Sunday, July 31, 2011

GTTC: 7/31/11

My big project this week was this....

This week I picked some celery and parsley.
The celery and parsley went into making all this beautiful and delicious Chicken Stock.

The chicken stock, in turn, went into making this delicious French Lentil and Vegetable Soup (along with more celery).

**Linking up to Wendy's GTTC at Greenish Thumb**

Bolting Cilantro = Coriander

My "Slow Bolt" Cilantro did not live up to it's name. It started bolting rather early (considering our cool spring). Maybe it did not enjoy the prolonged cool weather? I noticed early on that it was trying to bolt. It tried cutting of the flower stems but to no avail.

Mother Nature eventually took it's course and flowers started developing. They were pretty white flowers that attracted little bees so I left them.
Seed pods are now starting to form. I will harvest these as coriander but will have to do more research into the right time to harvest. Anyone have ideas?
I love herbs that serve two purposes. I feel like I get my money's worth by double dipping! ;0)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Farmer's Market 7/30/11

Today I made it to the farmer's market. It was a beautiful morning! I have serious tomato envy after seeing this!! Someone has a greenhouse!
For all you heirloom tomato growers, I have a funny (but concerning) story for you. As I was paying for my tomatoes, this is the conversation that followed:

Me: Are these Cherokee Purple tomatoes?
Cashier: No, these are Heirloom tomatoes.
Me: Yes, but what kind are they?
Cashier: They're Heirlooms.
Lady behind me in line with the same tomatoes in her hand (under her breath): Seriously?
Me (giggling at this point): Um, okay, but what type of heirlooms are they?
Cashier: What? Um, hey Don (yelling across the tent), what kind of tomatoes are these (holding them up)?
Don: They're Heirlooms.
Cashier: See, I told you.
Lady behind me in line: Wow...seriously? Maybe I should put mine back. They obviously didn't grow their own tomatoes.
Don (coming over to us): Well, these are Purple Cherokees.
Me: Okay, thanks for your help!

Today I came home with Italian Artichokes from Tillamook (on the Oregon coast). These are fabulous treats! I love the flavor of the purple Italian varieties!

I bought more peaches. These are Sweet Sue Peaches. They really live up to their name!

Who am I kidding, even after that amusing exchange, I couldn't resist a home grown ripe tomato!!
I also got breakfast. This is a pork tamale with a nice fresh salad from Gloria's Secret. It was delicious!!

What's Cookin?: Homemade Chicken Stock

I've been wanting to make homemade chicken stock for a while now. I'm tired of paying too much money for a top quality broth. It turns out earlier this week, the stars aligned. I had some leftover organic juicing carrots in the refrigerator and it was also time to harvest some home grown celery and parsley. There was a also a great sale on Foster Farms whole chicken fryers at 79 cents a pound and a great sale on fresh herbs at 2 for $3.00.

It seems it was really meant to be! I based my stock recipe on Ina Garten's Chicken Stock recipe. I made some minor changes. There was no way I was going to be able to fit 3 (5 lb) roasting chickens in a pot with all the extra goodies so I used only 2 whole chickens. I also took them out after about 1 hour of cooking and shredded the meat (who wants to waste good chicken meat?). I also added additional things that I thought would give it extra flavor. The parsnips were too expensive so I omitted it. It was a half day affair but so well worth it! The broth turned out excellent!! It's under salted but I like having control of the salt content depending on how I use the broth.

I highly recommend making your own. There's no way I'll go back to store bought now! This recipe makes a ton of broth. I divided them up into plastic containers and froze them. As an extra bonus, your house smells amazing!! Some recipes use chicken carcasses that would save money but I hardly buy whole chickens. Another recipe I saw used chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks) and roasted them in the oven with the vegetables before simmering them on the stove. That looked and sounded good. Maybe next time I'll try that recipe.

Homemade Chicken Stock
Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe at
Makes about 6 quarts

2 (5 lb) roasting chickens plus necks, rinsed & remove liver from cavity
3 large yellow onions, unpeeled & quartered
2 leeks, remove top half & cut the bottom in 1/2 the long way
6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
6 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
20 sprigs fresh parsley (stems included)
15 sprigs fresh thyme (stems included)
20 sprigs fresh dill
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
7 quarts water (or 28 cups) plus 2 cups extra reserved

1) Place the chickens whole plus the necks into a 20 quart or larger stockpot. Add the onions, leeks, carrots, celery, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic & seasonings into the pot. Fill with 7 quarts or water (or 28 cups) and bring to a boil.

2) Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Simmer soup, uncovered, for 4 hours. I added about 2 cups more of water halfway through as some water evaporated from simmering.

