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Tag Archives: Fruit and Vegetable

Glorious Summer With Veggies

Glorious Summer With Veggies

Are you just reveling in S U M M M E R right about now? We keep switching between the signature Atlanta weather profiles: hot and muggy with a side of steamy OR breezy, blue and utterly blissful.  With an afternoon shower of course. Sixties in the morning, nineties (in the shade) in the afternoon, but heck, it’s July so I’ll take them both. I stay in Atlanta for the seasons and they rarely disappoint.

The garden is producing like crazy and we are knee deep (ok, I exaggerate but backyard farmers are like fishermen; always out to impress) in cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. Aren’t these colors gorgeous?

tomato basket 7.2014

 

I planted over a dozen tomato plants this year because I was tired of having just a few tomatoes rolling in piecemeal over the summer and the plan is working.  We harvest huge handfuls of cherry tomatoes (Super Sweet 100) every day (not including the sun-warmed ones we steal from the vines) and now the big fruits are starting to ripen.  The yellow variety is Lemon Boy and the lighter orange is Early Girl.  Although I’m not a huge Early Girl fan, they were they only reliable tomatoes to produce last year so I had to have at least one plant!  The small bright red tomato (upper right of basket) is a plum tomato and the vines are filled with these.  I have visions of one small jar of tomato paste dancing in my head …  Finally, those medium reds are Parks Whopper, which I find amusing since they are distinctly un-whopper in size.  The small purple green cherry tomatoes are an heirloom, possibly Cherokee Purple, but my tag is missing.

Naturally, the question is “what do you do with all those tomatoes?”.  Eat them, of course!  Tomato sandwiches, tomato tarts, tomato jam, oven-dried tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.  I rarely use a recipe and even more rarely have a plan for what to make.  I think you just have to look at the tomatoes and let them silently suggest a dish.  Hmmm, I like the idea of tomato meditation … a quiet communication with nature … Now that I ponder it, I silently admire them each morning as I water, letting the hose sprinkle them for exactly one Hail Mary per plant before I move on to the next one.  It’s pretty easy to pray the Rosary when the birds are singing, the sky is brightening, the water is gently streaming, and you are surrounded by the sheer beauty of the ordinary.  So many blessings right in front of us if we only open our eyes, but I digress.

One summer several years back, I made fantastic tomato marmalade from a huge harvest of tiny yellow pear tomatoes but I have never again either found that variety or gotten it to grow.  I’m wondering if I can turn my tiny red jewels into something similar  … hmmm … I can still taste that tart, sweet, addictive, weird goodness!  I’ll keep you posted.  And as a caution, if you are canning, please ALWAYS use a recipe!  Botulism is bad.

squash 7.2014

Aren’t the squash pretty?  I’ve been picking them small because we’ve got a lot of birds, rabbits, and caterpillars who would love to make a meal of these (and everything else of course).  We cut these up, tossed them with olive oil, soy sauce, garlic and salt then roasted them with sliced red onions in a grill pan on the grill for five minutes. Right off the grill I added a splash sesame oil and  second splash of soy.  You don’t need protein when you’ve got veggies that good!

One more photo of my meager bucket for the day …Remember every little bit of green adds up!

cukes & cauliflower 7.2014

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • homegrown cucumber peels & stem ends (a daily snack or salad component)
  • core & outer leaves of a cauliflower
  • banana peel hiding underneath

Less in the bucket means more on the plate, right?  I pan roasted some wild Keta salmon and paired it with oven roasted cauliflower with lemon & salt, plus baked sweet potatoes.  Normally, since we don’t drench the potatoes with anything rodent-attracting I compost those skins, but my dogs were acting like human compost machines yesterday.  They enjoyed both the salmon AND sweet potato skins.  Either way, no extra green waste hit the landfill!

Soon, I’ll post some photos of the compost pile.  It’s looking surprisingly like soil for the lack of effort I’ve been putting into it!  I’m feeling great things for the fall…

 

 

 

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Back To Buckets

Summer is in full swing and that means lots of fruit and veggies at every meal, as well as lots of scraps in the compost bucket.

You know how some buckets are just a great mix of color and texture?  This is not one of them.  In fact, I put it on the deck, left it overnight and then photographed it this morning after the ants and slugs began to make a meal of it.  Not pretty, but authentic I guess.

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • ants on watermelon chunks, these were very pale and not very tasty
  • lots of banana skins, six to be exact
  • squishy grapes and grape stems
  • the curly stem on the watermelon rind, it was very cute and piggish
  • eggshells (for banana bread)
  • past-its-prime peach, turned inedible overnight
  • past-its prime apricot, turned inedible overnight
  • more eggshells (for waffles)
  • spent William Shakespeare rose

In addition to cheese waffles for breakfast and “leftovers” salad for lunch (arugula, chicken breast, garden tomatoes) I baked up two kinds of banana bread.  Yes, two kinds.  It was rainy, plus I had time AND inclination.  Here are the pans waiting for the oven to heat.

