Category Archives: Homemade Household

The Foods

My appetite isn’t fantastic right now because of the baby currently consuming 90% of my stomach space but I’m still making a point to put garden goods in every or almost every meal (excluding some breakfasts).

SAMSUNG CSC

This one was a lunch where I reheated some leftovers (rice with veggies and Romano cheese) and cooked it with kale, topped it with tomatoes and of course slathered it all over with hot sauce. It was exceptional. Notice how I’m using a small plate.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

I made these calzones and Shane grilled them! He’s quite the pro with grilling foods this year. He experiments with times before flipping and after flipping and all of a sudden we get perfectly grilled foods. It’s so fun. Oh and of course the calzoneswere delicious. I made a sauce with garden tomatoes and filled the crust with onions and peppers from the garden as well as some prosciutto and mozzarella cheese.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

Another rice and veggie leftover meals with kale. This time, MOAR KALE. Because I love it. I know some people really aren’t huge fans of kale but there’s something about it that I really and sincerely love. I understand that people don’t like it because when I was a teenager I remember trying to fathom loving greens as crazy as kale and arugala but simply couldn’t. So now I’m a weirdo to a lot of adults and teenagers. It’s cool, I’m confident in my green loverness.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

Here we have a flat bread I made that has green olives, capocollo, red onions and Romano cheese which you can’t see because I chopped up tomatoes (tossed them with some balsamic vinegar, salt and garlic) and covered it. Oh, and a large side of green beans from my dad.

And finally, an awful pic of a delicious meal.

SAMSUNG CSC

Green beans and onions cooked until tender and tossed with fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted potatoes and a cheesy bun.

ALL veggies (including potatoes) from these meals are from my garden and my mom and dad’s gardens. So, that’s like, a LOT of fresh, local, and organic veggies. Pretty awesome.

Sometimes cooking with your garden produce isn’t super glamorous but trust me, not only will your body thank you but so will your taste buds. That food is so freaking tasty. I hope you’re enjoying local veggies too!

Wiped Out

A few garden updates here. Firstly, in a fit of pregnancy nesting I redesigned my garden. I just felt like there was a lot of negative spaces that were being completely wasted and so I fixed that. Which means I basically increased my square footage quite a bit. This is great and also more efficient but means I’m short on fall crop seeds! There is nothing wrong with that. I’ll just pick some more up next week when I’m done planting the ones I have.

Speaking of fall crops. I got started on those today. Yesterday I pulled my spaghetti squash plant. It was mostly dead and there were quite a few very large squash and some smaller, not quite ripe ones, we’ll see if they cure up a bit on the counter. My largest is almost five pounds!

IMG_20140806_083922Most of them were more like three pounds though. I have a couple more plants on the side of the house that are still going so I should have some more later. I needed to pull that vine and harvest a few herb plants so that I’d have the entire top bed for fall crops.

So I cleared the plants out and am currently dehydrating all the herbs.

SAMSUNG CSC

Then I had to turn over all the soil to see what condition it’s in. I’ve mentioned before that I have high clay content in my soil and so it’s hard and compacted. I’ve been adding things and trying to plant plants that will help this season. It’s my first season and I recognize the need to improve my soil as I go. Adding some of my own compost to this bed when I extended it in my redesign was a good addition and I was pleasantly surprised to find that about half the bed’s soil was in great shape and the other half was much improved. This is a big deal since some of the fall crops I’m putting in are soil builders which will add matter to help loosen the clay.

I spent a lot of this morning turning over the soil and working on the herbs and finally it was ready to plant.

SAMSUNG CSCI scored the lines with my shovel and got the seeds ready. I’ve learned that I’m super sloppy if I’m using the seed packet so I pour the seeds into little bowls to help.

SAMSUNG CSC

Obviously make sure you know which seed is which.

In this bed I wanted to plant a soil builder (diakon radishes), a nitrogen fixer since this will be a tomato bed next year (fava beans), and a few fall crops between (beets, spinach and regular radishes).  At first I thought I’d just do a row of each and repeat but then I realized I’d like to concentrate the soil builders in areas where the soil was rougher and use the areas with the best soil for the fall crops I’ll actually be harvesting. So I catered the sewing to exactly what I wanted from each area.

Then I had to deal with the issue of squirrels. They like digging in fresh, loose, soil and as I may or may not have (bitterly) mentioned, they decimated my previous beet crop because I was unaware of this. So I knew I’d have to cover my beds to prevent them from digging. So I used some hardware cloth a friend gave me.

SAMSUNG CSC

Originally this bed was two smaller beds so I kind of had to mish mash the pieces but it’ll do. I kept the comfrey plant there because it’s a nitrogen fixer that I’d like to do a leave harvest of later in the season.

After all that it was time for Eli’s nap and I am also WIPED out.

SAMSUNG CSC

 

I want to be like this right now.  Instead, I’m snuggling with Avery a bit and enjoying our quiet time.

I’ll have to plant the other beds another day. They have soil in much worse shape than this bed so I’ll be adding my compost and planting crops to help make it better and prepare for next year’s spring/summer garden.

