Monday, August 18, 2014

Small Batch Pancakes with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

Like I said on my last post, I was so excited about the Blackberry Vanilla Syrup I had just made that I wanted pancakes!  I often find recipes for pancakes make too many.  I found this recipe for a small batch of pancakes that were yummy and the perfect size. 

Small Batch Pancakes
Makes about 5-6 pancakes (depending on size) serving 2 people

3/4 c. flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 c. milk
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder

1)  Whisk all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add more flour to thicken if needed.

2) Heat a lightly oiled or buttered griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Scoop batter onto the griddle or pan.  Brown on both sides and serve hot with Blackberry Vanilla Syrup.  

Canning: Blackberry Vanilla Syrup

I'm a little behind on my blogging.  I had bought a flat of "Loch Ness" blackberries this summer.  I made more seedless blackberry jam and still had some leftover.  What to do with them?  I decided to try a recipe for blackberry syrup.  Yum!!  This is a canning recipe so you'll be assured of having delicious syrup all year long! 
I saved a small jar of the delicious syrup for pancakes the next day.  It was delicious!!  I also tried making an italian soda with the syrup and had it over ice cream.  OMG...yummy!!

Blackberry Vanilla Syrup
Makes: 5-6 pints

8 c. blackberry puree
5 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. pectin
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (or juice of 1 lemon)
zest of 1 lemon
2 whole vanilla beans, scraped

1)  Wash berries in a colander.  Place berries in a large pot and over low heat and using a potato masher, mash berries until they release their juices.

2)  Turn off heat and run berries through a food mill several times until the maximum amount of juices and pulp are extracted.  I believe I used about 5 or 6 pints of berries for the 8 cups of puree.  Measure out your 8 cups of blackberry puree and return the puree to a large pot.

3) Add about 1/3 cup of your premeasured 5 cups of sugar to the pectin and stir well.  Add the pectin/sugar combination to the pot and stir to mix.  Add remaining sugar, lemon juice, zest and scraped vanilla beans to the pot.  Add the vanilla bean pods (just remember to remove them prior to canning) to the pot.

4) Cook syrup over medium heat until it comes to a boil.  Stir well.  Boil rapidly for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

5) Skim off foam from the syrup.  Pour syrup into hot sterilized jars and leave 1/2 inch headspace.  Process jars in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Harvest Monday: August 18, 2014

August is pumping out more fresh garden veggies!  I'm loving the constant array of beautiful colors produced from the garden bounty.  

This week saw a few more green beans, never ending Shishito peppers, my first Lemon cucumber of the season and an array of tomatoes.  I picked a handful of cherry tomatoes every other day, a couple of Japanese black trifle tomatoes and a mix of Roma and San Marzano paste tomatoes.
I also harvested a few Ichiban eggplant, a handful of cilantro and a cucumber.
Later in the week, I harvested a large amount of Thai basil that was starting to flower.   While they're pretty, I still want my plant to produce leaves so I picked them.  These went into a delicious Vietnamese Chicken Pho pot luck we had at work this past weekend.  Yum!

Happy Harvest!!  Be sure to stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what others have been harvesting around the world!

This week's totals:
- eggplant = 1.03 lb
- cucumber = 0.49 lb
- cilantro = 0.08 lb
- Shishito peppers = 0.46 lb
- green beans = 0.16 lb
- San Marzano tomatoes = 0.53 lb
- Japanese black trifle tomatoes = 0.52 lb
- Roma tomatoes = 0.05 lb
- Lemon cucumber = 0.1 lb
- Cherry tomatoes = 0.41 lb
- Thai basil = 0.36 lb

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Starting the Fall Garden

I'm a little behind (as always) in my garden.  I finally had some time today and the weather had cooled down enough (not in the 90's anymore!!) for me to get the fall garden started.  I amended each bed before planting some garden goodies!

In this bed I planted 3 Fall Blend broccoli and 2 Snow Crown cauliflower starts.  I wanted to give these cruciferous vegetables lots of room.  My previous attempts at growing broccoli met with some problems when I planted too many plants in one bed.  I filled in the spaces in between the plants with quick growing lettuce.  I planted some Jericho romaine lettuce and Merlot leaf lettuce.  The romaine lettuce was a little droopy from under watering on my part.  Oopsies!  I hope they like their new home and perk up.
This bed contained lettuce and spinach.  The lettuce are a mix of Little Gem and Merlot.  The spinach is a unknown variety purchased from the nursery.  Both of these beds were covered with row covers.
This bed contains the remaining cauliflower and broccoli starts.  I also direct sowed some Bright Lights and Rainbow Blend Swiss Chard.  This bed was left uncovered.  I hope I don't grow to regret that later. =)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meatless Mondays: Thai Quinoa Salad with Citrus Thai Basil Vinaigrette

This quinoa salad was inspired by a single ingredient.  I harvested a bunch of Thai Basil from the garden and was unsure what to do with it.  I came up with an idea for making a Thai inspired salad that would taste wonderful in the summer heat.  I decided to use quinoa as the foundation for the salad.  I love quinoa because it makes an excellent protein source.  Quinoa salads are one of my favorite things during the summer.
I also came across a recipe for a Citrus Thai Basil Vinaigrette from Bobby Flay.  I decided to use it for my salad.  Looking back, I think the dressing needs work.  It wasn't a true vinaigrette and was a little watery in consistency which gave the quinoa a mushy texture.  I think the dressing needs more citrus and maybe some vinegar.  Otherwise, the ingredients in the salad was a nice blend and invoked a Thai flavor!

