Thursday, July 27, 2017

Preserving tomatoes in olive oil + how I am using the garden food

As you know, I have made pizza, spaghetti, salads, stir fries, and smoothies with the garden fruits and vegetables. If you looked at yesterday's post, I have a picture of the buttercup squash I ate from the garden. I broiled the squash and ate with vegan vanilla ice cream. You can look at my previous posts this summer to see some of the dinners I have had with the garden food. I have been boiling potatoes and eating with slices of tomato and cucumber, as well. I encourage you to experiment with your garden foods!

I have been pickling cucumbers, freezing berries, zucchini and crookneck slices to preserve the fruits that I can't eat immediately. I have also been dehydrating some of the vegetables. I made crookneck squash chips by dehydrating slices and then packing them in jars when they cool.

Additionally, I dehydrated cherry tomatoes for over 12 hours. After they cooled, I packed them in mason jars. When I finally bought extra virgin olive oil, I wanted to preserve the tomatoes in the olive oil. To pack the tomatoes in oil, first re-hydrate them in boiling water and let them soak. I added Italian seasonings with the tomatoes. Then drain the tomatoes and put in jars, covering them with virgin olive oil.

Trying hairy ball fruit for the first time + garden harvest

I found the rambutan fruit randomly today at wal-mart. I have never trheied them before and seen that my online friends eat these, so I wanted to try them of course. They taste like a very sweet grape and I loved them, and highly recommend them. These were from Guatemala. You have to cut them around the edge, pull off the top shell, then bite down on the white fruit that contains a big seed, and remove the bottom shell. I sucked on the fruit with the seed and then composted the seed and shells.

I harvested some fruit today as well. I picked some fruits early because I expect to be leaving the state soon for a couple of days.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

It's already time to make a fall decor scene with pumpkins + snake skin bird nest

Spring and summer came early this year. Almost by a whole month, flowers were coming up earlier, I was able to plant many summer crops early, and I'm already harvesting winter squash in late July. I predict that there will be an early fall and winter, actually.

I started making the fall scene with those weird squashes that I cannot I identify. I placed them in an old wheel barrel (without the wheel), next to the sunflowers and zinnia flowers.

Because the pumpkin vines are already dying and the pumpkins are orange, very soon I will be harvesting the sugar baby pumpkins to eat. I have already started eating the winter squash. For instance, with the buttercup squash, I baked it at 400 degrees F with organic brown sugar, cinnamon, all spice, and vegan vanilla ice cream (obviously it was good!)

This is a sugar baby pumpkin in a hooked net that I borrowed from a backseat of a car...

I have more buttercup squash growing still..

I believe this is a jack-o-lantern. With the jack-o-lantern pumpkins, I am putting them in the fall decor scene/setting. 

And this pumpkin is a jack-o-lantern that will also be going in the fall scene. I wanted my head in the photo as a reference to how big the pumpkin is so far.

I tried to get most of the pumpkins in one picture because I didn't take pictures of all of them individually
More jack-o-lanterns
one of the small jack-o-lantern
 There was a crafty and artistic bird that used snakeskin for its nest in one of the cherry trees...

And I just so happened to take a selfie the night before in the garden...My favorite time to be in the garden or outside is in the evening to watch the sun go down.

How To Identify Chanterelle & Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms video

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

Kajari melons at different stages + garden harvest

The hard rain last night actually beat the kajari melons off the vine. The melons must have been ready to pick anyway!

Here is a picture of kajari melons at different stages. If you want to grow these, I purchased the seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at if you're interested.

I tried the ripe Kajari melon, and it tasted like cucumber, but it was odd and I'm not sure how to feel about the taste. The smell is very pleasant before you cut into the melon, and that's when you know it's ripe. In this picture it looks like it's glowing green on the inside of the melon.

Of course I harvested more from the garden today, as usual for right now: squash, MORE cucumbers, and finally lots of tomatoes.

