Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Tasty Salad...

Long time no blog...and it's been an especially long time since I posted a recipe so here ya go!  I made this great salad the other night. wasn't the easiest thing ever to put together but if you have access to the ingredients and a little time for prep you have a great meal.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

For the Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Combine all items in some kind of bowl and whisk together-or do what I did--I doubled the recipe, put it all in a quart size mason jar and just shook it up, a lot ;)  I figured you can't go wrong with extra asian type tasty salad dressing.

For the Salad:
  •   1/2 head Napa Cabbage-shredded (Note this is not a regular cabbage-they can be hard to find, A Napa Cabbage looks like this-after being cut in half)  If you haven't had it, this is more "lettuce-y" than "cabbage-y", I liked it a lot.
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce-shredded-recipe called for 1/2 head but you really need a full head to balance the cabbage
  • 1 red pepper-julienned
  • 2 carrots-julienned or shredded or cut with veggie peeler
  • 1/4 lb. snow peas (raw and de-stringed)-julienned
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves-coarsely chopped (I used less, I think it can be strong)
  • 1/4 cup green onion (thinly sliced)-I used a little more
  • Rotisserie Chicken meat
  • 1/2 chopped unsalted peanuts
Just chop, slice, dice everything and add to large bowl or onto individual plates.  Top with the chicken, dressing and peanuts.  I would recommend that you keep the veggies separate from everything else til you serve.  We had lots leftover so I would say this recipe serves 4 adults easily (and I still have some of the lettuce/veggie mix and dressing left for meatless salads this week.)

Here is mine before adding chicken and dressing and such...
And here it is with the chicken, peanuts and dressing.  We had it for dinner one night, lunch the next day and like I said I still have some of the veggie mix leftover (lunch today!)
Thanks to Salud Cooking School for the recipe-from their Main Dish Salads Class!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Long Hot Days of Summer

Is it me or are summers getting hotter?  I'm not sure I buy into this whole Global Warming thing or anything but to me it's just dang hot this summer so far.  In fact it reminds me to pull out my favorite comic of all time...

 Sorry the scan is a little wonky, but I love the scene!

The garden likes it hot but it also likes rain, which we haven't had much of lately.  I'm having to water a couple of times a week which gets tougher as things get taller.  Speaking of taller-we had to rig up some extra supports for the tomatoes which are now taller than I am.
More things that are "tall" include the cages for the cucumbers which is working out really well.  Only real issue is if I let them get too big I have a hard time getting them back through the small holes in the cage, but has only been a problem once so far.
The squash up the cages just didn't work very well in general.  I do like the cages though and probably will use them next year for cucumbers and also maybe eggplant and peppers.  Planting around the cages gives the plants more support instead of having to tie each pepper up with a stick or rod (which was sort of annoying a couple of weeks ago.)  The squash as usual started off like gangbusters and I was giving away squash and zucchini until a couple of days ago...then it happened again...just like last year...Squash Vine Borer.
You have this beautiful squash plant and the next day...dead.  Vine blow out.  A small insect lays eggs inside the stem at some point and when they hatch and bust out, it kills your plant in one fell swoop.  Still debating re-planting at this point.  I tried last year without much success.
In other garden-y areas I have the cutest baby watermelons...(note garden hose for size comparison.)
Oddly the green beans still aren't producing beans.  As you can see the vines are HUGE and nice and green but not a sign of a single bean.

I do have quite a few lima beans coming as well as pink eyed peas...
All in all everything is doing fairly well, there are hits and misses as usual.  Leslie isn't complaining about not having any green beans yet ;)  Okra is about to really starting kicking into gear and I'm drowning in tomatoes (which is a good thing.)
Well enough typing, it's time to go out and do some picking!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Fruits!

