Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fall Garden

Time to start getting ready for the next phase of the gardening year. The yellow squash and zucchini plants are finished and in the compost as are some of the early tomatoes and the first batch of beans. In the two newly bared beds I planted my fall beans for drying(dry on the bush). I always plant heirloom varieties for drying and I almost exclusively get the seed from  This year there are four varieties, Ireland Creek Annie, Calypso, Painted Pony and Hutterite Soup. All great cooking beans and very reliable to grow. If nothing untoward happens then I should be harvesting nicely dried beans by the time of the first frost the end of October. In a week or so I will be starting cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the green house for the fall and winter garden. I'll sow beets, spinach, carrots and kale directly in the garden in September. We had a hard than normal early freeze last year that cost me most of the broccoli and cabbage so better luck this year.
Speaking of harvest, I pulled all of the shallots the other day and got a pretty good harvest from a dollar's worth of seed as you can see. The other half of the bed is leeks which will stay over winter and just dug as needed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cherry Tomato Jam

The cherry tomato glut has arrived. If you are a gardener and plant cherry tomatoes you know what I mean. The vines are producing more tomatoes, by a lot, than I can ever eat fresh. It is therefore Tomato Jam time. This is a savory jam that is great as a condiment. Try globbing it over cream cheese as an appetizer or using it instead of ketchup. Mixed with mayo it makes a pretty good Russian dressing.  BTW I planted a hybrid cherry tomato called Jasper instead of my usual Sweet Million and it is very vigorous and highly productive. The fruit is small but very sweet and tomatoey. I planted it too close to the cucumbers and it has taken over everything in its vicinity...lesson learned. That's a double recipe in the pan btw.

Cherry Tomato Jam

2 pounds of cherry tomatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar (you can use other vinegar if you like)
1 whole large shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup sugar
zest and juice from one lemon
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt

Out everything in a large, heavy saucepan and cook  over low heat, stirring frequently.
The mixture will rapidly begin to liquefy as the tomatoes break down and then start to
thicken as it evaporates.
Keep stirring and often as this jam is  prone to scorching as it thickens. After about an
hour of low-heat reduction, most of the water will be gone. Let cool (or use a chilled
spoon) and check the consistency. It should resemble a traditional jelly or jam when cool.
I had to cook mine for an hour and a half before it was suitably thick.

It's completely OK to add a bit of crushed red pepper or herbs to this just be careful as it gets quite concentrated.

Ladle into 4-ounce jelly jars. Process in boiling water for 15 minutes. If mine is any guide I made a double recipe and got exactly 7 4oz. jars out of 4 pounds of tomatoes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mushy Pickled Peppers

I just opened a jar of the jalapenos I pickled last week and as I suspected I failed to preserve any crunch. The 10 minute water bath necessary to seal the jars just cooks the peppers too much. There is an old Southern recipe for limed sweet pickles that produces a very crunch cucumber pickle and it involves soaking the sliced cucumbers in a lime solution overnight.  You have to do the water bath to have any hope of long term storage and safety but maybe I can cheat with the lime. I have another pile of peppers to preserve and I am going to try the lime routine. I let you know how it turns out. Unfortunately, I am just going to toss the pickles I did last week...while they taste fine the texture really suck. Shame but just a waste of some vinegar and a few hours time.

P.S. I also pickled a pint of my precious pepperoncini and while I haven't opened them I'll bet they are mushy as well. We'll do them with lime as well and see if it makes something edible.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

No Corn For You

The squirrels have won the battle of the corn. Earlier in the month they finished off the miniature pop corn eating every ear. Now as the yellow corn is maturing they have gone after that. There are one or two ears that aren't yet eaten but they'll have those in a day or two. More than likely I won't get a single ear. They start in on it before it is ready to pick which pretty much guarantees they get it all. Squirrels are not a gardeners best friend.

Let There Be Light

Just had some major clearing done to the East. In total 4 very large pines and a number of smaller ones. This picture is just East of the garden and the giant pine that is now missing was shading way too much space. I wasn't getting any sun on the East end of the garden until about eleven in the morning. Not acceptable. Otherwise is was a nice enough tree that just happened to be in the wrong place.

