Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard..........06/28/2012

My grandfather used to have this really big Sour Cherry tree at his house. I don't know what variety it was. But, I do remember as a child sitting in the tree eating the cherries when they were ripe. Then it would be harvest and freezing time for the cherries. They would be picked by the buckets full. Then we all sat at the picnic table behind the wash-house at the farm and removed the stems and pits. They would then be put in these plastic bags that were put  in square plastic containers. The containers were put in the freezer. Once they were frozen, the bags were removed. They were much easier to stack in the freezer then since they were nice squares. There were quart and pint sizes.

One thing I always remembered was that the old people got to use the easy pitters. Us youngsters had to use pitters that were really slow. I have no idea what happened to those great pitters. I did not find them when we cleaned out my grandfather's house a few years ago. They sure were great and I sure could have used one this week.

Saturday, I received an e-mail from a local orchard stating that the Sour Cherries were ready and would be available in limited quantities on Monday morning. I missed them last year and I wasn't missing them this year! Sour Cherry Pie with crumb topping is my absolute favorite pie in the whole wide world! I arrived 10 minutes before they opened and there were already 2 women waiting in line. I guess that I'm not the only cherry lover around these parts!

Aren't they just Beautiful???

I purchased 3 quarts of the darker cherries and 4 quarts of the lighter cherries. I really like the lighter variety much better. Don't ask me the names....because I don't remember.

A couple of hours later they were are de-stemmed and pitted. Boy, I really need to find one of those old pitters. This one took forever and could give you carpal tunnel!

I froze 2 quarts and 4 pints of Cherries. Then I made some Sour Cherry Jam. Boy, that stuff is tastes just like Cherry Pie!

Not the best pic. I waited a little too late in the day for their photo op.

Today I'm going to surprise "The Italian" and make a Cherry Strudel or Cherry Cobbler with some homemade Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert! Yum!

I also froze Cauliflower, Broccoli and a portion of Fava Beans. "The Italian's" family loves to have fava beans on Christmas. Boy, those beans are time consuming! I bet somebody out there knows an easy way to peel them. 

What's been going in or out of your Kitchen Cupboard lately???? Anything good???

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cat in the Box

Alvin has been spending a lot of time in his box lately. Maybe it's because of all the publicity on the internet!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Harvest Monday............06/25/2012

The harvests are starting to pick up a bit around here. The spring broccoli, cauliflower & cabbage were started a bit late since I didn't think the plots would be ready. In spite of the late start, the broccoli is doing well. I planted 3 varieties. So far, the Premium Crop has produced the biggest heads. Four varieties of cauliflower were planted. To date, only one variety has produced heads. This was the Silver Cup, which is a 45 day variety. As you can see from the picture below, the heads started to bolt on the first day of our heat wave this past week. It still tasted wonderful though! Since the temps have dropped significantly, maybe the rest of the plants will be able to produce something.

This is a drawer in the kitchen refrigerator. We are so so happy to have some broccoli and cauliflower this year!

The strawberries are trickling in a little at a time. Some of them do make it back to the house.

I pulled a Walla Walla onion the other day for dinner. It wasn't ready, but we had no onions left from last year.

This is the Silverskin softneck garlic.It was pulled on the 21st since it was completely lying on the ground. The heads are a nice size and it it now hanging to cure.

The Music hardneck variety was pulled on the 22nd. As you can see from the picture, the bunch to the left is bigger then the rest. This bunch was planted in a different bed. I guess it liked the soil better in that bed. All of the garlic is at least 2 weeks early this year. It will be weighed once it is finished curing.

I snuck a few more potatoes for dinner the other day. These are Kennebecs. It looks like we will have more potatoes this year then we can possibly use. I'm sure my in-laws will be happy about that!

Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in Veggie Gardens around the globe!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The View from Under my Umbrella

I have to say that I really enjoy the new Community Garden much better then the old location. The new site has a real feeling of Community. I spend a lot of time sitting under my umbrella looking down the row of tomatoes.

