Tag Archives: homegrown

Green garden gazpacho

8 Sep

photograph of homegrown green zebra tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumber, basil, and chives

Gazpacho is one of my favorite things to make when the weather is warm. It’s tasty, healthy, and you can throw in just about anything.  We had a number of green zebra tomatoes, so I wanted to try making a green gazpacho using only veggies our garden.  To the tomatoes I added a few tomatillos, a small cucumber, and a ton of fresh basil and chives.  A little red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper rounded things out nicely.

Keep in mind that this is a special tomato variety that is green when ripe.  Unripe tomatoes will not be the same!  Using red tomatoes is fine.

quartered green zebra tomatoes on a pink cutting board

Most gazpacho recipes recommend peeling your tomatoes.  I never do this because I’m lazy and I think that putting them through the blender/food processor is fine.  So I just core and quarter my tomatoes.  Into the blender they go.  Easy as pie.

I did peel and seed the cucumber, though.  I guess I’m not very consistent.

green gazpacho topped with greek yogurt, basil and chives in a bowl with a green and blue retro starburst pattern.

Topped with a little Greek yogurt and some more olive oil, basil, and chives, this made a delicious (and good looking) lunch, and almost all of it came straight from the garden.

The best part, though, is that I didn’t need to turn on a burner to make it.  Hot weather food, for the win!

2012 tomato round-up, part 1

2 Sep

Homegrown tomato season is finally here!  I’ve been waiting for this moment for months and months; tasting that first grape tomato could not have been sweeter (both literally and figuratively)!  Since then, we’ve had a few different types of tomatoes ripen, so here’s a round-up of our tomato harvest thus far.

For our “normal” large, slicing tomato, we planted nine Siletz tomatoes.  These guys are great because they show up super early.  Even in our questionable Oregon growing season, we can rely on getting several Siletz tomatoes.

This pretty purple tomato is the Indigo Rose.  Released this year by the Oregon State University, this tomato has been bred to have high levels of anti-oxidants (you can read more about Indigo Rose tomatoes from the OSU extension service).  They’re a pretty rose color inside.  This is the only type of tomato in this post that I did not start from seed myself, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less!

These Chocolate-Cherry tomatoes are my favorite! We planted one of these guys last year and I loved them so much they were on the top of my list of “must plant food of 2012.”  We have six or seven plants this year, so let me know if you’d like to try some.  They really do taste chocolatey and they’re super-sized for a cherry tomato.

These Green Zebra tomatoes might win a contest for coolest looking tomatoes we’re growing this year.  Despite the green/yellow color, these babies are good ‘n ripe.  We traded away for a Green Zebra plant last year and Nate made a special request for them again this year.  This is the tomato that we have the most plants of, with a whopping 13.  I might have gotten a little carried away…

One of the coolest things about composting (besides free plant-food) are the little volunteer plants that pop up.  These SunGold cherry tomatoes were a favorite from years past but we didn’t get around to planting any this year.  I saved a few of the volunteer tomato plants that popped up this spring, hoping that one would be a SunGold.  I’ve been so excited to watch the fruit ripen to this bright orange color this past week.  SunGolds are super sweet, not for the faint of heart.

We also wound up with two volunteer grape tomato plants this year!  These babies were the first to ripen and I could not have been happier to see them.  Surprise tomato plants are among the best surprises!

We’re still waiting on some tomato varieties to ripen (Black Krim, Moskovitz, Old German) but we’re already deep in tomatoes.  Anyone interested in a tomato party with tomato jam, tomato salad, or maybe some truly homemade Bloody Marys?

Meggie loves veggies

3 Aug

After an accidental hiatus in which I finished up my very first Master’s degree, I’m back to blogging! While this blog has been put on hold while I completed my scholarly pursuits, the garden waits for no one.

Photo of a head of Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce

We’re just about to the end of our lettuce season.  In the foreground is the Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce I said I was excited about growing.  There’s a head each of Freckle romaine, red and oak leaf lettuce in the back.

Photo of a person holding tiny red and orange carrots

Forget what they sell at the store; these are baby carrots!  These carrots are the results of an early thinning session.  The pink colored carrots are the Dragon carrots I’ve been so excited about growing.  They’ve since turned a deeper purple color.  The orange carrots are a variety called Littlefinger that stay relatively short.  I hoped they would work better in our dense soil that is not the most habitable for root veggies.  So far, so good.

