June 1, 2020

Harvest Monday, 5/31/20

It's been such a wet cold spring the garden didn't get planted until last weekend. My husband actually had to re-till because the only things that had germinated were lettuce, carrots, beets, and grass. We ended up growing a nice lush lawn.

The two beds closest to the house that were home to herbs, greens, and lettuce were saved from being re-tilled. So, we have loads of lettuce to harvest. Yesterday, I harvested as much lettuce that could fit in our fridge since 90 degree weather is headed our way.
Giant Caesar lettuce has a buttery texture. I was actually expecting more of a crunchy romaine type, but the tender leaves and flavor were still nice.
I'm pretty sure this is a Bibb lettuce and that the Nevada lettuce never germinated. It has a very nice tender leaf, but it very much was planning to bolt.
Black Seeded Simpson lettuce is as lovely as ever. It didn't look like it was even thinking about bolting.
Here's a picture of the lettuce bed before harvest. I do think the mountains of rain made the leaves a lot more delicate then they normally are.

What to do with so much lettuce? Lettuce cucumber salad with crunchy Vietnamese eggrolls sliced up on top accompanied by a sweet, sour, spicy dressing. Also chicken, celery, cucumber salad with walnuts and dried cranberries. The chicken is baked with a soy sauce, HappyWorcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ginger, lemon grass, and pear infused balsamic vinegar.

I might grill a couple pork chops marinated in a lemongrass sauce for a rice noodle lettuce salad. Which is usually served with cucumber, bean  sprouts,  chopped roasted peanuts, and the sweet and sour and spicy dressing.

Summer is here to stay. I hope we all get some glorious weather with just the right amount of rain.

Please join us for a fun filled Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Happy Acres.

April 10, 2020

Onward With The Garden, Better Late Than Never

So we decided to do a garden this year, even though last year was an unmitigated disaster. Last year I killed off my seedlings by over-fertilizing, then winds from a tornado blew apart the greenhouse, and then nothing grew because the weather was crazy.

Last week we decided to go full bore with planting because of the whole not going to the store because of social distancing thing, and then there's the possibility of inflation that could drive food prices up thing. So, on Tuesday, April 7th, my husband tilled and today, April 10th, the kiddo and I planted 9 out of 12 beds in the garden.

Tomatoes, peppers, and basil still haven't been started from seed yet, which isn't ideal but I've been too busy at work for it to impact me emotionally. Normally the lateness at starting the peppers and tomatoes would have me feeling a bit desperate.

My garden tends to be overplanted because of the high insect and wildlife pressure that exists, plants will die. It's a given.

This time around I did a lot of broadcast seeding for lettuces, greens, carrots, and bulb fennel. Then a hard-tined rake was used to lightly tamp the seeds down into the soil. I use this technique with good results for the tremendous amount of greens, radishes, and turnips I plant in the fall.

I'll probably still do some canning this year, but our main focus will actually be drying the vegetables. We've been eating a lot of internet purchased dried fruit, and my husband thought we could do the same with dried vegetables which can then be used in soups and casseroles.

January 4, 2020

Chia Seed Zucchini Bread

The chia seeds add a lovely crunch and the coconut oil adds a fragrant sweetness to the zucchini bread. Poppy seeds can be substituted for the chia seeds. For vegans, 2 tbsp. of ground flax seeds in 1/2 cup of water can be substituted for the two eggs.

Chia Seed Zucchini Bread
Makes: 1 large loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 60 minutes

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub coconut oil on bread pan, or line with parchment paper.

2. Mix the two flours, baking soda, baking powder, chia seeds, and chopped walnuts together.

3. In large bowl beat together the two sugars with the coconut oil. If your coconut oil is too firm to mix with the sugars, you can microwave it to melt it. Mix in the eggs, vanilla, and shredded zucchini.

4. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

5. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Test and make sure a toothpick comes out clean, otherwise bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

April 27, 2019

Peppers from the Aerogarden Update

I ended up with 18 pepper plants which were started from seed in the Aerogarden. There's definitely different rates of germination, especially with the older seeds taking more time to germinate. The taller peppers are actually starting to form blooms, which I find odd since they're not that tall. The eggplants didn't come up, but they were especially old seed which I'd been putting off throwing out.
I've had a couple seed starting disasters. It started with purchasing what I thought were peat pellets, but were probably coconut coir pellets. There was no information on the tray in regards to the growing medium. The trays got replanted twice, but seedlings kept dying right after germinating.

