Monday, June 25, 2012

Harvest Monday 6/25/12

This week the snap peas were finally ready for picking!  I picked a bunch earlier in the week and some later on in the week.  
I also harvested some broccoli side shoots and a cute baby radish.
Also ready this week was the first Meeker Raspberries of the season.  Hooray!!  I picked a few baby Hood Strawberries too.  They're first year plants so the berries were awfully small.  I also picked some herbs for cooking that weren't photographed. 
Happy Harvest!!
This week's totals:
- peas = 0.6 lb
- broccoli = 0.5 lb
- radishes = 0.02 lb
- parsley = 0.04 lb
- mix berries = 0.23 lb
- dill = 0.05 lb
**Linking to Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday.**

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's Cookin?: Cheesy Garlic Bread

Tonight I cooked dinner for my dad, aunt and uncle who are visiting.  I picked some romaine lettuce from the garden for a nice side salad.  I boiled some delicious Italian artichokes from the Farmer's Market using my favorite artichoke recipe and made a simple mayonnaise and soy sauce dipping sauce.  

We bought some large Manila clams from Costco and I made some steamer clams with a white wine and garlic sauce.  I served the clams and sauce on a bed of linguine noodles.  I also made some cheesy garlic bread for sopping up all the extra sauce.  The bread was crunchy and crispy, yet soft in the middle.  It was perfect!  I was excited that I got to use up some of my garden parsley for both the clams and the garlic bread.  I love not having to buy fresh herbs!

Cheesy Garlic Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Adapted from:

1 (16 oz.) French or Italian bread
1/2 c. (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
about 1/4 c. (or more) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Cut the bread loaf in half, horizontally.

3) If your butter isn't soft, microwave in a heat-proof dish for about 20-30 seconds.  Mix the butter, garlic and parsley together in a small bowl.

4) Spread the butter mixture over the two halves of the bread.  Place them on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

5) Remove the baking sheet from the oven.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the bread halves (I love cheese so I used more more more!).

6) Turn the oven to broil and return the baking sheet to the oven on the highest rack.  Broil for about 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the bread begin to toast and the cheese bubbles.  Watch your bread carefully to prevent burning.

7) Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for a minute.  Slice up your garlic bread and serve!

**Linking up to Wendy's Garden to Table Challenge (GTTC) at Greenish Thumb.  Come see what other people are using with their garden harvests!**

Farmer's Market Finds 6/23/12

My dad, aunt and uncle are here visiting.  They arrived late yesterday afternoon....just in time for the Saturday Farmer's Market!!  It was raining this morning but we braved the cold and wet weather for the promise of delicious finds.  

Our hauls isn't pictures but we walked away with some beautiful kohlrabi (green and purple), asparagus, radishes, Swiss chard and artichokes.  We also bought some delicious Hood strawberries and Brooks cherries.  Delicious!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's Cookin?: Guac-a-salsa

I still have a few more jars of home canned salsa left in the pantry.  I love this stuff!  

Avocados are on sale at the markets.  I decided to mix the avocados with my pantry salsa for some guac-a-salsa.  It may look less than appetizing but it sure was delicious!!  Serve with tortilla chips for a real crowd pleaser. 

6 small ripe avocados, depitted and peeled
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

1 c. salsa
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
tortilla chips

1) In a bowl, mash the avocados with lemon juice.  Stir in the salsa and garlic powder.  Add salt to taste. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

**Linking up to Robin's Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard at The Gardener of Eden.  See what others' are cooking up with their harvests!**

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's Cookin?: Swiss Chard, Turnip and Daikon Greens with Bacon

I picked a bunch of turnip and daikon greens (not wanting to waste them).  I know they're a little on the bitter side but they have lots of vitamins.  I couldn't decide how I was going to cook them.  Since I had some Swiss chard to cook also, I decided to cook my favorite Swiss chard recipe with bacon!  

I used the Swiss chard stems and leaves along with some turnip and daikon greens to make the dish.
This was the perfect recipe to mask the sometimes strong and bitter taste of turnip and daikon greens.  The balsamic vinegar in this recipe gives it a nice finish.  Then there's the bacon.  Mmmm....what's not to like about bacon?

