Garlic Scape Hummus and the Best Ever Pita Chips

Garlic Scape Hummus

What is growing in your garden this year?  One of the things I am picking is garlic scape (those cool green spiral thingies that grow out of your garlic plant pictured above).  I am also picking sugar and snap peas and radishes.

Grow garden …grow

Cher's Garden

If you are growing garlic don’t miss out on picking these garlic scapes.  Garlic scape are milder in taste than garlic and are awesome stir fried in a pan with other vegetables, made into garlic scape pesto, or as I just discovered, made into Garlic Scape Hummus.

Garlic Scape Humus

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Ground black pepper (to taste)
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic scapes, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper until finely chopped, scraping the sides as needed.

2. Add the chickpeas and process to a rough puree (the chickpeas will be just about completely mashed).

3. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until smooth. Check the consistency; if it is still thick and paste-like, you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to thin it out a bit. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with your favorite vegetables, pita chips, etc.

Now don’t say I didn’t warn you … if you make these home-made pita chips you will never ever buy them in the store again.  You will tell yourself  “I’m only going to have one more” … after having had about 10… they are that good and super easy.

Homemade Pita Chips
Ingredients
3 pitas, cut into 8 wedges
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Preheat heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut pitas into 8 wedges. Pour olive oil into a bowl and add garlic, salt and pepper. Brush pita chips olive oil and garlic mixture. Arrange pita chips on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of The Neelys – FoodNetwork

Tomato Blight – It’s My Garden I’ll Cry If I Want To

Garden

I grew tomatoes from seed this year (left side of photo and upper top of photo), nurtured them and watched them grow from seedlings into 7-8 foot tall strong and sturdy plants bearing lots of tomatoes, most of which still had to ripen. I look forward to tomatoes more than anything in the garden and my first taste of Caprese salad once again this summer was earth altering. There is nothing quite like the taste of your own home-grown tomatoes picked just that day. I made one batch of fresh salsa and reveled in the favors of fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro. I made a couple of sandwiches with a thick slice of red ripe tomato from the garden.

THEN … without much of a warning my tomatoes came to an abrupt halt within a matter of days!! My beautiful, healthy tomato plants were dying a quick death!!!Late tomato blite Late tomato blight hit and hit hard. I’ve grown tomatoes for 10 years and have always been blessed by healthy vigorous plants. … Until this year. Wow … It is quite a shock to see such healthy plants die and whither a quick death.Late tomato blight As I looked at my plants for some silly reason an old song came into my head “It’s My Party” and the chorus goes “it’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you.”  Do you know the song I mean? Well, always trying to look at something positive I turned it into “it’s my garden and I’ll cry if I want to” and put a funny spin on it. That worked for all of a few moments. Sigh ….

I got to work and pulled my plants out, stuffing them into black garbage bags. I filled up 2 55 gallon bags with my beloved tomato plants and then sat down and looked at the empty earth. I must confess that sitting there, at that moment, I did feel tears falling down my cheeks. If you’re a gardener … You get it. 

On the positive side, I did end up with 4 grocery bags full of green tomatoes.  I plan to make some salsa verde for canning and I’m hoping the others will ripen and I can still make tomato sauce and red tomato salsa.

What I Learned:

I read a lot and learned way more than I ever wanted to know about late tomato blight!  I learned that late tomato blight is transmitted through the air and can travel miles and cross state lines.  It was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the 1800s.  I learned that the weather Ohio had this summer played a huge part in late tomato blight with a lot of rain and except for one week of exceptionally hot weather, for the most part it was a cooler summer.  I learned that late blight also affects the tomato itself and not just the stalk and the leaves.  I learned that once your plants have blight it is next to impossible to save them, blight spreads FAST!!  I garden organically so I am torn as to whether I would use preventative measures next year if we had the same kind of weather, but leaning to taking a chance and not using chemicals.  Following are some photos to help identify late tomato blight:

Late Blight on Tomatoes

Late blight first appearing on leaves

late blight on tomatoes

and progresses to the bottom photo quickly!Late blight on tomato plant

Affected tomatoes look like this:

Tomato affected with late blight

One basket of 4 containers of green tomatoes:

photo (5)

I also learned that I never want to experience late tomato blight again!

It was a very, very sad evening in the garden.  But … there is always next summer and I plan on growing tomatoes again … after all, you can’t have a garden without tomatoes and I’m optimistic that next summer will be blight free!