Photo of a short-haired fat woman in a green and white dress holding up a garlic braid

If you pay close attention to my Facebook page, you may have seen me post a picture of some homegrown garlic a while back.  Nate and I decided to try braiding these suckers, following these instructions for a garlic braid.  It is far from perfect, but as you can tell by the photo, we were rather pleased with the results.  We have more garlic growing in the garden so we’ll have the chance to give it a second try.  The garlic pictured here is Spanish Roja hard-neck garlic and it is delicious!

In other gardening news, we’re about to harvest our first zucchini and we’re eagerly awaiting the coming tomato season.  The next few days are supposed to be hot-hot-hot; hopefully that will help our 30+ tomato plants along.

I hope you’re having as much fun in the garden as I am!

Good seeds

22 May

The past week or so it has felt as if summer was at our doorstep.  We had several clear skies in a row (which is almost unheard of in Oregon until June rolls around).  However, the skies are grey again and the rain has returned.

I took some photos last week when the sun was out but am just now getting around to constructing a post.  It’s really hard to blog about gardening this time of year because the plants are growing so quickly.  If I don’t post photos the same day they’re taken, they’re out of date!

Until I get the chance to snap some new pictures, I thought I would post about some of the things I am most excited about growing this year.  We’re growing a mix of old standbys and new favorites.

Six seed packets

From left to right: Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce, Baby Blue hubbard winter squash, Chocolate Cherry cherry tomato, Little Prince container eggplant, Green Zebra tomato, Dragon carrot.

Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce – this has been a favorite lettuce of ours for about three years now.  The heads are small, compact, and super cute.  The leaves are delicious and the small size makes it great for edible landscaping or gardening in containers.  We’ve always purchased our Tom Thumb seeds from Botanical Interests but so far this year we’ve had a low germination rate.  We’ll be planting more as the season progresses and hoping for better luck!

Baby Blue hubbard winter squash – we had one regular hubbard squash plant last year.  The plant didn’t produce very much (in large part due to some user error on our part) but the squash was delicious!  We added it to soups and stews and I made a hubbard squash pie.  This year, we’re trying out this variety that grows “mini” hubbard squash, which should weigh in at 7-10 lbs.  Hubbard squash are supposed to store really well so I’m hoping we can use it throughout the winter months.

Chocolate Cherry cherry tomato – this is my first time trying to grow this variety of tomato from seed.  Last year, I picked up a Chocolate Cherry plant from my friendly neighborhood BiMart on a whim.  It turned out to be my favorite variety out of the 10 or so we grew last year.  This year, it’s replacing Sungold as our cherry tomato of choice due to its sweet but complex flavor.

Little Prince eggplant – these mini eggplants are an oldy-but-goody around here.  The bushy plants are great for containers, close quarters, or for adding a little interest to a landscaped area.  The plants produce beautiful purple flowers followed by small fruit, about the size of a fist.  We love to grill these and make them into homemade baba ghanouj.

Green Zebra tomato – last year, I acquired one of these tomato plants through a trade with our friend, the master urban farmer Emily.  This year, the variety was Nate’s number request for the garden.  They taste great and look pretty cool, too.

Dragon carrot – I’ve grown carrots several times before, but with mixed success due to our muddy, clay-heavy soil.  That said, when I saw these purple and orange carrots at the gardening shop, I couldn’t say no!  How fun are these?  I think these Dragon carrots would be the perfect way to get a kiddo to eat more veg.  I know at my house growing up, any food with a bad ass name was consumed straight away.

These aren’t the only plants we’re growing this year, but they are definitely the ones that I’m most excited about.  While I think there’s no shame in buying veggie starts from the store, there’s something really special about planting tiny brown seeds and watching them turn into big green plants.

There are a few plants that I’m excited about that I didn’t actually plant myself.  We do some DIY composting and last autumn all of our leftover tomatillo plant matter went into the bins.  As you might imagine, this spring we now have tons of little volunteer tomatillo plants popping up everywhere.  I’m not one to look a gift horse (or seed) in the mouth so I’ve been replanting these little volunteers and I’m hoping that they grow big and strong, and produce some good eats.

Now I want to know:

  • How are things looking in your garden?
  • Are there any plants or varieties that you’re especially excited about this year?
  • What are the super awesome plants that I should absolutely not miss out on?

