7.30.2013

Husband Approved Beet Recipe(s)

It has to be said, I made Husband hate beets... A long time ago, I grew some beets and made roasted beets, and way overcooked them, and he of course hated them. I thought I had scarred him for life... Until now...

I grew beets this year with the intention of sweet pickling them, which is honestly my favorite snack on the face of the planet. I will eat them til I puke... And then eat some more. Anywho, Hubby was talking to a client (who is Greek fyi) and told him how he hates beets and that I'm terrible for growing them. Client said, she needs to make them Greek style... Cut them up with onions and garlic. And so I did... And Hubby LOVES BEETS! So here is the recipe (again, we ate them up and I failed to take any pictures, but just trust me on this.)
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Greek Beets
1 pound beets, boiled until done, like a potato but not mushy, peeled and sliced bite size
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch or 2 of oregano (dried or fresh is fine)
salt and pepper

Ok, saute your garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent, but not really browned. Add in your salt and pepper and oregano, and the beets. Stir to combine and eat!

It has to be said that these beets are awesome paired with their greens sauteed the exact same way but finished with some honey and balsamic vinegar. YUM!
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So, us only being 2 people, we did NOT finish the beets from last night, Hubby asked if we could have a repeat beets and greens type dinner, and of course I obliged. So tonight, I made the sauteed greens (I had to substitute some kale mostly) and paired them with homemade wheat pasta. Holy crap was it good... Here's how I did it.

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Beets and Greens Pasta
8 or so ounces of chopped greens
1 medium onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
balsamic vinegar
honey
salt and pepper
basil (dried for this one)
4 or so ounces goat cheese (don't have any? use Parmesan. None of that? Use cream cheese)
salt and pepper
fettuccine pasta
Leftover beets, reheated

Bring some salted water to a boil for your pasta, toss it in. This takes no time to make!

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil with salt and pepper until slightly golden brown. Add in a sprinkle of dried basil and the balsamic vinegar and honey (honestly, I never measure this... I would say to taste based on how sweet or bitter your greens are). Stir in the goat cheese and enough starchy pasta water to create a sauce to braise your greens in. Add the greens and cook until chewable, or to your faveorite level of doneness. Add in the cooked pasta and toss together.

Top the pasta with the reheated beets (or fresh if you're feeling frisky!) and eat!

I would recommend NOT cooking the beets along with everything else in this dish otherwise everything will turn pink.... I don't know about you, but I don't find pink pasta very mouthwatering to look at.
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You are welcome!

7.29.2013

Harvest Monday

Last week was a good week in the yarden. I was out of town this weekend, and came home to kale, beans, beets, broccoli, and TOMATOES! Yes!! Tomatoes!!

I got one small Purple Cherokee, a few black cherries, and a couple reisentraubs. Yum! I'm gonna whip up some fresh pasta for this week, and hopefully by Friday we will have enough to have for dinner.The kale I picked yesterday went straight into a creamy mushroom and kale lasagna, which was freakin awesome! I will post the recipe below. I really should have taken pictures of that...
Punkin loves harvest days too!
 This week: 1lb 12oz beets & greens
                    12 oz tomatoes
                    1lb 8oz green beans
                    1lb 4oz kale
                    6oz broccoli shoots
                    2oz various herbs
Annual Total:  41 lb 4 oz


Kale and Mushroom Lasagna
1 lb kale, cleaned and chopped small
1 large onion
as much garlic as you want (I use a lot, or leave it out if you want)
1 lb mushrooms, chopped (use whatever kind you want or have on hand. I picked some baby bellas up on sale)
1/2 box lasagna noodles, cooked halfway OR fresh pasta sheets uncooked (yum!)
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
8 oz mozzarella cheese
5 oz parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
various herbs chopped fine (I used basil, sage, and thyme fresh from the garden... Rosemary would be awesome in this also)

This is so easy, you will make this a go-to dinner. At least I will! This recipe will make one really large lasagna or 2 small ones (which I made and stuck one in the freezer)

First off, boil a lot of water to cook your noodles in. Salt it well! Only cook the noodles about halfway, they will continue to cook in the oven. Combine the milk, flour, herbs, nutmeg, and salt and pepper in a sauce pan. Whisk to combine and cook on medium until slightly thickened. Turn the heat off and add in most of your cheeses (save some for the top!)

Saute the onions and garlic in butter/olive oil until slightly golden and fragrant. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden. Add in your kale (you can substitute any greens you want - spinach, beets, mustard, anything you like!) and cook until bright green and slightly soft. Don't forget to season with salt and pepper. Pour in the cheese sauce and stir to combine.

Butter or spray oil your baking dish of choice, and put a little bit of the veggie/sauce mixture in the bottom to keep noodles from sticking. Place a layer of noodles, a layer of sauce, noodles, sauce, noodles, sauce. I got 3 layers total, and it was plenty tall. Make you you end with a layer of sauce so the top layer of noodles doesn't dry out. Top with more cheese, and bake at 350 covered for about an hour, remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until golden brown on top. Allow lasagna to rest slightly so it doesn't run all over the place when you slice it up. Enjoy!


