Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cooking with Homegrown Vegetables

I wish! This is my first attempt at a vegetable and fruit garden. I must admit that our garden and any other plants growing in our yard are "late-bloomers." It seems like everyone's plants are growing like crazy. I am hoping this is due to our plants being newer and needing to be established. Furthermore, the zoo in our yard (deer, squirrels, rabbits, maybe even a groundhog, and the usual pests/insects you find outside) doesn't help to promote growth.

My dream is a huge, lush, ever-bearing garden where I can pick fruits and vegetables to enjoy every day.

My prayer is at least a few full-grown pieces to show for all the work I put into the garden.

My reality is 1" tall cucumber and pepper sprouts, flowers falling off plants before they produce any fruits, blight on tomatoes, and probably enough bugs to wipe out everything in the garden in 1 day.

P.S. The marigolds are for preventing small creatures from getting into the garden. I hope they're doing something for the garden.

JUNE 26, 2010:

JULY 17, 2010:
As you can see, the honeydew (center of the garden) is starting to take over.  The zucchini (top right of center), squash (top right), and spaghetti squash (bottom right of center) are steadily coming along.  Dill (bottom right) and peppers (bottom left) are very slowly growing.  The cucumbers (top left) have bit the dust.  One cucumber plant completely dried up and I pulled it out.  In it's place, I move over one of the smaller honeydrew plants.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Easy Beer Bread

Do you have beer in your fridge that you or your significant other refuses to drink? Maybe you bought a beer to try, but did not like the taste. Maybe you have beer left over from a party or a host/ess gift. The beer sits in the fridge for months, or even years. I have a solution for you! A very easy and delicious recipe. I turn to this recipe for two reasons: I need bread and can't/don't want to drive to the store, or I have old beer. I always have all the ingredients on hand, so I don't have to buy any special ingredients.

Unless the beer is very flavored (e.g. Cherry Wheat), you will hardly taste it in the final product. I've had Blueberry Beer in my fridge for two years ago and have made amazing Blueberry Beer Bread with it.

Use old, rotten bananas for banana bread; use old, skunky beer for Beer Bread. I have made the following recipe 5+ times with great results. Please note that beer bread is a dense bread, but so delicious!


3 cups self-rising flour (or use unbleached flour with ratio of 1 tbsp of baking powder to 3 cups of flour)
1/2 cup sugar (can cut down to 1/3 sugar)
12 ounces beer
2 tablespoons melted butter
Optional: herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, honey, poppyseeds, chocolate, cheese, etc. (but not all at once)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Butter loaf pan and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and beer and mix well. Add any other extra ingredients (I've tried blueberries with Blueberry beer, or rosemary for a savory taste). The mixture should be sticky.

4. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes. During the last 3 minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with butter and return to oven. An alternative is to pour the butter on top of the batter before placing in the oven, and cut out one step. (I don't usually butter the top, it will be crispy without the butter)

5. Enjoy bread with butter or your favorite spread. Pair it with a salad, soup, or chili.

Recipe courtesy Catherine Bienik (Food Network)

*My tips and suggestions are always in blue.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carrot Apple Salad

Carrot Apple Salad is a delicous side dish, snack, or dessert. I have been eating this salad since I was a little girl. You cannot get any healthier than carrots and apples. For those of you with kids, this is a great way to get them to eat something a little different than the typical raw veggies and dip. The shredded carrots and apples pair together so well that no one will know they are eating such a healthy dish. I even substitute this salad for cole slaw.

The clean taste of this salad is both unexpected and delicious. Don't be fooled by the simplicity, this salad is full of Vitamin A and Vitamin C and has no fat or cholesterol.

2 cups firmly packed shredded carrots
2 cups firmly packed shredded apple (firm, tart apples, like Granny Smith work best)
1 tbsp sugar (can substitute honey)

In a large bowl, toss together the apples, carrots, and sugar.

Additions: nuts like walnuts or peacans, raisins, or herbs like cilantro, parsley.
Note: If you are worried about the shredded apple turning brown, you can add a little lemon juice to the mix.