It has been a while since I updated on my mini garden. You know how it goes … summer is busy. And, well, plants just grow. (hopefully)
Today seemed like a good day to share because we just ate some fresh green beans. It wasn’t a big harvest but it was enough for a good side dish to a meal. Not too shabby for three small plants, in my opinion.
My favorite way to cook green bean is credited to The Pioneer Woman, click HERE to see how it’s done.
The peppers are still growing … albeit very slowly. They are being attacked by black ants. Peppermeister told me to use some baking soda to protect them. It seems to be working for the time being. (fingers crossed)
How’s your garden growing? Any good harvests yet? I’m holding out for a homegrown tomato. (Soon. Mmmmm.)
I did some maintenance work in the garden boxes this morning. My new mantra is “just keep growing … just keep growing …”
The basil finally decided to get its groove on:
All of the transplants have been released from their mini greenhouse lids … and look at that happy, full row of kale!
I’m proud of the pepper progress, albeit super slow.
And, there’s even a baby tomato hiding in there!
How’s your garden growing this week?
It has been a couple of weeks so I thought I would check in and let everyone know how the sprouts are doing. Current status: pretty darn good.
The weather here is fairly unpredictable and, in between snow showers, it has hit the 90 degree mark. ( Ya, I know. Too weird.)
We made a bird netting system to keep the big pests out and take the tops of the mini greenhouses off when it gets hot. It’s a pretty simple cover rig so we can switch it right back when the weather flip flops and we need the greenhouse lids again.I am happy to report that I have three kinds of lettuce, kale, carrots, green beans, cilantro and chives all doing their sprout-y business.
I’m pretty proud of my pepper sprouts in the milk jug greenhouses. They are coming along but I haven’t braved cutting the tops all the way off just yet. Maybe, next month. In the meantime, I take the top lids of the milk jugs off on the hot days for extra ventilation. Otherwise, they get steamy little saunas all day. I think they like it. The nights are still pretty cool here so they are getting the full range. (And, that’s why they are so hard to grow from seed here. Wish me luck!)
Hello out there in the Blogosphere! For those of you keeping track, no … I did not forget about blogging last week or purposely miss Week 9. I was on a nicely planned camping vacation. If you would like to see some of those photos, check out my other blog at Gingerlea Photography.
I gave last week’s box to a friend, who may or may not guest post about her CSA experience sometime in the future. I heard a rumor that she is big on juicing and actually made a fancy soup with her Vitamix machine. We’ll see …
For this week, here’s what was in the box:
A Sarah’s Choice Melon, Seedless Watermelon, Globe Eggplant, Romanian Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Slicing Tomatoes, Shallots, Green Beans, Basil and Raspberries.
I know I have gone on and on about the raspberries in the past but they are soooooo good. As in, I’m thinking about making the two hour round trip drive out there to pick some more. That good.
And, if you were wondering why it’s worth it to get more raspberries, this is what happens to the ones in the CSA box when they get to my house:
The Raspberry Goblin inhales them. Photo evidence.
Oh, well. There’s worse things for a kid to get excited about, right??
As for the rest of the haul, I’m thinking there is a basil, tomato, pepper salad in my future with some feta cheese and a vinaigrette. I love fresh ingredients. Yum.
On the other hand, I have a serious amount of garlic just sitting on my counter. I’m feeling a big roasting session coming on this weekend. It’s easy and the garlic keeps well. Bonus features: no vampires at my house and easy spreadable garlic on demand for every piece of french bread that I can find.
Do you like roasted garlic? Any new ideas for how to use it? I love garlic in everything. Share something creative with me!
This week’s box was so heavy that I could barely carry it out to the car. Seriously, I’m glad that I’m not paying for produce by the pound here!
What was in the box? All organic Galia melons, cantaloupe, seedless watermelon, mixed summer squash (crook neck, yellow/green zucchini), islander peppers, cherry tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, early girl tomatoes and basil from Lattin Farms, basil from Mewaldt Organics, green beans from River Bend Farms and red onions from Pioneer Farms.
