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Heat Wave ~ Late Summer in the North Woods Gardens

We thought about going to Lake Superior last weekend — then the week turned hot hot hot — far too hot to leave kitties home alone for days. Not to worry, however, because the late flush of hot temps brought the garden back to life!

We thought about going this weekend too — but more of the same, 90s for days and all of a sudden there are cukes and squash and brinjal galore. I cannot complain ๐Ÿ™‚

 

summer squash

healthy young summer squash plants at this late date!?

korean squash

korean squash ~ the gift that keeps on giving ~ there must be a dozen on now!

red pontiac potatoes

dear g dug all these beautiful potatoes this morning ~ I stuck a penny atop one to show the size ~ the largest was over a pound!

red pontiac potato

all fresh and clean and ready to cook!

san marzano tomatoes waning

most of the tomatoes are dying down ~ here are the San Marzanos ~ this late heat wave is good for ripening on the vine

healthy rogue tomatoes

the healthiest tomatoes we had all season were the rogue-volunteers!

african queen tomatoes

african queen tomatoes at various stages of ripening

cherokee purple heart tomato

cherokee purple heart tomato, perfectly ripe ~ we ate this with miss m’s amazing basil salad dressing tonight!

chard

the chard has taken off again

baby beets and gai lan

probably my fav ~ baby beets and gai lan (chinese broccoli)

I bought a small yellow mum to set near the doorstep but it sure doesn’t feel like autumn yet…

how does your garden grow?

 

 

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Late August ~ Harvest Begins

Here’s hoping everyone in the path of Hurricane Harvey is safe and dry tonight. There is always something to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for any harvest here this year. The spring was cool and late — the summer was not hot and did not encourage my tomatoes to do much — most are dying off from some unknown disease. Nevertheless we are picking, fast and furious, anything that has a chance to ripen. Everything is late — I finally got a few brinjals! Okra is just blossoming and I doubt it will grow in the cool of late August here, but we shall see.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the cucumbers and squash have been the stars this year — there is always something to be thankful for. We managed to salvage some corn from the blown-over stalks, and the green beans have been very prolific! Long beans are coming on, the little Chinese broccoli plants are growing, there will be beets and chard to pick, as well as the second planting of kohlrabi.ย  I have my winter stash of Thai and regular basil in the freezer — fresh dhania too. I can’t complain about the peppers, either.

Best of all, I am off on Thursday to see my kids and my folks in Massachusetts — when I get back there should be LOTS of tomatoes ready and waiting ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope your garden is flourishing — wherever you may be!

sweet corn, var. bodacious

sweet corn, var. bodacious ~ we got 14 good-sized ears for fresh eating!

mixed rogue ears

I boiled up the rogue ears ~ bodacious and double standard ~ cut the kernels from the cobs and got about a quart for the freezerย  ๐Ÿ™‚

korean squash and brinjals

at last, the brinjals ~ these are ‘orient express’ ~ with the lovely Korean squash, var. Pum Ae

tomatoes!

and yes, thankfully, there are tomatoes! lemon boy, cherokee purple, prudens purple, and parks whopper improved… hoping those green cherries turn yellow as they were meant to do ~ var. egg yolk

ingrdients for cornichons

all the ingredients for cornichons came from the garden save bay leaf and peppercorns

homemade cornichons

homemade cornichons with plenty of vinegar ~ enough to make you pucker!

Happy Monday!

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Gamjajeon and Hobak Buchimgae ~ Korean Fried Veggie Treats!

Homemade Gamjajeon and hobak buchimgae from Kimchimari!

a little crunchy outside, a little tender inside ~ Korean jeon with potato and buchimgae with Korean squash

I’m not sure how I happened upon Kimchimari last night, but since I found it I can’t stop reading (and drooling)! With the explosion of Korean squash in the garden and a few oldish potatoes hanging out until we harvest our own, I had all the makings for these deceptively simple, savory Korean fritters (or pancakes) called gamjajeon and hobak buchimgae respectively.

