07-31-08 Picklishious

The snap beans are in full production. These are the Xupar No String Snap Beans from New Dimension Seed. I picked 12 pounds today! Prepared some for fresh eating, I pickled the rest. They are absolutely delicious. The Xupar Snap Beans do not have strings, so it is perfect for pickling. Here's the dilly bean resipe:

Easy Dilly Beans:
8 lb. snap beans
4 C. cider vinegar
4 C. water
1/2 C. salt
Spices of your choice, I used fresh dill, dried mustard seeds, whole peppercorns, garlic, dried red pepper. Bring the water vinegar and salt to a boil. Pack trimmed beans in sterilized hot jars, pour hot liquid in jars. Cap jars. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars, let cool. I am certain these won't last long, so I just bought another gallon of vinegar and I will make more...

07-28-08 Tomato Care

It is the end of July, tomatoes are still all green. Several factors to consider when growing tomatoes (1) selecting early varieties to grow. And plant several different varieties. Most tomatoes don't mature until August. One exception is the Dwarf Red Bell Cherry Tomato (From NewDimensionSeed)
which can be harvested in later June. It grows 12" tall and loaded with tomatoes. (2) Start them the right time (3)If there are too many side branches, bury the extras in the ground so that they can generate additional root structures to support the plant. (4) remove the bottom leaves to promote good air circulations, preventing disease from forming. Then wait patiently for the tomatoes to turn red...

07-25-08 Sushi Night

Last night I made sushi for dinner. The fresh cucumbers are just ready to eat. The soybeans are nice and plump. I used one package of frozen yellow fin tuna.One thing I love is the sushi mold. It is a two piece fixture and makes perfect rice cubes. Make the presentation real nice. I will explain how to assemble the sushi in another time, for now I will just talk about how I made the side dishes:
1. Seaweed Salad: I made the seaweed salad with dried shredded seaweed (available in Asian stores, very cheap). Soak the dried seaweed in hot water for 15 minutes, add minced garlic, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds, all to taste. You don't need to add any salt because the seaweed's salty already.
2. Cucumber Marinade: Slice the fresh picked cucumbers into thin slices, add flavored sushi rice vinegar, let set for 15 minutes.
3. Boiled Soybeans: Boil fresh or frozen soybeans for about 12 minutes in salted water. Serve cooled.

07-23-08 A sample from the garden

Here's a sample from the garden. The garden is certainly putting out a lot of salads. Lettuce is at it's prime. I've been getting tomatoes since the end of June. The variety is Dwarf Redbell Cherry Tomato From New Dimension Seed (www.newdimensinoseed.com). It only grow 12" tall, produce a lot of tomatoes early in the season. Although the flavors can't compete with its larger cousins, but the earliness is what makes it shine. I am getting a load of fava beans. Don't know what to do with it until I saw it in a blog. I boiled it and put some herb butter in it. It was delicious.

7-23-08 More Zucchinis!

The tidal wave of zucchini is upon us. I am picking 20ish very day now. I got up early this morning, picked my zucchinis and made a carrot cake-substituting one egg for one finely grated zucchini. It turned out surprisingly good! It's very moist. I am going to make a cream cheese icing to go on top of it...That might just erase all the health benefit by substituting the egg, oh well, it tastes good.

7-22-08 Zucchinis' Here!

The Speedy Silver zucchini (from New Dimension Seed, www.newdimensionseed.com) started to produce nice crunchy fruit a couple of weeks ago. Today I picked some fresh ones from the garden and made Zucchini New Potato Pancakes, they are delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Two 5" long zucchini, grated,
One medium new potato, grated
(in this case, I used the Yukon Gold I grew)
1/2 C. tempura batter
One large egg
Dash of garlic powder, dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste, and oil for cooking.
Mix all ingredients together and let set for 15 minutes. Cook on stove top same way you cook pancakes. Serve with Tabasco sauce.

07-18-08 Blueberry-A Must Have for Any Garden!

Blueberry is the best plant to have in a garden. They do take a few years to get up to producing, but they are so rewarding. Blueberry is easy to grow. The best time to transplant them is in the spring. Blueberry likes a slightly acidic soil, so pile some saw dust around the bast is good for it. My blueberries are ready to pick, I added some 0-0-50 to boost the fruit bearing power. We are enjoying the fresh berries and I am freezing any extras. I am planning to make some Blue and Black jam (Blueberry+Blackberry)later in the season.
I bought some apricots from a local fruit stand and made the Apricot Blueberry Tart, it was delicious...made even better served with vanilla ice cream....yummmmm!