It was delicious!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's Cooking: Butter Braised Turnips & Daikon

I had been trying to figure out what to do with my harvest of mini daikon and baby turnips.  I found a few recipes but the one that caught my eye was a simple recipe for a side dish.  It entailed braising the baby root vegetables in butter and a white wine reduction.  Yummy!  The recipe turned out great.  It brought out the natural sweetness of the turnips and daikon.

Butter Braised Turnips and Daikon
Adapted from: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. baby turnips and baby daikon, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper
1/4 c. white wine
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
minced fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

1) Combine the butter and oil in a medium to large skillet (that can be later covered with a lid).  Turn the heat to medium.  When the butter melts, add the turnips and daikon and cook, stirring, until they are coated with butter, for 1-2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

2) Add the remaining ingredients, except the garnish, stir, and cover.  Turn the heat to low and cook until the turnips and daikon are barely tender, about 5 minutes.

3) Uncover the skillet and raise the heat to medium-high.  Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are glazed and the liquid is syrupy, another few minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish (if using) and serve.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Braised Kale

This week's Meatless Monday dish is made with kale.  I've been saving this pasta dish for a nice harvest of kale.  Luckily, that was sooner rather than later.  This is a nice, light dish for a hot summer day.  The kale is braised nicely until it's soft.  The lemon and parmesan cheese gives it a nice finish.  

Spaghetti with Braised Kale
Serves 4
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, October 2009

1 lb. Lacinato kale (about 2 bunches), large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. spaghetti
juice of 1 lemon
finely grated Parmesan cheese

1) Rise kale.  Drain and transfer to a bowl with some water still clinging.

2) Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper; cook until onions are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

3) Add kale and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low.  Continue cooking until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry, about 20 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in medium pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain, reserving 1/4 c. cooking water.  Add cooked spaghetti to the kale mixture in the pot.  Add lemon juice and 2 Tbsp. reserved cooking water; toss to combine, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls if dry.  Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

**Linking up to Wendy's Greenish Thumb for her Garden to Table Challenge (GTTC)**

Harvest Monday 6/18/12

This week has been hectic (what else is new?).  I submitted my final portfolio for school and finished up my last rotation (whew!).  The garden has been largely neglected.  The most exciting news this week was the root vegetable harvest!

I finally decided to pull the daikon and turnips.  The daikon could have been left to grow larger but I was getting annoyed with the tops growing into everything.  I harvested the greens a few times but they keep coming back with a vengeance.  The Japanese Salad Daikon were still a little on the small side but pretty.  The Purple Top Turnips didn't do so well.  The tops had lots of greens but the bottoms didn't form on some of them.  Kohlrabi was also a bust.  The roots never did form.  I think they got overrun by the greens of the turnips and daikon.  I also decided to pull some Cincinnati Market Radishes.  A couple of them were pushing out of the dirt.  This is my first successful attempt at growing these Cincinnati Market radishes.  They look like red carrots.  So pretty!    

I harvested more Jericho Romaine Lettuce and Bright Lights Swiss Chard.  There was also lots of kale this week.  I'm going to try a new recipe for Braised Kale Spaghetti later this week.  

Here's the radishes again.  Noticed the one forked funky one.  

 I placed a ruler next to the baby root vegetables so you can kinda get an idea of how long they were.  They're so cute.  Not sure what I'm making with them yet.
Happy Harvest!!

This Week's Harvest Totals:
- Daikon//Turnip Greens = 2.36 lb
- Kale = 1.07 lb
- Radish = 0.34 lb
- Daikon = 0.39 lb
- Turnips = 0.21 lb

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Herbs Galore!

Despite the cool and wet June we've had, the container herbs have been thriving.  Here's a small peek at some of what's growing on my deck.
Mint Julep Spearmint

Dill starting to flower

Lemon Verbena

Ginger Mint

Citrus Mint


Monday, June 11, 2012

Meatless Monday: Mushroom Hot Pot

I've said this before but my idea of Meatless Monday posts are to eat less red meat.  Sometimes I post recipes using seafood.  Today's recipe uses fish broth and clams in the soup.  You could always make it vegetarian by using a mushroom stock and omitting the clams.  

