Veggie Paella

Hi there!

I hope you’re having a great weekend. Garrett and I made a veggie paella the other day. We cooked it in a tagine, a traditional Morocaan cooking pan, but any Dutch Oven or  wide bottom pot will work.


Ingredients [this is really flexible, you can always sub different veggies & add fish/meat]:

  • extra light olive oil to sauté onion in at beginning
  • 1 Spanish onion cut into medium chunks
  • 1 red and green bell pepper cut into long strips
  • 2 [or more] cloves garlic pressed, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup pearl couscous or quinoa
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • sea salt
  • tomatoes [optional]
  • 1 cup diced zucchini or peas
  • 4 lemon wedges, to serve
  • 10 Kalamata olives pitted and coarse chop [optional]

spices, tomatoes, olives, lemons

onion, couscous, peppers, zucchini, garlic

Heat tagine, or pan, and add the oil. Once hot add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add peppers and sauté for 5 more minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute, make sure not to burn it. Next, add all the spices and bay leaves, stir, then add the dry couscous or quinoa and stir for a couple minutes. Add the sherry and saffron, let simmer for a minute, then add stock and some salt. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes. With about 7 minutes left add the zucchini and stir it in well and then cover and continue to stir.

sauté it all

After twenty minutes remove heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Then open and spoon out and add tomato wedges, olives if desired, and a lemon chunk. Enjoy!


Other random, recent pictures:

Garrett helping make spicy butternut soup while the paella was cooking

winter fruits: kiwi, blood orange & naval orange

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Tongue of Fire

From the post title you’re probably guessing that Jake and I ate some sort of ridiculous hot pepper and suffered the consequences. Guess again 🙂

Dried Beans.

Last Saturday Jake and I were really excited when one of the farms at the Farmers Market brought dried beans. The farm is called GRUB (Growing Resourcefully, Uniting Bellies) and it’s run by Lee, Francine, and Michael. We were able to visit GRUB farm and go on a farm tour a few weeks ago. It was great to learn about other farming methods and techniques. This year GRUB planted an experimental dried bean plot. They grew over a dozen varieties of beans to learn which ones worked best with their soil, thrasher, and of course which ones taste the best. The GRUB farm has a bunch of great systems in place from their field rotations and experimental crops to community engagement days. While visiting the farm we saw all of their stored (and yet to be thrashed) beans. Needless to say, Jake and I eagerly awaited the beans arrival at the market.

Now, I’ll admit I have quite a fondness for beans. I probably was a garbanzo bean in another life considering how much hummus I eat. Last Saturday I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Francine for about a half hour about beans and all of the varieties they were selling. Boston’s Favorite, Hutterite bean, amongst heirloom varities of black, pinto, and white beans. How was I going to decide which one to buy? Then Francine picked up a bag that had not been displayed yet: Tongue of Fire. Sold.

Jake and I brainstormed ideas on what to make for dinner using the beans. Francine said that she had not yet tried Tongue of Fire, but that she thought it was a good all around bean for holding it’s texture and such. We knew we wanted to make some red quinoa, so we went pretty simple and decided to do a quinoa and bean bowl. Well, we thought we were just going to do that simple bowl and then I got an itch to use the saffron I had been carrying around in my purse. It’s pretty funny actually, most women have some make-up or tweezers along with their wallet. Nope not me, just a little small bag of saffron that I “packed” into my purse during the move from Iowa. It’s been sitting their ever since, ha! We soaked a pinch of saffron in a few tablespoons of warm water for 10 minutes and then added it to 1 3/4 cup water with 1 cup red quinoa. Once that’s all in the pot bring it to a boil and then down to a simmer for 25ish minutes. Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa three times with water before adding it to the pot because it’s coated with a bitter enzyme that can easily be washed away.

saffron infused water

Last, I immersion blended a spicy roasted red pepper sauce. Here’s the rough measurements for that sauce:

  • 1/4-1/3 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soaked almonds with their skins peeled off (this creates a creamy sauce, soak almonds from 2-8 hours and then rinse them well and peel the skins off)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • dash of salt
  • couple dashes of cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • garlic, as much as preferred
  • a tablespoon of red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • a bunch of cilantro (optional)

Add all of the above ingredients together and then immersion blend them into a tasty sauce/spread depending on how much olive oil and almonds you add. Less almonds will make it thinner. I’m guessing you could sub tahini and/or lime juice into this sauce as well. I shall try that next, but in the mean time you should go eat some beans 🙂

Unfortunately, the beans didn’t keep their cool striped design after they were cooked. They tasted great and didn’t cause any tongue discomfort 🙂

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Spicy Curry Roots

Hi there!

