Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Red, white and Araucana blue

Araucana egg, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Right on schedule.....20 weeks old of the chickens laid her first egg. It is a sky blue egg so either Buttercup or Spider-man (the 2 Araucanas) gave me the first return on my hard investment. It is so special I don't quite know what to do with it. Egg and champagne?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This week's garden harvest

haricot vert, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Besides another 30 pounds of summer squash and a few first tomatoes this week's harvest puts a smile on my face. Twenty nine years ago I went to Paris for a month. I fell in love with the fresh skinny green beans (haricot vert) and the fresh picked tomatoes. When I returned I looked for a garden space to grow these French staples and found that I could rent a space at the community gardens at UC Irvine. I am so happy that I have the space and the sunshine to grow my vegetables in my back yard in Denver. Today I preserved my extra green beans into "dilly beans" a version of a pickle. No tasting for 2 weeks while they brew.
Cucumbers and far just enough to eat one a day but with any luck many will find their way into a jar with fresh dill and herbs soon.
And the flowers are blooming...cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, morning gloria and my favorites this year: giant zinnias...all from seed.
Back to the kitchen...

cucumbers and a pepper

cucumbers and a pepper, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.


Untitled, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

basil X 3, dill, cilantro

cosmos and hyssop

cosmos, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.


zinnias, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

I just can't get enough of these!

yellow perennials, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Monday, August 15, 2011

This week's harvest: Swiss chard

Swiss chard in the garden, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Have you tried Swiss chard? It is really easy to grow from seeds or small seedlings and is delicious! It is similar to spinach and can be used to replace spinach in many recipes. It is also very high in fiber, low in calories, and high in antioxidants. Certainly one full grown plant will provide several servings of your vegetables. The easiest preparation is to steam it. The stems take more time than the ribs, which take more time than the leaves so layer your cooking accordingly

Here is the recipe for sauteed chard with balsalmic vinegar and topped with pancetta:

Swiss chard, 4-6 large stems, producing about 2 cups of stems and ribs
pancetta, 4 oz, diced and cooked
olive oil, 4Tbs or more
balsalmic vinegar, 1-2 Tbs
nutmeg, 1/2 tsp


pancetta, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

4 oz, cut into pieces and cooked stovetop until crispy

Swiss chard, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

to the pancetta drippings and olive oil saute about 2 cups of the chard stems (1 inch) until translucent but not soft. Then add the ribs, then the leaves and cook until the leaves wilt. Add balsalmic vinegar, nutmeg and pepper. No salt needed if you sprinkle the pancetta on top.

Swiss chard with balsalmic vinegar and pancetta

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The pumpkin patch

young pumpkin, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Late in May and still taking a risk on a late freeze I planted 3 pumpkin seed in the alley driveway behind my back fence (which I know is about the ugliest back fence on the planet. I want to revamp this part of the property but it is not in the budget this year so I settled with a corner of the driveway with a little dirt and discarded (or I should say recycled) pieces of broken cement used to form a planter to confine the dirt.......this area is now called the pumpkin patch. The broad leaves of the vine got hammered in the hail storm 3 weeks ago and I thought any chance of a pumpkin for Halloween was lost. Well, look closely: here's one hiding under the leaves. And another hanging on the fence.....and yes, the pumpkin patch as of 3 days ago. Actually when I got home from work today the fence pumpkin and become so heavy the tendrils could no longer support it so it has fallen to the ground but in a soft spot......keep tuned I may have a Halloween pumpkin patch of my own in 2 months.

pumpkin on the fence

pumpkin on the fence, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

pumpkin patch

pumpkin patch, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

in excess, week's harvest

summer squash, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

OK I may have underestimated my squash production; but when the first seeds didn't come up for weeks I planted some more. I do thin my plants but still growing summer squash gives even the beginning gardener a verdant green thumb.
This is one week of
Cube of butter...5 pounds
Tigress (light green)...5 pounds
Rond de Nice (balls) 8 pounds
Cocozelle (striped)....9 pounds
for a total of 27 pounds of squash in one week.
Any ideas as to what to do with all of this squash?

raised bed #1 August 5

There is a 6 foot by 6 foot framed bed under here somewhere. Here's what it looked like 6 weeks ago
raised bed #1 August 5, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

What's for breakfast?

zucchini pancakes, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Try zucchini for breakfast with these yummy zucchini pancakes:

3/4 pound summer squash grated with a box grater
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup diced onions, scallions or shallots
6-8 TBS flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
fresh dill

Grate the squash (including the skin) and pace in a bowl. Add the diced onion and eggs. Mix well. Then add the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix again. Try 6 Tbs at first and if at this point the mixture is too thin, add more flour.
In a heavy pan or griddle, melt 2 Tbs butter and add 2 Tbs olive oil. When hot enough for regular pancakes add 2 big spoonfuls of batter. Cook 2 minutes on each side.
Serve hot with fresh dill or other herb and sliced tomatoes.
I added fresh melon topped with a strawberry, raspberry sauce (will be posted later)
Bon petit dejeuner!

Friday, August 5, 2011


zinnias, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

the inspiration
from my garden


paintbox, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

zinnia watercolor

zinnias, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

Happy birthday, Brad

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's for breakfast?

Grilled goat cheese brie with fresh black mission figs drizzled with thyme infused honey.
I saw this on a Seattle based blog Not without Salt a few days ago and had to try it. It isn't her idea either but we all seem to be sharing it. I changed the brie to a goat brie.
I love goat cheese. I like the tangy flavor but then I was raised with goats and goats' milk. The sweetness of the honey balances out that tangy taste beautifully. But if you don't like goat cheese or can't find one...any triple cream brie will be perfect.

Grill the brie on a cast iron surface.

Use fresh figs.

Drizzle with thyme infused honey

Bon petit dejeuner!

Black mission figs, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

thyme, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

thyme infused honey

thyme infused honey, originally uploaded by cabanagirl.

one quarter cup honey and a few sprigs of thyme (I used French). Place in a small saucepan and heat stovetop until the honey bubbles. Turn off the heat and let the thyme infuse. Then remove the sprigs