Don't forget to hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions and check out lots of other gardens and harvests!

7.22.2013

Harvest Monday

Woah, I need to catch up on my harvest totals! Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures, but I am sure you can imagine what kale and beans look like :)

This past weekend, we caught up on garden work since it FINALLY wasn't so hot you felt like you were literally melting... Weed pulling, pulled the garlic and got it started on drying, pulled out a cabbage that wasn't going to produce, cut grass, harvested, cleaned up the front yarden, you know... Just garden chores. 

Cherries: 4 lb 8 oz
Garlic scapes: 5 lb 2 oz (unfortunately, I slacked off, and most of these ended up going to the chickens) 
Kale: 17 lb 12 oz
Basil: 1 lb
Broccoli: 9 oz (only got 2 actual heads that were really small, just keeping up with side shoots now)
Beans: 1 lb 4 oz
Zucchini: 4 lb 9 oz (These are really starting to come in now, and with 2 LARGE plants, I don't think we will have any shortage of squash. Already made zucchini bread and zucchini risotto)
Beets (including tops): 1 lb

Season Total:  36 lb 8 oz

7.18.2013

Oy Vay, It's Hot

It's probably a good thing I picked up a mister for the chickens this morning (and then had to exchange because it was cracked and sprayed water everywhere instead of misting) to keep them nice and cool.

7.17.2013

Keeping the Gang Cool

Just got back in from checking on the chickens, and they seem to be riding out the heat wave in true chicken style... Digging holes in the ground.

I put out clean cold water with ice every morning (except today, I ran out of ice, but they did get cold water) and I put a fan with a big bowl if ice in front of it to blow a cool breeze on my girls. I sprayed down the run to make the dirt nice and cool, and the girls didn't mind the cool shower either. Usually, they run away from water mysteriously falling from the sky, but today, they welcomed it. I stopped after a few minutes because I was nervous those bird brains would turn their heads up and then drown. Morons.

The cats and Chelsea are doing OK. We have one air conditioned room in the house, and we all have been hiding out in there all day. I toughed out the heat until about 3 pm when I decided enough was enough. I turned on the air, took my second cold shower of the day, and then hid away with the dog and cats. The room is just big enough to fit a queen bed, a side table, and a little TV. But the animals and I don't care, we just like having a little retreat. We all pretty much only leave the room to, ya know, take care of business.

We are supposed to get some heat relief come Friday night, and honestly I can't freakin wait. Maybe I'm a sissy, maybe my blood is too thick, whatever you want to call it, but I hate this heat. I try and embrace it, telling myself it isn't so bad, but I really do hate it. Even though I love my garden, and I love barbecues and all the fun summer stuff, this is my least favorite season. I can't help it, I was just not made for summer.

After all, you can always put on more clothes when its cold... When its hot, you can only be so naked without getting arrested...

7.15.2013

Getting Ready for Winter

Huh? With temps in the 90's? Winter? Are you insane Tiny G?!

I am pretty sure that we gardeners are messed up in the head. We have dreams of tomatoes and peppers in January, and dreams of row covers and brussel sprouts in July. Kind of like horse show people (I mean, only an insane person would wear jeans, leather chaps, and long sleeved heavy jackets in the middle of Summer to get a tiny piece of crappy polyester they call a ribbon.)

But all judgements aside, you read me right, I'm getting prepared for winter. Well, really I'm getting ready for the fall garden. I've never actually grown a designated "fall garden" before (unless you count leaving tomatoes and peppers in until it snows), so like most ventures in my life, I'm gonna fly by the seat of my pants.

But, unfortunately, I do have to plan for this, just a little bit. The thought came to me yesterday when I noticed the garlic is about 5 days away from harvest, and Hubby said "What are we going to put there?"

Obviously, nothing! No wait, why not? What grows in the coldish weather? Kale, brussel sprouts, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuces, peas (PEAS!!!), cabbages, broccoli, and spinach. I'm sure there is more stuff, but this short list just about sums up what we eat.

So how do you go about this fall gardening thing? Well, first off, figure out when your first frost is (ours is about October 18) and count back 12 weeks (this weekend for me!) and that is when you should start your brassicas indoors. Let them go for about 3 weeks, then set them out into the garden. Then be crafty and look up when you should direct sow the root stuff and leafy greens like lettuces. This will depend on the variety of seeds you have, your weather patterns, etc... (I'm no expert here, flying pants and all). I'm pretty sure you could do a direct sowing of lettuces and spinach every couple of weeks and have a continuous supply until the snow starts flying, but don't start them too early or else the heat will get to them and they will bolt and go bitter.

And don't forget about the garlic! Plant that goodness towards the end of October. I usually get to it by Halloween, but no later. You could also do a green manure crop to add some good organic matter to your soil for the upcoming Spring.

