Tag Archives: eggplant

Julia’s Ratatouille

The Ratatouille harvest basket.

Ratatouille makings. Tomato, eggplant, peppers, squash.

An old fashioned vegetable dish, ratatouille is a combination of all the things I grow in my garden. Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer.

Once you master a great dish like ratatouille, you become confident enough to try variations.

I can hear Julia Child talking about this dish. The full name of the stewed vegetable dish is Ratatouille Niçoise. Her recipe is the classic, start there and then adapt it to your taste.

It’s time to make ratatouille when there is an abundance of eggplant in the garden. Usually the last main crop vegetable to produce in my vegetable patch, eggplant is the star of my version. If your don’t like eggplant then leave it out of the recipe. 

This dish very quickly uses up the seasonal glut of produce that happens in August. By now, I have all the zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant that I can eat. I grow every vegetable that goes into this simple French peasant dish.

This dish is a celebration of my garden bounty. It’s a thanksgiving meal at the peak of the growing season.

Cabin fever cure

Make a double batch because this stew reheats well for the next day or hoard it for your lunches. Make this dish and freeze it. This winter, when the snow is falling,  a reheated ratatouille meal will taste like a garden party in your mouth.

Reading seed catalogs while eating a steamy bowl of home-grown and homemade ratatouille is a ritual guaranteed to cure cabin fever. That vegetable casserole inspires my wintertime seed order.

Julia’s Ratatouille is garden gold in your freezer, A true example of your garden prowess.This versital vegetable casserole can be a featured entre, a side dish, lunch for many cold winter days.

I freeze it in portions for one or two.Serve it over noodles or rice for a heartier meal. Add a slice of crusty bread. Make plans to go to Paris some day.

Here is my version:

Ratatouille home-grown and homemade  IMG_2132

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Lettuce think Spring

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Renee Shepherd

Renee Shepherd

 

I met Renee Shepherd at my first Annual GWA Symposium*. I admit to being a little star struck meeting Renee of Renee’s Gardens.

“You’re Renee! Of Renee’s Gardens! I recognized you because you look just like your picture,” I said.

She was kind enough not to say anything.

It was about that time when I realized that I sounded like I had the IQ of a seed packet. “OMG, I just told this woman who she was.” 

Then, I quickly left, praying that Renee had not read my name tag.

Growing Salad Greens

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries with balsamic dressing.

Spring greens, spinach, strawberries with balsamic dressing.

I always order way too much seed for the spring salad bowl.  Lettuces, arugula, radishes, scallions, and spinach come up by the crisper full. I love salads. Plus, I like those generous seed packets that have enough seeds for succession planting all season. I will always plant more lettuces and radishes every single week of the spring until it just gets too hot.

baby romaines

Thin small lettuces to allow room for the others to grow.

I can never have too many spring greens, baby leaf lettuces, chopped salad, wilted lettuce. Top with chive blossoms or lacy chervil leaves. Serve with the lightest of dressings.

Renee’s Garden Seeds has a big gourmet greens selection. The only problem will be limiting your salad selections to the size of your garden. I like Renee’s combo selections because the seed combination’s are a thrifty way to get a lot of variety into a small garden.

Container lettuce, “Ruby & Emerald Duet” is a perfect pairing of emerald-green baby butterhead rosettes with red and crispy mini leaf lettuce. The “Caesar Duo” romaine lettuce combo of red and green baby size lettuces. These Romaines are the foundation of the best homemade Caesar salads you’ll ever make.

Romaines also grow to crispy, crunchy leaves, perfect on sandwiches. The “cut and come again” mescluns are a jumble of color, size and texture in containers or hanging baskets. Lettuces, radish and green onions will be gone before you need the baskets and containers for their warm weather annuals.

Last spring I tried the “Paris Market Mesclun”, a mix of several baby lettuces, chicory, endive, and arugula. Small successive plantings stretched the flavors, textures and colors of this “cut and come again” mix through the whole spring.

