Saving the Harvest

While our garden and orchard have been hit and miss due to the cool summer, animal intrusion, and redoing of the beds, we did enjoy a ton of broccoli, some really nice onions, and a few beets.

As you may remember, I can only eat so much broccoli. Come winter, I usually heat up corn, peas, or green beans and call it good when it comes to a side dish. I was thinking I should really make more of an effort in that department, and since I was tired of broccoli, I thought maybe pickled broccoli would be the answer. I know, my family doesn’t really eat pickles, but this is broccoli not cucumbers, so maybe it would be OK.

It all started when a few weeks ago, me and the MR went shopping with my dad; and on the way home, we stopped at a local farm and picked a couple baskets of tomatoes. No, we don’t love tomatoes that much either, but Sweet Miss complimented my Smokey Tomato Jam (or rather Putting Up with Erin’s Smokey Tomato Jam), so of course I had to make some for her October care package.

And since I was there, and I’d really liked the jam, I decided to check out what other recipes Erin had on her blog. That’s when I came across Pepper Pickled Broccoli, Beet, Carrot, and Apple Slaw, and Roasted Onion and Sage Jam. Have I mentioned that we have a banner crop of sage, too?

Now, I’m not sure how they all turned out. The onion jam was quite lovely on a cracker with a touch of cream cheese, and I can imagine it would make a wonderful glaze over a pork roast. The pickled broccoli and the beet slaw are supposed to hang around for three weeks or so before we try them out. You want all those flavors to meld, so I’ve been practicing patience. I’m just excited to have a ready supply of beets that I can eat in moderation; the MR chooses to abstain.

I really like tomato jam spread on a grilled cheese sandwich with all that gooey cheese. I have pretty fancy tastes as you can see.

All my jars have been sitting on the counter, but soon they’ll be adding some color and beauty to the pantry and a dose of flavor to our winter menus.canned-goods

Any favorite recipes for your fall harvest? Do you have a canning web site you like to use?

(Sadly, my links are on the blink, so Putting Up with Erin is the blog where I found these amazing recipes. Google Smokey Tomato Jam, and you’ll end up in the right spot.)

Waste Not

Me and the MR were visiting friends last month. They have a quirky cabin on a lake in Idaho. 

When our hosts asked if we wanted some crab apples from their large trees out front, of course I said yes. 

Perhaps it’s because my dad was born during the Great Depression, or maybe it was because my own family felt the crunch when Boeing laid off so many in the early ’70s, or I guess it could be those early days of marriage when the cupboards werebare, but for whatever reason, I can’t say no to free food. 

Crab apples could be perfect in apple cake or perhaps apple butter. I could always look up recipes online. So together we picked a few bags, and me and the MR headed home. 

You know how it is when you get home from a few days away. You have laundry; you have to restock the fridge; the garden needs attention; you have to catch up on all those little household chores. 

Well those crab apples sat on the counter for one week—Sweet Miss was home visiting. And then they sat on the table for another week. The MR thought he saw bugs. Should he just throw them away?

I looked up recipes, but nothing caught my eye. Maybe I would make that apple cake. Then I cut into one of those babies. Have you ever tried to core a crab apple? Those suckers are hard—like rock hard. 

I decided they’d be a lovely addition to applesauce. Baby Girl reminded me of potential arsenic poisoning, but I removed all the seeds by running the cooked down apples through my Kitchenaid strainer. 

The crab apples mixed with a few of our own beauties keeps the sauce tangy. And the redness of the flesh and the peels turns the sauce a rosy pink color. 


Baby Girl put it to the taste test and gave it her stamp of approval. 

And now we have lovely pink sauce to remind us of fun times.

    Do you have a favorite recipe for crab apples?

Herb-alicious

While the kitchen garden has had its issues, our herbs are doing great. But what do you do with all those herbs? Watch them go to seed?

Unfortunately, most years, the answer is yes. I just watch them flower and die. But recently, I saw a post about chopping them up, adding some oil, and freezing them for later. What a great idea!

