Salsa Experiment

There are lots of Green Zebra tomatoes coming in from the garden so I made a green salsa. You will find the recipe below.

The original recipe didn’t have the paprika in it and I canned the salsa without it being perfect. The next batch will have the smoked paprika added before canning.

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I really like high notes in my salsa. Really. But this had way too many and too high to totally satisfy me. So I asked my FB friends what they would do to fix it. My goal was to keep it green but sometimes you cannot have everything and who would sacrifice color for flavor?!

I used a six inch cast iron skillet and heated it nice and long and slow, then added a teaspoon of peanut oil until hot. Then added a heaping teaspoon of smoked paprika and cooked it until the flavor was filling up the kitchen air. This I added to about a half cup of the salsa and boy oh boy was it ever good!

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Here we have a small bowl of the test batch.

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The end result is so delicious! Thank you to Susan L. who first suggested the addition of chili powder. Susan really knows her cooking. I am a fine cook and can create something out of almost nothing or anything whichever the case may be but I do not know flavor science very well. Learning!

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Green Zebra Salsa

about 25 – 30 ripe green zebra tomatoes, rough chopped
20 jalapenos (smallish, about 1 1/2 inches long is what I had)
one medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 medium cucumbers
1/4 C. dried cilantro (fresh would be so much better but none)
4 heaping tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp sugar
4 heaping tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground celery seed
2 tsp. oil
season with S & P
1 C. cider vinegar

Clean and prep all the veggies. Working in batches blend the tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, garlic and cucumbers together and pour into a heavy pot. Add the seasonings and oil.

Bring to a simmer and cook for about thirty minutes. Taste and adjust the spices if need be.

Can according to your Ball Blue Book or other reputable instructions. This made about ten cups of salsa and the amount will vary according to your vegetables sizes.

Bonnie appetite! What’s coming in from your garden right now?

signature, Sarah

 

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Little Bits

You know sometimes a little bit is all you get from the garden that day.

A little bit is all I’m usually after – just enough to build a meal around.

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I didn’t get a photo of today’s “little bit” but there was all the ingredients needed to make the first batch of tabouli. So we had tabouli for lunch and it was delicious!

It has long been my goal to have all the ingredients at one time and it finally happened.

Tabouli

Pour about 2 cups boiling water over 5 ounces bulgar and let sit while preparing the vegetables. This step can be done well in advance.

Prepare the following items;

1 C finely chopped cucumber

1 C chopped green onion

1 C finely chopped tomato

1 C finely chopped bell pepper, or other sweet peppers

3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 C minced fresh parsley

1/4 C finely chopped fresh basil leaves

1/4 C finely chopped fresh mint

1 – 3 tsp honey

2 – 4 Tbls olive oil

4 – 6 Tbls lemon juice, start with the lesser amounts and taste before adding more

salt and pepper

4 ounces Feta cheese crumbled

Prepare the bulgar. Chill before adding to the vegetables. Chop and mince the vegetables placing all in a big bowl. Add the herbs and honey, oil and lemon juice. Add the chilled bulgar. Season with salt and pepper. Gently stir all together. Taste and adjust the spices and add more if you like.

Eat immediately OR chill for a couple hours before serving. Tabouli does not keep well so plan on eating it all the same day you prepare it.

Serve with crumbled Feta cheese either on the side as a condiment to place on top OR stirred in at the last minute before serving. I use 4 – 5 ounces of Feta for this size recipe.

You can also serve a thick slab of good bread and butter or garlic toast. We usually follow the tabouli with fresh fruit like cantaloupe.

A great vegetarian meal! This makes 2 – 3 hearty main dish servings or 4 – 6 small side servings. Sometimes we have it with hummus or falafel. Remember all item amounts are merely suggestions. Use what you have.

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Coriander

IMG_1351aOne year I put coriander instead of cilantro in a batch of salsa. I did not care for it at all. We did gradually get it all eaten in spite of the coriander. Don’t get me wrong I love both but they each have a time and a place.

