Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recipes Week Ending 6/21

I'm going to start keeping track of recipes I cook w/ the garden veggies. These are self creations, often inspired by ideas from cookbooks or the internet. I don't put amounts since I never measure. I just go on appearance and taste. I'll also start taking pictures next week.

Two Bean Salad
Fresh veggies used - butter beans, green beans, cherry tomatoes, onion

Cook onion and bacon
Boil butter beans for 20-25 minutes (until tender)
During last five minutes throw in kitchen sliced green beans
Quarter cherry tomatoes

For dressing, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, fresh cilantro

Pico de Gallo
fresh veggies used - romas, cherry tomatoes, red onion, mexican lime, serrano pepper

Chop up tomatoes, pepper, onion, a few cloves of garlic, cilantro
Blend together using "stir" level
Add lime juice, salt

Layered Zucchini/Tomato Bake - My new Favorite Dish
fresh veggies used - zucchini, romas

Cut zucchini and tomatoes in slices. Make tomatoes about 1 1/2 - 2 times as thick as the zucchini, since the tomatoes seem to cook faster.

Layer zucchini, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper
Layer tomatoes
Sprinkle top w/ bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
Bake in oven at 350. I can't remember how long, I think around 30 minutes.

Cajun Chicken Tacos
fresh veggies used - okra, romas, onion, jalapeno or serrano pepper, corn

Shred a rotisserie purchased chicken
Cook onion, okra, pepper, garlic for a few minutes
Add tomatoes (crushed consistency) and cajun spices (cayenne, paprika, chili powder)
Cook for a while until okra is soft
Add corn and chicken to warm through

Put mixture in tortillas, yum!

fresh veggies used - butter beans, corn, onion, cherry tomatoes, can also use zucchini or squash 

Running out of time - will do quick version

Cook veggies
Make white sauce
Mix and serve over rice, sprinkle with cherry tomato halves and cris bacon pieces

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flower Pics

I missed bloom day this month since I had just returned from a trip to Washington DC / Virginia. I thought I'd post a few pics anyway, since there's been some good stuff happening in the garden.

Sweet Potato Flower
Bat-Face Cuphea
Bat-Face Cuphea
Cosmos - 
I got this flower from the horticulture club at my daughter's school.
This plant was in the backyard last year and didn't do well. It was too shady and only produced one flower. This spring we moved it to the front yard and the results are awesome.
Lantana - Finally blooming

Homemade Pickles

I planted cucumbers for the first time this year in hopes of making pickles. The type I grew is actually called "homemade pickles".  When I first looked online at recipes I was overwhelmed. Since I've never pickled before the task seemed daunting. I found a video on youtube and after watching it didn't seem so difficult. My first two attempts were flops. The first came out way too salty. The second came out with way too much vinegar. I had also run out of white so I decide to try cider vinegar, which I had seen used in several recipes. Yuck! We quickly learned that we are not fans of cider vinegar pickles. Both batches were also mushy.

Finally, last night after two weeks of waiting we tried the third batch. Winner! This one was the perfect mix of salt, vinegar and very crisp. It seems the trick is learning what ratios you like. We decided that we like a 3:1 water to vinegar.

Here's the recipe... (Makes 2 quarts)

Soak 4 cucumbers for 2 hours in ice bath. This is where the crispness comes from.

Make brine w/ 3 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar, 1/6 cup pickling salt. I also added a bunch of peppercorns and red pepper flakes. The red pepper flakes do add a bit of a spice to the pickles, but don't change the flavor like adding whole peppers does. Bring the brine to a boil at the same time that you are boiling the jars.

Wash the jars and lids with soap and hot water. Boil the jars for 10 minutes. 

Cut the cucs in spears and place in the boiled jars. Pour the brine over the top, covering by an inch or so. Add 2 garlic cloves and 2-3 dill sprigs per jar. Put on lids, tighten and boil for another 15 minutes. (The water should still be boiling from the previous step)

That's all there is to it. I waited two weeks to open the jar and last night an entire quart of pickles disappeared!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Veggie Update

The vegetable garden is really doing well. I haven't gone to the farmer's market in weeks and we've been eating like kings. Squash, tomatoes, okra, green beans, onions, pepper (notice no "s"), swiss chard and plenty of herbs. 

Sugar Pumpkin. 
Hopefully the Squash Vine Borers don't destroy the entire plant before I'm able to see this one ripen.  

Sun Gold Tomatoes. These are so incredibly tasty I can't see us planting any other type of cherry. We just can't get enough of them.

Until just a few days ago when I spotted a few more tiny ones, this big guy was the one great hope. The production has been so bad on these, that tasty or not I don't think I'll be planting them again. Next year I'll try Cherokee Purple instead.
These have just started ripening in the last day or two. I'll be making some spaghetti tonight. Mmmm!
Octopus Swiss Chard. 
Really it's just plain old swiss chard, but the twisty stems remind me of a certain sea creature. If I was ESP I'd be adding some really cool pics here :)

Like the zucchini, these guys can get really big really fast if you aren't paying attention.

Still hanging in there. From this picture you'd never guess that I've cut into every one of these and lost half. Obviously, I overplanted the bed. Who knew vines could grow like this :)

Moon Flower

Thanks to Diana from Sharing Natures Garden for the lovely moon flower plants. I lost one to a cut worm or pill bugs early on, but the other is doing great.

Bug Battles

This weekend I've been battling two bugs, the leaf-footed bug and the dreaded squash-vine borer. The squash vine borer took out half of my zucchini several weeks ago, but had not been near the pumpkin. I read that they prefer other squash to pumpkins, so I was hoping mine would go untouched. Unfortunately, no such luck. I did have SVBs take out pumpkins in the same bed last year, so there is always the chance that these came from an overwintering pupae. Just in case, I plan on avoiding pumpkins next year, since I only have one spot to plant 30 sq ft :) 

We're still getting tons of zucchini, so I'm happy with my little survivers. I check for SVB eggs several times a week and still find one or two each time. I'm just waiting for the day that they get past me and I lose another plant. In the meantime I'm just eating, sharing and attempting the zucchini world record. (completely by accident of course).

I've found the leaf-footed bugs on both my tomatoes an the pumpkins. They seem to prefer the romas. I believe it is because they have more places to hide. I killed about 10 yesterday. I kept a watchful eye for several hours, waiting for them to emerge. I even discovered two mating, which I put a quick stop to. The ones on the pumpkins are a lot easier to see. 

Leaf-Footed Bug Nymph

I'm not to the point where I can squash a nasty bug w/ my bare hands, so here's my weapon of choice. I grab the bug with the tongs, throw it on the ground and smash it with my shoe.