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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Growing Onions

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This is the first year I have attempted onions in the garden. I have white onions, yellow onions, plus I have shallots and leeks, both related to the onions.

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The onions look great as they are growing. I am still in that learning curve though. I didn’t stop watering them when the tops started falling over. Then, we got 1 1/2 inches of rain. So, some of them look to be soggy and beginning to rot at the top.

I took eight of them out today. Trimmed them back. I hope to dry half of these, and I have a couple in the pot with the chicken carcass, making stock.

My Tractor Supply starter set had eighty onions in it. They were bulbs, which are easier to grow.

I have to admit. These have been a really good producer. I know in the future there will be onions in the garden.

Tomorrow I get eggplant, eggs and bacon from Friends and Farms. I have squash. I have mega amounts of zucchini. I have onions and shallots. I have garlic. I have tomatoes. Sounds like ratatouille pie to me.

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Tidbit Tuesday

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Where I run off in all directions and have no single thing to say in a post.

There were 75 pounds of vegetables collected today for the food bank. A lighter day for squash, and the tomatoes aren’t ready yet.

I was up at the Conservancy gardens this morning, “basking” in the 70something degree temperatures with about the same amount of humidity. I hadn’t been there since Saturday, which was fairy house building day.

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This is what 118 people look like before they headed off into the woods.

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Creativity, a great time, and lots of pictures for this year’s album.

Now, on to the next events, and the continuous harvest of my garden.

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The bulk of the five dozen little tomatoes I harvested. Fifty supersweet 100s and 10 sungold. Mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, basil, chopped onion and banana pepper, and a touch of sugar. Roasted at 250 degrees for a couple of hours. Destined to be frozen and used as one of my recipes in my presentation next month on preserving food.

Then, there were the onions.

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I had to harvest a number of them today, as they were getting mushy at the top. We had 1.5 inches of rain in the rain gauge at the garden (in a 36 hour period). It is driving us nuts, splitting tomatoes and washing away my mounded soil over the onions, leeks and shallots.

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Some of those onions, along with new red potatoes and bacon from England Acres, roasted along with the tomatoes. There will be a very nice salad made from this.

As for zucchini, I did make that lemon blueberry zucchini bread. Thanks to the Lean Green Bean.

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I did substitute, as usual. Used all AP flour. Upped the sugar to about 4/10ths of a cup. It tastes wonderful.

There is more shredded zucchini sitting in the fridge so that tomorrow I can make zucchini fritters and freeze them. Another project for that preserving food program scheduled in late August.

I have been a busy bee today. Time to head off and watch the All Star Game.

Taking the Buy Local Challenge

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For the third year in a row. The MD Buy Local Challenge. Dates are July 19-27.

This year I almost forgot about it until I received the reminder email. Since most of our food is local or regional, we already eat at least one item every day that comes from our Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, our Friends and Farms basket, a local market or farm, or my garden.

If you wanted to join in, it is easy to do. You don’t even have to cook. Buy some fruit.

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Peaches and blueberries are definitely in season. Or how about watermelon, or cantaloupe? Blackberries?

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Seriously. Take a trip to Larriland and pick fruit, maybe take home some tomatoes.

Hit the farmers market in Ellicott City Sunday. Some Breezy Willow eggs. Cheese from Shepherd’s Manor. Meat from Orchard Breeze.

The list goes on. If you want sungold tomatoes, check out Love Dove at the Miller Library or HoCo General Hospital market.

Or, any of the Howard County markets. And, don’t forget wine counts too. Black Ankle maybe> Or Elk Run? Or Big Cork?

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Are you in?


The Friends and Farms “Basket”

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An individual basket with a few add ons. Just the right size for two people with a garden. Or a single person. Or a couple who eats out a couple of nights a week.

This week our proteins were chuck roast and sockeye salmon. Since the salmon was an 8 ounce individual filet, I could email or call or register on line to order another portion or two.

This week’s cheese was mozzarella.

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Perfect for the two tomatoes in the basket, and my basil from the garden. Or with all those supersweet 100s I am getting from the garden.

