Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to letsgetdirty@gjsentinel.com.

Page 9 of 124

Mexican-Asian fusion experiment a success

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I was planning on doing something with tomatillos for dinner last night, then I read that curry was supposed to be one of those foods that’s good for your brain, so I decided to make tomatillo curry.
Although I found a few recipes, I decided to just wing it with whatever I found ripe in the garden.
Oh my goodness. I found a lot.

These are the tomatillos, simmering in a saucepan with onions, garlic, a sweet yellow pepper, half of a Big Jim pepper, some ground cherries and a bunch of curry-type spices (coriander, turmeric, ginger and curry powder).

I had more tomatillos than I needed, so I peeled the papery lantern off, washed them and stuck them in freezer bags. I think I have about four gallon bags full of tomatillos in my freezer. I think there’s a lot of pork or chicken tomatillo stew in my future this winter.

This is the beautiful Kellogg Breakfast tomato and the mass of green onions I decided to throw in the curry.The Big Jim chile was hotter than I realized, so I hoped the sweetness of the tomato (and the ground cherries) would reduce the heat.


I also had a bunch of kale, which I was going to roast or sauté separately, but decided to chop into fine bits and add to the curry, because I was already dirtying another pot to cook rice and a sauté pan to cook fish. Unlike those TV chefs, I don’t have minions to clean up my mess, so I try not to use every pan I own.
This is what it looked like on the plate. I dredged the fish fillets in a cornmeal/spice mixture, then sautéed them in coconut oil. I decided to roll a few scrimps into the cornmeal and sauté those, too.
It was very tasty. I’m sure the connections in my brain appreciated my efforts to give them good food.  


Finally enough to bake a pie

By Penny Stine
Monday, September 29, 2014

For a week I made myself pick up and hoard the ground cherries that ripened, even though I wanted to simply eat them. Every day, there are quite a few on the ground, like the ones in this pic. I’ve discovered that the ones on the ground taste better than the yellow ones still clinging to the plant. I think they’re just a little more ripe.
I have a short window of opportunity once they hit the ground. If I leave them there for more than a day or two, some critter comes along and eats them.
My goal was to have enough of the little fruits to bake a pie, and last Thursday, I finally reached the goal and made a pie. I had looked at a bunch of recipes online and discovered that most of them added a bit of lemon juice or lemon zest and one added some almond extract. So when I mixed the sugar and flour with the ground cherries, I added fresh lemon juice and zest, as well as a bit of almond extra.
The pie smelled really good when it was baking, and although I wanted to eat it when it came out of the oven, I didn’t. We were going to visit our sons in Denver, so I decided to take it with us.
Nothing says mom like homemade pie, even if it is made out of weird ingredients.
At first, everyone was a bit suspicious of the pie, but once they tried it, everyone (sons, husband and sons’ roommate - and me!) declared it good. It wasn’t so good that I’m going to start making ground cherry pie for Thanksgiving or even so good that I can’t wait to make it again. I think I’ll always prefer your basic apple or cherry.
I’m OK with that. It means I can go back to eating them plain or putting them in various salads and breakfast creations. I think that’s a better use for them.
I’m going to try making a tomatillo curry tonight, and I think I’ll add a few to that.
Will let you know how that works out… 


Fall planting: spinach and garlic

By Penny Stine
Friday, September 26, 2014

Look what came in the mail the other day!
Yes, I had to order and pay for it. In spite of my enthusiasm for gardening, no one sends me free stuff in the mail.
This year, I’m trying two new types of garlic. The Italian late (in the purple mesh) is a softneck variety, which are supposed to store for longer time periods than the hardneck. You can also braid them to make a cool thing to hang in your kitchen, but in spite of the long hair on my head that I’ve been braiding for more than four decades, I can’t seem to get the hang of braiding garlic.
The garlic in the red mesh is elephant garlic, which I was curious about and wanted to try. I’ll plant them both sometime in late October for a harvest in late June/early July 2015.
I ordered two types of spinach, which I usually plant in late October/early November for a harvest the following May. This year, one of the varieties said it only took 37 days and was good for a fall crop, so I planted some this week. It’s been pretty warm around here, which is actually not good for spinach germination. I’m curious to see whether or not I’ll get any spinach before snow covers the garden. So far, I haven’t seen any sprouts, but it’s been less than a week since I planted.  


I love these green beans

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I know I’ve posted pics of my pole beans before… but look at these! It’s late September, and they’re still growing, winding themselves around their support, flowering and producing fresh beans. I was out in my garden searching for pineapple tomatillos and cherries, when I looked up and saw that I had beans ready to pick. So, of course, I had to pick them. What's interesting is that the plants themselves are looking pretty sad, but they're still producing.

I have some that look even sadder than these, but they’re still producing beans, too.


I picked some on Sunday and we ate half of what I picked with dinner. I was going to freeze the reset, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. This pic is what I picked last night after I got home from work. Now that I have these, too, I think I’d better get to it. Or else just have beans again with dinner.  


Got kale? Have I got a great salad for you!

By Penny Stine
Monday, September 22, 2014

Kale is one of the easiest and most cost-effective greens in the garden. It grows in the sun, it grows in the shade. Usually, it survives the winter and continues producing the following year.  The kale in that shady little corner is stuff I planted a year or two ago. The leaves don't get big, but the plants are about two or three feet tall. 


Sometimes, it even grows where you don’t plant it.  To be fair, I planted it last year in this spot, but it all appeared to die at the end of the season. I didn't think it was coming back, so I put a trellis in that space this year. 

Kale is not, however, one of those veggies that you can just go out to the garden, pick and eat. If you don’t prepare it the right way, the taste is downright nasty and bitter.

Normally, I roast it (or use it in scrambled eggs, pasta, a smoothie or in soup), but I was cooking dinner for a crowd and had purchased a watermelon, so I wanted to see if anyone had ever created a salad with kale and watermelon.

This is why I love the interwebs. I think I use it for cooking more than I do anything else.
There are several recipes online, I found this one and decided to more or less follow it. I made dinner for about 60 people and they all liked it, too, so it’s not just me and my weird taste buds.


The secret to a decent salad with kale is the dressing. You have to make a dressing with either lemon or lime juice in it. I like to mix the dressing and the kale ahead of time and work it with my hands to coat. I don't think the recipe I used said to do that, but I've learned to do that, especially with kale I grow in the heat of summer. The foodies call it massaging the kale. I think that sounds weird.
This bowl of kale had the juice of half a lime (instead of the lemon juice in the recipe), a splurt of olive oil and a tiny dot of honey. Trust me, it’s not the honey that takes the bitterness of the kale away - it’s the lime juice. The honey is just because I like honey. 

When I made the salad for 60 people, I remembered the sunflower seeds, but didn’t have a camera. When I made it for my husband and me on Saturday, I had a camera but forgot the sunflower seeds. It’s still pretty. 

It was also pretty tasty. I can’t seem to stop cooking for a horde, so there was a lot of leftover salad. It was still good the second day (no nuts to get soggy and the kale and watermelon were both still crunchy).

There was still plenty left, which I ate today, on day three. Although there was a bunch of watermelon juice in the container, the kale still held its shape and the salad was still tasty. Not as good or as pretty as day one, but I didn’t have many other leftovers in the fridge, so I was happy to eat kale salad for lunch.

Even my hubby, who is a little more suspicious of kale than I am, thought this was good.

Page 9 of 124


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