Aug 3 2011

Canning salsa


Last year’s salsa recipe came straight from the Ball Canning book, a classic.  It was great, but this year, I found myself searching online for more unique salsa recipes and stumbled onto a blog, Seasonal Ontario Food, with a step-by-step recipe for salsa.  So what?  Well, the author, “Ferdzy” wrote, “. . . in my opinion, if there is vinegar in a salsa, it isn’t salsa anymore, it’s something else.  This recipe calls for lime juice instead, which is a traditional ingredient for salsa.”

That was enough of a challenge for me to decide this would be the salsa recipe for this year.  If the purists use lime juice, then why would I have thought vinegar was adequate?

We have some Anaheim peppers in the garden, so I thought they would do the trick.  I mixed in some Habaneros, too.  I didn’t learn until long after the 13 jars were complete that Anaheim peppers are fairly low on the Scoville Scale (I didn’t learn about the Scoville Scale, actually, until tonight zithromax buy online usa.)  The salsa is much milder than I would have hoped, but the taste is still terrific.  I like that it has a freshness missing in last year’s salsa.

It helps to read the recipe thoroughly, though.  This is one of my special challenges—I skim everything.  The notation:  “8 to 12 hours—2.5 to 3 hours working” was very accurate.  It took me most of 24 hours to get it done.  Didn’t estimate the right amount of lime juice, so I had to make a second trip to the store, and I had a horrible allergic reaction to cutting up the onions and peppers even though I wore gloves!  I did!  Had to abandon the task, shower, and rest until my nose recovered.

For all of these complaints, if you are up for canning salsa, and you have a FULL day, try this recipe.  Next year, I will use the same recipe with slightly more spicy peppers.

Jul 14 2011

Kale Chips?


I am determined to eat what we are growing, even if it means kale, kale, and more kale.  I have given bags of the green gems to every visitor, but it continues to proliferate.  We prefer the curly leaf variety, but Roger planted plenty of the flat leaf version.  What we have here is great green elephant ears of kale and few recipes that meet our approval.

Our standard kale preparation is with garlic, olive oil and pan-fried walnuts.  Tonight’s kale recipe was unusual but terrific—Baked Kale Chips.  The recipe was submitted by Lucy DelRey on Her comment  about the chips being a good conversation topic is true. They are weird-looking, but delicious!

One of the feedback comments suggested adding a splash of soy sauce.  Knowing that C.J. would drink soy sauce if it were a beverage, I added that flavoring to entice him.  It worked!

I persuaded C.J. to help with dinner tonight, and he washed and cut the leaves with kitchen scissors.  I can imagine the novelty of kale chips and the ease of preparation would make this a fun cooking project for children. The salty taste and strange “chip” feel guarantees that children will eat their greens.

Jul 13 2011

Baked Zucchini Parmesan Fries


How fast does zucchini grow?  I checked out MK’s blog, My Food Revolution where the author tracked her zucchini growth each day.  In the ripening stages, the “alpha” zucchini (who knew there was a dominant fruit on each plant) grew 2” in a 24-hour period.  I think I’ve got her beat, but I admit I am not out there with a measuring tape.

So we have several zucchinis in the refrigerator, and more are on the vine.  Yesterday, I tried a Moosewood Restaurant recipe with a lemon cilantro sauce that got only modest approval from Roger (who would eat zucchini in ANY form) and C.J. (who reserves the right to refuse anything that is green, except broccoli or iceberg lettuce) cialis 20 mg buy online uk.

Tonight we tried Baked Zucchini Fries (total preparation time from garden to table—30 minutes), and C.J. traded his main dish for my share of zucchini fries, so I’d say that was a success.

I found the recipe on Aggie’s Kitchen blog. She provides the recipe and photo step-by-step instructions.  If you are swamped with zucchini, try this recipe!  Big plus—you have all of the ingredients in your kitchen already.

May 23 2010

Ravishing Radishes!


Roger spent hours in the garden yesterday, and a sumptuous meal that included radishes was the result.  Check out these beauties!radishes 5-22-2010

Aug 23 2009

Cucumber Conundrum: Any Ideas?


We planted the cukes late; I think it was late June.  The vines were vigorous, and we’ve gotten a number of fine cucumbers.  The vines are still loaded with blossoms, but the vines and leaves are turning brown and evidently dying off.  No idea why, and haven’t researched it yet.  Any insights?

Aug 23 2009

Tomato Tragedy: Late Blight Fungus


Well, it’s the worst disaster to hit my tomatoes in all my gardening career.  If you’re a gardener, you know how bad the late blight fungus is this year — a veritable epidemic in the eastern U.S.  Evidently, the cool, damp Spring and a bad infection among some major growers created a perfect storm. You can read the Maryland Cooperative  Extension Service’s info here:

Region’s Tomatoes & Potatoes At Risk of Devastating Disease

I noticed it first on three plants at the end of our “tomato alley.”  But when I went to pull and dispose of those plants the next day, it was clear that the entire crop is infected.  I did pull those three plants as planned — indulging that helpless feeling of having to do something — but I left the rest.  Basically, the fruit that is on the vines is mostly ripening and usable.  Maybe 15% spoiled.  But the vines themselves are rapidly dying off, and no more fruit will be set.

That said, we’ve enjoyed quite a number of tomato sandwiches, and tomato-mozzarella salads, and last night we sent off some of our guests from Nicole’s send-off party with small bags of tomatoes, and today I made maybe 5 or 6 quarts of homemade tomato sauce.  But we won’t be doing the massive canning that we anticipated.

