Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Identify this vegetable and win seeds

You can't hear me, but I'm laughing right now thinking about how stumped you are, trying to identify what you see above. I'm betting even Erica Smith will be scratching her head.

First person to (leave a comment and) name what is harvested, cooked, and promptly devoured in the photo above will receive a handful of hairy vetch seeds - perfect to sow right now as a cover crop. This helpful blog post from the Grow It, Eat It site describes how to use hairy vetch as a cover crop.

The perfect side dish above is simply stir-fried with garlic.

ps - I'm not looking for a specific cultivar or anything crazy like that.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Garden to Table Challenge - September

I decided to change the title of these posts to make it easier on myself if I want to search for recipes or ideas later on - plus, adding the month instead of the week fits my goal of eating what's fresh. Right now, I'm a little obsessed with kitchen appliances. After years of neglecting the small appliances section of Bed, Bath, and Beyond due to a lack of kitchen counter and cabinet space, I've decided (duh) I can simply store appliances on the shelves in my laundry room. My latest acquisition - the sloooooow cooking crock pot! Below, the perfect choice for my inaugural slow cooker meal...

My brother-in-law who stayed with us over the weekend (and who is a crock pot bachelor), was making fun of me because I hovered over the crock pot, basically staring at it for about 7 hours. I kept feeling like I needed to stir. I took my kid to the park and broke out in a cold sweat suddenly thinking that I was burning something. I'll need to make a better effort to tell myself that I really can "fix it and forget it".

I'm not certain where credit belongs because I just have the clipping now, but this recipe probably comes from Bon Appetit magazine.

Braised Short Ribs - 4 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, coarse salt, 2 cups dry red wine, 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (I used fresh tomatoes), 1 6 ounce package sliced button mushrooms (I used baby portabella), 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 6 peeled garlic cloves, 6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs, 2 bay leaves, crusty bread (I substituted mashed potatoes).


Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Place in even layer in slow cooker. Add next 7 ingredients, cover, and cook on low heat until meat is tender, about 8 hours. Using slotted spoon, transfer ribs to serving bowl. Discard parsley and bay leaves. Spoon fat off top of sauce and pour sauce over ribs. Serve with bread.

What are you cooking this week? Let's see by linking below!! ***By the way, I'm posting on Saturday, but feel free to post whenever you can during the week!

***BTW - be sure to stay tuned. I'm going to have a quick "Identify This" contest with prize later this week...


Can we change subjects for a brief moment? I know we're among gardeners here... I found this guy in my garden this afternoon (in the spot where I need to plant my new fall perennials asap). Any spider experts out there know if this is something I want or don't want in my garden? We don't typically have spiders this...colorful (scary) around here.

Top of spider...


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our neighborhood farmer's market

Though we generally get a lot of fruits and veggies to eat between my garden and my parents' garden, we love going to the farmer's market for things we can't do in our own gardens. Lucky for us, our wonderful neighborhood farmer's market is just a few blocks away.

This is our favorite baker from Praline Bakery in Bethesda, MD. Her baby just sleeps or hangs out while she sells the most delicious selection of yummies. I always try to get her breakfast croissants or the beautiful apple tart, but if you don't get there early, there are slim pickings. Today we were late because I went for a run and watered the garden first, so that dictated what we were able to have for breakfast. I undid the 300 calories I'd burned the moment I saw (and asked for, drooling...) the moist and spongy chocolate pound cake. My husband picked up a few of his favorite, the lemon drop cookies - sort of lemon Madelaine-like, lightly iced cookies. Older daughter particularly loves this booth, but it is her loss today as she's at a sleepover.

Here, my younger daughter at her favorite booth. There are two booths run by Amish families. They travel about 2.5 hours or so to get here faithfully every weekend. Lyric loves the peach lemonade and trying samples of homemade cheese. One of the families used to sell an amazing herb cheese, but they stopped making it. They do now sell homemade yogurt, which is a treat we'll need to try next time.

In the past couple of years, this family began selling freshly grilled (Can you imagine what an amazing sight and smell?) hamburgers and sausages. There's quite a line forming.
Today we tried a grilled sausage and when we couldn't decide upon how to top it, we asked how the vendor enjoyed it - freshly grated horseradish and ketchup (both homemade, of course). It was quite a delicious combination. Please DO try this at home.

I do have other new favorites. There is a new artisan sausage vendor who makes amazing spicy tasso, and I LOVE their prosciutto biscuits. I usually buy a bag and make a Southern gravy to eat them with. The prosciutto I used in last week's GTTC sandwiches were also from this booth.
After snapping some of these photos and sharing about what I have just a 10 minute walk away, I suppose we're really lucky to live where we do. It's a pretty cool spring-to-fall Saturday morning routine. Do you have a farmer's market near you? What's it like?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

random photos...

The little bean plant that could...

Just a pretty and simple container planting in front of a restaurant. Nothing spectacular, but I really like the use of the hosta.

This man has eyes of beets (Chioggia to be exact), but on this day, our 14th anniversary, for this man I have eyes of hearts...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Garden to Table Challenge - week 5

...still more peppers going on. This week, I made a jalapeno pesto. I got this recipe from some website a couple years ago - wish I could give credit where it's due, but I scribbled the recipe down and didn't make note of where it came from. I found that grilling the jalapenos really tamed the spice, so my generous use of this delicious stuff was tasty and manageable. Instead of the number of jalapenos suggested below, I used about 12 of my own small tam jalapenos. Rather than grilling these little firecrackers, I broiled them in my toaster oven.

