An Autumn Stroll

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The past couple of weeks have mostly been about putting away the garden (yes, finally), visiting friends, and celebrating the beauty of the season. I have taken pictures of all of these things, but the fall colors were beckoning and it’s a show that has a very limited release… so, this is what I was doing rather than writing. I’m sure you understand. See you next week! 🙂

Quick Garden Update

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Just a quick picture today: this is what it looks like when I let the tomatoes ripen on the vine.

I was able to keep about 2/3 of the second harvest- which was fine by me, considering I wasn’t even sure there would be a second harvest at all. 2 or 3 split, the others had black spots… not bad for a beginner. The plants may not look pageant-worthy, but I’m just happy that they’re still hanging in there.

I might be able to make a second batch of tomato sauce yet!

 

Garden Update

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After not being totally sure how this little experiment would go, I am pleased to report that the marigolds have taken off. …So fulfilling to see! I have been trimming them- in fact, I trimmed them again, right after the pictures were taken, but I liked these pictures better. I even remembered to take pictures of the labels that were in the starter packs.

*Just a little FYI: I haven’t asked Google if, in fact, the labels and the plants match. So, if you like them and decide to try planting them, please check with a reputable gardener first to ensure you have the variety you want. This is my first year with them, and I’m learning as I go.

As far as the tomatoes… I had a little setback. I skipped their treatments a few times quite by accident, and the blight reared its ugly head again. I know the fungicide only keeps it at bay. So, yes, stopping the treatments, however unintentional, lead to a wild fungus party.

So, they got buzzcuts… again. But, they’re coming along, which I’m glad to see. To the untrained eye, they look spindly, which is why no picture this time around, but there are little baby leaves and baby ‘maters poking their little heads out. I expect them to return to being blog-worthy in the next few weeks or so.

Hope you are enjoying your summer! 🙂

Re-learning BBQ

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While I’ve certainly eaten my share of BBQ, can you believe I’d not yet made myself any since starting this blog? It’s been ages since I BBQ’d- so long, in fact, that I’d forgotten how to do it. So, these are my first and second attempts at BBQ.

 

BBQ #1:

Quorn cutlets marinated in BBQ sauce

Baked Beans

Corn

 

BBQ #2:

Same as above, with pepper and tomato substituting for the corn.

 

Dessert:

Smores, obviously.

 

Leftovers:

So far, my favorite thing to do with the leftovers is dice the patties, place them in the beans, cover them with something microwave-safe, and heat them up together. Yum!

 

Observations:

I made some mistakes, but I’m learning.

  • I forgot to soak the corn before grilling. I will probably search for an actual recipe to maximize the flavor.
  • At first I didn’t realize you had to stir the beans.
  • The tomatoes did nothing on the grill. I would say “don’t bother”, but I’m pretty sure this failure was due to inexperience.
  • The grill took a very long time to heat up both times. It turned out that I needed to clean it. …Done.
  • While one of the first Quorn patties looks burnt at first glance, closer examination reveals that it was just a surface coating. Both sets tasted absolutely delicious. In fact, the patties from the first BBQ were actually better than those from the second!

Garden Update

Although I picked off the yellow leaves featured in the previous tomato plant post, more came in. So far, I’ve fed the plants Garden-tone and have cut back on the watering. I took these pictures after it rained. Sorry they aren’t the greatest, but there’s at least one with a good, clean focus.

I’m now thinking it might be early signs of blight- you can see black spots now on the leaves. It’s no surprise- we’ve had tons of rain, heat, and humidity, which supposedly are ideal conditions for this nasty. I’ve read that picking them off and spraying them is the way to go. I’ve been picking them off just because they are unsightly, but my larger plants had this last year and it did them in. Everything I’ve read says basically prevention is key, but if I could control the weather, I obviously wouldn’t be having this problem.

I’m hoping to find a replacement fungicide that doesn’t break the bank, as I hadn’t really budgeted for crazy fungus problems, and only had a little left from last year.

