Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I have been harvesting lots of hot peppers! They are actually not for me so much, but my husband loves everything super hot. Since we can't possibly consume so much of them at once, we either dry them or freeze them. But here are some of the things I've made using those peppers.

Golden Habanero Pepper Jelly

We planted only one Habanero plant solely for the purpose of making this jelly. Oh so yummy!!! We only need 4-5 peppers for one batch of jelly, but the plant decided to explode and has been giving us way more than we know what to do with. I've given away a bunch to people. It is still flowering and trying to produce more.

Homemade Sriracha Sauce

I was so excited to see this post at "Our Happy Acres" where Dave kindly shared his recipe for the homemade sriracha sauce. My husband puts sriracha on pretty much everything, so he was very happy to find out that I was making him a batch of homemade sriracha sauce. My version doesn't look right, only because I made it with Bulgarian carrot chile hot peppers (which is one of my husband's favorite hot peppers), but it tastes really awesome! I will be making the red version once all the cayennes turn red.

Jalapeno & Cheddar Cheese bread

I do a lot of baking. Most of the breads that we eat are homemade. Since we have lots of Jalapenos, I decided to whip up some Sourdough breads with Jalapeno and Cheddar cheese. Then my husband suggested that I make hamburger buns with Jalapeno and cheddar. It was indeed a great idea!

We had black bean burgers with chipotle mayo on these buns for dinner one night. It was really yummy. We are not usually excited about vegetarian dishes, but these black bean burgers are very satisfying.

I'm linking up to the host of Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard. Go see what is happening in everyone's kitchen!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I just realized I did not plant any regular bell peppers. The two types that I planted will turn either yellow or orange. I guess I better go buy some red bell peppers for the freezer! Yikes! I don't know what I was thinking.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Harvest Monday

It was a week of Peppers! Most of the Anaheim peppers are done due to some disease or pest problems. I was hoping those little ones would get bigger, but with the cool night temperatures and leaves yellowing, I had to pick them all. Still, some are decent size.

My sweet peppers have still yet to show any sign of red blush. I love roasted red peppers, so I'm anxiously waiting.

I also picked one cucumber. Again, they are not liking the cool temperatures, but I'll let them be as long as they keep trying to live.

A handful of beans. They were attacked by those Mexican Bean Beetles last week, but they seem to have come and go. Most of my bean plants are now bare, but they are still trying to flower...

A few Jolokia pepper for my husband. This 3 year old plant nearly died last winter, but it's come back and been producing well.

The fall asparagus is up! However, I only planted the roots this Spring, so I think I'm supposed to let them go and not pick them until the following year. Very tempting though!

Broccoli raab is doing well. They are still small, but I think I'll be able to enjoy some young shoots for a meal this week.

I started the fall plants way too late, but I'm going to give them a chance. Of course, those caterpillars are all over the place, but I keep on picking them off.

Happy Harvest Monday!

Visit the host of Harvest Monday and see what's going on in everyone's garden!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I have been pretty good at sticking to the planned weekly menu.

Monday: We had sesame chicken legs/thighs and Udon noodles with spiny peanut sauce. I was able to use cilantro, green onions, and hot peppers for the sauce.

Tuesday: My plan changed a little bit - I was going to make tomato soup, salad, and grilled cheese, but it turned into homemade pizza with eggplant. (no pic) I happened to see beautiful eggplants at a farmer's market that day and could not resist. So I fried some up and made a "eggplant parmesan" pizza instead. Very Yummy!

Wednesday: I still had some more eggplants so I simply roasted them in the oven along with the sweet potatoes (not from the garden...). Once the eggplants were done, I tossed them in the tomato sauce that I used for the pizza from the night before. Since the oven was on, I just threw in the salmon fillets instead of pan frying. You'll also see a handful of peas, beans, and carrots from the garden on the side.

Also, I had a few apples that needed to be used up, so I threw together a quick apple crisp for dessert.

On the menu for tonight is falafel sandwich. I need to get my dough going for the pita!

Go visit the host of Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard and see what everyone is cooking and preserving this week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pests Pests Pests!!!

Beans - both my hard beans and bush beans have been demolished by those Mexican bean beetles. I thought I would get another nice crop, but it's looking doubtful...

Brassicas - I planted them way too late, but I am just going to see what happens. For some reason, I thought it would be safe to plant them out without a cover on.... but no. Those caterpillars (green, grey, black, all kinds) are just never ending. I am going to try covering them today.

Peppers - stink bugs are all over sweet and hot peppers. I hope they won't cause too much damage...

Radishes - The caterpillars are also eating away my radish leaves.

Spinach and Swiss chard seedlings - the little sprouts keep getting eaten by something. I should cover them until they are well established?

Beets - not exactly pests, but they got rained on hard and most are dead flat.

Peas - again, the caterpillars and something else that makes the root (or stem near the root) rot.

I guess we all have to eat.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Harvest Monday

The beans are coming to an end - they have produced way more than I ever expected. I am so happy with them.

The fall peas were very quick to grow and flower, but they are suffering from all sorts of pest problems. I think half of them are already dying. Even the ones that produced are disappointing - only yielding one or two peas per pod... Maybe I need to fertilize more.

I have lots of hot peppers coming. More than I know what to do with. They are mostly for my husband. He will figure out what to do with them, as they are quickly turning red or yellow.

