Today’s Harvest Basket 8/28

Wrapping up summer

Summer wraps up with rich, ripe vegetables; golden carrots, red okra, bell peppers, green beans.

yellow carrots, red okra, sweet peppers, green beans.

Carrots

Jaune Obtuse du Doubs Carrot is a French heirloom. These tender carrots are yellow and about 8″ long. The key to long straight carrots is preparing the soil before planting.

Well worked soil with plenty of compost or organic matter, is the secret. Keep carrots thinned and weeded. Carrots store well in the refrigerator, or can be canned or frozen.

We can usually grow two crops of carrots each year. Spring carrots and then the seeds started in late summer that will thrive in the fall garden. Once the seeds are started and spaced, carrots only need regular water.

Grated carrot salad of yellow and orange carrots, a sprinkle of parsley in a vinaigrette dressing.

Peppers, carrots, okra and beans are some very good reason to grow your own vegetables. Diversity. These are not varieties that you usually find in the grocery store.

Grocery store vegetables are grown for transport not taste. Taste and nutrients are never the point in mass market. The goal of a grocery store vegetable is durability and longevity.

Lots of carrot and root vegetable recipes are on the Pintrest Carrots, Potatoes, Root Vegetables.

 

Second season green beans

It’s not too late to grow another batch of green beans. The soil is warm and will quickly germinate. Keep the plants watered and you may have your biggest crop ever.

French Green Beans Almondine

Plant seeds one inch deep and water well. If your hanging baskets or  container gardens are exhausted, replant them with beans or greens. Space pole beans about 2 inches apart and bush beans 4 to 6 inches apart.

Keep your beans picked for steady production until frost. Plants are dependent on you for food and fertilizer.

Other crops you may plant at the end of the summer are, lettuce, leafy greens, radishes, turnips.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 8/26

Today’s Harvest Basket is the little red wagon. A couple of these big butternut squash would fill the usual harvest basket.

Yellow Finn potatoes and butternut squash.

Potatoes

It’s fun to dig up potatoes and see what’s there. Grown in a are specialized fabric “pots,” Grow Bags that make it possible to grow potatoes anywhere there is sun and water access. This year, I harvested a whopping 20 pounds of potatoes.

The potato harvest will become a potato salad made with the littlest whole roasted potatoes. Some spuds will be cooked with green beans and caramelized onions.

Potatoes have pretty lavender flowers. Choose a variety that you don’t find at the local grocery store. Try some fingerlings next year.

 

The endless stuffed yellow squash blossoms of spring did not deter an abundant fall harvest of butternut squash.

Winter Squash

Butternut squash soup.

Beautiful butternut squash  appeared in the garden, I did not plant it, the seed must have been in the compost. The plant took over a 4’x4′ raised bed and then tumbled out to cover about a third of the garden! The rambling plant kept down weeds, plus I got all this free squash with only an occasional watering.

This sudden abundance of squash sent me to Pintrest to collect recipes. Here are a few alternatives to my usual brown sugar and butter topping: Butternut Squash. Checkout my choices. Butternut Squash chili, ravioli, enchiladas and stuffed will be on the menu this winter.

 

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Today’s Harvest Basket 8/27

Summer color explodes

Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, onions

I grow just a few eggplant because I believe it’s best fresh. Canned or frozen eggplant is always disappointing. Ratatouille and baked Eggplant Parmesan are my favorites.

Charred Anaheim peppers.

Anaheim peppers and poblanos are beautiful and plentiful this year, especially now that the weather has cooled a bit. These mildly hot peppers get charred on the grill and then chopped and frozen.

As the peppers are needed, I pop a cube of frozen peppers into whatever I’m cooking. Fresh roasted poblanoes go into my salsa. That’s the heat level perfect for my salsa.

 

Peppers are growing well in the raised bed garden and in 5-gallon buckets on the deck. Sweet bell peppers are red, black, chocolate, golden and green. The long Anaheim peppers are mildly hot and juicy green and continue to ripen to a bright red.

Charred, peeled, and chopped Anaheim peppers are easy to freeze in cubes.

When peppers are charred and peeled, remove the seeds and stem. Chop peppers and pack in cubes, freeze. Once frozen, store cubes in heavy-duty ziplock bags.

I’m getting a few tomatoes – if I pick them early. Before the squirrels get them.

Tomato Tarte Tatin with caramelized onion on puff pastry.

Tomatoes for salsa and marinara, soup are purchased at the Farmers Market. We pick enough home-grown tomatoes for fresh eating. I’m buying tomatoes, “canners,” for making winter time tomato dishes because I do not buy tomatoes in the winter.

Cherry and pear tomatoes seem like the perfect choice for Tomato Tarte Tatin. I’ve made a fast and easy version using puff pastry. Choose a recipe to fit your tastes, there are several versions on my Pinterest tomato page.

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Today’s Harvest Basket 8/20

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 7/19

The July garden is bursting with produce and in need of water every day.