The recipes come from Kimchimari — I’m just putting pics up here because I love the look of the fresh fritters, white and green and crispy golden brown. They were a perfect taste treat dipped in a little soy sauce and rice vinegar, with a splash of sesame oil.

Thank you JinJoo!

Korean squash and potato 'fritters'

tasty and crispy potato and korean squash fritters!

The pickling cukes are still running strong, with Straight Eights just beginning to produce. Next in line is this beautiful cucumber kimchi!

Weekend garden pics:

chinese chive blossoms

chinese chive blossoms in a sea of green squash leaves

korean squash on trellis

amazing Korean squash plants covering the trellis!

finally -- brinjal!

at long last, the beautiful brinjals are here! this is Orient Express variety

mexibelle pepper

mexibelle pepper ripening…

thai basil

thai basil is beginning to flower amongst the thai eggplant

beets and their greens

I love beets and their greens!

bodacious corn

corn, var. bodacious, still standing while others fell to heavy rain

lebanese zucchini

lebanese zucchini coming on late

pinks chillin'

not a garden vegetable, but a chillin’ kitty named pinkie ๐Ÿ™‚

How does your garden grow?

 

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Saturday in the Garden

 

summer squash and garlic chives

summer squashย  “early prolific straight-neck” and garlic chives

The gardens in the north woods of Michigan are something of a challenge — you never know what will grow well. One year the tomatoes are awesome, the next it might be the peppers. I can’t complain about any of it, but it’s always a surprise. This year, the tomatoes all seem to have some disease so I can only hope for a few ripe ones before the vines die. The surprise has been the cucurbits — the squash and cucumbers in particular. My little Pickle-bush cucumbers have been going strong since June, and now the summer squash and Korean squash are growing beyond my wildest expectations! I’ve already had a mess of summer squash and the Korean squash are ready to pick.

summer squash blossoms

a mass of summer squash blossoms!

korean squash

korean squash climbing the trellis

korean squash ready to pick

korean squash ready to pick

Tonight’s supper included baby beets and their greens, summer squash and fresh lake trout, lightly smoked on the grill with coriander, pepper, and garlic sprinkled atop. Delish!

beets, pickling cukes, summer squash twins and green beans

today’s harvest included baby beets and greens, summer squash twins, pickling cucumbers and some lovely pole beans called ‘kentucky blue’

lightly smoked lake trout with baby white beets 'n greens, fresh summer squash

 

dinner (mostly) from the garden!

 

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Happy Gardening from the North Woods!!

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potted herbs in the north woods – basil, thai basil, cilantro, and dill

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fresh dhania from the garden

Hooray for summer weather!

I am in arrears again — posting arrears! Do you even remember me, friends? I remember you all! ๐Ÿ™‚

School had barely ended last August when the busy autumn appeared and I was consumed with job-hunting and visiting back to my kids and my folks in Massachusetts. The visiting was a huge success.

Home again to Michigan, dear G and I settled in for the end of winter here in the North Woods. January and February were quite mild , but it turned out to be a long, chilly March into spring. Over the winter months we organized the garden seeds, and did some indoor planting with the new grow-shelf! This has turned out to be a perfect set up, and not expensive at all.

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lots of little tomato and eggplant seedlings under the grow-lights!

This year we are trying some dwarf tomatoes. The Dwarf Tomato Project strives to combine heirloom tomato size and flavor with smaller plants for smaller spaces. I am excited and have high hopes for fabulous tomatoes with less disease/trouble! You can check it out here:

Craig LeHoullier’s Dwarf Tomato Project site

Spring finally did arrive and with it a new job for me. I was lucky enough to land a job as a legal assistant for a local attorney — just what I hoped for! It’s a total career change and I have so much to learn — thankfully my new boss is patient and a great teacher. That said, I barely cook on the weeknights now — all this using one’s brain at work is tiring! ๐Ÿ˜‰ That means weekends are made for cooking and gardening. Although I don’t grow cauliflower, I love the huge $3 heads that appear this time of year — one could make meals for a week! Tonight I chopped one in half and came up with this mixed bag from a variety of sources — mostly Chef Harpal Singh and Manjula’s Kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚ I also cheated with a can of Progresso Vegetable Soup — that stood in for tomatoes as I had none. Do you guys ever watch cooking videos? I love them! Anyway, here’s my takeaway from those and thanks to the chefs! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Spicy Cauliflower Yogurt Masala Gravy

For the base:

2 tsp canola oil or ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

2 tomatoes, chopped (or cheat, like me, with a can of soup!)