Just look at these goodies:
Everything smells so good. The basil is sweet and tangy, the onions are sharp and the fruit is like candy. I think I might just eat all of it raw. No cooking required.
Or, maybe you could help … with some fresh ideas … what would you make with these ingredients?
Tonight’s post was supposed to be about spaghetti squash. And, well, it is. But, I have to warn you that there was a veggie war at dinner. It was a massacre. Veggie armageddon.
Let’s just start at the beginning …
I had never cooked a spaghetti squash before today. I’m pretty sure that I have eaten some before now but I willingly admit that it does not appear on my table often. I even had to look up some instructions to make sure how to cook it. Luckily, it’s pretty simple. Bake. That’s pretty much it. There were a couple of variations in that you just bake it whole or cut it half first. The difference there seems to be whether or not you enjoy the sport of cutting it and cleaning it first or braving the screaming hot elements of a 400 degree squash full of seeds to get to your meal. I opted to cut and clean first. This was not without challenge. Spaghetti squashes are clearly related to coconuts because they are tough to crack open. There must be a trick to it. My advantage was only that I have good knives and a strong will to break a squash open for dinner.
That said, the squash commenced baking at 400 for about 45 minutes. Viola!
Then, it was almost fun to just take a fork to it and watch it shred into spaghetti-looking noodles. Silly fun, actually.
I also had a big bag of green beans from the CSA box (a week ago) and I thought these would compliment the squash nicely. Oh, ya. Did I mention we were grilling some hefty rib eye steaks for this event? Yup. We are carnivores first at my house.
I was tempted to just steam the green beans and leave them a little plain but I happened to see a nifty little recipe from Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman, that called my name. And, it includes bacon. Nom. Basically, you saute up some onions in bacon grease with just a smoosh of garlic. Then, you put a mess of green beans in the pan with chicken broth to cook through for about twenty minutes. The real recipe can be found HERE.
This is the point where anarchy happened. I’m pretty sure the green beans were up to something from the beginning because they had been in the crisper for so long. Clearly, they had a plan of attack as they were worried about their status as favored side dish. The squash have been getting a lot of attention lately, it seems.
This photo is deceiving. It looks like a happy plate of fantastic food. Technically, it was.
But, the green beans were devastatingly delicious and stole the show. They ran away with it. I mean, how is it even possible that the green beans (ooooh the horror!) were better than the steak? I cannot believe I typed that. I love steak. For the record, I think about steak a lot. At least, I think about nicely grilled, tasty and juicy, steak a lot.
The green beans were quite possibly the best I have ever eaten. Really.
The squash didn’t see it coming. I don’t think the squash even knew there was a war. It just laid down and died. Probably because spaghetti squash is kind of boring. It has a fun texture (as in, it likes to party) but spaghetti squash doesn’t have a ton of flavor. If I cook it again, I will make sure it goes with a stronger flavor compliment like a tomato sauce or maybe a chicken cacciatore. Spaghetti squash is not a contender in the veggie war. The green beans are fighters definitely won the taste challenge tonight.
Or, maybe, I beat the fight out of the squash when I cut it open. It was much tougher at that point. But, I don’t think it would have been tasty that way at all.
Prunes. Until now, I had honestly not ever even seen a real, live fresh prune. I have only ever been not-so-privileged to see the dehydrated kind at the store. And, well, those are for old people with digestive problems. Or, that’s what I thought …
These are beautiful. They look so harmless. Like little plums. Yummy even …
I don’t know why but I was surprised by their interior color and little pit. I was a little afraid to try them.
Totally good! The texture is a little different but not bad and the flavor was just lightly sweet.
OK — what the heck! Prunes for dinner! One quick Google search later and I found a nice Food Network recipe from Melissa D’Arabian for Pot Roast Carbonnade.
Then, life happened. I forgot to bring home the meat to cook in the crockpot. I was in a hurry, etc. Dinner still needed to happened but it was more of a bad episode of Chopped/Iron Chef/Rachel Ray than the friendly, cute (and organized) Melissa. Here’s my short cut recipe:
- One decent size chuck roast or similiar cut of beef
- Handful of fresh prunes, cleaned and pitted
- About a cup of balsamic vinegar
I seared the chuck roast on both sides to get a nice crust on the outside, seasoned heavily with salt and pepper, then, covered it to cook through while I made side dishes.