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I was thinking that the Double Chocolate Banana Bread (on the right obviously) would be my favorite, but surprisingly, Jacked Up Banana Bread with walnuts and bourbon was my top choice.  This might be because I increased the butter and doubled the bourbon, but it could also just be that my initial intentions were for banana goodness as opposed to chocolate goodness.  That said, the chocolate bread is nearly gone.  I’m not the only one in the house nibbling …

 

 

 

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Fruits of Our Labor

Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is a glimpse beyond my garden gate …

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Today we are picking lots of green beans, Kirby cucumbers and Abraham Darby roses.

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The corn is definitely “knee high by the fourth of July”.

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The squash is a little too small to pick, but we have a dozen plants happily growing.  We should be overrun soon!  Of course I spot a tiny bit of powdery mildew so maybe not!

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I think eggplant is the most gorgeous veggie in the garden.

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These are the reasons we compost all year long … literally the fruits of our labors.  Happy gardening!  Happy summer!

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Gardening, Musings

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Cherries and Pie

The grocery store checkout racks are filled with magazines featuring pies on their covers this month so, succumbing to the subliminal marketing messages, I’ve been craving one.  Normally, I’m not a pie fan.  I’d much rather eat my fruit raw, swirl it into a smoothie or bake it into a pound cake, but the pie allure is strong.   When my farm share last week included local sour cherries I could see the writing on the wall.

But, and it’s a big but, LOCAL sour cherries?  Remember, I live in Georgia where cherries don’t just grow on trees.  You’ve got to get them from Michigan or Washington.  But somehow, thanks to the perseverance of my farmer, there they were.  Beautiful, local cherries.  Just making plans for them made me feel so virtuous.  I mean, when my grandmother got food from the store it was ALL local.  She would not have thought twice about the origin of her cherries.  She would probably have thought, “great, cherries are in season,” bought them and baked her pie.  But, in today’s weird food climate, find these beautiful local gems was kind of like winning a gold medal.  I bought two more pints and planned my pie.

Every single day for a week I woke up planning to make that pie and every single day something else took precedence.   Life is funny that way.  I kept the magazine with the recipe I wanted to try right on the kitchen counter to remind me.

Finally a stretch of spare hours….  I excitedly pulled the containers from the fridge and tipped all those beautiful bright jewels into the colander and alas, they were more delicate than I realized.  Many had not survived the week.  I had killed the local cherries from neglect.  My grandmother would never have kept her cherries waiting.  She knew the fragility of real produce.  In one week I went from proud locavore dropping hints of my virtue into any conversation I could, “Did I tell you I found love gorgeous local cherries?  Yes, local!”  to food heathen unworthy of nature’s bounty.  Shaking off the food guilt, I rolled up my sleeves to redeem this situation.   I set to work to pit the little beauties and would make it work.  No time to waste adding up the cost of this very expensive Toss It Tuesday.

toss it tues sour cherries 6.17.14

As an aside, have you ever pitted tart cherries?  They are TINY.  The fruit is hardly bigger than the pit, especially when you’ve got to pare away little bruised bits.  Especially when your cherry pitter broke last year, you never replaced it, and are now working with a paring knife.   But really, who cares?  Local.  Sour.  Cherries.  My virtuous stock was rising again.  I kept waiting for someone to call so I could say I was making a cherry pie with local sour cherries and an interesting almond crust.  The phone was silent.  I was being punished for wasting my treasure.

Look how pretty this fruit is!  That’s lime zest on top.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  By now you may have guessed I never do. You were supposed to infuse the sugar with the zest, but I got carried away with the colors and it was really zesty.

cherries & lime zest

Sadly, I was two pounds short of three pounds.  Even if every cherry was perfect I would have been short.  Throwing off the local medal of honor that no one but me knew or cared about anyway, I amended  my pie plan and hauled from the fridge an industrial size plastic container of sweet cherries purchased at my local Costco, shipped from the not so local state of Washington, onto the counter and continued pitting.  They were quite gorgeous too.  Giant, probably like the orchard them came from.

 

cherries sweet in bowl

Here they are, local and industrial, mixed together in a baptizing bath of organic sugar (i.e., evaporated cane juice) and organic cornstarch that balanced everything.

cherries mixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the crust with made with butter and almond meal.  Doesn’t it match my countertop exactly?

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Limey cherries happily snuggled in the nutty crust.  The recipe does not call for butter but have you ever made a pie without it?  Not my personal favorite.  Plus, I’d already veered from recipe authenticity.  I added some chunks of grass-fed goodness.

 

cherries butter

Didn’t it turn out well?  It looked exactly like the magazine cover.

 cherry pie assembled

 

We ate it before I ever took another picture.  I promise it looked exactly like this.  Possibly prettier.  And it was delicious.

When the blueberries ripen I’m making this one too.  How about you?

P.S.  Full disclosure: I did not put all the pits into compost, only the cherries.  I just liked the “cherriness” of that “Toss It” photo.

 

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Father’s Day Weekend Fun

Perfect weather set the stage for a perfectly enjoyable Father’s Day Weekend … Saturday yard work, dinners on the deck, and … not much else.  Delightful.