Here are some things going on around the garden.

SAMSUNG CSC

Tomatoessssss. They’re all nestled in there waiting to ripen, safely behind netting to protect against squirrels.

SAMSUNG CSC

My jalapeno plants are loaded again. I’ve already had a solid harvest on them and now they’ve each got a bigger second load. The fresnos too. I even have some poblano peppers getting big!

SAMSUNG CSC

I planted one bell pepper plant and it was hidden behind some overgrown herbs so I forgot about it until this happened!

SAMSUNG CSC

My comfrey plants are blooming. Some are purple and some are white. I love it!

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

We had a pretty massive storm last night and I noticed a lot of blooms had been blown off.

The borage is blooming for a second time all over the garden!

SAMSUNG CSC

Herbs are insane of course. I’ve been drying, eating and drinking them in juices and smoothies. I have a lot more to deal with before I’m done! I haven’t even touched the mint which I grew specifically for drying and making into herbal tea.

I’ll do a post on my growing spice pantry soon.

Now I’m gonna relax and let my poor pregger bod recover from all the digging, squatting and planting I did this morning.w

 

 

Squirrels Strike Again

So apparently I got a little too comfy with my garden and forgot squirrels wouldn’t ignore it after the seedling stage. One morning I walked out to this.

SAMSUNG CSC

And this….

SAMSUNG CSC

And this.

SAMSUNG CSC

And this.

SAMSUNG CSC

And even this.

SAMSUNG CSC

That’s a spaghetti squash. Fortunately, it kinda grew out of the bite marks after a while. Not really a plant I can net since it’s basically consuming my garden at this point (and I’m totally cool with that).

The point is, I lost a lot of tomatoes all at once in their varying stages of ripeness and it hurt my heart.

So I went to the hardware store and got myself some bird netting and wrapped up my tomato plants. Lesson learned. I can tell netting and I are going to be very good friends going forward with gardening. Especially as I prepare to plant my fall seeds (any day now!).

But it’s all good. I still got some tomatoes and have many more on the way and my peppers are on round two of crazy production. Round one was kinda wimpy but now they’re loaded. Let’s not even mention the amount of produce I’ve been getting from my dad! I just did my first round of dehydrated tomatoes and cayenne peppers. The bigger romas are my dads and the smaller ones (an heirloom variety called San Marzano) are from my plants. I have a roma plant but they seem to only ripen in bunches of three at a time so not really enough for dehydrating.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

It took a solid 48hrs. I like to keep my heat low so that I’m not cooking the produce while dehydrating. They turned out great though!

SAMSUNG CSC

I just recently learned how I like to use dried tomatoes. I’m actually not a fan of their flavor so I don’t enjoy them on pizza or salads or normal things that people generally use them for but when I was reading Quarter Acre Farm (a fantastic book on gardening) and she mentioned how she adds them to her marinara sauces and uses a hand blender to emulsify them after they absorb liquid. Her description of the added flavor made me jump to try it, and since my dad always gives me dried tomatoes I had some on hand, and guess what? It was like literally the best marinara sauce I have ever made. I got a great reaction from all the boys and haven’t made sauce any other way since. So now I’m making my own stash to last the whole year starting with this batch. I just cut the romas in half (more if they’re big), sprinkle them with dried herbs (this batch I used oregano), and dehydrated until they were completely dry, no wiggle.

SAMSUNG CSC

The cayenne peppers I intended for an end product of red pepper flakes. Shane is always using red pepper flakes so I figured there’s no point in buying the dusty old variety from the store if I could make them myself.

SAMSUNG CSC

 

Be extremely careful doing this because these bad boys are SPICY. You might think your store bought pepper flakes are something, well, think again. They are flavorless compared to these.

I put the dried peppers into a plastic bag, folded it into a towel and crushed them using my hands. The aroma that came up when I opened the bag to transfer it to a jar was a blinding rush of suffocating spice. I ran outside (where I had put the jar) with tears streaming down my face, coughing up a lung. My disturbed three year old thought I was seriously injured. It was adorable.

SAMSUNG CSC

Those peppers gave me about a third of a cup of flakes which is probably more than we use in a year but I’ll very likely continue to make them as I get peppers.

Anyway, I also redesigned my garden in a whirl of nesting hormones the other day so I’ll update you on that as soon as I get a chance to take pictures. And I know, pregnancy updates are waaaay lacking. I’m just so, pregnant…I don’t feel like doing much about updates. I promise I will though.

How is your garden? Do you ever dehydrate?

Second Thought Squash

When my beet crop got demolished by the squirrels I ended up with an empty garden bed. I hemmed and hawed about what to put in there since it was already too warm to plant another seed crop and instead I just plopped a couple spaghetti squash plants in the ground and figured they probably wouldn’t do much or even really make it since it was late.

SAMSUNG CSC

Turns out, they actually really liked that spot and made it their home. Now I have tons of baby spaghetti squashes forming and I’m really glad I had that second thought.