My husband thought we should try monocropping something that could just be direct seeded. I was thinking Pink Eye Purple Hull peas and some melons. A big patch of sunflowers would be fun, but that would bring out all the squirrels in the neighborhood. Or maybe, just include one row of sunflowers with long beans grown up them. My gardening plans are in a bit of disarray at this point.

We're still getting lots of rain so it'll be awhile before the garden can be tilled. There might be still time to start a few things.

Edited to add 4/30: I spoke to a friend about my seed starting problems and he thought I might've burned them with fertilizer, which is entirely possible. I used the little bottle of nutrients included with the Aerogarden, but they don't have you add any until the plants are two weeks old. I think that's probably what I did, burned their little roots.

March 30, 2019

Irish Soda Bread

Lately I've been making the bread with hemp hearts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. Hemp hearts lighten up the loaf and adds a creamy nuttiness, and the chia seeds add a magical light crunch that is very satisfying.
A very delicious and yet wholesome bread. Dense, yet soft, with just the right amount of moisture. I used to make this all the time when we lived in Oregon, but I lost the recipe in the move. It's taken a while to adapt something that is closer to what we enjoy.

This recipe is easily doubled to make two large loaves.

I usually include seeds or nuts like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts, chia seeds, pepitas, or hemp hearts. I would definitely substitute ground flax seeds for rolled oats, if our kiddo wasn't allergic to flax.

*Notes on substitutions are included at the end.

This has been published on both my diet/exercise and gardening blogs.

Irish Soda Bread
Makes: 1 large round loaf, or 1 large bread loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes

Dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup wheat flour
3 tbsp. butter, sliced into small pieces
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup seeds or chopped nuts

Wet Ingredients:
1 large egg
1 cup milk
3/4 cup yogurt (I've used strawberry Greek yogurt which is quite lovely.)
The wet ingredients just have to equal 2 cups, if you're going to do substitutions.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment, or line a bread loaf pan with parchment.

2. Mix the two flours in a large bowl. Add the butter to the flours, rub the butter into the flours with your fingers until incorporated. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.

3. In a 2 cup measuring cup, add the egg, yogurt, and milk until you reach 2 cups. Mix the wet ingredients well, and then incorporate into the dry ingredients. The dough will be fairly wet.

4. If baking in a loaf pan: Using a spatula just scrape the dough into the parchment lined bread loaf pan, and smooth the surface of the dough with the spatula. Go on to step 5.

If making a round loaf: Dust the counter generously with flour, and scrape the dough out of the bowl with a spatula. Sprinkle wheat flour on top of the dough and with floured hands, quickly work the dough on the counter into a round. I just roll the edges of the dough under with both my hands to clean it up a bit. Place the dough on the parchment lined baking sheet. Press on x onto the top of your round loaf with a knife. It's not necessary to cut into the loaf.

5. Bake for 40 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. The loaf will be a dark golden brown and should sound hollow when you thump it. I would give it an hour before cutting into it. Great toasted and served with butter and jam, hummus and cucumbers, or with mustard and thinly sliced extra sharp cheddar.

*Notes: Baking powder can be substituted for baking soda, but you'll need to use at least twice as much. It is important to use fresh baking powder in humid environments as the humidity in the air can already have activated it somewhat, making it less potent.

Baking soda needs an acid to activate, which is why buttermilk can be substituted for the yogurt and milk. For vegans 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 3/4 cups nut milk can be substituted for the yogurt and milk.

Instead of an egg, vegans can use 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds in 1/4 cup water or 1 tbsp. chia seeds in 1/4 cup water. Although the chia seeds will need to be soaked for at least 15 minutes, including a minute of swirling now and again.

If you use sunflower seeds, they will turn a lovely dark forest green when they come into contact with different acidic and basic elements of the dough. It's a very interesting aspect of food chemistry.