07-16-08 Cucumbers

Due to the cold spring this year, many gardeners experienced problems with their vegetable gardening. Seeds are programed to germinate and grow under a set of pre-programed conditions. For cucumbers, that means a temperature range of between 65-90 F. At this range the photosynthesis is most effective. Cucumbers roots are especially sensitive to ground temperature, they stop develop completely at below 54 F. The cold and wet spring this year certainly didn't help cucumbers. Raising the soil temperature is an effective way of overcoming the the cold condition and get your vegetables an early start. I grew my cucumbers under my Minihooper (http://newdimensionseed.com/tools.html), which is a minihoop house from New Dimension Seed. My cucumbers are just now starting to bear fruit. (http://newdimensionseed.com/toolsminihooper.html) A few days ago, I planted another two rows of cucumbers (without any cover), kept the planting site moist and they shot up instantly because of the hot weather we are having.
To all gardeners: A key to good gardening is to meet the needs of your seeds, they will return the favor ten folds. Good luck and happy gardening!

07-16-08 Fresh Green Beans At Last!

This spring is exceptional wet and cold. Thank goodness I had my minihooper to hurry things along. I planted my beans under the cover of the minihooper, that really made a difference. Now I am harvesting fresh green beans! It is the Xupar No String Beans from New Dimension Seed. This is easily the most productive variety I have ever grown. I picked 14 lb. of fresh beans on July 22...Going to make some picked green beans.

07-14-08 More on Gai Lan

Gai Lan is also called Chinese Broccoli, is easy to grow and can be harvested continuously for a long period of time. I made my version of spinakotpita. It is good.
4 large eggs
2 lb. Gai lan, par boiled and chopped
1 package of Cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 package of feta cheese (10 oz)
1 C. chopped sweet onions
½ C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. freshly chopped dill weeds
1 T. freshly chopped parsley
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 package of fillo dough
Mix all ingredients together except the butter and fillo dough. Thaw the fillo dough and bring to room temperature. Spread the fillo dough, brush the fillo dough with softened butter. Use 3 sheets on each spannakopita roll. Place the filling on the fillo sheets, roll up, place the seam side down. Bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool, slice and serve.

I par boiled the extras and froze them for later use...

07-14-08 Nice Day on the Water and Sauerkraut

Yesterday was a hot day, so we decided to go for a boat ride on the water. It was fun. We saw different birds, a bald eagle, a group of people catching a sturgeon from the bank. It was a welcome relaxing afternoon.
I've got about 8 heads of cabbage, time for sauerkraut again. The recipe can't be easier. Shred the cabbage, use 3 Table spoons of pickling salt for every 5 lb. of cabbage. Because the cabbages are fresh, they will produce their own brine. Keep in a cool place, the sauerkraut should be ready to eat in 7-10 days. I will can the extras and save them for the winter...

07-11-08 Blackberry Soomthie!

I found some nice blackberries in the garden and made this smoothies with my new kitchen gadget, the Oster Milkshake Blade. It works super nice!

You might say "Oh why do you grow blackberries in your yard?" That's how I felt when we first planted it, but I grew to love it. The thing about growing blackberries is you need to aggressively manager it. I must admit, I am still working on it.
These are not ordinary blackberries, they are the Oregon Marion Berries. They are big and juicy, very flavorful. I'll be making blackberries jams when I get more of them...Meanwhile, I will enjoy the fresh ones in smoothies, pies or on ice creams.

07-10-08 New Potatoes_Yokon Gold!

Nothing will give boost to a new gardener's confidence than growing potatoes. It is easy to grow, all you have to do is to bury the tubers in the spring and watch them grow. It is worth it to invest some seed potatoes. You can find all kinds of varieties in your local garden centers or feed stores. I have Yukon Gold and the red potatoes in my garden. Piling dirt around the base of the potato plants will yield more potatoes. The nice thing about growing potatoes is, once you get them started, you will have them for ever (well, unless you really try to get rid of them). The potatoes are ready to be harvested once the green top start to turn brown. But you can "steal" little potatoes before that happens. New potatoes are delicious. I boiled mine in crab boil, a trick I picked up visiting New Orleans. The potatoes pick up the spicy flavor from the water and so tasty! If you unsuccessful at grow potatoes, there's still hope, try horseradish.

07-08-08 Chicken Salad with Garden Vegetables

It's lunch time, I went out to the garden and look for some fresh ideas. hmmm...the lettuce looks good, and I still have radishes, and the kohlrabi's ready. Gathered the veggies, I returned to my kitchen, and made the delicious chicken salad. Here's how I did it: wash the vegetables, make a salad and place in a large plate. Slice the chicken breast on a slant. Sprinkle salt,large dash of pepper and Mrs. Dash on the chicken. Coat the chicken pieces with tempera powder, then dip them in milk, and then cover them with panko bread crumbs. Deep fry until golden brown. Cut the chicken breast and place the cut pieces on top of the fresh garden salad. YUM!

