Figs…

figs

When I was moving the lawn this morning I noticed my figs seemed ready.  I’m not a fig fan, but I love the leaves of the tree which is why I grow it.  So I decided that I would try to get creative and do something other than let them rot and drop off.  I really don’t know the exact variety of fig I’m growing, but I’m sure with a little research I could quickly find out.

So after mowing the lawn the babies and I headed out to pick figs.  My kids had no clue what they were or that they could be eaten.  When I showed them they looked at me like I was trying to get them to eat poop.  It just wasn’t happening.  My son did find a use for them….they fit perfectly in his hand and could be thrown with ease.  He just laughed and laughed as he picked and threw.  Not to miss any fun, my daughter had to join in.

The above picture is the figs that were spared being tossed.  I might even get all farmer and pull out a ladder to get the top figs.

Now what to do with them…. Any suggestions?

Update on the Propagated Tomato!!

A few weeks back I told you about my experience propagating a tomato cutting.  Well it is a success!!!  The roots took off like crazy and it now has flowers.  Next year I will be doing more propagating, after I do a little more research of course…

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I’m just so tickled purple at how wonderful this has turned out!!  And as it happens, this morning when I was watering I accidentally broke off another tomato branch.  I will be doing the same thing with that one too.  Love it when an accident turns into something good!!

Off to propagate….

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Tonight’s dinner really hit the spot!!  The day started out a bit chilly but warmed up quite a bit in the late afternoon.  Something light and refreshing was what I really wanted.  Thai lettuce wraps would be perfect.  They are light, refreshing, full of flavor and super easy to make.  The Thai salsa that I make is one of those things that you can totally improvise with things you have on hand or really like.  I didn’t have any radishes or I would have added that to mine.

thai lettuce wraps

For the Recipe:

Meat:

2 tbsp. oil

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground chicken

1/2 c. shitake mushrooms, diced

1 tbsp. grated ginger

1/4 c. lime juice, fresh

1/4 c. fish sauce

1 tsp. black pepper

1/4 c. chestnuts, diced

1 Thai chili (if you want it spicier use more)

Thai Salsa:

3 tbsp. lime juice, fresh

1/2 c. red onion, diced

1/4 c. snap peas, thin sliced diagonally

3 green onions, sliced

1/4 c. red pepper, diced

1/2 c. cucumber, deseeded and diced

1/4 c. carrots, diced

1/2 c. cabbage, thinly sliced in small pieces

1/2 c. cilantro, roughly chopped

lettuce (buttercrunch, green leafy, red leaf, or even radicchio would work)

rice

Heat the oil in a pan and add the meat.  You could easily use all chicken or all pork, I just like the combo.  There will be a bit of fat from the ground pork so drain it when it’s almost all the way cooked and some of the liquid has cooked down.  Add the mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce water chestnuts, and Thai chili.  Cook until meat is completely cooked.  Set this aside and let cool.

In a bowl add all the ingredients for the salsa.  When you chop your vegetables try to keep them similar in size.  As I mentioned before, you can add or omit whatever you want.  Since I had the cucumber I don’t like to keep this for long or it gets too watery and mushy.  Yuck!!

Use the lettuce as a wrap, and the rice either in the wrap or to the side.  For low carb omit all together.

There is a lot of tang from the lime juice in the meat and the salsa but I like to serve some on the side for those that like even more.  Also, you could chop up some Thai chilies to serve on the side for those that like the extra heat.

Notice there is no salt in this recipe, it comes from the fish sauce so don’t add more!!!

Garden Glimpse 7/18/13

I’m so thrilled with the progress of my garden.  I’m having some failures, but a lot more successes… The key word for my garden seems to be TOMATOES!!!  I’m learning a lot for next year’s garden.  Now I need to find my garden journal and make notes.  This year was a sort of test year to see what exactly I could do, what would work and what I simply think is a waste of time.  Time and space is very precious so next year I will not waste either.

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Look at my tomatoes!!!  They are getting huge!!!  I love seeing the little tomatoes all over them.  Sadly, thanks to a certain 2 1/2 year old I no longer have name tags in them.  Hopefully next year it won’t be as big a problem.  She just has this obsession with pulling the tags out of EVERYTHING!!

