What does one blog about when the garden has slowed to almost nothing? Mine is in that in-between period, where the earlier crops are either taking a nap or have given up for the year.
My bush beans, planted July 18th, are showing some blossoms and some tiny beans, the pole beans that were planted tepee style around the ski pole have climbed to the top and are now nearing the end of an added pole, but no sign of any blossoms yet. I get an occasional handful of beans from the ones I planted last May. Usually not enough for a meal now, but just enough to cook and add to the puppies' dinners. I'm surprised I get any beans from those bushes at all, but they just keep on blooming and bearing and I haven't the heart to pull them out yet.
My windowsill is void of tomatoes. I see two in the garden that might be ready to pick in the next day or two. The cherry tomatoes, however, are finally producing, and just as sweet as sugar.
I'm probably picking 3 or 4 zucchini a week now. The yellow crookneck squash has grown over the zucchini plant and completely taken over that bed. I see one zucchini forming in the jungle of vines, but a dozen or more little crooknecks that will be ready to pick real soon. All the summer squash are suffering from powdery mildew and not looking very good at all, but they also have a lot of lovely, new green growth so I'll just try to ignore the ugly for now.
The mesclun bed is producing a lot of greens, more than one little house rabbit needs! But my, it has saved us a bunch of money. Our spoiled little bunny has been raised on those pricey "Spring Mix" greens that cost around $6 a pound (unless I make a Costco trip), and I've filled that plastic box about four times now. He's also been getting a few beet greens, flat leaf parsley and red leaf lettuce, as well as the carrot thinnings.
So, other than a few green onions and herbs, and as many cucumbers as I can feed Mr. H and give to the neighbors and my kids, that's all that's going on in my garden.
The new section, where I'm planning on planting raspberries, strawberries and squash or melons next year, is coming along slowly. I have to load the compost from the pickup into a garden cart, wheel it to the back yard and dump it a load at a time, so it's quite labor intensive. Mr. H has been good to help me (can you believe it?) and I've had my son here to help also. I still have to go to Lowe's for those new boards to build the last bed, get one more yard of compost and one more yard of mulch, and then I'm through with that garden until spring.
Ho-hum. I'm even boring myself tonight! How about a recipe or two to liven things up a bit? Here are some my family really likes.
French Fried Onion Rings
This batter fries up tender and crisp, but it MUST be icy cold so do NOT skip the chilling process. The batter is also excellent for other fried veggies, such as zucchini, broccoli, okra, etc., or for fish.
3 large onions, sliced into rings (about 1/2” slices)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 cups iced water
vegetable or canola oil for frying
Separate the onions into rings. Soak in a bowl of ice water, in the refrigerator, for about two hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the batter; combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the 1-1/2 cups iced water all at once and whisk until the batter is smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
When the onions and the batter are thoroughly chilled, heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy, medium saucepan or deep fryer to 375F. Drain the onion rings and pat dry with a towel. Place all of the onion rings in the chilled batter and stir to coat well.
Working in batches to avoid crowding, drop the onion rings one by one into the hot oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown and crisp (3-4 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot.
Green Beans with Caramelized Onion-tomato Relish
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
*4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley (optional)
1 pound green beans, fresh or frozen
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with sugar and cook until golden brown.
Add vinegar to the onions and cook to evaporate the liquid. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and parsley. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a vegetable steamer or a large saucepan of boiling water, cook green beans until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and toss with the caramelized onion-tomato relish in a serving bowl.
* May use from 1 large to 4 medium tomatoes
Per Serving: 98 Calories; 3g Fat (22.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 152mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Rainbow Potato Pancakes
Makes 4 servings, or 12 (3-inch) pancakes.
2/3 pound (2 medium} unpeeled potatoes, shredded
1 medium (6-inch) carrot peeled and shredded
1 medium (5 to 6-inch) zucchini, shredded
1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onions with tops
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unseasoned dry bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
Reduced-fat sour cream (optional)
Enclose the three shredded vegetables in a clean kitchen towel; wring over sink to remove as much moisture as possible. Place vegetables in large bowl and immediately mix in bell pepper, onions, egg, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper to blend thoroughly. In large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat. With 1/4 cup measure, portion mixture into skillet to make four pancakes, pressing down to flatten each mound to about 1/2 inch, and spacing apart. Fry until well browned on bottom sides, about 4 minutes. Flip and brown reverse sides. Remove with spatula and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining oil and potato mixture. Serve hot with sour cream, if desired. Makes 4 servings, or 12 (3-inch) pancakes.
Per serving (3 3-inch pancakes); 159 calories, 5 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 8 g total fat. 53 mg cholesterol, 489 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 44 mg vitamin C, 545 mg potassium.
Winter Broccoli Casserole
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen broccoli spears
1 (4 oz.) cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup herb seasoned stuffing mix
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well. Arrange broccoli in a lightly greased 11x7x1-1/2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and set aside.
Combine eggs, soup, mayonnaise and onion. Spread over cheese. Set aside.
Combine stuffing mix and butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.