Last year was the first time I ever planted tomatillos plants in my garden. While my tomatoes struggled last year, the tomatillos went crazy and they are even crazier this year given all of the summer rain in Colorado.
My first try at tomatillos salsa went the easy – route and it was delicious. I froze a few bags for winter enjoyment, too! I plan to branch out this year and try a few other recipes, too!
GREEN TOMATILLO SALSA
8 ounces (5-6 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 jalapeno (or 2 serranos), stemmed
5-6 sprigs fresh cilantro (thick stemmed removed), roughly chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
salt to taste
Chop the tomatillos and the jalapeño.
In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, jalapeño, cilantro and 1/4 cup water. Process to puree, then scrape into a serving dish.
Fresh New Potatoes and Peas were a summer treat on the Iowa farm. My Mother would dig potatoes and shell peas from her large summer garden. I cannot verify the origin of this recipe but Mom always said it had Dutch or Pennsylvania Dutch roots.
While I do not grow potatoes in my garden, I prepared with red potatoes from the grocery store and peas from my CSA weekly bounty.
This recipe can easily be prepared with frozen peas as well. It’s a wonderful side dish with steak, hamburgers, or fish. My oldest daughter, Megan, suggested it would be great with a little Parmesan cheese. I’ll be trying that next time!
FRESH NEW POTATOES AND PEAS
1 1/2 quarts new potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups new peas, cook until done
1 cup sweet cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup grated carrots (optional)
salt and pepper
Cover potatoes, peas, and carrots with water and cook until tender. Drain.
Combine cream and flour until smooth. Add to potatoes and peas and add butter, salt and sugar.
Cook and stir over medium-low heat until thickened.
Roasted Vegetables are my absolute favorite yet I didn’t discover this technique until a few years ago. My carrot harvest this year was the best I’ve ever had, despite Joe’s (my 12 year old Golden Retriever) attempts to steal the carrots out of the basket.
I found this wonderful recipe which did not call for apples, but in later versions I added the apples and loved the added sweet/tart bites.
SWEET POTATOES & CARROTS WITH APPLE CIDER THYME
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1-2 apples, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.
My Mother would often find old sheet music at estate sales and bring it home for me to play on the piano. As a result, I have a stack of music that is great fun to look through. A few days ago, I was looking through the stack and ran across this piece, Where the Columbines Grow.
Little did I know back in those days that I would eventually settle in Colorado, now for 33.5 years. Columbines are one of my favorite flowers. While most of the Columbines are now gone from my garden, I can enjoy photos all year-long.
“Where the Columbines Grow” is one of the two official state songs of Colorado. It was written and composed by A.J. Fynn, and was adopted on May 8, 1915. In the early to mid-2000s, there was debate over replacing “Where the Columbines Grow” with John Denver‘s “Rocky Mountain High” or Merle Haggard‘s rare song “Colorado”. In 2007, the Colorado legislature named “Rocky Mountain High” as Colorado’s second official state song, paired with “Where the Columbines Grow”.
Converting grams to ounces and cups is not easy! Somehow it seems that Gooseberries are plentiful in countries that use the metric system. I did my best to convert and, I have to say, the results were excellent.
GOOSEBERRY CRUMBLE CAKE
1 1/2 cups cleaned gooseberries
3/4 cup unsalted, softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 ounces ground almonds
1 1/8 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted, softened butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a square cake pan. To make the cake, beat the butter and sugars in a mixer for 8-10 minutes until fluffy. Break the eggs and beat them gently with a fork. Add slowly, with the beater, to the butter and sugar mixture.
Combine the ground almonds into the flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Scatter the gooseberries on the top.
Make the crumble topping by mixing the flour butter and sugar in the food processor. Scatter the crumbs loosely over the top of the gooseberries.
Bake for about an hour, checking to assure the cake it done. Remove the cake from the oven and cool before serving.
Memories of Bleeding Hearts in my Mother’s garden are vivid. Planting these beauties in my shade garden was a must when we moved into our home many years ago. Each year I look forward to their spring blooms and the memories they bring. Delicate little white and red hearts dangling from their tender stems, blowing in the breeze in my yard are precious.
My Mother used to take a blossom from the plant and fold down the bottom of the heart to create what appears to be a girl in a pretty red skirt.
In playing this game with my girls, I discovered that if you fold the petal down a little more you now have a young boy in his pants.
When I decided to post about the beloved Bleeding Heart, I did some research and discovered a wonderful legend that I love and will share with my grandchildren.
BLEEDING HEART LEGEND
Long ago there lived a noble prince who tried in vain to win the heart of a very beautiful princess. The prince had brought the princess wonderful gifts from his travels far and wide. Yet she had taken no notice of him. One day the prince returned from a long journey with very special gifts to surely win the love of the princess. First he presented her with two magical pink bunnies. (Peel off the two outer petals and set them on their sides to display two little bunnies.)
The princess only sighed and barely looked at the little bunnies. The hopeful prince had another gift for the princess – he presented a pair of beautiful enchanted earrings. (Remove the two long white petals and hold them next to your ears.)
