28 July 2018

CSA Share Goodness

CSA Saturday! Yes, I usually pick up my farm share on Friday afternoons at the farmers market, but with the Italian Festival on I knew that parking would be madness and moved my pickup to the farm. Glad I did, because Gresczyk Farms' store is full of even more deliciousness. Picked up a pint of Hastings Farm honey yoghurt (the best yogurt) and a quart of garlic kosher dill chip pickles. Just been standing in front of the fridge, eating the pickles straight from the tub.

What did I get in my partial share this week?

  • Half dozen eggs
  • Half dozen sweet corn
  • One pound pickling cucumbers
  • Half pint blueberries
  • One bunch golden beets
  • One bunch white onions


I'm not going to do anything fancy with this week's share -- berries in yoghurt with granola, onions and cucumbers in salad, beets roasted and pickled, corn grilled with butter, eggs scrambled with toast.

25 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Tomato Season

The cherry tomatoes are beginning to ripen! Hooray, for delicious red orbs.

22 July 2018

Sunday (Not) in the Garden

It rained most of today so I didn't get out in the garden as planned. Yesterday, I pulled the snap peas as they had just about reached their end and I needed a spot to relocate the utterly unhappy chard. Things have not going well at all for the chard, trapped as they have been in the sprawl of Brussels sprouts. This is my first year growing sprouts and I was not sure what to expect so I did not allocate enough space for them and they've taken over, nearly smothering the chard. They are at least growing the way they're supposed to, I think, and mini cabbages are slowly forming along the stalks.


Anyway, the chard have been dug up, replanted, fertilized, and watered. Hopefully all will go well with them from now on and I will soon be inundated with chard ... but not too soon as it's begun to appear in my weekly CSA share and there's a definite limit to just how much chard I can cope with before I make some regrettable smoothies. The limit is two. Two bunches in one week. More than that and I get a little chard crazy.

The cucumbers are in fine fiddle and are, I think, trying to put me to shame. Or actively going to war against me. "Oh, you human, you poopooed us. Dismissed us as weak and doomed to fail and yet here we are burying you in the fruits of our vines." At the moment, my crisper drawer is 70% cucumber and I have resorted to making pitchers of posh cucumber-lemon spa water.

Speaking of things I can't keep a handle on, the basil have bolted and are covered in beautiful white flowers. I feel I should be a bit cross with myself for not reining them in when I could, but they look so lovely in bloom and the bees love it. Who am I to thwart the happiness of bees?


19 July 2018

Not-Too-Creamy Coleslaw

Late last week, Dad texted me to say he'd finally made up his mind about what he'd like for Father's Day. Yes, I know Father's Day was in June and you're all scratching your heads about why I'm talking about Father's Day picnics now. Well, Dad's birthday is the week before FD so we move one or the other so he still gets two separate, special days. The same happens with Mom's birthday and Mother's Day. Anyway, he wanted to come up for a picnic of burgers and salads. Easy enough, I thought, but which salads would he like? Oh, any kind. Whatever I liked. Cook's choice.

So. I made potato salad, bean salad, and coleslaw. Unlike potato and bean salad, while I've eaten a lot of slaw in my life, I don't have a lot of experience making it. When I do, I usually fiddle with Mom's recipe until I have something that seems about right ...


Not-too-creamy coleslaw

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 14-oz bag coleslaw mix
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp white sugar
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, bell pepper, and scallion.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour mayonnaise mixture over coleslaw mix and stir until combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Adjust seasonings as desired before serving.

Everyone (Dad most importantly) seemed to like this coleslaw. It was very colorful with good flavor -- tangy and herby, with just the right amount of creaminess and crunch. While we initially ate it as a side dish, it later made a very good burger topping.

15 July 2018

Sunday in the Garden

This week the flower garden is looking particularly good. Flowers are blooming all through the garden, and the colors are charming. Below is a picture of one of my favorite, Geranium "Rozanne," which I have planted in large swaths along the front of the house. Rozanne blooms unflaggingly June through September, always spreading but never sprawling, and just about the time the flowers stop in the fall, the leaves tint a lovely bronzy red. Also, pollinators love it.


Speaking of plants pollinators love, the butterfly weed is also doing well this summer. My mother gave me an envelope of dried butterfly weed seed pods a few years ago and I scattered the seeds in the narrow strip of soil between the garage and the front path lat that fall, not really expecting much, but figuring it couldn't do any harm. Every spring since, a plant has sprung up ... only to succumb to a terrible aphid infestation. Except this year. This year, everything is good. I am suspicious of my luck and have my spray bottle of insecticidal soap on hand, just in case.


Many of the drumstick allium I planted in 2014 have somehow migrated to the opposite end of the garden (I blame ambitious, excavating chipmunks), but are doing so well in their new home I am not inclined to move them back. Also, I am lazy.

