Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade Salsa - YUM!

The tomatoes are producing and ripening nicely.  I must say for my first year, this rookie has been quite successful.  Everything I've planted has cooperated and produced lots of babies for mama.  I finally managed to get out of the garden with a handful of Sweet 100s.  They are so addictive.  Would I be greedy if I said I don't want to share them, lol? Thank goodness there are hundred's of them that I can share.   

I whipped up a bowl of salsa with the tomatoes.  I used fresh cilantro, jalapenos, and a banana pepper that I allowed to turn red from the garden and added a small red onion.  The recipe actually calls for lime juice, but I prefer mine without the lime juice.  As you can see, I also like my salsa chunky as well as hot.  It was so good.  I'll be canning lots of it for the winterI love munching on chips and salsa while curling up reading a good book or watching westerns when we're snowed under.  It's nothing for us to get a foot or two of snow during our blizzards in these parts.  

I made a dish of jalapeno cornbread this morning.  I have to do something with all the jalapenos that I'm picking, lol.  Spicy is the word in my house.  I've even converted my SIL, and my 3 year old grandson loves anything hot too.  His little eyes just water, but he devours whatever he's eating.  He loves fresh jalapenos and cheese on his tortilla chips.  I've digressed, anyway doesn't the cornbread look delicious.  It's my grandmother's recipe.  Crackling cornbread was a staple in her home.  I substitute the jalapenos in place of the cracklings.  I'll  be serving it for lunch along with a chicken and noodle dish that I made last night.   What are you whipping up from the goodies in your garden?   

Monday, July 25, 2011

What's Cooking?

Whipped up a few loaves of Zucchini Bread last night.  My first batch for the season, but surely won't be my last.  I'll be lucky if it lasts through the remainder of the day, lol.

Today's harvest.  The cukes and zucchini are producing like crazy.  I plucked my first Roma tomatoes of the season.  I have lots of fruit on the vine, looking forward to making spaghetti sauce for the winter.  I'm sorry I didn't put in 2 plants additional plants.  I won't be giving away Roma tomatoes this season that's for sure.   The Sweet 100 is loaded with tomatoes and has reached at least 8 feet.  I can't manage to make it out of the garden to take pictures of what I harvest.  They're so good, I just toss them in my mouth as soon as I pick them off the vine. 

I actually harvested 3 zucchini, 2 were used for the Zucchini Bread.  I'll be frying the eggplant, squash and the other zucchini for tomorrow's lunch.  Yum!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My First Ripe Tomato!

Can you see it?  My first ripe Celebrity!  I was like a kid in a candy store.  I never dreamed that gardening could so exciting.  I don't know what took me so long to put one in.  I've been thinking about planting a garden for years, but never took the first step to growing my own fruit and veggies.  I'm already thinking about next year's garden and what I'll be planting.  I'm also thinking about asking Santa for a greenhouse this year.  Oh, what I could do with a greenhouse.  I found 2 ripe tomatoes, and quickly whipped up a batch of salsa with the banana and jalepeno peppers sitting on the counter.  It was so nice to reach over the fence and nip at the fresh cilantro to add to it, and it was oh so good.  I'll post my recipe shortly.  It's quick and can modified if needed. 

The Sweet 100 is producing and producing.  I was able to harvest a handful and devoured them before I got out the gate of the garden, lol.  They were tasty.    My daughter said mom, "You ate those and you didn't wash them off".  My response, "There's nothing on these babies but love" .

I harvested a Better Boy this evening too.  I'll be slicing it tomorrow with a little Mayo for lunch or dinner.  Nothing better than a fresh Mater from the garden. 

Lilies From The Garden

I love having fresh flowers in my house.  I cut these lilies yesterday, and I was amazed how much they opened this morning.  The house smells wonderful.  The white is so crisp and refreshing on a hot summer day.  I'll be adding to the garden next year, I can't get enough of them. 

Will I Be Able To Can?

Will I be able to can my fruit and vegetables?  I've been looking for a canner and my research has shown that most canners will not work on smooth cook tops.   When I remodeled my kitchen several years ago, canning was not at the top of list.  I did consider what most women would want in an updated kitchen, and a counter cook top was ranked high on the list.  I choose a ceramic 6 burner model with top of the line features.  I love it, I had no idea that I wouldn't be able to can on it.  Who knew, lol? 

