Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fresh Pea Soup and The Garden of Talking Flowers

No, not really...I just like the sound of the talking flowers part; I thought it would reel you in. I wish my flowers could talk though.

Here's a summer soup from the garden. Peas were late this are most things this season in our part of the world. Over the last week,  I got my first harvest of peas and fava beans. (If you think it's crazy that I'm only now harvesting peas and favas...don't hold your breath for the tomatoes!)

Hmm, what to do with the first fresh peas of the season?...They're good just raw in salads, so sweet with a light crunch. This neon-hued fresh pea soup is nice too, brighter and lighter than the regular old split pea variety. Mint is often used in fresh pea soup, and I was thinking of going that route, then I pondered basil...and then tarragon. In the end, I kept it plain and garnished it with chives.


1 lb shelled fresh peas (save the pods for broth or stir fry etc. / See note)
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
1 large leek, sliced
3-4 cups veggie broth
fresh herbs of choice, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Note: If the peas are fresh and tender (and preferably organic), you can also leave the peas in the shell  and just chop up the pods; I'd take the stringy bit along the seam out first though.

Sweat off the leek and potato in a tablespoon of olive oil until they are tender. Add the veggie broth, bring to a simmer, then add the fresh peas and simmer gently for 5 minutes...just until they begin to become tender. Blend in food processor and serve garnished with finely chopped fresh herbs of choice. 
Makes roughly 4 servings.

Here's some other fun flora from the garden at the moment:

Hens and chicks in bloom...sort of Seuss-y, they're just cute no matter what they do.

My sis-in-law gave us this Thompson's Flowering Maple at Easter, which is a bit more exotic and interesting than the usual suspects in my garden:

Its leaves look like maple leaves, but it's not related to Maple trees at all.  Apparently, this little guy is cultivated from a Brazilian shrub. We're really enjoying the blooms; thanks Linda!

I really like this Picasso Petunia with its lime-green petal tips. I saw it for the first time last summer, so I knew I wanted some in the garden this year.

Some borage:

Marigolds are sort of a plain jane flower, but they add cheer. I love the rich orange and gold of these: 

My favorite flowering pot at the moment:

I get most of my flowering annuals at the local garden center. Early in the season, I can usually buy them in sets of 6 starts for 1.50 each, so I go crazy.  This pot is the result of one of those splurges.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend. It's sunny and warm here today...I think I hear the lake calling my name! 
Rose Tobin Seattle
Roseann Marie LaPonte
Rosanne Tobin

Monday, July 18, 2011

Micro Greens Salad

radish, chard, kale and mustard sprouts with red onion and blueberries
Or in less fancy talk, veggie sprouts. 

I'm sure I'm not alone in the fact that when I sow seeds, I inevitably over sow. This is partly because it's difficult not to (especially with smaller seeds), and partly because it's a pretty good strategy. You can always thin out a row, but it's inconvenient to fill in a sparsely sown row with supplement seeds. Over sowing also allows for some loss through critters, pathogens, or less robust seedlings etc., without necessarily loosing everything. And of course, there's always at least a few duds in a batch of seeds that aren't viable. 

About 2 weeks ago, I planted my autumn greens and now they are coming up in crowed little rows: 

the radish crowd
Some leafy crops don't need too much thinning, especially if you want to harvest them as baby greens. Mesclun, leaf lettuces, dandelion, or arugula for example don't seem to mind crowds and there's just more for you to harvest.  Other things like root crops and fruiting crops (peas, squash, tomatoes, etc), really need the space to allow for the root and plant to grow unimpeded. And, while things like chard, kale and mustard are fine in crowds if you want to harvest them as young baby leaves, if you want to grow nice big individual plants, it's a good idea to thin them out as you go. Having said that, it always pains me to thin rows ; I feel sorry for the little guys. This regret fades a little, I find, if you eat them.

Hence, micro greens salad. They also make lovely garnishes to sprinkle over your food. Just rinse them gently, sprinkle and eat. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

When The Males Let You Down... offense to any guys out there, of course I'm talking about male squash blossoms. :D

Anyone who has grown cucurbits has probably encountered this problem: male and female blossoms don't open at the same time. Well, at least not at first. It doesn't always happen in this order, but this year I've got lots of female blossoms while the males are lagging far behind! Come' on guys, get blooming! 

Male blossom (hubbard squash)                                       Female blossom (hubbard squash)
While we're waiting for the males to catch up, the squash on the female blossoms won't get pollinated and grow; they'll just fade on the vine. There's a yummy solution though--fried squash blossoms. 

There are more delicate and refined ways to prepare these little gems, but I really like them fried in batter...the blossoms are especially good (just check to make sure there's no little insects hiding in the buds before you get started).

I'm growing blue hubbard squash and zucchini this year, and we snacked on the unpollinated squash from both. The hubbards were a little bitter, but they were only a little bite each, so it scarcely mattered. The zucchini were quite nice, and the blossoms are toothier than you'd think they'd be. 

And to make up for being such a lazy blogger, here are some other eats we've had lately:

Portabella and green pepper fajitas with all the fixins'


I like to make homemade chips by cutting fresh corn tortillas into triangles, brushing them with a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, and nutritional yeast, and baking them. They're yummier than regular old corn chips and, I guess they're a little healthier too because there's less fat. 

And now, for any vegan cheezsters that might be reading, here's a little vegan cheese interlude. I bought some Vegan Gourmet on a couple occasions lately, and I've been pleasantly surprised. (I always like to tell myself that I'm going to make my own nut cheese, but somehow, I rarely get around to doing it.)

We've tried this brand in the past and didn't like it. But, maybe they've changed their formula, or maybe our tastes have changed. At any rate, it's been pretty good this time round. It doesn't have as much flavor as Daiya, but when it's melted, the texture is nicer. I've always found Daiya to be on the slimy side when melted. There's no weird plastic-y smell from it as it heats up either, which I remember from my previous experience with FYH.

This was a particularly yummy batch of lasagne with some of Vegan Gourmet on top, which melted nicely. 

The filling was the star though: firm tofu, thick cashew cream, pine nuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, white miso, ume plum vinegar, lemon juice, and black pepper blended in a food processor, with chopped fresh parsley and basil stirred in at the end. Next time I make it, I'll try to record the measurements, because it had a serious yum factor going on.

Lucky says, "Have a great weekend, everyone!"

Roseann Marie Laponte
Rosanne Tobin
Roseann Laponte
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