Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fresh blackberries

Today's featured home-grown food was blackberries. DS's been picking them every morning for breakfast but today we each had a bowl of berries with some top cream and a couple of honey wafers for dessert with our lunch. The honey wafers are similar to a sugar cookie or thin shortbread. They only take 4 ingredients and are good keepers -- if you can keep them hidden, that is.

I kept the rest of the meal simple, too. DH grilled our garden-fresh squash (green and yellow zucchini), onions and potatoes over the gas grill. Prior to grilling I par-boiled the potatoes and drizzled a little olive oil and soy sauce over the squash and onions. Also made a tomato and mozzarella salad using our yellow pear tomatoes and Genovese basil plus cheese I'd picked up Saturday at the farmer's market. When the grilled veg was ready I sprinkled chopped chives over the potatoes and passed butter, as desired, at the table.

Honey Wafers

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use fresh-ground soft wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream together butter and honey, warming them carefully for a minute or two, if desired, for easier blending. Combine dry ingredients and add to (cooled) creamed mixture.

Chill dough 1 hour or until firm enough to roll easily. Roll out 1/8" to 1/4"-thick on lightly floured surface. Cut with floured cookie or biscuit cutter. Can also be chilled in log shape and then sliced 1/8" to 1/4" and baked as needed.

Bake on greased cookie sheet in 350°F. for 8-10 minutes if 1/8"-thick or 12-15 minutes for 1/4"-thick cookies.

I usually prefer a mild honey in these but orange-flower honey with bits of orange zest added is a wonderful variation. Try adding 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice to make a spice-scented version.

Yield: 36 2" cookies

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How does my garden grow?

Yellow pear tomatoes plus blackberries. Green beans, potatoes, red and yellow onions and more.

The last few weeks it's felt like the dam broke. We put up over 50 quarts of green beans from one short (15'?) double row and that's not counting the many pickings we ate and gave away. The two rows of potatoes DH's dug so far yielded 2 bushel baskets plus another 20 pounds we ate or gave away. I have a half-bushel of yellow onions and almost that many red (purple) onions lying on newspaper in the shed. Haven't done anything with the garlic except pull some to eat -- still have to harvest and lay it out to dry before storing. Squash, cucumbers and now Sugar Baby watermelons are coming in daily, too.

And blackberries! This past week, DS has been picking blackberries every morning for our breakfast. Today he's over at my mom's and they're planning to pick her blackberries before he comes home. It's anyone's guess how many will make it in the bucket vs. how many get eaten but I'm sure we'll have enough to freeze a few bags for use this winter in smoothies or maybe in a cobbler.

Tomatoes started ripening in mid-July but it wasn't till this past week we had many worth eating. The first all had blossom-end rot, the curse of well-dependent gardeners, I think. Now we have them coming in by the dishpan and I'll be canning tomorrow -- probably ketchup as we're on the last jar from last year.

This year we planted some new-to-us yellow pear tomatoes. I've had them from friends' gardens but never tried growing our own till early this spring when I started about a dozen peat pots with seeds. They're so small and perfectly pear-shaped. The taste is sweet but with just enough tang it keeps them from being bland. And the color's lovely in salads or chopped for salsa. When we get overrun with them, I'll just toss the extras in with the other tomatoes for canning but I'm thinking some yellow tomato preserves would be pretty on the shelf and tasty, too.

The county fair's coming up and I always like to have a few entries in the canning classes. I'm wondering how the yellow pear tomatoes would look in a canned salsa, maybe using red onions, too. I know I'll like them dried and can already picture them as bruschetta -- they'll be darker dried than they are fresh but the yellow color stays true enough to add a nice dash of color to the table in the winter months.