After many years of little to no success with growing cilantro, one of my favorite herbs, this year was a boon. There were four big stands of it in the garden. Can you say overkill? I wasn’t about to go without this spring. Some of the cilantro grew to over three feet tall, then it all went to seed and began to dry in the hot summer sun.

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The cilantro had turned into crisp twigs of drying coriander. It began to look as though someone had spray painted it with a glowing copper color. Having never seen such a mass of coriander before I was surprised to see this color. I couldn’t quite catch the vibrancy of it.

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I snipped and snipped at the tall slightly prickly little twigs and barely made a dent in what the mature plant offered. Finally I took a guess and decided there was enough in my bucket to fill a small glass jar. It totalled one and a half ounces of cleaned coriander seeds.

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If you look carefully there I am in the top of the picture, upside down.

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After carefully picking all the minute stems out the dry seed fit perfectly in a pretty upcycled glass jar.

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If you want to get fancy or give this as a gift the lid could be pained, decorated or even covered with a piece of dark muslin and tied with hemp twine. Add a tag and you will have one lovely hostess gift.

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A more fancy label will not be found in my kitchen but I bet most of you have them. By all means use them! I also label the top of my jars because sometimes that is the direction I’m looking at the jars – straight down on them as they line up in a bin from the freezer. The freezer – that is where I keep all the spices I use less often than weekly. And remember to date everything.

Do freeze your homegrown and hand processed herbs and spices for a week or two before setting them out on the spice shelf. This will kill any stray critters that you might have overlooked. Yes critters are everywhere.

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The secret night life of cilantro. It was misting and the solar lights reflected on the cilantro.

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Masses of cilantro made many a bouquet. Do you love or hate cilantro? It’s one or the other. Do you have a favorite recipe using cilantro or coriander?

For a look at Gene’s version of kao dtom or Thai Rice soup click here.

Bonnie Appetite ya’all!

signature, Sarah

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The Flower Garden

Last week the sunflowers started blooming.

Last week the sunflowers started blooming.

Last week the flower garden was polite looking. All the flowers were just starting to bloom and they were upright and well weeded. We went away for a few days, there was a couple big rains and a bit of wind and some balmy weather. There is no politeness to be found out there now. It is a mass of tangled chaotic beauty and I love it.

I have never had a flower garden. Flower seeds and baby plants have been placed in the ground many a year but have seldom thrived for whatever reason – until this year. Marigolds usually don’t even do well for me as I have stated previously. They have made a fool of me this year by overrunning the place!

My brilliant plan was to set up a sixteen foot cattle panel, acquire a couple buckets of aged chicken manure from Adrian’s stash of about a gazillion tons in some old chicken barns on his place and purposely plant a few giant sunflower seeds, a few Mexican sunflowers and broadcast all the really old outdated flower seeds that never grew for me. We did all that. The marigolds were the first thing to cast concern on my flower deprived psyche.

Flaming Mexican sunflowers - so beautiful.

Flaming Mexican sunflowers – so beautiful.

Hundreds of marigold seeds germinated and grew. All the giant sunflowers and Mexican sunflowers sprang forth. The little marigold and ageratum plants I purchased to seed some color in case nothing else worked took hold. Then they cowered. Then they kind of came up at it again. Now they are buried in a riot of falling and blooming Mexican sunflowers too numerous to count. The marigolds have been thinned and thinned. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to pick a perfectly healthy plant and throw it away?! Shaking my head… I cannot believe how many of them I disposed of. And there are still too many and all crowded together.

Ageratum and marigolds a little close together but holding their own.

Ageratum and marigolds a little close together but holding their own.

A few zinnias came up, easy enough for me to identify, but nothing else. Unless I thought it a weed and pulled it which is perfectly possible. There is some vining thing that looks like it might be a flower but no buds yet. Time will tell. There is also a mullein but I’m not sure it can keep up. And some cucumbers because I read they like to be planted with flowers. But they too are lagging behind the effusive mangle of floral wealth in that space.

This is what an effusive mangle looks like…

One effusive mangle at your service. Hundreds of blooms are ready to pop any minute now. To my chagrin - too much orange. I had hoped for more variety and some splashes of pinks and purple.