Thai Quinoa Salad with Citrus Thai Basil Vinaigrette
Dressing from Bobby Flay at The Food Network

1 c. quinoa (I used a mixture of white and red)
2 c. water or chicken stock
1/2 tsp. salt
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 English or Japanese cucumber, seeded and diced
2 green onions, finely sliced (I omitted this)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Thai basil (can substitute mint), chopped

Citrus Thai Basil Vinaigrette:
3/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. fresh lime juice 
1/2 c. Thai basil
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 heaping Tbsp. honey
1/2 c. canola oil

1)  Cook quinoa according to package instruction.  I usually place 1 cup quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse well under running water then drain.  I like to toast my quinoa for additional flavor.  Add a Tbsp olive oil or butter to a medium pot (with lid).  Add quinoa and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until toasted.  Add 2 c. water or chicken stock and 1/2 tsp. salt to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cover pot.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated.  Remove from heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes with the cover on.  After 5 minutes remove lid and fluff quinoa.  Allow quinoa to cool.    

2)  Add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette to a blender and blend for about 1 minute.  Set aside dressing.

3)  Once quinoa has cooled, place in a large mixing bowl.  Add the other ingredients and toss well.  Add about 1/2 of the dressing and toss to coat.  Place salad in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld.  Add more dressing if needed.

Harvest Monday: August 11th, 2014

Early in the week I harvested some of the Lacinato kale that was left uncovered.  I had to pick over some of the caterpillar-eaten leaves but otherwise I think the kale did fine left to fend for itself.  I forgot to take a photo of the kale leaves that I was able to harvest

Later in the week I had a mixed harvest of the last of the plums, French filet green beans, one Ichiban eggplant, Shishito peppers, a few Japanese black trifle tomatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes.  
The basil plants are going crazy again.  Some of them are started to flower.  To trim them back, I harvested more Lemon basil and Sweet basil.
Here's a closeup of the Japanese Black Trifle tomatoes.  I love the deep color with the pretty green shoulders.  This has been my first main season tomatoes this year and so far this variety has been very bountiful!

Happy Harvest!!  Be sure to stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what others have been harvesting this week from the garden!

This week's harvest totals:
- Kale = 0.45 lb
- Eggplant = 0.3 lb
- Cherry tomatoes = 0.14 lb
- Japanese black trifle tomatoes = 0.9 lb
- Plums = 1.68 lb
- Roma tomatoes = 0.11 lb
- French filet green beans = 0.24 lb
- Shishito peppers = 0.37 lb
- Sweet basil = 0.18 lb
- Lemon basil = 0.21 lb

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ultimate Green Beans with Bacon

I was able to pick about a pound of French filet green beans from the garden.  I'm so excited!  I love green beans.  I saw a recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website that looked promising.  She promised that this recipe was absolutely delicious and that I maybe fighting off others for my share.  I was intrigued.  I decided to give it a try!  
Just for the record, she wasn't lying!!  This very simple green bean dish was absolutely divine!  I tweaked it slightly and instead of just cooking it in bacon fat, I added some crispy bacon at the end.  I mean bacon makes everything better right??!

Ultimate Green Beans with Bacon
Adapted from:
Serves 6 (or less cause they're really really good!!)

1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
5 slices thick bacon, chopped
reserved bacon fat
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
3/4 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

1) Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When bacon is crispy, remove from skillet with a slotted spoon to a bowl.  Set bacon bits aside and keep the bacon fat for cooking.  

2)  In the bacon fat, cook onions for about a minute on medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for another minute (be sure not to burn garlic).  Add the green beans to the skillet and cook for a minute or two until the beans turn bright green.

3)  Add chicken broth, red pepper and salt and pepper.  Turn heat to low and cover with a lid.  Leave the lid cracked slightly to allow the beans to steam.  Cook beans for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid evaporates and the beans are fairly soft (but still has a little crisp).  Add more chicken brother during the cooking process as needed but don't be afraid to let it all cook away so the onions and peppers are caramelized.  Add cooked bacon bits back to the skillet and toss well.  

**Be sure to visit Tuesday's Table to view yummy recipes by other bloggers!**