Asparagus is awesome. Don’t you agree? I think it may be the most elegant vegetable out there. I feel fancy when I serve it and sophisticated when I eat it. And, bonus, it’s good for you, too!
When we planned our first garden last spring we knew we wanted to grow asparagus even after we discovered that our first harvest would be about a year away. Asparagus is unique among the other items we chose in that it is perennial and uses its own stored energy to grow. We planted one year old crowns, instead of seeds, to give ourselves a head start on the growing process since it takes two years for plants to yield their first crop. You can read more about how asparagus convert energy into new shoots here.
A couple weeks ago when the first new shoots sprung up in our asparagus bed we were ecstatic. We ate asparagus and eggs that first morning. It was the best asparagus I’ve ever eaten. There is nothing more satisfying than eating food grown under the care of your own hands. This year’s harvest was not very large (as was to be expected), but it gave us a taste of what is to come for the next twenty or so years (asparagus live forever!).
Even if you don’t have fresh asparagus springing up in your own garden right now, be sure to pick some up at the store or market while it’s in season. Done up in the skillet with eggs in the morning or roasted on a salad in the evening this vegetable is not to be missed!
Posted by Erin on May 5, 2013
I ate a tomato this weekend. Granted, it was store bought, but it was ripe, firm, and juicy and all of the sudden I could barely wait for the middle of July and fresh veggies from the garden.
This weekend we did some prep work on our garden boxes from last year. We removed some old string and mixed in new compost. We loosened up the soil and added some natural fertilizers.
It didn’t take us long to come up with our plan for spring crops this year since we’d learned a lot from our experience last spring. (Our major take away – we planted too many things too close together last year.) This time around we just planted our favorites and can’t wait to see them sprout.
By the end of a quiet rainy weekend our spring crops were planted. In the next few months we’re expecting:
- Green Onions
- Swiss Chard
- Purple Plum Radishes
- Easter Egg Radishes
- Pak Choy
How are you getting ready for Springtime? What’s growing in your garden?
Posted by Erin on March 11, 2013
Last Friday was yard work day. Not usually my favorite day, but at least we had some lovely cool weather for it. A light sprinkle of rain in the morning helped soften the ground and loosen the roots of all those weeds that had snuck into our front garden bed. We spent hours trimming hedges, cutting back boxwoods, ripping out flowers that had seen better days, and shaping up our maple tree. Tomatillos and eggplants were pulled out of the garden boxes. The monster tomato plant that was overtaking our little lilac tree was chopped down. We dug carrots out of cool black dirt. We filled an entire dumpster with yard waste.
It felt good. Good to work with our hands. Good to be dirty. Good to rip out the old and make space for the new.
Good to celebrate the coming of a new season in the garden and in life.
This summer had it’s highs and lows. And the low points often felt like they won. We experienced a lot of change and loss this summer. It wasn’t fun. In fact it was not fun at all. The good news is that wasn’t our whole story. Our kitchen was filled with pie and our table shared with friends. Our friends laughed and cried with us, made us dinner, and prayed for us. We celebrated new marriages, toasted to the life of dear friends, and snuck away for weekends of rest.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the turning over from one season to the next and I’m hoping that this next season will be one full of joy. I’m so glad that even though the last few months have been hard on my heart, I’m still walking into the fall with a bountiful harvest behind me and plenty of good earth in front of me. My hope is not foolish because I know that my God is faithful, he calls me to live a full life here on earth, and he promises that when I seek him, I will find him. He promises to restore what is broken.
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
(Jeremiah 29:5-7 ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
(Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV)
Posted by Erin on September 20, 2012
With nineteen plants growing away in our backyard we have had an abundance of tomatoes lately. Not a bad problem to have! Can you believe that I didn’t even like tomatoes when I was a kid? What was wrong with me? I remember watching my dad sprinkle them with salt or slather them with mayonaise and eat them like apples standing over the kitchen sink. I was so grossed out. Now, I do the exact same thing. Is it even possible not the turn into our parents when we get older? Sheesh.
I’ve been similarly grossed out by the idea of cold soup. It does not sound appealing to me at all. Soup is great. Soup is meant to be hot. Or so I thought. My friend Jennifer just shared her recipe for gazpacho with us and since nearly all of the ingredients were growing less than 50 feet from my kitchen counter I figured I had run out of excuses to give it a try. Guess what? I was as wrong about gazpacho as I was about tomatoes. Below is my, slightly altered, version of Jennifer’s recipe. It would be perfect as an appetizer for a dinner party on the patio.
Lots o’ tomatoes (I filled my blender nearly all the way full with cherry and halved tomatoes)
1 green pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon wed wine vinegar
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cup french bread, in chunks and soaked in water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Load the tomatoes in the blender and mix well to make room for the rest of the ingredients. Add in the rest of the ingredients, squeeze water from the bread before adding it, and mix well. Chill well before serving.
You can serve gazpacho with a variety of toppings. I fried up some diced ham in for ours and it was great!
