Category Archives: Harvest Basket

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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Todays’s Harvest Basket 5/24

I gathered our dinner directly from the garden today.

Still gathering cool season crops. Peas, radishes, green onions, kale, chervil and cilantro.

The egg basket is over flowing, so we will have a picnic favorite, herb deviled egg with dinner tonight. I have lots to lacy-leaved chervil and picked extra for my morning omelet. Delicate chervil is only in the garden for another week or so. It is my favorite fair weather herb.

What’s for Dinner?

  • Kale salad with green onions, home-made herb vinaigrette, topped with hemp seeds and currants.
  • Deviled farm fresh eggs sprinkled with chervil and chives.
  • Open-faced radish sandwiches, a springtime-only special: Simply fresh thin-sliced sourdough or baguette, fresh butter, salt, thin sliced radishes.

Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium, mild flavored, delicate lacy leaves. If you don’t grow your own, you probably will not have the privilege of  enjoying this fresh herb in the spring and fall.

I use chervil (pronounced SHER-vil) in delicate dishes, like tomorrows breakfast omelet. Sprigs of chervil will top the deviled eggs and, in a non-mayonnaise based potato salad.

Chervil is a delicate annual, growing only in cool weather. It’s a great herb for succession planting. Add a few seed to the garden every week in the spring to extend the season as long as possible.

Fines herbes, the French herb blend uses chervil. The combo includes chervil,  parsley, chives and French tarragon. Fines herbes (pronounced feens-erb) is best used fresh because the herbs lose a lot of flavor when dried.

Sweet and tender spring peas will be tossed into a stir-fry or used as dippers on a veggie tray.

2 Cool Seasons
Remember, anything you grow as an early spring crop can be grown a a fall crop. Sometimes veggies are even more successful since the soil is already warm. This fall, give peas a chance.

 

Spring kitchen bonus.

Pick chervil, chives and cilantro often, to encourage plant growth. Keep the cut stems in a glass of water on the kitchen counter, making it easy to add fresh herbs to any dish.

The peas, radish and herbs are grown from seed purchased at Renee’s Garden Seed.

When fresh herbs are not available, get Fines Herbes at Penzeys Spices .

My handy husband, Jeff, made the harvest basket.

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Missouri Lemon Harvest

When life gives you Meyer Lemons, Plant The Seeds because,

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I’m growing lemons in the middle of America.

Meyer lemons can be container grown, are small, hardy and fast growing. Start with a seedling, or plant the seed directly from the fruit.

It started with a tiny, sad tree rescued from the garden center sale bin. In a week or two, I’ll plant seed produced from the fruit of that rescued tree. (More about that later.)

The thick, shiny green leaves are beautiful. The fragrant flowers are welcome  when not much else is blooming. The lemons are as bright and yellow as fresh, free-range chicken eggs.

The lemon harvest is fast approaching

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Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemon trees arrived in the United States in the early 1900s. Native to China, the fruit is a cross between a lemon and an orange or Mandarin orange. Meyer lemon or Citrus x meyerii, grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9A through 11.

The tree produces less acid, or sour, tasting fruit than traditional lemons. They are sweeter, juicy and thin-skinned. The small trees grow quickly and are quite hardy.

Meyer lemon flowers

Meyer lemon flowers are pollinated by bees or insects. Grown indoors, they must be hand pollinated. Photo PBH

Movable fruit

I brought the entire lemon orchard indoors before the first frost. My entire lemon orchard is small. OK, it’s one tree. In a pot. The tree lives indoors during our zone 6 winters.

Growing citrus in southeast Missouri has always seemed impossible. Dwarf citrus trees, that can be moved into the house or green house for the winter, makes it possible. I really am growing lemons in the Midwest!

The little lemon tree is mobile. On milder winter days, I set the pot on the porch in the sun. After all chance of freezing is past in the spring, I gradually reintroduce the tree to outdoor living.

Lemon picking

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Don’t pull or twist the lemons off the tree. Use clippers to prevent damage to branches.

The harvest will begin sometime next week. The entire process should take two minutes. It’s my first citrus harvest, so I’m not really sure.

Meyer lemons continue to ripen and sweeten while on the tree. Lemons don’t ripen any further after they are picked.

Don’t twist the lemons off the tree. I’ll be using the small pruning shears to snip off the lemons. Cutting off the fruit will prevent any damage to the tree.