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili pwd

2 tsp dhania-jeera pwd

1 tsp amchur pwd

1/2 tsp garam masala pwd

1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)

For masala yogurt gravy:

2 TB oil or ghee

1 tsp kalonji seeds

2 TB besan

1 tsp garam masala pwd

1 tsp kashmiri chili pwd (optional)

1 c yogurt, beaten smooth

salt to taste

fresh cilantro to taste

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Make the base:

Heat oil or ghee over med-high and add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Let them sizzle and add ginger garlic paste, stir a few seconds, then add onion. Lower the heat and cook 10 minutes, stirring, until onion is golden. Add the tomatoes (or soup) and the turmeric, red chili, amchur, dhania-jeera, and garam masala powders, along with a good pinch of salt. Mix well, reduce heat to med-low and cover. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes until tomatoes are cooked or soup has thickened. Use an immersion blender to mix this all to a smooth gravy. Add cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup water. Mix well, cover, and cook over med-low until cauliflower is done to your liking – about 10-15 minutes for tender.

Make the masala yogurt gravy:

Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the oil or ghee over medium heat. Add kalonji, let them sizzle, then add besan and cook, stirring well, for 4-5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add garam masala and optional kashmiri chili pwd – mix well. Off the heat, add the beaten yogurt and mix to combine. Add this to the cauliflower base mixture and stir well. Cover and cook on low for a further 5-10 minutes. Taste for salt, add fresh chopped cilantro and it’s done!

cauliflower masala.JPG

Perfect for rice as it makes lots of rich, spicy gravy — this one is a keeper.

