Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's Pickings

I'm planning to make a small batch of tomato sauce for the freezer--the first of 2011!

I'll use the eggplants and zukes for tonight's dinner of Eggplant Parm.

Last night, I spied the first ripe Yellow Mini Sweet Pepper and Jeff and I ate it right there in the garden. Those are going to be great to slice for salads or cook with! I have to start picking more peppers like the Mariachi and Garden Salsa. I have to use some Orient Express Eggplants too--some of them are on the cusp of getting ahead of me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bacon-Tomato Sandwich

I don't eat bacon very often, but when the first juicy, slicing tomatoes begin ripening, I just have to make a bacon-tomato sandwich! It is such a mouth watering combination. I made them for Jeff and I for dinner and it was hard to wait all day for them!

I sliced up a couple of Orange Blossom and 4th of July tomatoes and stacked them with the bacon and a little light mayo on toasted, whole grain English muffins.

Chicken and Jalapeno Kebabs

This is a recipe from Everyday Food magazine. I forgot to take a prettier picture of everything still on the skewers! I'd already put the chicken and peppers in a serving bowl.

It was very tasty and something we will probably make again!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eggplant Parm

I used some of our Burpee Hybrid eggplants for this batch. First, they are sliced, dipped in egg and coated in breadcrumbs.

While the eggplants roasted, I made a sauce with onions, garlic, zukes, tomato sauce from last year and two chicken sausages I needed to use up. I seasoned it with some salt, black pepper and oregano.

I assembled the rounds of eggplant with sauce, mozzarella and parm and baked until the cheeses were nicely melty.

And, I served it on a little nest of fettuccine rigate.

It was delicious and very filling! I *roughly* followed the Martha Stewart recipe.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's Garden Pics

The Casa Blanca lilies are beginning to bloom.

Tomatoes are slowly vine ripening, like this 4th of July variety.

There are so many green ones.

The recent spell of hot weather was rough on some of the tomatoes and resulted in some pretty bad sun scald. I am also noticing some blossom end rot. It has been hard to evenly water as we've had quite a stretch of dryness.

The peppers continue to do well. These are Ancho.

And these are Garden Salsa.

This Barbarella eggplant is basically ready for picking!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baked Pepper Poppers

We followed this online recipe: Baked Jalapeno Poppers and used lighter cream cheese and panko breadcrumbs.

I made the pepper boats from Fooled You Jalapenos and Mariachi peppers while Jeff mixed together the cheeses and spices. Then, I filled the peppers while he dipped them in the eggs and coated them with panko breadcrumbs. It was easy and fun having an assembly line like this.

We enjoyed them with sour cream and Cholula. We will definitely be making them again!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bath Day

The dog baths were a bit hurried by an unexpected storm that popped up with lots of thunder and lightning. It quickly got quite dark out!

But, we did get both dogs considerably cleaner. Oh, the indignity of being photographed standing in dirty bathwater!!

The best part, as far as Saffy is concerned, is the toweling off. She wriggles in delight! I never get a focused picture of this part!

Just one picture of Silas as the storm was building up. He is shedding like a wild animal you might see in a nature documentary! I'm glad all that hair is outside and not in our tub!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baba Ghanoush

Oh my. The heat is extreme today! Stepping out the door is like stepping into an oven. I had to make a few, slow trips to the garden to pick eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and zukes.

Would you believe? I decided I had to roast eggplants for making Baba Ghanoush. It's ironic that such a cool, refreshing summer snack requires preparation in a 400 degree F oven! (It felt like they could roast right in the garden!)

I used 2 Burpee Hybrid eggplants. The recipes generally call for one, but I pick them a little on the small side to avoid seediness.

All roasted and wrinkly. Roasted eggplant smells delicious! Next time, I'm going to roast the garlic cloves along with it, in their skins. Sometimes they can be a little sharp tasting and that will mellow them nicely.

Ready for dipping! I have some multigrain pita chips to dip for tonight's appetizer. I might sprinkle over some chopped parsley and/or cutting celery before serving.

