Friday, July 29, 2011

Ratatouille--The Perfect Harvest Recipe

As the garden produces, we are often overwhelmed by the variety and struggle with how to use everything on a timely basis. Ratatouille is a wonderful dish which incorporates many warm season vegetables--tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant.

This morning with about a pound of each of these veggies on hand, I went to the kitchen to create this wonderful, comforting dish.

I followed the recipe for Classic Ratatouille Recipe from the web site Easy French Food.  My adjustment would be to cube the eggplant.  Also, I would cook for less time, perhaps twenty minutes to keep the integrity of the vegetables in this dish intact.

Saute each item for five minutes 




 Add tomatoes to the sauteed onions.  Then the rest of the cooked vegetables.
Add tomatoes to the sauteed onion.

Cook for twenty to thirty minutes.
 Ready to eat.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Need to Stick This Basil in Some Dirt...Fast

Basil Rooting in a Vase on My Kitchen Counter
I Am Mesmerized by the Roots
Gravitropism displayed elegantly by the dense roots growing in a downward direction.
I pinched off the top leaves of my basil plant a few weeks ago to keep it from getting too leggy.  Into a vase with water to root.  Amazing what has happened in just a few weeks.  These are ready to plant.

Three Kinds of Beans

Green, purple and rattlesnake beans

Heirloom rattlesnake beans have purple markings making them rather exotic looking.
My rattlesnake beans have started producing.  I was so excited this morning to see them in ready-to-pick size.  I love growing pole beans and I especially like when the flowers add interest as well as the beans they produce.  It's just a little added fun to getting edibles from the garden.

And now I am drowning in green beans.  I have three quarts of them.  I've decided to freeze some but prefer to share the excess with friends.  I'm dropping off a goody bag of beans, cukes and tomatoes to a friend today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eggplant and Heirloom Italian Tomatoes---What can I make for dinner?

Ratatouille anyone?

Seriously, this eggplant can damage the fingers!
Ratatouille!  These two are the first of some very basic ingredients in this delicious French inspired dish.  I have two zucchini in the frig!  It's a plan. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whale Watching at Dana Point

Our boat

Sailboat watching for whales, too.

We went whale watching today.  We saw a blue whale cow and calf.  They are the largest animal ever to have lived on earth.  They put on quite a show surfacing and then diving for food.  They stayed under water up to eight minutes.

We also saw dolphins, sea lions, seals, pelicans, stingray.  It was a great afternoon for nature.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Proof that Mother Nature provided plants with great tenacity, my potatoes are sprouting leaves and growing with vigor.

I waited way too long to plant my seed potatoes.  They sat in the garage for months and had shriveled and grown soft.  A few eyes were valiantly trying to sprout so as a last ditch effort, I planted them in the same location as the celery plant which was removed for producing pithy stalks.

And  a few weeks later, a burst of green leaves.  Now, I will have to read up on potatoes because I think I am supposed to keep covering up the leaves to get a very robust crop of potatoes.  Off to Google potatoes!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes

Italian Heirloom Tomatoes

Interesting Shape
The Italian Heirloom tomatoes are starting to turn red.  I'm hoping these are a good sauce tomato.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday's Harvest

Purple Beans Turn Green During Cooking Process
Today's harvest was quite successful.  I love to see the green and purple beans on the vines.  So pretty. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mr. Stripey

Heirloom Tomato:  Mr. Stripey--still all green
Who can resist Mr. Stripey?  Finally, I see a tomato on the way!

Mist on a Spider's Web

Mist a a spider's web is always so beautiful and mystical.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tomatoes Become Tomato Sauce

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Steamy and Delicious
I had a countertop filled with tomatoes this morning.  I pulled out my favorite recipe for tomato sauce and made my first pot of sauce this afternoon.

Crazy Long Cucumber

This is one long cucumber.  I have had great success so far with my cucumber plants.  This is the third I've harvested in the past week. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roger's Gardens Cooks with Chef Zov

Roger's Gardens
Chef Zov

Tuscan Bread Salad I made after attending the event.  Salad includes cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, mozzarella, parsley, basil, and croutons in a red wine vinaigrette.
Over the weekend, Roger's Gardens hosted a local Chef to cook with herbs from the garden.  The event was well attended and the chef shared some wonderful recipes with us.  At the end, guests were invited to sample the food prepared.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Harvest Prayer

A Harvest Prayer

Champion Tomato

Thank you God for sun and soil and water and seeds

Which grow into tomato plants
An produce these delicious fruit.


Dietes--African Iris

The foliage of the dietes plant is tall, slender and sword-like.

Flower of the dietes plant:  The flowers range from white with purple and yellow to a creamy yellow with magenta accents.

Dietes Seed Pod==Eventually the pod will brown and pop open on the sides revealing brownish black seeds inside.
I have been trying to determine the name of this plant for some time.  A gardener in my neighborhood had given me the name diety and no one knew what plant I was talking about at the local nurseries.

Finally, a click on a facebook link on Monrovia  (a plant nursery) lead me down the path to finding its name.  Included is the plant with its common name, Katrina African Iris.  A quick search and I was able to determine the plant I was looking for was Dietes!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hot from the Oven: Maple Zucchini Apple Blueberry Walnut Muffins

Maple-y, moist and packed with zucchini, apple, walnuts and blueberries.  A little bit of the everything but the kitchen sink approach.  Each component has its own little bit of unique nutrition which makes these muffins a little bit healthy and a delicious indulgence.

Fibonacci series: Do Plants Know Math?

What does math have to do with a walk in the neighborhood and a found object of a pinecone? Have you ever pondered the pinecone with its spiraling pattern of its scales?
Pinecones Display the Fibonacci Series: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21

"Pick up a pinecone and count the spiral rows of scales. You may find eight spirals winding up to the left and 13 spirals winding up to the right, or 13 left and 21 right spirals, or other pairs of numbers. The striking fact is that these pairs of numbers are adjacent numbers in the famous Fibonacci series: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21... Here, each term is the sum of the previous two terms. The phenomenon is well known and called phyllotaxis. Many are the efforts of biologists to understand why pinecones, sunflowers, and many other plants exhibit this remarkable pattern. Organisms do the strangest things, but all these odd things need not reflect selection or historical accident. Some of the best efforts to understand phyllotaxis appeal to a form of self-organization. Paul Green, at Stanford, has argued persuasively that the Fibonacci series is just what one would expects as the simplest self-repeating pattern that can be generated by the particular growth processes in the growing tips of the tissues that form sunflowers, pinecones, and so forth. Like a snowflake and its sixfold symmetry, the pinecone and its phyllotaxis may be part of order for free"
Stuart Kauffman (At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity)

A gallery of photos exhibiting phyllotaxis.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Favorite Small Tomato: Grape Tomato

Grape Tomato--Lycopersicon
If given the choice between a cherry tomato and a grape tomato, my choice would be the grape.  The favor is more intense and quite frankly a little easier to insert a fork into when served in a green salad.

The grapes grow in a cluster.  We are ready for the day when these turn from green to red.


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