In my last post about asparagus season I asked if anyone had any great recipes for asparagus I didn’t get too many replies to this question so I thought I would share some of the ways that we eat asparagus this spring.
This morning when my husband went to open up the chicken coop I asked him to go to the garden and cut the asparagus that was ready. I knew there were at least a few shoots that were the right size. He came back with four or five shoots and that was just the right amount for what I had planned.
Now when I think breakfast I usually don’t think vegetables. I’m sure it’s because of the way I was raised and perhaps even a cultural thing but veggies are usually eaten later in the day. The exception is when I make an omelet.
My recipe this morning included –
3 Eggs (farm fresh)
4 shoots of Asparagus
1 pre-cooked Sausage Patty – (This was left over from yesterdays breakfast)
Asiago and Swiss Cheese
I started by putting a little oil in the pan and lightly cooking the asparagus. I beat the eggs then added them to the pan and covered it and let it cook a little while I cut the sausage into small pieces. I then added the sausage and covered it again and let it cook on low. I cut some asiago cheese and tore a slice of Swiss cheese into a few pieces. Once the egg looked mostly cooked (no more runny stuff) I placed the cheese pieces on top and covered it to let the cheese melt. I am really am not good at folding an omelet and making it look good so I usually just leave it open.
My husband wanted his to go so I made it into a sandwich.
Two weeks ago I used up our last jar of homemade spaghetti sauce, so I ran to the store and… No just kidding. That would be funny to my children who know that homemade/ homegrown spaghetti sauce is my specialty, and we eat lots of it. Even now that it is just my husband and me at home we average using one to two quarts a week. Not only do we use this sauce for spaghetti (we use the term loosely to describe any pasta, i.e. rigatoni, mostaccioli, rotini, topped with spaghetti sauce ) we also use it if we make lasagna, ravioli, stuffed cabbage or stuffed peppers.
Each year we grow lots of paste tomatoes, most of which I make into sauce, we also grow the oregano, basil, parsley and of course garlic, that I use in the spaghetti sauce. Since making tomato sauce is very time consuming, and when the tomatoes are ripe I find myself with more tomatoes than time (to make them into sauce), the last two years I have resorted to quicker methods of preserving tomatoes. I have frozen tomatoes and canned tomato juice, because I can always make those in to sauce later. Once I even dehydrated tomatoes because I couldn’t let them go to waste and slicing them up for the dehydrator was the quickest thing I could think of.
My plan for making sauce last week was to cook down tomato juice. I figured I would probably have to cook down 5 quarts of tomato juice to make the enough sauce (about 2 quarts) and it would take most of the day. In the morning before I started I came across this post about dehydrated tomatoes on one of the blogs I follow http://selfrelianceadventures.com/dehydrated-tomato-chips/ and was reminded that I had dried some tomatoes last summer and they were just sitting in my pantry waiting for me to think of something to use them for. I then had an idea.
Maybe I could use the dehydrated tomatoes to thicken the tomato juice. Now when I dehydrated the tomatoes they still had the skins on and the seeds in them and I really didn’t want chunks of tomato with skins and seed in my sauce so I would have to experiment. I took out a handful, about 10 or so, dried tomato slices and put them in my Nutri Bullet blender. I then added about half a quart of tomato juice. I plugged it in and let it run for a minute or so. When I poured this combination into my sauce pan it was a thick sauce – no chunks, no seeds, no skins. SUCCESS! I then added 2 1/2 more quarts of tomato juice and let it simmer for a couple hours before adding the rest of my ingredients.
This worked so well I’m sure I will repeat this process and use the rest of my dried tomatoes in the next few weeks. It wouldn’t really be necessary to add tomato juice to the dried tomatoes – water would work just fine, and in the correct proportions, though I’m not sure what they are right now, cooking the liquid off would not be necessary.
I am so thrilled that I have discovered this method of making sauce. I decided to share it with you in hopes that someone who reads this might find it helpful just as I did with the above post from Self Reliant Adventures.
