Tag Archives: Harvest

Garden Layout

Ever have one of those times where you feel in a really good spot –you’re organized, ready, well rested– and then it all comes crashing down. That was my yesterday. So I’ve been obsessing over that… and thinking about little else. Between that and Emily waking up ridiculously early, I’m a bit of a mess. TGIF!

So there’s a little part of me that’s relieved that Logan hasn’t built the new raised beds for the garden yet. Because it means I can spend the weekend trying to get things figured out and not feel guilty that I’m not turning soil, planting more seeds, etc. Next week though!

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I’ve done LOTS of planning around my vegetable garden this year! Here’s been my process, because I feel like it’s a little daunting for a new gardener (which is me–this is the first time I feel like I’m really doing this well).

1.  Determine the size of your beds.
For us, it’s two beds that measure 4×8. I’ve seen several recommendations for 4′ wide beds so you can access the middle easily.

2.  Build your beds and add your soil.
There are tons of tutorials out there for building raised beds. The one from Vegetable Gardener is the one we’re using for inspiration, with a few variations here and there.
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3.  Plan your garden.
This is where I really wanted a website to say, “You live in Indiana. That’s zone 5. Here’s the vegetable garden you should plant.”  You know, telling me exactly what seeds to put where. Not the case. So last weekend, I did much Pinterest research to plan my 64 sq ft of vegetable space.

Helpful websites:
Sprout Robot:  enter your zip code to see when you should plant
Morgan Plays in the Dirt:  how many of each plant can grow in a square foot
AfriStar Foundation:  companion planting

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My garden plan

4.  Start your seeds inside.
I’m a little late on this one, but I’m not terribly worried. Wednesday evening, Emily and I started most of the seeds in the bottom of a paper bag (biodegradable, cheap, available). My little helper LOVED playing in the dirt and crawling around the driveway in the light rain. Huge mess, totally worth it!

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So there you go! How to plan and start your garden. Happy planting!

*Note:  The building of the beds can be done during/after Steps 3 and 4. That’s how it’s working for us!

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Creative Collections: Breakfast Recipes

Once again this week, I chose the theme for this Creative Collections based on what I keep pinning. Apparently quick and easy breakfasts are it! Probably because I have to be at work at 7:20 three mornings a week. Yikes! Usually I do peanut butter toast, but I heard on the radio last week that it’s something like 6 Weight Watchers points (not that I’m doing WW, but that seems like a lot of points for not a lot of food).

I can’t say that I’ve tried any of these yet… I keep thinking I’ll find time during the weekend but then the weekend disappears! Add it to my list 🙂

Freezer Breakfast Burritos by Pretty Little Snippets

Banana Bread Breakfast Doughnuts by Chocolate Covered Katie

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies by Watching What I Eat

Veggie Muffins by All Things G & D

Crock Pot French Toast by The Cake Eccentric’s

Mmm, makes me remember why I love breakfast foods so much!

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Creative Collections: Tomatoes

Now that tomatoes are starting to ripen in the garden, it’s time for great recipes to use them up! Here are some that I’ve found that look pretty tasty…

Corn Stuffed Tomatoes by Country Living

Spaghettini with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese by My Kind of Food

Roasted Fresh Tomato Soup by Vegangela

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken by The Girl Who Ate Everything

Tomato Tatin by Seasoned Fork

Recipes for Canning by My Crazy Life

Enjoy your tomato crop!

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The Big 3-0

Yep, today’s my birthday. We celebrated with a deck party over the weekend so today’s it spending time with Emily and Logan. Perfect.

I know this is supposed to be a big deal, you’re getting old, life is different forever type of birthday. But I haven’t been dreading this one at all. I think it’s because my life is so great! Wonderful husband, sweet baby girl, friends and family, a job I love… The list goes on and on. God has truly blessed me.