We Have Pumpkins

I have never had much success with pumpkins....usually it is either fungus or critters but so far this year things seem to be going in the right direction. There are about 10 of this size and more on the way. Keep your fingers crossed. Oh, they are Amish pie pumpkins and stay pretty small and not the jack o'lantern type

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Friend Is Gone

I am so sad to report that a good friend has passed. Trace Browne died yesterday. Known to to the others that sometimes visit here as the "T" part of "MandT" or as part of "Adjitadiaries" Trace is survived by his partner Michael. This is doubly sad as Trace and Michael were just "officially" married on June 16th after twenty years together. Our heart is with Michael.

Trace Browne  b. June 7, 1951    d. July 10, 2014

May the Goddess Guard Him. May Trace Find His Way to the Summerlands. May His Friends and Family Know Peace.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Homemade Sauerkraut

Along with all the other things that happened over the 4th weekend, BBQ, garden, baking, I got the urge for some real sauerkraut and not the stuff from the grocery. Even the stuff labeled fresh in the plastic bags is a pale reflection of proper freshly fermented kraut.
A friend just happened to call from Whole Foods about the time I decided I was going to get a head of cabbage and start a batch. I asked her to pick me up a head of organic cabbage since she was coming by here anyway. I was a little shocked when she handed me the receipt...$1.99/pound for a 3 pound head of cabbage. Ouch! All the more reason to plant it in the fall.
So I've got a batch going. If you are interested in making your own you can get easy to follow instructions for making a small batch in a couple of Mason jars here. It's really easy and pretty foolproof. Mine is going in a 2 quart pickle jar and not two quart jars.
I should have some respectable sauerkraut in about a week.

Just as an aside. A spoonful for homemade kraut has more probiotic bacteria in in than a whole bottle of the diet supplements they sell for a fortune.

BTW I've also ordered some milk kefir grains so I can begin making my own kefir. I buy the stuff every week and it  is good (Lifeway or Trader Joe's...same thing) but I think homemade should be cheaper and better. We'll see.

The pic is from the

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Squash Casserole, Yes, Another One

Still have a lot of squash bit it is beginning to taper a bit. Here is another squash recipe. This one is from the Sautee Inn in North Georgia. It's pretty simple but surprisingly tasty.

Sautee Inn  Squash Casserole

(from Sautee, Georgia, near Helen)

3 cups summer squash, chopped
1 cup onion, sliced or chopped (we chopped)
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup almonds, finely chopped (we used unsalted)
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg if you like
1 cup of Cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook the squash and onion together in small amount of water until tender (I microwave it). Drain well. Mix with other ingredients. Place in baking dish and top with additional crumbs and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 until slightly browned, about 45 minutes.

This recipe is from the cookbook by  Joseph Dabney, entitled Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine, celebrating the folklore and art of Southern Appalachian cooking. It won the James Beard Award a few years back and if you are looking for authentic Southern Appalachian recipes this is an excellent source.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

How About a Zucchini Fritter

It's definitely squash season around here. I've got a fridge drawer full of zucchini and yellow squash and we have been eating on it almost everyday. I even sent a big yellow squash casserole yesterday to an acquaintance that had a death in the family. (This is the South...that's what we do.) So instead of baking, casseroling or whatever tonight I'll pull out the old fresh vege fritter recipe and make zucchini fritters. I've also got a beautiful eggplant that was picked this morning that might like a little soak in buttermilk and a roll in seasoned cornmeal and a quick run through the fry pan as well. This recipe is labeled zucchini fritters but it will work for yellow squash, fresh corn, chard, spinach, and other fresh softish veges. I've never tried it with carrots, beets or the like but it might work with some fiddling.  I don't do a lot of frying but sometimes you just gotta.

Zucchini Fritters

vegetable or canola oil for frying, you'll need enough to get about 3/8" in a big frying pan

3 cups grated zucchini, use a box grater for the best results.
1 cup finely diced onion
2 large eggs slightly beaten
3/4  cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn meal (if you don't have corn meal use all flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
a couple of grinds of black pepper pepper

In a large bowl mix the zucchini, onions and eggs.
In another bowl mix all the rest of the ingredients. Put the dry into the wet and mix well. When your oil is hot (shimmering)  (or you can test with a little batter to make sure it sizzles when it hits the oil) Drop big spoons full of the batter in the pan and brown them on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

This should make enough for 4 easily.

These are great plain but they are great with a flavored mayo. You can use all mayo but I prefer to cut it with some yogurt or sour cream.

Try a half cup of Hellman's mayo and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream and 1 tsp of Sriracha.
or  instead of the hot sauce try 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice and 1/2 tsp chili powder or 1/2 tsp adobo powder.
or use your imagination.