Friday, January 14, 2011

Green--a thing of beauty

The Giant Pepper

This was a huge King of the North pepper I harvested a few years back. My mom put it in a teacup to show just how big it really was. This beauty had very thick walls and the plants produced well. Last year I had terrible luck with peppers. Just goes to show how the weather can really make or break the veggies! This summer I'm hoping to see a few more like this one!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A photo a day...

So on my FaceBook profile, I started a project where I am taking and posting a photo each day to share a little something about my life. My daughter suggested I do the same thing on my garden blog. Well, right now all you would see of my garden is white snowdrifts! But I do have quite a few photos from previous seasons that I thought I could post with a bit of commentary. During the growing season, I will probably post current photos of what I'm up to in the garden. So here is my first "garden photo of the day":
I so love this picture of Emi and Elias. I was picking tomatoes (and picking... and picking...and...) with the kids. They LOVE to play on the lawn tractor. Emily, as you can see, is a princess at heart so is wearing her pink dress-up "dancing skirt" (gals, you know the kind--when you twirl around in circles it flairs out beautifully). They were just being so darn cute that day. This was about 4 years ago. What cuties! And the tomatoes were great, too!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another yummy tomato "recipe"

So, has anyone noticed that my recipes lately have just been vague directions of throwing vague amounts of numerous veggies together? :-) Well, this one is kind of the same. But you should try it--the beauty is in the simplicity of ingredients and taste!

Slice a large tomato or two in thin (but not too thin) slices... probably about 1/2 inch. (Handy tip of the day: use a serrated knife to slice tomatoes... it will cut right through the skin without tearing up your beautiful tomato). I prefer using Brandywine tomatoes for this dish, but any yummy slicer will work well. Layer the slices in a flat dish or on a plate.

Cut up some fresh basil into thin strips. Sprinkle over the tomatoes. Salt and pepper liberally (or to taste), and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with some shredded mozzarella. Put in the fridge until it's time to eat to let the flavors blend.

That's all there is to it! Another version is to layer the tomato slices with thin slices of mozzarella (and then skip the shredded on top).


Sunday, August 8, 2010

I just LOVE August!

It's hot, it's humid, and we're in the best season of eating in Minnesota! I seriously LOVE August in Minnesota. It's summer's last hurrah. It's fairtime. It's corn season. The tomatoes are ripe. Ahhhhh!

I think besides eating myself silly with sweet corn, my next favorite summer food is gazpacho. It's a cold tomatoey vegetable soup chock full of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, and cilantro. Here is how I make it (I know using V-8 is cheating, but oh so yummy!):

April's Gazpacho

I cut up a bunch of cucumbers:

 Then I cup up a bunch of tomatoes. The varieties I show here are (from top big one, then clockwise) Brandywine, a couple Rutgers, Oregon Spring, Amish Paste, and Green Zebra (center). I like to use a mix of paste and juicy slicing tomatoes in the gazpacho. This batch I only used the Brandywine, Rutgers, and Amish Paste. We had the Green Zebra cut up for supper.

Next on the chopping board: onions!
And then a nice big green pepper!

After mixing together all these wonderful fresh vegetables that came straight from the garden, I add a few cloves of garlic-chopped, ground black pepper, and salt. (Oh, the more garlic, the better!!!) Pour a bit of regular V-8 over all of it and refrigerate for a couple hours to allow the flavors to blend. I've skipped the V-8, especially when I have lots of juicier tomatoes, and then you just have to make sure not to skimp on the salt. Other good additions are lime juice and cilantro. 
 Certain members of my family enjoy this for breakfast... be warned that if you do this, you will have definite garlic breath! Oh, but so worth it!

