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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Squash and Ants in the Garden

....just a quick little entry this evening....
The garden is magnificent this time of year! Heirloom tomatoes abound and the the scarlet runner beans are taking hold on the tripod support system we created.  Birds are loving the new fountain - we enjoy seeing hummingbirds, painted buntings and cardinals every evening.  However, I have such trouble this summer with ants on my squash and pumpkins (sigh).  On the sad side, I am battling ants and doing that chemical free is challenging.  On the plus side, it has opened my world to baby squash! Basically, harvesting immature squash and 'making lemonade'. 

You can harvest squash in any stage of its life. They are  soft, cute and decadent when they are young and every bit as delicious as their mature versions.  Tonight, I am sauteing immature patty pan squash and butternut squash with onions and shiitake mushrooms.  I'm seasoning with thyme, salt and pepper. (Adding a little white wine while cooking is also very fun and adds a lovely dimension to cooking~)

So, although this entry is short - the message is sweet! Cooking with baby squash is delicious and adds beauty and whimsy to your dinner plate.

I hope you are enjoying your lovely Sunday and if you are like me this Sunday evening... you  are planning the menu ahead as well as planning for a jam packed work week.   Rest well lovely garden friends :)

Until nextime, HCH.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Gardening in the Texas Hill Country

Summer is upon us!  If you are like me...you are wondering where the time has gone.  How did we get to June! Well, we are here.  Nevertheless...Mother Nature has not forgotten.  The world is exploding with abundant fruit, flowers and vegetables as we speak.  Shown here: A lovely picture of my Texas Wildflower garden.  I've been thoroughly enjoying the lemon mint or Mondarda citriodora this year.  Infused in honey, vinegar or tea...it's a winning herb in our home.  I'll blog in the near future about a lovely facial toner you can make with this wild borne exquisite flower! It's heavenly~

I've been a busy bee this gardening season.  I've planted and harvested two kinds of cabbage: traditional all season cabbage and Napa cabbage.  Both are extraordinarily delicious.  I have several heads of traditional all season cabbage still growing in the garden.  I used half of one head in a wonderful soup and gave the other half to my neighbor.  She was delighted.  Gardening is a wonderful avenue to connect and share....it's pure love.  With the Napa cabbage, I shredded the leaves and introduced into a mushroom stir fry.  You just can't go wrong with homegrown cabbage...you just can't. 

Squash is also a delightful veggie growing in the garden. Shown on the upper left is our butternut squash. Aren't they just beautiful.  In the moonlight, they glow ever so gently.  To the upper right, is our pattypan squash.  I simply love baby pattypan squash.  I love to harvest early (before they fully mature) and enjoy while very young.  Sauteed with onion, shallots and a bit of olive oil or butter - it's a wonderful addition to risotto or any other dish.  Fantastic! You must indulge and plant and harvest for yourself!
Earlier this summer I gathered the very last of the dried red corn poppy heads.  Beautiful on their own, they are solid and stout reminders of the flouncy red beauties they once were. As I gathered the heads, I can't help but notice each one is like a nature made salt/pepper shaker.  Tapping each head into my palm...hundreds of tiny seeds spilled out.  Amazing.  I have enough for next year's crop and enough to share with special friends. Poppies, like friends, are beautiful through and through!  

My very favorite fur kids have been equally enjoying the garden's bounty this summer.  Basil enjoys watching the finches, hummingbirds, butterflies and bees happily pollinating the garden flowers.  Meanwhile, Briar simply enjoys eating the goods! His absolute favorites are strawberries (he hunts and harvests them himself) and tomatoes.  This dog loves his organic veggies, that's for sure!

Hope you are enjoying the summer season as much as we are.... lots of goodies to eat, dehydrate, infuse, and preserve!!  That's the hill country garden way!

Until tomorrow,