One effusive mangle at your service. Hundreds of blooms are ready to pop any minute now. To my chagrin – too much orange. I had hoped for more variety and some splashes of pinks and purple.

Ageratum some say is an old fashion flower sometimes difficult to find in these parts. I love the purple of it next to marigolds but there is not nearly enough showing to carry the color through the flower garden.

Ageratum some say is an old fashion flower sometimes difficult to find in these parts. I love the purple of it next to marigolds but there is not nearly enough showing to carry the color through the flower garden.

This is the tallest of the sunflowers. It measures over nine feet tall now and has dozens of blossoms on it. The birds are keeping a close eye on it.

This is the tallest of the sunflowers. It measures over nine feet tall now and has dozens of blossoms on it. The birds are keeping a close eye on it. I am absolutely tickled to have this growing in my flower bed!

THis was an unkempt pot of dirt until a couple volunteers decided to use it for a home. Zinnia and a marigold plant. Imagine that.

THis was an unkempt pot of dirt until a volunteer zinnia and marigold decided to use it for a home.

Next year I will plan a little more carefully and put in less seeds. Although I imagine the marigolds will self sow and try to dominate everything again. I also imagine some blue vining flower… what is the name of that…?

Happy gardening! And look for the June garden update soon. It has been a busybusy month around here!

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Who Says Plants Don’t Think

We have here some pole beans coming together in a joint effort to build a structure , a monument, a sculpture perhaps, all in order to climb ever higher.

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 These are Contender pole beans. Next year I plan on growing Rattlesnake pole beans.

Are you growing pole beans and if so what variety?

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Cushaw and some Miss Alanie

Finally! A current photo of the Great Cushaw experiment. You probably read about the Cushaw here and a few other places. This was taken yesterday and yes the plant has grown quite a lot but not as much as I thought it might. All in all I’m okay with that. Not sure what to do when it overgrows it’s little boundaries which it will very soon.

The Cushaw - let her be called ___ is ___ old.

The Cushaw – let her be called Rhonda and she is 29 days old since the seed was planted.

Here are a few photos of the kitchen garden from the upstairs window.

An ariel view of the kitchen garden

An ariel view of the kitchen garden.

You see the new flower garden in the upper right. The sunflowers are over five feet tall, marigolds are doing really well and some volunteer zinnias as well as ageratum and some vining thing. I had a lot of very old seeds. Some of us are like that – we have certain things we are certain will be useful some day. Anyway I poured them all together into a new bed just for flowers with the thought that a few of them might germinate. Some of them in fact did germinate. Mostly the marigolds which I spoke ill of a while back. Just to show me who is boss I suppose.

You can also see the Hugelkultur starting to take cover.

The pole beans on the gate/arch, okra far right. And all those yogurt containers contain Thai and Genovese basil.

Basil has given me fits this year. I usually start from seed but twice it failed and never even made it to the transplant stage. Having bought starts from Joey at Crossroads garden it is getting a late start.

You can see the freshened south bed (dark brown) has been covered in compost and will be planted in edamame in a few days.

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The east end.

You can see my lovely cardboard patio that brought up some interesting conversation when I posted it on Facebook.

An ariel view of the kitchen garden

An ariel view of the kitchen garden – a better look at the east end.

Here you see pole beans topping the archway. All the greenery on the far left is bush beans. They really took a beating in a heavy rain last weekend but are flowering and have two inch beans. There is the pot of oregano and the cut chives in the front on the left. You can see part of the garlic harvest laid out on the ground on the right just under the wound up hose. And in the very bottom right corner is the beginning of the tomato row. Notice the mound of rough dirt just right of center at the very top. That is new emerging Hugelkultur. It will be ready to plant come spring. We haven’t had as much time to devote to it as we thought.

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Gene working on the next plot for corn in the Cornfield Garden.

A strange view of the Cornfield. You can see a couple of the tomatoes. These two are Japanese Black Trifele and I am excited to see how they do. Lots of baby tomatoes right now!

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Slabs of persimmon bread with black walnuts. Yum!

