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Monday, August 25, 2014

Harvest Monday: August 25, 2014

Summer is almost over but the don't tell the vegetable garden that!  It's been consistently pumping out all kinds of garden fresh goodies!  I've been quite happy with the harvests.  My friends' with black thumbs have been happy with fresh vegetable goodies and my friends' with green thumbs have been equally happy to trade garden goodies!  For me, it's been a win win situation.
It seems I've been having to make harvests every other or every 3 days to keep up with the abundance this year.  We've had an amazing summer here in the Pacific NW and it shows!
One of the crops that didn't like it's home in the spring/summer garden were these golden beets.  Out of a patch of them, these were the only substantial roots.  I think the area maybe too shaded.  Note to self, plant fall/winter beets in another section!
Once they were cleaned up, the baby beets were darling.  The smaller ones are the size of a large radish.  Haha.  Cute eh?  I'm roasting them with some that I bought from the farmer's market.
The basil has had a good year.  Last year mildew got all of my basil plants.  This year, it's growing crazy!!!  I debated whether to let them flower for the bees or cut them back to encourage a burst of new growth.  Yesterday I cut back half of the stems and left half of them for the bees.  Pesto anyone??!!


Be sure to stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners have been harvesting all over the world!

This week's totals:
- Cucumbers = 0.97 lb
- Lemon cucumbers = 0.12 lb
- Cherry tomatoes = 1.17 lb
- Roma tomatoes = 0.55 lb
- San Marzano tomatoes = 0.44 lb
- Beets = 0.31 lb
- Eggplant = 1.31 lb
- Zucchini = 0.27 lb
- Green beans = 0.04 lb
- Japanese Black Trifle tomatoes = 0.22 lb
- Shishito peppers = 0.59 lb
- Lemon basil = 0.16 lb
- Sweet basil = 0.43 lb



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: www.thepioneerwoman.com
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!**

Skinny Lemon Chicken with Thyme

I bake chicken breasts pretty often.  It's usually pretty simple with olive oil, pepper, my dad's seasoned Hawaiian salt and sometimes mesquite seasoning.  I usually use the chicken as a main entree or as a topping for salads.

I came across this easy recipe on the internet.  It is a nice alternative to my usual chicken breasts.  This recipe has a nice lemon flavor.  The best part is that it's a "skinny recipe".  Each chicken breast contains 150 calories, 4 grams of fat and 25 grams of protein!  


Skinny Lemon Chicken with Thyme
Adapted from: www.eat-yourself-skinny.com
Serves 4


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
juice of 2 lemons
zest from one lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Hawaiian salt

1)  Preheat over to 375 degrees F.

2) Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and thyme.  Set aside.

3)  Salt and pepper chicken breasts.  Place chicken in a baking dish and pour lemon mixture over the chicken.  Make sure to completely coat them.  Turn over to coat well.

4)  Bake for 40 minutes (turn chicken half-way into cooking) or until the juices run clear.  


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

Japanese Black Trifle Tomato

This is a new tomato variety for me for the 2014 garden season.  I picked up this plant at the nursery as a starter.  Despite it's name, Japanese Black Trifle is a heirloom variety whos origin has been traced back to Russia.  This tomato is an indeterminate variety but grows a shorter plant.  It's leaves are the potato-leaf variety and it's time to harvest is long at 80-90 days.  Despite this, it was my first ripe tomato of the 2014 season (other than the cherry tomatoes).
The fruit of the Japanese Black Trifle are beautiful oblong or pear shaped.  The tomato shades range from a deep mahogany to purple-black with sassy green shoulders when ripe.  The skins are smooth and crack-resistant.  The fruits grow to about 2.5 to 3 inches long and weigh about 4-6 ounces each.
When cut in half, the tomato is equally beautiful.  It retains some of the mixed colors.  The flavor is complex, deep and rich. 
The plant produces lots of fruit.  While some of my tomato plants showed signs of blossom end rot, these did not.  It made me happy!
This is a great variety to be grown in the Pacific Northwest.  It really impressed me and has earned a spot in next year's tomato line-up!  If you see this variety around, please give it a chance.  It maybe life changing!  =)
Oh and by the way, the Japanese Black Trifle tomatoes make a mean caprese salad!!  Just sayin....


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Peach Picking

I've been waiting all season for peach picking!  I didn't get to pick and can peaches last year.  My peach stash suffered as a result.  I've been waiting eagerly all summer for the Veteran peaches.  If I remember correctly, these were the easiest peaches to peel and de-pit.  I love easy when there's a lot of work involved.  The peaches also taste fantastic canned.  The Veteran variety isn't so good when eaten fresh so I reserve them just for canning.  Oh an another tidbit about this variety.  If canning, don't worry about bruises or cutting out discolored areas, once processed these dark spot will disappear!  No kidding!  I told you there were easy canning peaches!!  Only worry if there are areas where the peaches' integrity have been compromised.

