I’m a legit gardener (thanks, rain)

Earlier this spring I planted a little flower garden on the side of our house. Thanks to Mike’s mom’s help last year, I had a pretty good idea how to do it. And it wasn’t rocket science — I just bought some pretty annuals, dug some holes, planted the plants and let Mike cover it all with mulch. I did have to water it a few times when we had some parched days. But soon enough we had more rain than we could handle, and those little plants took off.

Now I’ve got cosmos, vinca, and these pretty pink and white flowers from last year.

But what really excites me are the roses. They were already planted by previous tenants and then thoroughly abandoned. I finally got a clue and pruned them a few weeks ago, and then nervously awaited for the stubs of branches to grow back. And would you believe it, they did!

I got my first roses this week. They’re tiny, but pretty. And after tearing some of what I like to call “viny shit” out of the plants on the side of the house, they may actually start to bloom, too.

AND, I didn’t take a picture of this, but I believe a perennial we planted last year is blooming. It started as a very weed-like group of leaves, but I just had a feeling it was supposed to be there, so I didn’t rip it out.

Yup, I am pretty much ready for my green thumb now.

Tofu-Wild Rice Casserole

Over the weekend my sister graduated from college, and after the sweltering ceremony we all headed to a big buffet, which blessedly had plenty of vegetarian food. The very last item was a casserole made with different kinds of rice, tofu cubes, onions and red peppers. And even though it had been languishing there for a while by the time I got to it, I really liked it. So I tried to make it.

We have an abundance of wild rice in our cupboard, thanks to a few trips to northern Minnesota. I always forget it’s back there in a giant sealed jar, just waiting to be enjoyed, if only the cook had the patience to wait 45 minutes for it.

Fortunately, my experiment with this recipe — baking it in the oven with vegetable broth — worked beautifully. And it kept me from worrying about what stage of boiling over my pot was in.

It’s kind of hard to write this up as an exact recipe, so I’ll just tell you what I did.

I put a cup of brown rice and 3/4 cup of wild rice in a 9X13 casserole dish. Then I added about three cups of vegetable broth and a tablespoon of butter. I covered it up with foil and put it in a 375-degree oven to bake. I sauteed about half an onion and half a red pepper (cut into strips) in a little oil on the stovetop until the onions turned translucent. Then I set them aside and fried some tofu rectangles (maybe an inch and a half long and 1/4-inch thick) in more oil. After about 45 minutes, I added the onions, peppers and tofu to the rice, and about a cup more broth. I baked it all another 45 minutes, then seasoned it with salt and pepper and called it a casserole. It still seemed to be lacking something in flavor, so I added a little more butter and salt at the end. Overall, it was really delicious, and full of healthy grains and tofu.

Did I have pie afterwards? Of course.