Mixed Greens Salad with Grilled Chicken, Nasturtium Flowers and Ginger Soy Dressing. Are You a Flower Eater?

Mixed Greens Salad with Nasturtium Flowers-3

Are you a flower eater?  A what???  Do you just look at the lovely flowers on your plate or do you eat them?

I grew Nasturtiums this year in the garden for the sole purpose of adding beauty to my food, and also because I do eat edible flowers.  I have read that the entire Nasturtium is edible right down to the leaves and can be mixed in with a salad.  I have an overabundance of lettuce this year and  despite eating salads for dinner 3-4 times a week I cannot keep up with my lettuce.  This is one of my favorite salads.  Not only is it pretty to look at, but it tastes great!  My favorite ginger soy dressing brings it all home.  ENJOY!

Ginger-Sesame Dressing – Source:  Epicurious.com (slightly adapted)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Process until smooth.

Mixed Green Salad with Nasturtium Flowers

Salad Ingredients:

  • Mixed greens
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Red Pepper
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Nasturtium

Mixed Greens Salad with Nasturtiums Flowers-2

Garlic Scape Pesto with Pasta – What in the World are Garlic Scapes?!

Pasta and Garlic Scape Pesto

What in the world are garlic scapes?  I never heard of garlic scapes until last fall when I planted 52 garlic bulbs and researched how to grow and harvest garlic.  I am loving garlic scapes!  I find that the scapes have a garlic flavor, but are slightly milder than the actual cloves.  I also made garlic scape hummus which I enjoyed immensely.  Give this Garlic Scape Pesto a try … it is habit forming.  Enjoy!

What in the world are garlic scapes?

source:  garlicfarmct.com

Garlic scapes, or flower stalks, emerge from hard-necked varieties of garlic–normally in June in Connecticut. The stalks wind up as they grow and form eccentric curlicues. Snipping off the scapes before the flowerheads mature allows the plant to direct more energy into the developing garlic bulb, and so we snip them off for a garlic scape harvest in mid-June.

When the garlic scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and succulent. They have a garlicky taste that is milder than the eventual garlic cloves, with the tender snap of just-picked asparagus. In fact, we often say that you can prepare garlic scapes pretty much any way you’d use asparagus–and more.

The garlic scape is an allium delicacy that is highly prized and traditionally used in Southern and Eastern European cuisines, along with Middle Eastern, Korean, and other Asian cuisines, which all value its subtly vegetal garlic flavor and tender-crisp texture.

Garlic scapes have many uses, from soup to salads to garnishes: grill, stir fry, use them raw on salads, blend them into hummus or habit-forming scape pesto (with or without other herbs), add them to tempura, soups, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, pasta dishes, and more. They work well as a main dish or on the side.”

Garlic Farm Legacy Scape Pesto Recipe

  • 1 cup (or less) freshly grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp Italian cheese
  • 1–2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, adjusted to taste
  • 1/4 pound roughly chopped scapes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste

Puree scapes, olive oil, and juice in a blender or food processor until nearly smooth. (You can make a smooth paste if you prefer, but most people like a little texture in the pesto.) Gently stir in the cheese or gingerly pulse the cheese into the mixture; take it easy as you mix in the cheese to avoid making the pesto gummy by overblending. Taste and then adjust juice and salt to taste.

Store in the refrigerator to use within two or three days; freeze for longer storage. Scape pesto freezes well, and it holds its appealing green color when frozen even better than the traditional basil pesto.

I sautéed grape tomatoes and mushrooms in the pesto and added grilled chicken and tossed it with Penne pasta.

Garlic Scape Pesto and Pasta Closeup

If I Plant It, It Will Grow – Learning as I Grow

Square Foot Garden - Shade Dome

Square Foot Gardening

This is my second year of vegetable/square foot gardening and my garden continues to amaze me. As my garden grows, I continue to learn.

Shade Cover

LettuceThe latest addition to my garden is that space age dome shaped thing.  What in the world is it for??  I will be putting a shade screen cover over it so that I can enjoy lettuce all summer. Lettuce does not do as well in the heat of summer as it is quicker to bolt and will turn bitter tasting.  Without a shade for your lettuce you can kiss all those awesome fresh salads goodbye.  And how sad would that be?!

