January is a great month for getting back on track. The holidays and every delicious, fatty bite are gone and the time for overindulgence passed. This soup is just right for getting into a healthy routine, and is still hearty enough to serve for dinner. The recipe is from my mother-in-law who first had it at Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont.
Chicken Soup with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Rice
1 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
2 cups water (I use 3)
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and halved
2 medium onions, halved
2 medium carrots, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips
3 sweet peppers (yellow and red) halved and seeded
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
8 cups chicken broth
2 -2 1/2 lb meaty chicken pieces (I use one whole cooked roaster)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian flat leaf) parsley Continue reading
Is your garden currently in that state of overabundance of zucchini and underabundance of just about everything else due to the “drought” that we’ve been in? If so, check out The Pioneer Woman’s food blod, Tasty Kitchen for over a hundred recipes (both savory and sweet) inspired by this ubiquitous fruit!
Filed under Food, Recipes
Though our warm summer days are coming to an end, our days of picking fresh vegetables from the garden don’t have to end when the temperatures drop. Fall vegetables are considered cool season vegetables, which means that they will thrive under these growing conditions:
- Daytime temperatures between 60° and 80° F (the cooler the better).
- Nighttime temperatures above 40° F (a light frost is usually okay).
- 6 hours of sunshine per day.
- Rich, well-draining soil.
- One inch or more of water per week.
Vegetables that Do Well in the Fall include:
When to Plant Fall Vegetables:
In most areas, fall vegetables are planted in August or September, for harvest through October and November. However, unlike spring planting, the fall garden is a race against time, so you have to calculate carefully to be sure your plants won’t be killed by freezing weather before they produce.
You can start planting fall vegetables as soon as daytime temperatures average below 80º F, and you can continue planting as long as they will have time to mature before the first frost and freeze. If you live in a region that doesn’t freeze, you can grow cool-season vegetables until temperatures begin to rise above 80° F in the spring.
Know Your Frost Date:
The first step to planning a fall vegetable garden is to learn your average dates of first frost and freeze. Frost dates for your area can be found in the Farmers’ Almanac. In addition, your local agricultural extension service should have more detailed local information.
Once you’re armed with your local frost and freeze dates, planning your garden is as easy as counting backwards on the calendar. Your veggies should be planted so they will mature before the first frost, and provide most of their harvest before the first heavy freeze.
Most plant and seed labels include information on “average days to maturity,” so you can choose vegetables that will be ready in time. Some cool-season crops mature in as few as 30-40 days while others can take several months to produce.
There’s often so much focus on MEAT when we talk about grilling and I thought a little primer on grilling vegetables was in order. Here’s my general rules for prepping and cooking the good stuff over a hot fire.
Red, Yellow and Green Bell Peppers – Grill the peppers over high heat until charred all over, about 12-15 minutes. Then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for ten minutes, then rub off the charred skin with a paper towel. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds.
Mushrooms – Begin by trimming off just the bottom of the stem and brushing them free of any loose dirt. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until tender and slight wrinkly on the outside, about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash – Cut into 1/4″ wide slices. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until tender and grill marks appear, about 6-8 minutes.
Scallions – Begin by trimming off the root ends. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high until tender, about 4 minutes.
Eggplant – Halve lengthwise and and cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ chunks. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, covered until soft, 5-8 minutes.
Potatoes – Cut into 1/2″ wedges and precook by steaming for 10-15 minutes or just until tender. Let cool. Then brush with olive oil and and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat until grill marks appear, about 8-10 minutes.
Ramona over at The Houndstooth Gourmet is having a little “You say tomato, I say tomahto” contest to celebrate the abundance of tomatoes in all of our gardens right now. This is one of my absolute favorite recipes… EVER. If you’ve never had Tomato Bread Salad, you must must must try this… You’ll be hooked… But be warned, it’s only incredible when you use the ripest, freshest tomatoes right out of the garden (or farmer’s market)
And the other secret to a great Tomato Bread Salad is you can’t be shy with the olive oil – and use a good olive oil as the simplicity of the ingredients really warrants the best in each of the ingredients.