The recipe is based on a recipe adapted from the cookbook, "Japanese Hot Pots" by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat.  This is a great Japanese hot pot book.  I love hot pots!  It's very simple and delicious!  The broth uses a Japanese dashi broth made from konbu (seaweed) and bonito flakes (fish).  You can find these in any Asian store.  In the past I've used hon-dashi powder but it is often filled with additives such as MSG.  Homemade dashi broth is so much better!  
The dash broth recipe follows below.  The entire recipe makes 6 cups.  Dashi is a multi-purpose broth in Japanese cooking.  I often use it for making miso soup.  You can always make extra broth.  Left over dash can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.  

I decided to make a mushroom hot pot because I bought some beautiful local crimini mushrooms.  I bought some oyster & enoki mushrooms to make it a nice mix.  I also used some left over napa cabbage I had in the fridge, picked some bok choy from the garden and used the daikon I had bought from the Farmer's Market.  I also bought some manilla clams to give the broth some extra umami.  

Mushroom Hot Pot
Serves 4
Adapted from: Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

4 c. dashi (see below recipe)
1 c. sake
1/2 c. mirin
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 lb. manilla clams, washed & scrubbed clean
1/4 small napa cabbage, sliced
1/2 lb. bok choy, chopped in bite sized pieces
1/2 small daikon, peeled and sliced in about 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 package (1/2 lb.) firm tofu, cut in to 4 large pieces
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms, trimmed & pulled apart
7 oz. enoki mushrooms, trimmed & pulled apart
shichimi togarashi, for accent

1) Soak the clams in lightly salted water for a couple hours in the refrigerator.  This soak allows the clams to release any sand they may have ingested.  Drain and rinse the clams.

2) In a medium pot, combine the dashi, sake, mirin and soy sauce.  Add the clams and bring the broth to a boil.  Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low and simmer the clams for 4-5 minutes or until they open.  Remove the opened clams with a slotted spoon and reserve to a bowl.  Set the clams aside.  Discard any clams that did not open.

3) Add the napa cabbage, bok choy, daikon and tofu to a hot pot and pour the broth over it.  Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat.  Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes.  

4) Uncover the hot pot and add the mushrooms, piling them randomly on top of the other ingredients.  Cover the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes.  

5) Transfer the hot pot to the dining table.  Serve the ingredients together with the broth, accenting with the shichimi togarashi.

Dashi Broth
Makes 6 cups
Adapted from: Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat

8 c. water (plus another 1/2 c. reserved)
2 (6 inch) pieces of kombu
1 1/2 oz. dried, shaved bonito (3 packed cups)

1) Add 8 c. water and the kombu to a large stock pot and let it steep for 30 minutes.

2) Place the stock pot over medium heat and bring the water to a boil.  Remove the kombu and discard.

3) Add the reserved 1/2 c. water to the pot.  Add the bonito and stir it once to mix it in.  As soon as the liquid comes to a boil again, decrease the heat to low and simmer the broth for another 5 minutes.  Remove any scum that appears on the surface (it can affect flavor).

4) Turn off the heat and let the liquid steep for about 15 minutes.  Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.  Don't squeeze the bonito flakes.  Discard the bonito flakes after using.

Harvest Monday 6/11/12

It's been a very busy week for me.  I haven't had any time to devote to the garden.  The weather has also been fickle.  I managed to harvest a few things on Saturday before heading to work.  The romaine lettuce is still going strong.  I've just been harvesting the outer leaves for now.  I also picked a handful of Swiss chard. 

This week's totals:
- lettuce 1.05 lb
- Swiss chard 0.4 lb

Friday, June 8, 2012

Restaurant Ramblings: Beard Papa's (Beaverton, Oregon)

Beard Papa's is a Japanese cream puff franchise.  They started off as a small bakeshop in Osaka, Japan and has expanded all over the world.  I remember there used to be one in Hawaii at the Ala Moana Shopping Center on Oahu.  We finally got one here in Beaverton, Oregon.  Hooray!!  The cream puffs are delicious.  The outside of the pastry has a nice crunch but the inside is soft and heavenly.

