Category Archives: Garden

Wishes

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And cats, don’t forget the cats. And as long as we have that field, maybe a llama, or two (wouldn’t want him to be lonely). I hear mini-burros are nice. Ducks. There must be ducks.



 

Swallowtail Tale

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This is JeffreyW’s swallowtail photo

I keep meaning to tell this story, but with so much going on I kept forgetting. My first weekend in the house, I was in the garden and there was a swallowtail sitting on a daylily leaf, drinking the morning dew off of it. I thought I’d help him out and dipped my hand in the dog water bowl. I went over to dribble it down the leaf for him when he stepped into my hand and drank from there.

It was awesome. And I figured a good sign.

My plan going forward is to turn the front garden bed into a butterfly garden, complete with a watering station.

Butterfly Water Feeder (“Puddlers”) Butterfly water feeders really aren’t necessary to supply water and butterflies don’t need bird baths or ponds because they get the liquid they need from nectar. However, they need places to “puddle,” as “puddling” provides the critical minerals that butterflies require. Here are a couple ways to create puddlers that butterflies will love. Spread a thin layer of dirt in the bottom of a shallow pie pan or dish. Arrange some rocks in the pan so the butterflies have a place to land. Cut a kitchen sponge into various shapes and arrange the sponges between the rocks, or put one large sponge in the center of the plate. Keep the sponges damp so the water slowly seeps to keep the soil moist. Put the puddler in a sunny, protected area near butterfly-friendly flowers where you can keep an eye on the visitors. A similar version of a puddler is to bury a shallow plate or bowl in the ground so the lip of the container is even with the surface of the soil. Fill the container with sand, then arrange a few rocks or wood chunks on the soil for landing spots. Add water as needed to keep the sand consistently wet. Butterflies will love it!

And since having two hummingbirds visit  – one in the backyard and one at my office window box- I’ll make sure we are hummingbird friendly, as well.

BTW, still need to name the snake under my front steps. It really is a tiny little Eden in the middle of our little city.

I’m off to keep working on the Iris nursery – I’m relocating all the irises to the nursery, next spring I’ll photograph the colors and decide where to relocate them as I rearrange the beds. Right now Bixby is trying to kill them all with his big gollomping feet.



Friday Recipe Exchange: Convection Roasted Chicken

Dinner is Served

After asking for and receiving some excellent advice on how to use my new convection oven, I decided to jump in and test it out. Roasting a chicken seemed like the most logical choice. If I ruined it, I could turn it into chicken salad. Sonoma Chicken Salad to be exact, found here.

This time of year, recipes seem superfluous – farm fresh corn, zucchini from my garden and sliced tomatoes need little embellishment. But I do have Tomato-Pasta Salad, here, that changes up the usual flavors.

For dessert, those plums needed to be used, so I went with a Plum Crumble (or as my cousin christened it, Plumble), recipe here. I used the convection feature,  which helped the crisp brown evenly. Bonus Bixby inspecting the plums here.

I don’t have any recipes from JeffreyW this week, but that could because this guy is keeping him busy:

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That’s the most adorable, Gabe, getting himself into a bit of trouble. I am looking forward to seeing how JeffreyW’s figs turn out, hopefully abundant enough for homemade fig newtons. But if not, just fresh off the tree. I love figs! Photos of his fig progression are here.

What’s on your menu this weekend as summer winds down? My grapes are starting to ripen, and of course I’m overrun with plums, so does anyone have some good plum or concord grape recipes they want to share? What else is cookin’ tonight?

Chicken's Done

Tonight’s featured recipe is pretty simple, since what I wanted was to test out how the convection oven treated my ingredients. I started with a local chicken, zucchini from my garden, potatoes from my dad’s garden and local corn.

I mixed together 2 tbsps of butter with dried, crushed rosemary and basil, along with crushed garlic and rubbed it under and over the skin of the chicken. I then rubbed more of the herbs and garlic inside  the cavity.

I put the chicken and the sliced potatoes into the roasting pan. I roasted them at 425 degrees, until the breast meat registered at 165 degrees and the thighs at 170 degrees. The high temperature, combined with the convection created a crisp skin that quickly sealed in the juices. Total cooking time was one hour for a five pound bird.

Convection Oven Roasting

I added the sliced zucchini about 15 minutes before the chicken was about to come out of the oven, so everything finished up nicely. The corn was microwaved for two minutes an ear (for a total of six minutes) with the husks on. If I had been more confident with my oven skills, I would have popped the ears into the oven just a bit before the zucchini and roasted them in the husks.

I am over the moon with what the convection feature can do – the potatoes were perfectly roasted, the chicken crisp and moist, the zucchini tender. The flavors were great and the herbs really permeated the meat.