Tomato Bread Salad (aka Panzanella)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2lbs ripe tomatoes, hacked into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
6 basil leaves, shredded
1 loaf day old French bread (baguette works well too!)
sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut bread into about 1 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and garlic. Place on a baking sheet and cook until gold brown and slightly crunchy on the outside. Remove from oven and immediately toss in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Another key is to get as much of the tomato water into the bowl with the bread, as it’s so delicious when the olive oil soaked bread absorbs the juice from the tomato. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
For dinner last night whipped up a refreshing chilled beet soup last night to cool off from the humidity and “oven-ness” of swampy DC. I pulled the beets fresh from the garden and quickly turned them into soup!
Chilled Beet Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 1/2 pounds red beets, scrubbed and stalks trimmed to 1/2 inch
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 leek, trimmed of tough green ends and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill, loosely packed
1/4 cup white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and seeded
You bet! This is a delicious way to prepare summer’s most abundant vegetable… ZUCCHINI! I don’t know about you, but when planting my little seedlings in the Spring, I always seem to forget just how much one zucchini plant will yield and August brings weeks of just trying to give the stuff away!
A couple of zucchini from the garden
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
In the meantime, use a mandoline (or if you have mad knife skills, by hand) julienne the zucchini into matchstick-sized strips.
When water has reached a rolling boil, add zucchini noodles and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Remove from water and immediately toss with butter, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.
When your countertop is overflowing with tomatoes, it’s time to start finding ways to preserve them for the cold winter months when the only tomatoes in the grocery stores are the mealy, flavorless ones.
Roasting is one of my favorite ways to preserve the flavors of August. It requires little effort and adds so much to simple winter meals.
Begin by preheating the oven to 300 degrees and preparing a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slice tomatoes in half and toss in a large bowl with sea salt and a good drizzle of olive oil. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and place in oven for 4 hours or until they’ve shrunken up a bit in size and look as though they’ve begun to caramelize.
Remove from oven and enjoy immediately in pasta or along with a salad. Or to save for winter, place the entire baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes or until tomatoes are frozen through. Then remove from baking sheet and place in storage bags. Date and return to freezer until ready to use.
String beans (of the green, yellow and purple varieties) are most delicious when devoured less than an hour after being picked – these are the first picking from my garden. Nona, my great-aunt, always made them best. Here’s her “recipe”
Nona’s Green Beans
1ish pounds of green beans
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sour cream
Gently steam the green beans for just a couple of minutes in a medium-sized saute pan with just a couple tablespoons of water. Strain out the water and while hot, add the butter, salt and sour cream. Stir until everything has fondued together.
Living in the city can provide a challenge for gardening at home, but I am here to tell you having a plentiful bounty throughout the summer on your front steps or balcony is possible! Here are some of my tips and tricks for successful container gardening…
- Think about how much sunlight your container garden area will get. Most veggies and herbs need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Herbs tolerant to partial shade include cilantro, dill, chives, marjoram and mint.
- When purchasing containers, plastic will retain water better than terra cotta, though terra cotta is prettier. Make sure pots are large enough to support the root system of what you are planting. Also make sure the pots have proper drainage holes – this means 2-3 holes and the pot should be elevated an inch or two by little feet.
- Do not use top soil or dirt directly from your garden! Use a high-quality potting medium as the plants will need all the nutrients from a potting soil.
- Fertilizing is a must for container gardens. Because you will be watering so often, nutrients are quickly depleted from the soil. Once every other week, apply a diluted water-soluble fertilizer. I like to use it in half-strength concentration.
- Water and water again! All containers, regardless of material, dry out quickly. To be safe, check pots daily. If the soil is dry at 1″ depth, they need to be watered. The best time is early morning as water on the leaves in the middle of the hot day will burn the leaves and watering at night can increase the chances of developing mildew. Placing a little mulch on top of the soil will help retain moisture.
- When choosing what to plant, look for high-yielding and dwarf varieties of vegetables and fruits. Remember that tall or sprawling vegetables have huge root systems and will only bear well if their roots have enough room. Be careful not to crowd herbs or veggies when planting or their growth will be stunted.