Orange and yellow carrots, Anaheim peppers, purple bell peppers, Padron peppers, green beans.

Carrots, peppers, beans

Where are the tomatoes?

The missing tomatoes in this picture were stolen by a ruthless gang of squirrels. Those thugs absconded with my big heirloom tomatoes. But, I picked a few before they were completely ripe. I’ll show you in a day or two.

I am buying tomatoes at the farmers market. But, the cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen faster than the squirrels can eat them. So, I pick a few cherry tomatoes everyday.

Trellised red and yellow cherry tomatoes overlooked by the tomato cartel.

The heirloom tomato cartel, is the squirrely gang involved in tomato trafficking. These well fed rodents can move fast and manage to disappear on site. I can imagine that the neighbors just see me yelling and waving my fists in the gardens.

A peck of peppers picked:
Padrón, Anaheim, Chocolate-brown bell peppers

Padrón or shishito peppers are new to my garden this year. Easy to prepare, grilled or flash fried and sprinkled with salt. Mild and very flavorful, about 1 in 10 of these tiny peppers is fiery hot.

The Anaheim peppers are about 6″ long and mildly hot. Every few days, while the peppers are firm and shiny, I roast, chop and freeze them. I’ll use some of these in homemade salsa.

The earliest bell pepper to ripen are the chocolate peppers. So named for their color, this bell pepper is sweet, juicy and thick-walled. The smooth, medium-small, tapered blunt end bells are chocolate-brown peppers that ripen early and are heavy producers.

The carrots will be served fresh or roasted. To store the carrots, seal unwashed carrots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. I’ll also sow more carrots that will be harvested in the cool fall weather.

 

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Garlic

Harvesting and storing garlic

We might not eat this much garlic in a year, but when we have plenty of good fresh garlic, we eat more of it.

Harvested garlic needs to be cured to help it last longer.

Harvested garlic needs to be cured to help it last longer.

Back in the day when we bought it one head at a time, we used garlic less and it wasn’t as good.

When tomatoes and zucchini are exploding in the garden, we eat fresh tomatoes and zucchini almost every day, in one way or another.  Look at all the zucchini tips and recipes on my Pinterest: Courgette (zucchini) Everything Squash

If you want to try your hand at growing garlic read my Hub Pages:   How to grow and harvest garlic  Look for garlic now to get the best choice. Order it now and it is mailed to you at planting time.

Don’t plant grocery store garlic. It may be to discourage sprouting. Purchase bulbs from mail order or online suppliers, garden center, or locally at farmers market.

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Gently lift garlic and move to the shade.

Harvest garlic in summer

Watch for the yellowing of the plant leaves. When about half of the leaves have turned yellow/brown, stop watering two days before harvesting. Do not pull garlic. Carefully lift garlic out of the soil.

Garlic can bruise if not handled carefully. Move to the shade as soon as possible. Spread out in an airy spot for drying.

If the weather is wet, dry garlic indoors or in a garage. I used the shaded, screened porch and the garage.

Dirt will dry quickly. Gently brush off  the dry dirt. It is important for garlic to cure or dry in a cool, shaded space.

The curing process takes between one and two weeks. Don’t rush, more time is better than less. Proper curing will extend the life of

Drying garlic needs good air circulation. Do not remove the leaves and roots while the garlic cures. The bulb draws energy from the leaves and roots until they are completely dry.

The bulbs are ready to store when the skins are papery and the tops and roots are dry. Remove any dirt and trim off any roots and tops. Look for any damaged or bruised bulbs and discard them.

Garlic bulbs may be stored individually with the tops removed, or the dried tops may be braided together to hang in the kitchen or pantry. Trim roots to within 1/4” of the base.

If braiding the garlic, do this while the leaves are pliable. If  you wait until the leaves are completely dry they will be too brittle to braid.

Snip roots, leaving ¼".

Snip roots, leaving ¼”.

When these little bulblets form, use them for a milder garlic taste.

When these little bulblets form, use them for a milder garlic taste.

I plant garlic in late October or  early November. Work plenty of compost into soil. Start with good soil and fertilizer isn’t needed.

Don’t worry about planted garlic cloves freezing. They are a ok. This garlic was harvested  late June. Last year it was harvested in mid July.

Most of the garlic heads are plump, unblemished and about 2″ in diameter. I will make pickled garlic and add some fresh cloves the the herb flavored white wine vinegar. But please, please do not store raw garlic in olive oil. It can kill you.

Storing your abundant garlic harvest

If raw garlic is stored in oil at room temperature, botulism (clostridium botulinum) develops quickly. It can be deadly. Even if raw garlic in olive oil is in the fridge for an extended period, it can kill you. Just don’t do it. Ever.

Today’s Harvest Basket 7/14

This is a small garden with a bit of many different vegetables.

green beans, red okra, a pepper variety show, two kinds of cucumbers, red onions,  scallions, Chinese cabbage.

