Friday, August 27, 2010

Oven Roasted Garlic

We've harvested about 40 heads of garlic - that's a lot of garlic.  Well maybe not for some, but remember, my cooking background is German, garlic is not something I grew up with.  Of course, we've been using garlic here and there for a lot of years now - but when you have 40 heads of garlic hanging above your tool bench in the garage - there's incentive to use a lot more of it.

The other night we tried roasting garlic in the oven.  The aroma was fantastic, and the taste was great on homemade pizza.

Oven Roasted Garlic
Head of Garlic (as many as you'd like)
Olive Oil

Peel the papery layers off the head of garlic.
Cut off the tips of the garlic cloves.
Pour olive oil on top of garlic (about 1-2 tsp per head).

Season with salt and pepper.
Wrap each head separately in aluminum foil.
Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes until soft and golden.
Squeeze garlic out of skins and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Girls and Boys in the Garden

We love having guests come and visit the garden.  Last week, Juliana and Stephen joined Melanie and Aidan for a tour of their garden.  They all enjoyed chomping on carrots and picking corn - but then their interests were very different.
Our girly girls enjoyed picking and smelling the pretty flowers.

Our rough and tumble boys enjoyed displaying their weapons of mass destruction.  Luckily, they were too afraid to lose their ammo in the vegetation to actually shoot anything or anyone.
What can you say, besides another carrot anyone?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Corn and Zucchini Fritters

Brought home another 28 cobs of corn and 3 zucchinis.  It's time for something other than corn on the cob and chocolate zucchini loaf.  So tonight, corn and zucchini fritters.

Corn and Zucchini Fritters
2 cups sweet corn 
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cayenne pepper finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped green onion
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp oil

Toss together corn, zucchini, pepper, green onion, spices, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Lightly beat two eggs.
Mix into the corn mixture.
Add flour and stir to mix evenly.
Heat oil in pan.
Scoop 1 to 2 tbsp of corn mix into hot oil, like a pancake.
Fry both sides until golden.
Place in hot oven until ready to serve.

Makes 10 to 12 fritters

The kids would prefer corn on the cob - again and again.  But Darryl and I enjoyed these fritters as a nice change.  We also tried them with a little apple butter spread on top.  The contrast between the savory fritter and the sweet apple butter was great.  I've read some people even pour a little maple syrup over their corn fritters.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Greek Cavena Nuda Salad

In July, we tried Cavena Nuda (naked oats) with broccoli and beans, now it's time to try it with August veggies - tomatoes and cukes (notice the distinct lack of corn and/or zucchini!).

Here's our version of the Mediterranean Salad featured on the Wedge Farm site (the producers of Cavena Nuda).

Greek Cavena Nuda Salad

2 cups Cavena Nuda
1 cucumber diced
2 tomatoes diced
1 green pepper diced
1/2 red onion diced
2 tbsp Kalamata olives
2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup greek dressing

Note: Kalamata olives add that special Greek touch, sadly we didn't have any on hand this time around. 

Place Cavena Nuda in a saucepan and cover with water about 2 inches above the oats.
Add salt.
Bring to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.
Drain and rinse with cold water.  Remember, it will still be somewhat firm.

Mix cooked, cooled Cavena Nuda, veggies and dressing n a salad bowl.
Let sit for 4 hours or overnight.
Serve and enjoy!

Serves 6 to 8

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bruschetta on Homemade Bread

Garden tomatoes, garlic, basil and homemade bread.  Say no more!

First, let's get the whole pronunciation thing out of the way. Our Italian friend, Fabio, says it's pronounced "Bruce kett a".  He also insists on either fresh parmesan or chevre on top - we're more flexible and like to go cheeseless now and then.

You probably have your own favourite recipe, but just in case, here's ours.

Bruschetta Recipe

6 Roma tomatoes chopped (Roma's have less liquid and more flesh.  You can use any tomato, but you might want to remove some of the liquid and seeds.)
2 cloves garlic minced
6 large basil leaves chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

French bread (or homemade bread)
1 clove garlic cut in half
3 tbsp canola oil

Combine first six ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile slice bread into 1/2 inch slices.
Brush canola oil on both sides of the bread.
Bread for Bruschetta & Buns for Burgers
Rub cut side of garlic on both sides of the oiled bread.
Set your oven rack and oven to broil.
Toast bread on both sides under the broiler about 2 - 3 minutes per side.
Place tomato mixture on toast slices.
Optional: Add parmesan or chevre cheese on and return to broil for 1 minute.
Serve immediately.

Makes: 8-10 fully loaded slices

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Garden Tomato Soup with No-Knead Homemade Bread

On the menu last night, Garden Tomato Soup with fresh Baked Bread (and corn on the cob of course).

