February 27, 2011

Winter Weekend Fun at Grandma's

Our pacific northwest liquid sunshine is back and the snow is disappearing.  Soon the pretty white stuff will be a memory and we'll be hearing everyone's driving adventures as well as what they did with their time.  Many people I know were lucky enough to take advantage of vacation days and stay home out of the ice and cold.  It's been fun seeing the pictures show up on Facebook of my friend's yards and the beautiful snow shots they preserved with their cameras. I do have a good car and could get around, but on the short trip I took to get groceries Friday, my car slid a couple times. There was an instance when I realized it wasn't going to stop before the guy in front of me. I finally brought it to a stop, but I was sideways in the intersection waiting for the light. Definitely felt a little funny waiting for that light to change. I took it very slow and stayed on the main streets that had been traveled already. I am still a California girl inside, I haven't mastered the winter snow and ice driving even after being here over twenty years. Best I try to drive as little as possible when it's icy.

Last week I was catching up my spreadsheet I use to track my vacation days and couldn't remember what I had done in February last year as it looked like I took a few days off in February very close together.  It wasn't until after I noticed another friend's snow picture was dated Feb. 9, 2010 that I realized I was probably doing the same thing I've done for the past couple days, staying home out of the cold. I had some fun with Kaylee, got some things done around the house, made some wonderful meals for the week, but I am ready to get back to work.  I found myself thinking I missed work this morning.  I am ready to talk to some other adults and do something mentally challenging for a change.  Vacation is nice, but it's also nice to get home and back to the regular routine.

Kaylee has been with us since Friday morning and we'll be taking her to her other grandma's soon.  We've been spending a little more time with her as her little brother is very sick.  He has some seizure problems and it's been complicated by a terrible case of pneumonia.  He's been on an artificial breathing device for over a week.  They tried to remove it, but he is still not breathing on his own. Today he had another seizure.  I am worried about him.  The hospital is in Portland so Rachel is staying up there at the Ronald McDonald house.  I am glad they moved closer to grandma's so we can help where we can.

We made good use of our time together inside. We made some crispy vegan oatmeal cookies.  These came out a lot like the oatmeal cookies I grew up making.  I added some chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut shreds.


We did some crafts, Kalyee made a great scrapbook page. I got out some pictures for her to choose from, the fancy scissors, and all the scrap booking toys I've collected and she had a lot of fun.

We had a pizza party with lots of fresh vegan ingredients. WW Pita Bread, homemade sauce with whole tomatoes, garlic, and herbs, caramelized onions, roasted red pepper, sun dried tomatoes, vegan italian sausage, and daiya cheese, a vegan cheese made from tapioca.  We used a cheddar and a mozzarella flavor.Kaylee made her's and grandpa's pizzas so his hands could be free to take pictures.

She was with me on my produce rounds Friday and noticed some blueberries on the counter at Payton's. She said "I remember you made a blueberry cheesecake once, would you make one for me?"  Of Course!  Thanks for the idea, I made one of my favorite vegan cheesecake recipes from the Vegan World Fusion Cuisine Cookbook.

"I live in the moment more than I realize" ~ Star Lotus

Vegan Blueberry Cheezcake

This is one of my favorite vegan cheezcake recipes for the Vegan World Fusion Cuisine cookbook.  I've made this for non veggies and didn't mention there was no cheese in it until it was enjoyed by all. I only made a couple changes.  I used 1 12 oz. package of firm tofu and one container of Tofutti, Better than Cream Cheese instead of the 2 lbs of tofu in the recipe. I adjusted the liquids as it blended for the right consistency. I also used coconut milk instead of the soy milk.

Shaka's Vegan Cheezcake 
      Vegan World Fusion Cuisine


2 lb Tofu, firm
1 C Sucanat
1/2 cup soy milk
1.2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 1/2 TB Arrowroot powder
2 TB Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

Crust Dry:

2 C spelt flour
1/4 C Sucanat
1 TB Arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp Cardamom powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

Crust Wet:

1/3 C Safflower Oil
2 TB Maple Syrup
2 TB Apple Juice, fresh (I used some of the applesauce I canned last summer.)
1 tsp Vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.  For crust, place dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Place wet ingredients in another bowl amd mix well.  Add wet to dry, mixing well with hands, crumbling the ingredients together repeatedly.  Press into the bottom of a 10" spring form pan.  Bake for 5 minutes.  (I used a ten inch pie plate this time.)
  2. Place all filling ingredients in a large blender and blend until smooth  Pour on top of crust and bake for 1 hour or until top turns  golden brown and center does not jiggle too much.  Allow to cool before running knife around the edge and removing from the spring form pan.

