Thursday, December 18, 2008

Beet Ravioli Step TWO

Beet Ravioli Step Two

Once beets have cooled, chop them into tiny pieces, and set aside.

Next: wash and finely chop the beet greens.
Chop the onion.
Smoosh the garlic.

Add onion to 2tbs. of good olive oil, and saute until just transparent.
Add chopped beet greens and saute until they wilt. The whole affair will shrink down to about
a cup of this mix.
Lastly, add the garlic. You could add it sooner, but me, I like more of a happy garlic moment in my cooking, and if you add it too soon, it takes the edge off too much for this cook.
Let this mix COOL down.

Get a clean small pan, and toss your almonds in. Toast them until they are brown. When they cool, whirl them in a blender---I'm fortunate to have a shmancy-Blendtec blender which makes the process a snap.
Set these aside.

Combine the goat cheese, ricotta, and gorgonzola in a separate bowl.
Stir to mix completely.
When this is done, incorporate the beets, and the beet green saute.
Stir again.
You can add more cheese at this juncture, or not. I did.
It's a pretty, pink bunch of goop at this point!

Beet Ravioli

Beet Ravioli

So I started trying to make odd recipes with the insane numbers of beets coming from the garden right now, and came up with this variation on ravioli. It's a tad labor intensive, but the yield is enormous and it was massively tasty.

5 large beets
Beet greens from the beets.
Six *yes, six* cloves of garlic, crushed/diced/smooshed.
One onion, diced.
1/2 cup olive oil.
One package round won-ton wrappers...I'm lazy..what are you gonna do?
One egg.
2 cups of non fat ricotta, whose non-fatness will get balanced by
1/2 cup of crumbled gorgonzola and
1/3 cup of chevre.
Sea salt
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup almonds
2 tbsp. pine nuts, or other nut like walnut. I just had these on hand.
diced fresh basil or other herb...rosemary is also pretty lush.

How you will be doing this:
Place beets into a roasting pan.
Drizzle with four tablespoons of olive oil.
Sprinke with sea salt and black pepper.
Roast for an hour, or until a knife goes in easily.
Peel them under running water---skin will come right off.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stuffed Squash Blossoms.

I had been wanting to make some of these tasty treats for the longest of times. So, when the squash blossoms began to outnumber the actual squash, I picked off the male blossoms and followed my instincts about a recipe. I'm not much one to follow recipes, and had a vague memory of the how to on this here's what I came up with.

Fried Squash Blossoms With Chevre, Chives, and basil.

Six to ten freshly picked and massively washed squash blossoms. (ants. Ick.)
Let the blossoms drain for a long while before stuffing.
Prepare a mixture of about a cup of soft chevre cheese, 2-3 tbs. of chopped basil. A half cut of chopped chives, and salt/pepper to taste. Mush it about in a bowl. Then transfer to a small zip-loc baggie.
Cut the tip off the baggie and carefully use it to pipe the chevre into the blossoms. 'Bout a tablespoon each, depending on the size of your blossoms.
Next, beat one egg and dredge the stuffed blossoms through the egg, then through a cup of mixed Italian bread crumbs, and flour.
Heat about 6 tbs. of olive oil in a non stick skillet and carefully lay the blossoms into the oil when it's hot. Let them cook till brown, then flip them...cook again 'till brown.

I can almost guarantee that you will not be able to stop eating these.

Grow bag tomato experiment

Last year I took on the upside down tomato challenge.  And those tomatoes grew most wonderfully.  Indeed, two of them survived winter, and are again producing tomatoes.
This year, I decided to try grow bags in order to cram more produce into a small spot.  The results?  Wonderful.....  Next year, I intend to let the soil in my yard rest for the year...and grow bags will replace the ground planted tommies.  Each tomato grow bag can be totally monitored in terms of soil ph or levels of magnesium.  So simple.  The hardest work I've done on these was the painful filling of the bags.  I'm just really not that coordinated.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coming Soon! Garden Experiment Growing Season 2008:

This season a journey into semi-hyrdoponics with GROW BAGS and self-crafted drip system.  

The Amazing Upside Down Tomato Experiment

Last season, I had wanted to try to get as many tomatoes into my garden as possible...I'd seen the upside down tomato planters and thought:  Hey I can do that.  Those puppies are expensive.  Mine came in just under ten bucks each for all materials, including soil.  The advantage to the ones I created is that they can be used for years.
3-5 gallon paint buckets with handles.
Doorknob drill attachment for your hand drill.
Coffee filter.
Good organic soil.
Tomato.   I found that the small cherry sizes did better than the larger varieties.

Just drill a hole in the bottom of the bucket, lay it on its side, and carefully place the tomato through the hole.  You cold use the coffee filter with a slit cut into it to cover the hole a bit prior to sticking the soil in.  I found that it helped keep the tomato in place through the first few waterings.  
Place the soil into the buckets and tamp carefully around the roots.  I had to keep spinning the thing on its side in order to keep the soil from squashing the root ball.  
Hang it up on a hook arm and keep it watered.  
I made about eight of these, and all produced  good, disease free tomatoes.  
Two of them have even survived through the winter and are now, in 2008 June, producing tomatoes again!  Amazingly simple project....

Old Bed Made Into Garden Bench.