The cream custard fillings vary on a day to day basis.  My favorite is the green tea flavor.  Vanilla and chocolate are good too!  On any given day, Beard Papa's has about 4 different flavors of custard cream to choose from.  Some flavors are seasonal.    
If you're ever in the mood for a good cream puff, be sure to visit them inside Uwajimaya on Beaverton-Hillsdale highway.  You won't be sorry!!

Beard Papa's 
10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy (inside Uwajimaya)
Beaverton, OR 97005

What's Cookin?: Swiss Chard Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a Korean dish.  It translates to "mixed rice".  It's typically made with left overs from your refrigerator.  The vegetables are served over a bed of rice with meat.  You can make it vegetarian if you like but I love using left over marinated beef or pork.  It's usually served with a egg on top and kochujang sauce.  

For my quick and easy bibimbap, I used a mixture of 2/3 brown rice and 1/3 white rice.  I scooped it into the bottom of the bowl.  I arranged my vegetables on the bed of rice.  Here I used seasoned bean sprouts, marinated lotus roots, kim chee, left over bulgogi (Korean marinated beef), shitake mushrooms and Swiss chard.  Most of the vegetables were bought at the Korean market.  The shitakes were dried.  I rehydrated them and sauteed them in some sesame oil.  The Swiss chard was from my garden.  I sauteed them in sesame oil.  I topped off my bibimbap with a fried egg and sprinkled sesame seeds over it.    
The kochujang sauce recipe follows.  You can purchase kochujang paste at most Asian markets.  It usually comes in a container like this.  It's a chili pepper paste.  Drizzle the sauce over your bibimbap, break the egg and enjoy!  It's truly some of the best Korean comfort food!

Kochujang Sauce for Bibimbap
Serves 4

4 Tbsp kochujang (Korean red chili paste)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (optional)
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
4 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted
4 tsp. sugar

1) Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Drizzle over bibimbap and enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Bakin?: Carrot Apple Ginger Pulp Muffins

Since I've bought my Breville juicer, I've always throw the pulp into the compost.  I've also saved some of the scraps for my worm bin.  It seems like such a waste to not use the pulp of carrots and apples since some of the best breads are made with these power horses. 
More recently, I've found a great use for these scraps.  I've been juicing carrots, apples (and sometimes ginger) first then reserving the pulp for use later.  If I'm not using it right away, I'll put it in a freezer bag and freeze it until I'm ready.  Once I'm ready to use it, I just pick out large chucks or the apple skins that didn't get broken down.  The pulp makes delicious muffins and breads.

I also have a lot of applesauce that I canned last season.  I love using applesauce in my baking to decrease the amount of oil in recipes.  I combined these ingredients to make a delicious muffin full of vitamins and fiber.  The muffins stayed amazingly moist and delicious!  Move over bran muffins, here's something with a little more zip!

I took these to work to test out on my co-workers.  It was a huge hit and I was asked repeatedly for the recipe.  I found a recipe on the internet that I tweaked a little more it to make it to my liking.  I'm sorry but I can't remember where I got the original recipe from.  Here it is.....  

Carrot Apple Ginger Pulp Muffins
Makes 24-36 muffins

3 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. milk
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
6 large eggs
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
4 tsp. vanilla
4 c. pulp (I used a mixture of carrots, apples & ginger)
2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tins thoroughly or use cupcake liners.

2) Mix the flours, olive oil, applesauce, milk, salt, baking soda, brown sugar & eggs in a large mixing bowl.

3) Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

4) Pour into muffin pan or liners and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Let muffins cool for about 10 minutes and serve!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

More Peas Please!!

Despite the cool weather and the rain, the pea plants seem to be thriving.  These were transplanted out as starters.  The seeds I direct sowed did not have a good germination rate.  Okay, I lie.  They may have germinated but I noticed the slugs had nibbled on the tender shoots.  I'm convinced they ate all the shoots that appeared.  Of the snap peas and shelling peas I planted, only 1 or 2 plants of each grew.  Darn slugs!  By the time I noticed, it was too late.  *sigh*  Maybe I'll have shelling peas for fall.  
As you can see, the peas have started to flower.  When I looked closely, I noticed some pea pods.  Hooray!  I can't wait!