I hope all is going well. Things are just swell at the farm. There’s never a dull day that’s for sure. This week we’ve chain sawed 15 walnut trees out of the orchard to make way for an uninterrupted, massive field, built 4 tables to hold seed trays on, shelled walnuts, weeded, planted & germinated seeds, and a variety of other standard farm jobs. A few days ago we had a craving for some spicy Indian curry. After reading a few recipes, combining some parts of various ones and adding my own twists, the curry making began. There was a bunch of cutting. So many veggies were used, as you can see in the pictures below.

You can really combine all sorts of veggies. Those were some of the ones we had on hand and I wanted to stick to mainly roots. Next, there was the spices, which I was slightly nervous about after having spent all that time cutting all the veggies. Luckily, it tasted great in the end, well worth the experimentation.

I used extra light olive oil because it has a really high smoke point – 480 degrees (about). Extra virgin olive oil has a much lower smoke point, so you really shouldn’t use it when cooking and especially not over high heat. Below was combing all the spices, oil, and leeks. After sauteing that for a few minutes all the veggies went in along with 64 ounces of veggie stock. This was a HUGE batch though. I’d just estimate how much broth you want to add by how liquidy you’d prefer the curry. Then cover the pot and let cook for approximately 30 minutes, depending on how big you chunked all your veggies up. Taste along the way to see how soft they’re getting. When it’s close to done add the juice of 1 lemon and stir. Turn off heat and enjoy. We found that it tasted even better the 2nd and 3rd day, warm and cold.

The picture doesn’t do it justice. We did add beans to ours, but I left them out of the recipe because I think it would have been a tad better without. Although it was nice for a different texture. Enjoy!

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Farmers Market

Here’s a picture post of some crops that we typically have at the Farmers Market each Saturday right now. I have a feeling you might want to eat a salad after this….

Meyer Lemons

as I used to say when I was younger, "Trees!"

Jake with the daikon leaves

a giant kohlrabi variety


the salad mix with only lettuce varieties

middle salad mix- some lettuce, some mustard greens, kale, chickweed, and escarole

salad mix with no lettuce, only escarole, endive, kale, yukina savoy, peppery greens, chickweed - deliciousness!

Now go enjoy some greens 🙂

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Go’in Nuts!

We’ve been shelling a bunch of walnuts lately. It’s actually not too bad of a job, especially when we shell first thing in the morning, listen to NPR, and drink coffee. Here’s what the set up looks like:

hand walnut crank

There’s been some nuts with worms, disease, or some other issue and those are discarded with the shells. We throw the shells and unsalable flesh to the chickens and they LOVE to scratch around in the nuts and eat the worms and flesh. I’m guessing our eggs right now are really high in omega-3’s from all the walnuts they’re eating!

the mighty walnut!

With all the walnuts around I was trying to think of something new and simple to make with them. I decided to combine 1 nut, 1 seed, 1 fruit, and 1 grain + water.

Approximate amounts:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds soak in 6 tablespoons water for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups oats

Put prunes, presoaked chia seeds and all the water they soaked in (should be a gelatinous texture), and most of the walnuts into a blender and blend the mixture to your preference. Mine was fairly mash-like. Add to the oats and hand mix until the oats are thoroughly mixed in. Oil a loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool, cut, and enjoy. It’s a work in progress and may need a ripe banana or some applesauce added if it’s too dry when trying to mix with the oats. Cooking, and especially baking is all an experiment 🙂

***Update: Chia seeds originated in central America. The Aztec and Maya used the seeds as “survival food” because 1 tablespoon of chia seeds will keep a person alive for 24 hours. Chia seeds have high levels of omega-3’s, protein, fiber, calcium, and many trace minerals. Chia seeds also function as a wonderful binding ingredient, which helps your digestive track stay very regular. Learn more about chia seeds here.

homemade energy bar

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Farming….in January?!?


Welcome to the revamped Plant New Roots blog. New Year and time for a new look. I’m going to try to post more often and include more seasonal recipes.

I hope you’re having a splendid day. Even though it’s still the middle of winter, everyday it seems as though there’s an increasing amount of prep work going on for the upcoming season. Plus, the sun is setting slightly later each day. Yesterday, Jake, Evan and I seeded 40 trays of various lettuces: crisp romaine, red butterhead, red sails – delicious. Now, within each tray there are 48 individual plants, which after some calculation means we’ve got almost 2,000 lettuce heads on the way. Woohoo! Another plant we seeded yesterday was various types of sweet peppers – o the first signs of summer 🙂 Sweet red and golden Marconis, yellow and red bells, yum! The peppers are in a very fragile stage though, they’re being kept in the warmest greenhouse with heating pads under them for the first few days to aid in germination. Fingers crossed!

