It has come to my attention that some bloggers are listing me in the “Foodie Blog” section of their blogroll (thanks!) Well, if I am thought of as a foodie, I’m totally down with that–and I’d better look sharp to maintain my creds, don’t you think? So I couldn’t possibly pass this one up. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I don’t measure up as a fresh-from-the-garden foodie.
Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. Zucchini blossoms, right off of my zucchini hill. You’ll want to pick the male flowers, which grow on the end of stalks, rather than the female flowers which are on the ends of zucchini.
If you want to just bread them with beaten egg and flour and fry them, you should go ahead and do that–the Italians do. If, on the other hand, you feel like stuffing them with cheese and garlic and garden-fresh herbs, you should do that.
Wash the blossoms and open them up a little bit to check for bugs, pull out the stamens, and stuff them with whatever you’re going to stuff them with. “But Kat!” you say. “Where’s the fourth blossom?” It had a bee in it. ‘Nuff said.
I once knew someone who called twilight “entre le chien et le loup”–between the dog and the wolf. It is a very French sort of thing to say; romantic and elegant-sounding, especially in French, but with only a vague sort of meaning. Vague is as vague does, and earlier this week, I began to feel ready for Autumn. I am, mentally, entre le chien et le loup, season-wise.
On the one hand, I am pulling this out of my garden:
And on the other hand, all I can dream about is curling up with this:
Today is the first of four days of near-solitude; four days in which I am staying home and getting things done. Obviously, I need to lay in provisions for the long haul, and obviously, I need to use up the stuff that’s coming out of my garden. Can do!
The first order of business was to partially contain the enormous patch of basil. Purple, green, sweet, genovese, whatever–there’s way too much of it and some of it was starting to bloom. One can only eat so much insalate caprese, so…
And I packed a fabulous lunch for tomorrow. Gosh, with my fancy Mr. Bento and my fancy tiffin-box, I am hard pressed to decide what is more fun–going to a restaurant with friends, or packing my lunch. Really!
In yesterday’s tiffin, I put my silicone muffin cups to work. 3 oz of tuna, a dab of hummus, cocktail olives, Sechler’s dill gherkins, cherries, torn-up pita, and cinnamon cashews. It was all less coherent than I could have wished, but still beautiful and tasty.
In garden news, the blue morning glories are going gangbusters.
The rest, I am afraid, is just eye candy.
Earlier in the summer I expressed my frustration with the buying and handling of fresh herbs for cooking. This frustration was misplaced, because as I wrote, I had forgotten that I had an herb garden growing just outside my back door. Ah! The herb garden! The cilantro never really took hold, but the mint and parsley are going bonkers and needed to be reined in a little. I was only too happy to do so, and the results… were nearly spontaneous, and shocking to myself. I don’t think there are going to be any hummus-and-pita-over-the-sink evenings this week.
Sauteed squid with cilantro, mint, and lime dressing. Ooooooh. I always keep a block of squid in my freezer, and I always have limes around because I’m a gin & tonic junkie. Turns out they’re good for other things, too. This squid is intended to be mixed with some of the salad greens that are forever present in my fridge. (The recipe is from Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson)
Seared eggplant stuffed with feta, chili, mint, and lime. Oooooooh. I frequently grab an eggplant or a handful of zucchini while at the grocery–an eggplant can be sliced, breaded, and fried if nothing more exciting occurs. Fortunately this week, something did. (This is Nigella, too)
This week, the garden is all about the gladiolus. I have two kinds, miniature pink ones
I have zucchini, and not cucumbers! Gee. What’s a little confusion among cucurbitaceae?
I think it’s less embarassing than last summer’s gaffe, in which I was absolutely sure that a pansy was a sweet pea–just because I had planted sweet peas in that pot. I eventually conceded the point.
To be redundant… “and the garden bloomed and bloomed, and new miracles happened every day.”
Ah, July. July July July! July is my month–my birthday is in July. I’ve always felt that the Fourth of July was my own personal holiday… that midsummer’s firefly-speckled glory was especially for me… that red, white and blue are my sunshine colors… in short, that life is sweet at this time of the year. Swimming, picnics, sweet corn, strawberries, and sunshine. Excellent.
The morning glories are beginning to come into their own. Here is the dwarf variety I planted, which was supposed to come in pinks and lavenders also, but only the blue have bloomed. Aren’t they lovely? Next summer I may plant only these–the regular morning glories are getting out of hand.
This is the only regular variety that is blooming yet. Just look at that shade of purple. I haven’t been able to get a clematis going, but I’m getting my purple fix right here. I go outside to look at them before work, while I’m eating breakfast.
I have them growing in planters beneath the bench seats on my deck. I had hoped they would drape over the edge of the deck, creating a wall all around it. They have other ideas, though. They’re growing right up through the seats.
Ah, the garden. Is any cynicism not premature?
Summer is in full swing. The temperature has been above 80 everyday for two weeks, now, so if things are every going to get going–they’ve got going now.
The mystery plant, with espresso-cup-sized flowers, turns out to be a second variety of Canterbury Bells. It’s comical next to the tiny starry purple ones (which are now mostly finished for the season–along with my foxglove, alas).
