Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Death of a pear tree

Strong winds blew down the pear tree in the front yard today.    It had been suffering from fire blight the past 3 years,  and now we know the reason:  Crown Rot.    I'm thankful for a couple of things - it didn't fall down on top of my kids (or anyone else for that matter,) and it fell into the empty street as opposed to on my house or cars. 

Can't help feeling sad nevertheless - it was a good tree.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caprese Salad and Pickled Peppers

 Just a quick update on what I did with some of the items as the season came to a close.

Caprese Salad
The fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes make all the difference.

I came across a recipe for pickled peppers in a recent Bon Appetite magazine and gave it a try.  I used jalapenos and Santa Fe Grande peppers from the garden.  The brine consisted of distilled white vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar, peppercorns and coriander seeds.  After simmering for 5 minutes,  it's added to a jar containing the sliced peppers.  After they cooled in the fridge, these peppers were smokin' good.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reigning Romas

So this morning while I was perusing through the garden with my morning cup of coffee, it struck me how very well everything seems to be doing.  Granted, I've picked and tortured the occasional tomato hornworm, but I really can't complain.  Pest damage has been minimal and the plants are taking full advantage.

I planted two Roma varieties and they are lit with tomatoes.   There's nothing like whipping up a last-minute, fresh tomato-basil sauce to go with your pasta of the day. Very quick and very light.

The peppers are finally coming into form and I'm looking forward to tasting the Anaheims.   That's a new variety for me, so I'll have to consult  the cookbooks to see what else I can use them in besides burgers and chili.  Any suggestions?

The poblanos look great.

"Chili Relleno"
I let one of the oregano plants go to flower and I tried to photograph some bees  while they were working away.  When I transferred the photo to the computer, I noticed another garden helper that I unwittingly captured in the frame.  Do you see him? 

My version of "Where's Waldo?"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BELT sandwich

The tomato harvest is in full swing and even after numerous giveaways, I still have enough to can.  All of the varieties look and taste great with the exception of the Mortgage Lifter.  The tomatoes looked good, but they had a very bland flavor and tasted like a wet nerf ball (or at least what I would expect a wet nerf ball to taste like).  This is my second go around with this variety, so it was off with its head and into the heap.  In my game of baseball you only get TWO strikes.     Mortgage Shortsale is more like it.

Anyway, here's one of the recipes we've been enjoying with the largest of the bunch.  It's an improved  version of the classic BLT and a slight variation of the one Thomas Keller created for the movie Spanglish (my apologies).

Lightly toast 2 pieces of bread, preferably sourdough.  Spread mayo on one side and add lettuce.  Fry one egg over medium in some butter and add cracked pepper.  Slide onto the lettuce.

Add a THICK slice of an heirloom tomato such as Brandywine.

Add three or four slices of fresh bacon and close.

And there it is!    The picture doesn't seem to do it justice, but this sandwich is amazing. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

$10 tomato

There's nothing quite like the payoff.  With the price of heirloom tomatoes going for $5.99 a pound in the local market, I was thrilled to see several giants appear on my new favorite tomato plant:  Brandy Boy. 

So here's what a $10 tomato looks like.  The first picture is what it looked liked on the vine next to several others of equal or larger size.   The second picture is what it looked like perched on a 4x4 fence post.  That one plant has produced numerous giants already, and there's lots more to come. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Garden update

It's been awhile- again.   Lots of changes in the garden now that the weather has warmed and the tomatoes have set.    I've added a Bearss Lime to the lineup and will try growing it in a pot this time.  The citrus I've grown in the past never gave me any fruit  and I think it had something to do with overwatering.  Well, let's try it in a pot and see what happens.  I planted it in a cactus mix, which seems to drain better and keep the roots drier.  Maybe that's the trick?

I upped the time on my drip system to 90 minutes at three days a week.  Seems to have made a huge difference now that summer has finally arrived.  The tomatoes all look great and I have begun harvesting the SunGold. Should be a couple of weeks before the big ones are ready.    The peppers are running a little behind, but I think was from the watering issue.  They look much happier in the last week.  Zucchini looks strong and the cucumbers are putting on some growth.

Lime tree

Looking like a jungle

Early Wonder tomatoes

Mortgage Lifter and Brandy Boy

Brandy Boy tomatoes

Blue Lake bush beans
I  took the twins up to June Lake  during my vacation and we had a blast.

The Fishermen
June Lake

Friday, May 27, 2011


Tonight it was off to the local big-box store to take advantage of the 2x20lb pack of Kingsford charcoal  for $7.97.  That's a great price and even though I have enough charcoal to host my own version of Burning Man, I couldn't pass it up.  No trip to the Depot would be complete without making a pit stop in the garden center.  You know how some people can't walk through the local animal shelter without taking home the whole lot, I'm the same way in the garden center.

Successful in my restraint, I only came home with three plants:  Lemon cucumber, Santa Fe Grande pepper and the herb Stevia.  I've never seen or heard of it until this week when it was mentioned on two separate podcasts (I couldn't survive my 90 minute commute to LA without that iPod). So there it was, sitting on the shelf. 

The leaves of this plant are reportedly 10 times sweeter than cane sugar.  When I got home, I tore off a leaf and started chewing.  Guess what it tasted like - yup, sugar.   Now I have to figure out where it's gonna live this summer.  I'm thinking it can be added to fresh tea and probably a cocktail or two.  I also read that the aphids can't stand it, so maybe I'll put it next to the cucumbers.

By the way, what to do with all that charcoal?

The new addition to the family