Living in the Present Moment

Green Snow PeasAnother lesson that can be found in the garden is learning to live in the present moment.  Everything is constantly changing in a garden and if you don’t take a moment to savor moments such as the soft white buds on a snow pea and the peas just beginning to take shape, it will pass you by.  A seasoned gardener knows to pay attention in the here and now, because a few hours later it will not be the same.  A garden is full of reminders that life is transient and you had better enjoy it now.

Growing Vertically

Growing Vertical

This year I’m trying something new in my square foot garden.  I’m growing summer squash vertically.  Yes, you heard correctly!  Not only does it save space in the garden, but it is healthier for the squash as they are not laying on the ground, more prone to disease.

Pictured in the lower right is Nasturtium.  The flowers (once they bloom) are edible as well as the leaves.  I thought how cool and pretty would that be to add edible flowers to my salads.

Some of the Vegetables I’m Growing

Purple Snap Peas

Purple snow peas.  Aren’t they pretty?

Snow Peas

These are the tomatoes I started from seed.  I’m so happy to see they are doing well!  It’s hard to believe all my vegetables started from a tiny seed.

Bush Cucumbers

Bush cucumbers.  The description said they are bush cucumbers and I was thinking great I won’t have to trellis them!  That picture was taken about a week ago and they are quickly getting big.  I’m not so sure they are truly “bush cucumbers”.

Purple Basil

Basil

Purple and Green Basil.  I love love love Basil.  Bring on the Pesto!!

Kale

I started my Kale inside from seed this year and it has absolutely flourished!  I tried Kale Chips for the first time this year and I have to agree with the majority … they are awesome!

I’m also growing beans, carrots, arugula, swiss chard and radish.

Learning to Live With Rabbits

This year I put up a tall fence around my beds to keep out the rabbits.  Wow … did I have a lot to learn!!  I got up one morning and went outside to look at the garden and to my utter shock and surprise there was a rabbit in the middle of the garden staring back at me!  The rabbit got through a 2 inch opening … if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it!!  And the rabbits in my yard are fat! The rabbit(s) had fun eating all of my Edamame (so sad … I planted these for the first time and they were doing great) “were” being the operative word.  So I waged war against the rabbits.  I put in chicken wire on the lower part all around the fence this past weekend.  Now I know for sure rabbits cannot get through chicken wire.  I came home on Monday and the first thing I saw when I pulled in the driveway was a rabbit staring me down and he/she didn’t look very happy.  Later that evening I discovered that why the rabbit looked so unhappy and why it had tried to dig under my fences.  I was sitting down by the garden and saw some activity in the garden and much to my surprise this is what I discovered – 5 babies.  The mother had made a nest in one of my tomato squares.Tiny Baby Bunny

They are only about 4 inches long and oh so cute.  Maybe I will have to learn to make peace with rabbits; at least little cute babies.

Happy Gardening

If I Plant it, it Will Grow – Cultivating Patience

Morning Gardens

As a society in general we spend our lives waiting, and in effect “wishing our lives away” …waiting for the weekend, waiting for vacation, waiting for our birthdays or holidays and the list goes on and on.  We don’t focus enough on the present moments in life and get impatient waiting for things to happen or events to occur.  I often find myself guilty of this and catch myself thinking “I can’t wait until my seeds come up, I can’t wait until my plants get bigger, I can’t wait until my tomatoes form, I can’t wait until I can pick and eat my tomatoes”.  Gardening is a great teacher and cultivator of patience.  It teaches us that in due time we will be rewarded by our patience when we take that first bite of a delicious sun ripened tomato or make a salad from lettuce just picked out of the garden.  Instead of spending our lives waiting and becoming impatient, why not appreciate and enjoy each moment, being still and observing all that is good in that very moment.

Black Krim Tomato

Tomato Seedlings

Growing tomatoes from seeds

to

seedlings

… to the garden.

Tomato plant

Growing Tomatoes From Seed For the First Time – What I learned:

I started a variety of heirloom tomatoes from seed for the first time this year.  It still amazes me that I took a tiny seed, planted it and look what I have now!  Nature is quite simply amazing!.

Besides cultivating patience, I have learned things that I will do differently next year.  I started my tomatoes too early (March 10th).