Garden Tomato Soup

2 tbsp canola oil
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
5 cloves sliced garlic
12 or more chopped tomatoes (any kind will do)

2 chopped cayenne peppers (more or less to suit your taste)
1 cup water or soup stock 
4 tbsp chopped basil (more or less to suit your taste)
salt and pepper to taste

In a very large pot, heat canola oil.
Add carrots, celery and onions.
Saute for 5 to 10 minutes until soft.
Add garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.  Do not brown.
Add chopped tomatoes, peppers, water, basil and spices. 
Bring to boil.
Let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until tomatoes are soft and falling apart.
Use an immersion blender to mix all ingredients and chop veggies.  While you might be able to skip this step when using the food mill, I find it helps create a thicker, richer soup by grinding up the pulp and binding it with the juice.
Ladle mixture into the food mill fitted with a fine or medium blade.  I like the bit of pulp that comes through with the  medium blade and the few tomato seeds that came through add to the rustic appeal.  However, for a more sophisticated, smooth soup use the fine blade.
Serve immediately.

Note:  If the soup is too acidic, try adding one or two tablespoons of sugar with the tomatoes or add some cream or sour cream just before serving.

Makes: 12 to 15 meal sized servings (can be frozen)

By the time the bread came out of the oven, my family had surrounded me, the aroma was driving them crazy.  They weren't about to wait for me to take photos or decorate their soup with freshly picked basil leaves.  Maybe next time, I'll get to sneak a few photos of the finished product!

The bread recipe is a no-knead recipe that comes from the authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. My friend Dennis started me on this bread about 2 years ago.  It is absolutely delicious and soooo easy to make.  If you make this bread, you will wow your friends and family.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Freezing Corn

August is just a fancy word for corn on the cob month!  If only there were some way we could capture the taste and experience of the first cob of corn of summer.  Sadly, it can't be done.  But, at least we can freeze some of those tasty niblets to enjoy all year long.

Yes, some people blanch and freeze whole cobs.  A valiant effort, but for me, it's just not the same.  And, it takes up limited freezer space.  

We prefer to strip our cobs and freeze just the niblets.  The process is quite simple.

1.  Gather your corn.
2.  Shuck the corn. 
3.  Gently remove any leftover silk with a soft vegetable scrub brush.  Be careful not to bruise the corn.
4.  Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to boil. We use our big canning pot.
5.  Once the water is boiling add 6 to 8 corn cobs.  
6.  Bring the water back to a boil.
7.  Boil or blanch the cobs for 4-8 minutes (the sweeter the variety, the less time is required).
8.  Stop the boiling process by immediately immersing cobs in an ice cube bath.
9.  Let cobs cool in bath for 4-8 minutes (however long you boiled them).
10. Cut corn niblets off the cob with a sharp knife or fancy corn cutter tool.  (I don't have a fancy corn cutter, but I do use my angel food cake pan as a stand and niblet catcher.)
11. Place in freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and freeze.

Blanching Note: Avoid crowding the pot with too many cobs all at once. Too many cobs in the pot will slow down the boiling process and cause the cobs to be in the water too long.  Boiling the cobs will stop the enzymes that cause ripening.  If veggies aren't boiled long enough, the enzyme may continue to grow  (even in the freezer) and cause them to become tough, off-colour and off-flavour. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trouble in the Zucchini Patch

Our zucchini patch has a bad case of powdery mildew.  It's not hard to identify - white powdery spots all over the leaves.  After harvesting more than enough zucchinis, we're not really worried about losing a few zucchinis, we're worried about the fungus spreading to our pumpkins, butternut squash and cucumbers.

We decided the best strategy was to cut out as many of the diseased leaves as possible.  

Zucchini plant with a bad haircut!
We'll be keeping an eye out to try to prevent the mildew from spreading.  We've discovered that spraying with either a milk solution or a baking soda solution are also effective, organic options.  For more on these options check out the following:

Sweet, Sweet Corn

I still remember my first corn on the cob.  It was the summer of 1977 and my family had just immigrated from Germany.  In that first summer, our new friends and neighbours offered us some of their home grown corn.  My mom, while very polite and gracious, was silently aghast at the thought of eating cattle feed.  My parents had been growing corn in Germany their entire life - they knew corn was strictly for the animals.

Imagine our surprise when we took that first bite of a sweet, golden cob of corn glistening with melted butter. It made the move to Canada even sweeter!  We've been growing and enjoying sweet corn ever since.

Now, it's time to harvest this year's crop.

We planted three varieties as explained in an earlier post.
  • Canadian Early Supersweet Hybrid F1 on May 19 - matures in 65-70 days
  • Peaches and Cream Bicolour SE on May 21 - matures in 72 days
  • Honey and Cream Bicolour SE on May 27 - matures in 70-75 days
So far, we've had the Canadian Early Supersweet Hybrid and the Peaches and Cream Bicolour.  While we really like the look of the peaches and cream, we all agree that the Supersweet Hybrid is our favourite.  It truly is super sweet. Although, we wouldn't call the Peaches and Cream cattle feed!

Our staggered seeding seems to have worked.  The Honey and Cream corn will be another 5 days or so until it's ready to eat.

We took the risk of cross-pollination by planting the different corn varieties right next to each other.  That doesn't seem to have had a negative result this year.  However, we did plant our rows too close together.  It's difficult to get  in between the rows and the cobs in the center aren't developing as nicely as the ones the outer rows.

Note to Self: Leave recommended space between rows!