People who share my birthday: (I’m in pretty good company)
*Shia LaBeouf
*Joe Montana
*Dr. Oz
*Gene Wilder (whose actual name was Jerome Silberman)
*Vince Lombardi
*Jacques Yves Cousteau
*Richard Strauss
(Source:  Famous Birthdays)

Important events in history that happened on this day:
*1509:  Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.
*1770:  Captain Cook runs aground on the Australian Great Barrier Reef.
*1788:  Russian explorer Gerasim Izmailov reaches Alaska.
*1837:  The Broad Street Riot between English-Americans and Irish-Americans occurred in Boston.
*1905:  Penns Railroad debuts the fastest train in the world (New York to Chicago in 18 hours).
*1944:  Five days after the D-Day landing, the five Allied groups converged on Normandy.
*1959:  In the UK, the Hovercraft officially launched.
*1962:  Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin become the only prisoners to successfully escape from Alcatraz.
*1979:  John Wayne dies of cancer.
*1987:  An earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale hit 14 Midwest states and parts of Canada.
*2001:  Timothy McVeigh executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.
*2001:  The oldest known human skull fossils were found in Ethiopia.
*2004:  Ronald Reagan’s funeral was held at the National Cathedral.
*2010:  Opening ceremony for the World Cup soccer in Johannesburg, South Africa.
(Sources:  The People History and Dates in History)

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And, since the food was great at my party, I thought I’d share the menu and recipes! The nice thing about all of these was being able to do much of the prep work in advance. That made the actual day of the party pretty easy. Plus, using the grill to cook the kabobs kept the house nice and cool.

Cilantro Chicken and Pineapple Skewers

Honey Teriyaki Beef Kabobs

Carrots and Dip (yes, I cheated and bought the dip)

Chips and Salsa (cheated there too)

“Ryan’s Dip” (I don’t know what it’s actually called, but my brother always makes it. It’s salsa, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese melted together and served with tortilla chips.)

Fruit Salsa with Baked Cinnamon Chips

Lemony Lemon Brownies

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Naturally Flavored Water
(I made Mint-Lime-Pineapple Water and Citrus Water) 

Nice and summery.

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Starting the Garden

…finally. I know, Memorial Day weekend is a great time to start summer and open the pool. But it’s a little late to just be starting the garden.

And when I say “start,” I mean start weeding. As in, prepping. As in, haven’t looked at the vegetable garden since last summer when I pulled everything out (Logan did dump a bunch of mulched leaves on top of the whole thing in the middle of the fall).

So here’s what was waiting for me…

4 beds filled with weeds

Walkways filled with spreading weeds

And my personal favorite:
I’m not sure if you can tell, but those are tomato cages. Completely lashed to the ground by overgrown weeds.

I’m so embaressed.

The reason for my garden absence? Yep, sweet baby girl.

Remember this post about removing weeds: To Weed or Not To Weed? Unfortunately these weren’t any help. The weeds were just too thick. The only solution was real weeding. Yuck.

So, armed with a shovel and a hose. I set to work. For 3 hours. On the hottest weekend of the year so far.

I wet down soil since we haven’t had rain in awhile. Then I used the shovel to loosen the roots. And pulled. And pulled. To finish prepping the beds, I turned over the soil and let the water run through the bed for a few minutes. I’ll add some compost and a few bags of soil when I’m ready to plant.

After tons of sunscreen, sweat, and mud, the beds look like this:
The walkways are still a complete mess. That wouldn’t usually be a problem, but we have so many creeping weeds (something like wild strawberries) that if these weeds don’t get pulled, they’ll just take over the beds again. The current plan is to have Logan weed eat them close to the ground. Then I’m considering using boiling water to kill the weeds and covering the ground with paper.

Hopefully next weekend, I’ll get my seedlings in. And hopefully I won’t have another weed takeover. Hopefully.

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Zucchini Bread Recipe

If we’re going to be honest, the only reason I try to grow zucchini is to make Zucchini Bread. Every year I say I’m not going to try these plants again, because I only got a few to pick last year. And every time I go to the farmer’s market, I pick up sprouts, because I hate the thought of not having bread all summer long.

