Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baby Carrots...

...there are still some in the garden!  I picked a handful for dinner tonight.  Aren't they beautiful?!  They don't even need to be peeled...a good scrubbing is enough. 

The carrots are the last of the vegetables from my winter garden.  I have enough carrots out there for a few more meals.  (Easter dinner comes to mind :)  These carrots froze more times than I care to remember this past winter, but they kept on growing and are just as sweet as ever.  As with all fresh veggies, the best preparation is a simple one.  These Ginger-Glazed Carrots are easy to make and delicious.  Fresh ginger and carrots are natural companions and dill (or cilantro) gives this dish an added boost.

Ginger-Glazed Carrots
Serves four to six
1 1/2 lb carrots, thoroughly scrubbed, peeled (if necessary) and trimmed
About 2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
About 1 teaspoon kosher salt; more if needed
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (optional) (cilantro is a nice alternative to dill)

Cut the carrots in half lengthwise.  Holding your knife at a sharp angle, cut the carrot halves into 1-inch diamond shapes.

Put the carrots in a single layer in a 10- to 12-inch saute pan and add water to come halfway up the sides of the carrots.  Add the butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover the pan with the lid slightly askew, reduce heat to medium high and cook at a steady simmer, shaking the pan occasionally until the carrots are tender but not soft (a paring knife should enter a carrot with just a little resistance), about 7-9 minutes.

Uncover, stir in the ginger and continue to simmer until the liquid evaporates to create a syrup.  Shake the pan and roll the pieces around to evenly glaze the carrots.  Add a pinch more salt, if needed, toss with the dill (or cilantro) and serve.

Buono Appetito!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Vegetable Seedlings

Such a beautiful morning...clear, breezy and very cool.  But another 70-degree day forecast...gotta love it :-) 

We've had about a week of intermittent light, steady rain and sunshine and my garden is very happy with this weather pattern :)  Talk about budding out...the little vegetable seedlings are all growing beautifully.  I've been fertilizing everything with Medina Growin Granules every three weeks and it must be working because all the seedlings look very healthy. 

All my potato tubers have begun to poke through the soil.  This is my first experience growing potatoes and I'm pleased that at least they've gotten to this stage!  It's so neat to see :)

And the broccoli raab are all growing strong and tall.  This is also a new vegetable for me.  Broccoli raab is a member of the nutritious cruciferous family.  It is a nonheading, broccoli-like vegetable that resembles broccoli florets on long thin stems.  Broccoli raab has a bitter but zesty flavor and it's best to quickly blanch it before cooking. 

Even my broccoli plants all have little broccoli heads forming. 

The romaine seedlings are beginning to look like baby lettuce.

and the beets are growing slowly but surely.  Notice how I've already thinned them considerably ;-)

And my Texas 1015 onions are marching right along.  

I told you I was going to have tomatoes and peppers on these plants before I put them in the ground...check out my first tomatoes and one teensy pepper beginning to form!

Seeing the overall progress of my spring garden made for a great start to my day :)  Blessings to you all...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Everything is Budding Out!

Spring is here for sure!  This morning I was taking my morning walk to the greenhouse and around the property with puppies in tow and I had to run back to the house to get my camera (I can't believe I forgot it in the first place).  Everywhere I looked, something was blooming.  Fall is my favorite time of the year, but I do love the spring.  This has been an exceptionally cold and long winter (for us in South Texas anyway) and I, among many, am very glad for the recent warm weather and signs of spring.

And it's not just we humans who are loving the sunshine.  All the flora in the hills are welcoming spring's warm rays. Although the temperature did drop to 27F last night!  But it made for some beautiful, frosty wildflowers this morning :)  and it's supposed to reach 72 degrees today...God I love Texas!

(This photo looks really cool if you click and enlarge it)

I discovered a Texas Paintbrush blooming in the front part of the yard.  It's also known as Indian Paintbrush or botanically as Castilleja indivisa, and it is a beautiful wildflower.

 And one of my bluebonnets is almost ready to bloom!

My Texas cedar elms, Ulmus Crassifolia, are budding out beautifully.  I have two trees and each is budding out in their own sweet a few days ahead of the other.

The Texas red bud tree, Cercis Canadensis var. Texensis, in the front yard is bursting with color.

And look at the beautiful buds on my tomato and pepper plants.  I may have fruit to pick before I even put these babies in the ground!

My beautiful Texas Everbearing Fig Tree is budding out too.  I had to put a cage around it.  I discovered tell-tale signs that the axis deer are jumping the fence at night and getting onto the property.  The last thing I want is those little deer-people eating my fig tree!  I feed them plenty of kitchen scraps that they don't need to be eating my fig tree.

And the Agarita bushes, Mahonia trifoliolata, all over the property are budding.  I love their beautiful yellow flowers.

My roses are just beginning to leaf out after their Valentine's Day haircut :)

In walking around the property, I found a few more wildflowers beginning to bloom.  I'm not sure what these are (remember...I need a new Texas wildflower book), but they sure are pretty.

And look at this beauty who was around visiting me all morning.  She sure loved my tomato and geranium blooms.

Even my cattelya orchid is blooming!  I never thought that baby would bloom again.  It languished in the greenhouse for about a month before I decided to bring it back in the house.  I set it on the Southeast side of the fireplace and it must be happy, because it's throwing off two new blooms!

So as you can see, things are beginning to bloom in my Texas hill country garden and I couldn't be happier! 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunrise over the Guadalupe

Such a beautiful sight.  When I got up this morning (early...of course), the sun was just coming up.  There was mist rising from the river and it made for the most glorious sunrise.  What a way to start the day.