Ok well not fruits more like veggies-but look!!  My first pickins' are in!
I looked at last year's pictures and realized I picked squash, cucumbers and peppers this same week last year.  But I planted almost 3 weeks later this year so while I have been thinking things sure are growing quickly-they really are!  The lack of rain is worry-some, but I have been watering every couple of days by hand.  It takes some time but I get much more accurate watering on specific plants if I just walk around with the hose for 45 mins.
A few updates on other garden-y things...these were my tomatoes this same week last year...
These are my 2011 tomatoes this same week...
Holy Giant Tomato Plants Batman!
I think the squash have vine borers again.  That's frustrating.  Walter Reeves the garden expert says there isn't much you can do to stop them, other than plant early and hope you are sick of squash by the time they kill your plants (sort of funny huh?)  The cucumbers are growing up their cages perfectly...
The yellow squash and zucchini not so much, but my intent was to sort of tie them to the cages to encourage them to grow up and to tell you the truth I really haven't had the time and I also haven't wanted to work out there with all of these 90+ degree days...maybe this weekend I'll rope them up...
I should have peppers and okra soon...
Even though it has been decimated by flea beetles the eggplant are even coming along.
I leave you with a parting shot of green bean alley...

May you all dream of squash casserole for the weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm Melting!

Howdy folks!  I have some wonderful garden pictures and blog updates to post but due to lack of AC here at the old office where the computer blogging today!  By the way 97 degrees on June 1st is just crazy-my poor garden is a little "wilty"!

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's All Spider-y Under There...

In one of my favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Barney and Gomer are working to rebuild a bandstand and Gomer doesn't want to go up under it because he is afraid of spiders...He says something like, "But Barney, it's all spidery under there."  To which of course Barney replies "Gomer, get down there with them spiders and start workin'!"
Well now I know exactly how Gomer feels and it's happening in my garden!  Last year when I raked all of the mulch up in the Fall, I placed it on a tarp in the yard for re-use.  We I've finally gotten all of it back out on the garden and it's FULL of spiders!  I mean thousands upon thousands of spiders.  From little tiny jumping spiders to giant ones as big as my hand (no lie, I've killed two that size so far.)  I beat the living crap out of them with my shoe.  I've put a question into my local extension service about getting rid of them.  I'm not for using tons of chemicals in the garden but they are stringing webs EVERYWHERE and just plain old freaking me out!  (I have identified the giant spiders as Wolf Spiders and they both were carrying egg sacs-I have NOT posted a picture because honestly they just flat out scare me!)

In other garden news-the tomatoes and peppers are coming along nicely and I think I will have enough for most of the neighbors.  
Something is continuing to decimate my eggplants, not really anything else just my 4 eggplants-see?
The green beans have started training up the lines from last year and I only have to help them out a little bit.  I did thin them again this weekend, it gets harder and harder to pull up plants the bigger they get!
The pink eyed peas are doing ok, some of the leaves are a little "shriveled" up, they seem to be growing this way.  This is my first year for these so I am not sure if this is normal or not.
And finally, the squash plants are growing nicely and it is almost time to start "attaching them" to the cages.  I think I will use some fabric strips instead of string.  I have a sack of (way too small) clothes going to the thrift store and I may just cut some of them up for tying purposes.
I was out of town for a week and very nervous about the garden-so I'm happy to update that everything (well except the spiders) is going good!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Some Hits and Misses...

Ah early May...seeds sprouting...nice weather (if you calls highs of around 90 nice-a little hot for my tastes.)  I wanted to hop in and post a garden update.  I hope to get some work done out there today, either before it hits 90 or after it cools down a little bit.  I have mostly good luck with seed sproutage and have already "thinned the herd" once.  It needs to be done again!
Some things are coming in like gangbusters-for example the zucchini...need to thin these again ASAP.
Other things are struggling-this below photo is the "regular cucumber" cage.  It isn't looking so hot.  It was the first set of seeds I planted around a cage and I think I just dug them too deeply.  I'm actually not a huge fan of regular cucumbers so I am debating planting any more seeds.  I probably shouldn't but I hate having something so bare looking.
The tomatoes are caged and doing well for the most part.
The peppers are coming along nicely too.
The okra is sort of bouncing back from the cold snap.  I'm going to give it til around Wednesday to look really good or it may come out and be replanted.
Finally the green beans, lima beans and pink eyed peas rows are filling in.  I still have a few gaps in the rows but I'm thinking once they are thinned again and continue to come in I should be fine with what I have in each area.
I have a few bare spots and I'm thinking about adding some watermelon, even though I have not had too much luck with them in the past.  The mulching is around 85% complete and I was able to re-use most of the mulch from last year.  In the future though I need to come up with a better process than scraping it all off, putting it in a pile on a tarp and then re-spreading it by the bucketful (whew.)  I have 20 more bags of mulch in the garage from when it was on sale a month or so back and that should complete the mulching (add that to the to-do list this week!)

