Saturday, July 30, 2011

GTTC: raspberry smash and prize announced

I am not a mixologist, but I do enjoy the occasional alcoholic drink and have figured out how to make a drink exactly to my liking. I generally mix enough for the family, just adding alcohol to my glass at the end. Here's how I made tonight's Raspberry Smash (serves 4):

  • In a pitcher, muddle together: a generous handful of raspberries, leaves pulled from a small bunch of mint, about 3 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Add: the juice of a lemon, a 20 oz. bottle of ginger ale and a 10 oz. bottle of club soda. Stir gently.
  • In a glass of ice, fill about 1/3 full with whiskey. Strain raspberry drink into glass to fill.

Delicious and refreshing on a 103 degree day! The real key to making a drink like this is using a muddler. My sister bought me a muddler for my birthday (along with all the other accoutrements and many bottles of liquor) and as I suspected, there is no substitution for this bar tool. It is SUCH a helpful tool in fact, that I will be giving one away. In 2 weeks, I will return from my annual trip to the land of live oaks and Spanish moss, and draw a name from all the people who have participated in the Garden to Table Challenge this season. Want an entry? Simply post about what you've been harvesting and cooking, include a link in your post back here, and then come back and link below. See you in a couple weeks!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garden failures

A little while back, Ricki was brave enough to post some of her garden failures, so I thought I should fess up as well. I can't believe I'm about to tell you this. The stupidest thing I did this year was to not turn my horrible crappy soil before planting. Imagine clay. Compacted. With tree roots growing up into it. With rocks. The kind of soil you don't really dig, but more chip away at. This spring, I was just so tired, I convinced myself that I was following the no-till method. I literally thought this in my head, even though I knew I was seriously mistaking the intention of the no-till method. Anyway, the result is what you see above and below. Seriously stunted plants - plants that were lovingly grown from seed and cared for indoors for weeks. What a shame.

In the photo above, you can see a tomato in the ground and one in the pot. A couple weeks prior, they were the same size. What a shame. Below, bolted Asian greens from sowing seed in a too-sunny spot, too-late in the season. Duh.

Above, a blueberry shrub that never knew what hit it. Below, a result of sheer laziness. I know you can't leave this stuff outside through the winter, but I live in denial that my pottery will break.

Lesson learned. I only hope I can be disciplined enough to not repeat these mistakes!

Friday, July 22, 2011

GTTC: muddled mint oreo ice cream

Today's Garden to Table Challenge comes from the herb section of the garden, the only section that is currently making me proud. The ice cream I made was loosely based on a recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream At Home. This recipe book is filled with bright photos, unusual ice cream flavors, and truly instills a sense of confidence and inspiration to be creative with your ice cream. If you like to make ice cream at home, it's a MUST BUY (I wish I could say I was being paid to write this, but I'm not).

Today, I followed the Backyard Mint recipe and added Oreo cookie pieces (because Weight Watchers starts tomorrow). It was quite delicious - and interesting because the real mint used to create mint ice cream, tastes so different from the green mint ice cream we've all had from the supermarket. It definitely lends a "backyard" taste that is so natural and delicious.

What's going on in your garden and kitchen? I'm sure you're having more success with harvest than I am. What are you doing with your vegetables? Post about it with a link to this blog and then link below!

In other things black and white, this is our little pet sugar glider Shakti-taka, making a rare daytime appearance. I think this super soft marsupial looks like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch.

But in case you're not able to see the cuteness in Shakti, I'll end with something lovely from the garden...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ducks and the geese that watch over them

Kids above catching dragonflies...below, the mogwai (Gremlins) of the flock of ducklings.

Above, an idyllic little path to see the water lotuses. Below, the view from near my father's vegetable garden.

Above, the white geese that roam the property. Every evening, my father claps and yells, "Hey!" and they all start filing in to their enclosure for the night. In this old post, you can see images of the geese walking in single file. It's hilarious (please come back after seeing the first few photos because I have a funny story to tell). The two Chinese geese in the photo below used to be part of that gaggle of geese that would roam during the day and come in at night. However, ever since my father collected eggs, hatched some of ducks and geese and then brought them out into the smaller enclosure, the two Chinese geese have not left the enclosure to join the other white adult geese at all. Instead, they stand guard just outside the smaller enclosure ALL DAY LONG. When anyone comes near, they start spitting and hissing. As it turns out, 3 of the baby geese belong to the Chinese parents.

On this day, my father needed to change the bedding in the little house. When he got near the enclosure, the Chinese geese started flipping out, honking and crying, and causing all kinds of hysteria. Then all the baby ducks and geese start honking and quacking and running around. In the photos below, you see that the Chinese geese first tried to corral the babies into the corner, and when my father walked in, they started to corral them into the house. Finally, must have honked, "GET OUT! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!"

