Thursday, July 17, 2014

Refrigerator pickles mmmmm.....

I am so excited after processing pickled beans to do a quick refrigerator pickle because quite frankly these cucumbers could not possibly grow fast enough. I am lucky and grateful to pull off two cucumbers at a time. Some days only one. It is a tragedy because they are so amazingly good, tasty and crunchy. For some reason even the looks of them all craggy and cut up are much more interesting to me than a store bought cucumber. So if they are that good fresh, imagine them as a pickle that you picked just yesterday. This is the appeal of a quick refrigerator pickle to me. They are really lightning speed to prepare, and I can add them as I pick them to the jar.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fig love...

I love love love figs. They are a delicate and delicious fruit. I love fig jam and would like to make some. Maybe even fig butter. However, they are pricey and in season for a very short time. Having a fig tree would be lovely. My neighbor use to give us a bunch of figs from his tree because they didn't really eat them. I would get them from him, stuff them with blue cheese, stick them under the broiler then drizzle on a little bit of balsamic. For a little change, I would also stuff them and wrap them with prosciutto. Then I put them under the broiler. (below are some pics from me stuffing them.)

Watermelons growing like crazy...

We planted watermelon last year and got a decent harvest from it. This year we have 4 accidental watermelon plants. This turned out to be pretty exciting because I wanted to plant some but my husband vetoed me. Ha! I got my way because God loves me. Here is a pic of last seasons watermelons from our garden. As well as a coctail that I made for the ladies. I included the recipe that I used for it. So good!It was a hit! I also found out this year that you can use watermelon as a natural electrolyte when you work out.You just put the watermelon through the blender. (Below are the pictures from our garden and kitchen.)

Chocolate raspberry cake

While we do not grow raspberries, I really wish we did. I love Coltilde's recipies so very much that I decided to make her Raspberry Chocolate Cake. I do not have the link to this recipe. However I typed it up for you myself. (below are pictures of my cake when I made it)Recipe to follow...

When chocolate and Zucchini were married.....

So I love chocolate, and I love zucchini. Maybe not at the same level, however somehow because the zucchini comes from our own dirt it raises itself up to the same level as my love for chocolate. I could not live without chocolate!! One of my favorite recipes for these two loves coming together is Chocolate and Zucchini cake. The recipe that I love is from one of my favorite authors Coltilde Dusoulier.  Coltilde's Blog
I love her cookbooks so much and her Chocolate Zucchini cake is the best! She makes this combination very appealing and decadent. (Below are some pictures from our garden and my kitchen)Recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Zucchini love from the garden....

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables! They grow like crazy too. I was excited to do my morning garden walk and find 3 of them well on their way. I have 3 waiting for some love in my kitchen. I just gave 4 away last week. I have a few favorite recipes to enjoy our harvest. Now I just have to pick one of them. Last year we accidentally grew one zucchini plant. When we went camping we came home to some huge zucchini the size of my husbands forearm. I decided to do a breaded version and also zucchini pizza. I was excited to see how much my children loved them.

The recipe for the zucchini pizza was this one...  zucchini pizza. The recipe that I used for the breaded zucchini was..zucchini crips However, I used my own flax bread and put it through the food processor to make the breadcrumbs. Both of these recipes are great! My kids loved both and really enjoyed the zucchini this way. I believe in making vegetables taste good through roasting and both of these recipes use this method. Roasting brings out the best flavors of the vegetable. I have found that roasting makes any vegetable very tasty by adding a dash of salt, pepper and garlic pepper. Happy eating....p.s. I love my garden.

Beans beans the magical fruit...

