In My Garden – September 2021

In My Garden – September 2021

It’s officially the fall season and I can feel the difference in the air. It’s crisper and mornings are cool, I smelled woodsmoke from fireplaces on the air the other day. Many folks still heat their homes with wood around here. And the first v’s of Canadian geese flew overhead this afternoon. And even better, it rained last Saturday! We got just over an inch. It was such joy hearing it on the roof. Fingers crossed that it’s a rainy winter, we sorely need the water.

The vegetable garden is prolific. I finally have tomatoes as well as zucchini, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, arugula, kale and chard. Even the broccoli and cauliflower are starting to head up.

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

The pollinator garden is looking the worse for no summer water. Hopefully it will come back in the spring once we have a little rain.

Pollinator Garden In September

Pollinator Garden In September

I cut back the perennials this month, and will do a little reseeding in late October.

In the flower beds, I’ve done a little replanting in two spots where it looked bare, plants were not thriving. The baskets are to deter digging by my favorite puppy. The new soft, enhanced and enriched soil was too attractive to her. I came out the morning after I planted the bed to find deep holes and plants tossed everywhere. Luckily they hadn’t been damaged too much, I had found the disaster early enough to replant without too many fatalities.

 

Shanna's handiwork

Shanna’s handiwork in another part of the garden, she’s digging gopher tunnels. This time, thankfully, in our mostly dead front lawn. A victim of no summer watering.

The rest of the garden is ‘getting by’ but looking a bit sad. This is not the best time of year for gardens in California.

More and more I am becoming a fan of succulents which don’t require much water or even attention.

Shanna 5 months

Shanna at 5 months finds boxes endlessly entertaining as Quinn looks on

Shanna at 5 months finds boxes endlessly entertaining as Quinn looks on

Shanna 5 months

Shanna – don’t let that angelic look fool you.

The dogs keep me company and entertained in the garden.

I will end with this picture of an amazing zucchini flower that looks like an alien.

zucchini flower

zucchini flower

Aren’t plants wonderful?!

Happy gardening everyone, I hope you are enjoying the change of seasons.

September – Zucchini Cakes (in the air fryer or oven)

September – Zucchini Cakes (in the air fryer or oven)

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

I’ve made these zucchini cakes or fritters several time, they are a big hit each time. They could be the center of a vegetarian meal if you add another grilled vegetable (maybe more zucchini), avocado, and/or a scoop of ricotta or goat’s cheese.

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

You can cook them in your air fryer or in the oven, both ways turn out wonderfully. I recommend you cook them on a rack if using the oven. Or, preheat your sheet pan before adding the fritters. By cooking them in the oven or air fryer you reduce the amount of fat to a bare minimum.

Zucchini Cakes or Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • optional: 2 zucchini flowers if available, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, I used gluten free panko
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 4 scallions, light green and white parts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing

Method:

  1. Oven: Preheat to 425 degrees F. If using a rack, line your sheet pan with parchment paper. If not, place your unlined sheet pan in the oven to preheat with the oven and grease it lightly with olive oil before placing the fritters on the pan.
  2. Air Fryer: Follow the manufacturers directions. If recommended (mine does not need preheating) preheat to 400 degrees F.
  3. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Place the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much excess liquid as possible. You can work in batches if needed. You can save the juice as it makes an excellent stock or soup base.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini, zucchini flowers, bread crumbs, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, scallions and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using your hands, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture and flatten into a patty. Place on the air fryer rack or baking rack or directly on the oiled sheet pan, space the patties about 1 inch apart.
  6. Brush the patties lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  7. Sprinkle with more salt before serving. Chives are also nice if you have some.
Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

 

Zucchini Cakes

Zucchini Cakes

I think zucchini flowers are amazingly beautiful and they can be very strange. This one looks like an alien creature.

zucchini flower

zucchini flower

Adding the zucchini flowers to the fritters was an idea from Irene of the blog My Slice of Mexico, thank you Irene.

I’m taking these to share with Angie over at Fiesta Friday #398. Come on over to see all the amazing ideas for recipes, gardening and crafting. This week the cohost is Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Have a wonderful weekend.

September – Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

September – Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Potato Salad with Corn and Bacon

Potato Salad with Corn and Bacon

New potatoes, crisp bacon, fresh corn and finely chopped onion…that’s my idea of potato salad. Forget the mayo. This potato salad can hold up to a BBQ or a picnic. It’s the mayonnaise that is the major reason for food poisoning in the summer. As well the mixture of flavors and textures is amazing…salty and crisp bacon, creamy potatoes, sharp red onion, and sweet corn. A couple of handfuls of arugula added at the end adds a tart, peppery and slightly bitter element as well as bright green color. I used a simple dressing consisting of apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil and a couple tablespoon of bacon fat. Go vegetarian and substitute one of the many alternatives out there for the bacon, add a bit of smoked paprika to give the salad that wonderful smokiness.

Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. of small new potatoes, I used a combination of red and fingerlings
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, reserved from cooking the bacon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 ears of sweet corn
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 handfuls of baby arugula

Method:

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender. For me it was about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool slightly.
  2. Cook the corn by your favorite method (grilling would be wonderful). I placed the each ear of corn, husks and all, in the microwave for 3 minutes. The leaves and silk slip off easily. Once cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the husk.
  3. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper lined plate, break into pieces once cool. Reserve the fat in the pan.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  5. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. If the potatoes are still a little warm they will absorb the dressing. Add the corn and chopped onion. Taste for salt and if you need a little more vinegar.
  6. Just before serving add the bacon and arugula. Toss again.

I made this salad up to step 6 several hours ahead. Chill in the fridge but bring it to room temperature before serving.

I would enjoy some of that

Shanna would like some potato salad please

Serve this as a side at your Labor Day BBQ.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday will enjoy it. It’s Fiesta Friday #396 hosted by Angie. Come on over and enjoy the virtual blogging party. It seems like everything is going virtual again!

Stay well and safe.

August – Baharat Rubbed Chicken with Carrots

August – Baharat Rubbed Chicken with Carrots

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

This sheet pan (or tray pan in the other parts of the world) dinner is a one pan wonder. Crisp skinned thighs cooked with sweet carrots, onions and sliced bell pepper…all flavored with the aromatic spice mix called baharat. It’s a blend commonly used in N. Africa and the Middle East. The mix I used was purchased from the Oaktown Spice Shop, a blend of paprika, black pepper, cumin, coriander, allspice, cassia, clove, cardamom and nutmeg. Baharad is the Arabic word for spices.

If you would like to make your own, this recipe comes from the cookbook Jerusalem by Ottolenghi.

Note: Ottolenghi and Tamimi recommend using a spice grinder for this recipe “and for plenty of other occasions.” But “if you are using a mortar and pestle, you may want to get ground cardamom, as the pods will be hard to grind by hand.”

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 small cinnamon stick, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon whole cloves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

½ whole nutmeg, grated

1. Place all the spices in a spice grinder or mortar and grind until a fine powder is formed. Store in an airtight container, where it will keep for 8 weeks.

Baharat Rubbed Sheet Pan Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 pound of carrots, halved (and quartered if thicker than 1 inch) see note
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 1 to 2 red or yellow bell peppers, cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of baharat
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, briefly toasted in a small dry skillet
  • fresh parsley, mint or cilantro – chopped
  • about 1/2 cup of labne or Greek yogurt

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Combine the olive oil, salt and baharat in a large bowl – stir to combine
  3. Add the chicken, carrots, peppers and onions to the bowl and toss to combine. I find my hands are the easiest way to coat everything
  4. Place the chicken skin side up on the sheet pan, nestle the rest of the ingredients (cut sides down as much as possible) around them.
  5. Roast for about 40 minutes until the chicken skin is very crisp and a kitchen thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160 degrees F. You could turn the vegetables half way through but I didn’t bother.
  6. Spread the labne or yogurt onto a section of a serving dish or platter. place the chicken and vegetables on top. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and fresh herbs.

Note: If you would like to leave the carrots in larger chunks, parboil them for 5 minutes before add to the bowl. Also, other root vegetables would also be good such as small Yukon gold potatoes, parsnips, or turnips.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

Sheet Pan Chicken with Baharat

 

I am taking this easy sheet pan dinner to share with the folks at Fiesta Friday. It’s #396, hosted by Angie. Please click on the link to read other posts about cooking, crafting and meal planning. Please consider adding your own link but read the guidelines if you would like to be considered for featured post of the week.