I decided that I wouldn't give up, there had to be something on the market for the modern woman who likes to do things the old fashioned way on occasion.  I have a garden full of veggies that need to be canned and I'm heading to the local farmer's market to buy loads of peaches to can for my future grand baby.  Diligence pays off, this Presto 23-quart canner will work on smooth top stoves.  I found it at Amazon.  I love Amazon, they rarely disappoint me when I'm in search of anything.  I also love the fact that I can order from the comfort of my home and have it delivered to my front door within a day or two.  Further research showed that Wal-mart also carries this canner. 

What I love most is people leaving reviews, good and bad, about various products they have used.  Presto doesn't advertise which of their products work on glass top stoves.  If a blogger hadn't noted that she too was in search of a canner that worked on her glass top stove, I wouldn't have known.  

Since I've never canned before, I'll keep you posted on my journey.  If you're an experienced canner and have a few tips for me, please leave them.  I need all the help that I can get, lol.  I'm starting with the Ball Blue Book

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Eggplants Are Producing

This is my first eggplant for the season.  My Prosperosa is coming along nicely.  Prosperosa is a round Italian heirloom variety with a mild tasting flesh.  It's not quite ready to pick, but I think we'll be there soon.  It's starting to acquire the nice sheen that eggplants are known for.  I have two plants and the other is producing fruit as well.  I've never eaten eggplant before, so I'm hoping that I will like it.  I'm a big fan of fried squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and other veggies, I wanted to add eggplant to the mix.  I also want to try Eggplant Parmesan.   If I find it unpleasant, I'll send it to our local food bank who is in desperate need of food.  So many people are out of work and struggling to feed their families, I won't have to look far for a family in need of my over abundance of veggies.

Are you growing eggplant this season?  How do you prepare yours?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tomato Word Search


V X K A C Y O B R E T T E B A 
B M S W H I T E B E A U T Y M 
C L Y W E E Y B U R T N U A I 
E H A R R G N T K P U E K R S 
I I O C O X G I I S A D R B H 
L L E T K M B O W R O U I E P 
L L O E E P A E L Y B S M Z A 
I B T E E F R Y E L D E E N S 
W I Y W P O G I P F E N L E T 
R L M S U I G N N R S K A E E 
A L M G R L T B I C Y T A R C 
C Y O L P H E I N Z E R E G B 
X A T K L O N A Z R A M N A S 
O O A B E L I N C O L N T D K 
B G N O S N H O J N A M R E G 


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roma Tomatoes Stunted?

My Sweet 100s have reached over 6 feet and the vines are loaded.  I looking forward to snacking on these babies.  All and all, the tomatoes are looking good except the Roma.  Initially my concern was the Amish Paste.  It has taken off, and now I'm worried about my Roma.  I mean far behind.  It appears that the Roma's growth has been stunted.  It is producing fruit, but it is not progressing upward like the other tomatoes.  Mama is worried about her baby, so I'm going to give it a few doses of fertilizer over the course of the next few weeks and see what happens.  

My Roma is pictured below.  See she has barerly gotten off the ground.  I was expecting it to reach at least 4 feet, she's barely 3 feet.  I'm hoping for a good harvest, I had planned to use these particular tomatoes to can for chili and spaghetti sauce this winter. 

For you experienced gardeners or those who have planted the Roma tomato previously.  Any suggestions or advice?

Update on Groundhog War

After spending a fortune on fencing, repellents, cayenne pepper, hot pepper flakes, and cutting up rags to soak with ammonia I resorted to traps to resolve my groundhog problem.   As adorable as they are, I refused to turn my garden over to them and nothing I tried deterred them entering to enjoy a buffet.  I swear, they knew when I left in the car and when I went inside.  I would peep out the window when I was at home and there they were digging and chopping my pole beans down.  If they weren't chomping the green beans, they were eating the leaves on the cucumbers.  Once the veggies produced, they would take 1 bite out of something and move on to the next veggie to take 1 bite of it and leave it on the ground or vine for me.  Oh hell no, I reached my limit when they started chomping on the tomatoes.  My favorites!  I planted a garden so I could taste a home grown tomato.  I had to declare war.   I actually considered an electric fence, but my grandson runs the yard whenever he pleases and I couldn't take a chance of him getting close to the fence and geting shocked if Mama forgot to turn if off.  Traps were the only other alternative

