Friday, July 30, 2010

USGBC Competition w/ Brad

Brad and I, while unemployed, worked on a design competition for a LEED Platinum house in New Orleans, sponsored by the Salvation Army. Here are our presentation boards!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vegetable Lasagna Take 2 & Garden Report 07.28.10

I figured out how to make the veggie lasagna not have so much water... Brown the sliced zucchini in a skillet (no oil) before layering in the lasagna dish. AND drain the cottage cheese.
The version of lasagna last night just had cheese, cottage cheese, garlic, zucchini and yellow squash. It's really good with a side of browned ground beef.

From the garden today, I picked 7 Thessaloniki and 4 Amish Paste tomatoes, and about 3 cups of yellow pear tomatoes. Also, two big handfuls of green beans. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fall Garden planting

Yesterday evening, I had this whole entry written about what I planted in my fall garden, and then when I clicked "Publish Post", blogger asked me to re-sign in to my account and lost the whole entry... weird?!

So, yesterday I planted in the root bed: lettuce mix with beets (both chioggia and golden beets), spinach and endive, and carrots. I planted kohlrabi in the rhubarb bed.

Last night for dinner we had fajitas the easy way, with veggies out of our garden. Mostly anaheim and banana peppers, with a few banana peppers from Melissa's house since I'm garden-sitting. Also used one red onion and one yellow onion. They are between golf ball and tennis ball size. I wish I knew how to make my produce bigger. It's a little disheartening when my produce is half the size of what's available in the grocery store. I know, the commercial growers use fertilizers and the produce is bred to be large, but does it really need to be that much larger than what I grow? Oh well, my peppers taste a heck of a lot better than storebought!

I sprayed my tomatoes down a second time with garden dust on Thursday. I also gave them a third helping of calcium nitrate. I noticed some of my squash still have blossom end rot, so I gave them a round of calcium nitrate as well. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bread Therapy

Grandma Ettling told me once that when she was really frustrated about something, she would make bread. The kneading of the dough would release her stress.
I realized when I was laid off, I used bread-making as a way to relieve stress. The act of making bread gave me something I had control over, unlike my job search. I applied at every architecture firm in town (except for the ones that I knew had JUST THEN laid off a round of employees. No point in applying somewhere where you know they can't afford to bring you on!), for many retail jobs, for architectural product representative jobs, insurance agent jobs, at an office where they help building owners apply for grants, EVERYTHING I could think of that I knew I was qualified for. And then the rejections all rolled in. Overqualified for some things. Unable to hire at the moment. Other candidates more qualified. It felt like I was getting laid off all over again every time I was rejected for a job.
So I was thinking about making bread again this week. Well, really I want to make sourdough pizza with some of my fresh veggies. Honestly, I forgot about my sourdough starter that was on the top shelf of the fridge, in plain sight. I've looked over it for the last four months or so. When the liquid separated on top, it used to be the color of wheat beer. Recently, I noticed it was the color of a Guinness. I asked Mom if the brown liquid was ok and she said yes, as long as there's no pink. I finally opened it up tonight.... not so good. There are little flecks of black and hot pink inside the jar. And I had dreams of starting and feeding one of those sourdough starters that gets passed around in families and through the generations... I searched online for photos of "bad sourdough starters" and couldn't find anything. Well, here's some photos, in case you ever have a sourdough starter and want to know if it's still usable. If it looks like this, it's time to start over!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Garden Report 07.18.2010

I believe my tomato plants have septoria leaf spot. They had this last year as well. Here's a link to the MU Extension office's website, with photos of the disease:
I harvested quite a few vegetables yesterday. About 4 banana peppers, nearly a dozen anaheim peppers and about half a dozen cayenne peppers. Also about 2 cups each of yellow pear tomatoes and black cherry tomatoes. One Cour di Bue tomato, three Thessaloniki and 2 amish paste.  Two cucumbers.
The squash also have squash vine borers. I've been very diligent about applying diatomaceous earth, but they still got to them. No squash bugs though, just the borers! Sadly, The Hub's acorn squash may not make it, but I'll keep trying. I sprayed the squash, tomatoes and eggplant with a spray mixture of Garden Dust. I've used this the last several years. It is an organic pesticide and fungicide that can be used up to the day before harvest. There are little black bugs that have attacked the eggplant this year. I dusted them with diatomaceous earth several times but they weren't phased. We'll see if the Garden Dust helps, but the leaves are so holey that I don't know if they'll make it either....

Gardening is an experiment. It's a learning experiment. I know things now to improve my garden next year. The main thing I keep hearing is to stop trying to grow squash because the last four years I've tried to grow it, the squash vine borers have enjoyed more of them than we have. But I'll keep being persistent!
My dinner tonight: a Greek salad, about as Greek as it can get, with Thessaloniki tomatoes! And a new beer (new for me at least) from New Belgium Brewing called Skinny Dip. Reminds me of a mix of their Fat Tire and Sunshine Wheat.

These next couple pictures are from last weekend's harvest:

Anaheim peppers, yellow pear tomatoes and cayenne peppers
I ended up taking these tomatoes to work with me because I had too many to eat.
This is what's left of yesterday's harvest. The photo is so yellow because my harvest tub is yellow. Those are two Thessaloniki tomatoes and all the cayenne peppers, black cherry tomatoes and yellow pear I harvested yesterday. Also some tomatillos. We ate all the anaheim and banana peppers in fajitas last night.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vegetable Lasagna

A couple days ago (I think Tuesday), I made vegetable lasagna. I have had really busy evenings, and tonight I came home expecting half a pan left and there was barely one piece left. Turns out, the Hubs likes vegetable lasagna!

So here's what I did:

Last week at the Farmer's Market I bought two each of zucchini and yellow summer squash, that were about 12" long or so. I had a lot of cherry tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes that needed eating. And fresh herbs to use.

Vegetable Lasagna:
Zucchini and Summer squash, cut in half shortwise and lengthwise, then sliced to about 1/8" thick
16 oz carton of small curd cottage cheese
2 elephant garlic cloves, minced
about 1 cup cherry/pear tomatoes, diced, seeds, skins and all juices kept
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
assortment of herbs: fresh basil, parsley and thyme

I used a 9x9 glass baking dish.

Mix the herbs and garlic into the cottage cheese.

Layer like so: zucchini, cottage cheese mixture, tomatoes, cheese, repeat.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is lightly browned.

If I'd had eggplant or peppers that were ready, I would have added them as well.

The only problem is that zucchini and cottage cheese have a lot of water in them, so there is close to 1" of water in the bottom of the pan. Next time I'm going to drain the cottage cheese in cheese cloth (or use ricotta instead), and I'm going to try lightly browning the zucchini in a skillet to remove some of the moisture, which will also change the flavor a little.
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