Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sweet Potatoes is another first for me...sweet potatoes!

My husband and I love them but I've never tried to grow them before.  So I thought, well, why not give it a shot.  I have an empty garden bed just waiting to grow something!

I bought my slips online from a Tennessee company called, George's Plant Farm.  They seemed like a reputable company, had good reviews and so I took a chance and ordered 12 slips of the Vardeman variety.  The description said  "Ideal garden and small space, bush type. Vines good for small gardens."  Well, that's me!

So when the plants arrived, I set them in a glass of water on the windowsill for about a week, letting them perk up and grow a few more stronger roots.  Then this morning, I dug a few holes in my garden and set the plants.  And I guess we'll just see.  It's so hot these days that I hope the plants don't burn up.

little blurry image...sorry :/

From what I've read, sweet potatoes need a long growing season (90-120 days)...well, we've got that!

As I was getting that garden bed ready, I noticed three cantaloupe seedlings beginning to germinate!  I planted those weeks ago and nothing germinated so I thought I had a bad batch of seeds (GRRRR) and dug them all up.  Well, I guess there were a few that were determined to grow, so that's cool!

As I was working, I noticed this little guy watching me intently, remaining very still.  I'm not sure what kind of lizard it is, but he's pretty cool.  I love seeing these little critters in and around my garden.  They eat all the nasty bugs that feed on my plants.  He's more than welcome to stay and hang out :)

Anyway, this garden bed will be very interesting to watch as these little sweet potato and cantaloupe seedlings begin to grow!

I love experimenting with new stuff!  So far this year, all the new varieties of vegetables I've planted are doing well, even my peppers!  As always, I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Remember how my peppers were struggling at the beginning of the season?  Well, they are struggling no more!  They are growing well and producing beautiful fruit.  Can't wait for these to be ripe!

Corno Di Toro

Red Ruffled Pimiento

 Honey bee having a good time!
Corno Di Toro

Corno Di Toro 

Beautiful, eh?  It must have been that gorgeous compost I added to the bed :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Birds

These beauties have been visiting my feeders all summer long.  I actually have two nesting pair of Painted Buntings and many (many) lesser goldfinches.  I haven't been able to capture an image of the female bunting but I'll keep trying.  Just thought you might like a glimpse of these lovely creatures. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last of the Lettuce...First of the Tomatoes

It was a sad day at my house...I picked the last of the Lola Rossa red leaf lettuce :-(

I really enjoyed this lettuce.  It was the first year I grew this variety and you can bet I *will* plant it again in the fall.  The heads were not too big, not one of them bolted despite our blazing heat, the leaves were tasty, kind of bitter-like, but very good, and the germination rate was excellent.  I will plant this lettuce again next spring as well.

But as sad a day as it was, I also picked the first of my Chadwick cherry tomatoes!  So it wasn't such a sad day after all :-)

I also had this fresh, delicious, locally-made-in-New-Mexico-feta-cheese that my good friend Cheryl brought me back from their recent vacation.

The only obvious thing to do with these fresh ingredients is make a salad...and that's what I did!  I added an avocado, Keith and Abby's Horseradish Dijon Mustard dressing and it was delicious!

I love summer food!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Mountain of Chard...


A couple of weeks ago it became obvious to me it was time to pick the golden chard.  It grew beautifully this spring but the leaves were getting very large and once that happens, the chard turns tough and fibrous and I don't like it any more. 

So, it was time to pick it, blanch it and freeze it for the fall.  And that's what I did.  But what a tedious task.

I had to remove the tough stem off every single piece of chard you see on my counter above, 

wash it, slice the leaves into ribbons,

blanch it bunch by bunch in boiling hot water,

chill it down in an ice water bath, wring the water out and separate the cooked chard into two cup bunches.  It took me nearly all day. 

And when I was done, I only had eight cups of blanched chard to show for it!  Chard is like spinach, it cooks down to nothing. 


But hey, that's OK.  I was able to process and freeze all of it, although I still have another 2 rows of chard growing in with my peppers.  But they are much younger and I will likely use it up before I have to blanch and freeze it all.

So now I have all this lovely, fresh chard in my freezer ready to throw into soups and stews this fall and winter.  Was it worth the bet it was :) 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It's been *so* hot and *so* dry here in South Texas lately that not much is blooming.  But yesterday my Texas Star Hibiscus presented its first bloom and it is gorgeous!

Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what is blooming in others' gardens on this June Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

And in keeping with our recent mantra this dry, hot Texas summer, Pray For Rain!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Killer Homemade Pizza...

...made with all local ingredients!  It was delicious!  Harry and I make pizza at home often.  Having a breadmaker makes it so easy.  The dough comes together in minutes and it freezes beautifully! 

Anyway, last week we had all these fantastic local ingredients and we thought the best way to make excellent use of them was to make pizza!  We had:

Delicious homemade, local beef sausage which I sauteed and drained

Locally made mozzarella cheese, shredded

Local tomatoes (not mine, yet, but I got these at the farmer's market) and my basil.  Tomatoes thickly slice and basil julienned

Homemade pizza dough, defrosted

And homemade pizza sauce.

Here are all the ingredients, prepped and ready to go!

First, preheat the oven to 450F with the pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.  Preheat the stone for at least one hour.

I rolled out the pizza dough, topped it with a little sauce and the cooked sausage.

Topped that with the tomatoes and basil

Smothered the entire pizza in freshly grated mozzarella AND Parmigianno Regianno

Then popped the whole thing into the oven and onto the hot stone for about 17 minutes and Voila...we had pizza!!  Incredibly delicious...who needs take out?! :)

 Buon Appetito!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Golden Chard, Vegetable and White Bean Soup is what I pulled from my garden today:  a large bunch of golden chard, one lovely onion, a few red core chantenay carrots and a few dragon carrots.  Such a beautiful bounty...I'm truly blessed.  Now the fun part, what to do with it!

And to me, the answer was simple:  there is a delicious soup in the making here :)

Now I've made enough soups in my lifetime that I really don't need a recipe.  The key to a good soup is high quality ingredients, homemade chicken stock if you have it, whatever seasoning you like (I like cumin and smoked paprika) and my secret ingredient, a 1/2 inch piece of Parmagianno Regianno cheese rind.

The preparation is really pretty simple and straightforward.

Dice the onion 

Scrub the carrots and cut into 1/2 inch moons

Remove the stem and tough rib from the chard

Wash and spin dry

 Slice chard into thin ribbons

Saute the onion and carrot in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until onion is soft and carrot begins to brown, about 10 minutes.  Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the chard, 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and saute for another 5-7  minutes until the chard begins to wilt.

Add the chicken stock, cheese rind and 1 can of drained, well rinsed Great Northern or cannellini beans and 1/2 cup pearl couscous

Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until couscous is cooked.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Sprinkle with a little grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.  Although delicious immediately, this soup is even better served the next day. 

Buon Appetito!