Archive for the ‘veggies’ Category

How to grow tomatoes + 115 ways to prepare them

Home-grown tomatoesSomeone posted this to a cooking site I like to visit. It’s a free e-book with two chapters – Chapter One is a biographical sketch of George Washington Carver, the famous African-American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor and Chapter 2 is his book “How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table.”

You can download it here: “How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table” (PDF) by George Washington Carver.

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Urban Farming: Mixed green salad

One of the great things about living in this area is that we can garden most of the year. We have several varieties of lettuce in the garden right now, along with spinach, bok choy and cool-weather herbs like parsley and cilantro. The romaine, red leaf lettuce and green leaf lettuce are growing beautifully and are ready to eat.

Romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce

Slugs appear to be attacking the bok choy, though. Dan dusted them with diatomaceous earth, a natural pest control method. It’s the fossilized remains of a type of algae called diatoms available in garden centers as a fine powder; it has tiny sharp edges that irritate the soft tissues of slugs and so, when sprinkled around plants, deters them from moving close enough to eat them.

Bok choy sprinkled with diatomaceous earth
Bok choy sprinkled with diatomaceous earth

So we’re hoping they come back. In the meantime, we’re enjoying a mixed green salad with our baked rockfish tonight.

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Urban Farming: The Fall Garden

The great bounty of the summer garden is gone now, but in this mild climate, we continue to enjoy food as local as you can get – from our garden.

A couple weeks ago, we pulled out the basil, tomatoes and tomatilloes and planted lettuces in their place. The baby romaine, spinach, red sails (red leaf lettuce) and bok choy are growing nicely. This past weekend, I added cilantro and flat-leaf parsley.

Should be a delicious winter.

2011 Fall Garden

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Quick Refrigerator Pickles: Szechuan Green Beans

The green beans have been quite prolific this year. We have a couple of pounds in the freezer and a couple of pounds in the refrigerator. This is the year I plan to experiment with more food-preserving techniques, so last year, I purchased “Put ’em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling.” It’s full of wonderful ideas for enjoying fresh garden produce now and later.

Szechuan Pickled Green Beans
Szechuan Pickled Green Beans

This refrigerator-pickle recipe for Szechuan Green Beans intrigued me because it’s so simple. It doesn’t involve the scary-seeming boiling-water method that is generally used for canning vegetables for the relatively long term – a few months to a year. This recipe just requires covering blanched beans with a seasoned vinegary brine and keeping it in the fridge. It will last for a month and the flavor deepens every day. Yum.

Szechuan Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans, washed, topped, and tailed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
  • 1 (1-inch) knob ginger, sliced into coins
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

Line several baking sheets with dish towels and set aside. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the beans into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.

Scoop the beans out with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching in batches. Remove the beans from the ice bath with a slotted spoon and spread on the towel-covered baking sheets. Blot dry.

To make the pickles, pack the beans vertically in a quart jar.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot brine over the beans to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.

Refrigerate: Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Szechuan Pickled Green Beans with Quiche and Tomatoes

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Vegetable medley from the garden

There really is nothing like picking vegetables from the backyard garden, preparing them simply and roasting them over flame. Yesterday, we harvested the first what I’m sure will be many more zucchinis, and enough green beans for two servings (there’s lots more out there). A couple weeks ago, we also pulled a couple dozen onions of various types and set them to cure on wire shelves in the sunroom.

Red, yellow and white onions from the garden
Red, yellow and white onions from the garden

There’s really not much to this recipe. I trimmed the zucchini and cut it lengthwise into four planks. I whisked together the juice of one lemon, the same amount of extra-virgin olive oil, a 1/2 tsp. of Penzey’s Minced Garlic, a pinch of cayenne, a big pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper for a quick marinade. I also sliced a small homegrown red onion and trimmed the green beans.

Dan sprinkled Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Seasoning on two tuna steaks and took everything out to the grill. We have this handy grilling wok that makes it easy to grill small pieces of food like cut vegetables.

After everything was grilled, we tossed the vegetables with the rest of the marinade.

The first zucchini of 2011!
The first zucchini of 2011!

Garden-fresh green beans
Garden-fresh green beans

Grilled veggies, grilled tuna and remoulade sauce
Grilled veggies, grilled tuna and remoulade sauce

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Urban Farming: Progress in the garden

Our veggies are coming right along, and we have some good garden critters making a home in it, too.

Tomato blossom
Tomato blossom

Baby celery
Baby celery

Mesclun mix and parsley
Mesclun mix and parsley in a terra cotta pot

Tiny swallowtail caterpillars love the fennel
Tiny swallowtail caterpillars love the fennel

Medium swallowtail caterpillar in the fennel
Medium swallowtail caterpillar in the fennel

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