So what about y'all? Are you going to do some fall gardening? Any tips for me?


7.14.2013

Sometimes, All You Have to Do is Open Your Mouth

Complaining about my Neighbor should be nothing new to those of you who read regularly. And up until yesterday, I'd kept my mouth shut to the Neighbor.

Until Yesterday....

Yesterday, I was out in the Yarden pulling weeds, and noticed that I was pulling an awful lot of crap from the other side of the fence. Vines and ivy were growing from the fence onto my tomatoes, my basil, my garlic, and my eggplant. I pulled it off and swore all the while. Then I started pulling weeds from the ground growing through the fence. And I swore more.

I took Chelsea inside and marched my fired up butt next door to wake the neighbor out of his hangover sleep. As I was knocking forcefully on the door and ringing the bell (with other neighbors watching and waiting, mind you) some dude pulled up to the house and asked me if I was the angry girl from the bar. Uh, no, I am the angry girl who lives next door.

He continued on to say, Oh, I see... I live just over on the other street, and I know Neighbor and you won't be able to wake him right now. I said, do you know Neighbor?? Can you call him?? He said he would call him... I then went on a rant about how ridiculous it is that everyone on this street takes care of their yard for the most part, and he can't even pull weeds. Everyone tries to make the street nice especially for The Old Italian Lady who has lived here for 70 years and especially since there is a festival parade through the neighborhood tomorrow. Its ridiculous that I have to clean up the crap growing from his yard into my garden AND the dude's (behind me) crap growing into my garden IT ISN"T FAIR!!!! I shouted in this nice guy's face. Then I immediately apologized for yelling at him since he obviously does not live next to me. 

He promised to talk to Neighbor about his yard. I walked away thanking him for being so nice and apologizing for unloading on him when it should have been Neighbor who got my wrath.

I went on about my day, thinking that nothing would actually happen. Then it came to be about 5 pm and Hubby and I left to go to a friend's cookout. I told him all about my day and how I didn't think anything would come of it.

Then we got home. We took the dog out... And HOLY CRAP!!! THE YARD IS CLEAN!!! I mean SO freaking clean that almost every plant is gone, even the ones that could have stayed. So now it is a weedless, grass-less patch of dirt that looks FABULOUS!!!!!!

So sometimes, all you need to do is open your mouth.

7.09.2013

Garden Update Pics

I haven't done an update in pictures in awhile, and besides, I needed a break from studying. Only 2.5 weeks left of the biology class from hell, and I can't wait. Hopefully the garden doesn't really start producing until its over, because I have NO time for it. I hate to admit that, but oh well. I have a goal.

Woah, get back on track Tiny G! Ok, here are the pics.
Broccoli... I don't know that I will grow it again... It's a huge plant and so far, very little return

Side Yarden... The cabbages are doing great, and so is the kale. The kale is truly in desperate need of harvesting and preserving, but it's going to have to wait until tomorrow after my exam. Today, I am busy cramming.



Zucchini plants... Oy... 

This little buy will probably be ready tomorrow. Bring on the zuke recipe ideas!

Garlic Bed... Probably ready to harvest in another week or so.

Basil. I gotta harvest this too. I am thinking about making a solar dryer... Any suggestions?

Tomatoes....

And more tomatoes....

Peppers and cucumbers. I'm having a little bit of a hard time getting the cukes to actually grow on the fence. I've got some work to do!

same bed, different angle

Beets. There are some baby beets ready for harvest, but again, I'm going to wait until this weekend I think.

Bush bean bed! I can't wait to harvest these!

Baby bean!

more tomatoes

the other side of the garlic bed. I harvested these scapes immediately after taking pics. This side of the bed never actually curled around, so I put off harvesting the scapes. I hope I didn't end up waiting too long...

7.03.2013

Jam-akin Me Crazy!

Hahaha, get it?! Oh, I kill me!

I can't help it that my jokes suck, I have been too busy making jam to come up with some good ones. In the last few weeks, I have made 8 pints of strawberry jam, 9 half-pints of sour cherry preserves, and this weekend I made 4 pints of apple preserves.

The apple preserves were a kind of, by the seat of my pants kind of thing. I had gotten a huge amount of organic apples several weeks ago (maybe a month?) and we never got through them all. So, I pushed em through my juicer and made jelly-jam. What came out of the juicer was like a really liquidy apple sauce stuff, and I don't have any jelly bags (nor the patience for them), so all of it went into the pot.

I debated putting cinnamon into the preserves, but I decided against it. If I want cinnamon on my biscuits and jam, then I can put it on there, but I can't take it out.

So anyways, I think we are set on jam for a long, LONG time. We have a grand total of 16.5 pints of jam in the pantry and about 4 pints of all sorts in the fridge. And my neighbor is going to let me come over and steal grapes from his vines, so I'm thinking that will be another 4-5 pints.

Jam-akin me crazy!