Category Archives: Oh Grow Up!

A southeast Missouri gardeners journal.

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/20

A rainbow of peppers both sweet, mild bells and mildly hot Anaheim and poblanos.

Yellow eggplants, chocolate, red and black bell peppers, butternut squash and Anaheim peppers

Today’s harvest basket is full of colorful peppers and eggplant. That means it’s time for ratatouille, a French vegetable dish  hardy enough to serve as an entrée.

I now have all the herbs and vegetables for ratatouille. There are faster but not better ways to make this French peasant stew, but Julia Child’s recipe is simply the best. Find the Ratatouille recipe in her cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking.

Try this vegetable dish that has summer squash, eggplant, and bell pepper tied together by a fresh tomato sauce. I add a few more herbs than Julia does but her classic recipe can be a springboard for your own version.

Green, red and black peppers all on the same plant.

All the pretty bell peppers are meant to be eaten fresh or chopped and frozen for winter cooking. I make lots of stuffed peppers and freeze some for quick comfort food this fall. Depending on the degree of ripeness, bell three peppers start out green and color as they ripen.

We always grow more than we can eat fresh so there will be plenty for freezing. Most peppers are chopped and can be added frozen to any cooked recipe. Also, some are cut in strips to use in fajitas and wraps.

Roasted peppers are quickly blistered on the grill, outside.

I’m roasting and peeling the hot peppers, Anaheim and poblanos. What we don’t use fresh, will be frozen in cubes for winter use. Many are going into pint jars of salsa.

Each ice-cube square in the plastic tray holds about the equivalent  of 1 or 2 roasted and chopped chili peppers. The frozen pepper cubes can be added to soups, chili, casseroles.

If you are growing heirloom peppers, it’s easy to save seed. Be sure to let one stay on the plant until big and fully ripe.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 7/30

July 30, Harvest Basket

Eggplants, sweet peppers, Anaheim and poblano green chile peppers, giant heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet onions.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onion

Eggplant at last!

Finally, the eggplants are plentiful. That completes the ingredient list for ratatouille. Ratatouille is a showcase of summer garden in one main dish. By the time all the ingredients are assembled, the dish is big enough to ensure leftovers. I believe the dish is better the next day.

This vegetable casserole is great served with rice. I make a slightly under cooked version of this and freeze it. One snowy winter day, I’ll enjoy my homegrown taste of summer.

Julia Child’s Ratatouille

Eggplants* grown in a container on the deck.

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Cherry tomato pie

I love cherry tomatoes, they start producing early and just keep on growing till first frost. With the full size tomatoes coming on strong, cherry tomatoes are good for dehydrating.

Mix colors and shapes of cherry tomatoes for a mix of sweet and tart tomato flavors.

Easy, fast, tomato tart suitable for serving at any meal. The tart is a lighter version of tomato pie. Tomato Tarte Tatin is a simple summer-only treat.

This is a great way to use up a lot of cherry tomatoes. I used a mix of red and yellow cherry and pear tomatoes. Caramelize a small onion, and fill the skillet of onions with a single layer of little tomatoes. Cover with a layer of puff pastry. Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.

Cool tart in skillet 10 minutes. Loosen pastry around the outside of the skillet. Place large platter over skillet. Hold skillet and platter firmly together and invert, allowing tart to settle onto platter. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and Parmesan.

*   Container Eggplant Little Prince grown from Renee’s Garden Seed.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 7/9

Green beans, cucumbers and, kale.

July 9, 2017. Plenty of heat, rain, weeds and green vegetables.

A couple of days of rain and the garden exploded into high production. The garden, patio and deck are thriving, herbs, veggies, weeds and all. The basket has cucumbers, green beans and kale.

Green Beans

Green beans (snap beans) are classed as being pole beans, growing 5′ or 6′ tall, or bush beans which only grow a foot or two. The bush beans do well as container plants and you can see the continuous blooms. I grow beans in the raised bed gardens and in planters on the deck.

Tonight’s dinner included those green beans with ham, onions and new potatoes.Snap beans are more productive for a longer time with regular picking. Use mulch to suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture and keep the beans cleaner.

