Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yoga Socks

My friend Tara is a yoga teacher and a few months ago she asked me to make her a pair of yoga socks.    We found a pattern at Plymouth Yarn called Twisted Rib Yoga Socks.  The yarn was lovely, a soft organic cotton.   Instead of ankle length, Tara wanted knee highs.  Unfortunately, the yarn did not have enough bounce back to really make them work as knee highs and of course, this wasn't discovered until after I made the socks!  So I'm hoping Tara is still able to use them and in the meantime, I took some stash yarn and made her up a pair of anklet socks.

Tara, modeling her socks

The socks were a big hit in her studio and one of her clients requested a pair of the same socks.  So this time,  I visited my local yarn store, Knit and Stitch = Bliss and with the help of the staff, picked a substitute yarn (Berroco, Merino DK).  This time, the socks came out perfectly and should stay on tightly.

Me, modeling the 2nd pair

Now that the socks are done, I've started on knitting a winter hat for myself.

What's blooming - July 18

There's only a couple of annuals that have started blooming.  It's so hot, the only thing in bloom now is the stalwarts of coneflowers and Russian Sage.  At least we've had a couple of rainstorms in the past week so the plants are not so droopy.

I've been trying to get pictures of the male and female Goldfinches that love these sunflowers.  As soon as I get close, they fly away.

I don't remember the name of these sunflowers but they are only about a foot tall.

The second rounds of blooms for the roses

Little Zinnias

Most of the daylilies are done but this one is holding on

Coneflowers and Russian Sage

Italian Vegetable Casserole

My friend asked me to post this recipe.  She and I share our CSA bag every week and this is an excellent recipe to use up veggies.  We haven't gotten tomatoes yet in the CSA but I have gotten tomatoes from my own garden.

This is one of those recipes that I've used for years but don't actually follow.  It comes from the New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant.  I was a vegetarian for over 20 years and the Moosewood cookbooks are ones that I used over and over.  These days,  I don't turn to them too much as I prefer the vegetarian books by Deborah Madison.  The question is do I type the recipe as given or the one that I actually do?  I'll put it in as written and comment on what I actually do.  The main adaptation is I don't like eggplant, so I use more zucchini.

Italian Vegetable Casserole

1 medium eggplant
1 large potato
1 medium zucchini
4 fresh tomatoes

1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (2 tsp dried)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 eggs
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups grated mozzerella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1.2 inch rounds.  Place the eggplant rounds on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake covered with foil at 400 until they are tender, about 45 min.  Slice the potato and boil until just tender.  Then drain and set aside.  Slice the zucchini into 1/4 in rounds, slice the tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick and set aside.

Mix together the bread crumbs, basil and parsley.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.

Oil a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and coat the bottom and sides of the pan with about a quarter of the bread crumbs mixture.

To layer the casserole, begin with all the eggplant slices.  Drizzle 2 tblsp olive oil over them and sprinkle on a quarter of the bread crumbs and a quarter of the mozzerella and parm cheeses.  Pour a quarter of the beaten eggs on top of the cheese.  Next layer all the potato slices.  REpeat a lwayer of oil, crumbs, cheese and eggs.  Layer all zucchini, followed by pil, crumbs, cheeses and egg.  Finally layer tomatoes topped with remaining oil, crumbs, cheeses and egg.

Bake uncovered at 375 got 45 min.  Allow casserole to sit for about 10 min before serving.


Stacey's notes:  I don't use eggplant.  I just leave that layer out.  I don't boil the potatoes, just slice them thin.  For the egg mixture, it is just too hard to pour 1/4 of a small bowl of beaten eggs over each layer.  So, I pour the whole mixture over the last layer, the tomatoes.  I also don't measure the olive oil, just drizzle some over each layer.