I planted about 10 winter squash plants - mixed variety - and they got attacked by bugs early on. Each plant tried to put on at least one fruit before they started to wilt. I managed to harvest 3 buttenuts and 1 spaghetti (probably not matured enough, but the plant is completely dead) today, and there are 2 more spaghetti squashes and 2 tiny Kabocha squashes left on the vines. I doubt they will get any bigger, so I might as well harvest them at this point.

Again, there is so much to learn and I will definitely be planting a LOT more squash plants EARLIER next

And here is a little accidental surprise! As I was weeding, I accidentally pulled one of the peanut plants. Well, I know they are not ready to be pulled yet, but I'm glad to see the progress under ground. We'll be eating a handful of fresh roasted peanuts  as a snack tonight and see how they taste. 

Linking up to the host of Harvest Monday, where people share their harvests from their gardens!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I think I'm almost done with canning for this season....  and I am SO glad! In 2 days, I processed a bushel and a half of tomatoes and a peck of  very last good looking peaches that I could find. That was a lot of work!

So far, I have canned:

30 quarts of Tomato Sauce - with garlic, onions, basil, and oregano
10 pints of Stewed Tomatoes
10 half pints of Salsa
12 half pints of Ketchup
5 quarts of Tomato Juice
10 half pints of Seafood Cocktail Sauce
12 pints of Peaches in Syrup
8 half pints of Peach and Blackberry Jam
8 half pints of Raspberry Jam
5 half pints of Strawberry sauce
8 4oz jars of Chocolate Raspberry Sauce
6 half pints of Strawberry Jam
6 half pints of Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

I feel like I'm missing something, but I think we'll be okay for a while.

My cabinet is completely full. I have to find a different space for more jars that will come once the apples and pears start marching in. Actually, they are already in. It is quite strange to see fresh picked apples right next to peaches...

I never got to make my pickles since I had so little cucumber harvest. Whatever I picked went into my fridge pickle solution. We like them that way better anyway. I may be able to get enough beans to can a jar or two of dilly beans - those are fantastic.

Here is just a little dish I made the other day using some of the veggies from the garden: Tomatoes stuffed with cannellini bean and tuna salad plus pasta with pesto.  I love pesto! I don't know how I'd live without it. I still have lots and lots of basil in my garden. I wish my dill - another herb I absolutely love - was that successful. Isn't dill supposed to grow like weeds? Well it didn't happen in my garden...

Here is another dish - Beef Bulbogi with sweet quick pickles. We love Korean food, but I still have a lot to learn about it. I'm Japanese, so I tend to flavor things that way (very similar, but different). My American husband who used to live with a Korean roommate didn't think it tasted authentic.

In the midst of canning and cooking, I have also been baking a bit. I normally wouldn't in this heat that we had for a few days this week. BUT, when someone gives you this for FREE, how can you not?

One of my husband's co-workers had 2 mixers and wanted to get rid of one. She said she used this ONCE! I don't know how I lived without it for all the baking I did for all these years! It is wonderful. So far I made corn muffins with blueberries and raspberries, and pumpkin/peanut butter Dog treats. Since I have been too busy in the kitchen and haven't had much time to play with my puppy, I had to do something nice for her. She seemed quite satisfied with her new treats:)

In the meantime, my battle against those caterpillars continues as they keep munching on absolutely everything in my fall garden. 

Visit the host of Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard and see what everyone is cooking up in their kitchens!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Harvest Monday

My garden has slowed down quite a bit. I have been busy taking down the dead and diseased plants, cleaning the beds, preparing for the fall garden.

Here is a handful of harvest in the last few days:

The celery is SO SLOW - I think they have been this size for like 2 months.... The stalks are so thin that I can't really give a good wash inside each stalk. I pulled these two out because they were showing some kind of infestation, where the middle is brown and mushy, and no more new growth is detected. Like this...

My only zucchini plant is still alive.... it is pretty amazing, because I was most fearful of those SVBs this season. I tried to cover the plant with a floating row cove until the flowers started appearing. Then, I kept covering up the main stalk with foil and more row cover. It definitely got the mildew damage, but I keep ripping the infected leaves.

The hot peppers are finally turning color. I'm not really a big hot pepper person, but I do love hot pepper jelly! The sweet peppers have yet to show a little red or yellow blush on them... I have been eating them green this whole time.

The wax beans are still producing. The yellow ones have been producing for almost 2 months now. That's crazy. The second seedling of haricot verts have been wonderful. They are really tasty.

It's been cool enough for the radishes.
And for the fall peas. They have been attacked by caterpillars.... but we'll see how they hold up. Those caterpillars are eating away my brassica seedlings too.

I have so much to learn....

I'm linking up to the host of Harvest Monday.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I wish I had a grandma who canned...

I am so happy to report that my pressure canning problem is finally solved!

It only took me a couple of years.......... but apparently, I have not been tightening the bands enough. They really need to clarify what "finger tip tight" means. My "finger tip" tight is obviously not tight enough for pressure canning.

After doing lots of reading and researching, I still didn't find much answer. I redid and redid only to find one or two jars properly sealed after about 2 hours worth of effort.... I don't know how many times I repeated pressure canning the same jars (of course, changing the lids each time)..... until I finally decided to tighten the lids a little more than I usually do. I would say, "Hand tight" and not "finger tip tight." For me, that is.

Then, when I opened my pressure canner lid....... whoa!!!!! all seven of my quart jars sealed to perfection!

This is the kind of stuff that you really can't learn from books or internet. Unfortunately, my husband and I do not have grandparents or parents who were into this kind of stuff in their early years. And we have been learning everything from books, blogs, and internet.

At least, now we know.