As you harvest garden produce, immediately plant beans in empty rows to improve the soil.

Because beans fix nitrogen in the soil, they are great companion plants for kale, potatoes, carrots and, chard. Bush beans in my garden are growing  side by side with chard and carrots. As  I harvest the chard and carrots,  I’ll plant more green beans.

Cucumbers

After waiting  and waiting for homegrown cucumbers, I discovered four on the vine. Because the vines grow on a trellis, these vertical climbers don’t take up much space. When we’ve had our fill of fresh cucumbers, I’ll make a few jars of Bread and Butter Pickles.

Find recipes for pickles on my Pinterest page: Canning, preserving, pickling, smoking . Refrigerator pickles, canning recipes for Bread & Butter Pickles, and dill pickles are on the page.

Kale

Purple tinged kale is growing from self-sown seed. The leaves are mild and excellent in fresh salads. This is Red Russian, an heirloom kale.

Leaves are frilled, purple-veined and, deeply lobed like oak leaves. Tender, mild and sweet even in summer, but more colorful and sweeter after frost. Gives repeated harvests through a long season.  Ready in 55 days.

We are eating the kale fresh in a salad. My favorite way to use kale as a cooked vegetable is in green rice. Use kale and chard interchangeably in any spinach recipe.

I pulled a few Cipollini onions this morning. (Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee) They are curing with the other onions and garlic on the covered porch. As the stems fall over, I pull the onions and let them dry in the shade.

Our garden is mainly for fresh eating. But if we suddenly have too many green beans and kale to eat fresh, it’s easy to blanch and freeze a package or two.

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Today’s Double Harvest Basket 6/20 & 6/26

2017  Garlic Harvest in a zone 6, southeast Missouri garden. The bulbs are ready to lift mid to late June every year.  A week later, the garlic harvest has doubled.

Garlic 6/20

Freshly dug garlic needs to dry and cure before storage. The scapes go into white wine vinegar.

Perhaps the smallest garlic harvest I’ve had in years. There is one more little late patch to harvest, but this is the bulk of the 2017 garlic crop.

Pickled garlic mellows to a very mild flavor with time.

The garlic heads are smaller this year. After the garlic cries on the covered porch for a couple of days, I braid the bigger heads. The rest is roasted or pickled.

While cloves of garlic are bound for jars of kosher dills, Small cloves of pickled garlic are ideal for antipasta plates and veggie/pickles dishes.

More Garlic 6/26

Late harvest garlic was much bigger. This harvest weighed about 50% more

There are now 50 to 60 good-sized heads, That’s about a years worth because we use about a head every week of the year. Sometimes less, sometimes more, plus a lot goes into sauces, pickles, and roasted then frozen.

1 week later we’ve doubled the garlic harvest.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the spring bonus for growing your own garlic.

The first garlic related harvest of the season is clipping the scapes, or flower heads, from the plants.

Garlic scapes were plentiful because I planted mostly hard neck garlic. One week, I found garlic scapes at the farmers market for $2 a bunch. One of my favorite seasonal meals garlic scape pesto.

I add a few scapes into a bottle of good white wine vinegar. By this winter, it will become a premium herb vinegar. It’s mellowed garlic vinegar is almost sweet.

Sexy Food

Make pesto using garlic scapes instead of, or in addition to, basil. Serve with Pappardelle, broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine. (The name derives from the verb “pappare”, to gobble up.) This really is OMG food.

If I was served a dish like fresh garlic scape pesto over homemade Pappardelle, it would be unforgettable gold star dish. It’s adult rated food. Once you put it in your mouth, you will know how an Italian dish can be 4 Star And x rated at the same time.

To Make Pesto: Puree the garlic scapes, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil through the opening.

How to Grow and Harvest Organic Garlic

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Growing your own garlic is easy and takes very little space.

Your also get to select the type of garlic you grow, very mild or hot and pungent.

Save your biggest and best garlic head to replant in the fall. Never buy garlic again.