Going into the oven (the mozzerella cheese is just sliced, not grated)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This Week's CSA

The vegetables are starting to really come in. This week's CSA contained

Spring Onions
Green Beans
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Summer Squash

These are potatoes from my garden plus the CSA potatoes.  I love freshly dug spuds

For dinner tonight, I made brats with kohlrabi slaw and steamed green beans with chopped preserved lemons.  I put out some homemade zucchini relish, bread and butter pickles and a jar of garlic pickles in which the seal didn't take but I thought would be ok in the fridge.  The relish was delicious on the brats and the bread and butter pickles were tasty.  The garlic pickles, on the other hand, were mushy.  I think the water bath processing didn't work with this particular jar.  Instead of throwing out the pickles, I threw them all in the food processor and chopped it up for relish.  Since the cukes also had red chilis and garlic in them, this relish is SPICY!  The green beans were delicious.  All I did was steam them, chop up one piece of lemon and then combine with a little olive oil and the beans.

Preserved Lemons.  Recipe here.

Kohlrabi Slaw

My gardening neighbor planted some purple kohlrabi this year.  Since he is away this month and said I could have carte blanche in picking in his garden, I picked the kohlrabi.  I enjoy this vegetable, raw, sliced in salads so I thought it might be good in a slaw.  I consulted one of my reference cookbooks - Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider and there was a suggestion for an Asian inspired slaw.

I peeled and julienned the kohlrabi, a couple of carrots and the few small beets that came in my CSA this week.  Salted it, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinsed.

The dressing was rice vinegar, a little sugar, a couple of splashes of my homemade hot sauce, some Minor's cilantro lime sauce and enough vegetable oil to hold it all together.  Mix with vegetables and top with some chopped peanuts.

Sean and I are going to eat this with brats and steamed beans tonight.

Weekend Herb Blogging - Basil

This week's Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by The Well Seasoned Cook

The basil was going to flower and being engulfed by the zucchini so I cut most of it this morning.  My favorite recipe for Pesto is from the Deborah Madison cookbook "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone".  The best part is when she instructs you to add softened butter!

Pine nuts, garlic, basil

Grind nuts with garlic, then add basil and oil.  Blend until smooth

Normally, now is when you add parmesan cheese and the butter.  I am going to freeze this, so I omitted cheese and butter

Freeze in ice cube trays, then transfer to ziplock bag

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today's harvest and preserving

I spent the whole morning in the vegetable garden.  We finally had some rain yesterday so the soil was moist enough to make weeding easy. It was also my turn to tend to the community compost so I weeded all around the area and turned a couple of bins until my back was screaming at me.  Then I tended to my own garden with a little weeding and pulled out all the dill plants.  The sweet potatoes will be happy since the dill was blocking the sun.  Lastly, I pulled out the mint from the little flower garden adjacent to the vegetable garden and pulled the weeds out of the path.  Before going home, I picked all these vegetables.

Mizuna, cherry tomatoes, green beans, red chili peppers, carrots, cukes, chard, potatoes, dill, shallots, squash

tomatoes, zucchini, mizuna

chilies and peppers

cukes and potatoes

Lots of chard

I had never tried freezing greens so thought it was worth a try.  All the recipes I found said to blanch the greens first, dry and then freeze.  Here is the washed chard, ready to go in the hot water

In the pot of hot water

Ready for the freezer

Next up were the carrots.  These are being vacuumed sealed.  Sliced and then blanched for 5 min

Sealed carrots and mizuna

What's blooming - July 12

It rained and rained yesterday so I expect the garden to rebound some this week.  Another beautiful butterfly to see.  The goldfinches have been feasting on the sunflowers.  One day this week, I parked the car in front of the house and looked to the right, out of the passenger side window and there was the goldfinch, eating.  He didn't seem bothered by the car so I watched him for a few minutes.  Soon the coneflowers will be ready for them and they will come closer to the house.

I think this is a Black Swallowtail

The roses are reblooming

Friday, July 9, 2010

Break out the Food Saver

On Thurs, I met a friend of a friend and picked up some more canning jars.  I have enough cucumbers to make another batch of pickles.  Yesterday, I opened a jar of zucchini relish and had it on my turkey burger - It was delicious! I don't know what I was expecting, but this relish was very tasty. I topped if off with my bread and butter pickles that also were very tasty.

