Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Summer Squash Recipe and Blueberry Pests

The summer squash is coming in nicely now.  I wanted to share a new recipe we've been grooving on.  The original recipe is here.  As the last bag of avocados I bought ended up in the compost (don't you hate it when you get a bad batch?),  I've yet to try the recipe with them.  But I will.  (update: I've made it with avocado, & love it both ways ).  Here's the version I've been making.

Quinoa with Summer Squash

1 cup quinoa
1 cup yellow summer squash, diced and sauteed in a little olive oil until the edges get a bit brown (8-10 mins)
1-2 tbs onion, diced small
1 avocado, chopped

Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil.  Add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer & cook for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Let cool.  Place the quinoa in a bowl, along with the squash and onion.


1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lime
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Whisk ingredients together.  Pour over quinoa and combine.  Enjoy at room temperature.  Serves 4.

 I'm not fond of raw onion, and add it to the squash as I'm turning the heat off, so it's not exactly cooked, but not quite raw either.  Instead of fresh lime, I've used this... no measure, just a few good squirts until it tasted right.  *Update: it's fabulous with fresh lime, though good with the other stuff.  I plan to try some fresh parsley in it too.  I've been wanting to use quinoa more often, as it's such a great grain.  It's gluten free, and seems to be the perfect summer grain, cooking up in only 15 minutes.  This recipe is a good, encouraging start to that.

When I first began growing blueberries, I read in more than one place that they have no pests.  To that, I say hogwash.  From the beginning, here on the homestead, there have been challenges with tiny worms.  The photo below shows the sort of damage they do.  Early in the season, I try to pull off any parts showing signs of them, which often show up as dark berries and drooping stems. That has helped minimize the damage.  I have read about them in the past, but have forgotten their name.  Sorry about that.

This year, we had a new pest.  Tent caterpillars, seen below.  We hand picked them (there were dozens) and tried to feed them to the chickens, but they didn't want anything to do with them.  I can't say I blame them, ugly little critters that they are.  You can see the damage they're doing to the leaves.

Now the chickens have found the blueberries, and eat all the ripe ones they can jump and reach.  Oh well, I don't mind them so much.  They're desired members of the homestead, after all.  And they turn those berries into eggs. Speaking of chickens...  poor Pickles, the Burger King chick, is the low chick on the totem pole.  We've been keeping him/her (we're still not sure) in a separate space, as the other chickens peck the skin off his neck when they're kept together.  We do let them all free-range in the evenings, but keep Pickles nearby if we're out, or keeps our ears on them, and that's worked out well.  They're mostly too busy with all the wonders on the homestead to bother Pickles.  We're now sure 2 of the Delaware/Lakenvelder chicks are roosters, and have decided to offer them to good homes, as the rooster we have is the best ever, and we just don't want to deal with the typical aggressive posturing of several roosters.  If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in one or both roosters, drop me an email, and we can fix you right up.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Visitors & the Old Man of the Woods

We looked towards the pond when the dogs began barking, and found 3 herons had come to visit.

I've made the mistake before of trying to slip outside to take photos, only to have them fly off, so this time I stayed put in the house.

I love the way the eryngium and passionfruit kind of appear to be framing this one.  You may need to enlarge it to see this.

There has been some progress made in the garden, though I expect it will never be the neatest of gardens this year, due to too many happy weeds.  I've picked the first few yellow squash.  Cucumbers and tromboncino squash look to be not far behind.

 The rain continues to fall. The last I heard, we were about 10 inches above average in rainfall for the year, and more rain has fallen since.

There have been many interesting mushrooms to catch my eye, like this Strobilomyces strobilaceus, or Old Man of the Woods.  I wish I were more knowledgeable about mushrooms, because there is a veritable potpourri of mushrooms out there I could be cooking with and drying for future use.  A passing knowledge of them is just not worth the risk.  I hope you're finding many good things to eat these summer days!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Flowery Fourth

We visited the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens on the Fourth of July holiday.

Some plantings were labeled

Sadly, others were not.  That second photo looked like a begonia, but was very tall and shrublike.

The celandine poppy and Farfugiums caught my eye in the shade garden.

I loved the coloration on this Redbud "Rising Sun".

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday, whichever way you chose to spend it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fungi and Fruit

After checking every day for three weeks, I found some this morning... blooms on our squash plants!  Well, only two plants, but it's a start.  One, maybe both of them, are yellow summer squash.  Bring on the blooms!

The first cucumber blooms appeared a couple of days ago, and today I saw the first teeny tiny cucumber.  Bring those on too, please.

Hoping the pollinators can find the blooms in between the showers...

This one is a bit of a tease, with only green tomatoes in the garden.  Did I mention we have lots of fungi?

On this morning's fungi meander, I did find this, our first passionfruit.  More hope...  Been an interesting year so far, for sure.

Wishing you a safe and Happy 4th of July, one that is dry enough to enjoy sparklers and a spectacular display of fireworks!!! (but not too dry)