Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Garden Update

Whew!  This garden is really getting going.  Nearly everything is doing really well.  The corn, beans and squash are doing so well, they may take over the bed entirely.  Not all of our corn came up so some of the beans don't yet have trellises.  We 'll probably string some extra hog wire behind each row to give the beans something to climb (and help the corn stay upright in our windy area).

Here are some pictures:

The borage has bloomed!

You can barely see the rosemary underneath the pineapple sage.
The large garden patch.

A close up of the amaranth. Ooo, and check out the drip irrigation we put in  two weeks ago.

A close up of the 3 sisters.  You can see the beans that are going to climb up the corn.

The squash that were just seedlings when we left 5 days ago.
The malabar spinach has found the trellis.

My HUGE basil.  Please ignore my fingertip in the shot.

Some gypsy peppers nearly ready to pick.

The potatoes that are nearly ready.

Our monster zucchini.

Zucchini blossoms.

The cuke bed (zucchini, cucumber, and mouse melon).
Cucumber blossoms.

The black eyed pea just seeded a week ago.

The only real disappointments are the tomatoes.  We've never had a good crop of tomatoes at the house.  They were always grown in the soil and they've shown signs of fusarium wilt every year.  So, this year, I planted them in straw bales over grass in the hopes that the fusarium wilt couldn't reach them.  Well, it has.  I'm wondering if my tools may have been dirty or if they sat too long in the yard (only a day) before I planted them.  Either way, I'm not real happy.  Tomatoes are my absolute favorite food and I've always wanted to grow big, beautiful tomatoes.

The tomatoes which are barely surviving - they should be twice this size.

A close up of the tomato leaves.
We also planted some musk melons in a spare bed.  We were going to get it set up for strawberries but just ran out of time.  We decided to experiment in the bed instead.  I'll post some pics of the melon seedlings soon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pasta with sausage and spinach

I made this a few weeks ago and everyone in the family loved the dish.  It's moved into regular rotation at our house.

It serves about 8 with enough for leftovers (this makes great leftovers!)  You can easily half this recipe if you don't really want to feed an army.  A note on the liquid, it seems like you're adding a lot but trust me, the pasta soaks in up in no time.  The first time I made this, I used about half the liquid and the dish came out very dry.  You want it moist.

Pasta with sausage and spinach


1 pound pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound hot pork sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cups of other chopped vegetables, like squash or carrots (optional)
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1/2 cup cream or half and half
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (10 ounce) chopped spinach or chard
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions, taking out 2-3 minutes before it's done. (You'll be cooking it more later on.)

In a large skillet, heat oil and sausage; cook through until no longer pink. Add onion, garlic and vegetables to skillet. Add broth, cream, basil, oregano and tomatoes with liquid.
Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to slightly reduce. Add chopped spinach and pasta; cover skillet and simmer on reduced heat until spinach is tender.

Sprinkle with cheese and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meat CSA

Here's a look at our meat CSA.  I pick it up monthly at the Georgetown Farmer's Market.

Each monthly box includes 17-20 lbs of:

  • several packages of ground beef
  • a pack or two of 4 hamburger patties
  • several steaks (Ribeye, Sirloin, etc)
  • a roast or two
  • chili or stir fry meat
  • beef cutlets
  • soup bones
  • a package of bulk pork sausage, local cheese or summer sausage (just depends on what's available)
  • fresh eggs

Mmmmm, meat.

Last week, I made some delicious stir fry with the beef and a ton of vegetables (carrots, peppers, bok choy, basil, broccoli) from our veggie CSA.  I also experimented with a recipe since I had a ton of mint and a bag of lemons I needed to use up.  I marinated some chicken in olive oil, lemon juice and chopped mint, then grilled it.  I served it along side some roasted vegetables and some lemon-mint angel hair pasta.  Really, really good.  

Saturday, we had a friend over for steaks.  The key to cooking a good grass-fed steak is to cook is low and slow on the grill.  If you cook it hot and fast like a normal steak, you'll get shoe leather.  But low and slow will give you a tender, juicy, flavorful steak.  The first few times we grilled the grass-fed steak were a disaster!  Tough, flavorless, yuck.  We have finally gotten the hang of it.

My favorite part of the package is always the eggs. The rancher raises a grab bag of chickens including some Ameraucanas, which lay colored eggs.  Depending on the chicken the egg shells may be white, brown, pink, blue or green.  Also, the yolks are a deep, deep orange.  I've asked her how her chickens lay such dark yolks and she says she just feeds them table scraps (she must eat great!) and layer feed.  Home raised, pastured chickens tend to lay deep yellow eggs due to better and different nutrition from caged, commercial layers, but her eggs are amazing.  

A close up of the eggs.  Can you tell some of them are green and blue?

I never bake with these eggs, I only make scrambled or fried eggs so I can enjoy their eggy goodness.