Man can not live on pickles alone and in fact, the kids don't like pickles.  So it was time to break out the Food Saver and start to vacuum pack some vegetables.

The first to be preserved was the leeks and the food saver manual said that onions were not a good candidate for vacuum sealing.  So I just chopped them, washed them and put them in a ziplock bag.  The leeks will probably be mushy when defrosted but that doesn't matter if they are used in soup.

Leeks, ready for the bag

Green beans were next.  Blanch in boiling water for 2 min, then transfer to ice water.  Dry, then put in bag and seal

Sealing Process

Ready for the freezer

Next up was zucchini.  I grated it in the food processor and since it's a moist vegetable, it needs to be frozen first before being sealed.  So the zucchini was spread out on a cookie sheet and frozen. Then transfer to bag and seal

This weekend, I will try to seal carrots because there are a TON ready to be pulled.

Weekend Herb Blogging - Beet Buttermilk Soup

This week's Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Cindystar.

It was time to pull up the rest of the beets and use up 1/2 bottle of buttermilk.  This is the last batch of beets and when I get back from vacation in August, I will start the fall planting, that will include more beets.

This is my favorite way to eat beets and very easy.  Steam or boil or bake beets until tender.  Skin, then throw in the blender with buttermilk and some ice.  Blend until smooth.  Once it's all blended, season with dill, salt and pepper.  Today I chopped up some fresh dill and added it along with the dried dill.

Today's harvest from the garden

Chiogga beets and tomatoes

Cucumbers, beans, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, purple kohlrabi

Close up of kohlrabi

Cooked beets

Beets, buttermilk, dried and fresh dill

Yummy soup

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This week's CSA and what's for dinner

Yesterday's CSA contained

spring onions
green beans
and eggs!  

Farmer Allan said there was enough eggs for us plus he bought more chickens.  So maybe I won't have to to to the store to buy eggs

Stopped at my garden today and picked green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, purple peppers, zucchini.  Spent about an hour watering my and my neighbor's garden.  It's been so hot, I really should be there every morning and evening but at least I'm trying to water every day.

For dinner, Sean and I decided to stick with salads.  There is a farmer's market that comes on campus every Wed and included it bread from the local bakery, Upper Crust.  Usually I just buy a baguette but the cheese focaccia looked delicious so I bought a loaf.  For the salads, we had lettuce, then another bowl with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.  The third salad was boiled potatoes, steamed green beans, feta, with a dressing of olive oil, white vinegar, mustard, capers, salt, pepper, dry mustard, Italian herb spice, basil, pepper blend spice.  All the vegetables came from the CSA or my own garden.

An aside about salad.  My father is Italian and salad was always an important meal in my house.  We would eat it last, after the main meal and my father would dress it at the table.  He would dish out to whomever wanted to eat some and then finish the rest.  To this day, I prefer to eat my salad at the end of my meal.

Tomorrow I visit my friend to make the hand off of more canning jars. I'm not sure I have enough blueberries to make syrup but while at the garden, I realized there are a tons of beets and carrots to pull - what can be done with those?

Here is our dinner tonight

What's blooming July 8

It's hot out there.  I don't normally water the garden but the past few days I've been targeting specific plants to give some water.  Most of the plants in the yard are natives so they should be used to living in the hot and humid weather of DC.

My goal of eating only from the pantry/fridge/freezer is proceeding.  Yesterday morning it was melon, toast with homemade strawberry jam.  For lunch, leftover pasta with chard and purslane yogurt salad.  Last night went to dinner at a French restaurant for a 50th wedding anniversary party.

this morning, scrambled eggs with garden tomatoes (sliced, olive oil, salt, pepper and broiled).  Lunch will be more chard and pasta with melon and blueberries.  I have no idea what to do with dinner but thought I would give Sean the list of vegetables and see what he suggests.

Here are a few plants that are in bloom this week

Coneflowers and Russian Sage

Dill in foreground with Anise Hyssop