Now to rewind a bit, right before Jake and I went home for the holidays we completed a massive lettuce transplanting project. Here’s some pictures.

small greenhouse planting of romaines and bibb on 12/20

If you’re wondering, the 2×4’s and netting are used for trellising tomatoes. We left if up because it’s a bunch of work to install and it won’t affect the lettuce at all.

big greenhouse planted with red leaf, romaine, bibb, and others on 12/19

Now here’s a visual for what about 2,000 lettuce heads looks like. One row is all spinach (Jake and my experiment) and one row is fennel, but otherwise there’s 20 rows of lettuce at 100 feet, planted a foot apart = 2,000 lettuces 🙂 Eww, look at those nasty dead tomatoes on the far left.

Fastforward to the present and here’s what the greenhouses look like now:

small greenhouse lettuce today!

big greenhouse today, not growing quite as fast as the smaller, warmer one

p.s. shortly after this post is posted, I’m going to gain the rights to my domain name, so from this moment on my blog will be found at:

Thanks for following!

loving all the lettuce! (haha just representing Iowa a little bit:)

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Wild and Scenic Film Festival

Happy Monday!

Yesterday, Jake and I went to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, CA. It was an awesome event filled with inspirational films, though provoking conversation, and tasty food. Unfortunately, I realized I forgot my camera on the way there, so I don’t have any pictures of the town, but here’s some links to some of our favorite films.

Food Stamped: the challenge a husband and wife undertake to eat for a week on 1 dollar per person per meal. Additionally, she highlights food stamp politics, children education programs, amongst many other issues.

Grow! Documented 12 different small scale sustainable farmers in Georgia. All the farmers were in their 20’s, 30’s and the film gave a nice overview of the growing sustainable food movement.

COLD Was an jaw dropping film on the realities of climbing one of the tallest peaks in Pakistan in winter. This film put a whole new meaning to the word cold.

The Wolf and the Medallion was a very unique film, filled with artistic drawings. The theme of the video was to  never be complacent.

We couldn’t make it over to White Water, Black Gold – but it looked like a great film and timely too with all the debate right now about the pipeline construction in Nebraska.

Even when the economy is poor, the weather is acting strange, and the Packers lost (sorry Benedicts!) – it’s refreshing and inspiring to see all the positive work and energy in these films!

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Growing Power

Hi there!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Jake and I had a terrific time back in the midwest visiting with family and friends! We created unique melted glass plates, learned about distilling on a Great Lakes Distillery tour, tried our hand at bowling, played an awesome game called Telestrations (combination of pictionary and telephone), had 3 different Christmas celebrations, made a record number of homemade sushi rolls and special sauce, celebrated at Colleen and Geoff’s wedding, and best of all enjoyed countless laughs with family and friends.

If you’re ever in the Milwaukee area I’d recommend going on a tour at Growing Power and then head over for a distillery tour 🙂 Here’s some pictures of Milwaukee’s Growing Power started by Will Allen. Growing Power is a thriving organization growing food in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. They make the most out of every inch of their farm, from hanging pots to grow plants vertically to installing tanks with tilapia under the plants which help introduce nutrients and complete a full circle ecosystem with plants, animals, soil, water, and sun.

all the sprouts!

every inch of space is used, vertically especially

it can be 160 degrees inside the compost

Find those worm castings Jake!

Full ecosystem, various greens growing with a tilapia pool providing organic nutrients

multi-functional: creating the compost & heating the greenhouse

goats, their organic waste is an important ingredient in the compost

a turkey they've had for years

one of the numerous compost bins, Growing Power really focuses on creating healthy soil by taking organic waste from grocery stores, etc. and creating compost

Growing Power was a really cool place.

Happy 2012!

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mushroom wild rice, hubbard squash puree, mustard green salad, mushroom tarte, roasted potatoes, cranberries, and duck!


Looking at that picture makes my mouth water! We had a lovely Thanksgiving up in Portland and I thought I’d post some pictures from the trip. Driving up 101 on the coast on the way up was eventful, from scenic overlooks to standing a couple hundred feet from 2,000 seals to crazy fast winds & closed sections of highways. Portland is a terrific city, filled with unique stores and restaurants, parks, Farmers Markets, and much more. And the city is super pedestrian and bike friendly. I’d highly recommend anyone to visit if they can. Here’s a little slideshow from the trip:

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Thanksgiving in Portland was awesome, but we can’t wait to come back to the Midwest for Christmas in a few weeks 🙂

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