For the topping I just took the blueberries, about 1 lb, a cup of sparkling apple juice, 1/3 cup sucanat, 11/2 TB lemon juice, a dash of cinnamon powder and heated it all in a small saucepan until it started to boil.  I added about 21/2 tablespoons of Agar flakes to the mixture and let it simmer until it was dissolved, stirring constantly.  Since it was so cold outside, I just put it into a bowl and set in on our deck on the table to chill.  After it was completely cooled and thickened, I poured it on the cooled cheezcake.


February 24, 2011

Snow Day Begins with Warm Muffins

Frozen Rhoddies

Daffodils on a frozen February morning.

I get to stay home and let nature put on her show.  I am blessed. My husband usually rides his bicycle to work.  I don't need to drive in this slush. Gave the car to him today, I don't need it. I have lots to do on a day like this. What will I do?  Cook or course, read, maybe start some seedlings, but mainly stay warm and safe.  Hoping to get some practice in with this new camera of ours today.  The sky has been intermittently blue and gray.  I think I'll venture out in the yard during the next sun break. It may not be quite safe to drive, but a walk in the backyard is cold, but enjoyable.

Since I'm up enjoying the snow from the inside this morning.  Thought I'd send some warm muffins to work with my honey. These started out as oatmeal chocolate chip muffins but I found I had no oatmeal so I used a combination of quinoa flakes and some whole grain cereal. I used pumpkin seed oil instead of olive oil.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup non diary milk
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup chopped nuts,
1 cup chocolate chips (I used the nondairy mini choc chips)

February 23, 2011

Pasta Alfredo ~ More Vegan Comfort Food

Just got the latest issue of VegNews Magazine. I really like it. I usually can't wait to get the pages messy as I try out three or four of the recipes the first weekend I have the issue.  That's about the best perk I get for being a NW Veg member.  I enjoy their events and educational opportunities, but most of the events are in Portland, a fifty mile drive one way.  This comes right to my house every other month.  I like them so much, I don't lend them out and I keep them up with the recipe books.  I carry around the annual food issue each year for quite awhile.  Last year I think it had 105 recipes.

This latest issue has a great article about the health risks of the food industry workers, Injustice for All, by Mark Hawthorne, author of Striking at the Roots.  Many of us are becoming more and more aware of where our food comes from, how it's produced, and who produced it such as a small organic farm or a large factory farm..  I wonder if many people think about the health of the farm and factory workers when it comes to choosing their food.  We buy organic for health reasons, we don't want herbicide residue in our bodies, we aren't sure what the long term effects of GMO foods are yet, (we do have an idea of the short and long term affects environmentally) but do many of us think about the effects these things have on the people who grow and harvest our food?  That's only a portion of the issues they face and it's a large portion.

The recipe I noticed first in this issue is another classic warm winter comfort dish veganized, Vegan Fettucine Alfredo.  Very nice and really easy. I had most the ingredients in the house except the Fettucine, I used some penne pasta and some wide pasta noodles, all whole grain and dairy free.  When I first learned to prepare vegan meals, I learned a semi raw dish similar to this..  This would probably be pretty good without cooking the sauce too for a cool summer pasta dish.  But with the quickly dropping temperature outside, I want something warm right now.

Vegan Pasta Alfredo

Amazing Alfredo
by Allison Rivers Samson

1 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons raw pine nuts
1½ cups water
4 teaspoons fresh lemon jice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
dash ground nutmeg
1½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
4 cups cooked fettuccine
3 tablespoons feshly minced parsley

In a blender, grind cashews and pine nuts into a fine powder.  Add water, lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg, and salt.  Blend until completely smooth.

Transfer sauce to a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk as you bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes whisking regularly.  Stir in black pepper.

Server over hot pasta and garnish with parsley and freshly ground pepper to taste.

We completed the meal with what I call a TLT, a Tempeh, Lettuce or Greens, and Tomato sandwich with avocado.  The tempeh was marinated in garlic, herbs, and shoyu. I used fresh collard greens and some purple kale for the greens, organic tomato, and avocado, some of Dave's Killer Bread, Lite, a little flax oil veganaise, and a dash of dijon mustard.

Vegan Comfort Food ~ Au Gratin Potatoes

Snow day, well almost.  We're getting ready for a cold couple of days. It's supposed to snow and then freeze for a couple of days.  The temperature is going to be below 20º.  The snow has started, but it isn't quite sticking at our level yet, it will soon, they say.  It's been coming down strong for about an hour now.