In the state of WV, it is illegal to relocate wild life unless it's on your property.  I was disappointed, but I understand.  Why relocate the pest and make them a problem for somebody else.   I had contacted a trapper who agreed to cage them and relocate him on his 300 acres; however, he never showed to do the job.  Because we were unable to relocate on my property, I called in another trapper.  He placed cages around the garden and around the storage building they had burrowed under and we waged war.  I knew there was 2 babies and the mother.  Research showed, the males leaves after the mother gives birth.  Within 10 minutes of me leaving, one wandered into a cage in the front of the storage building.  The next day the other entered a cage behind the building and the mother entered one yesterday.   Hopefully, I have resolved my problem, at least for awhile.  We're going to cement the openings under the storage building, so no other animals can make a home there. 

Hopefully,  I can get my pole beans to germinate and start climbing for mama, and I will get a great harvest.  I'm praying that my cucumbers will recover.  I still have lots of tomatoes producing, so it seems that I was able to resolve the problem before they did too much damage.  So adorable, but truly a pain for the gardener. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Today's Harvest

The garden is progressing nicely.  I harvested 4 peppers, 2 zucchini and 4 squash.  I fried a squash and 1 zucchini for dinner and they were yummy. 

I loved finding this big guy, lol.  I've never seen a double squash, have you?  I decided to leave a few banana peppers on the vine until they were a mixture of lime and red.  It's actually going to be a taste test for hotness.  I have read that the redder the pepper, the hotter the pepper.  I'm a lover of all things hot.  I'll let you know if I feel a difference in the heat.  

Spaghetti Salad Recipe

I love this simple pasta dish, especially in the summer.  I try to turn my oven on as little as possible during the warmer months.  I serve this dish at family gatherings and baby showers.  It is always refreshing and a big hit:

1 package of thin spaghetti noodles
2 tomatoes
2 cucumbers
Salad Supreme
1 large bottle of Italian Dressing

Boil noodles according to package.  Chop/cube tomatoes and cucumbers.  Mix noodles, cucumbers, tomatoes and lots of Salad Supreme thoroughly.  Add Italian dressing until noodles are wet.  Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.   Add additional salad dressing if needed. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Need More Veggies!

I'm going to be a grandmother again!  It seems that my daughter, pictured below from a photo shoot for her hair salon, gets a degree and than she has a baby, lol.  She completed her Masters in December and will give birth in November.  She worked diligently to get off all baby weight from the birth of my grandson so she would be at her prebaby weight before she became pregnant again.  She has decided to do things the old fashioned way this time around.  She will not be founding out the sex of the baby and she has decided that she will be making the baby's food with fresh veggies and fruit from my garden.     

I need carrots, peas, green beans, squash, and pumpkins for the baby.  I'm so excitedI'll be extending my garden in the next few weeks to prepare for the planting of peas, carrots and additional green beans to can and freeze.  Although my grandson is happy and healthy, I'm excited that my daughter will feeding the new baby all natural products.  A food processor will go on her list of baby shower gifts, which I will be hosting in October. 

I have another blog, Mother 2 Mother which focuses on parenting tips, product reviews for children, give aways, recipes and whatever else enters my mind.  For those who have children or grandchildren, if your interested in following Mother-2-Mother, head over and hit the follow button.   Since I started this blog I haven't updated Mother-2-Mother in a few months, but I do intend to start updating it regularly in next few weeks. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Baked Squash

2 lbs squash  3 -4 yellow and 1 Zucchini (sliced)
2 cup chopped Onion
1 cup of Mayo
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 0z's Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing
3 tablespoon Butter
1)  Slice and Cook squash and onion for approximately 8 - 10 minutes and drain well
2)  Mix mayo, egg, cheese, Add squash mixture and place all in a 8 inch greased casserole dish.
3)  Mix 3 Tablespoon butter with 1 cup dressing.  Top casserole with dressing mixture,
4)  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Buffalo Burgers Anyone?

