Can Do! Preserving Keeps the Garden Goodness Going

With the right preserving techniques, you can enjoy garden-fresh fruits and vegetables for a very long time.

If you find yourself with a larger yield of fruits and vegetables than you can consume  or poor weather threatens and you need to harvest large amounts at once –– there are plenty of ways to minimize waste.

Surplus vegetables can be reliably stored in various different ways to keep for the leaner winter months. Many can be cooked and used to make chutneys, pickles and preserves, which will allow you to enjoy them long after harvesting. Store some vegetables chopped or whole, either pickled in vinegar or brine or blanched and frozen. If you have the equipment, many crops can be used to make delicious homemade wines in a matter of months, such as parsnips and rhubarb.

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Cabbage

Cabbage is a hardy, leafy vegetable full of vitamins. It can be difficult to grow; it only likes cool temperatures, and it can be a magnet for some type of pests. By planning your growing season and providing diligent care, you may have two successful crops in one year, both spring and fall. Many varieties are available to suit both your growing conditions and taste preferences.

Botanical name: Brassica oleracea var. capitata

Plant type: Vegetable

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Soil pH: Neutral


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Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts are a member of the cabbage family, and an excellent source of protein and vitamins. They have a long growing season, and are generally more successful when grown for a fall harvest, as they only increase in flavor after a light frost or two.

Botanical name:

Plant type: Vegetable

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Any

Soil pH: Neutral


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Asparagus Souffle Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup small-curd cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 spears asparagus, chopped, tips set aside

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and pour into a glass 8-inch-square pan, coating the bottom thoroughly. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly and stir in the cheeses. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl; add to egg mixture, blending thoroughly. Stir in the asparagus except tips.

Pour mixture into the baking pan, place 2 asparagus tips on each of the four servings, and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees; continue baking another 20 minutes. Cut each souffle into four pieces and serve hot.

Asparagus Salad with Peas and Toasted Almonds Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Start to Finish Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 bunches asparagus, washed and cut into 5-inch pieces (tough bottoms discarded)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • About 10 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garnish: 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups very cold water with 1 dozen ice cubes. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups well-salted water to a boil; add asparagus. Return water to a boil and blanch asparagus 5 minutes (8 to 10 minutes if using thick spears). Remove asparagus with tongs (reserving water in pan) and place in ice water 1 minute; remove from water, dry, and set aside. Bring cooking water back to a boil and blanch peas about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in ice water 1 minute. Strain and dry well; set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, saute shallot in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove shallot to a small bowl and set aside. Add almonds to hot oil and toast 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, being careful not to burn. Add almonds to shallot and mix in lemon zest, juice, peas, and mint leaves.

Arrange asparagus spears on a serving platter (or divided among six salad plates). Season pea and almond mixture with salt and pepper, then spoon over asparagus. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Asparagus Hummus Served with Dukkah Spiced Pita Chips Recipe

A new twist on hummus — a combination of the brilliant green dip and fragrant, earthy spiced pita chips.

  • 2 cups fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 15-1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and well rinsed
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and return water to boil. Cook about 4 minutes or until asparagus is cooked through and bright green. Drain asparagus and refresh in ice-water bath. After 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, and puree. Add zest, juice, and asparagus, and process until smooth. With machine running, pour in olive oil and process until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with spiced pita chips.

Dukkah Spiced Pita Chips

  • 1 package pita bread
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Separate each pita bread into two rounds. Brush cut sides with olive oil, then cut into small wedges. Place wedges on a baking sheet; set aside.

Heat a heavy, dry skillet over high heat; add pistachios and toast about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove nuts to a medium mixing bowl. In the same skillet, toast sesame seeds about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add seeds to pistachios. Repeat toasting process with coriander, cumin, and fennel, adding to same bowl. Add peppercorns, dried mint, and salt. Use a mortar and pestle to crush ingredients until they are the size of small bread crumbs (or pulse in a food processor to a dry, coarse consistency — be careful not to overprocess).

Sprinkle dukkah spice mixture evenly over oiled pita wedges and toast the pita in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Start to Finish Time: 60 minutes

  • 9 spears pencil-thin asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Pinch sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus extra for water
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano–Reggiano cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten

Wash and trim asparagus. Cut into 3/4-inch lengths. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, 3–4 minutes. Drain asparagus and submerge in ice water to stop cooking. Set aside.

In a medium-size oven-safe skillet, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add onion, sugar, and salt; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown and very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove onion from the pan with tongs, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Let onion sit 10 minutes, until no longer hot.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Add cheese, pepper, asparagus, and onion. Set the skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture, stirring briefly to distribute fillings.

Reduce heat to low and let mixture cook slowly; you should see just a few lazy bubbles popping up around the edges. Cook undisturbed until edges are set but middle is still very liquid, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your broiler on high.

Transfer skillet to oven, positioning it 3–4 inches from the broiler. Cook until top of frittata is golden brown, edges are puffed, and center is just set (it will jiggle slightly but pop right back after you poke it), about 2 minutes. Don’t overcook it! Loosen with a spatula, if needed. Remove to a warmed platter and serve immediately.

Asparagus Casserole Recipe

This is a family recipe. Very easy, and tastes great. Excellent side dish.

Yield: Serves 8-10

  • 1 large can asparagus, drained
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash black pepper
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounce) cream of mushroom soup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place layers of half of the asparagus and sliced eggs in a buttered casserole dish; sprinkle with half of salt, pepper, and cracker crumbs. Top with half of the shredded cheese. Spoon half of mushroom soup over this. Repeat layers and spoon remaining soup over the casserole. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Asparagus

Botanical name: Asparagus officinalis

Plant type: Vegetable

Sun exposure: Part Sun

Soil type: Sandy

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Asparagus is a perennial bulb and stem vegetable that greets us every spring. It may take 2 to 3 years to get started and produce, so patience is needed! But then the plant can be productive up to 20 years, so we think it’s worth the wait.

Asparagus has male and female plants, with the female plants producing berries. Regions with cool winters are best for this cool-season crop.

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Backyard Vegetable Garden

Simple Maintenance: doing less, expecting more

A backyard vegetable garden should be an asset, not a burden. Watering, weeding, fertilizing and similar chores can be kept to a minimum if the beds are properly prepared and well-mulched. Low-maintenance gardens are the only way to keep the fun in gardening, and low-maintenance techniques can also lead to increased yields from your plants.

basic seasonal needs – an understanding of the three essential elements during a crop’s life-cycle will ensure that your vegetables have the right nutrients at each stage of development.

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