It's very quiet at work, most of our operations are outdoors and it's not safe to drive the roads or work the equipment in this weather, so they shut down.  End of the month and most the financial puzzles have been discussed for January, so my area is pretty slow.  I enjoy these times as next week, we'll be back to crunching the numbers for month end and wondering how I could ever have a slow moment.

The snow will make life pretty and white everywhere for a couple days and cause a lot of problems for some.  This little town is not as equipped to handle snow & ice like they are in the east.  I remember a snowstorm at my sister's in Bloomington, Illinois.  Less than 20 minutes after the snow stopped, I saw a virtual army of snow plows and equipment come out to clear the roads. Not in our little town.  It snows like this here about once or twice a year.  I get to be in my warm, cozy house, watching the snow come down from the inside. I'm sure I'll find plenty to do at home, I do like it here. I have a nice kitchen to play in and there are seedlings to get started.

This winter I've sure had some fun  veganizing many of the comfort foods I grew up with.  The other day I made a double batch of the creamy vegan cheese sauce for the Mac & Cheese we like so much.  I mixed half of it with a fresh salsa and used it in the Sweet Potato Quesadillas.  The other half I tried using sliced potatoes and onion.  I lightly greased a casserole pan with coconut oil and alternated layers of sliced potatoes and onions with the cheese sauce.  I made a crumb topping with 1 cup organic panko bread crumbs tossed with about 2 TB melted vegan margarine.  Sprinkled the bread crumbs on top and baked it at 375º for about an hour until golden brown.

Vegan AuGratin Potatoes


The Sauce:
from VegNews  Mac & Cheese by Allison Rivers Samson

* 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, I use Healthy Balance organic
* 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
* 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup raw cashews (soak the cashews in water for about an hour)
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
* 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
* 1/4 teaspoon paprika

In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.


Ah, the beauty of living in Washington. "If you don't like the weather, hang around 15 minutes, it will change." I began this post and it was gray with soft white snowflakes floating down everywhere.  By the time I was ready to post this, the sun was shining.  Donna says that means it's getting colder, we'll see how the storm blows.

February 20, 2011

Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

Found a variation of a vegan chocolate mousse I make with avocados & bananas.  This one replaces the bananas with fresh ground almond butter and I added about 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.  This is very rich and creamy.  A small serving goes a long way.

Serves 4
  • 3  avocados (2 cups mashed)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. raw agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. raw cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbs. raw almond butter
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg or cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. flavored extract such as mint, cherry, orange, almond, hazelnut, or coffee, optional

Purée all ingredients in food processor 3 to 4 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Transfer to bowls, and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Quesadillas

This is another recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I veganized it by using the creamy cheese sauce for the vegan mac & cheese I make instead of the Swiss cheese in the recipe. I just added some salsa to it. This time I used raw brazilnuts instead of cashews because I had some and I wanted to see if it made a difference, none that I noticed.

* 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, I use healthy balance organic
* 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
* 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
* 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
* 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup raw cashews (soak the cashews in water for about an hour)
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
* 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
* 1/4 teaspoon paprika

In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

February 19, 2011

Coconut Pudding with Pineapple/Orange Pureé

Friday Vegalicious Recipes posted a recipe for coconut pudding.  Thought I'd give it a try, it sure looked good when I noticed it. This is a very easy and tasty pudding made with coconut milk, toasted coconut flakes, agave, and corn starch.  Toasted Coconut, Pineapple/Orange Pureé.  Hmm...Piña Colada Pudding.  :D This recipe is for mango and kiwi pureé, but I didn't have either of those.  I did have a pineapple and some tangelos. I garnished it with crushed stevia leaf.

Asparagus Bread Pudding w/Porabellos

The other night while having a meal with some friends at a local Italian restaurant a friend bought some of the whole wheat bread they make there and gave me some.  I made a bread pudding with asparagus and portabello mushrooms. Not too many mushrooms though, my sweetie doesn't like them too much.  I make sure they are in very large pieces so he can take them out. 

I started with a recipe from a book I read this year, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's a food journey of a family who lived as locavores for a year.  They grew their own food and obtained other items they needed only from local sources. The daughter contributed commentary and recipes at the end of most of the chapters.  It was nice of them to post the recipes online.

I made a few changes of course.  I used oat milk and coconut milk, vegan margarine instead of butter, and a chopped portabello instead of morels.  I had a portabello that needed a home. I did use eggs, but I am sure they are from free range chickens. I also used an Almond cheese instead of the dairy Swiss cheese.  The Almond cheese was flavored like pepper jack.

