Archive for the ‘garden’ Category


26 August 2012

Greg has been gardening again this summer, and the garden has provided sugar snap peas, garlic, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and melons.  Here is what Greg harvested today:

That melon is huge for a cantaloupe. It’s probably 10 pounds of cucumbers. I think we have already harvested 30 pounds of cucumbers. I will be taking some to school on Tuesday to put in the teacher mailroom to try to get rid of them. We already have a lot in our refrigerator.

With some of the cucumbers and tomatoes I will be making a jar of marinated vegetables. I don’t remember who “pinned” this to “pinterest” but it showed up in somebody’s facebook feed and I followed it to find this recipe. Sounds yummy, and I bet the vinegar will make the tomatoes taste good to me!

I don’t know what Greg has planned for the rest of the tomatoes, but I think we will be eating melon for breakfast and dessert for a while!

Last week I made this tomato pie:

I made a tomato pie last summer but I could not find the recipe. I searched all the cookbooks and the internet. So I had to make this up. It is pretty yummy.

Tomato Pie – serves 2-4 as main dish, more as a side dish

  • 1 pie crust, store-bought or homemade
  • a bunch of plum or Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • a couple of scallions, sliced thinly
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Brush a pie pan lightly with olive oil. Lay the crust in the pie pan, and brush the inside of the crust lightly with olive oil. Combine the tomatoes, basil, scallions, and most of the feta cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add pepper to taste, and mix gently. Add the tomato mixture to the pie pan, folding the edges of the crust over the filling. Sprinkle remaining feta cheese on top. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden, and feta cheese is browned on the tops. Let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

This pie makes excellent leftovers.


One Piece Away

29 June 2011

The kitchen is one piece away from being finished.  Today I went to Home Depot to send back the piece they’d sent, which was wrong, and had them order the correct piece, which will take who knows how long to come in.  But the kitchen is FUNCTIONAL!

The key thing making the kitchen finally functional is the sink.  I picked out a stainless steel double-bowl sink with a lower-than usual center divider.  When I washed the dishes tonight I was thrilled that our largest skillet fits entirely inside the sink!  The handle of the skillet would have stuck out if the center divider went all the way up.

Check out the spiffy faucet!

Anyway, the end bit of the faucet, where the water comes out, pulls out to be used as a flexible sprayer, and can be used for spraying or streaming water, and you can pause the water with the upper black button.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  If you come to visit us, your first view of the kitchen will be as you enter the dining room from the living room, and as you turn you will see the wide opening into the kitchen like this:

What you see first

Open and inviting, I think!  We will probably get some sort of curtain thing to go on the window in the back door, but we need to think about what we want.

Ok, so in the sink photo, you can just see the edge of my tea kettle.  Here is the full view of the “sink wall” with the tea kettle, since I made my tea IN THE KITCHEN this morning instead of in the dining room!

At the lower right corner you can see where the missing piece will go.

I imagine that Greg’s coffee maker will go on the right like it was before.  I think I will get some shelves to go on the left, under the cabinet, for my tea tins and infusers and stuff.  Hmm, IKEA?  Also, we will probably put a curtain on this window to match the one on the door window.  And Greg suggested some sort of stencil or mural across the soffit, which could continue onto the stove wall.  Well, we will see.

So as you look around to the right, you will see the “stove wall”:

I've closed the basement door for the photo

We plan to put pots and pans in the drawers to the right of the stove.  To the left of the stove, as you may recall, is where the garbage and recycling go.  Somewhere along here we will put the spices, and the utensil bin on the counter, and you may notice that the under-counter lighting has been turned on.  When I cooked dinner tonight, I used the vent and light on the microwave oven!  It was so nice!  But again, I am getting ahead.

Continuing around to the right…


I took this photo kind of high so I could show the mini-fan again (see previous post) and our LED lights.  We’ll eventually put magnets back on our fridge, but for now we have only a timer and a beer-opener.

OK, so the final view is this:

Looking into the dining room and living room

Here you can see the back of the peninsula, and the phone, which we plan to replace.  The dining room table has been temporarily squished into a corner but will be moved back to the center of the room soon.  Where you see blank wall in the dining room, we’ll put the chest of drawers that contains the table linens and the wine opener, and we’ll hang the large Chinese painting.  We definitely have to do some thinking about where things will go, and maybe also about what things we don’t actually need.

The cutlery drawer!

I have already decided that our flatware goes in the top drawer nearest the dining room.  Greg hasn’t disagreed (yet) so maybe it will stay there!  I got one of those “expands-to-fit-the-space” organizer things from Bed Bath & Beyond.   But I didn’t stop there, I made dinner!  I made tofu and vegetable stir-fry, with the first of Greg’s beans from the garden!  Which reminds me I have to do a blog post on this year’s garden.  Greg has done a lot of planning and a lot of work on it.


