Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Garden that Keeps On Giving and Giving and Giving

This, my friends, is what I harvested from the garden today. Today...yes, in just one day I got all of this.
2 summer squash
1 patty pan
9 ears of corn
10 green peppers
6 beefsteak tomatoes
3 "Mr. Stripey" heirloom tomatoes
1 plum tomato
39 cherry tomatoes
a handful of basil
2 pickles
and a half a sink-full of green beans

The garden that started out as an experiment of sorts has grown into a full blown, living, over-producing monster. A monster that I created. It wouldn't be a problem if I lived near family and friends in Michigan, but here it is much harder to find people to share it with. I don't know a lot of people that like to cook around here and that leaves me with a lot of produce. I've been using as much as I can but I think that we are all "green beaned out." We just can't take eating anymore. We've had them with nearly every meal for over a week. So after days of eating them and giving a few bags away(to the two people I know) I finally resorted to freezing some of the green beans.

Besides green beans we've just finished up with the peas. Here you can see last week's meals. We got a couple of pounds of tenderloin and each night we tried it with a different sauce and accompaniments. One night we had it with fried shallots, smashed potatoes, and green beans. The next night we had steak with a blue cheese sauce, snap peas and corn, and deconstructed bruschetta, and the last night we had it with steak sauce, fresh pea risotto, and Gabe's sweet potato mash.
I call it Gabe's because the day we went grocery shopping my husband decided to let Gabriel push his own little "Shopper in Training" cart. Gabe did a good job of picking out the things we needed but he added in 3 sweet potatoes as well as a few other things willy-nilly. He was such a cute little shopper that we ended up keeping his items and cooking them up last week.

So, the experiment turned monster has taught me a lot this first year. I've been keeping a mental note of all of the things that need to be changed for next year. I will definitely have a better laid plan going into the planting so that I don't have this problem with overproduction next year. I think I should jot down a map for next spring while all of the changes are fresh and present in my mind.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Double-crust Blueberry Pie

Today Gabe and I stopped by the Farmstand down the road and picked up a few pints of blueberries. They were so yummy that Gabe insisted I put some in his little snack cup as we rode home. It's a good thing we live so close otherwise there might not have been any berries left.
I was excited about making a pie since I haven't made any since last fall when the apples were in season. I was thrilled with the outcome and Joseph even exclaimed "Wow!" when he walked in the door tonight. We thought about sharing a piece along with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream - but two bites in I went over and cut another slice for myself, knowing one would never satisfy both of us and Gabe.

Double-crust Blueberry Pie
adapted from Luscious Berry Desserts by Lori Longbotham

2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 T cold vegetable shortening

3 pints tiny wild blueberries or 2 pints larger blueberries
3/4 c sugar
1/4 (heaping) c cornstarch
1 t lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 T butter
1 T milk

For the crust:
Using a pastry cutter combine the flour, salt, shortening, and butter until the largest pieces resemble small peas. With a fork, stir in one tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture clumps together when squeezed gently. Divide and form into two discs and chill for at least 30 minutes.Remove from refrigerator and roll out first disc and place in bottom of 9 inch pie pan. Roll out remaining dough into a large enough circle to cover the pie.For the filling:Combine berries, sugar, salt, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, and cinnamon in a bowl. Place filling in the prepared pie pan, dot the top with the remaining butter, and cover with remaining pie crust. Make 3-4 slits in the top of the pie.Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, lower heat to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes longer. Let cool completely - if you can! (I placed my on a pizza pan in case it bubbled over.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Best Zucchini Bread

Sunday I stopped by the garden to do a little weeding and maintenance and decided to leave one small zucchini attached to the plant since it wasn't much bigger than my largest finger. Two days later and two downpours later I returned to a zucchini the shape and size of my calf. I held it up to my leg and it reached from my knee down to my ankle. After marveling at it for a day I decided to make it into my favorite zucchini bread...I think this makes 3 batches in the past few weeks. I'll surely be sharing it with the neighbors this time.