What's Cookin?: Chive Blossom Vinegar

My chive flowers started blooming a few weeks ago.  This year I decided to pick them and use them to make vinegar.  In years past, I've left the buds to bloom.  The bees like them and so do I.  This year I was a little selfish.  I harvested some.

I placed some flowers in a jar with some stems and filled it with white vinegar.  I covered the jar and let them steep for a few weeks.  Store the jar in a dark pantry.

After a few weeks your vinegar will turn a lovely shade of lavender.  Use the vinegar in any recipe you would normally use regular vinegar.  It lends a nice onion taste.  I used it in salad dressings.  Yummy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June Blooms - Peonies

My own peonies are blooming.  Here's a sweet treat from my garden.  Happy June!!

Early June Garden

Here's what's growing in my Oregon garden in early June.  Things are coming along nicely.  First the fruits.  Hood Strawberries have developed and green berries can be seen.

Hood Strawberries
The container Meeker Raspberry plant is doing well.  I think I cut back the canes too late in the season. They'll likely be less berries this year because of this.  The bees have been busy and love the raspberry flowers.  You can already see some raspberries forming.
Container Meeker Raspberry

The blueberry bush is also forming some delicious berries.  I can't wait!


This is the Marionberry plant I bought this year.  It's growing nicely in it's new container home.  I will need to buy a larger pot for next year.  I don't think I'll see fruit from the blackberry this year but I can't wait to be able to pick these from my own yard!  Yum!
Marionberry Container Plant
My plum tree has a few plums on it this year.  Last year I only had 1 plum.  Boo!!  This year I counted at least half a dozen.  I hope they turn out okay!
Moving onto the vegetables.  I received a few emails asking about my recycled styrofoam planter.  As you can see, the lettuce have been doing well and growing larger.  The Butterhead lettuce in the third row didn't survive.  I think it's because it was too small when I planted it out.  I will replace them with more Little Gem Lettuce.  But so far, so good.  
Lettuce and Mustard Greens
The spring plantings have done really well under the hoop house.  As you can see in this photo, the broccoli formed beautiful heads before being harvested.  This bed also holds Red Choi, Spinach, Lettuce and Swiss Chard.
This second bed contains turnips, kohlrabi, daikon, arugula, mizuna, leaf lettuce and kale.
My peas are growing taller and taller.  Flowers can be seen and small pea pods are forming.  This bed also contains radishes, beets and carrots.  

Moving onto my favorite vegetable, the tomatoes.  Here are 3 cherry tomatoes.  The first small plant is a Chocolate Cherry and was planted out without a wall-o-water.  The other two (Sweet 100 and Sun Gold) were planted out in late April with WOWs.  As you can see, they're doing really well.  The Sweet 100 already has baby tomatoes.  Planted at  the base of these cherry tomatoes are basil.
These are a trio of tomato plants that I planted in a deep raised bed.  They are looking really happy and healthy.

This is the grafted tomato, Amish Paste.  It is large and bushy.  I'm amazed at how well it's grown compared to the other tomato plants.  
Here's some volunteer tomato plants.  I'm not sure what the one on the left is but the one on the right must be a Glacier tomato plant.  I think it was the only potato leaf plant I grew last season.  I wasn't too impressed by this variety last year so I pulled out the plant.

Here's the rest of my tomato plants.  One of the black bins contains 3 tomatillo plants.  Behind that are peppers and at the very end are eggplant.
This is my winter squash, Hokkaido Stella Blue.  I'm excited to see these grow. 
These are 3 summer squash.  For the past 2 years I haven't had much luck with these.  I think it was the cold and wet spring weather.  This year they seems to be doing well in this area of the yard.
This bed contains green beans and cucumbers.  I'm still debating what to fill the holes with.  Maybe edamame or beets.  
The edamame seeds I sowed are starting to push through the soil.  I haven't had good luck with these either.  Maybe this year will be different!
Last but not least are more pepper plants.  They are doing well despite the cool temperatures.  Some plants are also flowering!