Oh yeah, the other thing that happened today was I got a haircut.  The stylist blow-dried it straight, but once I wash it again it will be wavy again.  I like it, and I hope I like the salon enough I can keep going back there.  It made a good first impression, and was very inexpensive, so that’s a good sign!

As I was saying, however, here I am cooking, with a handful of beans that Greg just brought in from the garden.  And wearing an apron my mom made, and drinking red wine, of course. I am really happy now!


20 June 2010

Every day, the corn looks taller.  I find it amazing that growth happens like that.  In the afternoon, the corn looks taller than it did in the morning.  And yet, the dill is taller than the corn!

And, of course, taller than me.  I am hoping to get dill SEEDS soon, since the cucumbers are burgeoning.  My husband planted a smaller variety this year, much more suitable for dill spears.  They are about as long as my cell phone.

We’ve been eating them in salads, but there are about to be a lot of ripe ones all at once.  I’ll make bread-and-butter pickles first, since I am still waiting on dill seed…


6 June 2010

Not MY garden, it’s ALL my husband’s dedication and hard work.  But I am still allowed to admire and eat it!  He’s been planning this garden since last summer, deciding where to put things and how to rearrange.  He planted the garlic last fall, and this spring he ripped out all the roses that weren’t doing well, leaving just the healthiest ones (except for one which is in the garlic field, but I expect that one won’t be sticking around long.

First, the front part is flowers.  These are mostly started from seeds except for the Marigolds.  There are zinnias behind the cosmos which are behind the lilies, but you can’t see them there.

There are also some salvia, if you look closely.  The cosmos are obviously not blooming yet, but there are flower buds!

Behind these flowers are the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, one “hill” of each.  We are hoping for fewer cucumbers than last year, and these are supposed to be smaller.  We already have tiny cucumbers growing, but the peppers and tomatoes have not blossomed yet.

Continuing back toward the house, we have a row of corn.  This is highly amusing to both of us!

Then we have the herbs.  The dill and the cilantro have already bolted, and the parsley is still about an inch high.  There is no sign of any basil.  There is a hopeful blank space in the row, however.  Here is a picture from before they bolted:

The tiny little patch of bright green to the right of the frilly dill is the parsley.  The rest is purslane, which we don’t grow on purpose but which is edible.

Next, there is a row of purple beans, climbing poles.

You can see the next two roses behind the beans.  On the other side of those roses is the garlic patch, which is also where I planted my radishes early in the spring.  They came out really nicely!   I just  tucked them in between the garlic stalks.

Behind the garlic field are a couple of rows of sugar snap peas, which are a great snack that my husband usually eats when he comes home from work, before coming into the house.

Today my husband suggested that we could get a good picture of the whole garden from above, by holding the camera out the window over the garage:

As you can see, my husband has been weeding!  He did a very good job.  I couldn’t get the snap peas into the photo, but you can see most of the rest of it.  I love having a husband who is interested in gardening, and a place for him to do it!

Radishes come to those who wait

22 November 2009

I planted radishes in the spring.  They are supposed to be a 30-day crop.  So plant them, and harvest a month later.  I spent late spring and early summer pulling up a radish each week to see if they were ready.  No dice.  No radishes, just skinny roots.  Probably I planted too late in the season.  Better luck next year.

Today I thought I would see if the radish bushes had any radishes.  They were very large plants, with little white flowers.  I pulled them all up.  Mostly they were still skinny-rooted.  But I did find these (with, of course, Buzz’s head for scale):

Note the one towards the bottom of the photo – very *ahem* suggestive.  You want to see it close up, don’t you.  OK then.

Interestingly, the largest radish was hollow and contained water.  Now you know how to find water in a radish if you are desperately thirsty.  Radish-flavored water, to be sure, but probably potable.  Here’s the inside of the radish:

I’m not sure any of these will get eaten, as we also have radishes in the fridge from the CSA.  But who knows?

Big Bertha

31 July 2009

My husband claimed, at first, that this was a butternut squash.  I think it isn’t, but I don’t know what kind it is.  I thought maybe a banana squash, but those get even bigger than these, so probably not.  So for now, I am calling it Big Bertha, after the German howitzer.

Anyone want to tell us what kind of squash it really is?



(the sandal is a women’s US size 7)

UPDATE:  my husband received this e-mail from the seed company today:

Dear Gardener,

Thank you for your order and interest in our company John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds.

Your squash looks like an off type or mutation from the Milano Black Zucchini; we actually don’t carry that type, the Yellow Zucchini is a bright lemon yellow, it is not a Butternut! I would be interested in how it cooks and tastes??