The love of zucchini bread started when I was little and would stay at my grandparents. During most of those visits in the summer, Grandma Barb and Pop Red would make a big production of my sister and I working in the kitchen to make the bread with them. One of my favorite memories was when Pop stuck the toothpick in the center to see if the bread was done. It wasn’t… and swallowed the toothpick right down to the bottom. Later, when we cut open the bread, we cut it right along the edge of the toothpick. I just thought that was the most amazing thing.

Since then, I’ve changed recipes, but every time I’m making zucchinibread in my kitchen, I think of those summers!

This recipe is modified from the one found here at Simply Recipes.

What you’ll need:
*2 eggs, beaten
*1 1/3 cups sugar
*2 tsp vanilla
*3 cups grated fresh zucchini
*2/3 cup melted butter
*2 tsp baking soda
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
*2 tsp cinnamon

Couple of Notes:
*If you’re short on zucchini, use some grated carrot. It adds the moisture and bulk you need without changing the flavor. And since I use the whole wheat flour, the bread is a little darker so it’s harder to see the orange!
*I use salted butter so I don’t add any extra salt to the recipe. If you use unsalted butter, just add a pinch of salt.
*I love the combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flour in this recipe. The wheat adds a little extra nuttiness.

1.  Preheat the oven to 350. Grease, flour, and line two bread pans.

2.  Peel, seed, and grate your zucchini. This is probably the longest part of the whole process. My suggestion:  use your food processor. It saves SO MUCH time! (I love my Kitchen Aide!)

3.  In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add the zucchini and melted butter. Mix well.

4.  Sift the baking soda over the mixture (I’m not sure if you really need to sift baking soda, but I have terrible memories of biting into a clump of either baking soda or baking powder and that awful taste. I just don’t take the chance!).

5.  Mix in the salt and both flours. Add about a third at a time and mix until just moistened. Add the nutmeg and cinnamon. It makes a pretty thick dough.

6.  Divide between two loaf pans. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. I usually check around 45-50 min (mine has never taken more than 50 min so be sure to check). If the top of your bread is looking done but the center isn’t, cover the loaf with foil. Turn out on cooling racks and cool completely (Or if you’re like me, cut of the end and be careful not to burn your fingers or mouth when you eat it!).

This bread freezes really well too! Wrap the cooled loaf in plastic wrap, put it in a ziploc baggie, and leave it in the freezer. I’m not sure how long it will last in there though… usually I freeze one loaf, we eat one, and then start in on the frozen one. But a week is fine!

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The Market Fresh Cookbook

Last year I didn’t do a very good job using the tomatoes I grew in my garden. I’m not a huge fan of just plain tomatoes, and with how quickly they ripened, I quickly had an overabundance. I ended up freezing most of them… and they’re still in my freezer.

Obviously, if I’m going to grow produce (especially tomatoes), I need a plan…

I was wandering around Half Price Books and came across Taste of Home’s The Market Fresh Cookbook. Each section focused on a different vegetable. Including tomatoes. So I picked up a copy, and we’ll see. Hopefully, I’ll put to better use all those lovely vegetables ripening in my garden… And all those carrots I buy from Costco.

 

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Easy Caprese Salad Recipe

My tomato plants are on the verge of producing tons of ripe tomatoes, but I still have a few in my refrigerator. So for a church pitch-in, I decided to make a quick caprese salad to use up what I already had.

What you’ll need:
5-7 ripe tomatoes
1 block mozzarella cheese
fresh basil
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Cut your tomatoes in quarters. Scoop out the seeds (otherwise your salad will be runny and too juicy).

Cut the tomato “shells” into chunks. This doesn’t need to be very fine.

Cut the block of cheese into chunks about the same size as your tomatoes.

Rinse and dry your basil (I used out salad spinner). I’m using boxwood basil, so the leaves are small, and I didn’t cut them. But if you’re using sweet basil, roll your leaves, and chop them thinly.

Gently tossed the three together.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Perfect for a summer salad

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Our First Vegetable Harvest

Today I got to pick the first vegetables from our garden!

Eleven green beans…

Okay there are only ten in the picture, but that’s because I ate one while I was still in the garden 🙂 They just taste so much better when you’ve planted them!

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