…Well, it’s nice to dream. The store only had one fungicide that was safe for fruity plants, which is actually the same one that I just ran out of. So, I mixed that up and applied it to the plants. Meanwhile, I am enjoying the fruits of my labor for as long as they last.

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These marigolds were beautiful when I got them. I’m just hoping the buds start opening to replace the flowers that are dying off… and they are! Yay for that! I should probably post an updated picture…

Balsamic Grilled Eggplant with Diced Tomato

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There’s just something about grilled food in the summertime. Although I adore bbq’d veggies, so far I’ve been sticking to the indoor grill because it’s so fast and easy. I’ve been living on grilled vegetables lately. The only thing that changes is the final preparation. Sometimes, I leave them as-is, sometimes I play with toppings. Grilled eggplant is one of my favorites.

This incarnation was incredibly simple to prepare to the point where it’s pretty much self-explanatory. But, here are the steps, just for convenience’s sake:

1. Preheated the grill

2. Diced the vine-ripened tomatoes

3. Peeled the eggplant using a knife & cutting board

4. Grilled the eggplant for about 4 minutes

5. Poured some balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil over both

6. Sprinkled with nutritional yeast, basil, oregano, and pepper

Enjoy! 🙂

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

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This was the first time I recall making a cake truly from scratch. I’m sure I must have done it before, but memory fails.

So, I turned to my mixer manual again. And just for the record, I’m not being compensated to mention it. It’s just that hey, someone somewhere worked hard on that collection of starter recipes, and doesn’t everyone like to feel appreciated now and again?

For the most part, I followed the recipe word-for-word. The only major deviation was adding some granulated sugar to their Chocolate Frosting recipe, one table spoon (literally), to be exact, because I felt at the time that it needed a little something extra. But, honestly, in retrospect, I could have skipped it and been perfectly happy. After all, there’s 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar in there to begin with!

Another thing I will try a little differently next time will be to mix the cake batter a little longer. I know they said about 1 minute, and that’s what I did, but it was just a touch too dense for me. Scooping it in before baking was more like brownies than cake.

Having made countless box cakes that all taste more or less the same, it was surprising to me to not to be bonked over the head by sweetness. The best way I can describe the yellow cake itself is more like cornbread. Not bad, just different texturally and more subtle. It really speaks to the way our senses are really overwhelmed with the sweetness and uniformity of commercially produced products.

Deep Dish Pizza

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This was the first time I made pizza from near-scratch, and not bragging, it was delicious.

The recipe for the dough came from the KitchenAid Stand Mixer manual. Their picture didn’t look like a deep-dish crust to me, but so much the better. (It may also be because I’d slightly altered the recipe by adding a touch more water to the dough, because it was still too dry to form into a ball.) In any case, I was thrilled with their recipe and will be using it again sometime. Mine looks a touch underdone compared to theirs and to the usual “golden crust”, but you know what? I loved it!

The sauce wasn’t sauce at all, but diced plum tomatoes with some basil. Store-bought, because I had it around, this particular kind had only the tomatoes and basil in it, and nothing bizarre added to the ingredient list.

The slices were fresh mozzarella, obviously.

The small cubes of cheese were smoked Gouda, just for a little something special. Obviously, they didn’t melt, and honestly were not needed, as cute as they were. Next time, I will probably leave them off.

The onion/mushroom mixture was cooked up by my lovely girlfriend, and though she has described that magic to me, I have yet to master it.

To finish it off, I just added a touch of oregano and garlic powder, since the basil was already in the sauce.

🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Cheesy Bread

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These were pretty awesome! The bread really worked for this- crunchy, yet still chewy enough to be satisfying. They’re sprayed with evoo, topped with mozz, garlic, basil, oregano, and nutritional yeast, then broiled. I made this several times since I had two baguettes to work with. This batch needed a little longer, but I ate them anyway and they were delicious.