Thursday, October 13, 2011

Matt's squash boats

When my husband cooks he gets creative, and never tells me what he's making. It's always a surprise. :) Last night he grilled these squashes, filled with an array of garden goodness. When I asked him what he did (since I was going to report it here today!) he said he sauteed onion, garlic, shitake mushrooms till tender. Then added fresh tomatoes and spinach till the spinach cooked down, just a few minutes. I did see him splash a bit of wine into the pan. Then he spread the sauteed veggies into the halved and hollowed out delicata squashes, sprinkling on Vermont cheddar and fresh dill. Or I think thyme would also taste good. He said he was going for a spinach pie kind of flavor. Then he wrapped them in foil, putting two halves together, and grilled them about 30-40 minutes and I can tell you they were yummy! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

cherry tomatoes

when planning our garden this year, we knew that we only needed one type of cherry tomato, matt's wild. it is a sprawling, unruly tomato that's so prolific it's almost ridiculous. the tomatoes are tiny but flavorful, and the plant is a little more resistant to blight and other tomato diseases than most.

we've had two frost warnings so far this autumn but neither really amounted to anything, so the matt's wild cherry tomatoes keep coming. this is not a bad thing.

last summer i was obsessed with local kitchen's cherry tomato confit. i made the recipe numerous times over the course of the summer and the fall of 2010. this year, however, i had not made it once. this past weekend i set out to remedy that.

i had plenty of tomatoes so i doubled the recipe.

our italian parsley is still going strong, sprawling everywhere in fact, so i was happy to snip a large bunch for this recipe. as for the other herbs in the recipe, i substituted our own dried oregano for the basil.

you need to set aside time for this recipe as the tomatoes are cooked at a low temperature for around two hours. my husband and i were getting hungry so i pulled mine out a little on the early side.

as i'm a southern girl, i spooned the cherry tomato confit on top of grits and added plenty of cracked pepper. i also love the confit spread onto a slice of warm homemade bread or as a filling in a grilled cheese sandwich. this time, i threw the leftover confit into a broccoli and cheddar quiche. also amazing. so many uses!

thanks local kitchen!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

bok choy in the autumn garden

bok choy


bok choy

i believe that just about anyone, black thumb & all, can grow lettuce greens & radishes. in my opinion, those two are perfect for beginning gardeners & even the most skeptical. well, there's a third kid on the block & his name's bok choy. this is my first year to grow bok choy & i cannot believe how empty my life was before this vegetable & my garden became one. i think it had something to do with the name bok choy or its mysterious uses in the kitchen, but let me tell you, now i'm a believer. it is super easy to grow & in no time at all, you will have big beautiful bouquets of green, leafy stalks to enjoy.

i even have a killer recipe for tomorrow night's dinner.

thai coconut bok choy & salmon soup // serves 6

heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. add one chopped leek, half a large onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, & 1 small, diced thai or chili pepper. cook until fragrant, around 3 minutes.

once fragrant, add your spices- 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, & a pinch of freshly ground pepper. add one can of skinless, boneless salmon or two small, chopped fillets. combine & add two large, chopped bok choy. stir in 1.5 cups of coconut milk & 4 cups of water. combine all ingredients & bring to a simmer for fifteen minutes. add salt to taste. serve with an autumn salad & enjoy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

rabbit friends

so i know i have mentioned and even shared some glimpses of our two little friends that have made a new home in our backyard.
well today i am happy to make a more formal introduction.

titch, a chocolate, orange tri mini rex named after a favorite book of hannah's by pat hutchins
and harley, a blue fawn harlequin mini rex, nicknamed by norah simply after it's variety harlequin.

sadly, we lost hopper, our sweet french lop ear rabbit this summer.
we loved him dearly, as did the whole neighborhood.
we all knew however that he was not to be our last
and chris and the girls began to do some research on a new rabbit.

which quickly turned into rabbit(s)!
and not to mention a boy and a girl rabbit.
yes there will be baby bunnies at some point around here.

they decided on the mini rex.
their small size, plush coat and friendly personalities make them one of the most popular rabbit breeds in the united states.
and boy are they cute!
we just can't stop snuggling them.