February 13, 2011

Lettuce, Radishes, & Herbs ~ Garden 2011

Future Lettuce (left dark mound), Herb Hill on the right
 Got a couple hours in the garden today. This is our third year out at the community garden and we learn a little more each year.  This year I am paying more attention to and keeping track of ground temperature.  Today the ground temp was around 50°.  We probably would have done better with the corn last year if we had planted it at the right time.  So far we've managed to get out and get a little weeding done and some kole crops going.  Today we planted some lettuce and radishes.  Scott cleared the weeds on herb hill.  We noticed the Lupine are already coming back.  The sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary are showing some new green too.

 Columbine waking up for spring.

Kaylee had fun with the sunflower stalks.

Braised Butternut Squash

I showed you what I did with the bottom portion of the butternut squash.

I sliced the top portion in 1/2 inch rounds and braised them in about two cups apple cider, rosemary, vegan margarine (New Balance, flaxseed oil), the rest of the strawberry maple syrup I made this morning, about 1/4 cup, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a hit of golden balsamic vinegar.

Melt about 2 TB of the margarine with some rosemary, add the butternut rounds, a little salt, and the apple cider, bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid reduces to a glaze, about 20 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Vegan Banana Pancakes

Vegan Banana Pancakes with Strawberry Maple Syrup

A nice banana pancake that can be served with a vegan nut cheese like an omelet.  This recipe only has three ingredients.  My granddaughter helped out.

Banana Pancakes

About 6 medium green bananas
     (I have made these with ripe bananas, I just skip the blanching step and mash.  I think they come out fluffier if you use green bananas)
1/2 cup flour, I used WW pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder

Cut the ends off the green bananas and score up the sides. Place scored bananas in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook until you can easily poke a fork through them, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Drain and allow them to cool.

Remove peels and mash them in a large bowl.  Add flour and baking powder and knead into a dough.  Divide dough and roll into little balls and form patties.

Fry on hot griddle with a little oil, I used coconut oil, for about three to five minutes. Flip and cook for another three to five minutes.  I usually make a little foil tent to hold in the heat so the insides are cooked thoroughly.

The syrup:  I heated a package of the strawberries I put up last June with about a 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup in a small sauce pan just until warm.

Sunday Brunch for Three

Winter Squash & Beans

The Beans:

1½ cups dried beans, soaked overnight and drained
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 TB Thyme
1 TB Sage
1 TB Rosemary
     (The herbs are approximate, I don't measure herbs or count garlic cloves)

I cooked the beans in the herbs and water until they were tender, about 40 minutes.  While the beans were cooking I cut a couple acorn squash and a butternut squash and cleaned out the seeds. I brushed them with olive oil and sea salt & pepper and roasted them skins down on 350° until they were tender but not too soft.

Great combination and they will make a great lunch this week!

Mango & Carrot Soup

This couldn't be easier, just a few ingredients, carrots, an onion, a mango, and some coconut milk. The recipe calls for water and a bullion cube, but I used low sodium vegetable broth.

Mango & Carrot Soup
   from:  Vegalicious Recipes


* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 ripe mango peeled and chopped
* 1 lb. carrots (about 3-4 medium), peeled and chopped
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
* 3 cups water
* 1 vegetable bouillon cube (I used low sodium vegetable broth)
* 6-8 tablespoons coconut milk (non-sweetened)
* lemon juice
* parsley or coriander as garnish, chopped


1. Peel and chop the onion.
2. Peel and chop the carrots.
3. Heat the oil in a large soup pot.
4. Add the onions and saute until soft and glassy.
5. Add the carrots and saute the carrots for a few minutes, but don’t let the onion brown.
6. Add the water, the bouillon cube, the curry and bring the soup to a boil.
7. Cook the soup until the carrots have softened.
8. Cut and peel the mango.
9. Put 3/4 of the mango in the soup to cook, holding out a about 1/4 to use as chunks and garnish.
10. When the carrots are soft, puree the soup. I used an immersion blender.
11. Add the coconut milk and a splash of lemon juice.
12. Puree once more to mix well.
13. Season to taste with salt and pepper and possibly additional curry as desired.
14. Serve the soup garnished with a few pieces of chopped mango and either chopped coriander or parsley.

I served it with a winter squash bowl of red beans

February 11, 2011

Almond Butter Madeleines

I told you I was going to make some Madeleines today.  Up until about a week ago, I had never heard of them.  Apparently they are a little cake with quite a long history.