I have three large bags of cucumbers that I'm struggling to eat with two or three bags of squash as well (on top of the bags of squash I have frozen.) I have been eating everything out of my garden and making sure to incorporate it into meals, though. The odd looking squash are going to become my fall decorations. And if you've been following this blog, you know I love my fall decor/scene/settings and I have pictures of them on the blog. Stay tuned for my fall scene this year--I'm going to try some new things.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Found chanterelle & chicken of the woods mushrooms but didn't pick them

I found many chanterelle mushrooms and Chicken of the woods mushrooms in the woods today. Judging by the state of the mushrooms, they may have been worth picking yesterday but considering it rained hard yesterday, the mushrooms were water logged.

I didn't take photos of the chanterelles--I have taken plenty photos of them for anyone that wants to identify them. I took pictures of the chicken of the woods mushroom, though, for anyone that wants to know what they look like and how to identify them even if they're water logged mushrooms.

Notice the way the Chicken of the woods grow in a large cluster around the base of an oak tree. That's how you will find other mushrooms of this variety. I always find them growing on this specific tree around this time of the year in late July. The Chicken of the woods mushrooms and Chanterelles grow at this time of year on the south facing side of the hill, not far into the woods.

Chicken of the woods mushroom have a distinct look as you can see in the photo here. The mushrooms look like a fan. Because I took a picture of the mushrooms after they were water-logged, the color is different. Chicken of the woods are usually colored orange and pink with white on the underside and along the edge.

As mentioned, the chicken of the woods mushrooms are white on the underside. The underside is  sponge-like, but don't let that weird you out because they are delicious. Similar to how I cook chanterelle mushrooms, with chicken of the woods I use my fingers to pull "strips" of the mushroom apart and then fry them with a little oil on low heat. Before cooking, I clean the mushrooms thoroughly and cook them thoroughly.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What did I grow? This isn't what I planted...

These fruits came from seeds I had labeled as butternut squash. Of course, they are not butternut squash but they are some type of squash. The fruits are yellow and white striped with flared ridges towards the bottom. Do these squashes look like anything in particular, or did I grow something new?

Big Cucumber harvest, squash, tomatoes from the garden +sunset

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Garden dinner of cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, & yellow squash

I boiled the potatoes first and lightly cooked the yellow squash separately. The cucumbers had soaked in water and vinegar with salt and onions in the fridge for a couple of days. I sliced up tomatoes and served. All these veggies came from the garden!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Big Potato Harvest from grow bags & Buttercup squash harvest

About 15 grow bags grew one big bag of large to small potatoes
buttercup squash, crookneck, & weird squash + cucumbers & tomatoes

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I guess I'm the queen of mushrooms (more Chanterelles from the woods)

My grandpa always says the blackberries are ripe and ready to pick around the 4th of July. So around that time every year I go blackberry picking around my yard and forage for them in the woods. Every year since I have been foraging for blackberries, I have noticed that the Chanterelle and Chicken of the woods mushrooms grow around this time as well. From my experience with foraging for Chanterelle mushrooms, is that they grow scattered in patches together. In my neck of the woods, the Chanterelles are growing in the shade along the ground, and I have been finding them behind my house (which is a south facing hill.) I particularly have found Chanterelle mushrooms growing behind people's houses that are up against the woods, or at least not far into the woods.

This year I have picked blackberries alongside the chanterelle mushrooms, and today I foraged for more. I may cook these mushrooms on low heat and eat with noodles--which is usually how I eat the mushrooms. I also eat these with rice.

Cool looking squash + Made pickles

I planted seed that I had saved from a butternut squash, but I found out I am growing these cool squashes instead

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cucumber harvest + Chanterelle mushroom forage & kajari melons getting bigger

Cucumber & Chanterelle mushroom harvest
I had peas growing along the trellis shaped like an "E". Once the pea plants started to die off, I pulled them up and then sowed half runner beans to replace them.
beans growing along trellis

kajri melon

kajari melon