Zucchini Breadadapted from Food Network's Paula Dean recipe

3 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 t ground nutmeg
2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
2 1/2 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 c water
2 c grated zucchini
1 c chopped walnuts
1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in one large bowl. In another bowl combine the oil, eggs, water, vanilla, and zucchini. Mix wet ingredients together and then add into the dry mixture. Fold in the nuts. Bake in 2 prepared loaf pans or 12 large cupcakes. Bake loaf pans for about 1 hour and about 30 minutes for smaller breads. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick and when it comes out clean the bread is done.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Peach Shortcake

Yesterday I made a batch of Cornmeal Shortcakes with Peaches almost as described in this book that I mentioned earlier. I followed the recipe about as close as I follow any recipe and I liked it. I liked it well enough that I packed one up in a container and hauled it all the way into Chicago for Joseph to try. He liked it a lot. Today I made another one but I enhanced it by adding in a layer of strawberries which I really liked. Joseph agreed that this extra layer was a good move. Gabe, my 19 month old, devoured more than his share...grabbing the fork at one point because I wasn't going fast enough for him.
Cornmeal Shortcakes with Peaches (my way)adapted from Fresh Everyday

6 large peaches
1/2 c sugar
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
whipped cream
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1/4 sugar plus 2 tablespoons
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
8 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 c cold, well-shaken buttermilk

Stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking bowder, baking soda, and salt together. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Blend until mixture forms pea-sized clumps. Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough just starts to come together. Use a light hand so the dough does not become too tough.
Flour the countertop and turn the dough out onto the flour. Use your hands to pull the dough together into a disc shape...you made have to lightly knead it to incorporate all of the flour. Roll the dough out to about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut into 6 wedges and transfer to a baking sheet (a pizza pan works well) and brush will buttermilk and then sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, drop 5 peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds and then plunge into an ice bath. Peel and slices peaches into a bowl. Add 1/2 c sugar. After 15 minutes you can mash or puree peach mixture.
To assemble shortcakes slice one biscuit and layer with peach puree, whipped cream, fresh peach slices, strawberry slices, and then repeat.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fried Green Tomatoes

We've had fried green tomatoes twice in the past two days and each time I tried a different recipe. My favorite was one from Fresh Everyday More Great Recipes From Foster's Market by Sara Foster. I just picked this book up a week or two ago and I've already made a handful of recipes and they've all been really good. Tomorrow I'll share the peach shortcake that I made using this book...it was killer.

Plus, here is a little peak at the basket of goodies I brought home from the garden last night...this was all in one day. That garden is an amazing thing!

Fried Green Tomatoes
adapted form Fresh Everyday by Sara Foster

4 large green beefsteak tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
oil for frying

Season tomato slices with salt and pepper.  Stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar, 1 t salt, and pepper in a shallow pie pan or plate.  Whisk the egg and buttermilk together in a separate pie pan or shallow wide bowl.  Fill a large sauté pan 1/4 inch deep with oil.  Heat to 375 over medium high heat.  Dip slices of tomato into milk mixture and then place in cornmeal mixture.  Coat both sides and place in heated skillet. Fry until both sides have turned golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, trying to flip only once.  Remove from skillet and place on paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper.  

Monday, July 02, 2007

Baked Zuchinni Sticks

The zuchinni plants have started to produce so I have been in search of good zuchinni recipes. So far we've had traditional zuchinni bread, chocolate zuchinni cake, grilled, sauteed, and tonight it will be stir fried.
This is last night's version of fried zuchinni sticks. I went with a healthier version and baked them in the oven. The flavors were spot on and I don't think it even needs the extra marinara sauce.
This makes enough for about 2 appetizer portions. It is easy to adjust depending on how many people you are serving.

Baked Zuchinni Sticks

1 medium zuchinni cut into 1/2'' sticks
1 T olive oil
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup italian bread crumbs
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t oregano

In a medium bowl toss zuchinni with olive oil and then sprinkle on all remaining ingredients except the bread crumbs. Toss gently to coat. Add in breadcrumbs and gently toss again. Spread the sticks out on a baking sheet so they are not touching. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, turn, and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Here you can see a portion of what I harvested yesterday along with the chocolate zuchinni cakes I made earlier.

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