I miss my blog hopping and all of my dear friends, so hope to spend some time doing that over the remainder of the summer — it will be fun to see who is still around!

~~~~~~~~

I’ll leave you with some pics of the little gardens in the north woods ๐Ÿ™‚

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African queen potato-leaf var.ย  – baby tomatoes

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bee bath full of petoskey stones from lake michigan

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black krim tomatoes from seed – in the front herb garden with horseradish, my nana’s rhubarb, and a few weeds ๐Ÿ˜‰

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korean squash growing up the trellis — corn behind

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dear g built a two-step deck for the tomatoes!

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orient charm, orient express, and thai long green eggplants – they love to live in pots on the tomato deck

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giant mariachi pepper plant – a fresno type – hope they will ripen to red!

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lemur in bee balm ๐Ÿ™‚

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School’s Out!

harvest 8.18.16
the harvest basket ~ one evening last week

In the past few days since school ended, I’ve had time to look back at my poor neglected blog — never did I dream that over a year has gone by since I posted *anything*! Well dear friends, school is out, not only for the summer this time but for GOOD. I completed the requirements for my bachelor’s as of August 9. I’ll have to wait a few more weeks for the official conferral of my degree, but I’ve finished! This is the realization of a lifelong dream — and the exorcism of my only regret — not finishing college when I was “college-aged”. If you’re reading this and think it’s too late to go back to school — I hope you will think again. It’s *never* too late and I am proof positive. If I can do it, anyone can!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

finito!
4.0!
a wee bit o’ bragging ๐Ÿ™‚

I couldn’t have done it alone, however. I’ve been fortunate to have the unending support and encouragement of my fabulous kids, friends, colleagues, and of course — dear Gary. DGย endured endless evenings alone while I studied — he took care of the house and the garden and the cats — all while acting as proofreader for each and every paper I wrote — quite ably, I might add.

I am forever grateful.

The big and little gardens in the North Woods are flourishing. It’s been a hot summer and many days we need to water twice. We have been blessed with loads of tomatoes (ripening early!); peppers hot and sweet; corn; squash (winter and summer) and cukes; chard; beets and carrots; lettuce growing in the shade; papdi beans and pole beans flowering; mini-melons and asian eggplant galore; herbs, too! Although it’s only the end of August, the kitchen is overflowing with good things to eat and preserve. My *other* dream of vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes is coming true this year — although a few have to be taken inside early as the birds are going nuts over them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

heirloom tomato salad
the first tomato salad of the season — a celebration!

How does your garden grow? I can’t wait to hear ๐Ÿ™‚

juvenile rose breasted grosbeak

juvenile rose breasted grosbeak with berry

juvenile rose breasted grosbeak enjoying the viburnum crop!

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Ringing in the Season with Curry Leaves Galore

tiny christmas tree
our tiny tabletop tree ~ complete with clementines and christmas candy

When I moved to northern Michigan, I knew I would miss the proximity to the Indian and other Asian grocery stores that I loved so much. Now, nearly two years later, I have learned to handle this minor inconvenience. I shopped around town and discovered ghee and a few other staples at Meijer’s supermarket — who knew? Meijer’s even boasts an expanded produce section — think bottle gourd and small brinjals and greens of every description — once I even found fresh methi there and I nearly cried!! I found a Latin American store which sells rice and tapioca flours, dried chiles and cumin, and many great veggies such as chiles, cilantro and limes which are cheaper and fresher than the supermarket variety. I grew my own Korean radishes in the garden for making kimchi. The one thing that eluded me was curry leaves.

Then I happily stumbled upon NJ’s Grocery in the tiny village of Lake Leelanau, on the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. NJ’s is a sweet little hometown grocery store, offering the usual everyday groceries, produce, its own small meat counter and deli, and… homemade Indian cuisine!? How lucky could I be? Just a half hour’s scenic drive up West Bay from work there was a tiny Little India awaiting me, complete with a few dals and spices on the shelves. One look at the dishes on offer and I knew someone must have access to … ahem … the elusive curry leaves. Of course I am not shy, so I asked ๐Ÿ™‚

Rosie, the kind lady in the kitchen, was good enough to sell me some of her stock of lovely curry leaves — albeit frozen — which I otherwise would have no hope of obtaining. This is what I have been using in sambhar and other dishes since I arrived in the north woods. Then I traveled back to Boston for Thanksgiving last month. I ventured out with little m on a shopping extravaganza. From Patel’s in Waltham I scooped up bags of Haldiram’s cornflakes mixture (dear G’s fav!), some of my fav Gujarati fafda, a few harder-to-find spices, and about 10 packages of dreamy looking fresher-than-fresh greener-than-green curry leaves to carry home with me.

fresh curry leaves podi
precious cargo ~ fresh curry leaves and the tasty podi they made!

Back in the north woods, I immediately cooked up several sambhars and curries absolutely loaded with my fragrant find.

chicken curry with curry leaves galore!
chicken curry with curry leaves galore!

I froze a couple of packages, but I can *get* them frozen now. I searched and searched for the perfect way to preserve my bounty. Finally I decided on this tasty-looking recipe from Sangeetha of Spicy Treats. I made it tonight and it is absolutely divine! I followed Sangeetha’s recipe with few changes — I increased the garlic, reduced the red chilies, and forgot the jeera! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Nevertheless, I was so happy with the way the toasted curry leaves ground to a fine powder with the fragrant dals and hing… the first time I have made a podi that came out so soft and … well … powdery! Thanks for the great recipe, Sangeetha ๐Ÿ™‚

curry leaves podi with rice and ghee
the fresh curry leaves podi with rice and ghee… mmmm

Of course, I saved a couple (ok, a few) packets of curry leaves from the deep-freeze because… I now am sufficiently encouraged to try my hand at ISG’s famous sambhar powder!

rice with curry leaves podi and ginger-lime rasam
the yummy curry leaves rice with ginger-lime rasam from Anushruti’s Divine Taste ~ another delicious recipe!

pinks and gibby
pinks and gibby are sleeping by the fire ~ all is cozy in the north woods

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