they do add such warmth to our garden space
and the new hutch that chris built to match the coop is quite lovely if i do say so myself.
he made sliding wooden doors for easy access and lots of hugs.
and hand carved name tags to remind everyone who stops by just who is who.
and of course there is a living roof to grow succulents, herbs and greens.

it's hard to believe sometimes we have four chickens and two rabbits living in our tiny little backyard.
next year? definitely some bees.

and maybe,just maybe a dwarf nubian goat!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

an autumn bouquet


joe pye


red zinnias

just yesterday i took a quick walk around the yard surveying what was available for an autumn bouquet: fading ferns, pokeweed, asters, zinnias. three of these not cultivated by me. only the zinnia seed was scattered by hand, planted in memory of my grandfather. he loved them so and i will always have them in my garden.

also enjoying this interview/garden tour with andrea of heavy petal. love the whole idea of lawns to loaves!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

autumn changes

autumn is finally here & with it brings much welcomed busyness & big changes. ornamental cabbage & mums are decorating our yard in pots & perennial beds. pansies are added to fresh greens from the garden.

beans, kale, turnips, sugar snaps & radishes are bursting in our raised beds.

& we have even added a flock to our home! eight sweet ladies all with their own unique personalities. happy birthday to our one week old pretties!

meet violet. she's a buff orpington with such a calm soul. she'll fall asleep in your hand & perch on your finger as you put her down with the others.

i just adore these big autumn changes!

Friday, September 30, 2011

an autumn walk

i thought another walk was in order.
quite a bit has changed since then.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Signs of autumn

mornings are cool and dewy again, optimistic, orange and red marigolds nestled with pink zinnias and gomphrena, the mint trails with one last blooming, the delicata squash have all been harvested, the last of the green beans are picked, we are beginning to gather the first leaves of arugula, spinach, and radishes from the fall garden, peppers are abundant, green tomatoes hang on the vine and we wonder if they will ripen, ash seeds cover the stairs, a few yellow leaves fall, squirrels busily bury walnuts, windows are open and the skies are bright blue, night arrives at 7:30.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

nearing the end

end of the season

Not too much happening in my garden these days. We've got Red Russian kale and collards (a second planting) that are going strong. Those prolific Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes and Mexican Sour Gherkins, still as prolific as ever. Our husk cherries are in a race with the frost. We were spared recently but for how long?

I like the end of the season. Not too much to worry about other than the harvest. There's the surprise of a final dahlia bloom, going outside to pick greens for dinner, the pure joy of cooking with your own produce in late September and possibly even into October. And if the frost comes, the knowledge that I'm just fine with fried green tomatoes or green tomato pickles.

Our harvest hasn't been a good one for preserving. We just didn't have the quantity this year. Lucky for us, we have friends who are also gardeners, and we've been gifted a store of carrots and tomatillos (for salsa verde, which I hope to can this weekend). Nothing beats walking down to the basement and pulling out a jar of homemade salsa verde to serve with chips in the winter. If you're wondering I like the recipe from Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff.

A few standout recipes we've made lately:

creamed kale

ginger roasted carrots with miso dressing

How about your own gardens? What's still going strong? Do you enjoy the end of the gardening season?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

home preserving workshop

home preserving class

this week i am preparing for a home preserving & canning workshop that i will teach this saturday in northwest arkansas. ozark folkways is an incredible little place that focuses on most skills forgotten in this age of consumerism & quick fixes. i cannot wait to get all of the students together for a morning of preserving apple butter.

the photo above shows my kitchen table in its current state- little scribbles of to do lists & ideas for the big day. i finally perfected my recipe & i am looking forward to sharing it. i hope to make the kitchen a cozy little space for working, jamming & canning. the students will take home a jar of their own jam & a bag filled with supplies for decorating their jars for the holidays. (i wish you all, each & everyone of you, could be there).

i also plan to pass out a packet of information on my favorite blogs, books & publications.