Preserving the harvest

Meyer lemons are thin-skinned, making them difficult transport. The fruit is sweeter and more juicy than most lemons available in grocery stores. The lemons are found seasonally here because they do not withstand excessive handling or shipping.

Whole lemon dressingObsessed with the first citrus harvest, I’ve been saving lemon treats, tips and recipes on my Pinterest board Lemon Tree Treats .

I have saved recipes for lemon curd, lemon pound cake, lemon shortbread, lemon cheesecake, lemon marmalade and lemon pie. I probably won’t make more than two or three lemony treats. Because a couple of recipes will use up the entire years crop.

The entire harvest is only 9 precious fruits. That makes a jar of lemon curd and a few lemon bars. Plus, a spritz of fresh lemon juice over steamed asparagus or broccoli.

As improbable as it seems, growing lemons in zone 6b is possible. It’s a challenge to grow citrus in Missouri. But, it will impress your friends and reaffirm your legendary green thumb gardening status.

sliced lemon

About You Can Grow That!

Welcome to the You Can Grow That! website. We believe that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. We want people to be successful with what they grow and to become more aware of the many gifts that horticulture brings. The individuals, businesses, and groups included on this site share this common goal. We are promoting plants and gardening because we know that if you’re looking for joy, inspiration, or relaxation, it can be found in a sunny window, balcony, or your own backyard.

I’ll definitely be making Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake. It is the best lemon cake I ever tasted.

Lady Bird Johnson’s Lemon Cake

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Spray or butter a bundt pan.

Cake

3/4 Cup Softened Butter
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
8 Egg Yolks
2 1/2 Cups Flour
3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Milk<
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Blend into the creamed mixture.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Resift 3 times. Add the sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk.  Beat the batter thoroughly after each addition.

Add the vanilla extract,lemon rind and lemon juice.  Beat for 2 minutes.

Bake in a greased Bundt pan in the oven for 1 hour or until the cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool 19 minutes before inverting on serving platter.

Lemon Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 T. fresh lemon juice
1-2 t. buttermilk
Zest of one fresh lemon


Meyer LemonHow Claudia Alta Taylor became Lady Bird Johnson

Claudia Alta Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas on December 29, 1912.  Named for her Mother’s  brother Claud. Her nurse said baby Claudia was “purty as a ladybird.” (I call them ladybugs.)

The nickname Lady Bird replaced her first name forever. The family called her Lady.

Her husband called her Bird, which was the name she used on her marriage license.  She married Lyndon Johnson in November of 1934 after a two month courtship.

Mrs. Johnson is known for her support of the preservation and promotion of wildflowers in America. Lady Bird is responsible for the Highway Beautification Act. She also founded the National Wildflower Research Center in Texas.

The First Lady will forever be known as Lady Bird Johnson.

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Wrapping up the summer garden.

Celery, baby leeks, carrots, red onion, white potatoes, mild little red peppers.

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You never know what you will get with carrots. This curvy carrot grew right next to the straight 10″ carrot in the basket.

As I clean up the vegetable beds, I discovered a few veggies that were overlooked during the earlier harvest. I found a few potatoes, a couple of carrots, a red onion and two tiny sweet peppers. While this may sound like the beginning of a stone soup story, it’s just end-of-summer garden clean up.

I planted a few celery plants but forgot about them hiding behind the hearty and fern like asparagus. Celery would have done much better if it had received fertilizer and mulch. You can see the many skinny little stalks.

That curvy carrot was a surprise, all the other carrots were long and straight. But they all taste the same.

What to do with leeks

Use the tender reen and white parts.

Use the tender green and white parts.

I gathered a few leeks while young and tender to clean, chop and freeze. These little leeks will go into soups, and a 3 onion pie. There are more leeks still in the garden. They will stay in the garden until I want to use them for soup or stuffing.

 

Leeks, chopped

Leeks can be frozen and later added directly to soups or casseroles.

You can continue to harvest leeks from the garden up until the soil freezes. Those few leeks will overwinter. Their giant globe shaped flowers will be amazing next summer. They attract pollinators and are a novel addition to a wildflower bouquet.

 

A little later into fall, I’ll plant garlic. I have a few tiny broccoli plants in the raised beds and pots. A window box of green beans are just coming up. So the pending rain is much-needed and I am grateful.

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Today's Harvest Basket

Three squash: light green Clarimore, Golden Dawn yellow and dark green, almost black, Raven zucchini.

“Pot of Gold” Chard, 3 kinds of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.

 

Soon to be Green Rice, Zucchini cake, and Chinese chicken salad.