We got a large onion. A couple of yellow squash (like I need squash). Actually, putting them away to make ratatouille next week when we are supposed to get eggplant.

Blueberries. Yes, there will be frozen berries. And lemon blueberry zucchini bread. There were two ears of very sweet corn. It is gone already. I did ask for additional and will be billed for three more.

Dinner Thursday night was sockeye salmon and corn on the cob. Nothing else. Well, there was wine.

The last things in the basket were the large bag of mostly baby spinach. Which makes perfect salads. With that smoked bacon from last week.

I wasn’t in the mood for the fresh bread choices this week so I got one of these.

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A parbaked ciabatta. Sitting in the freezer waiting for me to need it.

Upcoming meals will include a caprese salad, obviously. A spinach, blueberry and walnut salad one night. That ratatouille next week. Chuck roast is in the freezer waiting for cooler weather.


Lancaster Farm Fresh

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Today I picked up my CSA. Like I do every Thursday. I decided to concentrate today on the CSA. And talk tomorrow about the other major source of food into our home.

Since 2011, I have been a member of this cooperative. They provide me with fresh organic vegetables, and now, chicken, fruit and cheese. The cooperative has 3000 members across a six state area. Around 80 Amish farmers belong to the coop. With the assistance of a transportation and management effort that connects them to the “plugged in” world.

As for what we got today. In my “half” share, costing me $19 a week. Seven to ten items, usually.

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We got:

Red Leaf Lettuce
White Onions
New Red Potatoes
Red Beets
Eight Ball Zucchini
Royal Burgundy Beans
Fennel (we actually got cabbage, I swapped for this)

I really like the variety. And the just enough amount.

I added a chicken share.

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Today I got a pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Destined to become chicken salad tomorrow. And two pounds of wings. There will be Buffalo wings Sunday.

I have a fruit share. Today:

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Two pints of organic blueberries. And, the first of the fresh peaches.

The berries. A mix. Some will become the basis for a lemon blueberry zucchini bread (hey, gotta use those zucchini). The rest. Flash frozen on a cookie sheet. And saved for the dark of winter.

We also have a monthly cheese share. Which gave us great stuff a few weeks ago. Still loving that raw milk cheddar.

Between this, my garden, and Friends and Farms, we don’t need grocery stores except for staples.

Loving that local regional sourced food.


260 Pounds

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That’s how much food from the Food Bank garden plot we donated the past two weeks. July is my month to “manage” the collection of food from the food bank plot and other garden plots designated by their “owners” for delivery to the Howard County Food Bank.

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At our Conservancy community garden site, we have roughly 800 square feet designated for food bank growing. As well as a 250 square foot annex. And, many gardeners ask us to harvest and share their bounty when they are away on vacation. Or, they drop off bags of veggies the morning we collect.

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We fill wheelbarrows full of fresh vegetables every week.

And sometimes that squash thing gets out of control.

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This was July 1st’s harvest of squash. That day they counted 117 pounds of food. Mostly greens, cabbage, squash, beets and carrots. Tuesday this week I drove over in my Jeep piled full of vegetables, totaling 143 pounds. This week we had our first tomatoes, Plus, being a holiday week for many, we had donations from a large number of community garden members.

We harvested garlic Tuesday. But, it needs to cure before we donate. A couple dozen heads of garlic went home with a fellow gardener to be cured in their garage.

Gardens are like that. Some years you can be overrun with something you planted, and others you lose plants to pests or the weather.

It is nice to see that we provide fresh ripe vegetables to the place we call home.


The Garlic Harvest

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Every year I plant garlic. Just because I love garlic. Last year I planted 18 cloves of my LFFC CSA garlic. Organic garlic. Red and white versions.

If you try and plant grocery store garlic it won’t sprout. It is treated not to sprout.

This was a harsh winter. But most of it survived under the snow.

Yesterday was harvest day. I got 11 heads of garlic out of the ground. I had three not make it through the winter. And, three that were so puny they became spring garlic. I have no idea where the missing one is. It just wasn’t out there.

I got a dozen scapes earlier this year which mostly became pesto.

Out of the eleven harvested, three had issues.