I keep missing the perfect light in which to photograph the vegetable garden, but it’s coming along quite well.   I’m crossing my fingers and hope it’s not a curse to repeat that my neighbor mentioned the garden “looks better than it ever has.”  We might be able to harvest green beans and cucumbers this week.  All the afternoon rain showers have been a garden blessing.

Here’s a peek at the child-sized handful of ripening blueberries we greedily picked from our three recently planted bushes.  Although they are barely knee high now, local blueberry experts (i.e. friends and neighbors) assure me they are going to be producing more berries than we can possibly eat.  I dearly hope that is true.  I also dearly hope the neighborhood deer do not discover these delicacies planted in plain view.  Shhhh!

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Did you ever rush to plant something in the fall to give it a head start, prep the soil well, baby it against the cold, and rejoice in the spring to find it happily growing away?  Have you also done this and realized you left out a giant important step?  Why do you ask?  We carved out a new planting bed in the front yard (perfect full sun area for some as yet unplanted columnar apple trees) and put in some lovely foundation shrubs but utterly forgot to put down a weed barrier to prevent unsightly Bermuda grass from reclaiming the land.  What a mess!  Picture my lovingly tended front lawn (thanks to my devoted son), nicely shaped trees, tasteful annuals (pink pentas, blue salvia, and white vinca), and the new bed choked with quickly spreading Bermuda.  Acrgh!  With the help of a family friend, my husband tackled the thankless job of raking back the mulch, putting down weed barrier, and re-mulching.  Much better now.  Alas, no photos.  That is what your imagination is for.

All that work killed our appetite for cooking (besides, I had already whipped up cheese waffles for late breakfast).  Thanking my stars that my family loves a good carb-fest, I pulled out all the stops for this calorie laden extravaganza.

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Do you need a close up of that bread?

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It actually was as delicious as it looked.  I’ll share the recipe because I found it by accident while I was searching Pinterest for something I’ve now forgotten.  I was out of sun dried tomatoes so I added extra garlic, butter and cheese.  No one complained.

All we needed to round out the meal was a simple leaf lettuce salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette (a tablespoon of mustard, a whole lemon, juiced, and as much olive oil as you want to take out the pucker, about a third of a cup, salt & pepper),

Drinks were my new favorite, Palomas or grapefruit soda and tequila.  As you can guess I didn’t really measure, but if you’re one of those who do, here’s a recipe.  I didn’t bother with salt and I used a soda from Trader Joe’s.

Compost bucket?  Since it was a lazy weekend I just kept piling, so you can’t really see all the banana skins from the overripe bunch I broke into chunks and froze for smoothies.  Eggs were for waffles, lemon for vinaigrette, watemelon for snacking, and teabags for our summer staple.

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Oh, and for actual Father’s Day, we had a twist to our day, and hence a complication for dinner … but it was actually a gift and we ended up with luscious last-minute lobster roll sandwiches our way: challah hot dog rolls with the tops sliced, buttered, and gently broiled, then filled with chunks of butter-and-lemon laced sweet broiled lobster PLUS chunks of roasted wild Alaskan cod.  The cod makes the sandwich feel decadently full, while the lobster sweetens the cod and tricks the taste buds into thinking you’re eating double the crustacean.  Ours was a happy dad.

Hope your weekend was lovely too.

 

 

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Sixty and Snow on the Ground

Gosh, I love the South.  It’s the only place I know of that you can have snow one day and sunshine and balmy temperatures the next day.  The snow is still holding on in the shade today.  I had to put my compost on the icy deck just because it’s so pretty, don’t you think?

kale & oranges in snow

 

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • kale stems
  • banana peel
  • shallot peel & stem ends inside eggshell
  • orange segments and peel
  • half of a lemon

Naturally I made morning smoothies, plus Meat Loaf,with leftover Mashed Potatoes and Kale Sautéed with Shallots.

This winter it feels like the compost pile is filled with onions, lemons, banana peels and of course tea bags!  Can’t wait for truly fresh greens and baby vegetables!

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in The Daily Bucket

 

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Toss It Tuesday: Avocado

Does your grocery store have those too-good-to-be-true deals?  Ten for ten dollars, five for five dollars, etc… Normally, I glance and look away.  I rarely need five or ten of anything, except last week, the avocado deal was too good to be true.  Five for five bucks.  Well, we love avocados, made into guacamole, on tacos, in sandwiches, even as a snack.  Good deal, right?  

Apparently, in the winter, avocados do not hold the same appeal as in the warmer months.  Three was all I could palm off on the troops and even I had trouble mustering enthusiasm for any more of their green goodness.  After a week, they developed the telltale black shade, the sickening squishiness, and then finally the mold spots that told me loud and clear to never succumb to grocery marketing again.  Know thy eating habits!

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Sad, aren’t they  I threw them on the pile, seeds and all.  Maybe this spring we’ll have a volunteer avocado plant shoot up somewhere.  And then I’ll probably yank it like a weed.  Oh well, the thought was good for the second it lasted.  Happy Toss It Tuesday Y’all!

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2014 in The Daily Bucket, Toss It Tuesday

 

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