Tag Archives: Garden


Parsley and Walnut Pesto, featuring roasted garlic

So…I haven’t posted anything in a while, do you forgive me? I was a little busy this summer with my internship, but I will try to never again leave you waiting for so long.

Although I will leave you waiting for the recipe due to my usual rambling, so here’s a preview of the actual purpose of this post.

I haven’t been able to check on the garden at my parent’s house very often this summer, but I do know it wasn’t quite as prosperous as last year. There was probably too much rain for some of the vegetables. We still got a lot of tomatoes and green beans, but practically no squash or cucumbers. It was a little sad. We attempted beets and carrots this year too, and it looks like we may have planted them too close together, but it’s ok because we still got some delicious product from it!

Check out these lovely beet greens, and the carrot greens behind them

Tomatoes! You might see these a couple times in this post as a garnish

We did manage to get a ton of herbs, which we smartly planted right outside the kitchen door. I came home from NYC on August 26th, so my mom and I made sure to cut as much of the herbs as we could to save them from Hurricane Irene. It started raining while we gathered, but the hurricane didn’t really get going until much later.


We decided to freeze most of the basil. So we cut, picked the leaves, washed them, let dry, then put into freezer storage bags and hoped the hurricane wouldn’t knock out our power (it didn’t). I saved some unpicked bundles in a container of water to use during the week.

I love me some parsley

We did pretty much the same thing with the parsley, except I kept a lot more unfrozen to make a parsley pesto for dinner.

I know many people make basil pesto. I had a ton of basil, why did I make the pesto predominantly with parsley? Well, because I felt like it. Were you expecting a real reason? And why walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts? Because we had walnuts in the house, and because they are way cheaper than pine nuts and still delicious.

One more explanation before I present you with the recipe: why did I roast the garlic? That’s an easy one. My parents don’t like raw garlic. Even in a delicious pesto they find the flavor to be too overwhelming. So, I roasted it. A head of garlic might sound like a garlic festival to those who aren’t fond of the tasty morsels, but when you roast it the flavor becomes much more subtle and bearable. Just cut the top off of the head leaving the cloves exposed. Don’t worry, there’s a picture coming later.

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Farmer’s Tomato Pie

Before I get going on the recipe I thought I’d give a little update on the garden. We’re still getting an overwhelming amount of tomatoes, and as a result my mom and I have made at least 4 batches of my grandma’s sauce (a recipe that will never be on this blog!) and yet there are still more. There are always more. We went away for a week, and upon our return we had more tomatoes, green beans, an eggplant, and some cucumbers. I’m very pleased to inform you all that I did find a way to use up many cucumbers, Julia Child’s baked cucumber recipe! It uses 6 whole cucumbers, and the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking provides a variety of ways to serve them. I’ve made it with the cheese sauce.  j’ai adore.

My herbs are doing alright. The basil and sage are growing strong, the parsley is ok, and the dill has completely died. I think I over-planted the pot, not expecting them to grow so much, and the dill suffered for it. Also, the green beans somehow made their way over to the dill and started growing wrapped around it. I wanted to take pics, but it’s rainy out so I didn’t.
There is also some delicious looking butternut squash growing!! I’m excited! I’m going to make butternut squash risotto for my brother’s birthday on Wednesday, and you can betcha that I’ll put the recipe on this here blog :)
We had a plethora of chili peppers as well, and as a result we ate some, froze some, and are drying out some more. And there are still many growing. Here’s how the drying ones are coming along:
I know, they are very pretty and strange looking.
Now on to the recipe! Normally I post original recipes, however as a result of my whining in my last post about too many tomatoes, my friend’s mom, Marilyn Leibe, generously suggested I make a Farmers Tomato Pie. I was unimpressed at first, thinking of a pie crust filled with ketchup, but she assured me that it is tasty and emailed me the recipe. The recipe looked way more interesting than my initial impression, which was mainly based on the name. When one thinks of a pie, they normally think of the sweet dessert kind and not the savory kind. Since this is full of tomatoes and cheese I chose to think of it as a pizza pie.
I was wary of making it at first, but faced with so many tomatoes and a lack of desire to make more sauce I figured I might as well try. I’ve never actually made a pie before, and as you’ll see in the pictures I couldn’t care less if the crust was properly crinkled or whatever it’s called. I probably should have baked the crust a little longer, but lessons have been learned.
I followed the recipe almost exactly, but I had two bags of cheese that were mostly finished so instead of measuring I just used what I had left. I used up a bag of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. They became good friends in this dish. The recipe also didn’t specify what to do with the basil other than just topping the pie after it baked, so I went with a fancy chiffonade(roll up the leaves and cut into long, thin strips).

Before baking
After baking
The end result was quite pleasing. I should have baked it a little longer, but I was nervous about over-cooking it, as well as a little hungry, so I’ll try to be more patient next time. It reminded me of pizza, but with a lighter crust and more tartness from using fresh tomatoes instead of a sauce. It tasted absolutely nothing like a ketchup pie, and for that I am grateful. I’ll probably end up making it again this week with more adjustments since I now know how it works. Maybe some chili peppers next time? And sausage too? I think it will be spectacular.