You may know the deep freeze has been getting a deep clean. That means having a few strange meals and using up the last of the last. I found a few packages of frozen persimmon pulp (don’t ask how old) and thought to myself, self you should make a double batch and freeze it so you can just grab one on the run when needed. I failed to remember the pulp was already packaged to make a big batch. So there ended up being 16 mini loaves instead of the expected eight. If you invite us to dinner chances are I will try to pawn off gift you a loaf of delicious persimmon bread as a hostess gift.

Some of the sixteen loaves of persimmon bread I made (by accident)!

Some of the sixteen loaves of persimmon bread I made (by accident)!

You must cook a persimmon loaf almost until it looks overdone as it will stay gooey unless baked long. See the recipe below.

Persimmon Bread

3/4 cup sugar (brown sugar is nice)

1 cup soft coconut oil

4 eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup coconut milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup white flour

1/2 cup (only) persimmon pulp

1 cup black walnuts, or English or pecans, chopped

Cream the sugar and oil, then mix in the eggs. In a separate bowl stir the dry ingredients together. Alternately add the coconut milk and the dry ingredients mixing well after each addition. Scrape down. Add the persimmon and mix until well blended. Stir in the nuts.

Scoop into 7 or 8 mini loaf pans that have been greased on the bottom only. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center to test for doneness. Adjust the cooking time if you are using larger pans.

Persimmon bread is better baked in a small loaf pan versus a large one because it wants to stay wet in the middle and requires a longer bake time.

In other news I went blog hopping this morning for a while and visited Helen’s blog at Silverbells. I believe she is gardening in the UK best I can tell. Her blog led me right back to the Ozarks and I looked in on  A Farming Artist somewhere in Missouri. Ain’t it a small world.

Have you cooked anything new or unusual lately?

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Chive Pesto and Yard Carts

Chives will not oxidase the way basil does therefore maintaining the bright green that is so appealing.

Chives will not oxidase the way basil does therefore maintaining the bright green that is so appealing.

It is slowly dawning on me – the truth of you can make pesto out of just about anything fresh and green. I have been slow to come to this understanding.

An abundance of chives and a chance visit to this person’s blog brought me to a recipe for chive pesto. At first I was like eouw, no. Then I straightened my shoulders and took a look. Hmm, maayybbee, just maybe that could be good. Certainly a good way to use a bunch of chives.

So I let the sun touch them long enough to dry the dew and bring the oils to the surface and then cut them all back to about two inches. A good rinse, a whirl in the salad spinner and a rest on a clean towel before chopping them up prepared them for the food processor.

Here is my version.

The ingredients: about 4 cups of chopped chives, one medium clove of garlic, 4 Tblsp of almond meal, 4 Tbls Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil.

The ingredients: about 4 cups of chopped chives, one medium clove of garlic, 4 tbsp of almond meal, 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chop the chives into 2 inch pieces and place in the food processor, pulse until well chopped. Add the cheese, almond meal, garlic (peeled and sliced please) and pulse a few more times. Add the oil and pulse until well mixed, chopped and blended. Use more or less oil to your desired consistency.

Ready to chop chop the chives!

Ready to chop chop the chives!

Lovely to look at and tasty too! This batch made three 4 ounce jars.

Lovely to look at and tasty too! This batch made three 4 ounce jars.

Just in time for lunch we had a green salad, lamb chops, rotini with chive pesto, and Cushaw pie for dessert. The chive pesto was delicious!

That was the absolute last of the last Cushaw harvest. I sure hope this years Cushaw is a bumper crop.

In other news Gene had a constructive day building a neat fitted screen to fit over the yard cart. We will use it to screen compost and soil for new and existing beds.

The finished screen fits the yard cart perfectly. It also fits over our big wheel barrow.

The finished screen fits the yard cart perfectly. It also fits over our big wheel barrow.

It lifts off easily and is slightly lighter than teh old one.

It lifts off easily and is slightly lighter than the old one.

The brackets keep it from sliding around.

The brackets keep it from sliding around.

Usually smiling I think he was a little tired and ready for for lunch to happen.

Usually smiling I think he was a little tired and ready for lunch to happen.

Bonnie appetite and happy gardening!

signature, Sarah

 

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