I'm not overly keen on ornamental alliums, but drumstick alliums with their egg-shaped green and burgundy umbels are simply fetching. Mine are just on the edge of blooming, but will still be handsome even when overblown and blowsy from the the August sun.







11 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Cucumbers!

Wee prickly baby cucumbers growing from the female blooms. If all goes well,
I'll have So. Many. Cucumbers.

08 July 2018

Sunday in the Garden

I hadn't planned on growing cucumbers this year as I have never had any luck with them. It is simply less painful to purchase cucumbers at the farmers market than to fret over the plants as they, inevitably, succumb to powdery mildew or hungry critters. But then I took a vegetable gardening workshop which came with a voucher for a free vegetable seedling cell pack and I thought "What the heck! I'll get some cucumbers! If they die, they die and become compost to feed next year's garden." And that is how three bush pickling cucumber seedlings came to be in my vegetable bed.


Last weekend, while weeding the vegetable beds, I took a good look at the cucumber plants and was pleased to see they were covered in blossoms and tiny cucumbers. The cucumbers have, like most of the garden, positively thrived under my policy of benign neglect. I reckoned that, if everything went well, I'd have cucumbers in another week or so.

Well, today I went out to harvest more peas and discovered not one or two, but five harvest ready cucumbers! The first I saw was just hanging off the edge of the raised bed, playing it cool. I tucked the vine back up into the bed (to avoid death by lawnmower) and then went through the rest of the bed, carefully parting the leaves, until I was sure I'd found all the cucumbers that were ready for harvest.


While I've saved four cucumbers for sandwiches and salads, I immediately rinsed and ate one with a generous sprinkle of brick red Hawaiian-style sea salt. It was everything a cucumber should be. Hooray.

05 July 2018

Snap Pea, Green Bean, & Radish Salad

Today, I breakfasted on peas. Stood in the vegetable garden, splitting the monstrous snap pea pods open with my thumb, and then gobbled up all the green peas like so much candy. The trouble with snap peas is that there are always a few that manage to hide from me and grow monstrously large. Large pea pods are bad, I feel, because the pods have gone hard and are not pleasant to eat even when cooked.

In addition to the monstrous peas, I picked a bowlful of regular-sized snap peas and another of bush green beans. This week's CSA share included an overly generous bunch of radishes I didn't quite know what to do with, so I decided to make a salad of the three.



Snap Pea, Green Bean, & Radish Salad

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • ½ lb green beans, trimmed
  • ½ lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 6 large radishes, halved & thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp garlic-infused white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Penzeys Sunny Paris (or similar salt-free blend)
  • Sea salt & coarsely ground black pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add beans, cover pan, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add sugar snap peas, cover, and continue to simmer until beans and peas are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more.
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain vegetables and plunge them into the ice water bath. Remove and pat dry.
  4. In a large serving bowl, whisk together vinegar and seasoning blend. Add beans, peas, and radishes to the serving bowl and toss to coat. Season with salt and peppers, as desired. Serve immediately.

We ate this with grilled steaks and I thought it was quite tasty, but The Husband found the beans too firm and was just generally displeased with the entire combination of vegetables and flavors. As I have been known to eat leftover green beans straight from the fridge, you should probably take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Also, be aware this salad will not keep. I made enough salad for four, expecting to take the leftovers for lunch, but the salad was decidedly the worse for wear for having been refrigerated.

04 July 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Brussels Sprouts

Growing Brussels Sprouts for the first time. Currently, look like they're trying out for a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.

01 July 2018

Sunday in the Garden

This Sunday dawned hot with higher temperatures to come so I was out gardening at six, well supervised by Little Dude. He may be old and increasingly frail, but he still likes to observe the garden doings from his favorite outdoor chair cushion. If he weren't there, keeping and eye on me, who knows what mischief I might get up to! I mean, the last time he wasn't there to supervise the operation a whole swath of anise hyssop disappeared and that was not acceptable.


After a week or so of summery weather, the raised vegetable beds are looking dramatically unkempt. Everything is tall and shaggy with growth. Especially the weeds. Always, the weeds. Admittedly, I am bad at keeping up with the weeds, mainly because I can easily think of many more interesting/fun things to do than weed ... and then I go and do them. (The thing is, though, once I do start weeding, I actually enjoy it. It is so satisfying. It's just the getting started part which is a problem).


I harvested a serving bowl's worth of snap peas and another of bush beans, plus a large bundle of chard. The basil should probably have been cut back, because it's getting ready to bolt, but the sun was already warming the back of my neck by the time I came to that section of the vegetable beds and I felt it was better to retreat to the coolness of the kitchen.