The beans that we grew this season are lovely. It is our first time growing them. I was surprised to see how quickly they sprouted from seed and started producing beans. I posted already with a cooked recipe for them. However, we have also pickled some beans. My husband tried two different recipes the first time. The links below are the recipes that he used. My husband was not aware that the beans turn green when cooking. He was surprised to find that the water liquid in the mixture turned pink as the beans shed their deep brilliant purple color.
I was out of town when he canned these. I think he had fun! After testing the beans 3 weeks later we decided to make more. We did not care for the lemon rosemary recipe as much. So we decided to make a new batch with the other one. We also made a jar of asparagus with the Crisp Pickled Green Bean recipe. I am anxious to try them because we added a little bit more red pepper for more of a kick.
It is sad that our first crop had issues. Maybe better luck with the next.

Plum love 2014

Our plums were ready much earlier this year. We had a harvest about 3 to 4 times the size as last year. Look at some pictures of these beauties!
I am really excited about the amount of plums. I prayed that our harvest would be much larger so that I could make a plum jam or butter and still have enough to give out to the people that I love. There are still more plums up there. When my daughter and I picked the first ripe ones this year we were surprised to find how sweet and juicy they were. Growing your own food has unlimited benefits and pleasures. It feels good to pick the plums and think of all the delicious things you could make with them. I had our family over on our first harvest day. I decided to pit them and quarter them to serve over vanilla ice cream with local honey and cinnamon(pictured below). This turned out to be an indulgent treat for all of us. A memorable way to celebrate our fist harvest for 2014.
The next step for me was to find a good jam or butter recipe. After all these plums were my new babies and I wanted them to shine. I wanted to make them sing on the palette! I decided to use a plum butter recipe that I found on Martha Stewart. Here is the link..... (Below are some pictures from the process of making the butter.) I made a simple plum jam for last years harvest but it wasn't very interesting in layers of flavor. So this year I wanted to find something more complex. This recipe looked the most promising. My experience with Martha Stewart recipes has never failed me in the past. This recipe was the most promising. I had a lot of fun canning on my own this year. This is something I have always wanted to do. I knew if I took my time I could really do it and enjoy the process. I doubled the recipe and ended up piting and quartering 7 lbs of plums from our tree, with more plums to spare. I filled a whole flat of ball crystal jam jars! God is gracious,and good!
Now I am anxious to try out an interesting strawberry jam recipe because they are in season. I think I may try making something with an herb or with balsamic. Maybe several different kinds and can them at the same time.

Progress in time

The time it has taken to get our garden going has been emotional and hard work. It has been fun and rewarding. I haven't posted here in a very long time, but I hope to change that. I have some pics of our progress...
The above picture is of green beans that we planted. They have given us many harvests of beans. They grow into bushes and then start to vine outwards. We also planted heirloom beans(down below on the left) that are a purple color and then turn green when you cook them. Cooking this variety of beans was like watching magic transpire before my very own eyes.
We planted three varieties of beans. Below are the purple heirloom variety raw then cooked.
After falling in love with growing beans we started to see burning on the leaves. At first we thought that we were possibly overwatering. However, after some research that my husband did, he found that it could be ozone damage. I was horrified to learn this.
It is unfortunate to loose a crop to ozone damage. Especially since we (we meaning human kind) have caused this with our vehicles and burning of harmful waste. It is so sad. It broke my heart to loose my crops to this. I picked the last harvest of green beans and then had to pull up my beautifully damaged plants. Anything that you do with your whole heart and efforts poses a threat to fail. Failing is hard especially when you have no control of a disease that wreaks havoc. I am going to be brave and plant another crop of beans. Maybe it will be different this time. Progress to be continued... Heirloom Beans with Bacon and Carmelized Onions 1 tablespoon of olive oil 1 red onion roughly chopped 1/2 lb of bacon chopped lots of organic Purple Podded Pole Beans with stem ends snapped off. 1.Put one tablespoon of olive oil into a high sided saute pan. Let it heat up, then add red onions and a pinch of salt. Let this go until carmelized a bit. Then add the bacon. Cook the bacon until it starts to brown. 2. Finally add the beans with another couple pinched of salt, garlic pepper and pepper. Keep tossing until desired tenderness and all the purple beans turn green.