I followed this recipe, basically exactly, though I didn't measure the lemon juice (I used 1 whole lemon) and I also just eyed the amount of tahini too, but I think I was pretty close. Oh, I just remembered I didn't bother to add the olive oil, but I can still drizzle it over later.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Recipes

All winter long, I read recipes I want to try during the summer when we have a glut of fresh veggies. Then, summer comes and my brain melts in the heat and I'm overwhelmed with harvesting and I forget all my grand recipe plans!! I end up resorting to quick, improvised recipes I make all the time. This is a picture of one example:

It is very simple to make. While the gemelli pasta boils, I sautee the zucchini and eggplant in a non stick pan with a little olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. At the same time, I warm and melt together a few tablespoons of cream with a few tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and another little grinding of fresh pepper. When the pasta is cooked, I put it in the serving bowl and pour over the cheese/cream. I sprinkle it with some parm and toss it all to combine and coat the pasta with the nice cheesy sauce. Then, I put the veggies on top of the pasta and top them with some chopped tomato for a fresh, citrusy kick.

My basic recipes like this are tasty, but I do need some more variety! So, in an effort to be better about trying new recipes this summer, I'm actually going to occasionally list some in posts that I can refer back to.

Today, I'm focused on peppers and eggplants...


One of Jeff's work friends recently suggested this recipe: Bob's Habanero Hot Sauce - Liquid Fire. We have 3 Habanero pepper plants this year, so this should be a good way to use them.

I want to make *baked* poppers to avoid excessive fats. I can use lighter cheeses too. I'll adapt a recipe like this one: Baked Jalapeno Poppers or this one: Skinny Baked Jalapeno Poppers. I'll try using both Jalapenos and Mariachi peppers.

Chicken and Jalapeno Kebabs with a honey based glaze also printed in Everyday Food Magazine Issue 83, June 2011.


I'm interested in lighter versions of Eggplant parm.

Martha Stewart's Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Jamie Oliver's Aubergine Parmigiana

One of our favorite restaurants used to make a wonderful Eggplant Rollatini. (We've hardly been since they stopped serving it, years ago now!) I want to try to replicate it at home based on this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.

And, I can't wait to make some Baba Ghanoush. It is so good. I already have a jar of Tahini waiting in the pantry. I have to think of some things to serve it on other than prepared pita chips as they are kind of salty for me. Maybe I can just toast some plain pitas? I'd guess serving it like bruschetta would work too.

If you have some tried and true pepper or eggplant recipes, please share!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Garden Progress Pics

This is a little Barbarella eggplant starting to form. I'll have to be careful of those spikes when I pick it! The color shading is pretty.

It's time to start making some salsa! Look at all those Jalapenos we can start picking now. These are Fooled You Jalapenos with the flavor, but no heat. We can use as many as we like and then add some of the hot varieties to provide heat to taste without overwhelming the dish.

These are Cherry Bomb peppers that will start turning red soon.

The husks are not filled yet, but I am already thinking about all the Tomatillo salsa I want to make!

The flowers continue to add a lot of color to the yard. A 'fuzzy' stalk of Liatris.

Some cute Balloon flowers. I love the way they pop open!

I can't resist posting another view of some of the Coneflowers. We are waiting for the Casa Blanca lilies to bloom behind them. You can see the large buds forming.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2011 Garden Layout

I decided to try to organize my garden scribblings into this schematic. It is mainly to jog my memory, but might be interesting to other gardeners too. (You should be able to just make out the writing if you click to see the enlarged view.)

I didn't note the early season lettuces that were located near the strawberries.

The bordered areas show the different sheets of plastic mulch that are approximately 10' x 25' in size. Some have holes cut in 2 rows and others with 3, so they don't line up in the chart.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Today's Pickin's

Varieties shown are: Raven zucchini; Red Sun, Yellow Mini, Taxi and 4th of July tomatoes; Orient Express and Barbarella eggplants.

Edited to add: Ack! I've been going over my garden notes re what's planted where and found another labeling mistake. The round eggplants above are not the Barbarella--they are just the Burpee Hybrid. But, I do have some Barbarella's growing nicely, so I'll post a picture soon.

Garden Update

Whew! It has gotten hot here! Evening is really the only tolerable time to try to get things done in the garden. Yesterday evening, Jeff and I weeded, staked some peppers and tied up some tomatoes.

The peppers flourish in the hot weather. This picture shows many of this year's pepper plants. In the upper left hand corner you can see some of the sunflowers and green beans.

Many plants are already loaded with peppers. The jalapenos and mariachi are ready for light picking. There are very heavy crops coming on the cherry bomb plants in particular. They are always good producers. Other varieties are flowering, setting fruits and coming along well too. It should be a nice, long, staggered harvest. Here are some cayenne peppers that should begin turning red soon.

