July 29, 2011

Jumbo Jet Eggs

 So remember that jumbo egg one of my hens laid a while back? I suspected it was a double-yolker and...

...it sure was! I used this egg and a few others in some stuffed zucchini boats.

My mom buys homegrown eggs from a friend of her's and I got the chance to compare hers with mine:
Can you believe the size of the egg on the left (my aracauna egg is on the right). These things are HUGE! I have never seen eggs that big. Extra-large grocery store eggs don't even come close. These things were comically large...they barely even fit into a standard sized egg carton. Must be painful to lay one of those...

July 28, 2011

A Little Pot-Bound?

Here's a comical photo of some of my research plants (rudbeckia) with horrendous pot bound roots. If only potting-up was called for in the research protocol...

July 27, 2011

Accidental Root Vegetables

While furiously weeding the garden (trying to make room for some fall crops), I accidentally pulled a few root vegetables. These golden beets look very pretty, but I have no clue if they are ready (or if they are too mature). I've never eaten beets, so I'm not really sure how to tell if they are ready. Any suggestions?

I also pulled this slender little carrot accidentally. I'm not actually sure where it came from because I don't remember planting carrots in that bed. I've had terrible luck growing carrots, so this is the best one I've grown this year! It was very tasty snack with a very carroty flavor.

July 26, 2011


I've been doing a little harvesting every day lately. I'm getting tons of cucumbers, a few zucchinis (those that haven't succumbed to drought-induced yellowy wrinkle disease), basil, and potatoes. I can almost taste the tomatoes, but I've still only gotten one ripe one.
This is the first broccoli crown I've ever grown (not due to a lack of trying). Unfortunately, it's only about 3 inches across.

Fava beans, West Indian Gherkin, Suyo Long cucumber, White Wonder cucumber, and Lemon cucumber. Most of these went into the slowly evolving pickle bowl in the fridge.

Any suggestions on what to do with these West Indian Gherkins? They are painful to the touch and I can't quite figure out how you are supposed to eat the without peeling them. They're so small that there wouldn't be much left after peeling. I guess I could lob them my enemies! 

I finally got around to digging all of my Red Norland potatoes. The plants have long since died, but the potatoes happily waited for me all cozy in the ground.

July 25, 2011

First Tomato!

I got my first ripe tomato about a week ago (a Purple Russian). I shared it with my parents during an emergency air-conditioner run to their home. It was so hot last week that we borrowed two room air conditioners from them....and it has been so nice having moderate temperature control in the house. It was getting up to 85 degrees at night inside!

This tomato kind of caught me off guard. I knew it was getting close to ripe, but the color change was very slight and then it was ripe all of a sudden. For a black tomato, it is very green.

I was also surprised by the shape of this tomato. I thought it was a paste-type tomato, but this particular fruit is almost ox heart shaped. The other fruit on the plant have more of a elongated paste shape.

And the flavor? It was pretty darn good considering it was my first taste of tomato in a long long time. It definitely needed salt and pepper though.

July 22, 2011

Braided Garlic

I pulled all my garlic recently. The extremely hot and dry weather did a number on them, so they keeled over kind of early this year. I hosed them down with a strong jet of water to get most of the soil off, then let them sit and dry on the deck for a couple days.

This year's garlic harvest was pretty good considering I started with 3 heads of grocery store garlic.

The heads aren't huge, but they'll work just fine.

I watched a couple You-Tube videos to learn how to braid garlic. They turned out okay, but they don't look as perfect as the ones in the video. I hung these in the kitchen (the overpowering aroma went away after about 24 hours). Hopefully I'll be harvesting from these braids until next year's garlic harvest comes in.

Here's the back of the braid with all the stems showing. 

July 20, 2011

Jam Session

I don't really have time to go into my recent jam making sessions in depth, but I thought I'd at least post some pictures of the process.

I picked between 9 and 10 pounds of black raspberries over the course of two trips to the woods and a few trips to my small backyard berry patch.

My lovely Roma food strainer. I don't own the screen that is meant for processing berries, but I used the apple/tomato screen with success (I just had to dismantle the whole thing halfway through and unclog the seeds from the screen). 

The first run through the strainer I didn't get much pulp and I was a little worried!

I ran the waste material back through the strainer three or four times and got a lot more of the pulp out.

By the end, the waste product was almost entirely seeds.

I put the pulp in the fridge until canning time and I was surprised to see that it had completely jelled on its own. I still followed the jam recipe and added pectin though.