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The fruit, the beautiful fruit…. We have been gobbling up the golden raspberries right and left, but we just can’t keep up with them.  I haven’t found a way to freeze them.  They are so darn delicate and never quite make it into the house unscathed.  Oh well….  The blueberries are doing fairly well, especially considering this their first year.  I’m hoping that they will get bigger and better in the coming years.  It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but my fig tree is really getting tall.  It reaches the second story window.  Strangely, I really don’t care for them, but I find them really pretty.  Unless the raccoons and squirrels get them, we should get a lot of Asian apples.  My kids LOVE them.  It’s always a sad day when we pick the last ones.  Not sure why I grow rhubarb, I don’t eat it and it takes up a lot of space.  Maybe I’ll make a pie or something and it will change my mind, but doubt it.  Now for my Meyer lemon trees…We had a little watering accident and one of them was overwatered and now looks like it should be on the clearance section of a Lowes….but the other two are doing great.  The lemons are getting bigger and bigger, still only the size of a gumball but that’s still pretty cool to me!!

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The rest of the garden is coming along nicely.  Purple beans are finally here, Thing 2 is crazy for them.  The Brussels sprouts are hanging on, sadly, the broccoli was not so lucky.  Thing 2 kept eating the little florets as soon as you could see them.  As long as she got a nice snack I should consider it a success.  The artichokes are on their way out.  Not sure if they will come back or what, I think I’ll do a little investigating on the internet.  If two years is their limit then I’m going to pull them out.  Those things take up a lot of space!!  The peppers that I planted from seed are quite sad looking so I broke down and purchased some, those on the other hand are doing great. The celery, some of it is growing great and others are really struggling.  Not sure why…

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This was my first year growing zucchini in containers.  I wanted to see if it would work, and it did.  It’s actually doing much better than the ones I put directly in the ground and in the garden beds.  I’m still hoping that the non container zucchinis will produce….

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I’ve always put flowers in my yard, especially ones that attract humming birds, butterflies, birds etc…  These globe thistles are always a hit with the hummingbirds.  I have some planted outside my living room window so I can see the hummingbirds when they come.  The plants are easily over 6 feet tall!!  I’ll have to take pictures of the other flowers I have.  This year I used the majority of space on vegetables, but I could never completely ignore flowers, they make things so much more beautiful.

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My herbs are always great growers.  This year I did a lemon pot with lemon grass and lemon verbena.  I’m hoping I can winter it over like I did the lemon verbena last year.  A little research will be in order for this one.  Sage, oregano, thyme, parsley, and chives are huge.  I never use it all but I never dry it either…I think I just might do that this year.  I’m still trying to find some interesting thing to do with the shiso leaves.

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And now to the big fail….this garden just won’t do anything.  The cilantro went right to seed.  The honeysuckle seems stuck at the same size, I can almost hear the pepper plants choking and coughing.  The only thing that seems somewhat happy are the strawberries and the artichoke plant.  Next year this garden WILL flourish!!!

Time to get my hands dirty……

 

 

Blueberry Ice Cream

blueberry ice cream

I had a few pounds of blueberries that I needed to use since we just were not eating them quick enough.  After the cheesecake with blueberry sauce I thought either muffins or ice cream would be the next treat to make….ice cream won.  I had seen pictures of people making ice cream and figured that was a sign.  Ha!!  Well that and I really don’t like how blueberries get all gloppy in muffins.  I end up picking them out.

This ice cream so sooooooo delicious.  I found the recipe on Epicurious.com, and boy oh boy am I glad I did!!!

For the recipe:

*the one change I made from this recipe was to reduce the sugar to 3/4 c. which was sweet enough.

  • 4 cups picked over blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • the zest of 1 navel orange, removed in strips with  a vegetable peeler
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other  orange-flavored liqueur
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half

Preparation

In a large saucepan  combine the blueberries, the sugar, the zest, and 1/4 cup water, boil the  mixture, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and simmer it,  uncovered, for 5 minutes. Discard the zest and purée the mixture in batches in a  blender or food processor. Transfer the purée to a bowl and whisk in the Grand  Marnier, the lemon juice, the vanilla, the salt, the heavy cream, and the  half-and-half. Force the mixture through a very fine sieve set over another bowl  and chill it, covered, for 1 hour, or until it is cold. Freeze the mixture in an  ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Blueberry-Ice-Cream-15388#ixzz2ZLFgGFmC

Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

blueberry cheesecake

It’s been fairly hot around here and I thought this would be a nice dessert.  The thought of making cheesecake used to scare the heck out of me.  Not sure why, but it just seemed so difficult and easy to screw up.  The reality, however, is that it’s a pretty simple and very versatile dessert.  I don’t care for cheesecakes that are stuffed with stuff, I would rather be creative with the toppings but be pretty basic with the base.  The recipe I use is pretty much no fail.  I went through a few recipes and mixed them up a bit to come up with this one.  It’s light, not super dense, so if you are looking for the ones that are like a brick, this is not for you….

