Posts Tagged ‘VEGGIES’

What do you do when the hot weather kicks in and the cucumbers start taking over your garden? I make soup!

The original cucumber soup recipe comes from Ikies Traditional Houses, a wonderful hotel in the beautiful town of Oia in Santorini, Greece. After a long, hot day of exploring the island, we would settle down to a refreshing bowl of cucumber soup. They were nice enough to share the recipe with us, and a few tweaks later, it’s my definition of perfect.

 

cuke soup

 

 

 

3 English cucumbers or 5 regular cucumbers, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup vegetable stock, preferably home-made
4 cups plain full-fat yogurt
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
Fleur de Sel and pepper

 

Peel, seed and chop the cucumbers and place them in a blender with the garlic, stock, 2 cups of the yogurt, mint leaves, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel, and a grating of fresh black pepper.

Turn on the blender and mix well. Stop the blender and then add remaining 2 cups of yogurt and mix it by hand.

Pour the cucumber soup in bowls. Garnish with diced cucumber or radish.

 

To make the vegetable stock: rough-chop a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, and an onion, and put them in a pot with 4 cups of water. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half. by half. Strain the veggies before using the stock. You can also roast the veggies on a sheet pan in a hot oven for a bit before adding them to the water for an even richer flavor.

 

I sowed some early spring seeds around March 7th in one of my raised beds. Here’s what it looked like on Day 1…

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Three weeks later, germination began, albeit slowly. But you can see the happy little green seedlings popping up. On the left: peas. On the right: radishes, Asian greens, spinach, kale, arugula and others.

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Now, it’s week #7, and you can see significant growth…

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The peas (on the left) are about 6″ tall. Spinach (bottom right) making an appearance, too.

Another photo in a few weeks!

I sowed some early spring seeds about 3 weeks ago in one of my raised beds. Here’s what it looked like on Day 1…

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Now…3 weeks later, germination has begun, albeit slowly. But you can see the happy little green seedlings popping up. On the left: peas. On the right: radishes, Asian greens, spinach, kale, arugula and others.

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Another photo in a few weeks!

If you’ve got a windowsill, you can grow a variety of sprouts that will add lots of fresh flavor to any salad or stir fry. Once you’ve sprouted the seeds, the clock starts, and they can go badly rather quickly. That’s why the sprouts that you buy in a supermarket can already be half way to stale city before you even bring them home. Growing your own assures fresh sprouts when you want them, and you can’t beat the flavor.

 

Two trays of mung bean seeds and one tray of a radish mix.

Two trays of mung bean seeds and one tray of a radish mix.

 

Suppliers of sprouting seeds are easy to find. My two favorites are High Mowing Seeds (www.highmowingseeds.com) and Johnny’s Selected Seeds (www.johnnyseed.com.) They also sell the sprouter, which is a stackable plastic structure that holds several layers of seeds at one time.

Stacked and ready to go.

Stacked and ready to go.

 

Just pour in the seeds, stack ’em up, and pour water in the top. The water trickles down through the layers, leaving behind just enough moisture to germinated the seeds.

Water trickles down through the different levels.

Water trickles down through the different levels.

Water the seeds a few times a day and in just two days, you’ll see your sprouts come alive. within 4 or 5 days, they’re totally grown, at which time you can bag them and keep them in the fridge, and start a new batch of sprouts.

Mung bean sprouts after just one day.

Sprouts after just one day.

 

...and after several days.

…and after several days.

If you like micro greens, those are pretty easy to grow indoors as well, though you’ll need a windowsill with good sunlight. (Grow lights work well, too.) You place some potting mix in a shallow tray, press the seeds into the potting mix, and then water them.

Seeds ready to sprout (from left to right): sunflower, popcorn, peas.

Seeds ready to sprout (from left to right): sunflower, popcorn, peas.

 

In a few days, the seeds will start to sprout. when they get a few inches tall, simply snip them with a pair of scissors, and toss them into your salad. When all the seeds have sprouted, the soil and the used seeds can all go into your compost pile or garden.

Sprouting under grow lights.

Sprouting under grow lights.

 

 

If you grow tomato plants in pots, you already know that you don’t need an actual garden plot to have a successful harvest of fresh produce. Herbs and greens can also be grown without much effort.

But have you tried potatoes or sweet potatoes?

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POTATOES

Growing potatoes in pots is actually better in many ways than growing them in your garden. They can take up some serious garden space, especially tough for gardeners that have a relatively small space to grow their veggies. Putting potatoes in pots makes them concentrate their growing efforts on the limited space they’re given, and I’ve found that they produce a sizable harvest despite their restrictions.

You can buy seed potatoes from gardening companies online but you can also go to the store and simply buy a bag of organic potatoes. Have some of them for dinner, and leave the rest in a corner without sunshine to sprout right in the bag. Because they’re organic, they haven’t been sprayed with a sprout-inhibitor, and you’ll see that they’ll start to grow in no time. (You can also place each potato in a glass of water to aid in sprouting.) Once the potatoes sprout, cut each into 2 or 3 pieces, each piece with a bud. Get a large pot you want to grow them in (plastic is lighter and easier), making sure it has holes in the bottom for drainage, and fill it with only 3 inches of soil. Gently press the potato buds into this soil about 4 inches apart and water them. Every week as they grow, keep adding soil to the pot all the way up the stems to just under the top leaves. When you’ve filled the pot with soil, let the potatoes continue growing…they’re now on their own. They will bloom, and then the stems will start to wither and die. When the stems have died off (if you can wait that long!) simply tilt the pot over and you’ll pour out your potato harvest! Lots of fun for the kids to find this “buried treasure.”

 

Sweet potatoes growing in my yard in a pot with elephant ears.

Sweet potatoes growing in my yard in a pot with elephant ears.

SWEET POTATOES

My wife loves sweet potato vines to decorate flower pots. So instead of  buying decorative sweet potato vines that don’t produce edible fruit, I buy edible sweet potato plants from a reliable garden catalog. I simply stick them in the potting soil next to our favorite flowers and let them grow all season long. The decorative leaves will cascade down the sides of the flower pots, but inside, under the soil surface, they’ll be secretly making delicious sweet potatoes!

When the growing season is over, gently dig away the potting soil in the pot (I use my hands to prevent damaging the sweet potatoes) and admire your harvest!

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Potatoes and sweet potatoes need to be store in a cool place away from sunlight (and away from onions.) A cool garage works great.

 

A couple of photos of what’s happening in the spring garden…

An early spring salad: asparagus, pea tendrils, radishes, scallions.

An early spring salad: asparagus, pea tendrils, radishes, scallions.

 

How do I get to make a fried chive blossom pizza in December? I pick 'em and freeze 'em in May!

How do I get to make a fried chive blossom pizza in December? I pick ’em and freeze ’em in May!