In another pan, I fried up some fresh, new potatoes. Nothing fancy, just get some seasoning on them and cook.
I also had some fresh green beans. Clean ’em and get in hot water to steam. Finish with seasonings and just a touch of butter for velvelty flavor.
Now, for the prunes. I chopped them up a little bit so they wouldn’t be all gigantic, dropped them in a sauce pot and covered them in balsamic vinegar. The whole mix just needs to boil down a bit to make a nice reduction sauce. Trust me, this is going to be good!
The sweet-tart of the balsamic vinegar and the prunes melted together and really made a nice sauce over the chuck roast (which was NOT the best cut of meat). I think the sauce saved dinner and I highly recommend trying it.
Prunes are good stuff! If you get a chance, try the fresh ones. They’re not just for old people.
Time flies when you are having fun. Can you believe that this CSA adventure started six months ago? Wow. I had no idea how amazing the whole process would be. Or, that I would enjoy blogging about it this much.
So, what’s in the veggie box this week? It was another hefty load. I carried both the fruit and veggies boxes but probably should have opted for a cart again. Heavy squashes make for quite a workout.
This week’s contents are a nice bag of mixed peppers, garlic, early girl tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, A PUMPKIN! (Winter Luxury), acorn squash, two bags of summer squash, green beans, parsley, purslane (what’s that? click HERE) and potatoes.
The fruit box was full of all kinds of apples, more peaches and pears and a nice sprinkle of prunes. I have a cool recipe post for prunes coming up later this week. Keep an eye out for it.
I just have to add another photo with that pumpkin. I think it is adorable.
The volunteer at the CSA pickup site said this is a good baking pumpkin. I don’t know what your weekend plans are but I’m thinking that my oven will be going … roasting pumpkins and squash all weekend. Any suggestions or tips??
The first sign of cooler weather at my house is the crock pot. This cute little orange crock pot just oozes of the 70s is a solid piece of machinery. It’s not huge and it doesn’t match anything in my house but I refuse to replace it. The crock pot works like a champ. Seriously, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So, what did I cook in this bad ass little orange crock pot? Green beans with new potatoes and a ham hock, of course. This is the recipe I blogged about earlier that reminds me of my Grammy. She was from the south and that means there is a mandatory pork addition to every meal. Bacon, bacon grease or just plain pork. These beans qualify as southern food. All you do is clean the beans, cut up some potatoes and a put a piece of ham hock in the cooker. Add a little bit of water and leave them on low all day.
My son heard me say there was a ham hock in the beans and kept asking if we were having a “Mohawk” for dinner. Eventually, I said, “Yes.” If that makes him like the beans more, so be it.
I was feeling extra culinary today and added a whole baked chicken to the menu. This is the easiest way to impress for dinner: Garlic Baked Chicken.
Clean the chicken, put a whole bulb (ya, BULB that has been shelled), salt and pepper the outside and put it in the oven. For my altitude and oven, the cooking time was about an hour and a half at 375 degrees. The garlic give a nice savory addition to the chicken but doesn’t take over the flavor. If you want, pluck the baked cloves out when the chicken is done and smear them on french bread. Luscious.
Even though the nights are getting chilly, the days are still warm and the harvest continues … what’s in this week’s CSA?
For the veggie share we have lots of tomatoes and even a couple more pretty heirloom ones, lovely purple basil (drool), jalapeno peppers and a big bell pepper, eggplant/ughplant, THREE different kinds of green beans, potatoes, summer squash, garlic and two nice looking yellow onions.
For the fruit share, the big box has peaches, pears and apples. And, my helper in the photo is eating the raspberries and grapes. He snatched those up the minute I walked in the door!
I’m thinking about trying to remember one of my Grammy’s old recipes for green beans with new potatoes in the slow cooker with a nice, salty ham hock. Yup. That sounds like a meal plan to me! What’s on your meal plan for this week?