Jalapeno pesto ingredients: 1 1/2 cups cilantro, 6 grilled jalapenos (brush with oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling till charred), 2 garlic cloves, 2 T pine nuts, salt and pepper, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.

The jalapeno pesto was used on the quesadillas below. I don't make quesadillas nearly enough. They're so easy, and you can really incorporate just about anything you have harvested from the garden.

The leftover jalapeno pesto also added some green to the proscuitto, fresh mozzerella, and black krim tomato sandwiches below. This is one of my favorite sandwiches of all time - especially when the tomatoes are drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar.

What are you harvesting and eating this week? Do tell! Please link or comment below...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

GBBD - September 2010 and monarch caterpillars

September has been good to my garden, bringing lots of new blooms. You'll actually notice many little tour guides in these September photos. The end of this post shows a couple of our new pets - visitors for the interim before their fall vaca in Mexico (thanks to my friend Grace for the inspiration and instruction)! But for now, stop and smell the roses! See that little refrigerator looking thing next to the side of the road? Big brother is watching you (and will ensure you at least SLOW your driving to take a peek). Seriously though, the roses in the first several photos aren't fragrant - but they ARE reliable summer-long sources of color. The fragrant roses are in hiding at this point in the summer.

Better slow your roll, happy blue car, or this little roadside furnace will send you a tsk tsk ticket in the mail!

Some oregano blooms left out for the pollinators.

DO YOU HAVE VERBENA? It's a MUST. Verbena growers know what I'm talking about.

With dwarf butterfly bushes available, everyone has a chance to grow these in his/her garden.

Asclepias and Russian sage.

A pretty but jacked-up buckeye. Good old moonbeam coreopsis in the background.

The gaura still going - all summer long. Its twin's stems are turning red. Lamb's ear still green and lush - and great foil for any perennial.

Sassy the cat on the prowl.

This bee must be new at the pollen-gathering thing.

This clematis is on its third rebloom.

My backyard downspout clematis - also currently covered in reblooms.

Morning glory - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Am I right?!

Gomphrena 'strawberry fields' - the annual I coveted this year. Can you see why?

Check out May Dreams Gardens to see what else is blooming in the gardening world!
Now for some fun... *******************************

Fixing up a little home with a jar of water, a few milkweed cuttings, and some carefully searched for caterpillars.

Transferring the specimen to its new, safe, well-stocked home.

Yes, I've read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but I didn't realize exactly how voracious these little guys are. Updates to come!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Garden to Table Challenge - week 4

This week I'm excited because not only am I still enjoying the badge on my side bar, but I've also decided on the fabulous prizes I mentioned during GTTC pre-week (it's a secret). In case you're just joining us, each link to this challenge earns an entry for fabulous prizes, to be awarded sometime in November.

Just a reminder - if you would like to link this blog/challenge to your post in addition to linking your post here, we can increase participation. This weekly get-together has been great (and honestly, I have made lots of dinners based on your ideas!), but let's see if we can make it a par-tay!


This week, I'm harvesting lots of peppers! One day I heard about someone enjoying soba noodles and had a big time craving for the simple and delicious noodles. I scoured all the menus in my take-out binder to no avail. Defeated, I opened the ramen noodles cabinet and lo and behold - 2 boxes of Trader Joe's soba noodles I bought ages ago! I must say, they were not as good as I hoped, but the addition of snipped cayenne pepper spiced things up.

Below, my husband's grilled "Satan burger". Wow.

And to cool the heat, you'll see an assortment of drinks below. The little wee 5 year old had the little wee 5 year old drink (muddled lime, mint, sugar, water). The middle sized 12 year old had the middle sized 12 year old drink (muddled lime, mint, sugar, club soda). And the adult mama, had the adult drink (classic mojito - muddled lime, mint, sugar, rum, club soda). Did you see that coming?! I had so many mojitos this summer, I thought it was due time to plant some mint in my garden. I did put it in a "vault" a la the master Montgomery County Master Gardeners.

So what YOU cooking, good looking?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

End of summer fruits!

If I could do a virtual cut of this charentais melon below, you would be stunned by the gorgeous orange color and would be hit by its fragrant scent. This melon is a total winner and is a MUST for your garden next year if you have not yet tried it. It's a sweet cantaloupe with perfect texture, perfect everything. In my little garden, one vine managed to produce about 5 of these guys with total neglect. I'm certain you could do even better! I cover the melons with bird netting to keep them safe from raccoons.

'Anne' raspberries - also a winner - lovely golden color, really nice sweet raspberry taste!

'Black diamond' watermelon, recommended by the watermelon guy on a road in rural South Carolina. Haven't cut into it yet - fearful to move it and find damage underneath, on this sole watermelon. No pressure little guy.

The bright red berries of the asparagus all ferned out. I'll need to look into this to see if they can be eaten - I can't see why not...

At my dad's house, the date trees are completely covered.

These are honeydew-type Asian melons below. Very thin outer rind - people eat the rind as well (I don't, but my mom swears it's OK to). If I sent you seeds last month labeled "Asian melon", these are the melons you'll get. Really sweet and yummy.

Pomegranates - and such pretty flowers too!

Soon to come in a future post - MORE fruit. As you can see in this post, last year we began our first annual fall apple-picking event, and I think that time is rolling around again! Are you all feeling fruity too?
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