Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What To Do With Carrots

The garden just keeps giving and giving. I'm picking the last of the cabbage, summer squash, green beans, flowers, and carrots! So many carrots at one time. This is the best bunch of carrots I've ever grown, but there are too many to eat fresh which is the absolute best way. So what to do with these carrots?? hmmm....
If you have any fun misshapen ones you could make a veggie thingy...Like this snazzy little carrot girl Seleste made from fabric scraps, jelly beans, pins, and Betty Spaghetti parts. She looks sorta like Marilyn Monroe.
Or you could decide to finally tackle your fear of the pressure canner you bought almost two years ago and haven't used yet....
After reading and re-reading the manual and the Ball Jar cookbook and a little help from my Mother-in-law, it wasn't that hard! ....and nothing blew up. Perfect jars of carrots!
I raw packed them. Hopefully they'll be crunchier that way.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Around The House And Gardens

My computer has been broken....sooo...that's why you haven't heard from me in a while.

After fretting over it for a while and hauling it to Best Buy...which is who we bought it from...and after being told...hmmm...they really don't know what's wrong with it....and it will cost $69.00 to diagnose and from their experience an additional $250.00 to fix, and a charge for putting my broken computer on their counter top...nah not really the last one, but any way....they implied that buying a new one might be a more cost effective measure.

So I traipsed around Best Buy with my Sony Vaio computer clasped tightly to my chest and began viewing all the latest and greatest. A sales lady offered to help me and asked me what did I have in my arms. When I leaned the computer forward so she could peek, she exclaimed, "oh, yeah...we sold those.....a long time ago." Ummm.....I bought this three years ago and shouldn't be $1,600.00 worth of broken stuff...and I really like this looks great in my living room. I really like the clear glass frame around the monitor....and it does look a lot classier than these huge white monstrous apples that everyone is peering at. Sooo...I clutched my computer tighter, put my nose in the air and marched out.....When I got home. My husband fixed it. Ummm did you fix this.....Byron, "...I read something on the Internet and...." I tuned him out after that. Thanks Byron.

Artichoke with Leaf Hoppers (I picked a total of 56). I think they're done now.

Oh yes, summer squash. Yummmm...I've picked green zucchini, white patti pan, and yellow crookneck.
Cactus Flowered Zinnias...with fig trees and loquats ready to plant.
Peach cactus flowered zinnia
Zinnias and marigolds
Zinnia Bud
Long Garden Beds
View from the Mississippi River Levee
A little closer
Louisiana Shrimp...get them while you can.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

39 and Holding For Now...

I'm talking about artichokes. I've picked 39 artichokes already this year, and there are more growing! Surprised does not describe what I think about this. Shocked maybe.

When I planted the seeds two years ago four plants made it and I planted them in one of the square beds in the potager. The bed was filled with dark moist organic garden soil and top dressed with compost. The bed gets shade in the evening when the sun is at it's hottest. Whatever the combination it worked. The bed has (except for one small corner) been completely taken over by massive artichoke plants. They grow very large and need a lot of space.

There are a bunch of baby plants sprouting from the sides. I plan to carefully cut them away (including some roots) and pot them up. Hopefully in this way I'll have artichokes every year. If planted from seed artichokes take two years to produce.

So what am I doing with all those artichokes? What every New Orleanian would do...stuffing them, and grilling them as well.

Stuffed artichokes ready to be popped in the oven.

Prepared hearts ready for the grill.
Stuffed Artichokes:
(I can't give specific measurements because I just "eye it up")
Four Artichokes
About 4 cups of Italian Bread crumbs
About 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
About 1 cup grated Romano cheese
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
Olive oil
To prepare artichokes: Wash artichoke and cut pointy tip off of each "leaf". Bring a pot of water to boil and then boil artichokes for about five minutes. Remove and set to side to cool while preparing stuffing mixture. Mix bread crumbs, cheeses, garlic, pepper and salt. Add enough olive oil to make mixture moist yet still crumbly.
On a platter spread open artichoke and stuff mixture into artichoke. Make sure to fill each "leaf". These can then be wrapped and frozen for later or baked right away. To bake I use a broiler pan. I put a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, then put the top grid on, put the artichokes on top of that and then cover the whole thing with foil. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees until golden brown and tender depending on the size of the artichoke.
To eat...pull each "leaf" away and holding tip scrape stuffing and artichoke with your teeth into your mouth and discard woody part of "leaf". When you reach the heart, use a knife to cut away the feathery parts and gobble it up. My girls devour these. I serve them with a little plate to hold the discards.
Preparing Artichokes to grill or bake:
Cut the top of the artichoke off right above the heart. Use a tomato corer or a melon baller to scrape out the feathery parts. Cut the tips off of any leaves lower than this part. Rub heart with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice to keep it from turning black. You can then marinate them or season them with whatever you prefer and grill or bake them.
You can eat all you want (grilled or baked....Stuffed? I'm not so sure) . They are said to help lower cholesterol.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Around The House and Gardens

There are promising signs in the garden. Just when the winter seems unbearable...spring breaks...and in just a few weeks the most luscious thick growth spills out....and it's just a joy to watch the dramatic changes day by day.

The pergola is partially finished. The swings are hung...and I must admit I have already "wasted" quite a bit of time enjoying the garden while sitting there until I catch myself dozing. Unbelievably relaxing...sigh.

Soon there will be a long bench across the back, a fire pit/coffee table, a candle chandelier and another row of rafters on the top. Byron also plans to put finishing trim along the top and bottom of the columns. A few bird houses and solar lighting should make up the details.

I recently planted quite a few varieties of peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. You can see the lettuce seeding in the foreground and the beets. We are enjoying the yummiest sweetest beets.
In the back you can see the new trellises Byron made for the muscadine and the blackberries. Soon there will be a nice thick screen of them.
The garden plan includes nice views from every angle. To the left of the potager there is a quarter of an acre that has been planted with bald cypress, river birch, pears, camellias, spirea, mulberry, oaks, and bamboo. There are three mature pecan trees already there. The goal is to create a beautiful shady garden that is allowed to "grow up" with natives. A clearing will be cut every couple of months or so. Paths will be cut more often. There will be plenty of sitting areas to enjoy the wildlife and shade.
This is the view immediately to the left after stepping off of the front porch. I'm still removing some plants that died during the freeze.
Big juicy mulberries!
The chickens are quite miserable after the deluge we had last night. I'll have to get them some fresh hay. The fairy roses are covering the coop and are beginning to bloom. Soon it will be a cloud of pink.
Promising signs..... The giant bird of paradise that I thought had completely died has shown signs of growth from one of its smaller sprouts....
and to the thrill of my soul, my oldham giant bamboo is showing signs of life....Yeahhh!!!
But be careful where you step or drive.....
...the little snakes are out sunning themselves, and seem barely able to move when you approach them....
...I think this one I saw on the road (yes, and stopped to take a pic) is a blue swamp runner...
...These guys aren't poisonous, but the large cotton mouth I saw...shudder.....