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You can’t dry bruised garlic, so these were roasted today. Probably will be used in a pasta dish the next few days.

As for the eight good heads of garlic, they are hanging in the dark cool powder room off the mud room.

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My new hanging method. Skirt hangers. It keeps them separate so they can dry evenly.

If you get excess garlic this year in your CSA, you can plant some in the fall. Just cover it heavily if you expect sub-freezing temperatures. I planted in October last year. Garlic needs to over winter.


Ninety Eight Ounces

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That would be how much zucchini I harvested Saturday morning.

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I wrote the other day about zucchini recipes. Now, we need to add a new one to the list.

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Zucchini Fritters. Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Although I did modify it a bit. I used shallots and baby leeks instead of scallions.

I did make them as recommended in my cast iron skillet.

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The recipe yielded a dozen tiny fritters. Perfect with kofta.

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Topped with homemade tzatziki.

A completely local meal. Lamb from England Acres. Onions from my garden. Zucchini and shallots from the garden. Egg from Miller Farms in Clinton. Tzatziki from my cucumbers, mint, dill and Pequea Valley yogurt.

The wine.

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One of Breaux’s stars. A 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Lots of alcohol though. 16.4%. Big wine. Stood up to the kofta.

So far, I am beating those zucchini. But barely. I did put away two packages of shredded zucchini in the freezer. Saving for a cold winter’s day to make bread.

In A Pickle

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And Beyond.

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With all the pickling cukes around here, I decided to make refrigerator pickles. Easy to do. Mix the spices. Dill, peppercorns, garlic scapes, salt. Three to one ratio of water to vinegar. I made spears, thick and thin slices. Four pints.

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These weren’t hot water processed. They will keep in the fridge for about two months.

CSA this week brought me more cukes.

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We had pickling cukes and a slicing cuke. A pound of snow peas. Broccoli. A large sweet onion. Carrots. Golden beets. A pound of green beans. I have fava beans, because I swapped the three zucchini (like I need more zucchini around here). Nine items in a half share. More than enough to keep us veggie heavy in the house.

The fruit share. Two pints of blueberries and a pint of sweet cherries. The blueberries are already being processed for the future.

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I flash froze them and put them away in little containers. Well, except for those that became the aperitif tonight.

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As for the Friends and Farms basket.

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A cuke. Basil. Spring mix. Peaches. A cabbage. Another sweet onion. More green beans. Sweet potatoes. Eggs and plain yogurt. As for protein. Spare ribs and ground turkey. I found a recipe for larb “kai”, which I will be making with turkey instead of chicken.

Oh, and I forgot about my Lancaster Farm Fresh chicken.

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A four pound free range bird.

So far, in two days. Beans are gone, in two salads. Onions are gone. Roasted. Beets are gone. Roasted. Tomorrow there will be cole slaw on the menu. Using those carrots and a cabbage.

Really good veggies coming in. And the quality of the meat is awesome.

Here’s to eating locally. And well.


Zucchini Squared

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This week, a couple of great recipes using all those zucchini. The ones from all sources.

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Double chocolate zucchini bread. Modified.

The recipe started from King Arthur Flour. Substitutions in parenthesis.

2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey (I used agave)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/3 cup King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa (I used Hershey’s)
1 2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed
1 cup chocolate chips (I used peanut butter chips)

I did it all in one bowl. Mixed by hand. One by one I added ingredients and mixed. Poured into a 5 by 9 inch pan. That was pre-greased. Baked at 350 degrees for an hour (I have a convection oven, non convection may take 10 minutes more).

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Took it to a committee meeting, and brought some home that was dessert tonight.

As for the other recipe. There wasn’t one.

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Pour all sorts of things into a baking pan. I used six small zucchini. Various types. Sliced. Added a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes. Peeled. Smashed up. A can of Roland roasted red peppers. Sliced onions. Italian herb mix. Salt. Pepper.

Go for it. Zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes. A perfect combination. Served as a side dish. With bread to dip. Whatever. This is a staple during zucchini season.

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This was slow cooked in the oven on 250 degrees for an hour and a half.

Who says zucchini has to be boring?