Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let the pickling begin!

Bonny presented me with 2 fairly large Tromboncino squash - much to much to eat fresh.

So, we grilled up a bit with our dinner and made refrigerator pickles with the rest.

I made 2 types of quick pickles- a Thai influenced variety and a more classic Eastern European style. The Thai had more of a sweet, spicy flavor and the classic was more of the salty, savory variety.

I didn't really follow any recipes (though there are a ton out there), but just winged and they came out pretty good!

The key is to taste your quick brine before adding your items to be pickled. If the brine tastes good, then so should the pickles!

Here are the parameters for both kinds (make enough brine to cover your  pickling items):

  • rice vinegar
  • water (about equal amounts of both liquids)
  • ginger
  • kaffir lime leaves
  • smashed garlic
  • dried chiles
  • palm sugar (though plain white will do)
  • salt
  • black peppercorns
Classic European style:
  • apple cider vinegar
  • water (about equal amounts of both liquids)
  • pickling spice (allspice, mustard seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, black peppercorns, cumin, dill seed)
  • salt (more than the Thai)
  • pinch sugar
  • dried chiles
Bring all ingredients to a boil and then let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Pack vegetables into clean sterilized jars and pour over brine to cover. Cool and refrigerate.

They are ready to eat in an hour or so, and get better with time. You should eat them in a week or two - if they last that long.

I also added a few sliced carrots and a kohlrabi as I found them lurking in the bottom of the fridge.


Monday, August 29, 2011

The hungry caterpillar

Mark and I just spent a week with family in Estes Park, Colorado and while this post may not have a direct connection to gardening it is (in part) the reason I have been away from the garden and the blog.

My July weekends were mostly dedicated to creating a quilt for our new cousin Asher that features fabric from Erik Carl's "The Hungry Caterpiller." A special thank you to mom for hooking me up with most of the fabric!

Here is the front:

And the back:

We came back to a well maintained garden thanks to my giving everything a good soak before leaving and our dear neighbor Andrea watching out for those plants that needed watering while we were gone. More on this later on this week...

We were greeted by two ripened tomatoes, two zucchini, and two tromboncino squash upon our return - hopefully with more to come in the next couple of months!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Catching up - Pealicious!

I have been remiss in posting lately, but promise to get back on the band wagon with the goal of posting once a week.

To catch you up, here is some info on the pea experiment

Well, as it turns out I went out of town during the height of our pea harvest.

Fortunately, our neighbors helped us enjoy the bounty and there were enough for us to enjoy some too.Unfortunately we came back to many pods that were past their prime. Who knew months ago that mid-July would be prime pea harvesting time?

The majority of the peas that we enjoyed mid-July went into salads. We blanched the peas for both - a quick dip in boiling water to preserve their color and stop the sugars from converting to starches - and then created a dressing of minced shallot, finely chopped mint, lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

I learned a few lessons about cultivating peas this year -
  • Five varieties may be too many. Next year I think that we will grow fewer varieties of peas and perhaps less of them.

  • As it turned out, the golden snow peas weren't as interesting to eat as I anticipated, though this could be the quality of soil where they were planted. I may try them one more time...

  • I am still not quite sure how we were to use the purple soup peas, but am sure that if we grow them again it will only be for their amazing  purple flowers and pods! Perhaps a pea teepee out front?

  • You can't count that they will be ready when you want them to be, so watch what you plant underneath or near by to them. I had tomato starts between the rows of peas in both of the troughs with the plan that as the peas phased out in June the tomato starts would have room and the light they need to come in. With the peas lasting through mid-July they definitely stunted the tomato starts initially.

  • The chicken wire trellises worked well for the peas. The thing I like best about these is that I can roll the whole thing up at the end of the season and it won't take up much room in my garage. I should note though that the purple peas were supposed to be about 6 feet but ended up far taller than that. As a result, they tumbled over the top of the trellis and cascaded nearly to the ground.

Next up ...Favas!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Waterwise Gardening Interview

This morning I was interviewed on KATU's AM Northwest Show about tips on designing and maintaining a water wise garden. Though the camera doesn't do the colors and textures justice, here is a peek at what is going on our garden right now.

Interested in learning more about incorporating water wise practices into your garden?

Check out the Regional Water Provider's Consortium's website www.conserveh2o.org where you can find all sorts of water conserving resources.