It’s sad, because the plants were so big and beautiful and loaded with nice fruit.  I just hope the fungus doesn’t overwinter.  It typically does not, but there is concern that it may have mutated.  We’ll take some precautions.  Meantime…

Lessons Learned

  1. Plant further apart.  No matter how far I space them, it’s never enough.  I will plant fewer and further apart next year.
  2. Be cautious about evening watering.  I’ve never been too disciplined about this; after all, it rains at night, right?  But I’ll avoid this practice in the future.
  3. Water from the bottom.  I will set up a drip or seeping irrigation system next year.  I’ve always meant to do this.  Now I have incentive.
  4. Start our own plants exclusively.  I really doubt any of the plants from Dana’s, our favorite nursery, brought it here, but who knows?

Aug 9 2009

Prize Winners At The Fair!


Live blogging from the Howard County Fair. Great showing. Firsts for Italian sweet peppers and yellow bells; second for green bells; third for green beans. The squash ducks photo won second in the adult still life/flowers and vegs category. Yeah! BTW, first time posting using WP iPhone app. Fingers crossed.

Aug 8 2009

How To Pick, Wash & Store Lettuce & Greens


Seems like a no-brainer I know, but there really are some tricks to making the most of garden-grown lettuce.  One important thing to remember:  good hygiene is very important with lettuce.  Try not to let any of the leaves stay in contact with the ground, and if the lower leaves yellow, wilt, or start to rot, remove them immediately and discard in the compost pile.

Harvest: If you’re growing head lettuce, then just let it go until it’s a good size to pick.  If you’re growing leaf lettuce or picking head lettuce as leaf lettuce, just remember to pick only the largest outer leaves; leave the interior core and it will keep producing.

Washing: Remember this rule:  Give lettuce a bath, not a shower. It’s virtually impossible to clean off the garden dirt with a stream of water.  You have to put the lettuce in a large bowl of water, swish it around, then lift the lettuce out before discarding the water (leaving the dirt, grass, etc. to sink in the water) page.  It usually takes three rinses.  (Commercial growers must do this, because it’s never an issue with store-bought greens).  Then spin dry in a salad spinner.

Storing: The right humidity and air flow are critical for longest storage.  I use an old-fashioned, single-hole punch (probably can get one at Staples) to punch a series of holes all around the perimeter of a one-gallon zip-lock bag.  Then I put 1/2 of a paper towel in the bottom, add the spun-dry lettuce, put another 1/2 paper towel on top, then seal and put it in the vegetable bin in the fridge.  I know, I know, there are probably toxins in the paper towel, but it’s not making that much contact.  Open for better ideas if you have any.

Aug 7 2009

Garden in Early August


Aug 3 2009

Plenty (of Local Foods)


Roger and I have started reading Plenty, a book about a couple who attempt to eat locally (within 100 miles) for one year.


Although I am not prepared to give up sugar and coffee, I was inspired to use the vegetables from our garden to create dinner.  We had brown sugar carrots, rosemary baked beets and zuchinni pancakes topped with cheddar cheese.  Surprisingly, the zuchinni pancakes got rave reviews from C.J., who has a severe case of vegetaphobia.    The recipe was simple:  grated zuchinni (well-drained), chopped red onion, egg, and bread crumbs, salt and pepper fried in a little olive oil and topped with cheese.  I think next time I will add some garlic powder and spices to give it even more flavor.

Jul 30 2009

Squash Ducks


Natalie noticed this interesting visual when we were getting the bushel of squash ready to freeze.  Quack!


Jul 29 2009

Garden Bounty: Squash Gone Wild


Things got a little out of hand while we were at the beach.  Yes, that is a laundry basket…

Squash, Etc.

Jul 26 2009

Too Much Zucchini? Never!


At this time of year, the zucchini in our garden are mass-producing under their elephant-sized leaves.  Shirley gave us a recipe that requires a mandolin, a new kitchen accessory to me.  Roger and I found ourselves at the outlet mall comparing five or six different kinds of mandolins so that we can make the perfect julienned zucchini.

Even our picky young adults had extra servings of the recipe.  Mariel Hemingway describes it as a family favorite in the latest issue of AARP.

Zucchini Linguini with Chicken

(featured in AARP July & August 2009)

Serves 4


2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch pieces

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup fat-free chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water

3 green zucchini, julienned

3 yellow zucchini, julienned

¼ cup julienne fresh basil

2 ½ ounces goat cheese, crumbled


1.      Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sauté until cooked, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pan.


2.      Add the butter and shallot to the pan and sauté until soft, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and zucchini and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more, or just until soft.  Remove from heat.


3.      Return the chicken to the pan, add the basil, and stir to combine.  Divide among four plates and top with goat cheese.  Serve immediately.


Nutrients preserving:  261 calories, 25g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 15g fat (7g saturated fat), 74mg cholesterol, 440mg sodium

Jun 14 2009

Lettuce and Clotheslines


Yesterday, we put in the base poles for the clothesline.  Roger says that we can start hanging clothes by Wednesday!!!  We ate this beautiful lettuce for dinner.lettuce-06-14-09

Jun 7 2009

Ravishing Radishes and More!


Today, we weeded and fertilized the garden, as well as completed other chores–mulch, grass cutting, planting.  I used Roger’s Japanese hand-hoe (which is for right-handed people only–a little awkward for me).  It is called a Negiri Gama Hoe.  It made weeding a breeze, and I don’t understand why all gardeners don’t consider this an essential.  We collected another round of radishes and picked enough lettuce for five salads.  We have a garden toad–I hope that’s good luck.  We have a garden rabbit, but he’s only ceramic.lettuce6-07-09