Oh, and I suspect I will be dehydrating lots more tomatoes this summer. 🙂
This has truly been a wacky year for food production at the farm. Some things that normally grow in abundance have floundered and some things that have never produced before have done well. Apples were among the crops that did relatively well this year.
We have seven young apple trees of various varieties that we have planted in the past six years, three of which we planted in April of 2011 before we even closed on the property. Each year the apple trees have had had at least some blossoms in the spring but they never developed into more than a few apples. Last fall, as an experiment, I put a small amount of wood ash around the base of three of the trees. This spring nearly all of the trees blossomed heavily so I am not certain how much effect the wood ash had.
In May, when the apple trees were in full bloom, we had several mornings of heavy frost. Since the frost damaged asparagus, rhubarb and grape leaves, I am still stumped that our apple trees were unaffected.
Our honey bees were more that happy to do their part in our apple production, flying from blossom to blossom and tree to tree collecting pollen from one blossom and redistributing a portion of it on the next blossom while they collected their pollen from that one.
Being our first apple crop we didn’t know what to expect and it seems that our apples fell victim to bugs, worms and disease. Then to add insult to injury the crows decided to make our apples part of their diet.
A couple weeks ago when my husband was tired of watching our apples being destroyed he decided to pick what might still be good before the crows got anymore. He first brought home a bag of red apples and since I was busy that day, probably cleaning garlic, I put them in the refrigerator and half forgot about them. A couple days later he brought home these golden delicious.
He had been talking about dehydrating apples or making apple chips for a few weeks so I decided to use the useable part of these apple to make chips.
When I peeled the apples I was pleasantly surprised to see that the blemishes, which I have not positively identified but might be apple scab, were only skin deep. Once I removed the peel there was no evidence of disease.
I peeled, cored and sliced the apples. I placed the slices in a single layer on my dehydrator trays. Each tray held about four apples.
I filled up all nine trays and realized I had peeled way too many apples. So I needed to come up with a semi-quick or easy way to use the other half of those apples. Since fruit pies are a favorite dessert here and pie filling freezes well I decided to make apple pie filling.
I know that golden delicious apples are not necessarily a cooking apple so I was happy to find a recipe for pie filling that just called for apples instead of “cooking apples” or a specific variety of apples. Not that it would have mattered because I often change up recipes, substituting what I have on hand for what is called for in the recipe. Sometimes it turns out really well and sometimes not so good. The apple pie filling is in the freezer for now but I am certain that we will enjoy the apple pie that it makes.
The apple chips on the other hand are disappearing quickly. They make a nice snack.
When I took them out of the dehydrator, after about 18 hours, I packaged each tray of apple chips in a sealable plastic sandwich bag. This way I know that the package contains about four apples or four servings. Then I put the bags in jars for storage. It is important to know an approximate serving size because these apple chips are so good that it could be easy to get carried away and eat way too many. I warned my husband that eating a whole bag at one time was not a good idea, and that you need to make sure you drink enough water when eating dried fruit. He told me that this was a lesson he learned as a kid – the hard way.
A few days ago when I was looking for a side dish to go with the stuffed green peppers I made for dinner, I came across the “half forgotten” bag of apples in the refrigerator.
I decided to cook up some apple sauce. I didn’t need a recipe for this because I have cooked and canned apple sauce many times in the past. Although many of these apples had bites taken out of them (crows) and a few had worms in them, I was able to cut away enough of the bad parts and cook up a wonderful dish of apple sauce. To make apple sauce, after I peeled, cored and cut away any bad parts, I put the apples in a pan with a small amount of water. I brought it to a boil then turned it to low and let it simmer until the apples were very soft. I then mashed the apples with a potato masher. I then continue to let is simmer and thicken up a little. There was no need to add sweetener. I put it in a bowl and chilled it before dinner and it made the perfect side dish.