07-07-08 Giant Kohlrabi

I've got a giant kohlrabi out of the garden today! This one weighs 3.15 lb. It's the White Globe Kohlrabi from New Dimension Seed (http://newdimensionseed.com). It grows big without getting pithy. As an experiment, I sowed them in early march, and then transplanted them under the cover of the Minihooper while it was still cold outside in later April. They did so well. In the same patch, I also sowed cabbages, fava beans and beets. All are doing well. I have been eating the cabbages for quite a while. I think my first head was harvested in June 15. This proofs that provide covering for vegetables can really accelerate the garden. I will have to do this every year from now on...

Razor Clams!

We went to the beach for the 4th of July weekend and went clam digging. It was fun, the clams made the trip especially good for the cook... To find clams you need to go on low tide, looking for breathing holes the clams left on the sand. As soon as you find one, dig as fast as you can, the key is to catch the clam before it scurries away. You can also use the "clam gun", a metal tube with a hole on the top. We are going to enjoy our hard work and have clam chowder today...

07-07-08 More Shelling Peas

The Shelling Peas I grew in the garden are ready to eat. I picked some fresh peas and made a simple egg and pea salad. It can be served as a side dish, or making tea sandwiches...

Simple Pea and Egg Salad:

4 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
1 cooked fresh peas, boiled for 5 minutes, drained
¼ C. each finely chopped onion and chopped celery
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. light mayo
Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all ingredients together, serve.

07-05-08 Grandma's One Egg Cake

Here's grandma's One Egg Cake, it goes great with fresh berries from the garden and ice cream....
2/3 C. Sugar
1 egg
1/4 C. Shortening
1-1/2 C. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 C. milk
1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking powder
Cream shortening and sugar. In a bow beat together egg, milk, flavoring and baking powder. Add to creamed shortening and sugar. Mix flour and baking powder. Add to liquid, mix well. Pour into well oiled loaf pan. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes.

07-05-08 Lemon Balm Tea, delicious!

I discovered lemon balm tea this year. I got a start by accident from my friend as he was giving me some flowers last year, one little lemon balm was amongst them. I planted it in my back yard and didn't think much about it. It grew and grew, becoming a big bush. A friend of mine told me lemon balm make really good tea. So I plucked some fresh leaves, and steep them in pitcher. Wow, the flavor was incredible. I made a pitcher for the kids by adding a packet of lemondade flavored Coolaid and some sugar, it was an instant hit. Now I brew a pitcher for myself everyday...

07-04-08 Fresh Shelling Peas!

P Square Shelling Peas (www.newdimensionseed.com) is a short bushy variety of shelling peas. I sowed them on May 15 and they are just ready to eat. Sometimes people say you need to sow peas in Feb., the truth is sowing them up until May is fine. If you sow them early, you can harvest them at the end of May, but most people aren't really ready to get in the garden in Feb. So, sowing them in May is fine. I have sown them in December before. Actually what I did was to scatter some peas in my nice leave compost pile, they germinated in Feb. when the daffodils start to bloom, and I had fresh peas in May.

I shelled the peas and just boiled them quickly and added a little salt and pepper and butter, yum! It is soooooo creamy!

07-05-08 4th of July

The garden looks really good for the 4th of July. My beans are looking great (Xupar No-String from New Dimension Seed), they have a lot of blossoms, I am looking forward to fresh beans in a few days. I sow the seeds one May 1 under the cover of Minihooper, that got them going early. Especially with our cool spring this year, I know I am the first one on this side of town with fresh beans (see photo). I think I will plant another batch tomorrow, so I'll have more beans later. Got to think ahead.
(Tips: the best way to grow the beans is to drop 2-3 beans every 6-8", and plant a double row. See pics, they form a nice canopy. It is the most efficient way to grow them).

Right now I still have radishes, cabbages, Speedy Silver Zucchini (New Dimension Seed) are just coming on. I had a couple tiny ones in my salad yesterday. What else? Oh watermelons are finally grown to 3" tall and looks like they are on their way. Corns are pretty tall. Soybeans are doing well. They were sowed on May 12, because of the cold weather, they got a late start. I didn't cover them with the Minihooper.

6-28-08 Radishes are here!