All in all pretty good progress for only a couple of weeks post planting--

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blood and Sweat-but no Tears!

Well I'm almost a month behind last year's gardening schedule but between the weather, having a lot going on and some issues with my back (herniated disc) I'm just now getting around to getting it in.  If the rains will hold off today most everything should go in tomorrow and Sunday.  While I'm waiting for things to dry out I thought I would share my latest and greatest (maybe) idea for some of the plants.

Last year I had a problem with some root rot on my squash and my cucumbers sort of grew out and spread all over the ground, making it hard to walk and hard to pick.  After seeing this in someone else's garden I thought I would give it a shot.  You will need the following:

A 50' long roll of fencing, some wire cutters and some zip ties.  I used that to create these...
Not your everyday flimsy cages!  These cages are made with 6' sections of the fence, they stand 5' tall and hopefully will each be able to support the weight of 5-6 squash or cucumber plants once trained to grow "up" instead of out and all over the ground.  A couple of notes though once I got going.  Try to cut the fence very close to the joints and be very careful of the rough edges...very careful.  As it springs back when you cut into it-it can bite ya!
Luckily it looks worse than it was but my arms look a bit like I have been in a cat fight.  I zip tied most of the rough joints where the cage meets at the ends so that should help.  Another note-after putting them together Leslie tried to stick his hand into one and it wouldn't fit-making it almost impossible to pick veggies from inside the cage-yikes!  Luckily my hand fits in ok, but you may want to play with different sized openings in your wire fence.  I think once buried in the ground I'll be able to reach down into them and grab what I need.
It was nice to be back outside, getting some physical work done and putting some sweat equity into the garden-even if it wasn't actually playing in the dirt!

I plan on putting them in, planting the seeds around the outsides and then "training" the plants up and around.  I'll keep you posted on how they turn out...Happy Good Friday!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Been Awhile...

Wow where does the time go?  Is it already the end of March?  Is it really 2011?  But with Spring comes...gardening!!  After a few sleepless nights thinking about which way to lay out my rows this year I was anxious to do a first "plowing" yesterday.  Man that tiller (borrowed from a neighbor) really kicks my tail!  I'm planning (hoping) to re-till this whole area in a few weeks before I do any seed planting.  I think it might really keep down the weeds.

I had a few stragglers from last year in the garlic and onion family so I went ahead and pulled them, split them and relocated them in their new row position.
I also purchased some more onions, both red and sweet full sized to plant-this will be my first try with this size onions.  As a general rule I have had trouble with almost any type of onion so this is a an experiment for sure.  Luckily they mature by around the end of June or earlier so I can always pull them to make room for something else when the time comes.  Each large batch was only $3 or so-I actually may not even plant them all-it's just too many and takes up too much space.
Finally a couple changes this year-I decided to move my herbs to pots.  I had a few living from last year (Rosemary, Chives, Sage and Flat Leaf Parsley) and I rounded that out with a few more purchased yesterday (Basil, Oregano, Thyme and Cilantro.)  I did it for a couple of reasons.  First off it frees up more room for other stuff (because that of course is every gardener's goal-to plant more stuff!)  Secondly I wanted to be able to save some herbs from weather conditions by bringing them indoors as needed.  For example the Cilantro really doesn't handle summer heat well and the Basil always gets snapped when it cools down.  This way I can move the pots in and out as needed and keep fresh herbs throughout the year.  Of course now I just have to remember to water them more frequently.
I really don't do well with indoor plants but hopefully since these were started outdoors maybe I won't kill them?  That's all for the first 2011 Garden Update-welcome back!