Over the next few months we will be researching natural options for controlling disease and insects on the apple trees with hopes of growing even better crops in the future, and who knows we might even build a scarecrow or two. https://www.todayshomeowner.com/scarecrows-in-the-garden/
This is a busy time of year for us. We are wrapping up our garlic season https://donteatitsoap.com/a-year-in-growing-garlic/ and I will be putting up the final post in that series soon. I have created this page that links to all the posts in that series and added it to the menu at the top of my home page so you can read through them at your leisure.
It is also harvest season and along with harvesting food comes preserving it, so I will be writing several pieces on what we are harvesting and how we are preserving it. Check out the pictures below for a sneak peak at what’s coming up.
I will share how we will enjoy this years apple crop.
Some different methods for making tomato sauce,
What I am doing with our beautiful grapes this year,
And a write about wildlife on the farm – friend or foe.
To make sure you don’t miss out on these or any future posts you can sign up at the bottom of this page to follow along via email and if you like what you read don’t forget to share it with your friends.
‘Tis the season of vegetables fresh from the garden, so I thought I’d share a couple of recipes that I made last week that we really enjoyed.
The first one was made with yellow squash. Generally it only takes one or two yellow squash plants to produce enough squash that you can eat it every day. More plants will have you sending it home with friends and family or the delivery man, and when no one shows up at your house you might resort to leaving a few on the doorsteps of random strangers and rushing off before you are caught.
I decided to make this (or something similar) as a side dish for our dinner one night. The ingredients were simple –
Yellow Squash cut into 1/4 inch slices
About 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
I put the olive oil in one bowl and mixed the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and garlic powder in a second bowl. I dipped the squash slices first in olive oil coating both sides, then in the bread crumb mixture.
At this point my instructions vary from the original recipe. Rather than a metal baking pan lined with parchment paper, I placed the slices in my 9×13 Pyrex baking dish. Since I didn’t know if my Pyrex could handle the 450 cooking temperature, I set my oven at 350. I baked them for about 15 minutes flipped each one over and baked for another 15 minutes.
These didn’t turn out crispy like the original recipe, nor did I want them to. Since they were a side dish we would be eating them with a fork not as a finger food. The breaded yellow squash was a delightful side dish. When my husband repeated several times how good it was and went back for a second helping, I decided this recipe was a keeper and good enough to share with you.
Swiss chard is another garden vegetable that is very prolific. We start picking the green leaves when they are young and tender and they continue to grow back throughout the summer. We sauté them with garlic, use in stir fries and soups and eat raw in salads. If we try to give swiss chard to friends or neighbors they often reply that they don’t know what swiss chard is or have never eaten it. We describe it as being like a hardy spinach. That’s what trigger this next recipe idea.
We do like a good spinach artichoke dip but we don’t grow spinach. I decided to find a good recipe for spinach-artichoke dip and substitute swiss chard for the spinach. I started with this recipe http://www.food.com/recipe/spinach-artichoke-dip-1209 . I read the reviews and suggestion’s for changes that people made then I came up with this recipe.
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
10 oz. fresh swiss chard finely chopped
1 can artichoke hearts drained and chopped
8 oz. cream cheese softened
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
several garlic cloves minced equal to about 2 or 3 teaspoons
about 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
I mixed together the first 5 ingredients in one bowl and mixed the last 5 ingredient in a second bowl. Then I mixed the two mixtures together. I put it in a one quart casserole dish and baked it at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
We ate this with tortilla chips. “That’s really good” was my husbands response. He was right. “I’m not sure I will ever want to order spinach dip at a restaurant again” he said. We both had seconds and left overs were eaten the following day with lunch. Can you make it and freeze it he asked me last night, and I am planning on doing just that later this week. Obviously this is another recipe that I want to keep around, and in recording it here I have accomplished that and shared it with you as well.
If you decide to try either of these recipes please let me know what you think by leaving your comments on this page, and if you have a recipe that is worth sharing I would love for you to do so.