These smaller heads of garlic are roasted. Then, the softened bulbs squeezed into teaspoonful portions and frozen for later use.

Mild, roasted garlic is not over powering or hot to the taste. It easily blends into any recipe. Perfect for pasta sauces or garlic toast. Try it. You will never be with out fresh, local garlic.

I purchased my garlic from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They have a variety of hard and soft neck garlic. While I keep the best variety that I grow, It’s fun to try other types of garlic. I tend select the milder varieties and long keepers.

This fall, plant a variety of garlic. That imported no-name variety purchased at the grocery store will be your last choice.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6 /12, 6/16

Squash blossoms and herbs

No more complaining about too many zucchini. Pick the flowers to prevent zucchini squash overload.

Pick zucchini blossoms in the morning.

Today’s harvest basket is loaded with big yellow flowers, blooms from the zucchini plant.

Fragile and short-lived squash blossoms are pricey, if you can find them at the farmers market. Any kind of squash can be used in this gourmet dish.

Add the flowers to pasta primavera, salads or omelets. Fried squash blossoms are a big restaurant hit. My favorite is baked, stuffed squash blossoms.

There is a monster squash plant in my garden.

By monster I mean, it has completely taken over the 4 ft. x 4 ft. raised bed and is creeping out several feet on all sides of the bed. It is a squash blossom factory.

The monster sized squash plant is a volunteer plant that I don’t recognize from any seed catalog. The new 4×4 raised bed is filled with lots of compost, garden waste and kitchen scraps that I’ve added since last fall. This spring, the monster squash plant appeared.

I have well-behaved zucchini plants growing in containers on the deck. The monster squash plant’s only purpose is to produce flowers. I don’t want more zucchini squash, for heaven’s sake.

Pick flowers in the morning. Rinse and hold in cool water until time to prepare. Freshly picked flowers will stay fresh for a couple of days when wrapped in damp paper towels stored in the refrigerator.

The only purpose of this squash plant is to produce blossoms. I did not grow this zucchini for squash. Collect blooms every day or two.

Oven Roasted Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Remove the stamen from the flower.

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 12 zucchini blossoms, center pistil or stamens removed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, thyme, mint)
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas and/or sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper (optional)
  • olive oil, for drizzling

 

Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Gently remove the stamen from the center of the flowers.
  3. Combine the ricotta, herbs, pepitas, sunflower seeds and egg together. Season with salt and pepper (optional).
  4. Carefully open the blossoms and stuff with the 1-2 teaspoons of ricotta mixture per flower depending on the size of the flower. Gently twist the flower at the end to enclose the filling.Lay stuffed zucchini flowers on prepared sheet pan or baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes, or until the baby squash is tender-crisp and blossom starts to brown on bottom.

Suggestions. Add 1 Tablespoon garlic pesto or any pesto to ricotta mixture instead of chopped herbs. Serve warm squash blossoms with pasta sauce on the side for dipping.

I grow zucchini from seed in containers. Container Zucchini Astia  from Renee’s Garden. Serve roasted, sautéed, grilled or baked.

Pick squash when about 5″ or 6″long.

 

Too many zucchini? Go To: my Pinterest board Zucchini Everything

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6/12

It’s all green

All three of these vegetables were started from Renee’s Garden Seed.

Pak Choi, Green Beans, Chinese cabbage.

We are mostly eating out of the garden this month, because I set my own personal challenge. I’m cooking everything we eat this month, no eating out. It’s my choice because we have some amazing fresh, organic food.

This week we also have chard, onions, kale, squash blossoms and baby zucchini. I have all these good foods growing just a few feet away from the kitchen door. It tastes like every meal is a special occasion.

Tonight’s dinner includes Glazed Shiitakes With Bok Choy. The recipe is from the NYTimes Cooking section. From my Pinterest page, Zucchinni Everything you will find squash blossom recipes that are baked, not fried.

Trying to keep a head of the zucchini tsunami, we are picking plenty of squash blossoms for stuffing.

Rabbits love these long, thin green beans, so pole beans are ideal. The rabbits can’t get to the beans! As the bush beans come on, I’ll surround them with chicken wire.