Rosemary

Rosemary & Oil

I have this great marinade for flank steak with rosemary, oil, garlic, and red wine. It’s been a family favorite forever. Now, I just have to grab a few cubes of the rosemary infused oil and I’m half-way there.

Rosemary Cubes Closeup

Let’s be honest. It’s a lot more likely that I’m going to go outside with my sheers on a beautiful summer day than in a chilly November rainstorm. And those fresh herbs from the grocery store cost an arm and a leg.

Now I have rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, mint, sage, and chives to deal with. I see a sweet smelling afternoon in my future.

Herbs in Colander

 

What’s your favorite way to use fresh herbs?

 

 

Ain’t It Funny

Sometimes life is funny. I’ve planted carrots and lettuce and peas three times now this summer, and we’ve enjoyed a big old nothing. I planted a pony-pack of broccoli from the hardware store and one measly cucumber plant, and they are exploding.

I go down to the garden with my basket and shears, and come back with cups of broccoli and stacks of giant cucumbers. You know what? I don’t really like broccoli. When we were little kids, my folks would set a bowl of frozen broccoli straight from the microwave on the table. Then came the fine dance of whether three or for florets would be considered a proper serving. If I got it wrong, my dad would grab the spoon and pile a huge scoop on my plate. My family didn’t subscribe to the “no-thank-you-bite”. We were totally members of the clean your plate club.

Then when me and the MR were engaged we went to this wedding planning event, and he won a wok that came with a booklet of recipes. Beef and broccoli stir-fry became a staple in our household. The MR doesn’t like eggs, but he likes broccoli. I learned to adapt. After all these years, I can handle broccoli in moderation.

broccoli

But what about cucumbers? Neither of us like cucumbers. Well, why plant them you foolish woman? The girls like cucumbers, and they’ve actually done well most years unlike half of things I plant in the garden. Sometimes, it feels good to enjoy a little success. I guess the key word is little versus inundation.

So lately, I’ve been scanning Pinterest, and Yummly, and Tastespotting for recipes. It’s been a bit of an adventure. We’ve enjoyed spiralized cucumber in Mango Curried Cucumber Salad from Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat (the link to their site isn’t working). I didn’t have any mangoes, so I substituted some sad looking nectarines that really should have been eaten earlier and green peas for the soybeans, since I didn’t have those either. This is a great meal on a hot summer night; yes, we have had a few.

Sunday, we enjoyed Gluten-Free with LB’s Beef Meatballs & Roasted Broccoli. Super tasty and not too labor intensive. I made the meatballs in the afternoon and baked them in the oven. Then I heated them in a frying pan with the sauce while the broccoli (I’d prepped ahead of time) was roasting. Sometimes a little work earlier in the day can make dinner come together so much quicker.

Last week, we had Bacon, Avocado, Cucumber Sushi Rolls from My Korean Kitchen. Another tasty, easy meal. Unfortunately, we had trouble finding seaweed for the wraps at our local independent grocer, so I just made a pile on the plate. I had more success in the seaweed department at the large chain store yesterday, so I’m going to give it another go.

Sushi I

The last two nights, we’ve had Hapanom’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Buns. They’re served with Quick Pickled Cucumbers and an amazing Siracha Barbecue Sauce that Baby Girl helped whip up. I made the steamed buns that the reciped called for, but that was a little time-intensive. Maybe next time, we’ll move away from the Asian influence slightly and use burger buns. While, no one in our family likes pickles, these quick pickles added crunch and a little vinegar-y tang to yummy pork sandwiches.

Finally, we have Baked Broccoli Poppers with Honey-Siracha Sauce from Oh My Veggies on the menu. I think these will be fun to munch on while I’m trying my hand at rolling cucumber sushi, so I can serve it up properly.

I managed to hand off four giant cucumbers at knitting group yesterday and one to my friend that I met for lunch on Monday, that means we only have two left before the next batch. People have worse problems.

Any favorite broccoli or cucumber recipes to share?

(Sorry not to share links. I’m having some software issue. If you Google the recipe name or type in a few key words on Tastespotting or Pinterest, I have faith that you will find them. Enjoy!)

