Monday, June 8, 2015

Keeping Up with the Garden

Happy Monday Peeps!!!

I had to get up very early (for me anyways) this morning to get Hubster to the airport so I feel like I've been in slo mo all day.  We worked our little ol' rears off this weekend in the yard so I was especially ready to sleep a little longer today.  I might try to go to bed early tonight but honestly I'm 3 episodes behind on Game of Thrones and I"M DYING!!!  I mean seriously, I've been avoiding spoilers like crazy and it's about to get the best of me so I might just binge watch those as soon as we get finished with this here blog post. 

May was an especially "giving" month as far as rainfall goes so our garden just burst forth with joy and is already producing like mad so I thought I'd let you guys know how we deal with certain garden items when they've been especially plentiful.

Just so you know what size garden we are working with, here is a photo of the garden a few weeks ago. Believe me, it's grown a LOT since I took this photo an we also have some green grass but I wanted you to see that I am not working with a garden the size of a football field.  I mean it's plenty big enough for us because after a hour or so in the garden in the Texas heat I'm feeling like this:

I'm not into wasting food at all.  I mean I've spent hard earned money for it one way or another and wasting garden food, well that's just WRONG!   I'm also all about easy and simple so here are a few ideas I've already used this early in the year from the garden bounty.

First up today is Kale.  Now I love me some Kale chips but I have a small problem with them....CAN"T STOP EATING THEM.  Seriously, if I make a big batch I will eat every stinking one and then a few hours later I have some, shall we say remorse.  Other than in a smoothie that's about the only way I really can eat kale.  It's a little strong for my taste.  This particular batch of kale came out of the garden just before we headed off to the beach and since I hate wasting good food I picked that beautiful kale.  

Then I popped all that kale in the Vitamix blender and added a smidgen of water and let it go.
I pureed the heck out of that stuff then poured it into a sprayed ice cube tray.  Popped it in the freezer and then the next day:

they get popped out of the tray and into a baggie and popped back in the freezer.  Now when we need a little kale in our smoothies it's all frozen and ready to go!  Easy peasy and we're off to the next idea.

Oh and I don't think you must grow your own kale to do this.  I do it with bagged spinach that I buy at the Costco to keep it from going bad and you can buy bagged kale in the produce section now.  Keep this in mind when you find yourself with a big bag of kale or spinach that's going to go bad before you can finish it. 

Basil, this is a tough one for me.  I did a ton of research and we did companion planting in the garden this year and while I normally have a little basil in a container this is the first time I've actually planted it in the garden.  Don't get me wrong I'm a fan of the pesto but I like it when it's fresh and it is a little more limited to what you can do with it.  After searching Pinterest I found this idea and thought we'd try it out.  

First thing pick your basil and wash the leaves really good and lay them out to dry.  Dry them completely, I mean completely.  Water is bad at this time. 

You'll need a big jar with a good sealing lid, some kosher salt and some olive oil.
First up put some salt in the bottom of the jar then add some basil leaves then some olive oil.  Just keep going: salt, basil, oil.  Pack the leaves down and then when you are done just make sure the leaves are all coated in olive oil.  Seal up the jar and pop in the refrigerator.

That's it!   This should last 1-2 years in the refrigerator and when you are ready to use the basil just pull out the amount you need and leave it out on the counter to un-solidify.  (You know cause oil in the refrigerator is kinda weird) You can even wipe the oil off the leaves if you like or just toss it in marinara or whatever you happen to need fresh basil for.    

Next harvest of basil will probably be turned into some pesto and frozen.  I'm going to have a lot of basil this year. 

This is one of only quite a few batches of green beans we've already harvested.
We had roasted green beans one night for dinner and then I gave a bag to some of our neighbors.  She buys limes in bulk and shares with me so I took them something green of another kind to enjoy.

I had a few days worth of beans to take care of so I popped a big batch in the crock pot with a potato, a little onion and some good ol' bacon grease.  Poured in some chicken stock and they've been cooking all day.  After they get good and soft and mushy the way we good Southerners like them, I'll put them in a freezer container and this winter we'll enjoy fresh green beans.   (By the way, the potatoes will get eaten by me with some of the beans before they go in the freezer.  I'm not a potatoes in the freezer kinda girl.)

Now I kept out a good bit of the long skinny beans because we like us some Dilly beans in this house.    You may call them picked beans but we call them Dilly beans and we love them especially in our blood mary's.  Don't knock it till you try it! 

I made a good full pint jar today and no worries, I'll make many more batches.  
If you'd like to make your own, here's the original post where you can find the directions. 

Time for the onions.  They are a bit small but we needed their spot for the okra.  Had to get my okra in the ground you know.  The onions just get washed and put in a container and left in the garage.  Their skins will dry out and then I'll be ready to use them.  I kind of like them small because it's perfect when I'm making a batch of salsa.  

The banana peppers, I made into a pint of banana pepper rings and I swear I thought I took a photo of them but I suppose I didn't because I can't find it anywhere.  Sorry about that but no worries, they'll be more of those too. 

You may be thinking, Hey Samma, what 'cha doing with all those cherry tomatoes?  To that I say, eating them silly.  We don't have a problem with too many tomatoes in this house.

Now I actually had about 3 good size yellow squash so I just sliced those up and blanched them.

Popped them in the food saver and now they are resting comfortably in the freezer.  
Once again this winter when I'm making a soup or stew or something they'll be fabulous.

I mentioned earlier that I studied companion planting and I added sunflowers to the garden.  HOLY SMOLEY I think every sunflower seed we planted bloomed and is growing.  The nice part is those big sunflower plants are offering a little protection from the sun for some of the plants.   The sunflowers also help with pest control and the dahlia's....well, they're just pretty.  Those cute little calla lily flowers just popped up on the side of the house by the driveway.  One year later in this house and I'm still surprised by some of the plants we find.  

That's it, that's the Keeping Up with the Garden post for today.  As the rest of the crops start coming in I'll keep you posted on what we're doing with all that good stuff.  I know the zucchini and the squash are going to keep coming in full force and since I'm recently diagnosed with a wheat allergy I'm thinking of buying one of those zoodle things to make me some "faux noodles".   Anyone have one?  What do you think? Is it worth the purchase?  

Ok, I think it's time to go find a yummy snack and settle in for the next 3 hours of GoT binge watching.   See you on the other side my friends!!  

Peace, Love & Gardening

Print Recipe

Print Friendly and PDF