Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pretty and Tasty!

Not much to say today. I'm super busy at work and coming home to be super busy working at home. I'm just itching to know how the weather is treating everyone's garden though.
The way a windowsill should look in summer

Harvest for 20 June...way early! what?
At this point I'm lost in the corn growing process. My climbing beans grew faster than the corn so it is a tangled mess in there. The corn is getting the tops but not quite as tall as I am yet. I'm not sure what to do to it now to try to get things to go right now. I suppose I just wait for the experiment to unfold?

A hundred, two hundred...oh, I give up!

My winter bed looking sloppy.

But it has hidden treasures in it. :)

My acorn squash in the winter bed (which is just a small bed in the area near my house that has extended spring and slightly less devastatingly hot conditions in high summer) is producing and the amount this is growing in a day is shocking. The squash get visibly bigger from morning to evening. Weird. This was on the 20th and now it is more than double that size. I've thinned off some to be sure I have space between fruits and a limited number on a plant. I adore acorn squash so I'm drooling over this fall's hearty dishes when the weather cools.
Best to all! I've been reading on my iphone all of your blogs while waiting or between meetings, but commenting is difficult on that thing so just know I'm still with you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recipe - Lonely Squash Boogie

There is a time in the garden when summer harvests are just beginning and spring harvests are winding down when there just doesn't seem to be enough of any one thing to do much with.

Maybe there's not enough to can or dehydrate or even to make a decent sized pan of whatever your favorite dish is of any one veggie. If you're at all like me, you get terribly tired of sauteed veggie medley after a while.

This dish is a delightful surprise when you're in that bind. It is easy, fast, hearty but not heavy and with a simple flavor profile that doesn't require a lot of brain power after a hard day to enjoy.


Equal parts sliced zucchini, yellow squash and scallop squash
For each set of one each of the squashes inlude:
1 sliced carrot
1/2 chopped chicken breast without skin or bones
1 immature leek and/or early onion
Enough olive oil to coat
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used 4 cheese blend)
1/4 cup italian bread crumbs
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste


Slice up the squash, carrots, onions (leeks) and chicken and toss with olive oil in glass oven proof pan to coat. I used approximately 1.5 tbsp of olive oil but I like it light. Then further toss it with the shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Bake in 350 deg F oven for about 30 minutes. Veggies should be nice and firm still, but cooked enough for flavor to release.

Monday, June 15, 2009

State of the Garden - 14 June 2009

And now for the garden update with loads of pictures, a few weird questions and some interesting tidbits. I hope your garden is also doing fabulous and you're getting ready for the bounty!

Wall of tomatoes - now 7 feet high

Tomato Walls from the side

Ripening tomatoes - Oh, the anticipation

Some of the Romas are ripening also

I've always heard that Romas, being determinate sauce tomatoes, sort of come ripe all at once or in a shorter period of time. This is the second year in a row that doesn't appear to be true. They sort of produce a few at a time in the beginning, a couple of really big flushes, then smaller amounts for the rest of the season. Do you all have this? Is that really what that means, just a couple of main flushes but smaller amounts all season?

Some are just huge. These show on a sling at over a pound each, but that is a swag and may not be accurate entirely since they are still on the vine.

If you peek in there, there are a dozen or more just in this one photo and all of them full sized. Why aren't they ripe yet!!!

This is one of my twinned tomatoes. It produced 17 blossoms on the branchlet, 14 tomatoes and now has 11 since I thinned 3 off for frying.

Of course, those heirlooms give their flaky shapes. Brandywine.

Some of them really weird. Mortgage lifter.

And some of them shaped downright scary. Constoluto Genovese here.

The squash patch is a bit large at this time. I'd say bordering on Jurassic.

Is it okay that some of them fall on their side? Will they continue to grow fine or should I wrestle them back upright?

Peek down there, do you see my zukes? Marrow here.

Onions look so pretty and clean at first. Then we get this. Looks like a big knot, doesn't it.

One of my herbs that went to seed this year. I lost the marker but I think it is Oregano. I think these buds look nifty.

My peppers aren't really doing great this year. I think it hasn't been hot enough yet for long enough. They really do like the heat. The Patio Marconi is producing though, so I'm happy.

My Nasturtiums are now 9 feet long and taking up the whole path between beds. Can I cut these back so they'll grow new vines?

Borage is blooming profusely and I adore these flowers. They work on mood wonderfully. If you freeze the blooms into ice cubes, you can have mood lifters for PMS'ing teenagers all winter long. :)

The pupperonskis had a bath today. They were very good but you could tell that it scared poor Boscolator. He is such a sweet old man and he smells better now.

As you can see, they got a little excited because I had squash cookies in my hand.

Thanks for visiting! Hope you can help me with my questions because I'm completely confused about some things and could use the expertise out there that I know you all have. Till next time!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How do I harvest Parsnip seeds?

I left a few parsnips from last year in the ground over winter in order to get seeds from them this year. Now, the time is either here or fast approaching and I've got no clue. I know, sad. But still true.!