In My Garden – August 2021

In My Garden – August 2021

Okay, so it’s almost September and I am very late in getting this out to everyone. Who knew a puppy would require so much of my attention! She is a delight but also taking up any spare time that would have been devoted to writing about my current gardening activities. I  am still out there with my plants, just not spending the time writing about it.

Casey, puppy Shanna, and Quinn

Casey, puppy Shanna, and Quinn

 

Quinn and Shanna

Quinn and Shanna – pals

The garden has been flourishing despite cutbacks in my watering activities. Some plants actually seem to like less water, while others (the majority) are looking decidedly dejected.

I have been harvesting bush beans for several weeks now. Last year I planted a second crop in August, they didn’t produce any beans. This year I started the second crop earlier and, fingers crossed, there will be a second harvest before the cool weather of late fall shuts them down. I did spot some flowers this afternoon.

The zucchini plants were starting to get powdery mildew.  I gave them a harsh pruning (removing any leaves with mildew), a spray of neem oil and some organic fertilizer. Here they are mid prune. They are looking better and I will hopefully be able to continue the harvest for another month or so.

Zucchini

Zucchini – I was in the midst of the haircut and you can see the mildewed leaves

The mildew is a side effect of our typically foggy July and August. I can’t complain too much because the summers are also as much as 50 degrees F cooler here on the coast compared to inland temperatures.

Zucchini is one of my favorite summer vegetables for the grill.

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled zucchini and summer squash

It only needs a bit of olive oil and coarse salt. We eat it “plain”, with pesto, in toasted sandwiches, or chopped into a salad with tomatoes, red onions and feta cheese. Picked an hour before cooking it’s an entirely different vegetable than that you get at the store.

The broccoli and cauliflower plants are getting big but no signs of heading up yet. The netting is to keep the birds out.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and Cauliflower

And there is almost always lettuce. That’s kale in the background left, arugula on the back right.

Lettuce

Lettuce

In my garden I have dahlias. They have been late, not as prolific with blooms, and a bit shorter in stature than the last couple of years. This could be because of our cooler and dryer weather, also because I am being stingy with the water. The flowers are still lovely, just not as many.

Dahlias

Dahlias

This plant is Daucus carota ‘Dara’, it’s a variety of Queen Anne’s lace or carrot flower. The flowers start out as a deep mahogany red, then fade to a lighter pink. In my garden it stands about 3 feet high. This is the first year I’ve grown it and I love its lacy appearance. Hopefully it will self seed itself for future plants. It’s very pretty in flower arrangements.

Daucus carota ‘Dara’

Another plant that is a butterfly magnet is this one, Trachelium caeruleum “Perennial Blue Lace Flower”. I planted it three years ago and it is really taking off this year.

Blue Lace Flower

It will die back in early winter when I will cut it almost to the ground. I love the billowy feel to it and butterflies are drawn to the nectar.

August Sweet PeansMuch to my surprise the sweet peas are still going strong after a late start. My grandmother always grew them along the side fence of her garden in England, their scent reminds me of wonderful summers spent with her. I don’t remember ever harvesting them this late, I think it’s a function of the very cool summer we’ve had so far.

I’ve ordered some plants to redo this area of the garden. Looks sad and somewhat barren doesn’t it? I have waited until closer to our rainy season but the plants will be arriving towards the end of next month. Fingers crossed we will get some rain in October.

I was inspired by a story I read about Kew Gardens in the U.K. It seems that they re-dig, re-vitalize the soil, and re-plant some beds each spring. I plan to do the same here (although in the fall), replanting many of the plants that don’t seem to be thriving. There are self sown columbines, some geums, yarrow, salvias, and tidy tips. But, they all look stunted. Stay tuned for next months update.

The weather is warming. We generally see rising temperatures in September and October, our Indian summer. I hope to be able to take advantage of our outdoor dining area without the space heaters.

Thankfully the smoke hasn’t been too bad here on the coast.

Al fresco dining

Al fresco dining

Here is Shanna with her favorite garden toy, an old mop she stole from the garage when my back was turned. She runs around the garden with it as if she was Harry Potter at a quidditch match.

Shanna and the mop

Shanna and the mop

I am calling this the August In My Garden even though there are only 2 days left in the month.

Happy gardening everyone; stay well and get vaccinated.