Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Late August, working in the garden

My friend Shelly has started her own garden and wanted to come over and see mine.  Sunday was probably not the best day to head over there as another hot spell is coming through.  She wanted to just see what my garden looks like and since my garden friend Edouard was also there, he gave her a lesson in how to seed greens.

I've been saving paper for a couple of months.  They are put down on a new path, watered and then wood chips spread on top.  Hopefully this will keep the switchgrass at bay.

The little flower garden - I transplanted some coreopsis, thyme, butterfly weed and iris.

Edouard giving Shelly a lesson in seeding

Great form!

Winter squash (Amber Cup), growing on the fence.

Sweet potatoes!

Cucumbers - still producing. I gave Eva, Edouard's daughter a handful and Shelly also took some

Greens seeded last week - already sprouting

Leeks and beets

I dug up the rest of the potatoes

More rhubarb, the first sweet potato and some peppers

The rest of the carrots.  Tomorrow's project will be to vacuum seal them

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fig Preserves

The figs are ready on the community tree and while I've been eating them out of hand this week, I decided to try and preserve some.  In my Ball Book of Home Preserving, there was a recipe for jam and preserves.  In hindsight, I think I should have tried the jam since the preserves turned out to just be whole figs in a sugar syrup which was not really what I was thinking. Oh well, live and learn

The recipe called for making a sugar syrup and simmering lemon slices in it.  Then add figs and simmer until coated.

Remove figs to a pan, reduce syrup until thick and pour over figs.  Let sit at room temperature over night.

Pour into pan and bring to a boil.  This is where I departed from the recipe and decided to mash them.

The preserves

I was hoping for a more jam like product.  There is some leftover that is in a jar in the fridge so I think I can just put them for a quick pulse in the food processor before use.  I imagine eating it with cheese and crackers or again, on pizza.

DC State Fair

A few local bloggers got together and decided that DC needed it's own state fair.   I saw the announcement on my local DC garden listserv - one of the categories was pickles and knew I just had to enter.  The fair (all one tent of it) was held yesterday, during Columbia Heights Day.  Columbia Heights is a neighborhood in the city and the festivities were held at the local elementary school.   I decided to enter a jar of bread and butter pickles. 

Sean kept teasing me that I was going to be disappointed but I kept saying it was all in fun. We headed on over to the fair in the morning.

I just KNEW they were winning pickles!

Waiting to enter the pickles

The competition
I think the winning jar is on the left, front. - more about that later

The woman on the right was entering the pie contest with a peach-sour cherry pie.

A group yoga session

Hip storyteller

DC has a roller derby team - the DC Rollergirls.  I just had to have a picture taken with them.  One of my colleagues was in their training camp and broke her ankle - I mentioned it to the women here and they were all excited that Sean and I knew Allie.  For sure, I'm taking Emma and Brian to see them this year.
Me and Sean.  Get a load of his beard.  I LOVE it.  Emma hates it :-)

The pickle judges.  They picked Pickled Peaches to win the first prize and white asparagus to win 2nd.  There was a tie for 3rd but I didn't hear who won that!

Losers, comparing pickles

A younger judge!  His dad was running around, trying all the pickles.

What's a state fair without a few animals.  There are chickens, ducks and goats in this pen

A camel?  In Columbia Heights?!

We had a fun time but all I have to say is Pickled Peaches?  That's just not right!  I'm already planning for next year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Figs and other garden produce

The figs are starting to get ripe and I'm taking advantage of it.  Last night, Sean and I decided to make pizza with the figs and some blue cheese.  I use the pizza dough recipe in the New Basics Cookbook and for whatever reason, it rose perfectly last night.  We made one pizza with sliced figs, pieces of Cambozola cheese and fresh mozzarella.  The second pizza was pesto, sausage and mozzarella.

Fig pizza

After work today, I walked home and as always, strolled through the garden.  Today I picked some chard to make for dinner and a whole bunch of figs.  At some point this weekend, I'll make fig preserves but in the meantime, it was time for an appetizer of figs.

Everyone knows the appetizer of dates wrapped in bacon so I thought why not figs?  I stuffed them with the same Cambozola cheese and wrapped my heritage hog bacon around them, cooked at 400 in the toaster oven for 20 min or so until the bacon was done.

For dinner, I make a layered concoction of sauteed garlic and shallots, then potatoes, salt and pepper, chopped chard with swiss cheese (I used mozzarella).  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for an hour or so. I put the cast iron pan under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top layer of potatoes.

Garlic and shallots from my garden, potatoes from farmer Allan.

Saute chopped garlic and shallots or onions in cast iron pan - come olive oil and butter.  Once cooked, take off heat and start to layer with vegetables.

Chard with cheese, layered on top of potatoes


Monday, August 23, 2010

The Figs are In!

There is a Fig tree in the community garden.  I like figs but have never really paid attention to this tree until last year.  Sean and I had fig and prosciutto pizza and I thought I would try it with the community figs. It was delicious so this year, I'm determined to preserve come of these figs.  It takes about 30 to make the recipe for fig preserves in the Ball canning book and that would still leave plenty for others to take.  Saturday I took Emma to her friend's for a sleepover and while yaking with her friend's mom, we talked figs.  So yesterday while at the garden, I wandered over to see if any were ready and there were a few plump, squishy figs.   They were picked (the sticky thing about figs is when you pick ripe ones, they ooze a sap out of the stem and gets all over your hands).

The figs in the garden are green with strawberry colored center

I decided to make them tonight in the method that my friend suggested.  Split in two, coated with sugar and put cut side down in a hot pan.  Cook for a few minutes until sugar starts to caramelize and then flip over to warm other side.  Serve over ice cream

Coated with sugar

Sugar bubbling