 

 

 

Sweet Red Gems

June has only just arrived, and they’re already picking strawberries in the valley, and we’re enjoying currants up here on the hill.

I’m not sure what possessed me to buy a currant bush five or six years ago. The leaves were ridged and cut, the plant was attractive, and hey, it produced edible fruit. Sounded like a winner to me. The MR moved the currant bush and the blueberries from our old house to here, but I never really took notice of it until the deer.

You see the deer nibbled on the blueberry bushes without mercy, but they totally ignored the currant bush. I figured it was time to get a few more. And as they matured, they’ve started to produce more and more berries.

Now currants aren’t something we ever ate growing up. You might buy dried currants for your soda bread or singing hinnies, but red currants were unheard of in my house. So I went online and skimmed for recipes. One of my favorites encorporates currants in a meal rather than treats. With just me and the MR at home, I can’t afford to have piles of cakes and muffins around—not and keep track of my waistline.

It features braised chicken thighs with red currants, tomatoes, olives, and lemons. We had it for dinner last night, and it’s been a staple currant recipe for the last few years. If you’d like to make it, check out Apron & Sneakers Braised Mediterranen Chicken; it’s quite lovely.

As the season progresses, I’ll be making La Tartine Gourmand’s Raspberry, Currant Popsicles. This classic summer treat is simple, beautiful, and oh, so tasty.

Looking through recipes online, I came across simple popsicles featuring currants, oranges, bananas, and ginger at Hungray Shots, and some truly luscious-looking cupcakes decorated with currants at Bake Noir. Then there’s the strawberry-currant crisp that’s gluten-free and everything at Our Four Forks. (The link’s not working, so just go to the web site and search. Sorry for the trouble.)

Between Tastespotting and Pinterest, the options are endless. Thankfully, so are these beauties for the moment.

Currants Close Up

Any favorite currant recipes you’d like to share? How about strawberry recipes? I’ll be spending a few hours at the local farms soon.

 

 

 

Unexpected Bounty

You may have noticed that I’ve been missing in action.  Well, me and the MR have been out of town for 15 of the last 25 days.  First we traveled to Maui for his work’s annual vacation and then it was off to Cacun for a business conference plus a few days beforehand for fun.

Before we left, I had a plan.  I had blog posts all set up for the week.  I just needed to edit a few photos, get back down to the orchard for a quick close-up of apple blossoms, and post something from our trip—all set.  Instead of getting it done on Tuesday night, I watched TV with my guy on the couch.

So I had a rather rude awakening at 5 am, when the MR told me the power was out. Didn’t they know I was meeting a friend for coffee, I had to go shopping because apparently Cancun is a lot fancier than Hawaii, I had to get a pedicure (sandy beaches tear up your feet), it was my afternoon to work at the knit shop, we had small group in the evening, and I still had to pack?

Needless to say, that little power outage meant things went black around here for a week or so—not in real life just on the blog.  But we did have a fabulous trip, I did manage to get all those things done, and I came home to a few packages that’ll I get to share with you soon.

So what was that amazing blog post you’ve been waiting for for weeks? It was all about onions.  Hmm, I know, I have pictures of flowers, and pyramids, and cenotes.  You’ll just have to wait.  Today, the topic is onions.

You see I’ve been planting onions for the last few years to deter critters from visiting our garden.  The first year, we had success; last year, not so much.  The onions did fine, the critters came anyways, and before too long the zucchini plants swallowed up the whole onion planting.  To be honest, I figured they were a loss.  Oh well, a few onion sets don’t cost much.

That’s why I was surprised this spring to see a dense line of onions along the edge of the garden.  Now these were somewhere between the green onion and regular onion size and so smooshed together they’d never be able to get any bigger.  So I thinned them out.

UB Onions

Now what to do with all those onions when you’re headed out of town?  That’s when I remembered college days and Red Robin—yes, the burger place, just stick with me here.  Back in the days when $5 or $6 for a burger where out of my budget, I discovered that you could purchase a cup of French onion soup at Red Robin for about half that price.  I could still go out with friends for dinner and enjoy something tasty and cheap.

