Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If Food was Heaven...

Then this recipe would prove it!  Well, okay, so it's a tiny exaggeration!  But only a tiny one!  Maybe it's just because this recipe featured the fresh flavors of Summer's bounty in my garden.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I spend a lot of time planning, weeding, watering and dreaming about the products of vegetable gardening.  Participating in the everyday miracles of God and working beside Him so to speak, does a lot for tantalizing the taste buds!

I'm going to share this with you in case you need a little boost in the inspiration department.  Summer is a time of heat, hard work, and exhaustion.  So the last thing you really want to eat is something heavy.  Nor do you want to deal with anything time consuming.  This is my contribution to any needed suggestions!

I hope you love it like I and my family did!

13 oz. box of pasta (or your preference, I used whole wheat thin spaghetti)
Summer Squash (about 6 - 8 of any variety, sliced 1/4" thick lengthwise)
Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper

Basil Pesto:
1 - 2 Cups Basil leaves
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese (the real stuff)
Garlic (your preference, but I used 2 large cloves)
2 Tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
1/8 - 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (start with the least then add more depending on your desired consistency)

Start the water for the pasta.  

Slice the squash, slather (don't you just love that word?) with olive oil then salt and pepper to your taste.  If you haven't already, start cooking the pasta.

 Go heat the grill and load it with the squash.  Grill for 5 minutes on low heat.  

Turn and grill another 3 minutes or until both sides have nice grill-marks on both sides.
The pasta should be cooked by now, drain it, and pour a little olive oil over it to keep it from sticking together.

Make the Pesto.  Start by placing the leaves, cheese, and garlic in the food processor and process until well chopped.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil and blend together until creamy looking.

Serve by placing pasta on a plate, top with some squash slices and a dollop of Pesto.

The name of the recipe?  I don't know.  How about, "Heaven on a Plate"?
That'll work!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Busy Garden

Now that things are growing strong, setting fruit or veggies, and some harvests are beginning to come in, the garden is getting busy!

My son got a watermelon start at Home Depot for his birthday in late June.  Now, he checks the melons every day to watch how big they get.  Here's a typical scene...

So far there are two melons to keep an eye on!

The kids can't wait to harvest the onions!

The squash has just given us our first harvest!

Peppers!  Some should turn red soon!
They taste so good!

Time to make Basil Pesto!

Lots of busy bees!

A couple of toads!  See all those little black dots in the water?  Must be the eggs!
I wonder if, besides keeping the water filled, do I always need to keep it in the shade?
What about mosquitoes?  This is right next to the house.

Developing Green Beans!  They look like we'll get a nice harvest.  I hope!

Here you see the Bush Beans along with Butternut Squash (trailing beautifully down off the raised bed), and a few Cucumber plants.  Living in an arid environment, when I see this much greenery growing up and together like this, I just can't help but rejoice!

Besides, compare this photo from only 8 days ago!  Amazing, isn't it?
I love it!

I also love the shape of Butternuts!

If you look carefully, you'll see a Cucumber has found a cornstalk and has climbed quite a ways up!  Wow!  Excuse my silliness, but it's the first time I've grown Cucumbers and I didn't know how much they can vine!  Oh, the lushness of it all!  A garden can really be a paradise!

Anaheim Peppers doing very well under the protection of the Sunflowers.
The planting suggestions for arid gardens was to give peppers a little shade in the hot afternoon sun.  These Sunflowers are doing their job incredibly well.  Not to mention their attractiveness to birds and bees!
Love it, love it, love it!

Speaking of sun protection, the Tomatoes benefit as well.  I tried planting Sunflowers among the Tomatoes this year, and it's working very nicely.  No need for shade cloth!

  We got three Peaches this year!  Whoohoo!

 I found out that if you want larger peaches, you space them about a fist's width apart.  That way instead of getting some small peaches that don't knock each other off the tree, you get larger peaches.

The Summer Squash and Onions.

In a day or two it will be official, the well known saying will be said around here also, "We've got squash coming out our ears!"  What blessings!

Is it difficult to believe this is a garden in the high desert of Arizona?  I feel so blessed.  Special thanks must go to Miracle Worker for installing the watering system for me.  It has made the difference between watering or weeding.  I of course would always choose watering.  Therefore I now water AND find time to weed!

