Friday, August 5, 2011

Harvest on the Table ~ Beet Greens and Pasta

Friends, I have a confession:  I've never used my beet greens for anything.  I am usually amused when I see lowly beet greens mixed in with other lettuces in salads at fancy restaurants.  Really? Beet leaves?  My mom used beet leaves to make a variation of pyrizhky, also known as beetnik buns - pinch off a small piece of bread dough, wrap a beet leaf around it, so that it's a small oblong shape like a cabbage roll, bake, and serve with warm dilled cream and fried onions.  I never liked beetnik buns.  So, each spring I seed my rows of beets and once the plants are a few inches tall, I thin them out.  The beet leaves go in the compost bin.  Yup.

This year I decided to try something different.  What if I let my beets grow a bit more before thinning them out, and then use the thinned ones for the greens?  But what to do with them besides throw them in a salad?

I found a recipe for cooked beet greens at  Scrolling through the reviews, I saw that most people praised it highly, and some offered further suggestions.  One reviewer suggested mixing the cooked greens with pasta, for a sort of warm pasta salad.  Sounded like a plan.

It took me a few bites to figure out what I thought.  I added in an extra 1/4 tsp of dried red pepper, so there is a nice little punch.  Overall, it is very good, but I think it could be "better" - from the perspective of someone who grew up on Ukrainian cooking, anyway.  I think the next time I make this, I will skip the sugar and the vinegar all together.  Beets + dough + bacon + onions is a very basic Ukrainian flavour combination.  Heh.  This could  be Lazy Beetnik Buns.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harvest on the Table ~ Lemon Saskatoon Berry Pie

I made this pie for an event in 2007, and haven't made it since.  The first time, I found the recipe online, but of course I couldn't find it again.

Overall, it's pretty simple - pie shell, lemon pie filling, saskatoon berry topping (whipped cream on top if you're game for the extra calories).  I figured it would be easy enough to swing.

You didn't think I was actually going to make everything from scratch, did you?  I did plan to make a graham cracker crust, but the premade crusts were on special, and for 50 cents extra I was willing to take the easy route.  Plus, it's been so hot lately, the less I use the stove and oven, the better.

I unwrapped the pie crusts, and cooked the lemon pie filling according the package directions. For the saskatoon berry topping, I adapted a recipe from

4c fresh berries (saskatoons or blueberries), cleaned and picked over
1/2c + 2T water, divided
2T cornstarch
1/2c sugar
2tsp fresh lemon juice

Place 1c of the berries and 1/2c of the water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until juice starts to thicken (after 7 minutes, mine still didn't seem to have thickened, but by that point, the liquid had noticeably evaporated, so I figured it was close enough).  While the berries are cooking, mix 2T cold water with the 2T of cornstarch.  Once the berries are ready, add in the cornstarch mixture, the sugar, and the lemon juice.  (Honestly, I didn't have fresh lemons on hand, so I just squirted in some of the stuff from my plastic lemon.)  Continue cooking for about 5 more minutes, until thickened.  Once it starts thickening, it will go fast, so keep an eye on it.  When you have to start scraping the juices off the bottom of the pot, pull it off the heat and quickly fold in the remaining berries.

I don't know if it makes a difference or not, but I like my lemon filling to gel a bit before I put the berries on top.  According to the berry recipe on epicurious, the berries can sit out on the counter for a few days, so they should be okay while you finish up the lemon pies.  After pouring the filling into the shells, I refrigerated them for about 10 minutes.  I then careful sprinkled and spread the berry mixture on top of the pies.

4c of berries makes just enough topping for two 8" pies.  Next time, I'll probably make 5 cups of berries.

I like this recipe because it's fast and easy, and nice for the summer when you don't want to heat up your kitchen too much.  It also doesn't require a lot of berries, so if you don't have too many ready yet, or if you have to buy them from your farmers' market ($$$), you can stretch them a little further.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Saskatoons are ready!

The saskatoons are coming along nicely.  I picked about four cups worth today.  The birds are already doing a number on them, and I will have to hustle to pick them as they become ripe, but before the birds chow down on them.  At $5/pound at the farmers' market, they're a precious commodity.

Four cups isn't a lot, but enough for a couple of lemon saskatoon pies.  If I can get my heinie in gear tomorrow, I'll whip some up and post the recipe.  If you have access to saskatoons (or blueberries), what do you do with them?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Baby Patty Pans

Friends, do you remember my Veggie Report from June 25th?  Sort of iffy on it?  Okay, well these were my patty pan squash plants on June 25th:

These are my patty pan squash plants today, about 3 weeks later:

AND, I have a few baby patty pan squashes out there. I'm hoping I can harvest a few in a week or so.

I'd still be happy to hear your patty pan squash recipes if you have any to share.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fertilizer Friday - I'm Baaaaaack!

Tootsie over at Tootsie Time hosts Fertilizer Friday each week, where participants fertilize their flowers and post photos of their gardens.  I like the meme because I''m not good at remembering to fertilize, or rather when the last time I fertilized was!  I took a break from Fertilizer Fridays last year, but decided to give it a go whenever I can this year.

This is what's happening at the School of Yard Knocks this Fertilizer Friday:

Wave petunias in a whiskey barrel.  I bought these at the end of June for $6 for two packages at Canadian Tire.  They were pretty sad looking when I bought them, but I'm hopeful they will still flourish.

More of my bargain wave petunias:

My Therese Bugnet rugrosa finished her first round of blooms about 7-10 days ago, but is putting out new flowers again.

My beloved yarrow:

I have tomatoes!  I'm embarassed to say that I didn't even know I had baby tomatoes until I took my camera out there today to take these pictures.

I also have baby zucchini!  This is one of the yellow ones, but I also have baby green ones.

My patty pan squash plants are HUGE and putting out the blooms:

Two barrels of petunias in the foreground.  They don't get a lot of sun, but I'm hoping they'll still get a little bigger.

My clematis really does have buds!  I can't wait for them to open.

The first raspberries are *almost* ready (I had one the other day, and they are still on the sour side, but I couldn't resist).

What's happening in your garden this Friday?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another Diaper Cake

My niece Marissa gave birth to her second child in April.  Her nursery theme was yellow with bees.  I found some cute yellow bee things (including a few little Gymboree outfits on eBay!).

One idea that I incorporated - and I'll freely admit I got this idea from a seller on who had a bee diaper cake for sale - was adding Burt's Bees baby products to the inside of the cake.

I also tried draping a baby blanket over the middle tier, which nicely covered the top and sides of the middle tier as well as the top of the bottom tier.

I decided to keep the "icing" decorations on this one  pretty plain.  I put bee theme ribbon around each tier, mostly as a way to keep the baby blankets in place (and on the top tier, the burb cloths).  Two pairs of bee-themed socks are diaper-pinned to the middle tier.  Some scrapbooking bee punchies are zotted to the top tier.  And the whole thing is topped off with a bee toy and some yellow facecloth rosettes.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it.  It looks a little lumpy, frankly, but that's to be expected I guess.  Probably with more frou-frou for icing, the lumpiness is less noticeable.

For more detailed instructions on creating a diaper cake, see my post about the monkey cake.

Room with a View

Looking out from my bedroom window.  Thanks Mom for creating this beautiful space!