Chinese cabbage  will become sesame slaw and veggie spring rolls.

Beans, okra, peppers, cucumbers, onions, cabbage

A  bit of a an overgrown garden. I pulled enough red onions to make a jar of two of pickled red onions.

There are a few pods of red okra, not enough to cook or add to a recipe. Maybe in a day or two I’ll have enough peppers and okra for a pot of gumbo.

Two kinds of cucumbers are growing in the garden. I like the long skinny English cucumbers* that grow about 12″ long. It’s thin-skinned, never bitter, very mild and crisp.

The smaller, more prolific pickling cucumbers** are also good eating. These are the ones used for bread and butter pickles. If I don’t have enough from my garden for a small batch of pickles, I’ll buy more at the farmers market.

The bells and Anaheim peppers are almost ready for picking. But the ones I’ve started picking are those little Padrón peppers. These small bright green peppers. Padrón peppers are from Padrón in the province of A Coruña, Galicia, in northwestern Spain.

Only about one out of ten of the small green peppers from Spain are wildly hot, L :Padrón and R: Red Okra

Padrón peppers are usually served as tapas and a bit like playing Russian roulette. Most are mild, but occasionally you’ll bite into a fiery hot one.

Tapas

Blistered Padrón Peppers

1/2 pound peppers, washed and dried

1 Tablespoon of good olive oil

Flaky sea salt

Try these peppers cooked on a grill pan or big hot skillet.  Once the peppers are clean and dry and the grill pan is hot.

Add oil and peppers to a bowl and toss together. Grill of flash fry until the peppers a softened and blistered. Pour cooked peppers back into the bowl and toss with a course or flaky salt.

Serve warm. Good luck,

Napa or Nappa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage

Cole slaw at our house means using this cabbage with a mild sesame and vinaigrette  dressing, It’s good and it’s tasty the second day so, make extra. Try Martha’s recipe Napa Cabbage Slaw – Martha Stewart or, use your own favorite dressing.

Any kind of cabbage makes a great slaw with this rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil dressing. It’s good to make ahead and just let it marinate in the fridge.

Seed Source

* English Cucumber, Chelsea Prize and ** Pickling Cucumber, Endeavor from Renee’s Garden Seeds

 

 

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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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Mint Happens

Control this aggressive herb by planting it in a controlled space or between paving stones.

I just watched a friends YouTube “how to propagate mint plants.” A better story is how to control mint plants before they take over your garden.

Years ago I asked a friend for a start of his mint plant. Phil said no.

“Because we won’t be friends any more. When it takes over your garden and then your yard, you will hate me.

So, no. I won’t give you mint because I like you.”

I have 5 kinds of mint in my gardens these days. Each mint plant is in an assigned garden spot.

Mint In The Garden

These two mint plants are competing for sunshine and space with the near by lavender plants.

I plant  starter mint plants in long chimney tiles buried deep in the ground. The terracotta tubes help to control the rambling roots. Everyday, I snip off a sprig of mint from one of the plants to add to my tea.

Because I have plenty of mint, I generously use it in my cooking. Once you have a generous supply of mint, you will find ways to use it in your cooking. Plus, my bar tending skills  legendary since I mastered the mojito.

 

Growing and Caring For Mint Plants

Mint will do just fine on its own. No need to feed or water it. That would only encourage the plant to take over your world.

After overwintering in my zone 6, Southeast Missouri garden, the mint starts to come back in the spring.

Plant mint in containers with drainage holes. Sink the container in the ground. Leave the top of the container a few inches above ground level. Prune plants to keep stems in upright position. Stems that touch the ground will quickly root.

Winters and planting in containers control the spreading root systems. Its rhizomes, or roots, run underground and can send up shoots several feet from the mother plant.

To create more plants, place a sprig of mint in a glass of water until roots form.

Mint In The Kitchen

Mint is loaded with nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B2. It also has essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.Mint tea is said to aid in digestion and heartburn relief.

Mint Recipes

Tabbouleh

Dressed in good quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh parsley and mint combined with tomato, cucumber and bulgur. to show off summer’s best vegetables and herbs.

Mint pesto

Lemon mint pesto

4 cups lightly packed mint leaves,rinsed and spun dry
1/3 cup sunflower seeds or pepitas
2 medium cloves garlic minced
grated zest of one lemon
salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, more if needed

Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor until finely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil while the machine is running until the mint is a loose paste.

Include mint in any pesto recipe. Using mint leaves in addition to basil is exclusively to serve over marinated tomatoes, gazpacho, or in a salad dressing. Try mint pesto with garlic scapes or pea shoots.

 

The largest choice of mint is at RICHTERS HERBS   in Goodwood, ON, Canada  Tel. +1.905.640.6677  Fax. +1.905.640.6641 My favorites from them are Hillary’s Sweet Lemon Mint, Mojito Mint and, Peppermint Mint.

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