Yes, there is a real Renee. And yes, she selects, grows and eats this stuff before she offers it to us in her beautiful online only catalog. Plus, the website tells how to plant, grow, harvest, prepare and cook all these amazing vegetables.

Renee’s Garden Sowing in seed-starting containers to transplant into your garden will get you headed in the right direction.IMG_9430

Renee’s Garden Seeds offered seed to garden writers. It’s a great way to grow and share information about what’s new for home gardeners. For example, I grew “Little Prince” a container eggplant. I was smitten. It was beautiful. The lavender blooms alone would be reason enough to grow Little Prince.

Being a garden writer and blogger is great fun because I get to share the joy and pleasure of gardening with others.

Little Prince in bloom.

Little Prince eggplant in bloom. Dozens of delicate lavender flowers become 2 – 4 ounce eggplants. Photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

 

Eat Little Eggplants

Small and tender, marinade little eggplant halves and quarters then, grill. Serve as a warm side or add other grilled vegetables for a cold marinated vegetable salad.

* GWA = Garden Writers Association

How to Grow Your Own Baby Greens

 

Wordless Wednesday

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

Todays Harvest Basket

July 23, 2012
tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, TAM pepper, onion, arugula

White Wonder cucumber, Grandmother and Uncle Ebb grew white cucumbers like this. They are small, non bitter, great slicer. Photo PBH

This arugula, is a perfect green to combine with lettuce. Tonights salad included the arugula, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion. I make my own salad dressing. Usually a lemon and olive oil is the start of a good homemade dressing.

TAM is Texas A & M jalapeno pepper. Less heat but all the distinct flavor of jalapeno. (The little red peppers on the right.) I’ll roast them, then freeze. That way they will be handy to add to salsa and chili.

 

 

My Garden Bloggers Food Day

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day shows off all the blooms in my garden on August 15 2011. Even more than blooming, this month is about what happens after the bloom. The produce, fruit or seed that is created after the flower.

Rosa Bianco eggplant, tomatoes, Clairimore zucchini

I am trying to stay ahead of the of the zucchini production by picking them small, like the two little ones on the right. The blossoms are still attached to these Clairimore variety. The bigger ones became chocolate zucchini cake or zucchini and black walnut cake with lemon glaze.

This year, is not a good year for my garden. I couldn’t water enough to keep up hardy production.

Rosa Bianca Eggplant

Rosa Bianca Eggplant, a mild italian eggplant

The garden plants are stressed and more suseptible to insects and disease. Flea beetles are eating up the plants faster than the plants can produce eggplants.

I only got in a couple of pickings  of green beans before a gang of bug thugs moved in and trashed the bean patch.

I’ve planted a few more beans, hoping to get in a late crop of  haricots verts (skinny and tender French

Flea beetle damage. The little tiny holes in leaves and roots.

green beans) And a couple more cucumbers and squash to replace the ones killed by insects. It’s just a gamble to see if they produce before a killing frost. The space was empty and I had extra seed. We shall see.

Tomato plants did not set blooms because it was so hot. So, I will have a smaller than anticipated harvest. I’ll make some tabouli and a batch of gazpacho. Plus, I have enough to share with neighbors.

I won’t have enough to can or put up as salsa. But I did have enough for a couple of taste testings with the nine different varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  I’ll eventually review them all in my HubPages. There is a lot of good tomato information.

Best Home Garden Tomatoes: Paul Robeson

Best Home Garden Tomatoes: Royal Hillbilly

Next year, I’ll grow a few of the best tomatoes from this summer. And, I’ll grow some heirlooms I’ve never tried before.

The real reason I grow thin skinned, rich flavored, juicy heirloom tomatoes is simple:

BLT

Sourdough bread, crisp lettuce, oven baked thick sliced bacon.

Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches and

Insadada Caprese

Heirloom tomatoes, mozzerella cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

Insadada Caprese.

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