Monday Recap: Billed Out, But Inspired

The remnants of Tropical Depression Bill visited us on Friday and Saturday, giving us four inches of rain in a 24-hour period. That came on top of 2.5 inches we had earlier in the week. The month of June actually started off dry here, but we have certainly caught up on our precipitation, and then some! Thankfully the rain came down fairly gently, and our silty soil was able to absorb most of it without a lot of runoff. I am guessing folks with our area’s more typical clay soils had water standing in their gardens and yards.

the rain from Bill

the rain from Bill

Of course the rain is making things grow like crazy, including the cucumbers. I harvested the first ones of the year last week. They were quickly followed by several more, until I had enough to make a batch of refrigerator pickles. In the below photo, two Green Fingers cucumbers from the main garden are joined by a Corinto from the greenhouse. The vines are loaded with baby cukes, so we will be enjoying more of them in the days to come, and no doubt sharing some of them with friends as well.

trio of cucumbers

trio of cucumbers

I also harvested the first squash and broccoli of the year. Those happened to be yellow squash, and I harvested from all three of the yellow varieties I planted this year (Gentry, Enterprise and Multipik). The first broccoli was from Goliath, though in this case the head I harvested was not all that big. I don’t have high expectations for the spring broccoli this year. We had extremely hot weather a bit earlier than usual this spring, and it has pretty much stayed hot ever since. That is typical around here, and broccoli usually does much better in fall. I’m always thankful for any spring broccoli I get. The squash and broccoli are hanging out with another Corinto cucumber in the below photo.

first yellow squash and broccoli of 2015

first yellow squash and broccoli of 2015

I had plans for the squash, and I also needed some onions for my plan so I pulled a Red Torpedo Tropea that was sizing up nicely plus a few of the ones I planted for scallions.

onion harvest

onion harvest

My plan for the squash and onions was to make the Zucchini, Onion and Ricotta Pie that Michelle made a couple of weeks ago. I made mine with the yellow squash I had on hand, plus the white onions in the above photo. I also chopped up a few garlic scapes and some fresh parsley and added a little crushed and minced garlic. This dish comes together pretty quickly and made a great dinner meal for us one night, along with some steamed broccoli. The leftover pie tasted even better the next day, and I can see making this versatile recipe again when more of the summer veggies start rolling in. Some lovely eggs from local pastured chickens gave the pie a nice golden color.

Squash, Onion and Ricotta Pie

Squash, Onion and Ricotta Pie

I was also inspired this week to make a gooseberry pie. I’ve been hungry for some ever since last July when Daphne made a couple of beautiful pies to take to a 4th of July party. I decided to make a double pie crust using some soft white whole wheat flour and use it to make my favorite gooseberry pie recipe, straight from my well-worn and vintage Betty Crocker cookbook. I loved the gooseberries, but I thought the crust was a bit chewy. My wife loved the crust, though it was difficult to make the lattice top with it. It wasn’t my prettiest pie but it all disappeared over the course of several days. Next time I want to try a gooseberry cobbler. I pretty much used up all of this year’s crop, so I will have to wait until next year for that.

gooseberry pie

gooseberry pie

Another inspiration came from Norma, who told us a couple of weeks ago how she used kohlrabi and marinated tofu (along with other goodies) in a stir fry dish. I skipped the meat, and added some April Cross daikon radish, yellow squash, mushrooms and chopped garlic scapes to my creation. I marinated the tofu in a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame, along with a crushed dried Aji Angelo pepper to add a tiny touch of heat. After marinating and removing the tofu, I added a bit of water and cornstarch to the marinade and used it to make a sauce. I also took her suggestion and served it on lettuce, skipping the usual rice. It’s a yummy way to prepare the kohlrabi and other veggies.

stir fry with kohlrabi and other veggies

stir fry with kohlrabi and other veggies

With plenty of warning that Bill was coming our way with lots of rain, I dug more garlic before the soil got any more moisture. This time I harvested the rest of the turban varieties (Shilla, Uzbek and Xian), plus three of the artichoke varieties that were ready (Inchelium Red, Siciliano, and Lorz Italian). Most gardeners, me included, plant the largest cloves of garlic because they tend to make the biggest bulbs. But occasionally those large cloves are “double cloves”, which will produce two bulbs. I had two of the Lorz Italian plants that did just that, including the one in the below photo. I don’t normally wash the bulbs before curing, but I did this one so you could see how the two bulbs were growing.

double bulb of Lorz Italian garlic

double bulb of Lorz Italian garlic

I usually get a few of the double bulbs, so that wasn’t a big surprise but this year I also got a triple from Inchelium Red. Commercial growers usually try and avoid planting double cloves because the resulting bulbs can be hard to sell, though it’s no big deal for most home gardeners. You can see how wet the soil was in the below photo, and that was before Bill came through!

triple bulbs of Inchelium Red garlic

triple bulbs of Inchelium Red garlic

For me, the main appeal of growing garlic is in the bulbs and the scapes. But for our cat Puddin, the real attraction is in the leaves. Every time I drag bunches of garlic through the house (and she is awake) she wants to bite and play with the foliage. I think she gets more excited about the garlic than she does when I bring her catnip! She’s got a wild look in her eyes but she’s really a big sweetie.

