Our Secret Garden

I am currently taking a photography class and one of my recent assignments was to shoot portraits and self-portraits. So I made the Mr. come outside with me for the portraits and I began to realize how cool our yard is for photo-ops. We pretty much live in a secret garden.

Complete with a green hedge that is in front of our house and blocks passerbys from seeing in and an extended backyard or "pasture" (which is perfect for bocce ball). We also have an old red chicken coop and apple, pear and cherry trees. While our .5 acre yard means that my husband has to do yard work twice a week, it also means that I get some pretty scenery in our pictures. ;)

I have to mention that I was critiqued by my teacher for having taken pictures that almost weren't portraits. He said they seemed more editorial and like advertisements or something you would see in a magazine. I scoffed in my head. Not because I think I am some amazing photographer, but because to me these are portraits. Really, I took his critique as a compliment in a twisted way. I already know how I like pictures to look and having an editorial edge to them is my style. If he thinks they are too editorial, then I know they look how I want them to. I am not going to be a Sears portrait photographer, so I might as well explore the editing style that I feel best represents me as a photographer.


Gluten Free and Vegan Grilled Portobello Tacos

Last week I was feeling quite inspired to makes some portabella mushroom tacos! It just so happened that my trusty subscription to the previously mentioned Vegetarian Times provided me with a recipe for just that! Unfortunately they did not have the recipe online, so I can not post it for copyright reasons - but I will shed light on how to make your own version!

First, I must say that these were some of the best tacos I have ever had! The mushrooms were cooked on my indoor grill with a marinade of olive oil, pepper and balsalmic vinegar, which made them so amazing. They were juicy and meaty and divine, making the price well worth it! That is my one issue with portabellas - they are so yummy but so expensive. Four of them cost me $7 - but surprisingly they fed us for two meals, which made me happy. I hated left-overs as a kid, but now I hope for them. They also had avocado slices on them (one of my favorite things ever!) and were topped with a home-made salsa verde, which gave the tacos a finishing touch.

Anyway, here are some easy ingredients that will help you craft your own tacos:

- Corn Tortillas
- Grilled or Sauteed Portabella Mushrooms
- Avocados
- Shredded Cabbage
- Tomatoes (which I forgot)
- Salsa Verde (Trader Joe's has some!)

Have fun with these! Spice them up! Add some other ingredients! They are not your mother's tacos! They made me feel like we were eating in a nice restaurant. :)

Oh, and now a word about quinoa. This little super grain is great for vegetarians, vegans and is gluten free! It is packed with protein, essential amino acids, fiber and iron. It can be easy for a GF girl to go crazy on rice and corn, so I love using quinoa. I made a "Mock Tabbouleh Salad" from The Gluten-Free Vegan Cookbook to accompany our tacos and I was so pleased with it.

Andrew is pretty much hooked on quinoa now and I have to say - this was one of my favorite quinoa salads yet. Sometimes quinoa can be too bland or nutty tasting, but this one was amazing. It had freshly chopped parsley and mint, tomatoes, green onions, red bell pepper and kalamata olives and was dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and herbs. The pairing of the kalamata olives and mint was the best part! The salad is best chilled, so I always make my quinoa hours ahead of time and let it cool in the fridge before adding other ingredients. I also find it's better over night or after a day, when the quinoa has had time to soak up all the flavors.

Happy Eating!


Spring has Sprung

Tiny blossoms have burst from our cherry tree, the wildflower seeds we planted in the flower bed have started to sprout and the sun is lingering well into the evening. Spring has finally sprung.

I have also started my last full term of school, which is bittersweet. I am taking five classes; one of which is photography 2 and another which is poetry seminar II. I am slightly (translates to: extremely) intimidated by my poetry class, since I have not taken any poetry... ever. Yikes. I am taking this class because I watched the movie "Bright Star" which is about John Keats and I fell madly in love with the idea of being a poet. Silly girl...

Ok, enough of that. Lets get down to business. The business of eating. It is April and I wanted something light and nutritious (yet still warm and cozy) for dinner. So what better to have than a hearty bowl of soup! I love soup. I could eat soup for every meal for the rest of my life, but as winter fades, so does my desire to make it. However, I pulled out the latest edition of Vegetarian Times and found a recipe for a spring vegetable minestrone soup (click for the link). Personally, I would have put the word "garden" in the name somewhere, but eh, whatev. This soup is really good. It's packed with treasures like turnips and snow peas and has a kick of cayenne in it too! I think it's the perfect soup for this time of the year and it makes a huge batch, which is always a good thing.

So give it a try.

Oh and happy birthday to my best friend Mo (aka Amanda)!! She is my soul mate, my Witch Baby and one of the biggest lights in my life. One day our friendship is going to grace Dollywood and then my life will truly be complete.