Garden Sauce

We are very fortunate in that our garden is producing a large amount of produce, however it has been difficult at times for us to use everything before it goes bad. For example, we have been eating cucumbers with almost every meal and we still have an extra 6 on our counter, and many more left to be picked. We have more hot peppers than I know what to do with (don’t worry, I will figure it out!), and up until today we had multiple bowls filled with tomatoes sitting around.

Plus, my herbs are going mad. Check it out:

So today my mother and I decided to make a red sauce, using our home grown tomatoes and fresh herbs. Using more than 7lbs of tomatoes, a healthy handful of basil, and a few extra ingredients we managed to make a delightful garden sauce. I mostly enjoyed how it didn’t have any of that tinny taste you can get from using canned tomatoes to make sauces, therefore giving me the freedom to relax and not worry about covering that extra, unwanted flavor.

This is just one bowl of them
We discovered that the best way to get the most juice, with the smallest amount of seeds and skins, was to first blend the tomatoes and then strain them in a mill. In case you are unaware, when I say “mill” I am referring to a strainer that has a handle for you to rotate and squish all the juice out while keeping the seed and skins inside. If you don’t have one, then just using a strainer and pressing on the pulp with a spoon will work fine.
Here is a blurry picture of ours:
We washed, cut in half, blended, milled, and sauce-ified. It was a pleasant process. And way less obnoxious than it might sound. In the end we created a very fresh tasting sauce, sort of like pasta fresca but a little more complex with the addition of wine and cheese cooked in. Of course we have many more tomatoes on the way, and I will have to find many more uses for them!
This recipe does make a lot of sauce, so feel free to cut it down or be prepared to have some leftover.

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Gardening Fun

Gardening is fun, especially if you have someone else do it for you, and then reap the benefits. That’s how I roll. Earlier this year, my dad and brother (with my assistance, of course!) felt the need to make a huge garden structure thing, in order to keep the deer and critters out as well as to make us look fancy. I must admit, it does look nice. I mostly helped by halfheartedly digging a hole with a post digger. Turns out that I don’t enjoy manual labor. At least I tried!

We planted some seeds, planted some already started plants, and I re-potted my herbs so they could have room to stretch. And holy crap did they stretch! The sage went insane! Especially in the past couple of days. I mean, it was doing alright outside, then when I looked at it yesterday they were giants! I definitely need to use them soon. And the basil has been growing well, but it seems some bugs might like it too since the leaves have little holes in them. Oh well, I still used some today in my grandma’s sauce.
The parsley and dill had all but died before I re-potted them. Now they’re coming back strong! It’s quite exciting. And I also cheated and bought rosemary and mint since I couldn’t find mint seeds, and the rosemary smelled too good to not buy. The mint is the only one not in the garden, I put it in it’s own pot right under my window. No real reason for that, it’s just where the pot already was.
Lots of stuff is growing, and I’m kinda looking forward to all the fresh and free vegetables that will be coming later in the summer. Oh, and the strawberries! I have learned that strawberries fresh off the vine are ridiculously fantastic.
Now you can all look forward to summer recipes with home grown ingredients besides just the herbs (which are finally usable and can fulfill the purpose of this blog!). I’m gonna make zucchini bread, butternut squash risotto, grilled vegetable sauces, green bean casserole, soups, desserts, drinks, anything and everything I can!
Now I’m freaking hungry.
Watch out, it’s pic heavy below the cut. Click them to see them bigger

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The herbs are ok

I know it’s been a while since I posted new info about my herbs. And no, it’s not because I forgot or anything lame like that, it’s because they honestly hadn’t changed much since my last update. There was a few days when I thought they were going to die, and that wasn’t cool, but since it got warmer they’ve been doing much better and have actually grown a little! I’m going to start watering them with a fertilizer water thing that my dad made for our garden and I hope it will make the herbs grow to the point where I can actually use them. I did NOT expect it to take quite this long!

The basil has finely grown some new basil like leaves. After remaining unchanged for 2 months I was concerned that I had duds, but now I see actual progress. See how cute? It actually resembles basil now! I just want to gobble it up!

Now, the parsley I was really really worried about. It was not doing well at all. It was losing the green color and being all long and floppy and terrible and kind of shriveled  up. Thankfully it looks like an actual plant again! I rescued it! I probably wasn’t watering it enough because of my fear of over-watering my herbs. But now the parsley is quickly on its’ way to a full and healthy recovery, all for the purpose of being eaten! Mmmmmmm tasty….

The sage has always been pretty and healthy looking. The only real change is the leaves are bigger and cooler looking, and there is more of them. Enough said, check out the pic.

My dill is being kind of strange. It’s growing well, but with a purple tint to it. Is this normal? I guess I just have to wait and see. It is steadily growing, so it’s still doing well, right? Oh well, at least it’s looks neat!

We’ve also started growing plants for the garden in the back yard. My dad and brother (with my help of course!) built this huge wooden structure for our garden, so we’re pretty excited about it. They had to build such a big garden so the deer won’t be able to just eat everything. I’ll put up pics of it when we’ve planted some of the plants outside. Right now the peppers and tomatoes and eggplant are growing inside, and are doing quite well if I do say so myself! Here are some of the tomato plants! They’re huge (compared to the herbs at least)!

So many growing things! Only problem now is how to get rid of all the stupid little flies. I’m going to blame my brother’s orange tree for them. No way can my cute little herbs be at fault!