A Rainy Day in August

It's wet, rainy and cool.  The garden plots are deserted - everyone knows to stay out of the garden and avoid compacting the soil when the ground is this saturated.  Well, almost everyone.  We've been away for one whole week and I cannot resist.  I use burdock leaves to line my path in hopes of avoiding a massive build up of clay on my boots - it only helps a little.

Our garden did well while we were away.  The corn, while knocked around by the wind and rain, is perfect.

I picked three dozen; some for supper, some for friends and some for freezing.  We’ve learned that  corn becomes over ripe very quickly.   This year, we’ll freeze some before the sweet crisp kernels turn too starchy.

The tomatoes, despite the late blight, are doing OK.  In fact, once I gathered them and added them to the batch I collected and stored in the basement while we were away, I was quite surprised by how many we actually have.  We'll be having our share of tomato soup, tomato sauce, salsa, bruschetta, toasted tomato sandwiches, tomato pizza,etc.

Our peppers this year are phenomenal.  We have tons of cayenne peppers and green bell peppers.  We are waiting patiently for our red and yellow peppers to turn colour.  To our surprise, not all of our green bell peppers look the same.  Some are the standard bell pepper shape, some are more banana shaped.  They taste milder and sweeter than the green peppers and are bigger than a banana pepper.  Whatever they are, we've been enjoying them.
The cucumbers had a great week as well.  The kids are snacking on carrots and cucumber slices to their hearts content.

The bush beans are pretty much done.  Now, it's time for scarlet runner beans.  We're still trying to figure out the best way to eat these big beans.
Our pumpkin pollinating worked!  There are at least five pumpkins on our vines (there are 3 in this picture).

Our zucchinis are still producing despite a massive trim before our holidays.  Powdery mildew was taking over.  

Our carrots, beets, celery, cabbage, eggplants and leeks are looking good.  The biggest challenge is what to eat first and how to preserve as much of these veggies as possible for the winter.

All in all, things are looking great in the garden.  Now, it's time to get busy in the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Harvesting Onions and Garlic

Hammers, saws, wrenches, onions and garlic.  Wait 'til Darryl sees what I've done to the tool bench!

It's time to harvest the onions and garlic.  The garlic tops are drying out and turning yellow.  The onion tops are flopped over with dry tips.  We were hoping to leave them in the ground a little longer as we are sadly lacking a cool storage place.  However, in talking with other gardeners they cautioned that leaving them in the ground too long once they're ready may lead to dry or wet rot.  So, out they came. 

Harvesting garlic is new to us.  What we've learned is, that just like onions, it's important to dry them in a dry, dark well ventilated spot for 10 to 12 days.  This can be done by laying them out on a screen or hanging them up.  Hanging them over the tool bench seemed like the perfect spot.

Once they're sufficiently dried, we'll shake out the dirt, trim some of the tops, and take out any damaged onions or garlic for immediate use (those with bumps or scrapes are most likely to spoil quickly).  Exactly where and how we will store them for the long haul remains to be seen. 

For more info check out:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Many Ways to Love a Garden

This weekend I had a glorious three hours in the garden all by myself - no kids, no dog - just me and the garden.  I loved not rushing to beat the dreaded "can we go now".  It's not that my kids don't love the garden, it's just that we experience the garden very differently.

They love a two minute romp through the garden to point out how much things have changed and what critters they can spot.  I love a two hour sojourn where I can lose myself in tending to all aspects of gardening.

They love to pick and eat a little bit of everything - peas, beans, carrots, dill, green onions, etc.  I love to pick every bush clean until I have bushels of vegetables for several suppers to come.

They love to go play under the big maple tree.  I love to stay in the garden just a "few more minutes".

I am learning that there are many ways to love a garden.  My greatest wish is that they will continue to love it - in someway - their entire life.
Melanie was thrilled to pull the family's biggest beet out of her plot.
Aidan counted 13 potatoes.
Helping the bees with pollinating the pumpkins.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Plight of Late Blight

It was a sad day in the garden.  There is no doubt, we have late blight in our tomatoes and probably also on our potatoes.

As you can see, late blight doesn't just affect the stems and leaves, it also affects the fruit.  Sometimes, if the spores remain, even green tomatoes without any obvious signs will turn brown once taken off the vine.

For more information check out this article from BC Agriculture.

I couldn't bring myself to pull out all the plants and dispose of them (as recommended).  Instead, I pruned and cleared away as much as I could, hoping to harvest at least some tomatoes.  I bagged what I could and put it in the garbage to avoid spreading the disease through the compost.

Red Cabbage, Zucchini and Carrot Slaw

We picked our first head of red cabbage yesterday.  We also harvested more carrots and more zucchinis.  Put them all together and you get a beautiful, colorful coleslaw.

Red Cabbage, Zucchini and Carrot Slaw
(based on recipe by Canadian Living Test Kitchen)

2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup yellow beans
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped green onions

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar or cider vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp grated orange rind
salt and pepper

Mix vinaigrette ingredients in a screw top jar.
Shake like crazy.
Mix veggies and herbs in a large bowl.
Add vinaigrette and toss.
Eat immediately or refrigerate to let flavours soak in.

Serves 4 side dishes