What a view!

These are some of the happiest tomatoes I have grown! Most of the plants are loaded with green tomatoes!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard...............6/21/2012

Yesterday, I finally got around to inventorying the chest freezer. All in all, we did pretty well using our frozen goods from the garden. I really thought there would be a lot of peppers left, since last year we had peppers galore. There are only about 5 small packages left. I did find a couple of packages of beans from 2009. I have no idea how I missed those before! The beans and a few packages of late snow peas from last year were tossed. The late spring snow peas were tough and we really didn't enjoy them. I was happy to find a package of celery since I thought we were about out. The frozen food from last year has been separated from this year's veggies. Now the freezer is nice and organized!

Last week I made a pasta dish with asparagus, garlic scapes and shrimp. It was one of those meals that I made up and it really turned out great!

Pasta with Aspargus. Garlic Scapes & Shrimp

Olive Oil
2 Garlic Scapes, chopped
1/2 lb. Shrimp
1 lb. Asparagus, chopped
1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock
White Wine
1 lb. Pasta
Grating Cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and saute the garlic scapes and asparagus until it's browned a bit. Add the shrimp and saute for about 2 minutes, until shrimp is cooked. Remove the shrimp from the pan and deglaze the pan with some white wine. Add the vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until asparagus is cooked to your liking.

Return the shrimp to the pan. Add the well-drained pasta to the sauce. Then add a couple of tablespoons of butter and stir over low heat until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and serve with your favorite grating cheese. This is all good with some red pepper flakes.

It was delicious!

What's been going in or out of your Cupboard lately???

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The State of the Plots Mid-June

Everything at the plots seems to be growing by leaps and bounds this past week! It seems like every day the plants are bigger. I took these pictures 3 - 4 days ago and everything is much bigger when I went over there today. I'm extremely pleased to say the least.

click on any pic to enlarge
The plots from the road
Bed #1
The potato bed is totally out of control! 
Some of the plants are about 4' high!

The front tomato bed. Bed #2
You can't tell from the picture how stocky and sturdy these plants are. Some of the branches are an inch wide. The plants in this bed are bigger then the other tomato bed. I'm certain it's due to the mixing of the soil. I was too tired and lazy to mix in the soil in the other bed.

Bed #3

"Three Sisters Planting"
The corn, beans and squash have doubled in size since I took this picture.

Bed #4
This is the second tomato bed. The plants are very happy and healthy even though they aren't quite as big as in bed #2.

Bed #5

Bed #6

Strawberries in Bed #7
The new strawberry plants are producing much more then the ones that I transplanted. It must be due to moving them.

Bed #8
The onions seem to doing well. I sure hope that we get enough for the year.

I was pleasantly surprised to see these blossoms and berries on the transplanted blackberry bushes. They won't produce much....but, it's a good sign of years to come!

This head of cauliflower has doubled in size since taking this picture. looks like we are going to have some nice spring cauliflower!

There are 27 Celery plants at the plots. All of them look great except for these 3. They are all twisted and deformed. I was going to pull them this morning. But, I changed my mind when I saw they had ladybugs on them.

The eggplants have some beautiful flowers.

The Fava Beans survived the attack of the ants. I picked 3 this morning and they are wonderful!

The first pepper of the year is "Happy Yummy Sweet Pepper".
The seeds were given to me by Dave as part of the "Happy Acres Happy Yummy Pepper Experiment".

This is a Sweet Banana Pepper.
There are quite a few peppers on many of the plants.

There are also a lot of tomatoes everywhere at the plots!!
That will make for one "Happy Italian"!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Harvest Monday............06/18/2012

I can't believe the last time I did a Harvest Monday post was on April 23! I have been weighing most of my harvests, but not all of them. Of course, a lot of the strawberries end up not making it to the house.

I started harvesting broccoli this past week. I am extremely happy with the broccoli so far. I really didn't think I would have the plots ready for spring, they had a late start. Last year my broccoli was a bust due to the weather.

