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8 Aug






Return of the stink bugs:-(

8 Aug


I’ve been wondering why the stink bugs haven’t begun devouring my tomatoes. And then I found them.  On the corn.  Next year I will plant a sacrificial row. 

Brown Rice Risotto w Winter Squash & Pecans

12 Feb

I found this recipe in Bon Apetite this month, and since I still have butternut squash in the basement from my garden, I thought I’d give it a try.  I’ve been looking for meatless recipes that are still hearty enough to satisfy the family, and that aren’t soup. For some reason my family equates soup with torture.  Anyway, I made a few modifications, including using brown arborio rice and substituting pecans for the pine nuts.

It does take considerably longer with brown rice, but I think the brown rice is a little more forgiving – I was able to achieve that creamy risotto texture with little stirring and none of the gumminess that sometimes plagues white rice risotto.   This could easily be a wonderful vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and of course, you wouldn’t want to use bacon fat!  I couldn’t resist though – bacon makes everything taste better, and I keep leftovers in the fridge for recipes like this that benefit from that bit of extra flavor.

Here’s my version:

Brown Rice Risotto w Winter Squash & Pecans

  • 4 T olive oil or bacon fat, divided
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Sea salt
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 T Sherry
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5-6 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c brown arborio rice
  • 1/4 c medium-dry Sherry or Marsala
  • 3/4 c pecans, chopped
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)

    Heat 2 T olive oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add squash; sprinkle with sea salt and sauté until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add chopped sage and pecans, and cook until squash is  just tender, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle Sherry over; toss to incorporate. Transfer squash to plate. Wipe skillet clean.

    Heat remaining 2 T olive oil in same skillet over high heat. Add chopped onions, sprinkle with sea salt, and sauté until onions are soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.  Bring chicken stock to a simmer in large saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat. (Or microwave, reheating as necessary so you are adding warm stock to the rice.)

    Add arborio rice to onions in skillet. Stir until rice is slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Add Sherry; stir until absorbed. Add 1 cup warm broth; stir occasionally until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.   Add three more cups of broth, letting the rice absorb each cup before adding the next, and stirring occasionally.  Add the remaining cup of stock, reduce heat, and cover the pan, cooking 15-20 minutes until rice is just tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy.  Remove lid, add squash mixture, and cook until squash is heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed, 5-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

    Top risotto with shaved Parmesan.

    Butternut Squash Bisque

    21 Nov

    This soup is so simple, and tastes so good.  Its a perfect winter comfort food, and is surprisingly filling.   Even the kids liked it, and they think eating soup is practically torture.  It doesn’t take long at all and has a creamy, velvety texture. I got 6 or 7 good sized squash from the garden this year, so we’ll have plenty of soup and Butternut Squash Lasagna this winter.   I like to sprinkle a little chili powder on top to spice it up – freshly ground nutmeg would be nice too, or some homemade croutons.   Use vegetable stock and skip the ham to make it vegetarian.

    Butternut Squash & Ham Bisque

    • · 2 T unsalted butter
    • · 1 very large sweet onion, chopped
    • · 1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves, chopped
    • · 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • · 5 c peeled, diced butternut squash – about one medium squash
    • · 1 c peeled, diced all-purpose potatoes – about one large potato
    • · 5 c chicken stock
    • · 1 tsp salt
    • · Black pepper, to taste
    • · 1/2 c light or heavy cream
    • · 1 1/2 c diced cooked ham

    Melt the butter in a medium soup pot or a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and rosemary. Partially cover the pan and cook the onion over moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute.

    Add the squash, potatoes, chicken stock, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Cook the soup at a low boil for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft. Remove the pan from the heat.

    Using a ladle, transfer the soup  to a food processor in batches, filling the bowl only halfway to prevent spills. Puree the vegetables, then return them to a clean pot. Stir in the pepper, the cream, and the ham, heating for several minutes without boiling before serving.


    Butternut Squash on FoodistaButternut Squash

    Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi

    3 Feb

    I don’t advise making gigantic gnocchi like the ones I made.

    I’ve never tried gnocchi because they always seemed doomed to failure – sodden little lumps of dough, neither airy or flavorful.  This recipe captured me with its simplicity – not too much effort just in case it was awful.  These may not be the most authentic or perfect gnocchi, but they are certainly good enough for a family meal.  The kids didn’t even complain about the spinach!  Use the other half of the frozen spinach package to make curried lentils.

    The base is white bread, and I used a potato bread just because that’s what I had, but use any good quality white bread.  I formed mine individually, but you could also roll the dough into a rope and cut it into about 1″ pieces, like traditional recipes.  I topped mine with tomato sauce I canned this summer – the fresh tomato and basil scent when I opened the jar was amazing!   I hope the tomatoes do better this summer because 4 quarts was just not enough sauce to get through the winter.  A garlic butter sauce, maybe with a little sage, would also be good. Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi

    Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

    17 Jan

    I was really surprised when I bit into these muffins – they have a wonderful nutty, gingerbread-y flavor.  They’re quite sweet – better for dessert than breakfast, but I think you could cut the sugar by up to half without a problem.   I used frozen pumpkin that I grew in the garden this summer.  If you have any leftover, store them loosely covered – they’re so moist they get soggy if sealed tightly.
    Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

    Honey Thyme Carrots

    3 Dec

    We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend in Tennessee with my husband’s family.  It was great to have everyone together, and get to see baby Asa.  While we were feasting on Thanksgiving dinner, though, something was feasting on my carrot tops back at home.  I was a little disappointed, since the last batch I harvested was so good, and I didn’t think the rest were ready yet.  I had to dig them up the ground was so wet, and was happily surprised – I got 4 or 5 pounds of carrots!  It turns out my last batch was all Nantes variety, and the Little Fingers were still in the ground.  They really do look like little fingers – not tapered as much as other carrots, and most the length of a long finger.  After much scrubbing, I sauteed them in olive oil with a little honey and thyme.  Perfect.  These are aptly named, since Shawn loved them.  I thought I’d have some leftover for lunch the next day, but no such luck.

    Honey Thyme Carrots

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