Yellow summer squash have taken over my garden – what a delightful problem! Alas, yellow summer squash doesn’t seem to freeze as well as zucchini. We need to enjoy these sunny little veggies fresh, or cook them into something delightful before freezing. This recipe for Summer Squash Fritters accomplishes both – you can enjoy these as Continue reading
My apologies, friends. I’ve been playing in the garden, and haven’t offered up a new recipe for a few days now. What began a few weeks ago as a daily walk to the garden with a kitchen bowl has blossomed into a daily walk to the garden with a wheelbarrow. The harvest this year is amazing!
A few days ago, I pulled all of the beets in my beet patch. Oh my, what a job! The highlight of the morning was watching the kiddos gleefully spray a huge pile of freshly pulled beets with the garden hose. While most of the bounty found its way into jars of pickled beets, I saved a few for this Savory Garden Pie. With rich flavors of ricotta, walnuts, and earthy root vegetables, Savory Garden Pie makes a delightful dinner with a side salad and crusty bread. Bon Appetit!
Ingredients (Makes 1 pie, serves 6 – 8)
1 roll-out, refrigerated pie crust
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon seasoning mix, such as Wildtree Picnic Salad Blend*
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups sliced root vegetables (any combination of beets, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, or turnips would be delicious)
* Interested in Wildtree products? Feel free to email my favorite Wildtree consultant, Tricia, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 1) (Optional) If you prefer your vegetables fork-tender instead of crisp, steam your sliced root vegetables in a steamer rack for 3 – 5 minutes.
Step 2) Roll out your refrigerated pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate.
Step 3) In a small mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, seasoning mix, parmesan, and walnuts. Blend well. Spread this mixture over the bottom of the pie crust.
Step 4) Arrange sliced root vegetables on top of the ricotta mixture. If desired, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Step 5) Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Fragrant, beautiful, and delicious, fresh herbs are bountiful in early summer. It’s easy to take big bunches of basil, long sprigs of rosemary, and cheerful sprigs of parsley, mint, oregano, and thyme for granted this time of year. (I forgot cilantro, tarragon, lavender… you get the idea!)
Frugal cooks know that the season for fresh herbs is relatively brief. Once the very hottest days of summer arrive, delicate herbs begin to wilt and bolt, their best flavors gone for another year. Don’t worry, though – the flavors of early summer herbs are easy to preserve. Herb Compound Butter is the easiest, most reliable method for preserving herbs here at Crowded Earth Kitchen. Let’s get started!
Herbs don’t freeze well on their own – they discolor and lose flavor pretty quickly. However, herbs blended into butter freeze magnificently! The butterfat protects the delicate herbs, preserving their color and flavor. Every cook knows that herbs and butter taste wonderful together, so why not combine them for preservation? That’s really all “compound butter” is – butter blended with one or more ingredients. So easy!
What herbs should you use? Whatever herbs you like! Fresh springs of rosemary blended with real butter are one of my favorite flavor combinations. You may find that parsley blended with butter suits your palate, or perhaps a combination of oregano and thyme is more your style. Experiment! Enjoy!
Now that the nights are cooler, my basil plants are looking pretty tired. The leaves are beginning to turn a paler shade of green, and I will lose them to winter soon. It’s time for a quick harvest! Luckily, my Swiss chard greens are looking fabulous. Today we’re making a simple pesto using a combination of chard and basil, with pecans instead of the more popular (and very expensive!) pine nuts. This pesto freezes beautifully, and will provide you with the wonderful flavor of fresh basil all winter long.
Ingredients (Makes 2 1/2 cups)
6 cups loosely packed chard leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Step 1) Combine chard leaves, pecans, and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor. Blend until fairly smooth.
Step 2) Add basil, salt, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend until smooth, using a rubber scraper to incorporate ingredients if necessary.
Step 3) Use a teaspoon to fill each well of an ice cube tray with pesto. Place in freezer until pesto is completely solid, then remove pesto cubes and freeze in a resealable freezer bag.
Add individual cubes of pesto to sautéed vegetables, pasta sauces, soups, and casseroles all winter long!
Moving into late July, my Northern vegetable garden has been growing for almost eight weeks. This means – finally! – the first vegetables are being harvested here at Crowded Earth Kitchen! Weather permitting, we’ll enjoy increasingly bountiful harvesting for the next six to eight weeks. So exciting!
Here’s a peek at some of what’s happening In The Garden:
We’ve had a rather cold and rainy start to the summer season in my region. Crowded Earth Kitchen’s vegetable garden is fully planted now, with over 100 transplants (mostly tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, ground cherries, and broccoli) and 200 feet of seeded rows (beans, peas, potatoes, onions, carrots, okra, and cucumbers). Early in the season, however, vegetables take a back seat to herbs and flowers! Here’s what’s looking spiffy this week…
Gardening season has finally arrived! Growing my own food is really my favorite part of cooking. Few things are as satisfying as creating a meal from fresh, healthy ingredients grown by my family. This summer, Crowded Earth Kitchen will feature a weekly post with garden updates. A few summers ago, our $200 gardening investment led to a harvest worth over $2,000. Can we do better this year?
Gardening is part art, part science, and part dumb luck. Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen we rely pretty heavily on dumb luck! We are lucky to have enough growing space that we can garden badly and still end up with a bountiful harvest. It’s not that we try to garden badly (sometimes, our garden is beautiful), but it’s nice to have room for mistakes.
Important: Crowded Earth Kitchen grows organic food, entirely free from herbicides and pesticides. We believe strongly that these toxins have no place in a backyard garden. Stay tuned for tips on poison-free weed and pest control!
Below are a few photos from the garden we began planting just this week. Watch for growing updates! As we begin to harvest food, we’ll feature seasonal recipes from the garden. When we begin picking by the wagonload in autumn, you can count on lots of canning and preserving recipes here at Crowded Earth Kitchen!