**Note: If you plan on using the chicken meat for other recipes, after cooking for about 1-1.5 hours, carefully remove chicken carcasses. Be careful as the chicken will be very tender. Allow the chicken to cool until you are able to handle them. Shred the meat from the bones. Save the bones and return them to the stockpot.

Allow your chicken pieces to cool and package them to freeze for later. I ended up with about 3 lbs. of chicken meat. I packed 2 (1 lb.) bags for larger meals such as chicken enchiladas or soups and 2 (1/2 lb.) smaller backs for small meals such as chicken salads.

3) After your soup simmers for a total of 4 hours on the stove, turn off the heat. Place another large pot (or use multiple smaller pots) in the sink and place a colander over the pot. Strain the entire contents of your soup through the colander and discard the solids.

4) Once the stock cools, package into smaller containers or bags to freeze. The stock keeps for 3 months in the freezer.

**I ended up with 6 (1 pint) containers, 3 (1 quart) containers and 6 c. extra. The 1 pint containers are about the size of 1 can of store bought chicken stock. I used the extra 6 cups of stock for instant gratification and made some French Lentil and Vegetable Soup. It was delicious with homemade stock!!**

Friday, July 29, 2011

Restaurant Rambling: Pazzo Ristorante (Portland, Oregon)

I visiting Pazzo this past spring and forgot to blog about it. I liked the location in downtown Portland. They have a really nice dining room and a separate bar area. The menu is Italian and we had a great meal here. I decided on the pork for myself.

Porco (grilled Carton pork loin chop, white polenta spaetzle, leeks, carrots & rosemary)

The pork chop was done perfectly. It was cooked nicely and seasoned really well. I love the spaetzle with this dish. Yummy!! It's definitely a restaurant to return to!

Pazzo Ristorante
621 SW Washington Street
Portland, OR 97255
ph: (503) 228-1515

A Moment of Silence Please....

I realized this week that I opened my last jar of homemade canned salsa. *sniff sniff* I think I made 2 batches last summer (I'll have to go back and double check). I gave a few jars away to friends and family. I *heart* salsa! This stuff is highly addictive! Note to self this year, make 3 or 4 batches!!

In the meantime, I'll have to savor every last drop of this jar!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Green Tomatoes

I'm still nursing my green tomatoes. A lot of the plants have already set fruit. This will likely be the first to ripen. It's a Glacier tomato.

Here's some cherry tomatoes.

I've been more diligent this year about pruning the tomato plants. I pruned to bottom stems to allow better circulation and prevent molding and blight. I also have been picking off suckers on my plants. This week I noticed the dreaded Blossom End Rot (BER) on some cherry tomatoes. This plant in particular has set lots of fruit already. It also went through a spell of uneven watering. I picked off the icky fruit and fertilized with calcium and watered well. Hopefully it'll stop and the rest of the fruit will be okay.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harvest Monday 7/25/11

This week was a colorful week. I had a few more small berry harvests. I was lucky to harvest this tri-fecta of berries early in the week.

I can't believe I'm still harvesting more raspberries from my container plant. Early in the week I harvested close to another pint.

There were a few ripe and delicious strawberries that were picked.

I also found a small amount of blueberries that were ripe and ready.

I picked more green beans this week.
I also pulled some carrots to check on size. Unfortunately, there were some mis-shapened carrots. They're still a little small so they'll sit for a little bit more.

I pulled more radishes as they were over crowding the tomatoes.

I also picked this Konasu eggplant. Cute eh?
Later in the week there were more green beans. My second sowing of snow peas are producing pods now. There are only a few plants but they keep producing pods so I have more peas!
There was also another small harvest of mixed berries this weekend.

This week's harvest totals:
- Strawberries = 0.09 lb
- Raspberries = 1 lb
- Blueberries = 0.15 lb
- Eggplant = 0.04 lb
- Radishes = 0.25 lb
- Carrots = 0.1 lb
- Peas = 0.14 lb
- Beans = 0.28 lb
- Herbs (basil) = 0.01 lb

Sunday, July 24, 2011

GTTC: 7/24/11 Warm Summer Salad

Okay I've definitely been bad about cooking from the garden this week! This is all I have to show and I'm pretty sure the only thing from my own garden is some Lemon Basil. Hahaha!

I made it to the Farmer's Market this week (but forgot to photograph my finds!). I was a bit impatient since my own garden is slow to producing summer veggies. I couldn't resist buying some zucchini and tomatoes from other local growers. They were gorgeous!

I couldn't wait to get home and taste my summer spoils! I threw together this delicious summer salad. I added some olive oil to a pan and sauteed some garlic and leeks. Then I added some thinly sliced zucchini and seasoned with salt and pepper. At the end of the cooking, I added some fresh, ripe tomatoes and some chopped lemon basil. I tossed them and added these warm vegetables to a bed of spinach. I made a quick and easy lemon vinaigrette and poured it over the salad. It was delicious!!