SAMSUNG CSC

Also, this vine will take over my entire garden and I’m totally cool with that.

Everything is taking off pretty well this month in the garden. I have a couple tomato plants that aren’t ‘making’ it but I’m still keeping them around in case they end up doing something. We harvested our first ‘big’ tomato this week and that was pretty exciting.

SAMSUNG CSC

Avery ate it like an apple after he played Veggie Tales with it for a while.

IMG_20140714_083610

I’m cool with that. Avery is very active in the garden….which means he has eaten 90% of the cherry tomatoes we’ve harvested. Or rather, he picks them off the plant and I get the left overs….

SAMSUNG CSC

 

I’m getting cucumbers and jalapenos now too. My cucumbers have suffered from bacterial wilt and I’ve lost at least two vines to it completely and another is about to go. I cherish each and every cucumber I get.

SAMSUNG CSC

My greens are doing great in this weather and I’m getting plenty of herbs and kale.

SAMSUNG CSCI love kale. Shane isn’t a big fan but I can’t get enough.

SAMSUNG CSC

Our dinners and my lunches have included kale in some form or other.

SAMSUNG CSC

Herbed chicken, yellow rice and kale salad with tomatoes and cucumbers.

SAMSUNG CSC

No kale here but some home grown cabbage from my parents, beets and black beans.

SAMSUNG CSC

Kale, golden beets, cabbage and homemade vinaigrette.

SAMSUNG CSC

An amazing filet Shane grilled for me with a cucumber, tomato and basil salad and a side of freshly grown baby potatoes from the farmers market. Fantastic Sunday lunch.

I’m excited to use more of my harvests in our meals this summer and really looking forward to more of my tomatoes coming in! I have some yellow heirloom tomatoes ripening at the moment and am slightly giddy about them. I hope your gardens are going well too!

 

The Good Parts…in the Garden

I’m sure everyone is super sick of garden posts but it’s just what I’m up to these days.

In the garden there are a lot of disappointments. The fact that I lost my beet crop to squirrels….that hurt. Especially since there are like three plants that survived and they’re looking so beautiful with lovely little bulbs forming. But I’m not focusing on that right now. I’m focusing on the good stuff. Like my gorgeous cucumber plants! I’m happy to report they’re climbing wonderfully up the lattice/deck.

SAMSUNG CSCThe best part though is all the little baby cucumbers forming.

SAMSUNG CSC

Cucumbers are one of my favorite veggies. I could eat them all day and don’t even get me started on how good pickles are. The plants are beautiful and the little tendrils that reach out and curl around anything they can find.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

Outside from cucumbers I have loved watching my bee balm keep blooming and blooming. Bees love this flower as you can see by the photo.

SAMSUNG CSCThere happened to be a teeny one hanging on a petal.

I’ve also got plenty of large green tomatoes growing on my tomato plants.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

Smaller green tomatoes are growing all up each stalk as well. The biggest are at the bottom.

I’ve been picking Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes for a bit now and I ate my first Juliet cherry tomato today which was pretty exciting. Cherry tomatoes don’t take as much energy or time to ripen so they’re always first.

Some things that don’t look like a good thing are actually really good. An example is this.

SAMSUNG CSC

It might look depressing but upon closer inspection you will find hundreds of little seeds forming. Cilantro looks horrible when it’s going to seed but once it does, you get coriander. Some people like eating coriander but I like letting them reseed because that means a carpet of cilantro in the fall and spring and carpets of cilantro are never a bad thing.

SAMSUNG CSC

 

My peppers are producing too and even though I’m excited about my fresno peppers starting to turn from green to red I’m disappointed that all the blooms died after the first pepper formed on each.

SAMSUNG CSC

So each of my fresno plants have one pepper….each…not joking. Maybe once that pepper ripens it’ll trigger more productions. Fortunately my jalapenos aren’t following suite.

SAMSUNG CSC

Not a great picture to show the production now that I see it. haha

The dill is going crazy too. One plant is five feet tall and the blooms are quite large.

SAMSUNG CSCIt also attracts a lot of pollinators! Mostly I’m just excited that I think it’ll be dried up and ready to go when the cucumbers are ripe. Hello dill pickles!

One other pretty incredible development on my garden scene is something my dad set up for me this week.

IMG_20140624_203253

This, my friends, is a very hard core rain water catching system. It routes water from two gutters and holds two hundred and seventy five gallons of water. Intense……ly exciting! My dad just popped over one afternoon and was like ‘I got this.’ and bam, it was done. He’s pretty cool:)

So hopefully if it rains soon and I can start using rain water for my garden! The benefits being, it’s free, it’s chemical free and it’s soooo cool. I’m feeling legit. Although, obviously not nearly as legit as my own dad’s rain retention operation. He ran his entire greenhouse season this year on nothing but rain water….that’s tens of thousands of gallons.

Anyway, that’s the garden situation. Weeding is happening a lot and of course bunches of drying and eating and blah blah blah.  Tomorrow will be about kids and pregnancy, for reals.

 

 

 

« Older Entries