here are just a few sources i dig:
- putting by
- put 'em up!
- canning for a new generation
- the latest issue of natural home & garden

i must ask- please do share any tips, blogs, books, publications that you find helpful in preserving & canning. i'd love to add them to my growing list of resources! thank you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

herbal tea, from the garden

dried herbs
herbal tea 

as fall arrives, and the cold air makes its way into our bones, i find myself turning to a pot of tea in the evenings to warm myself up.  here is one of my favorite herbal tea recipes, that can be made almost entirely from things you might grow in your garden or find around your neighborhood:

1 part peppermint
2 parts lemon balm
2 parts red clover
2 parts nettle

not only is this a deliciously tasty combination, but has many medicinal properties to keep you healthy through this transition of seasons.  Peppermint helps with digestion and eases nausea and stomach cramps.  Lemon Balm also helps soothe the stomach, as well as helping with insomnia.  Red Clover is really good for respiratory problems, such as colds coughs and bronchitis, it is also high in calcium and iron.  Nettle is pretty much the super herb; it is high in many vitamin and mineral and helps with a variety of health issues, from the reproductive system, to metabolism, to the liver.

this year i grew lemon balm and peppermint in my garden, and i foraged almost a half a gallon of red clover from around the neighborhood.  i purchase my nettle in bulk at our local food co-op, and I'm pretty sure you could find it (and any of these herbs) at most health food stores, or at Mountain Rose Herbs.

do you have any favorite herbal recipes from your garden?

Friday, September 23, 2011

weekend plans

our fall schedule is a busy one.

it has been days since i have had time to take a picture in the garden.
and today it was pouring buckets which didn't allow for much of a photo post today.

i did however manage to clean and de-clutter the pantry this week
to make room for some canned goods in the works such as applesauce and tomatoes.

i found an old crock at the thrift today and we plan on making some sauerkraut
this weekend from the cabbage that we have begun to get in our CSA share.

a pot of farm beets and carrots have been chopped up to make borscht.

and loads of swiss chard is waiting to be frozen.

speaking of canning and preserving have you seen this great site?

what are your garden/pantry/kitchen plans for the weekend?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


According to the calendar, today is the last day of summer. Sigh. And today I finished the last of our garden strawberries that we had frozen from early in the season. Sigh again. They were so good. We used them mostly in smoothies and today I blended strawberries with some of our frozen peaches, a bit of vanilla greek yogurt, frozen banana, a dash of milk, about three ice cubes, and a splash of lemon juice for jazziness. Yum.

I think freezing is so easy. Last year we had a surplus of tomatoes and decided to freeze them for use in spaghetti sauce, chili, etc. If you've never tried freezing, simply wash the whole fruit well and remove any mushy spots. Then lay them out to dry on a towel. Once dry, spread the fruit onto a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. When they are frozen through, you can store them in containers or gallon zip top bags. We didn't even bother to remove the skins prior to freezing. I find it just as easy to remove the skins when I am ready to cook with them. All you have to do is dunk the whole frozen tomatoes into hot water for about a minute then off slide the skins.

Do you freeze some of your garden produce?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

in the garden

take a moment to pause & savor
the work that has been & yet to be done.
take a walk in the garden
eat lunch in the garden
as summer transitions to fall.

this is my favorite time of year.
the harvest is plentiful
my pantry is full
& there is still so much to be.

Monday, September 19, 2011

early fall harvests

early fall harvest 

okay, i'll admit it.  i am guilty of neglecting my gardens.  i know i'm not alone, which is why i feel comfortable admitting this here.  clearly taking on my most ambitious gardening efforts the same summer that i was planning a wedding [mine] and that my full-time job was extremely demanding was not the best idea.  but still, i do not regret it.  i know i could have actually pulled out the peas once they dried up back in july.  and i know i could have planted some fall crops in their place, and in the place of the garlic i harvested months ago.  but i didn't.  and you know what? it's okay.

as much as i may have neglected my gardens these past two months, it is still producing.  still making me happy every time i pick a tiny little cherry tomato off those volunteer plants wedged between the chard and beans.  still surprising me when i pulled up over a dozen small onions that i thought were dead and shriveled [even if they're not much larger than the starts i planted back in the early spring, i will still eat them with pride].

so. even though my garden could have been better, more productive, more lush, more organized.  it's not.  and i am still so very grateful for what it produces.  because of my efforts, or in spite of them.