 

  • Chard, sweet, mild

This deep green chard with golden stems, is tender and never bitter. Plus, it is beautiful. I’m a chard fan and prefer it to kale. A favorite chard recipe is green rice. It is easy to double the recipe, make two casseroles and freeze one for fall.

Substitute chard for spinach in any recipe. Many versions of this old classic are on the internet. I’ve made many versions of what I call Green Rice Casserole.

Spinach-Rice Casserole inspired by the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Serves 4 – 6

4 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups raw, chopped chard
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons butter (or, coconut oil)
4 beaten eggs
1 cup milk (or almond milk or, soy milk)
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs like parsley, chervil, basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Saute’ onions and garlic, in butter (or oil). When onions are soft, add spinach or chard or kale and salt. Cook 2 minutes. (Or use drained, frozen chopped spinach, thawed)

Combine the onion mixture with the  rice, eggs, milk, cheese, herbs, nutmeg,  and chopped nuts. Spread into a sprayed casserole.

Bake, covered, 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

This is Container Chard, “Pot of Gold,” an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed. Chard is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron.

  • Ah, Zucchini!

Zucchini, I’ve discovered, is much easy to keep at reasonable sizes if you growIMG_1357 container varieties. Look for specially bred zucchini plants designed container growing. Tender, small squash are perfect for lightly grilling or roasting.

Thin skinned, baby zucchini are tasty eaten raw. Perfect to include in a fresh Pasta Primavera.

  • Chinese Cabbage

Nappa Chinese CabbageChinese Cabbage will be a main ingredient in Chinese chicken salad, Kim Chee, cole slaw. Thanks to the milder summer weather and plenty of rain, I still have a couple for cabbages to harvest. It’s very unusual to have these plants so late in the season.

7/13

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Zucchini and cucumbers, plus fresh dill

The July zucchini explosion is here

Three kinds of zucchini - I know - what was I thinking?

Three kinds of zucchini – I know – what was I thinking?

At last, I picked cucumbers today, three long, thin-skinned English cucumbers. They are my favorites English Cucumber, “Chelsea Prize”, which is an exclusive from Renee’s Garden Seed.

Cucumber season is never long enough. When the little cucumbers finally arrive in a couple of weeks, I’ll make a few pickles. But, these slender, sweet fleshed Chelsea Prize cukes are best for fresh eating.

Visit Zucchini Everything on Pinterest or try this simple cake to use up a big zucchini.

One recipe makes three cakes zucchini, carrot or apple  Yes,  the recipe really calls for 4 cups of zucchini (!), carrots, or apples. It is a beautiful cake with flecks of both zucchini and carrots.

While I have plenty of zucchini and carrots, I’ll make a couple of these cakes to freeze.

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Today’s Harvest Basket

Saturn or donut peaches

Today's harvest basket 6/30
It’s been a race to get my share of the peaches. There is a ruthless gang of squirrels who snag the peaches. I just wish they would leave a few more in my reach. This years heavy crop of peaches are about 2-21/2″ in diameter.

Also called flat peach,  it has a mild, sweet flavor. I’d call them lunchbox peaches or pocket peaches. Seems like kids would love these as much as they do the little Clementines or zipper oranges.

This little tasty peach originates from China circa 1869, and was  introduced by Rutgers and Stark Bro’s in the 1990s. Disease-resistant to bacterial leafspot. Self-pollinating.

My favorite peach preserve recipe:

Peaches and champagne preserves

 

Today’s Harvest Basket

Early summer harvest

Red and white onions, hard neck garlic, two varieties of zucchini, Chinese cabbage.
6/22

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Napa or Nappa cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis or Brassica rapa Pekinensis Group) is a type of Chinese cabbage. In the kitchen, cabbage becomes Kim Chi, slaw, stir-fries and Chinese chicken salad.

I pulled up the garlic today. It is probably half the harvest of last year and the bulbs are a lot smaller. My guess is that the garlic bulbs just didn’t get enough water. It is Chesnok Red Hardneck Garlic.IMG_0717

How to grow and harvest organic garlic

Chesnok Red is the best baking garlic. Not a hot garlic, Chesnok is easy peel and will keep for about 6 months.  To stretch the harvest, I roast garlic and freeze it in little cubes. Also, I pickle small jars of peeled bulbs to use later in the year.

The big bonus to growing your own garlic, is that I have plenty of garlic on hand for salsa, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, soup and pesto.

pickled garlic

How to store and use homegrown garlic and onions

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