We need to try to keep everything evenly watered and hope that the plants don't get sun burned too much. If we can get the green tomatoes to maturity, it will be a good crop. Here are some cute pear tomatoes we'll have in salads. I can't remember if they are going to turn yellow or red!

These are green zebra. I am never sure how to tell when they are ripe as they stay green! They are very pretty. Edited to add: Oops! This is actually Red Lightning which is next to the Green Zebra plant. Very confusing, but this variety will eventually turn a streaky yellow and red color.

Here are a lot of cherry tomatoes. The first ripe ones of the season were sooo sweet and good! Most will be red, but we have one plant that is yellow and two that are 'white'.

Here is one of the Asian eggplants.

Here are some plum tomato plants, the zucchini and tomatillos. The zucchini plants are looking a little beaten just from us reaching into them to pick every day.

The rows of sunflowers I sowed this year have quite a ways to go yet, but this was a volunteer we managed to avoid tilling in the spring. The bees are loving it.

I watched a documentary food show on Netflix streaming video this past weekend called Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution and found it quite interesting. I am already sold on organic though, so I was in agreement with the film and was happy to see what some of the French are doing about the problems. While watching the Tour de France this year, I'm looking at those vineyards they bike by in a new light since seeing the film...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1st of the Season

I picked some tomatoes and cukes for our dinner tonight. We'll be having zucchini too, of course!

The tomatoes are Taxi, Tomatoberry and (I think) Red Sun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carrying On

We still find ourselves looking for Bandit, walking down the stairs in such a way as to not step on him or closing the outside door like we have OCD to keep him safe indoors. Saffy and Silas have been confused and a bit depressed and look for him in the recycle bin where he loved to sleep and check the place his bed used to be. We've been looking through old pictures. I'm glad I took so many and only wish I'd remembered to just run the video recorder now and then. I can't believe that I have only found 2 short videos. Here are some more scans that predate the digital cameras and blog.

This was the night we brought him home from the shelter. He strolled around the house checking things out. He was snuffling loudly as he had a cold and we can still recall the amplified sound of that as he investigated under the fridge! After a brief look, he seemed to completely relax and make himself at home. He loved Jeff's soft fleece top.

Another pic from the early days.

The first of many beds. He was always appreciative of new beds and toys. The toy next to him was his favorite 'foot long mousie'.

About a month after his adoption, we brought home Saffy and they bonded straight away.

Don't they look like trouble here?!

These pictures are in a big box of prints I still have to scan and organize sometime, so perhaps I will post some more at some point. I also have a lot taken with the first digital camera that predated the blog too.

But now, I'd better do a garden update as we are in the peak of the growing season! The garden has gotten way ahead of me over the past few weeks. I've been picking, but have not properly kept up with tying tomatoes or weeding. It won't really affect the harvest, it's mainly just cosmetic and makes it harder to walk around in the garden. I also have to mow, so excuse the shaggy edges!

The peas have gone by and Jeff recently pulled out the support fences. Soon, I will mow over them with the lawn tractor and rake out the debris to add to the compost bin.

Here is a view of the very wild tomatoes. They are sprawling every which way and they are loaded with green tomatoes. I spied an almost ripe cherry tomato today.

Some of the green tomatoes.

Some of the peppers need staking after a downpour. We must have had some wind too? If you look closely you can see the jalapenos starting to grow.

This view shows eggplants in the foreground and more tomatoes in the background. We ate our first eggplant (an asian variety) with dinner last night and it was delicious! It was a very early setting one though, so it may be awhile before we get more.

We are at the height of zucchini season now and eating them for dinner most nights.

Everything has grown so vigorously that there isn't much room for walking between the rows. From left to right in this picture are plum tomatoes, zucchini and tomatillos. There are already many husks formed on the tomatillos.

I haven't been taking as many flower pics this year, but they are blooming very well. At the moment we have veronica, butterfly weed, hollyhock, ox-eye daisy, hyssop, and some more I'm forgetting at the moment! Also, there are some pretty pink hues from the flowering yarrow

and coneflowers.

There were some visitors to the neighbor's yard this morning--about 15 babies and a few adult wild turkeys! The babies are quite cute.

I just hope they stay out of the garden!!