One of my favorite green bean recipes is the dry stir fry method in Chinese restaurants. These are Pole Filet Beans, French Emerite. If I keep these very productive vines picked every day or two, it will be an extended season.

Beside the kitchen door are pots of herbs. You will be surprised how often you add fresh herbs if they are handy.

There are four kinds of mint near the patio. I keep them under control by cutting a generous spring from one plant every day for my tea.

You can still find herb starter plants at most garden centers. Buy a few herbs. It will turn an everyday meal into gourmet fare.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 6/4

Last of the lettuce.

Salad and stir fry ingredients

Picked the last of the lettuce today. The lettuce, radish and green onion will make a salad topped with strawberry poppy-seed salad dressing. Sweet local strawberries make the bright pink dressing.

Today’s harvest: kale, mustard, lettuce, peas, green onions, radish.

Fresh, red ripe local berries make this dressing bright pink. It looks like food coloring is added. There is no onion, usually found in poppy-seed dressing.

Strawberry Lime Poppy-seed salad dressing

1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients except poppy seeds and blend till pureed and emulsified. Stir in poppy seeds.

Heads Up

Zucchini plants are loaded with golden blossoms. Zucchini Everything is my collection of zucchini recipes.

Zucchini is on the way.

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Betty Jo, about Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day. My mom made my life easy even though hers was very hard. We had plenty of food, new school clothes every year, money for lunch and field trips.

That was in the sexist sixties, when she did the same job as the man beside her and got paid less because boss man said, “because you’re a woman. And he’s got 3 kids to feed.” “I’ve got 3 kids to feed”, said Mom. Well then, little lady, you better get yourself a husband, the boss man said.

That discriminating boss will forever affect her retirement and social security income. I did not know we were poor until I took a sociology class in college. It was later that I learned Mom really had to count pennies to buy bread and milk.

As a youngster she suffered though some of the great depression and dust bowl, hard times indeed. But it was just normal times for folks in rural Arkansas She hauled water for washing and bathing. There was no plumbing, not much electricity and the phone service was no picnic even though it was  a party line.

When she got to School of the Ozarks, she became an athlete. Her Betty Grable legs turned her into a superstar on the basket ball court. She should be in the Hall of Fame.

So, Happy Mothers Day, Mom. You rescued me from trees and broken down cars. We both lived though puberty, (that’s another war story.) You built my confidence, gave me courage, strength and tossed me back into college again.

You got all three of us kids off to college and married before you to any time for yourself. I’m still looking for that application for sainthood or miracle worker because it’s yours if you want it.

Betty Jo Ward. single–handedly raised and potty trained three kids. Eventually she taught them to fly the nest, get a degree, a marriage certificate and live happily ever after. Then she did the same thing for herself. (The college and degree part, anyway.)

So, Happy Mothers Day, Mom. You are the best. No, really. You are. Here is a picture of mom and her two sisters, They are all good moms, Mine is the GREAT MOM, Betty, (R) as you can tell. The other two are darned fine Aunts Janet McCreary(L) and Shirley Wilkie (Middle).

Don’t mess with the Johnson Ninja Sistas. They look innocent enough, don’t they?

  • I feel like it was destiny.
  • What with their great MOM, Arvilla Johnson being my grandmother.
  • AND Then, my great MOM, Betty Jo.
  • Plus+, being surrounded by great women family members like Aunt Janet and Aunt Shirley.
  • I just naturally turned out at the peak of perfection. And, that is why I don’t have any kids.
  • Also my mom put a curse on me.

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Radish Report

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing Now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

The first garden harvests every year will fill the salad bowl. By May,  there will be a steady source of radish, green onion and lettuce. I’m growing a lot of Sanguine Ameliore lettuce. Greens are on their way.

Lettuces, radish and onion are waiting to be thinned out in My Garden Post*.

Keep thinning chard, mustard and, kale. Those baby leaves will also go into the salad bowl.