Puddin chewing on garlic

Puddin chewing on garlic

I’m continuing in my quest to eat as many different types of dry beans as possible. Last week I cooked up some Rio Zape beans, and I can see them starring in future meals. These beans have a wonderful, rich taste, and I could easily sit down and eat a bowl of them all by themselves. Some of these wound up getting refried, and others wound up in a Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes salad we had for dinner last night.

Rio Zape beans before cooking

Rio Zape beans before cooking

The salad also featured some of our roasted orange and purple sweet potatoes, topped with some fried sage leaves from the garden and toasted pine nuts. I served the salad at room temperature, and it tasted a lot better than the below photo looks. My wife declared it a ‘home run”, a metaphor that is as close to baseball as either one of us ever gets!

Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes

Rio Zape Beans and Sweet Potatoes

That’s a look at what’s going on here lately. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.

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12 Responses to Monday Recap: Billed Out, But Inspired

  1. Daphne says:

    I keep checking my gooseberries. It won’t be long here. Gooseberry cobbler sounds really good. I might try that this year.

    The remnants of Bill hit us too, but by then there wasn’t a lot of moisture left and it hit on Sunday. But 1.5 inches was very nice. We needed it. It was sad that it hit on Father’s Day though.
    Daphne recently posted…Brussels SproutsMy Profile

  2. Norma Chang says:

    You still have purple sweet potatoes? How do you store them to last so long? Never thought of combining beans and sweet potatoes. Will be trying soon.
    Norma Chang recently posted…Harvest Monday, June 15, 2015 – A Few Garden First HarvestsMy Profile

  3. Will - Eight Gate Farm - NH says:

    I think it was the remnants of that storm that came through yesterday, just bringing us 24 hours of gentle but soaking rain, which is much needed. It amazes me that you have cucumbers and squash already, and mine are barely more than seed leaves. Sigh. Now your kitty has garlic breath–who knows, may be an improvement! That pie sure does look good, but I confess to having to my knowledge never tasted a gooseberry.

  4. Susie says:

    So nice to see harvests that aren’t only green. The bowl you have the cukes in is very pretty – I’m a sucker for baskets and bowls! And I concur, the pie looks wonderful! As do all of the dishes you’ve described.
    Susie recently posted…Harvest Monday: June 22, 2015My Profile

  5. Dave's SFG says:

    I get double bulbs sometimes, depending on type. Seem to have a lot with the Spanish Roja. Your garden is way ahead of mine, squash and cucumbers are still small plants. The rain we got from Bill on Sunday should help.

  6. Phuong says:

    Your ricotta pie and gooseberry pie look amazing. You’re already getting summer squash and cucumbers! I’m probably a week behind on that front, fingers crossed for lots of visiting bees.
    Phuong recently posted…Harvest Monday, 6/22/15My Profile

  7. Michelle says:

    This post is making me so hungry! The bean and squash salad sounds like a winner. That zucchini pie recipe is a winner to, it’s nudging something out of my Top Ten zucchini recipe collection.

    I wish Bill had wandered out west, you’re total rain for June is almost half what we’ve gotten in the last 12 months.

    Puddin looks like a sweetie pie, such a pretty girl!
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 22, 2015My Profile

  8. Jennifer says:

    YUM! Everything looks delicious. Good luck on weathering all of that rain. We’re entering the Bone Dry / Scorching HOT season and Wildfire season, so the thought of all that rain sounds lovely. And that’s so cute that your kitty likes munching on garlic leaves!
    Jennifer recently posted…~ Harvest Monday: June 22, 2015 ~My Profile

  9. Mike R says:

    My pickling cucumbers are nearly ready, they just need a few more days of sunshine to size up. The recent storms flattened my garlic. It’s time to get it out but it’s still kind of sloppy in the yard. I’ve had my fill of rain.
    Mike R recently posted…Monday June 22My Profile

  10. Margaret says:

    All of your meals sound delicious! Everything is maturing so quickly for you – I can’t believe you are already harvesting squash…I just planted mine out last week!

    I’m really looking forward to those first refrigerator pickles – although regular canned pickles are great to have during the winter, I really do prefer the refrigerator pickles – so much fresher tasting/crunchier.
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 22, 2015My Profile

  11. Lexa says:

    Wow Dave! That’s ALOT of rain! I am so very glad that your garden survived. You were well prepared. Your recipes always inspire me and they have done that once again. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them. With your early warm spring, it is amazing everything that you are already harvesting.
    Lexa recently posted…Garlic Scape HarvestMy Profile

  12. I’ve been home, sick. And reading through garden blogs is very soothing. Your garlic chomping kitty is delightful. Our lawn tigers enjoy loafing among our garden plants.

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