As always please feel free to contact me directly with any questions, comments and complaints at 860-567-6086 or


Lance Frazon
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds
Ph: 860-567-6086 Fax: 860-567-5323 <>

mmmmm, mutation!


26 July 2009

Our CSA has been giving us gorgeous purple beans lately.  Since we have our own green beans, we eat them together, which makes the purple beans last longer and compensates for the fact that we only get so many ripe green beans at a time.  Here they are:


Unfortunately, they turn green when cooked, due to the breaking of the vacuoles containing anthocyanins during the cooking process.*  They just wash away in the cooking liquid!  Here are the cooked beans, a minor disappointment:


Ah well, at least they taste good.

*McGee, Harold, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen Completely Revised and Updated. New York: Scribner, 2004. 267- 268.

There is a first time for everything

7 July 2009

Inspired by the plastic-shopping-bag-full of cucumbers my husband brought in from the garden yesterday and Marisa’s facebook-status-via-twitter about making bread and butter pickles, I made my first pickles today.

I used the recipe from Slashfood that Marisa pointed me to.  First, I needed jars, which I got at the supermarket. The cashier was very surprised that the store even sold canning jars, and then it turned out that the UPC code wasn’t in the scanner and so I was the cause of the Express Lane being held up because the cashier had to send a bagger for a price check.  I felt guilty, though it wasn’t my fault.

Then, there was the cutting and slicing.  Thank goodness for the mandoline, but man, those onions made tears and mucus run down my face like a waterfall!  Here’s my sliced veggies, before and after being mixed with salt and soaked in an ice bath for three hours:


The next step was sterilizing the washed jars and heating the veggies in the brine.  The brine tasted just right for bread and butter pickles, so I think I did it right.


Finally, here are my jars of pickles!


I actually made eight jars, and I plan to do four more tomorrow, because I have enough cucumbers for at least another half recipe.  Guess what you are getting for Christmas?


22 June 2009

I apologize for falling behind so much in blog posting, but I plan catch up now that I am on vacation.  There is an old saw that says the best things about being a teacher are June, July, and August, but I think of it as just a different phase in the yearly cycle. Now is when I get all those weekends back that I spent at Physics Olympics or Science Bowl or writing tests and getting mad at Microsoft Word, or fretting about all the stuff I had to get done.  Now is when I can stay up late enough to go out and see friends, and watch movies from my Netflix queue, and do jigsaw puzzles!  I can do more sewing projects and MAYBE, just MAYBE, organize my school files for next year.

But that is not what I want to talk about.  I want to show off our garden, with some “before and after” photos and praise for my husband, who is tickled to be growing things he can eat.  Never mind that he is growing a lot of cucumbers, which he does not eat all that much of.  He told me this morning I could make pickles.  Shyeah.

Anyway, remember that “cosmetic surgery” photo of the roses?  Here is the “before and after:”


You’ll note the giant squash plant in the foreground.  We’re doing a modified “three sisters” form of agriculture, apparently – call it two sisters and a cousin.  Squash, beans, and roses.  Though rather than try to pick beans out of the rosebushes, my husband has stuck some bamboo poles in the ground for them to climb.

Also, remember the peas that looked like mini-marshmallows?  Here’s another before and after:


In between the rows of peas are my radishes and a surprise hosta.  The peas are quite tasty, though we only get a few at a time.  Here is a pea closeup:


This photo makes me hungry.  Or maybe it’s just that I’ve spent the morning getting things accomplished, and it’s getting towards elevenses!

Things I can check off my list:

  • Take winter wool clothing to the dry cleaner
  • Take mail to the mailbox
  • Remove growth of weeds from the curb in front of house
  • Remove dead blossoms from roses
  • Lop branches that overhang the stoop so it’s easier to avoid being soaked when coming in the front door (we’ve been getting a lot of rain lately, non-local readers)
  • Clean out refrigerator of old leftovers
  • Vacuum unfinished portion of the basement (where the cat’s box is – it had gotten so I didn’t want to walk past in bare feet)
  • Write a blog post!

Yep, I think I deserve lunch now!

Cosmetic Surgery

18 April 2009

I do this every year.  Well, one year my husband did it instead.  We remove 90-95% of the rose biomass in the front garden, going from this:


to this:


in the space of an hour.

I like this task.  It is one of the very few gardening tasks I actually enjoy.  I get to do it standing up.  It doesn’t take long.  The results are immediately obvious.  It keeps my mind active as I make multiple decisions on where to cut with the following goals in mind:

  • make the canes shorter than waist height
  • keep the plant “airy” without a lot of center growth and without criss-crossing canes
  • remove diseased bits
  • guide each plant to grow in preferred directions (i.e. up and sideways, not out over the driveways on either side)
  • leave a few leaves so the plants can still get energy from the sun

It’ll seem like no time between now and when the roses are once more taller than me.