Posted by Erin on August 29, 2012
I’ve been thinking about the cheesy, saucy, crispy goodness of eggplant parmesan since last summer. I never even knew I liked eggplant until that beauty of a dish landed in my kitchen.
When the eggplant arrived with our weekly CSA I wasn’t sure what to do with it exactly. So, I did what any rational person would do. I fried it and covered it with sauce and cheese. Delicious! Since then, I’ve learned that I love eggplant roasted, grilled, and, of course, I remain loyal to the parmesan.
I’d nearly given up hope in our little seedlings. But, they’re growing! There are about 6 baby eggplant hanging out in our garden right now. I’m checking their progress closely and can’t wait to bring them into the kitchen.
Posted by Erin on August 23, 2012
Sometimes dinner just has to be made of random things found in the kitchen. This is normal. Most of the time for us that means bean burritos or velveeta shells and cheese. This week, though, we hit the jackpot. This dinner couldn’t have been better if I’d planned it a month in advance. And, even better, it fits right in with our From the Garden & Farm summer series!
We had just roasted cherry tomatoes from our garden and I wanted to use them somehow. I happened to have some rice, goat cheese, leftover chicken stock and an old bottle of dry white wine on hand. Enter the star of the show: risotto. We make risotto often. It’s pretty simple and always delicious. You should give it a try!
Creamy Risotto with Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomatoes
1 shallot, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice (We actually use a nice, high quality, short grain regular rice – works great and costs much less!)
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock (you could also use veggie stock if you want this to be vegetarian friendly)
4 tablespoons goat cheese
1 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see yesterday’s post for a quick how-to)
In a large non-stick skillet (I use my braiser by Le Creuset), heat olive oil and sauté shallot and garlic. Add in rice and toast for about 2 minutes. Stir in white wine. Continue to stir until nearly all liquid has been absorbed. Repeat with chicken stock, one cup at a time, until rice is cooked through and creamy. Stir in goat cheese (reserving a few crumbled for garnish). Serve is bowls topped with roasted tomatoes.
Posted by Erin on August 10, 2012
Every time we harvest tomatoes from our garden we find that about half of them have already split on the vine. I blame the heat. Of course, it probably also has to do with my laziness of not going out and harvesting often enough (again…I blame the heat).
I hate the idea of throwing these beauties away, but I am also totally grossed out by the gooey mess they leave in the veggie bowl on my counter. These would be perfect for making tomato sauce or fresh salsa, but sometimes a girl just doesn’t have another hour in the day to tackle another recipe. Solution: roast those lovelies in the oven right away – use some for dinner and freeze the rest for later.
Fill a jelly roll pan with a single layer of cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes at 425 degrees. You’ll know they are ready when they have burst and and your house smells amazing. I used about 1/3 of these to top bowlfuls of goat cheese risotto (recipe coming soon!) for our dinner. The rest were sealed tight and frozen. We’ll pull these out sometime in the fall or winter when we need a taste of summer.
Posted by Erin on August 8, 2012
Even though I’ve been behind in my posting on our garden, don’t be fooled. Our harvest has been abundant! Here’s a quick look at only part of what we brought inside only yesterday.
Posted by Erin on August 6, 2012
There have been no shortage of quinoa burger recipes making the rounds on pinterest.com lately. I’ve been eyeing them right along with the rest of you. This week the green onions in our garden were finally ready for harvest and immediately, quinoa burgers sprang to mind.
A vegetarian dish for dinner was especially appealing with the Independence Day holiday and forkfuls of bratwursts right around the corner. When I stumbled across this particular recipe from Linda at Eating Well…Living Thin-er, I could not wait to make it. Her quinoa burger patties looked so perfectly golden and delicious.
Linda’s recipe was super easy to follow and very nice and the flavor profile was spot on. The problem is that I made a complete and epic failure of frying these pretty little things. Every. Single. One. fell apart in the pan. Many stuck stubbornly to the bottom creating a layer of quinoa burnt mess that only hours of pan-soaking could undo. I’m glad to say that I didn’t throw in the towel completely. While I did give up on making pretty quinoa burgers, I settled for something a bit less shapely, but still just as tasty.
These last-minute quinoa lettuce wraps saved dinner. Topped with sriracha aioli (that’s just mayo with some sriracha sauce mixed in. We call it aoli so that Mr. I-ate-mayonaise-ThirdRow will eat it), the wraps were a delicious hit and something I think I’ll consider trying again when the rest of our carrots are ready for harvest.
Posted by Erin on July 5, 2012
There are few things as gratifying as picking food from your garden in the warm sunshine and serving it on your table less than an hour later.
Our green beans have been heavy on the bush the last week or so just begging to be eaten. They did not disappoint! They tasted as full of summer freshness as they looked.
Asian Green Beans
Fresh Green Beans, trimmed
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1/4 c slivered almonds
Drizzle olive oil into a hot pan. Toss in the fresh green beans. Add water and cover immediately. Let steam for a few minutes. Stir in soy sauce and almonds. Sautée until hot and al dente. Serve immediately.
Posted by Erin on June 28, 2012