I'm off now to harvest some corn and see if it has done well.  If so, we eat corn tonight!

And if anyone has advice on how to take care of the toad's eggs, please let me know!

Thank you for letting me share the beauty!

Linking up with Farmgirl Friday blog hop!  Yay!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tortilla Meister!

Flour tortillas, that is!

Before I go into my tortilla exploits...

I want to mention that Deborah Jean over at the Dandelion House who has been hosting the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop, has run into some domain-name issues.  Go here to find her at her new address which is now a blogger address!  So, change your link to her!

Okay, now, down to flour!

I figure, if you live in the southwest and don't know how to make flour tortillas from scratch, well that's just not right!  So I've been perfecting my technique and at long last, I've done it!

I'll share my recipe with you, since homemade flour tortillas are far superior to store-bought.  No surprise there!

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder (aluminum free of course!)
2-3 Tablespoons shortening
1 1/3 Cup very hot water (not boiling)

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together (I love to put it all in a plastic margarine tub, put the lid on and shake it all together rather than stirring with a spoon or whatever else!).

Add the shortening (I prefer to do 3 tablespoons with a smidgen more, but no more or else it'll get too doughy) and just mix it in with your fingers till you don't feel any pieces left.

Add water, mix and knead well.  Don't worry if it initially sticks to your fingers, just work it and before you know it it will feel silky, in about 4 to 5 minutes.

Cover and let set for 10 minutes; then knead again and form balls.  This recipe will make 16 tortillas measuring somewhere around 10 inches in diameter.

Remember to keep them covered to avoid drying out.

Take a ball, flour your surface...

...flatten out between your hands...

...and roll out till really thin, but not too thin you can't pick it up...

...and transfer to a plate, keeping them covered.

Preheat a flat grill until really nice and hot.  Don't use any grease.
Then cook each tortilla for almost one minute on the first side...

...then flip it over and cook another 30 seconds to one minute...

When it starts to puff up like this, then it's done...

...transfer to a plate and keep loosely covered.

And behold, a homemade soft taco!

Or a burrito with these larger tortillas!

You know you've succeeded when the tortillas don't break or peel!
It's well worth the practice if you're not a born tortilla meister!

Now if I could just get a good recipe for corn tortillas, I'll be set!

I'm linking to the inimitable Deborah Jean's Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #17

Go get some Farmgirl soul food!

I'm also linking up with the Homestead Revival: Barn Hop #21.

Take a look and find more inspiration than you know what to do with!
I guarantee it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

For My Sister

Happy Birthday!

In honor of my sister's birthday...

The best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend.
-Cali Rae Turner

A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
-Marion C. Garretty

Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.
-Author Unknown

You are my sister, and there's not a thing one you can do about it!!!
-Your Favorite Sis 
(even though I'm your only one!)

You inspire me because you're strong, driven, powerful, confident, successful and full of grace all rolled into one package.  You never forget to LOVE!  And that's what I love about you the most!

Happy Birthday and may God grant thee many more years (for my own sake at least!).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bees and Whatnots

I am constantly amazed at the sheer numbers of bees in the garden.  The majority appear to be honey bees.  I am positive no one around here keeps any hives.  After reading up on bees and seeing how many we have volunteering in the garden, I would love to keep a couple of hives!

Take a look at these favorite pollinators...

I go out in the morning to begin the watering cycle, and I hear this general humming sound.  I couldn't quite place the sound, so I walk around listening.  I look up at the corn and realize the number of bees all over the corn and any other bloom in the garden combine to create this overall hummmmm!  It's got me fascinated with these hard workers.

They are tireless!

They're everywhere!
Here, the Catnip also attracts them!

 And the Zinnias.

Other beauty in the garden.
I am thrilled with the Dill.  And it's about to bloom!  Already!

A cute radish!

Pretty corn silk.

First wave of bush beans look promising.

And my two grapes!
They need a trellis...soooooo... I'm going to try my hand at building one for each one, joining them with a length forming a 'roof' for a nice sitting area!
I'm visualizing a nice bright color to complement the pretty leaves and making it an inviting focal point in the garden.  I'll be sure to give ya' all an update on that upcoming project!

Until next time, happy gardening, farming, and Farmgirl Friday blog hopping!
Thank you Deborah Jean for your gracious hosting!