Try growing Watermelon or “Beauty Heart” radish from China. Since they do best in cool weather, I may have to wait and replant in the fall. I’ll wait to see if I have any left.

When you order radish seed, order extra. They are always a good spring salad accent and I will always plant them in a fall garden. Red globe radishes have plenty of potassium, vitamin C and folate.

Because they come up so quickly, use radishes as row markers as you plant other vegetables in the garden. Mix them and plant in with lettuce and spinach greens. Peppery radish sprouts are great on salad or sandwiches.

Watermelon radishes go bigger than the traditional spring radish.

Other pink, red, purple radishes are coming up sparsely. A squirrel is digging them up fast than I plant them. But I continue to reseed and have covered the radish seed with chicken wire.

We have had a few prized crunchy radishes for salads. I’m waiting for the day there are enough radishes to serve with butter and bread.

Radish Sandwiches With Butter And Salt

Heavenly spring flavor, simply a baguette, butter, salt, radish and a few herbs. It’s a very French picnic recipe. Add chives or chervil and maybe a leaf or two of arugula for a sandwich.

First baguette, butter, salt, radish and chives sandwiches of the spring. PBH.

Nobody can do Radishes with Butter and Salt any better than Ina Garten. Her version is a lovely way to show off your beautiful whole radishes.

I’ll continue to plant radish seed until it gets too hot to grow them. Then, I’ll plant them again in September and October. Fall radishes are mild and crisp.

My beautiful radishes are from

Renee’s Garden SeedsThe finest heirloom, certified organic seeds for the home garden.

Mary’s Heirloom SeedsHeirloom, open-pollinated, non-gmo untreated & organic seeds

  • My Garden Post will be replanted with dwarf tomatoes and herbs for the summer. You can buy My Garden Post from this Oh! Grow Up Blog. We both benefit. You save money and I get credit for your order. Use this code: 50offMGP at checkout to save $50 for My Garden Post with Drip Irrigation.

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 15, 2017

It’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day,

Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Easter Weekend.

GBBD is inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” 

April blooms are the reward of the back-breaking bulb planting last October.

I may have thousands of daffodils. Each year I add a few more and some will naturalize. If it’s a mild winter, spring will be spectacular. A long, sever winter will kill off many varieties.

 These double daffodils are on the patio. It’s a subtle color, but the blooms are huge. I’m looking forward to their return next year. Maybe they will multiply as well.

Poet’s daffodils

Daffodowndilly
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Thalia is One of my favorites. Thalia is an heirloom that offers beautifully scented white blooms. It’s no wonder this special variety is sometimes called the orchid narcissus.

Chillier, but daffodillier.
–The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1991

Butter and Eggs Daffodil. A very old heirloom.

Once daffodils and tulips have gone by, add bone meal to the soil for next year’s blooms

Daffodils are both deer-resistant and rodent-proof, as these animals do not like the taste of the bulbs in the Narcissus family.

Tulips are putting on a display today too.

There is no such thing as a black tulip but this purple bloom looks black on a cloudy day. It is much smaller this year, but a repeat performer. Because of our mild winter, many tulips are blooming for a second year.

Don’t let folks tell you pink and orange clash. Mother-Nature doesn’t clash. I posted these tulips on Facebook and folks haven’t stopped with the positive comments.

I’m happy GBBD happens the mid month. In another week the tulips will be gone. Thank you for stopping by. You are always welcomed in my gardens.

♣  On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers come together to share what is currently blooming in their gardens.  Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Get a signed copy of her new book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, on her website.

Patsy’s Vegetable Garden Update

The vegetable garden update

The vegetable garden update. See What’s Growing now, Including Today’s Harvest Basket and Plant Tips

Vegetables: My tomatoes are in the cold frame and about 6 inches tall, getting acclimated. So are the eggplants and a multitude of peppers. I’m growing  anchos, Anaheim, red, yellow, purple, chocolate and green color bell pepper plus a few padrone.

Herbs: There are lots of spring herbs already up and flavoring morning omelets. Chervil, chives, mint, cilantro are thriving,  There are 6 or 8 kinds of basil just in the seedling stage.

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