That’s it for this week. I’m sitting here watching the welcome rainstorm drench my very thirsty yard, while contemplating my long list of things to do this weekend. Have a great weekend! – TaMara



 

Plum Crumble

Plums

What to do with all those plums? We’ve been eating as many as possible and I’m thinking of freezing some more. If frozen, this recipe is the perfect way to use them.

Plum crumble

Plum Crumble

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cups plums, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp ginger

8×8 baking dish, greased

bowl

In bowl, cut together ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, 1 cup flour, oatmeal, cinnamon & butter until crumbly. In greased baking dish, spread crushed nuts on the bottom and drizzle with melted butter. Mix together orange juice, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp flour and ginger. Toss gently with fruit and spread over nuts. Top with crumbled mixture and bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Top should be golden and filling bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving to let fruit set.



 

Figs!

DSC02956 (1600x1200)Mrs J’s SIL gave us a pair of rooted  fig cuttings last fall.  To survive in our zone they have to be cut back every year and mulched in.  She over wintered these in the basement and planted them in our new garden this spring…20160506_141144(1600x1200)…where the deer or some other critter browsed the leaves.  Cages and chicken wire to the rescue!20160817_102914(1600x1200)They’ve been liking the rain and the heat this summer.  They are making a lot of figs.  We aren’t too sure when they usually ripen or even, for that matter, how to tell when they are ripe.20160817_102931(1600x1200)There seem to be a lot of them coming on so I suppose we will find out.  All I know is that when the sis-in-law brought us the cuttings last October she also brought a bowl of ripe figs.

The Grapes of August

Grapes of August

I went out before work to see if there were tomatoes I needed to bring in (and yes, there were). I decided I should grab the one cluster of grapes that was almost ripe yesterday. Once I was under the grape arbor, it was clear I was going to be there a while. Everywhere I looked there was another fully ripe cluster.

No idea what I’m going to do with them. Probably make juice…



 

Tidbits

20160807_150949(1600x1200)I’ve always called these things pink ladies but I assume there are other names for them depending on where you live.  They usually come as a surprise, seemingly showing up overnight.20160809_173126(1600x1200)This sloppy joe sammich got a bit of crunch added with the corn chips, it’s akin to Frito pie in that regard.  I like the way the slaw turned out so much I ordered a salad spinner for the method  the recipe spells out.  It calls for a salt and sugar “cure” that has to be rinsed off before the dressing is added and the excess water needs to be removed.  I’ve been letting it drain onto tea towels.20160811_120157(1600x1200)More BELT sammiches.  I’m frugal so I toasted the heel ends to make this one.  The tomato bushes continue to yield the big slicers that are perfect for them.20160813_104840(1600x1200)Speaking of tomatoes, we juiced a couple of five gallon buckets full of tomatoes and spent the day boiling them down to eventually can 7 quarts of tomato soup.  That vegetable juicer we bought is still paying dividends.DSC_5514(1600x1200)Gabe has found a new toy that is so much better than the other toys in that box.  Mrs J is so much fun!  She plays with him all over the house!gated gabe(1600x1200)Usually these play sessions result in nap time, whether Gabe is sleepy or not.DSC03678 (1600x1200)Moar kittehs!  I don’t have any additional info on either of these.20160811_164117(1600x1200)More smoked pork with some of that slaw from the recipe I linked to above.DSC03681 (1600x1200)I’ll wrap this up with another kitteh.

Plumtastic!

Plum harvest day 3

So my two little ornamental plums have provided quite the harvest this year. Clearly no one told them they are not supposed to produce fruit. This is day three, still quite a few even after I invited my neighbors over to pick as many as they liked.

Bixby Inspects Harvest

Bixby must inspect everything, though so far he doesn’t seem to have a taste for plums. There are at least twice as many up higher in the trees (though they really are small trees) and I don’t have it in me to get the ladder out and pick more. Next year there will be plum jam. This year, the plum fairy may be leaving gifts on the unsuspecting’s doorsteps.

Speaking of no energy – I don’t have it in me to do the recipes tonight – maybe tomorrow…



 

Another Day, Another Color

Another rose 81116

Discovered another rose variety today

Tomato-Pasta Salad

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Yesterday’s bounty from my yard and some bonus homemade salsa

Tomato season is in full swing. Every meal has tomatoes in one form or another. This is a nice combination of flavors to shake things up from the usual pasta salads:

Tomato-Pasta Salad

  • 10 oz dry rotini pasta, cooked, drained, chilled
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 oz fresh basil
  • 4 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 oz Kalamata (Greek green) olives
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 2 oz crumbled Feta
  • 8 oz diced ham (opt)

serving bowl, bowl, saucepan

In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, garlic & basil.  Slowly whisk in oil.  To serving bowl, add pasta, fresh basil, spinach, tomatoes, olives, parmesan, opt. ham and toss with dressing.  Garnish with crumbled feta.



 

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