It really hit the spot since I've been craving some summer vegetables!

**Linking to Wendy's GTTC at Greenish Thumb**

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mid-July Squash Tour

It's mid-July and I still feel like we haven't really had a real summer. This week we've had more of the same cool weather. The highs have been in the 70's (sometimes barely). Yesterday the high reached a whopping 77 but it was overcast and we had rain again.

My summer (and winter) squash have yet to produce a crop. Last year I lost all of my squash plants to either the terrible heavy spring rains or the powdery mildew that followed. I had a dismal squash crop. This year, I have healthy plants but they are still small and have yet to produce fruit. I'm not sure if the plants are small because of the weather or my icky clay soil or maybe a combination of both.

My Kabocha (winter) squash is slowly coming along. I think it's planted in a bad area of my yard where it only gets partial sun. It's also in the ground and the clay soil is less than optimal. There have been a few male flowers opening on the plant so I know it's still alive. Today I spotted the first female flower so I'm very excited. I just hope the flower opens while the male flowers are still blooming. Timing is everything!
Here's the summer squash patch. As you can see, the plants are still small but they are producing flowers. It's been only male flowers for a few weeks now.

I have 3 varieties of summer squash growing here with 2 plants of each (just in case). The first is Black Beauty Zucchini. In the past, this variety has grown well for me and has been abundant with fruit. I'll just have to cross my fingers that this year will turn out to be a good year. There were a ton of male flowers on these plants so far.
Today I spotted the first female on it.

The second plant is a Clarinette Lebanese Squash. I love the leaves on this variety. It also has been producing only male flowers.
The first of the female flowers opened today so I hand pollinated to ensure a squash. I have to make every fruit count!!

Lastly, here are the Pattison Golden Scallop Squash. I bought these seeds because of how unusual and pretty they looked. It's a golden patty pan type with scalloped edges. This variety has been the slowest grower out of all the squash plants. This one is just producing male flowers. I'm really excited to see what this squash looks (and tastes) like!

What say you Pacific NW gardeners? I'm interested to hear how your squash plants are coming along? I'm not sure if mine are slow growing because of weather, yucky clay soil conditions or the fact that I planted 2 of each plant so close together (to make sure I got at least one plant of each to survive). Are your plants already producing fruit? I should add that all of these were from homegrown seeds. Gardeners in other regions, what squash varieties are you growing? I'll always on the lookout for a tried a true variety.

I'm trying to be patient but seeing zucchini in the stores makes me crave them even more! I'm sure that once these plants take off, they'll be fruit galore. Until then, I'll keep babying my plants!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harvest Monday 7/18/11

Another Monday is rolling around. This week I harvested some more celery early in the week. There were also a few more stray green beans.
I picked another pint of raspberries from my little container raspberry plant. One strawberry was ripe. It was devoured right after this photo was taken.
Later in the week I pinched back the basil to allow for bushier plants. I also pulled a China Rose Radish to see how big they were. I was wondering because the leaves were quite big (the longest was about 22 inches long).
The radishes need a little longer in the ground. They had a spicy kick.

Later in the week I was able to pick another pint of raspberries, single strawberry and a few snow peas.

This week's harvest totals:
- celery: 0.3 lb
- raspberries: 1.12 lb
- basil: 0.02 lb
- radish: 0.6 lb
- strawberries: 0.04 lb
- peas: 0.07 lb

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spring in summer??

It seems mother nature has big plans for our summer. We may not have one this year. We had a beautiful stretch of warm wearer earlier in the month but the past week has been hovering right above 70 degrees with showers. Today, it's pouring. *sigh* Here's hoping for a ripe tomato by August!

GTTC: 7/17/11

Another week has gone by and once again I've been slacking in the cooking department. Here's this week's GTTC (Garden to Table Challenge). This week I used a mixture of home harvested, as well as store bought edibles.

First up was trying to figure out how to use up some dill and parsley. I made taboulleh with the parsley and baked some salmon with lemon and dill. It made for an easy and delicious meal. Oh and I can't forget the last of the asparagus. These were simply grilled in the oven. Yummy!!
I had some Swiss chard to use so I made some comfort food. Sometimes I throw in spinach to my spaghetti to give it a little more nutritional value. This time I used up some Swiss chard in my spaghetti. Mmm...comfort food!
This week I tried my first kohlrabi. I snacked on some raw but decided to toss some into a quick stir fry with olive oil, garlic, and snap peas. I used both the root and the leaves of the kohlrabi. I really liked this and will be trying to plant some kohlrabi for a fall crop. You can read more about my kohlrabi adventure here.

**Linking up to Wendy's GTTC**