Now for bad news: the delphiniums, hollyhocks, and lupines are being eaten down so badly that I am sure they will not flower. The sage and lavender are so small and ill-established that they won’t do very much this year, either. Also, my tomatoes and peppers are not doing so well as I should hope, given that bloggers in Ohio are already seeing fruit set. This may be because they are shaded for the last few hours of the day by a pesky, pesky tree about which I have no special feelings. I may have a tree-less back yard in my future.
Let us put the eye candy up front, in this post.
I wish I could remember what this plant was. It is as tall as the foxglove and, like the foxglove, fell over in the storm. Its flowers are enormous… I would say that dolls could use them for teacups, or humans use them to drink Turkish coffee.
And I finally mulched and caged the vegetable bed, props to me. Having started with four tomatoes, three pepper plants, and two eggplants, I now have five tomato plants, two pepper plants, and zero eggplants. The tomatoes have been victims of the winds, and I have lost plants because their main stems were snapped in two. I have replaced them enthusiastically and easily (because the garden center is still stocking them, unlike the other two) and ended up with, I hope, five. One pepper plant was nipped off at the base by a very naughty critter who, I hope, learned a lesson from the experience. Both eggplant were also eaten by animals–though to tell the truth they looked none too healthy beforehand anyway.
As this year’s garden is really getting into gear (several inches of rain last week… yes you heard right, INCHES!, and now it’s hot and sunny so things will really start to grow), I am learning my lessons from this year’s mistakes and making a more careful plan for next year. Here are my main points:
1. Buy vegetable plants at the garden center instead of ordering them from Burpee. I’m going to have to replace half the stuff I put in anyway, and the garden center has a pretty rockin’ selection of interesting heirloom varieties–especially if you hit it in that sweet spot right in the middle of May.
2. Forget trying to grow anything, except possibly morning glories and cucumbers, from seed. It just isn’t worth it. I have just chucked the sweet peas as non-starters and the zucchini–yes you heard me right the zucchini–never even came up. The seed part of the perennial bed is an unmulched, weed-ridden headache. Fuggedaboudit.
3. I must try harder to control the color palette on my deck. Right now, the place is a riot of mismatched hues, and it doesn’t make me happy. Next summer? Focus on pink and orange, allowing modest forays in bits of yellow, hot red, and flaming magenta.
4. I must figure out something else to do with morning glories. I will probably seed them directly into the back of the vegetable bed, and let them grow up bamboo supports.
5. Move all of the achillea to the front of the perennial bed, so that I can fill in the back with things that are actually tall.
This little fellow, who lives ever-so-tentatively along the back of my perennials bed, must have been having a very nasty time of it recently. We have had incredible thunder and lightning and downpours of rain almost every night this week. On Tuesday, they even put off the tornado sirens twice–though I think nothing touched down.
It has been very hard on the foxglove. I suppose I should have had the foresight to stake them. Oh well, you live, you learn. A few of the stalks are still semi-upright. The ones that fell over completely, I clipped and brought inside to make a bouquet.
They look ever-so-picturesque in a vase by my bedside.
Unfortunately, this bouquet cannot stay by my bedside, nor in any other readily-visible place, as far as I can figure out. Foxglove is also called digitalis… digitalis is the source of digitoxin… and digitoxin is very poisonous. I don’t want Pudding to get to the bouquet and nibble it, not even a little bit.
I mean, look at that chin. You’d look out for her, too, if she was yours. So… dunno what to do with the foxglove except toss it out. Or maybe give it to someone who doesn’t have pets.
In other news, I’ve got a new baby, and it’s totally 80s. Not like computers actually looked in the 80s, but the way people would have wanted them to look. I mean, this is Tron-caliber cool.
I have spent a significant chunk of today curled up with Nigella Lawson’s book Forever Summer. It’s full of exactly the kind of fresh, flavorful stuff that I want to be cooking at this time of year. The mizuna and squid salad? Oh yes, ohhhh yes, we’re trying that very very soon. We certainly are.
Today, though, I made her thai crumbled beef wraps. This is lovely stuff, spicy and sour and sweet. Really, is there anything that limes don’t improve? Key lime rice pudding, lime in ground beef, and I think that tonight I’d better have a gin and tonic made with Rangpur-style gin.
As I flipped through the book, I felt temporarily disheartened by the number of recipies that use fresh herbs. It’s so hard to buy them and keep them fresh and use most of them in time… and then I remembered, hel-lo, I have an herb garden. Duh. So I pranced outside and picked some fresh cilantro for these.
The foxglove is beyond dreamy. I go outside just to look at it.
I am utterly enchanted by the foxglove in my perennial bed.
I would be happy to have the whole border filled up with foxglove, I think. It is by far the most successful flower I have, at this time of the year.
Today, I can officially say that I have blooming foxglove.
The cucumbers are up–hip hip hooray!
The zucchini are up–hip hip hooray!
I replaced the dead tomato plant with a German Striped tomato plant–hip hip hooray!
Other good things:
I bought two large plants and plopped each one squarely in the middle of a pansy planter, sacrificing some pansies in the process. As the pansies fade in the summer heat, the lantana will take over. That’s the plan, anyway.
I am on foxglove watch! Sometime this week–I would hope–they will start to bloom. It looks like the one in front will be creamy white, while the two in back will be pinkish. Hooray hooray hooray! I’ve got gardening creds with my mother and aunt, now, who thought that foxglove was supposed to be difficult to establish.