I picked these at Jossy Farms out in Hillsboro/North Plains.  They're my favorite spot for peaches.  Originally these were supposed to be ripe for picking on Monday but due to the warm weather, they were open for picking on Saturday.  I almost missed it too!  A friend had told me they were ready now.  I hopped in the car and sped over.  As you can see, the trees were full of peaches.  The trees are low so picking is super easy!!


Look at these gorgeous fresh peaches!!  It was so hard to stop picking!


My family loves peaches.  I usually send some home to Hawaii for my dad and some to Las Vegas for my brother and his family.  I also give them away to other family and friends.  They're usually a huge hit!  Because of this I usually can a lot of peaches.  I love them in the middle of winter with cottage cheese or with vanilla ice cream.  It really beats the store bought canned peaches.  Hands down!!  I had only intended on picking 20 lbs or maybe 30 lbs at the most.  As I said before, it was so hard to stop once I got started.  Who can leave a poor peach just sitting on the tree?  
I ended up with 50 lbs of peaches!!  Yep, it seems I got a little carried away with the peach picking.  Haha.  I brought my peaches home and lay them down on the counter on newspaper to further ripen.  I'm planning on canning these in light syrup on Monday.  It'll be a lot of work but during winter, it'll be so worth it!  

Beaverton Farmer's Market: August 9th, 2014

I visited the Beaverton Farmer's Market this weekend.  I picked up a few things: leeks, beets, carrots, peaches, and lemon cucumbers.  

While I was browsing, I noticed some Shishito peppers.  $6.00 per pound?  I nearly fell over!!  Thank goodness I'm growing my own!  These are popular peppers during the summer - along with it's Spanish cousin, the Padron.  I saw the Padrons going for $4.00 a pint.  Thank goodness for my own garden or I'd be broke!  I love these peppers so much!

In addition to all my market goodies, I stopped for some Thai food.  Moh's Mobile has a stall at the Beaverton Farmer's Market.  I got this plate of Phad Thai with chicken, a lemongrass beef stick and an eggroll for $6.50.  Yummy!!  


Monday, August 4, 2014

Harvest Monday: August 4, 2014

This year summer has been good to us in the Pacific Northwest.  We've had a fairly dry and hot summer.  The vegetables seem to be enjoying it!  It was a nice compromise because of my late start in planting out veggies this year.  I'm enjoying a good harvest a few weeks early despite my late attempt.

This week I picked some sweet basil.  The basil have done exceptionally well this year.  Last year I had a difficult time due to mildew.  This year it's been growing like crazy!  Pesto....it's what's for dinner!!
My plum tree has also enjoyed the heat!  The plums ripened fairly quickly this year.  It's kicked into high gear and I have enjoyed several harvests from my one tree.  There was enough to share with neighbors and friends.  The plums are juicy, sweet and delicious!

Over the weekend I picked more Shishito peppers.  I planted 2 Shishito plants this year and they seem to be producing tons of peppers!  My French filet green beans have also produced a lot.  I picked 2 small Ichiban eggplants this week.  Another exciting summer garden moment:   I picked my first full size tomato of the season!!  This one is a Japanese Black Trifle tomato.  It's my first year growing them.  They produce a oblong or oxheart shaped fruit.  
Yesterday while watering the garden I spied a couple of treats!!  To the left is a small Roma tomato and to the right is a Sweet 100 cherry tomato!  How exciting!!


Happy Harvest!!  Join Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions to see what other people are harvesting this week!

This week's harvest totals:
- Plums = 12.32 lb
- Sweet Basil = 0.29 lb
- French Filet Green Beans = 0.73 lb
- Ichiban Eggplant = 0.52 lb
- Tomato, Japanese Black Trifle = 0.21 lb
- Shishito Peppers = 0.31 lb
- Tomato, cherry = 0.01 lb
- Tomato, Roma = 0.1 lb

Friday, August 1, 2014

Canning - Seedless Marionberry Jam

We've had a pretty dry and warm summer.  Produce have been ripening 2-4 weeks faster this summer.   I kind of have let that fact slip away from me.  I almost missed my opportunity for canning berries.  Most of the marionberries (a type of Oregon blackberry) are almost done for the season (my favorite for jam).  I decided to take my chances at the u-pick farm anyway.  I was able to pick a little over 4 pounds to make my first canning project of the summer.....Seedless Marionberry Jam!!    
Making seedless berry jam is always hard work.  You need a lot of berries to make a little jam.  However, I'm in the seedless camp.  I don't like seeds in my jam.  =)  

I spent the afternoon de-seeding my berries via a food mill (thank goodness for this gadget!!).  From my 4+ pounds of berries, I extracted about 4.5 cups of pulp and juice.  It wasn't quite enough for a full batch of jam but I was able to adjust the recipe.  The jam making went quickly and I canned my lovely creations.  
I ended up with 5 half-pints of jam.  I'll have to find more berries and make more jam.  My family and friends love this jam and they're often given away as gifts.  For the recipe, see my original post for Seedless Marionberry Jam.
Be sure to visit Tuesday's Table at Love in the Kitchen for other yummy recipes!