We visited one of the local farmer's today to pick up a fresh peach pie and other fresh fruit for the BQ on the 4th, and to see the baby buffalo that were born there a few months ago Our timing was perfect, it was dinner time and the herd was being feed their favorite treat, corn and molasses.  It was my first time seeing a herd of Buffalo running for dinner.  I have to learn to put the video camera in my car, it's moments like this that you want to capture.   The buffalo are feed this sweet treat to help keep them tame, and if for some reason they escape the fencing this treat will help bring them back home.   My grandson was not pleased with the "ugly things" as he called them.  He has a problem with animals whose fur is matted or woolly, i.e. llamas, bison etc.  Bison/buffalo shed their winter coats this time of year, so their appearance was not the most flattering.  He opted to see the cows and goats on the farm. 

Here's a mother and her new calf.  I was quite surprised to see the contrast in color of the calf.  They are a light brown, not nearly as dark as the other members in the herd.  Although they nurse up to 18 months if their mother is not expecting, this calf joined the party and nibbled on the corn and molasses too.  The other 3 calves stayed close behind, but they didn't partake of the goodies.   They herd is up to 15 now, they started with  4 - 5 bison about 4 years ago. 

I'm a big fan of buffalo burgers, and was thrilled when the owner of the market was advertising that they would start selling burgers in the near future.  Bison is as lean a meat as it gets.  I had my first Buffalo Burger during a business trip in Ogden, Utah.  Besides Black Angus beef, it was the best burger that I've ever eaten.   Jeremiah's  has been voted as having the best burgers in Northern Utah.  If you're ever in the area, you must try Jeremiah's.  Their bison are grass feed; it doesn't get any better than grass feed beef or bison.  Their breakfast is as good as the lunch, so you can't go wrong.  Are you a fan of Buffalo Burgers?  If not, you must try one.  You won't be disappointed. 

First Harvest and Childhood Memories

I'm so excited about my first harvest.  Not much, but it's worth a million bucks to me.  I was able to harvest a cucumber, crook neck squash, and a few hot banana peppers.  I'll be sauting the squash on the grill tomorrow and using the cucumber and hot peppers in a salad for tomorrow's BQ as well.  My daugher is a big fan of anything hot and spicy, so she will enjoy these.  Update - I have harvested 2 additional squash and another cucumber since I started this post.  Use your imagination for the additional veggies in the basket, lol. 

This is my grandson harvesting a few peppers.  He is so enjoying his first garden experience with Mama.  He currently lives in a beach town, so he only experiences the country life when he visits me.  I'm a country girl born and raised in a small town, and to me there's no better way to be raised.  My grandparents lived off the land, at least one set of grandparents did.  They raised their own vegetables and meat, so it's in the blood.   I was required to spend a couple of weeks on their farmette each summer (had to give my parents a break, lol).  I didn't appreciate the experience at that point in my life, but oh how I've grown.  I have a new appreciation for the earth and it's capabilities I truly understand what Living Off the Land means now.   I didn't understand the role of a grandparent at that time either.  I look back over my life, and I wish I had spent more time on the farm.  I have vivid memories of picking strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries right off the vine and popping them in mouth.  I want my grandson to have these memories as well.  Not long ago, it would have been impossible to get him to eat any fruit.  He loves strawberries and cherries.  I see a cherry tree in my future!

Granddaddy grow the sweetest corn and tomatoes the size of our heads.  He used pig manure in his garden If I only had his gardening knowledge now.  Why didn't I pay attention?  I've been digging in the recesses of my grumbling brain, and trying to pull out any knowledge that may have been retained.  Never in a million years did I think that one day I would plant a garden, can fruit and vegetables and become a grandmother.  I would do anything to spend another day with grandma and granddaddy.  The questions would be endless now. 

                                                                Look Mama!

I've already decided to expand my little garden next year.  I'll be putting in a berry patch, planting onions, carrots, and corn next season.  My grandfather's garden seem endless.  He planted enough for all of children (8) to feed their families during the winter as well as him and grandma.  Those who took from the garden had to harvest and can their bounty.   He raised chickens, pigs and cows as well.  I have fond memories of the smoke and chicken houses!   Fresh eggs were fried or scrambled for breakfast or used to make delicious cakes, pies and biscuits. 

I look forward to walking around the garden each morning and evening now to see what nature has left for me.  The tomatoes and pepper plants are producing lots of fruit.  Can't wait to post a picture of my first red tomato and gather enough pole beans for a fresh pot of green beans and corn.  What strides are you making in your garden?   Do you have memories of your grandparents garden?  Leave me a comment, I would love to hear about your childhood experience.