Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fresh Beginnings

This was our first CSA Pickup of the Season as we resumed our continued eager support of Wimer's Organics CSA or Community Supported Agriculture. Our first box included butter lettuce, red lettuces, green onions, garlic scapes, scallions, kale, arugula and unpopped popcorn. We have since had our second pick up and the third is next week as we are still on the bi-weekly list since, as you can see even without the arugula and popcorn not pictured, it would be difficult for L and I to eat all of it without waste, just given life, love, and of course our crazy schedules some days.

I know it's been some time since I've posted, but I hope you are still out there, dear readers. Like over a year, about which I cringe as I type. But sometimes as we know, life  throws us curve balls that land way in the outfield, far from wireless connections or a computer by which one can upload the latest dish. However, as usual, getting stuck in the outfield has not stopped my experimentation with flavors, food, pairings, herbs, taste and the senses, and of course, cooking.

So what's to come and what to expect? Recipes and pictures of meals and tasty things,  our re-cultivated container garden of various plants, flowers, and fruits, herbs, and vegetables (which are still a work in progress), and the super exciting addition of joining a local business that is all about composting. 

Stick around. If there is anything I can guarantee, it's that you will not be disappointed, nor have wasted your time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tomatoes to Sauce: Teaser

Start with about 20 Roma Tomatoes, fresh herbs, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and some simmer loving on the stove for about 3 1/2 hours. End Result? Delicious, mouthwatering homemade Italian Tomato Sauce.

Recipe and details coming soon.
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

CSA's and Container Gardening

Hopefully my readers can take the summer months of lax posting as it just being the summer, the strange time of the year where time slips away like the freshly squeezed juice of a lemon through a strainer. That's my hope, anyway. There is definitely much to come as we've been overwhelmed with produce from our CSA, Wimer's Organics as well as our own container garden.

If you are a member of or considering becoming a member of  a CSA for this or next season, Wimer's is definitely the one to go with. They seem rather dirt cheap for the amazing, delicious, and organic offerings we get bi-weekly (there's no way we could eat as much as we get in one week!). They even offer payment plans, which I was happily surprised to find out, since joining a CSA is a lot of money to put out up front for the season or seasons you want. I know this had been a reason in teh past we had not joined one sooner, as I have also heard from friends and acquaintances, always with a wistful look in their eye. I was happy not to have that wistful look in my eye this year.

Along with comparing their previous grow seasons yields, which offered tremendous variety, more so we thought than other farms, the close pick up location, and the opportunity to purchase eggs, yogurt, chickens, and other items from their store (like COFFEE!) sealed the deal. We also get a thoughtful weekly email from Bud Wimer about the farm, maybe some recipes, and what to expect "in the box," an advance peep so as to plan ahead for meals and trips the grocer. And what was "in the box" this week you might inquire? In addition to the pounds and pounds of the three varieties of tomatoes you see below, we also got six ears of corn, two eggplants, two red peppers, a hunk of fresh mint, some beets, and a giant onion. Mind you, we still are working off of some leftovers of our last share.

Wimer's is a Certified Organic Farm, and while a lot of families and individuals choose to eat as much organic possible, this could also be a clincher, but as I've stated before, we wouldn't purchase organic fruit or vegetables over non-organic; we're more interested in that the crops and animals are raised and bred with resourceful and ecologically safe manners, (for example, Integrated Pest Management), as local as possible, and cage free (for the animals, not the crops for that one :)

We've had some struggle with some of our crops, particularly the zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. They come up but somehow either don't grow to a picking size before shriveling (zukes and squash) or they turn into some sort of oddly shaped rotund fruit which we can't use, either for pickling or just well, as a cucumber. Our tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and strawberries are for the most part doing well. The marjoram died in one of the earlier of our many heat waves, but the rest powered through..

Right now we are flush with tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes, as you can see. The first two images are beautiful roma, cherry, and beefsteak (?) from our CSA, and the last two are champion, patio, and lemony tomatoes and orange, green, and red peppers recently picked from our garden.

We're thinking some sauce is in order to make use before it spoils.Maybe a  lot of sauce. Stay tuned for that post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mini Chocolate Nanner Muffins

My grandad grew up during the Great Depression. This comes out in weird ways sometimes, like in the form of beer can whirligigs or the old TV he always has lying around just in case. My grandad also grows a lot of his own produce. In his later years, he's started growing produce for sport rather than sustenance. My poor grandma is left trying to figure out how to use everything he grows in the kitchen. And she, also a child of the Great Depression, feels the need to bake, cook, freeze, or jar all of it. Corn, berries, zucchini (so much zucchini), and lately champagne grapes (in Southern Idaho! my grandad is both talented AND crazy). My grandma finds a way to use it all, and I have a cache of creative hand-me-down recipes to prove it. But before I get to those, I'll give you a fruit saving recipe for something you probably already have lying around: rotten bananas.