For some years, I'd been moving around my old iron canopy bed.  I tried to sell it, tried to give it away, tried tried tried.  I was moving the darned thing in the studio for the final time when I decided to try to make some kind of garden art out of it.  Initially, I thought a nice trellis for climbing beans would be good, but the rails here aren't long enough... I was on line doing a search of potential garden art and came across the wonderful Robojunker site.  It was inspirational, to say the very least.
So, this girl got out her pipe cutters, drill, saw, and drawing pencils and got to work.  
I cut the footboard in half and flipped it over to make the two ends, attached some discarded lumber with the drill and wood screws.  The dark wood in the back is from an old piano that came with the house.  That piano got torn apart, as I could find no one to buy it, and couldn't move it.  I kept all of the wonderful old wood that came off of it, and used a piece of it here to attache the back (the old headboard) to the seat and side rails.  I had a piece of lumber cut to size and then used deck joist material to secure the pieces together from underneath.  Home Depot sells ready made turned legs, so I picked up a couple, and it was very simple to attach them to the base.  They just sort of screw in to some groovy little metal holders and voila!  Bench!  The last step was to sand and stain the bench, and the last LAST step will be to sew a nice cushion for it.  I found some good outdoor fabric, so I'm hoping it'll all hang together a few seasons in the rain.  This project took, in all, about four days of one person labor to complete.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Nashoba Fala Ishto Gardens

Nashoba means wolf in the Chickasaw language.
Fala ishto means raven.
These are the two spirit totems that watch over the gardens, and have been around in my life for a good long while.
My grandfather was Chickasaw, and although I never met him as he died long before I was born, (in fact, he died when my mom was only 3 months old,) he has had a great impact on my life.
I chose to name my site and my garden world using the Chickasaw language to the best of my limited ability in the hopes that the spirits of these two good animals will bless the seeds and the water and the wind and the sunlight so that all lovely things grow.
These two totems also appear numerous times in the artwork that I tend to collect, create and love.  Although wolves are something of a rare commodity here in the Bay Area, I can't miss a day without a group of ravens springing up in the trees.  It's pretty wonderful.

Vegetables and them some!

The beds went in during the month of May, and  by August this is what the yard looked like.    The yield of crops was so fantastic that it blew me away!  

First Planting

This photo shows both the first teeny tiny plants that went in and the pvc bean trellises I created for ends of the beds.  I strung netting with zip ties onto these trellises.  Utterly simple, and proved to be really strong for the beans.  I did square off the beds with sting, and low and behold, it is can indeed cram in quite a few veggies using the square foot method.  Each bed had upwards of 12 varieties of vegetables.  The yield was enormous!

Dirt, Dirt and More Dirt

After assembling the beds, I moved them out to the awful yard circle and put them in about a hundred different angles in order to take advantage of the sunlight.  As you can see from the photo, the circle of lawn was useless.  I mean, hey, if it doesn't smell nice, look pretty, or if it can't be eaten, preserved, canned, juiced, cooked, frozen, sliced or diced...I don't have any need for it in my garden!
As soon as I had the beds placed, I put several layers of newspaper over the grass at the bottom of the beds.  I'm amazed that, now a year later, I've had NO weeds in my beds...none.
If there is one thing to not skimp on, it's dirt.  I got the best organic soil I could afford and had it delivered.  I wanted to follow the recipe in the Square Foot Gardening forums, but couldn't locate vermiculite, so decided to just go in on really terrific soil.  I haven't had any problems with it at all. Although, sadly, I am NOT a math genius, and let us say, three yards of dirt was oh, a tad too much.  
I hauled it all to the back yard, and what was left over got tossed around in the front yard and even in my neighbors yard.  In retrospect, I must say, I never, ever want to move that much dirt again in my life.  I will hire large groups of men to roll to my house and haul it for me if it ever comes to that again.   I spent many an hour with ibuprofen, arnica and bath salts after the three days it took to get all that dirt moved.  ISH!

Ordering Beds as opposed to Building the puppies.

What can I say?  I am indeed a girl with tools, but oy, I am lacking a table saw.  I did massive research on raised beds over the course of a weeks and found that the ones I was most drawn to were from a place on the East coast called Farmstead Raised Garden Beds.  They were wonderful!  Mortis and Tenon joints meant that assembly would be very simple...and I liked that they would have the look of a Medieval garden as they weathered.  I ordered four from the wonderful husband and wife team who hand rip all of the wood.  
When they arrived, I intended to modify them so that they would accept some poles for beans, and so that I could attach some bent pvc pipe in winter for a cold frame type of thing.    This photo is of the long sides of the bed.  
PVC was easy to attach with decking materials, but I found when I put the beds together, the wood was too wobbly.  I tore it all apart and reinforced all the corners with square deck ties designed for corners.  Worked like a charm.

How to build a raised bed garden without losing your mind.

The following is a catalogue of what I went through in order to create four raised beds for my garden last summer.   When I bought this cool old 1930's house a couple year's back, I intended to have a terrific garden.  When I got was an overproducing loquat tree and a strange circular patch of lawn with odd sprinkler system and a lot of downhill run-off.  The nice thing about this town is that the older homes have enormous back yards that belonged originally to farmer types.  As a result, they tend to have numerous old fruit trees.  Mine had the loquat, a nectarine, and two very lovely grape vines.  I wanted to grow all my own veggies and see if I could feed myself through the year.

So, here's the scoop along with some photographs of  how that process unfolded and what has happened as a result.   

Sunday, March 30, 2008