Roasted Lima Bean Salad

One of the things that I adored about my first CSA membership was that I was introduced to new fresh vegetables, vegetables that I’ve never eaten before, which forced me to flex my creative muscles. One of those vegetables was Lima Beans. At first I was disappointed. I mean, I didn’t *hate* lima beans but they definitely weren’t my first choice of vegetable. The only lima beans that I’ve ever experienced were canned (yuck). This year we got several bags of lima beans throughout the season.

Oh, ok.  I guess I'll figure something out with these...

Oh, ok. I guess I’ll figure something out with these…

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The Garden Thief

“Hey Jessica, how is your urban garden coming along?” you may be wondering.

This is a contentious issue for me. Very contentious.

The last time I posted  about my little urban garden I shared that there was not enough sunlight and only a few plants were thriving. The tomato plants were doing GREAT! We had two eggplants that were doing well and a pepper plant that is providing pepers. We were so excited for fresh tomatoes when we started seeing them bulb.

Then a funny thing started happening. The tomatoes never got “red”, every time I checked the tomato plant I would notice a few tomatoes that would be ready at any moment and the next day I couldn’t find the cluster. I thought maybe clusters were hiding or my eyes were playing tricks on me. The tomato plants had gotten a little bit ridiculous in their over-growth.

Then one evening Rico Suave went out to water the plants and asked if I snipped the cilantro. “Huh?, “ I asked him. “Snipped the cilantro?” I go outside to see what he’s talking about because just that morning our cilantro was growing very well and starting to mature into beautiful cilantro plants. SOMETHING ATE OUR CILANTRO! ALL OF IT, IT DIDN’T EVEN LEAVE AN INCH OF STALKS BEHIND!

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A Few of My Favorite Things: Pumpkins

It’s the most wonderful timeeeeeee of the yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

No, not Christmas but FALL! Fall is my favorite time of year and gifts of fall are my favorite, namely, pumpkins! I don’t know when I turned into an upper-middle class housewife but I love decorating with pumpkins, bonus points if they are edible.

Pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins!

Pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins!

In this picture, from top to bottom, is a Hubbard squash, Cinderella pumpkin, and a cheese pumpkin. Next to that pyramid are 3 crook neck pumpkins. I yanked the last Hubbard squash available before Brad’s closed for the season. I’m super excited to cut into it; I hear it’s an amazing pumpkin for cooking.

The great thing about pumpkins, and winter squash in general, is that they will last through the cold winters until the first spring vegetables start to sprout.  Store them in a cool basement or room and they will provide you with a cheap, vegetable alternative to the expensive vegetables in the grocery.

Mmmm, the things I have planned for these pumpkins. Roasted and curries and pies, oh my!

Blackberries: Mother Nature’s Wild Gift

Rico Suave and I went blackberry picking to fill our freezer up with berries for our morning smoothies. The blackberries were so plump, juicy, and fat, they were falling off the vines. Picking the blackberries was a much nicer experience than black raspberry picking. We only spent about an hour picking at Butler’s Orchard but ended up with 2 big buckets full.

This is what 10 pounds of blackberries looks like

This is what 10 pounds of blackberries looks like

I had only been blackberry picking once before this year.

I was at Ft. Knox, Kentucky for Leaders Training Course (LTC) in July of 2002. After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, I was angry and wanted to do something – anything. I had entertained the notion of dropping out of school and enlisting in the Army but I only had 2 more years left to finish my degree. I was so close to the end of the tunnel, I didn’t want to derail the train. I decided against enlisting, instead joining the Wildcat Battalion at the University of Arizona with a 2-year ROTC scholarship. Since I didn’t have all four years of ROTC training, I had to go to LTC for 4 weeks to make up for the 2 years I missed of ROTC Training – or as the recruiter called it, “ROTC Boot Camp”. LTC, as it’s known now, has evolved a lot in the 12 years since I’ve been (OMG, has it been 12 years?!). When I went, it was basically a Boot Camp for ROTC cadets.

Plump, juicy, delicious berries

Plump, juicy, delicious berries

I was so proud when I signed my LTC contract that was about to whisk me away to Kentucky for 4 weeks, the first person I called was my dad. “Dad!,” I exclaim. “I just joined the Army! I’m going to Boot Camp this summer!”  To which he replied, “That’s great, honey. Um, you know they yell at you in boot camp, right?”  (I was a sensitive, quiet, shy, and naive child growing up who turned into a sensitive, quiet, shy, and naive young adult.)

“YEP! It’s gonna to be awesome!”

Little. Did. I. Know.

(I’m getting to the blackberries, I promise)

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Bar Top: Blueberry Spritzer

This is my second drink post in as many weeks…what can I say, I’ve had a lot of thinking to do.

fresh blueberries, mmmmm

fresh blueberries, mmmmm

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Kitchen Disaster: Blueberry Syrup

I wouldn’t call this a “Kitchen Disaster”, exactly, maybe more of a disappointment. Remember when I made the blueberry syrup last year?

When I opened a jar of blueberry syrup to make a Blueberry Spritzer, I saw that the syrup is a bit too jelled. I added too much clear jel.  Clear Jel is some strong stuff, in the original recipe I used 1 Tablespoon of Clear Jel to 5 cups of juice!  This doesn’t make the blueberry syrup unedible, it just means I have to heat it up a bit before I use it as an actual syrup. It still tastes like wonderful blueberries!  So I’m editing my recipe to include only 2 teaspoons of Clear Jel.

DANG IT!  I added too much Clear Jel!

DANG IT! I added too much Clear Jel!

Below is my note on the change to the recipe:

Blueberry Pancake Syrup:

  • 5 Cups Blueberry Juice
  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Clear Jel
  1. In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine blueberry juice, sugar, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil steadily, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reduced down.
  2. Make a slurry with the Clear Jel and add that to the blueberry juice. Cook down until mixture has thickened slightly
  3. **Note about Clear Jel** Clear Jel does not thicken until it cools, so don’t cook down the syrup so much that it is actually gelling. This is a syrup not a jelly. If you cook the syrup down too much, when the syrup cools, the clear jel will make it a jelly like consistency.
  4. Ladle into jars leaving a quarter inch headspace, process for 10 minutes