Our last frost date here in Ohio is May 21st.  Next year I plan to start my seeds inside the last week of March or the first week of April.  They grew so fast!!  I will also have a fan circulating around the tomato plants while they are growing under the lights.  This will encourage the tomatoes to develop thicker, stronger stems.  I will also be sure to keep the tomato plants 1-2 inches from the light.  I had tomato plants this year growing in different heights, and the tomatoes that were furthest away from the light grew leggy as they had to reach higher to grow to the light.  All is not lost if your tomato plants are too leggy!  I had quite a few like that this season and I planted them as deep as I could go up to the first set of leaves.

Soon … my patience will be rewarded and I will be enjoying tomatoes from my garden.  I am growing 20 tomato plants this season and plan to can salsa, sauce and enjoy many Caprese salads!

In addition to vegetables gardens I also enjoy several flower gardens throughout my yard:

One of my flower gardens

Iris

Lillies

my clematis

Happy Gardening and remember to enjoy the moments in life!

If I Plant It, It Will Grow – Growing Tomatoes From Seed and Building More Square Foot Gardens!

Tomato Seedlings“If I Plant it, it will grow”.

This year I am doing something I’ve never done before – start tomatoes from seeds inside!  I saved seeds from my heirloom tomatoes last year and I also purchased several different heirloom varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (their catalog is breathtaking!).  I disinfected my containers with a solution of water and bleach, moistened my seed starting mix and planted 20 tomato plants.  All went well, except for one mistake!  It is always a good idea to read through all instructions first instead of going step by step.  I only wanted 20 tomato plants in my garden.  I followed the instructions to plant 2-3 seeds per container thinking I would just cut away the tomatoes that looked to be the weaker seedling.  Well, that is not what followed in the instructions … it told me that once the “true leaves” of the tomato appear to transplant each of the tomatoes into a 4 inch pot!  Yikes!!  That would mean I’d have 60+ tomato plants (all my seeds germinated)!  I will transplant more than 20 and give some away to friends and plant less next year.  

Tim built me shelves for my plants and I bought double light fluorescent light fixtures for my plants.  The tomatoes germinated in 7 days, with my seeds that I saved germinating first!  They are thriving under the light which I leave on approximately 16 hours per day. It is fun to watch them grow and now will be ready to transplant as the first true leaves have emerged.

Tomato Plants

Tomatoes transplanted after first true leaves

I’m hoping for tomatoes like I had last year!  Grow baby grow!

Rainbow Carrots and Heirloom Tomatoes

It has been almost 1 month since I planted the tomato seeds and they are thriving!

Tomato Plants

Tomatoes not quite a month old!

Tomatoes not quite a month old!

This weekend I purchased two more square foot cedar bed kits at Home Depot (they were on sale) and added them to the existing 4×4 bed and look what we came up with!  Now I will have plenty of gardening room to plant everything I love.

IMG_5083

Spring is really taking its time here in NE Ohio.  I looked at pictures at the same time last year (check it out here and learn more about square foot gardening) and all the leaves on the bushes and trees were out fully  by now!  I can hardly wait to start planting outside … but I think I’ll have to patient and wait a few more weeks.

Happy gardening!

If I Plant It, It Will Grow: I’m Growing Baby Eggplants, not a baby!

Aren’t they beautiful?!  Being a first time gardener I get very excited by things like this!  I’ve never grown eggplants and my Dad never grew eggplants, so on the day I saw my first baby eggplants I was very excited! 

Funny Story:

I was so excited on the day I saw the baby eggplants that I sent a text message to my husband.   It said “I’m so excited I’m growing baby eggplants”.  He texted me back saying “I thought your message said you were so excited YOU were growing a baby.  I’m okay now that I picked myself off the floor”.  Ha ha ha  … make sure you read all the words of a text message!

All my eggplants are growing  a lot of babies and I’m searching for new eggplant recipes to make when they are fully grown.  I can’t wait!

Happy gardening!

If I Plant it, it Will Grow. Now harvesting ….

Now harvesting ….

  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Green Beans
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale
  • Arugula

It was hard waiting and being patient to harvest my carrots.  Although, I must admit, I cheated and pulled a couple of them early to see the colors!  Finally, my patience has paid off and I pulled the carrots to discover colors of yellow, purple, white and orange … just beautiful!

My heirloom tomatoes are going crazy!  The Italian heirloom tomatoes are the largest tomatoes I have ever seen and the plant itself grew over 6-1/2 feet tall and had to be topped.  The winner for best flavor goes to the Hungarian Ox Heart tomato and Yugoslavian tomato.  They are big and beefy, very little seeds and a taste that is out of this world.  I have saved the seed and will try my hand at starting them inside for next season – another first for me!  My last count, about 1 month ago tallied 114 tomatoes formed … I’m sure that count is even higher now.