So, as I was saying... I just love August. And here is why: this week my CSA customers can expect a couple dozen ears of Bodacious sweet corn, tomatoes--both cherry and slicers, cucumbers, onions, purple scallions, peppers--sweet and jalapeno, green beans, and possibly zucchini (I got my zucchini in late so it's just starting). Next week should include more sweet corn (possibly 2 varieties), more tomatoes, more cucumbers, more onions, zucchini, and hopefully broccoli. And it just keeps getting better... squash will be on the list soon, along with turnips, salad greens, watermelon (!), kale, cantaloupe... Oh yeah... I LOVE AUGUST!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Really good recipe! Black Bean Salad

Since we are in the midst of the cherry tomatoes and green peppers, I thought I'd share this wonderful recipe. It's very fresh and has just the right amount of light dressing. I hope you like it! I found it in  the July 2002 edition of Quick Cooking Magazine. Enjoy!

Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium sweet yellow or green pepper, julienned
4 green onions, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro or parsley, minced

Mix all together in bowl.

3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive or canola oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Stir or shake dressing ingredients together and toss with vegetables. Refrigerate. Serve chilled.

Edit: Added a picture! But this was taken before the cilantro was added, so imagine it with little green bits of leaves spread throughout!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming!

Yesterday was the weekly CSA pickup day. The baskets contained beans, peppers, jalapenos, a purple kohlrabi, cherry tomatoes, and even a REAL standard tomato--the first ones to ripen! The picture above is the FIRST tomato I found in the garden. There was just the one, mostly ripe, and our family sliced it up to eat for supper. Yesterday I found about 6 more smaller ones. The heat will really get these guys coming! There are tons of green tomatoes up there, so I'm looking forward to a good harvest.

The rain has me a little concerned, though. It has been very wet and humid here in SE MN. Various fungi are sprouting up in the middle of lawns, in the mulch, and elsewhere. There has been a bit of blight showing up on the tomatoes and the peppers are even showing some leaf drop. The melons and cucumbers are loving it, though. I might have to do a bit of judicious pruning to keep the tomato plants in check and allow them more airflow to try to remove and head off some of the blight. Thankfully, it is not the late blight that is hitting parts of the country. This is the early blight which shows up as spots on the leaves, very common but usually preventable with mulching. The blight spores are in the soil and splash up on the plants during rain. My entire tomato patch is well-mulched, but with the immense rains, it seems that there must have still been some soil splash.

The peppers are not doing as well as they usually do, either. Many of the fruits are getting sun-scald from the lack of leaf cover. This is very frustrating since it means harvesting the peppers before they have a chance to ripen to that beautiful red, orange, or yellow that I love. A couple of the new varieties I planted this year are faring better than the others--Revolution and Flavorburst. Revolution is putting out some huge blocky peppers! Flavorburst are a paler green, almost yellow. As you can see from the photo, some of the peppers are just odd-shaped. These tend to be the New Ace. New Ace are not my favorites, but they usually can be depended upon for plentiful and early yields. They seem to be the worst hit by the sun-scald this year, plus the odd shapes. The kids get a kick out of them, though. 

The planting continues... yesterday I planted a bunch of fall crops--chinese cabbage, pac choi, rutabaga, turnips, and kale. There will be more planting occurring through the next few weeks, too! We had a lot of rain this morning, so that puts a hold on re-working some areas, but second crops of  beans, peas, and lettuce will be going in right away, along with more kohlrabi (hopefully the rabbits don't find them again!), beets, chard, radishes and carrots. The first plantings of most of those are just being getting ready for harvest now, except for the lettuce, which all bolted a few weeks ago. The lettuce can be a finicky germinator in the warm summer, but we'll see what happens. That might have to wait until later in August.

You might have noticed a new addition to the blog--you can now subscribe to receive updates via email! How handy, eh?! Just type in your email addy in the block to the upper right. The FeedBurner service will send you a confirmation email which you need to respond to in order to be signed up. I'm not collecting email addresses, so no worries there! 

Enjoy the heat! Summer is quickly slipping by!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Testing Feedburner--blog posts sent to your email

Test. Test. Test. :-)

I set up a FeedBurner account with hopes that friends/followers who want to get updates via email can do so! Well, let me know if you get this... comment please! To get email updates (daily digest style), just enter your email address in the box at the upper right, under the title pic. It will send you a confirmation email to which you will need to respond. Good luck! Hope this works!