How does your garden grow?

21 Feb

Screen capture of pinterest board with vegetables

I cannot eff-ing wait until the weather is a just a little bit warmer so that I can get out into the garden!  Since Nate and I got married last August, the veggie garden didn’t get the love and attention that it deserved.  This year, I’m going to make it a personal mission to make up for that.  I’ve been pouring over seed catalogs and websites at every spare moment, trying to find the perfect variations to grow.  There are so many beautiful and delicious sounding options, it’s hard to choose what we should plant in our limited gardening space!

Screen capture of pinterest board with vegetables

This year, I’m hoping to try out a few new things.  I want to focus more on autumn and winter vegetables, specifically types that will store well.  If you know anything about the best storing potatoes, squash, etc., let me know!

The only problem with buying seeds is that every seed package comes with 30+ seeds, which is way more than I, as an average amateur gardener, can make use of in one growing season.  Usually we save our leftover seeds for the next year, but by the time it’s time to plant again they have a much lower propagation rate.  So I was thinking, why not swap leftover seeds and extra seedlings?  I would love to be able to get a greater variety of seeds without having to pay for them and I doubt I’m the only one.  I’m proposing starting a seed share, where we swap seeds, seedlings and gardening tall tales.  We could even share some homegrown grub and a few adult beverages, if we feel so inclined!

Mother hubbard squash pie

13 Jan

Baked hubbard squash pie with a pie crust decoration of the state of Oregon with a heart cut out of the middle.

“Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone;
But when she came there
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.”

I’m familiar with this old Mother Goose nursery rhyme but I’m not sure what, if any, connection it has to the mighty and delicious (or should that be mighty delicious?) hubbard squash.  We planted one hubbard squash plant this past summer, which should have yielded several squash.  Due to an unfortunate (but understandable) mix-up of the hubbard with a globe zucchini plant, we ended the growing season with only one full-sized hubbard squash.

A diptych with two photos of a bearded man with plastic framed glasses holding a large, green, hubbard squash. In the second photo, he is tossing it in the air.

Due to the “rarity” of homegrown winter squash at our house, it was of utmost importance that we put it to good use by fully utilizing its deliciousness.  I’m not sure why, then, I decided to use it as the filling in my first fully-homemade pie, considering that homemade pie crust is infamously finicky and difficult to get “just right.”  Now, I’d made several pies before, but always with store-bought crust.  Any purists out there may be scoffing at me, but honestly those Pillsbury refrigerated crusts aren’t half bad.  And they save a ton of time, as I found out from this cooking session.

Start to finish, it took me several hours to make a single pie.  That said, some of the extra time was due to using fresh squash rather than stuff from a can.  I peeled the squash, chopped it, roasted it in the oven, and then pureed it in the food processor.  The cool thing about making a squash pie is that from this point on you can follow any standard pumpkin pie recipe.

Image of a piece of pie crust cut into the shape of Oregon with a small heart cut out of the middle.

Back to the crust.  I followed the single crust recipe in The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  One of the benefits of making your own crust is that you have the freedom to be more creative.  A trick that my dearest Momma often uses to add some visual pizzazz to her pies is to cut a shape out of the leftover crust.  She often adorns her pies with dainty little pie crust leaves and swirling vines.

Not wanting to be too much of a copy-cat (and, quite frankly, doubting my ability to handle something so fragile), I instead free-handed a rendition of my second favorite Oregon iconography.  Baked on a cookie sheet until brown, this tasty treat waited on the counter until the rest of the pie was finished baking.

Baked hubbard squash pie with a pie crust decoration of the state of Oregon with a heart cut out of the middle.

Upon first taste, I found the pie to be a great success.  If you’ve never had a pie with homemade squash or pumpkin, you’re really missing out.  I don’t want to be a culinary elitist; pie made with canned pumpkin is perfectly decent and I doubt you’d ever see me turn down a slice.  That said, once you try the alternative it’s difficult to go back.  As far as the crust goes, the critic in me thinks that it could have been flakier but I didn’t receive a complaint from any of my taste-testers.  In fact, people cleaned their plates!

While I’m on the topic, what’s the plural of squash?  Is it also squash?  I’m guessing that it isn’t “squashes” but I could be persuaded otherwise!