A Learning Process – What I’ve Learned

This is my first vegetable garden, and a learning process. 

  • I’ve learned that I need to thin my beets and carrots better next year so that they grow larger.
  • I’ve learned that I don’t like my lettuce in the middle of the garden and I want to plant it at the edge of the garden shaded by a larger plant.
  • I’ve learned that I love Swiss Chard!  I never tasted Swiss Chard before I planted it and I absolutely love, love, love it!  I’ve sautéed it with garlic, olive oil, lemon and a pinch of red pepper flakes and I’ve made a salad with it … oh soo good!  I’ve dubbed Swiss Chard as my new favorite green!
  • I’ve learned what heirloom seeds are. What are Heirlooms? Seed Savers Exchange defines an heirloom as any garden plant that has a history of being passed down within a family, just like pieces of heirloom jewelry or furniture. Some companies have tried to create definitions based on date, such as anything older than 50 years.
  • I’ve learned that if I soak my seeds they germinate faster! I did two plantings of green bush beans and the first planting I did not soak and they took forever to come up.  The second planting came up in a few days and shot up like jack in the beanstalk! (Of course, I’m sure the warmer soil had much to do with that for my second planting.)
  • I’ve learned that I really don’t want to plant broccoli and cauliflower – they take up too much space and I’d rather enjoy more of some other vegetables.
  • And most important of all, I’ve learned that I love vegetable gardening!

Garden Update – If I Plant it, it Will Grow – Nourish Your Body … Nourish Your Soul

My last garden update was on June 2nd.  The garden is thriving and soaking up sunshine and daily water.  Pictured above is a basketful of kale and lettuce.  I am loving my garden lettuce salads.

I just took a look at last garden update and I can hardly believe the difference!  I am so happy with the progress of my first vegetable garden – it would seem I have inherited my father’s green thumb for gardening!  Woooo whooooo!!

Take a look.  The picture below was taken at the first of June.

The picture below was taken the first of July!  Amazing … this gardening thing is awesome!  I was curious yesterday and went out to measure my purple potato plants.  They measured 3 feet, 4 inches tall!  Wow … and the information that came with them said they are supposed to grow 2 feet tall.  I hope this means I will have loads of purple potatoes to dig up!  I also measured my tallest tomato plant and it measured 5 feet 7 inches already and has over 10 tomatoes on it.

With 15 tomato plants I have a feeling I’m going to be very busy making tomato sauce, salsa and canning tomatoes.  How great will that be to have in the winter months … so much better than canned from the store!

The bush beans are doing fantastic and will be ready to pick soon.

My smaller raised bed is also doing well.  I’m curious to see how my cauliflower will develop.  So far, it is just a plant with huge leaves.  If you see the holes on the leaves you’ll see that I share my vegetables with the insects!  Organic all the way!

The peas are finished – they don’t tolerate heat well and we’ve been in the midst of a heat wave.  Next year I plan on planting more snap peas – they were the best snap peas I’ve ever tasted.

Just like the Energizer Bunny my gourmet salad mix and lettuce keeps going and going and going.  Next year I’m planning to start some lettuce inside from seed.  The gourmet salad mix I planted outside from seed has done amazingly well.

Once potato plants flower you can dig up the “new” small potatoes.  I decided to let them go undisturbed and will wait until they are larger.  It’s actually surprising that I waited.  Patience seems to be my biggest challenge right now.  I keep looking at my carrots and beets and can hardly wait to pull them.  I did pull one of each and they weren’t ready yet, so I’ll need to be patient for a while longer.

Flower Gardening is also good for the soul!  In addition to my gardens, I have a lot of perennial flower beds.  Flowers were my first love, they are good for the soul, they are beautiful and brilliant, and they make me happy.

I have many different colors and varieties of Lilies.

Pink Phlox in bloom.  One of my favorite Phlox is the candy cane – the pink and white flower.

Like a burst of sunshine …

And at the end of the day, you can walk up the path, sit down and enjoy the bounty of your garden, relax and take in the beauty of the flowers and listen to the soothing sounds of the fountain nearby.

I cannot at the moment, think of a better way to nourish the soul and the body!