For the Recipe:

1 cube of butter

2 tsp. cinnamon

30 squares of graham crackers, crushed

16 oz. of cream cheese

3 eggs

3/4 c. sugar

1 pint (2 c.) sour cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. lemon zest, diced

Preheat oven to 325 F

For the crust, melt the butter.  Add the crushed graham crackers and cinnamon.  Press into a nine inch spring form pan (I’ve used 8 inch and it works just fine) going up the sides about an inch.  Put in refrigerator until you are ready to fill it with the filling.

Using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese until it’s whipped with no lumps.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Once the eggs are incorporated add the sugar.  Add the sour cream, then vanilla and lemon zest.  Poor onto prepared crust.  Wrap aluminum foil around the spring form pan to keep water out, then place in a roasting pan (or whatever pan you have that’s big enough) filled halfway up with very hot/boiling water.  Put in oven and bake for about 50 minutes.  To test, the cheesecake should be firm but still jiggly.  It will set after it’s been in the fridge for several hours.

I topped this cheesecake with a simple blueberry sauce since I had several pounds of them that needed to get used.

Blueberry Sauce Recipe:

3 c. blueberries

1/2 c. sugar

Cook over medium heat until the berries break down and it gets saucy.

 

Super simple, right?

 

Enjoy!!!

 

A Different Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is one of those dishes I love, when it’s done correctly, or at least correctly to my taste buds.  I know you are supposed to bake it and make it all gooey and goopy, but there’s just something about the goopy part I really don’t like.  For years I’ve breaded my eggplants then baked them in the oven, which really helped with the goopy part.  So this is basically a take on that, but a little different form.

I had a craving for eggplant parmesan but alas, only had Japanese eggplants in my fridge.  With no desire to hop in the car to get an eggplant I decided to make due with what I had.  Boy, I’m sure glad I only had that Japanese eggplant.  After I had cut it up into little circles I realized what a great little appetizer this could be.  If you have never seen a Japanese eggplant, first, where the heck have you been, they are long and slender.  Perfect for a bite size portion.

Today, I didn’t use Japanese eggplants, I had several little eggplants, or as my store calls them, aubergines.  Since they are larger in width than Japanese eggplants they really aren’t “bite sized”, but still fairly small and could still be picked up and eaten in a few bites.

If you are doing these as cute little appetizers, you could use fresh mozzarella so you don’t get the “shredded” cheese look on top.

For the recipe (nothing specific, depends on how much you want to make):

eggs

panko (you could use regular bread crumbs but I find they don’t turn out as crunchy)

eggplants (Japanese if you want to do cute little bite sized appetizers)

oil for frying

marinara sauce

mozzarella cheese

fresh basil, optional

Cut the eggplants into 1/2″ thick slices.  Next, put the eggplant rounds on paper towels, heavily sprinkle salt on side facing up and let sit for 15 minutes.  Turn and repeat with other side.  Wipe off the liquid and the salt from the eggplant.  I do this to extract some of the water out of the eggplant, I think it makes the finished product less goopy.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  You want the oil to be hot enough to fry the coated eggplant but not burn it, and the panko will burn quick if the heat is too high.  Mix eggs in a bowl and put panko on a plate.  Dip the eggplant into the egg mix then the panko.  Carefully put the eggplant in the oil.  You want them to get golden brown, not burnt.  When the eggplants are done frying put them on some paper towels to soak up the oil.  Then put them on a cookie/baking sheet.

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Put a dollop of marinara on each round, use the amount you and your family will like, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese (if using the fresh mozzarella slice do not grate).  Put in a preheated 350 F oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on how brown you want your cheese.

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I don’t like mine to brown, just to the point where the cheese is nice and melted.

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Top with a couple basil leaves if you are using.  I really like the taste the fresh basil gives, but they are delicious without it.

Enjoy!!