The first head of broccoli from the home garden with some garlic scapes.
All of the scapes have been harvested weighing in at 8 oz total.

This is the first head of broccoli from the plots and a few new potatoes that I snitched for dinner. I planted 4 different varieties of broccoli this year. So far the Premium Crop is doing the best.

The first carrots harvested this year. These were in the big container which I started inside in the basement. They aren't the prettiest.....but, they sure did taste good!

I've been harvesting some strawberries at the plots. Most of them get eaten there. The few that have made it home to get weighed have weighed in at 1.5 lbs. total. Surprisingly the new strawberry roots are producing way more then the transplanted plants. I think the transplants were moved at the wrong time. But, I had no choice in that. I really like the Jewel variety the best so far. They are really sweet and much bigger then the other varieties.

I planted a different variety of shelling peas this spring. The variety is Alderman. They get really tall, about 7'. I'm really not thrilled with the flavor though. I like Little Marvels much better. So, far the shelling peas weigh 1 lb. 10 oz. shelled. There will be a little more to harvest and then the vines will be pulled. I am planning to sow a fall crop of peas. Hopefully, I can get them in early enough to produce a harvest. 

Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions, our host of Harvest Monday to see what's going on in Veggie Gardens around the globe!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Home Garden Mid-June

The home garden is looking pretty messy right now. I guess that it's just going through a transition from spring crops to summer. All of the rain and heat we had for several weeks didn't help much either Warning, lots of pics

Click on any pic to enlarge.
The Left Cold Frame Bed has been pretty much cleaned out. Most of the lettuce and all of the Collards, Kale & Asian Greens bolted from the heat. There are a couple of celery plants in the back and still a little bit of lettuce. I decided to plant some dry beans in this bed. They are the little sprouts you can see coming up. Later in the season, I will plant this bed with carrots.

The Right Cold Frame Bed is filled mostly with carrots. The Kale in the back is still doing well. It was planted last fall. I wonder how long it will last? There's also a little lettuce under the kale in the back and some recently planted carrots under the boards.

The Herb Garden really took a hit from all the rain. I had several newly planted herbs that just died. As you can see, the oregano was recently trimmed back. It was huge! In a few weeks it will be huge again. There's Miss Banana on the back corner of the deck. She follows me everywhere.....instead of cleaning out the bunny nests like she did when she was younger!

The back section of the Herb Garden.
This is where many of the newly planted herbs died. The Spaghetti Squash are coming up along the fence. This past week, I planted a few new herbs here...Marjoram, Curry and Variegated Thyme.

My Sage Bush is looking pretty good. It got hit late last season with a ton of rain. It used to be at least twice this size.

Some Slicing Cucs for "The Italian" are coming up along the edge of the Garlic Bed.

I don't know what is going on with the Soft Neck Garlic. It's all leaning. The Hard Neck Variety isn't doing this. Anyone know???

The four early tomatoes with a few carrots and marigolds planted here and there. My early tomatoes are usually way ahead of the later ones. Not this year. I think some of the later maters at the plots are doing much better. 

The Sungold is fruiting.
Thanks for the seeds Dave! We can't wait to taste them!

This is supposed to be an Eva's Purple Ball. It really looks like a Cherokee Purple to me. Time will tell!

This is Bed #1. It looks like a hot mess to me!
I pulled all of the Snap Peas on both ends. Those really tall leaning peas are a different variety of shelling peas. They are at least 7' tall. I like the Little Marvels much better. So, I'm going to plant a fall crop at the plots. All of the spinach and lettuce was pulled. The early broccoli is done. Right now there are a few celery plants, some dried beans, carrots under the boards, a couple of cabbage plants and the balance of the hard neck garlic at the far end.

This is one of the broccoli heads I cut a few days ago.

The Perennial Beds are very lush right now. There isn't a lot of color though. They too are going through a transition. You can see Miss Banana following me around!

We do have some bright blossoms here and.....


Here's Flower Child. 
He sleeps all day among the plants. Occasionally he gets a vole too!