I went outside first thing this morning to harvest my Crimson Lady Finger Radish (New Dimension Seed). I got about 10 lbs! They are 6" long and about 1" across. I sowed these radishes on May 12, have been harvest them since 6-15. They are still pretty good. The key to grow good radishes are watering. If you keep the plant watered, they will be mild and crunchy, but if you don't water them frequent enough, they may turn hot. Also, I applied very little base fertilizer when I sowed the radishes, because too much nitrogen can produce bad radishes. It makes scene, since we grow radish for its root, we do not want too much leafy greens. Too much nitrogen will also make the radishes hairy and produce inferior quality radishes...They way it's going I should have radishes in the next 2-3weeks...

P.S. Sow radishes close together and thin them out as they become mature. Ella just sent Nathan a post card, it must be a Finish boy band. They are four sexy topless boys with flames all around them, they look awfully like my radishes....and that's how close you can plant them.

06-30-08 Flamboyant Radishes

The wave of radishes just keeps coming. We have experienced 94 F weather this weekend, since we kept the radishes well watered, they are bigger and tastier than ever. I bagged another 15 lb. this morning-had to do something about it... I made some Chinese pickles over the weekend (fermentation type, no vinegar). It should be ready in about 5 days. I added some radishes spears to the Real Dill pickle juice, they are delicious. I am on the third day of my Seaweed Radish diet. I still love the taste, and I lost 3 lb.! Only if anyone knows how hard it is for me to do that! I think I am going to add some chopped cilantro today for variation.

Ella's postcard to Nathan (Finish Boyband) and my radish studs:

07-03-08 Life after Radishes

I ate, preserved, gave away radishes for weeks, not I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! I cleared one patch of radishes completely (almost) and replaced them with my lettuce starts. The green onions I stuck in between the radishes rows I just established. everything looks good. I can relax and take a break and get ready to what's coming next... I think the shelling peas are just about ready to eat, and I am still harvesting cabbages. I also have the thinning of my Gai Lan, they are delicious (see previous post for quiche). I simply sauteed it and put some crushed garlic and salt, ate it with a bowl of rice. It was good.

07-01-08 Emeral Gai Lan Thinning

Gai Lan (AKA Chinese broccoli) is a lot like spinach, but with more body. It is easier to grow, can be grown in all seasons (unlike spinach, only does well in cold weather), and has a much longer harvesting period than spinach. I sowed mine on May 24. You can start to enjoy them in just about 40 days. They will be producing for a long time. It is time to thin the field. I gathered all the thinning and made a Quiche pie, it was delicious! Here is the rough recipe:

Ingredients: 1 lb. Gai Lan thinning, 1/3 C chopped sweet onion. 3 eggs, 1 8oz. package of cream cheese, 1/2 C. heavy cream, 1/4 C. sour cream, and 1/2 C. cheddar cheese, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 1 t. caper and one fresh green garlic(optional), head and part of the green stem. One ready-made pie crust.

Method: Blanch Gai Lan in boiling water, rinse with cold water, drain well and cut into 1" long pieces; Add chopped onion, cream cheese (break cream cheese into bite size pieces). Mix heavy cream, sour cream together, beat in eggs add all other ingredients. Fill the pie crust with the vegetable and cream cheese, pour liquid over the crust. Bake at Three hundred fifty degrees for 55 minutes.


07-01-08 More Radishes

07-01-08 More Radishes

With mounting radishes, I am scrambling to find more ways of using them. I always loved the Vietnamese Sandwich called "banh mi", so I decided to make the radish slaw that goes in it...

banh mi is an Asian food with French influence. Now that's something you don't find very often. You can read all about it in wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A1nh_m%C3%AC).

For my radish slaw, I used the Crimson Lady Finger Radish and carrots. Slice the vegetables with a Mendelian to match sticks, place them in a large bowl. To make the syrup: Add distilled vinegar and water (3:2) in a sauce pan, add sugar and salt (3:1). Add enough sugar and salt until it taste good. Heat liquid and dissolve the sugar and salt. Cool the liquid, then pour into the large bowl. Let stand for a while, radish will get limp and settled. Place the slaw in glass jars and keep in the refrigerator. Let it ferment sometime (5-7 days) and gives out nice pickling flavors. It will be ready to use. This can last quite a while in the frig. It should go so well with the head cheese from Gartners Meat Maket (http://www.gartnersmeats.com/products.htm)

Bahn Mi Sandwich at last (my version)!
Got some head cheese from Garteners Meat supply (you can certainly use any meats you want, but Garteners' head cheese is my favorite), French baguette from Fred Meyer and I am in serious business. As soon as I got home, I made my Bahn Mi. I slathered mayo and mustard on the cut baguette, piled the head cheese, radish slaw, cilantro and thinly sliced jalapeno pepper. YUM!