"Some sources, including the New Oxford American Dictionary, say madeleines may have been named for a 19th century pastry cook, Madeleine Paulmier, but other sources have it that Madeleine Paulmier was a cook in the 18th century for Stanisław Leszczyński, whose son-in-law, Louis XV of France, named them for her. The Larousse Gastronomique offers two conflicting versions of the history of the madeleine."

They're pretty easy.  I tried them first using a recipe from Cook Almost Anything.  The first time I made them, I followed the recipe pretty closely.  This time I substituted Almond butter for the butter, date sugar for the brown sugar, and sucanat for the white sugar.  They came out pretty nice.  I think I'll try another batch or two this weekend using some egg substitutes to get a vegan version.  These look like a nice treat to take to work Monday, it is Valentines Day, a good day for bringing treats.  OK, any day is a good day to bring treats. 8-)

Almond Butter Madeleines
adapted from a recipe by Cook Almost Anything

1/2 cup ground raw pistachios or raw almonds
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, this time I used spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sucanat slightly ground in the food processor
1/3 cup date sugar
3/4 cup almond butter
about 2 TB vegan margarine
2 eggs

Combine vegan margarine and almond butter together and warm just to melt.  Set aside to cool.

Sift together the ground pistachios or almonds,  flour and baking powder and set to one side.

Place the eggs, sugars into the bowl of a food processor and process until combined. Add in the sifted flour mixture and pulse to amalgamate. With the motor running, slowly pour in the cooled, melted butter - stop as soon as it has been mixed through.

Spoon out the batter into a sealable container and store in the fridge to rest - from a few hours to overnight.

Lightly oil and flour the madeleine molds and carefully spoon in the batter to two-thirds fill each cavity. Bake in a preheated oven, 350°,  for about 10-15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Allow to cool slightly in the tray before dislodging them. Let them cool completely, ridge side up, on a wire rack.

Finish off with a dusting of icing sugar before serving.

Onions, Shallots, & Peace ~ Garden 2011

Garden Friends

 It was a successful day.  Peaceful, quiet, and productive. I spent three lovely hours working in the garden.  I did get that healing massage and I took the time to get a pedicure.  This gave me at least one hour of relaxing with a book today too.

Funny, I got a manicure too but  that's just to make my hands look nice and clear up the frayed cuticles, they don't stay very pretty for long.  Within about an hour and a half of leaving the nail salon, I was out in the garden, my fingers deep in the mud.  It was cloudy, but not raining much.  There were a few drops, but nothing to keep me indoors.  It was, however, very cold.  I brought extra socks, wore leggings under my jeans, carried extra gloves, and brought some ear muffs just in case.  No problem though, soon I was too warm and grateful I dressed in layers.

I weeded the mound we had most of our peppers in last year and planted about 100 white onions, 100 yellow onions, and maybe a dozen large shallots.  The plant by the small post is a Columbine already waking up from the winter.  There was quite a bit of green growing from the center. I gave them a little trim too.  The ground temperature was 45° today, perfect for onions and peas.  Hopefully I'll get some lettuce, chard, kale, and spinach in the ground this weekend too. But, if the weather doesn't allow it, that's OK.  I managed to get quite a lot done today.  I can work on the indoor seedlings.

I softened, weeded, and turned the dirt at the bottom of the structure our beans grew on last year and planted a package of snap peas.

Peas Soon

A benefit of working in a community garden is getting the chance to learn from other gardeners.  There were three or four out there today checking out what work needed to be done. A couple of the older gentlemen came over to say hi and see what I was planting. I enjoy watching everyone's garden growing too, everyone has their own style.

Elizabeth, the gardener right behind us, uses a cardboard and leaf mulch.  She packs dry leaves into her plot all winter.  She's got a pretty good bed going now.

The Jolly's have a very nice raised garden set up.  They'll be out there soon too planting their kole crops.  They'll drape plastic on those hoops making it nice and warm inside for their tomatoes and peppers.

The neighbors right next to us use, what I think they said is a Japanese system.  They built an oblong structure and place their compost in the center.  The roots of the plants then grow into the compost and the plants grow kind of a vertical.  It's very pretty when it's green and blooming. 

And the best part of all, I came home with somewhat of a harvest. There were a whole bunch of tiny little carrots that stayed in the dirt all winter.

I also managed to smile inside myself most of the day.  It could have been very different due to the events of the morning in the courtroom.  But, I started the day with some meditation, prayer, a gratitude list, and a mission to stay calm and positive. Staying calm throughout the day wasn't very hard at all.

Life is good and gardening is cheaper than therapy!