These she took happily, but declared she could not love him. Still, he can’t bear to give up hope, and he makes her another gift of slippers made of the finest silk.
Again, the princess hardly noticed the prince’s gift. Now the poor prince was utterly heartbroken. He could try no more to win the heart of the princess. He rose up, pulled a dagger from his sheath and stabbed himself in the heart. (Remaining in the flower is a heart shape with the stamen, appearing as a dark green line down the center. Hold the heart up, carefully remove the dagger-like line, and plunge the dagger through the heart.)
The princess was overcome by the dedication of the dying prince and his unending love for her. She realized too late that she loved him also. “Alas,” she cried out. “I have done wrong, my own heart is broken also. I shall bleed for my prince forever more!” And her heart bleeds to this very day.
There are many blossoms on a Bleeding Heart in full bloom, so next time you pass such a delightful array, perhaps you’ll have permission to pick a heart and discover the mysteries within
Gardening is an adventure. This year, I planted several greens including Radicchio. Turns out the Radicchio was really Swiss Chard. Bonus!
Growing up our neighbor, Lucille, always made a Swiss Chard and egg dish and I so wish I had the recipe. As a substitute I found this recipe and have enjoyed several breakfasts, warming a piece in the microwave each morning.
I quickly realized that I started with too large of a pan for the frittata so transferred the cooked ingredients to my Mother’s favorite pie pan where I added the Parmesan and then broiled the frittata.
BACON SWISS CHARD FRITTATA
6 strips bacon, sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, wash thoroughly, stems removed, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 pound russet potatoes, cooked, cut in chunks
salt and black pepper to taste
8 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the bacon in a large skillet, over medium heat until crisp. Remove and drain all but 1 tbsp. of the bacon fat. Reduce the heat to med-low, and add the Swiss chard. Don’t worry about crowding the pan, as the chard will quickly wilt down.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the greens are completely wilted. Add the garlic and pepper flakes; sauté for 1 minute. Add the potatoes, salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste, and mix into the greens.
Pour in the eggs, and cook stirring for about 5 minutes, or until the eggs begin to set. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and finish cooking the frittata under a preheated broiler, about 8 inches from the heat, for 4-5 minutes, or until the top is browned and the eggs are set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving in wedges.
Zucchini is the vegetable that keeps on giving, except in my garden. Daughter Megan has several plants and shares the wealth with family and friends.
Zucchini can be a blessing or a curse. I’ve read a quote online that supposedly came from Garrison Keillor that made me laugh. ‘July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people don’t put squash on the front seat.’
We’ll be wishing for garden fresh zucchini this winter so we’ll, again, get creative with the zucchini recipes.
3 small (or 2 medium) zucchini
Cherry or Sun Gold tomatoes (sliced in half)
salt and pepper
Bread crumbs (plain or seasoned)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise and slice a bit off the back side so the zucchini will lie flat on the baking pan. Scoop out the centers of the zucchini halves with a spoon.
Brush the surface of each zucchini half with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slice tomatoes in half, and arrange them into the grooves.
Lightly sprinkle with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese or parmesan cheese (or both) and bake for about 30-40 minutes until tender.
Optional: Set your oven to broil, and continue to cook another minute or two until cheese is golden and bubbly.
Continuing on my lazy days of summer postings, let’s talk about tomatoes. Fresh garden tomatoes cannot be compared in any way to the mushy, tasteless tomatoes at the grocery store. Comparing the two is like comparing a beautiful rose to a dandelion. Wonder why that’s the case? Read this great article from the University of Illinois Extension office.
Unfortunately, I have regular visitors to my garden helping themselves to my tomatoes. The silly bunny (that isn’t afraid of my Golden or Chihuahua) along with the neighborhood Raccoon are creating havoc with the tomatoes. I find green tomatoes plucked from the vine laying on the ground. I find large red tomatoes half eaten on the vine. Have any of you had the same experience? This is the first time in over 20 years that I’ve had to fight for my own tomatoes!
My tomatoes have been slow to produce this year but I have enjoyed a few fresh tomato salads. This time a juicy sliced tomatoes paired with homemade pesto (basil also from my garden) was the salad du jour.
If you don’t grow your own tomatoes, visit a local Farmer’s Market soon and enjoy the harvest.
Last summer I raised kale in my garden and, unfortunately, the bugs LOVED it. I decided not to plant Kale again this year but Mother Nature took a different turn. Several volunteer kale plants popped up in my garden and it was beautiful and…no bugs! Mother Nature, are you telling me I need to try Kale again next year?
Recently at our book club potluck, a friend made a delicious collard green dish and this sounded similar. It is very tasty but next time I would cut back on the crushed pepper. This could easily be vegan by skipping the bacon.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced garlic
10 cups loosely packed chopped kale (about 2 pounds)
1 cup fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (too hot for me–I would reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 10 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.
Add kale, broth, 1 cup water, and red pepper; cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in vinegar, salt, and black pepper.