Mini Chocolate Nanner Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 and beat the following together in a large bowl:
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup overly ripe bananas, mushed

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Don't over mix! Let your batter stay lumpy as long as all the dry ingredients are wet.

Evenly split batter into a lined mini muffin pan (you'll have enough batter to fill it at least twice). Once the batter is in, put a Hershey's kiss in each, pressing it into the batter until the edges are covered. I usually leave one muffin in the center of the pan kiss-less, at least the first pan per batch, so that I can do a toothpick test or two.

Bake roughly 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Check the mini muffins often after the 10 minute mark if they're still too wet; they're real small and the line between done and burnt is really thin. Pull the muffins from the pan as soon as you can manage to get them out without burning off your fingerprints and let them cool on a wire rack.

If you don't have a mini muffin pan or you just like your muffins normal-sized, you can mix in 1-1 1/2 cups chocolate chips to the batter instead of the kisses to achieve the right chocolate to banana ratio.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A dessert homage to the 4th

A light dessert of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries on slices of angel food cake with whipped cream. A color-appropriate dish without intention. Happy Fourth of July!
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Bites

This was last night's dinner: mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and fresh basil from our CSA speared like mini kabobs on toothpicks, drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Delicious and perfect for the 101 degree hot and humid day, which found me around six o'clock scratching my head in our kitchen trying to figure out what to eat when neither of us were hungry, most likely due to the fact that it was still above 90 at that time. This hit cold dish hit the spot.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

After the last few weeks chock full of gardening with a whole lot of love and sweat and dirt, those long hours in the early morning sun out front (we live without access to a yard so we really do our research and expend a lot of energy and research on our container gardens. After a few trips to home depot for really cheap herbs and veggies, some errands to a box store for some colorful containers to plant in, and the like, our current container garden is looking pretty great. I'm worried about the heat we've had and what it will do to my freshly planted bucket of herbs, but I figure if farmers are planting their crops in the sun, we aren't too far off from the arrangement, aside from our fruits and veggies and recently added herbs being on our our downstairs neighbor;s bay window. My green thumb has been diligent with rising at 6:30am to water the roof, again to pull some things in, such as the herbs for a little bit, (if necessary - they just went out today), and to to then head down to our rode bushes, azalea bush, a jack o lantern pumpkin in a 5 gallon bucket, perennial shasta daisies which I'm desperately trying to revive from the scorchers we've had lately, marigolds and roman candlesticks, and a few other pretty flowers and a large lavender plant that needs to be split as there are several plants outgrowing its tiny basket yet to go in...somewhere :)

I have pictures of the 'roof deck' - Are you ready for this urban farming? :) And please, if you have any tips to pass along, this is the first spring/summer I've gone beyond strawberries and tomatoes. SO far everything looks good, though soon we may have to stake one of the zucchini branch leaf for some added support for the buds arriving. Without further ado (drum roll anyone?) The almost completed 'roof deck.'

This was how the project began: a mishmash of potting soil, containers, water, water, and water, some nutrient food, prepping the containers for drainage holes, assessing which veggies and fruits could go into which pots, and of course, running out of potting soil. Eh. You do what you can in a few hours, pack it up, and if you're anything like me, you run out to Home Depot and the WalMart, whose garden center is closing BTW so the soil and what's left is SUPER cheap.

Patio & Lemon Bay Tomatoes

Champion Tomatoes, Zucchini and Cucumber, and three varieties of Peppers - Green, Yellow, and Red

Yellow Squash, Cantaloupe, a large Strawberry plant, and a wee baby strawberry plant.

More pictures to come of our patio/stoop container garden and the newest addition to our 'roof deck' - a delicious bucket of fresh herbs.Our patio is progressing nicely aside from our perennials having just wilted, not from neglect as I have been going Poppa Bear on this garden, but more we think just the humidity and the shriveling heat. I'm hoping they come back. Some of our marigolds have and there are buds on the Shasta Daisies. My fingers are crossed and I do welcome any gardening fertilization, nutrient, and any other advice anyone may have. Bring it on in the comment section.