, you can do it!"

A great message for a cookbook from a different culture. I think this recipe is one of many I will be loving from this wonderful book.

More refreshing drinks

Orange Juli-ish

Mexican Horchata

Watermelon Cocktail

Fresh Ginger Limeade

adapted from the book, From Bengal to Punjab, the Cuisines of India

makes a pitcher full


8 cups (a tad under 2 liters) cold water
2 Tablespoons freshly grated ginger
juice of 5 limes ( a little more than 1 cup, or about 10 oz. or 296 ml)
3/4- 1 cup (150-200 g.) sugar (depending on your taste)


In a pitcher, stir all of the ingredients together. Adjust the sugar to taste. Refrigerate. This is best when it has had a chance to sit for 30 minutes or more, for the flavors to meld. Strain it through a fine sieve before serving if you wish. (I didn't because I don't mind the small bits of fresh ginger in my drink, I liked it even.) Serve cold over ice.