Full Bloom

What a difference a few months can make!

I was looking through my phone to show a co-worker some pictures of our yard, knowing that I took some when we toured the property in April before purchasing. It was like looking at a different property! I had no idea it had bloomed so much and looked so different. (It gives me an advance look at how quiet it will look in the winter.) 😉

Take a look at a few before (April) and after (today) shots:

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Here’s our veggie garden a couple of weeks in…

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And here’s today! I know it’s a different angle but I think you get the idea. 😉

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We have hydrangeas, grape vines, beautiful ground cover I don’t know the names of, and stargazer lilies (my absolute favorite!).

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Some plants are early bloomers (so I’ve been told by greenthumb friends). Our predecessors at the house sure put a lot of thought into the choices. We are certainly enjoying it all.

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.
~ Luther Burbank

Eggplant, Peppers, and Squash, Oh MY!

Last week we helped pick vegetables from a friend’s 2 acre garden. We spent about a little over an hour picking long rows of squash and cucumbers, then a bit of eggplant and peppers. We were sent home with bags of all these wonderful veggies, and more.

Okra, eggplant, squash, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.

I was a bit overwhelmed by it all but we managed to devise a few ways to stretch and store it.

I made pico, enough to fill two quart size mason jars. It is so good. I could almost sit and eat it all day.

I made a small batch of spicy, roasted red pepper tomato sauce. I varied the recipe a bit, adding a little red wine, jalapenos, chili garlic paste instead of regular garlic, a little onion powder, parsley and basil. Using my previous post as a base for how to roast the tomatoes you can pretty much add whatever spices or flavors you want in your sauce. I’m really pleased with how the sauces are coming out. I made another huge batch a couple of weeks ago that is in the freezer as well.

Don sliced the okra in 1/4 inch thick pieces, blanched it, and froze it in neat one-cup servings for easy use. He plans to try using it as a thickening agent instead of corn starch in future dishes.

I filled 9 quart size mason jars with squash, sweet onion, cucumbers, and the peppers (banana peppers, jalapeno, and little red peppers of some sort) and pickled them with our sweet-spicy pickle recipe. Makes for great party food or just everyday snacking.

I also made some spicy cucumber salad. Mmm…

We saved a few tomatoes for everyday use, a few squash for mashed squash, and peppers for spicing up dishes. And we still have all the eggplant. We’ve been meaning to grill some as a side dish but our dinners have just not been shaping up in that direction. Hopefully it will keep for a bit so we can enjoy it too.

What a blessing. Thank you Phyllis for sharing your garden with us – and with Abraham’s Tent, a local soup kitchen.

When eating fruit, remember who planted the tree; when drinking water, remember who dug the well.
~ Vietnamese proverb

Creative Uses for Strawberries

Strawberries were cheap this week so I went ahead and picked up some. I have to admit, strawberries have to be one of my favorite fruits but I don’t buy them often. I wasn’t really sure what we would use them for but Don got creative, as usual. It’s good to have him home. 🙂

Scrambled Eggs with Strawberries

Say what? Yep. That’s what he did. He sautĂ©ed the strawberries with a little salsa, then added the eggs and scrambled it together. He seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne pepper, and topped it off with a little green onion. It was amazing. This was breakfast before the bum run last weekend.

After the bum run, we needed a little fuel to hold us over till dinner.

Fruit Salad-Slaw

What exactly is that? I didn’t know what else to call it. Don made a sort of fruity slaw using cabbage shreds, fresh locally grown cucumbers that he de-seeded and sliced in strips, raisins, pumpkin seeds, and strawberries. He dressed it with our homemade coleslaw dressing. Might sound a little weird, but it was good.

Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.
~ Julia Child

Home Grown

I’m so pleased to share that our little balcony garden (now porch garden) is still growing strong! We actually thought the plants had died off during the winter. We may be in the south but we did have a couple of very cold nights with frost in the morning that we thought might have killed the plants. But, luckily, laziness in throwing them out paid off because it became apparent they were still trying so we let them be. And look at ’em grow!

Far left is a bell pepper plant, second to the left is a jalapeno plant, and the two on the right are one pepper plant separated to two pots for more room to grow. Although the one on the far right isn’t doing so well.

We had a good size jalapeno recently, I wish I had taken the time to snap a picture. We are hoping to have more soon.

There is a bell pepper on the left plant, it’s hanging at the bottom, left. Here’s a closer look.

It’s so pretty!

I ate this one (below) with my dinner a night ago. It was about twice the size as the one on the plant still and quite smaller than what you get in the store but you just can’t beat home grown!

A small little guy. But tasty.

This is our mystery pepper plant.

The peppers are HOT. Delicious.

Great for spicing up our dishes.

Anyone have any ideas on what kind of pepper it is? They are small like habaneros but different type of fire.

We are hoping the plants will get enough sun in their new location. It’s only sunny on the porch in the later half of the day. As you can see, they are getting some good sun now!

New location you say? Yes. We have moved. To a new apartment. It’s lovely. Our old apartment was lovely too but the new one is a little more economical. So far we are loving it. So much that I’m pretty sure you’ll hear more about it later. 🙂

We used to be a nation of farmers, but now it’s less than two percent of the population in the United States. So a lot of us don’t know a lot about what it takes to grow food.
– Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farms

Successful Garden on the Balcony

Our little potted garden is coming along nicely.

We had a little min-harvest and picked a handful of peppers recently. Don intended to pickle them with other veggies but so far his plans have not come together.

So I’ve started using them. The little red ones are great for giving taco salad meat a healthy kick. O.M.G. Hot but so good. A little fire on the lips is always welcome.

A little burn in the eyes or nose from touching your face after working with them…not so much. 🙂

The colors of a fresh garden salad are so extraordinary, no painter’s pallet can duplicate nature’s artistry.
~ Dr. SunWolf