Parsnip stalks approximately 6 feet tall

Central Stalk - Are those seeds ready?

Surrounding stalks - still blooming and more flowers coming.

I saw on a short video online here, that this woman waited until the stalks and seeds were all dry and then cut them and shook them in a pillowslip. I probably would have done that. But then I saw other articles that said the home seed saver can get better seeds by babying the seed heads.

Basically, I gather that I should cut the flower heads when they become seeds and dry them indoors and collect them that way. But how do I know when? I mean, is that central head ready to harvest for seed? Do I just leave the others and harvest the heads as they get ready like the central head?

Anyone who knows and can offer advice, I'd be so very appreciative.

And my apologies to you all! I've not kept up with all your posts like I should with the growing season well in force and household projects that can't be put off anymore taking precedence. I'll try to visit you all, the ones I've missed, very soon to see what's up and I'll try to post more often too. :)

Garden update should post tomorrow. Wait till you see....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Recipe for those who never know what to do with Cabbage!

Sorry there aren't photos, but it was gone too fast. Maybe next time. :)

Those who know my cooking style know I'm terribly picky with recipes. I never use a recipe as-is. I tweak and alter until it may or may not even resemble the original. This is no exception.

This is styled after an Ethiopian cabbage recipe, though I've changed it some. This will give a family of 5 a full meal of veggies. It needs no meat really.

It is also timely in that most of these things are available as spring winds down and we harvest our cabbages and carrots, pull out early onions to thin the ranks and harvest those early potatoes. And even if you're still shopping the markets, these are all in season and create a very frugal, yet hearty, meal.

The main ingredients:

-1 head of cabbage, medium, shredded (just cut on the bias)
-About 1/2 lb of carrots, sliced nice and thin
-1 medium onion in nice thin slices
-About 1/4 cup of olive oil to cook it in depending on how big all of the above turned out to be
-About a half teaspoon salt (some people like more, but my olive oil brings out salt flavor so I go with a half tsp)
-One and a half pounds of nice small yellow or white potatoes cut into dices of about 1 inch. I peel mine so the skin doesn't flap off and look bad in the dish since it gets stirred so often.
*Spices (options below)

Over medium heat, cook up the onions and carrots for about 5 minutes or until onions are clearing nicely. Then add spices (see below) and salt, as well as the cabbage. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until the cabbage is almost, but not quite, done. Then add the potatoes, cover, reduce heat slightly and let cook, tossing often, for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are just right.

Spices: You have so many options! The strictly Ethiopian recipe would call for a teaspoon each of tumeric and ground cumin and pepper. If you are at all like me, that much tumeric will give a bitter flavor that isn't totally pleasant.

A good substitution is to decrease tumeric to 1/4 tsp and put in a teaspoon of curry powder (which has a bit of tumeric too). Instead of ground cumin, which tastes different once it has been ground for a while in the cupboard, smash up your own cumin seeds (still 1 tsp). Add a few saffron stamen for another layer of flavor. And use fresh coursely ground pepper to give it a pop.

Certainly, the above combo gives a more Indian flair (it is still very slight in my book) but the beauty of this dish is the ease with which you can nationalize it in flavors you like.

The cabbage suits itself to you rather than you to it. To me, this is a much under-rated veggie, so comfortable and accomodating, yet bursting with nutrition, texture and flavor.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Good and Delicious

When the garden finally starts really producing, I'm always taken by surprise. Now, I don't mean those dribs and drabs of a few early things. I don't mean lettuce or other early treasures like small and sweet peas or tiny bright carrots.

I mean the kind of production that has you looking at your basket and wondering exactly how you're going to eat all of this. When you're nowhere close to having your canning season started yet here you are, carrying a full hod of beets.

Fried Green Tomatoes

As I've shown on a couple of previous photos, I've got no shortage of tomatoes growing. The most I have on a plant right now is 30, which is too many in my opinion. I'm probably wrong but I've always thought that when I have too good of a start on the plants and they get overwhelmed with full sized fruit too early, that they wear out for the delights later in the season.

So, with so many on some, I pruned off a few of the nice ones and had myself some fried green tomatoes! They are delicious but they make such a mess of splatters on the stove. My most prolifice plant still has 27 on it with about half a dozen at full size and ready to go red any time.

Roasted Vegetable Mixture

With a big load of chiogga beets, my personal favorite, some early potatoes, peas, carrots and onions, I made a roasted vegetable mix that is as rustically delicious as it is colorful. Toss the chopped veggies in some olive oil with thyme, minced garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar and white wine. I added some chickpeas for protein but that really isn't for everyone as it changes the texture some. If you add tiny fresh peas or snap peas like I did, toss those in during the last five minutes. Roast at 400F for 20-30 minutes depending on your veggies. It really is a very satisfying and simple dish that can easily make a meal on its own.

What are you harvesting now and what yummies are you making with it?