I can't actually remember if this photo shows raspberry jam or black cherry jam. I also ran my pitted black cherries through the food strainer. Cherries have such a high water content that the strained product was very thin, so I ended up making cherry jelly instead of jam.

Counter chaos full of canning supplies.

July 19, 2011

Cucumbers Coming In

It has been fun watching the Suyo Long cucumbers develop into all sorts of silly shapes.

Lemon cucumber. I didn't have much luck with these last year, so the fact that I've even harvested two this year is a good sign.

Suyo Long cucumber. These supposedly taste good (and aren't too seedy) even when they get much large than this. I saw some vendors at the farmer's market selling some enormous specimens.

West Indian Gherkin. These are not turning out to be what I was expecting! I guess there's a big difference between West Indian Gherkin and Mexican Sour Gherkin. Oh well, I bet they'll still be good!

July 18, 2011

Green Tomatoes

I have some nicely sized (and interestingly shaped) tomatoes forming in the garden. Hopefully a few will start ripening soon!

Polish Linguisa, a paste tomato

Martino's Roma, my favorite paste tomato

Taxi, a small slicer. This is my brother's favorite, but I'm not it's biggest fan. I put one plant in my garden just so I can save the seeds and grow him some plants next year.

Pricipe Borghese, a tomato for sun-drying. I'm really exited about these. The yield is going to be huge!

Japanese Black Trifele, a unique tear drop shaped purple tomato. This is my first year growing this variety, so hopefully it will add another favorite to my list of black tomatoes.

Orange Sungold, the only hybrid plant among my tomatoes, and possibly in my entire garden. I've heard rave reviews, so hopefully it's worth breaking my (unwritten) no-hybrids rule.

Verde tomatillo.

Black Krim

Very fasciated tomato! This is why I love heirlooms.

Look! What's that? Could it be? My first Purple Russian tomato is finally turning purple. Hopefully I'll be eating it in a few days!

July 16, 2011

Three's Company

At least three of my hens have started laying! Here's yesterday's haul.

White Wonder Cucumber

The cucumbers are starting to size up. Hopefully I'll get a few this year before the plants get diseased and peter out on me.

I picked my first cucumber of the season recently (it was a 'White Wonder') and made a delicious simple salad with dill, rice vinegar, and olive oil dressing.

July 15, 2011

What Is This Thing?

My brother sent me this photo with the caption "I grew this thing. Now what should I do with it?"

I'm assuming he knows it's a zucchini, but it does look a bit different from a typical zucchini...and it's so big! Luckily, Costata Romanesco are supposed to stay tasty even when they get fairly large. 

I gave my brother and his girlfriend and my parents a variety of vegetable seedlings back at the beginning of June (including the seedlings responsible for this huge zucchini). I'm actually pretty jealous because even though I got my garden planted earlier and I live farther south, for some strange reason it sounds like their gardens are further along than mine. Maybe it's because I live in an area with a strange microclimate. I swear that half of the weather fronts that come our way head north and south of us and somehow completely loop around where I live. My parent's only live an hour north, but they often get snow storms and thunderstorms that never materialize here.
Here are my little Costata Romanesco zukes. I've actually had a few of them abort early because it has been so dry.

P.S. In regards to my brother's silly t-shirt...my family is Scottish and we love us some bagpipe!

My First Fava Bean

I harvested a few pods of fava beans the other day. I really disappointed y how few pods have formed on my plants. They flowered like crazy! However, either the flowers didn't get pollinated or the pods aborted early on. That said, I've been savoring the few beans that I have been able to collect. I would love to be able to make something like this recipe from Jamie Oliver, but I don't think I'll ever get enough.

Once the beans reach a certain size, you have to peel the outer coat off of them before eating. I haven't figured out the best technique for doing this yet, but making a little slit on one end and squeezing seems to work okay (assuming the bean doesn't shoot off through the air several feet).

I really like the flavor! It's difficult to describe, but they taste "beany" and sweet, but as if they have some kind of seasoning on them already. 

July 14, 2011

First Potatoes of the Year

I harvested the first 'Red Norland' potatoes from my garden recently. I think my days of planting grocery store potatoes is over, because these guys were absolutely perfect. I guess there is an advantage of starting with certified seed potatoes. The grocery store ones weren't that bad, but these are great!

I have only harvested a few so far (I want to let the rest size up a bit), but they were very tasty and creamy.
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