Of course French onion soup calls for regular size onions, but I say use what you’ve got.  I washed, sliced, carmelized, and sweated onions for hours ending up with a tasty soup I heated up after work.  Topped with melted cheeses and a sliced baguette, it was the perfect meal on a chilly, wet night.

I was sure I took a picture of our dinner in cute little Campbell’s soup bowls, but it’s not on the camera, or my phone, or my Ipad.  So you’ll just have to trust me; it was tasty.

I love how abundance in the garden can force you to try new things or perhaps old favorites.

How do you like your onions?  Any overwinter suprises in the garden?

 

 

 

 

Anticipation Rewarded

Sometimes I lay in bed writing my posts in my head.  I know, I’ll liken my lemon tree to being pregnant and awaiting the girls arrival.  It’ll be fresh and unexpected.  Then I look back two months and realize that’s exactly how I started the post about our lemon tree (https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/anticipation/) the last time.  Maybe I’m lost in an endless circle.  I’m thankful lemons don’t take up most of my thoughts—some days.

Anyhow, all that to say I don’t have a clever way to start my blog, but the lemons are ripe. Yippee!  We’ve been waiting and watching for a year.  Back in January, I shared pictures of our tiny tree with two giant, green lemons we’d been watching for ever, and over the last few weeks, me and the MR have been trying to figure out if they were starting to turn yellow or if it was just wishful thinking.

Who knew lemons take a year to ripen? I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a patient person.  Last week, I decided it was time.  Which one of these beauties should I pick?

AR Lemons

Of course, then I bumped the lemon off the paint stirrer, and they both fell off—decision made.  I used the first one in dinner that night with roasted chicken, carrots, and olives.  Just mix it all together, add a bay leaf, and some salt and pepper, sprinkle with paprika and stick it in the oven at 425-degrees for 45 minutes give or take.  I always tell my girls when you start smelling dinner, you should probably check on it.

That recipe uses the whole lemon sliced into wedges, but it doesn’t really highlight the fruit the way I wanted to.  I mean we’ve been waiting for these babies forever, we don’t have any other fruit on the tree; we have to make this last one something special.

That’s when my grandma came to mind—both of them in fact.  When I was a kid, I remember riding home from evening services at church with my Grandma Gigi.  She turned to me and asked if I wanted to stop for some pie and coffee.  Well, I was young and foolish.  I just laughed and said no.  I didn’t drink coffee, I wasn’t that excited about pie from the local chain, just think of all those calories.  I missed out.

Then there was my Grandma Fisher who was the pastry chef at the local bowling alley.  I know that’s a strange pairing of terms, but bear with me.  She’d make 30 or 40 pies every day for the locals.  Those days were long gone by the time I was born, but pie was always plentiful when we came to visit.  She’d make chocolate and banana, coconut and even, yes, lemon.  Making another pie was never much trouble for her.

So in honor of two special ladies, I decided pie was the answer.  Of course, I only had one lemon left, and I really did want to use the whole thing.  So I was pleased as I was thumbing through myJames McNair’s Pie cookbook to find a recipe for Lemon Slice Pie featuring thin slices of Meyers lemons.

Since pie two nights in a row sounds decadent, but pie every night sounds gluttonous, I decided to scale back the recipe.  It called for three lemons, so divided it by three and made two tiny pies for me and the MR.

AR Two Pies

While the recipe suggested peeling the lemon and then thinly slicing it, I opted to include the peel.  Next time, I think I’ll remove it and use it for zest in another recipe.  Let’s just say it was a little tart.

This little beauty made a lovely addition to our evening meal.

AR Serving Up

And we still have one pie left for tonight.  Now we just have to wait for our tiny tree to bloom, put on a few lemons, and then wait a year for more pie.  Perhaps the grocery store is a quicker option.

Do you have a favorite lemon recipe I should try?  Any grandma stories you’d like to share?