Once the smaller guys are able to mix with the older folks, it will be really interesting to see what happens. I wonder if the non-Chinese geese will be adopted by the Chinese parents? I wonder if the Chinese parents know which are their offspring? Will the ducks try to follow the Chinese geese? When the geese are able to roam the property, will the ducks cry out? Will the regular white geese adopt their offspring at that point? Will the geese then roam as one group or split off into two now? Gawd, the whole thing is so fascinating to me!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

GTTC - skillet chips with lemon-garlic aioli

In the vegetable garden this week are lots of blooms, but nothing yet to harvest but herbs, so I'm still finding ways to use my super strong fresh garlic. What are you cooking up this week? Post about it, link here, and add your name to Mr. Linky below to share with other readers!

Lemon-Garlic Aioli (makes about a cup)
  • Add the following to a food processor: 1/4 cup lemon juice, several cloves of chopped garlic, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, a splash of hot sauce. Process till smooth.
  • While running the processor, drizzle in 1/2 cup of olive oil until incorporated.
  • Salt/pepper to taste.

Skillet Chips
  • Slice potatoes as thinly as possible (a mandolin kind of slicer would be helpful).
  • Intend to make galettes by organizing slicse in a flower pattern about three layers thick in a skillet with a little oil. Place a small plate on top of galette. Cross your fingers that you'll be successful but know that the one time you made amazing galettes was just a fluke.
  • If/when you fail, simply separate the slices and let cook till golden brown. Serve with aioli feeling successful about this serendipitous result.

Friday, July 15, 2011

GBBD - July 2011

Lots of blooms thriving in hot and humid Maryland! This month, it looks like the variety of lilies steal the Garden Blogger's Bloom Day show. Want to see blooms from all around the world? Visit May Dreams Gardens today and on the 15th of every month!

Also, I don't tend to post so frequently, but I did get to visit some really lovely gardens last week. Be sure to check out my last 3 posts on the Delaware gardens.

The pretty candylily below needs to be moved. It's completely hidden behind a peony.

Above - waterlilies from my father's pond. Below, a hydrangea. You'd marvel as well if you could see the conditions under which this tough little shrub grows!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Delaware Gardens (part 3 of 3): 117 Federal Street

So when we left Mike's LARGE garden, I talked myself into believing that if I had lots of space at my disposal, I could create something really special too. I left with a shred of gardening self-esteem. That all went out the window when our bus stopped in front of this house that promised to be "small and mighty" with a mere 2000 square foot yard.

The entrance to the backyard garden.

When I passed by the railing boxes below, I knew I was about to see something really spectacular.

The yard is probably a pretty standard little rectangle, but the garden's curves and nooks add so much character. These photos do not do the garden justice at all. I love the use of golds, limes, chocolates, and oranges - and all the tropicals.

Here's something about my personality - I'm not a gusher. Not an ooooher and aaaahhhher. I don't love all flowers. In fact, I'm pretty particular. Even among gardens I like, I generally revel in quiet inspiration. Today though, I was among all the others who gasped upon stepping into the yard and gushed to the owner (oh yes I did) about how beautiful, gorgeous, and spectacular his little garden is.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Delaware Gardens (part 2 of 3): Milton Garden Tour and Pepper's

We were able to see several houses on this tour - all different from each other. The first house is on a very sunny wide expanse of space in a new development.

Wouldn't you love that little sun room off of the house? I originally thought it was a greenhouse, but it actually contains a swimming pool.

The vegetable garden is above. Below...blackberries are in season!

This next stop included a home tour as well.

The "history window" is pretty cool. The owners left it open when they renovated. You can see the shell that was used to make buttons.

I thought this chair tucked in the corner was funny. Sit there if you've been bad. Or if you're trying to creep someone out.

This house had a formal garden that was very well-kept and pretty, but didn't fit my taste so I didn't include it. I did however include a more rural scene - I love the juxtaposition between the old timey buildings and the solar/wind generators.

Next on the tour, this house is made of clinker brick. From my understanding, the center of the pile of brick upon being fired can get burnt. This house was built out of these "rejected" bricks. This house/garden is owned by the family who own Pepper's nursery.

Our last stop of the day was at Pepper's where most of my fellow trip goers walked away with all kinds of VERY reasonably priced, large, and varied plants. The employees were really nice and helpful. If you're anywhere near this nursery, it would be well worth the visit.

The "mud bath" above was so cute. Below, some of my souvenirs of the day. Not pictured are the horseradish, water hyacinths, and lemongrass I also picked up. Mark, our patient and affable leader, mentioned that the eyeball plants' leaves and flowers are antiseptic and will numb your mouth. I tried a little pinch. Yep. Cool trick. The effects were short-lived though. I guess for medicinal purposes you'd need to make a tincture or compress or something. I don't know. Please don't follow my medicinal advice.

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