Monthly Archives: June 2013

Pasilla Peppers, Polenta, Black Beans and Marmalade?

     Today was  one of those “What shall I fix for dinner honey” days.   At our house many of our meals are made on the fly which means not a lot of prepping goes into them.  I prefer to make quick and easy meals that require few really good ingredients.  Plus I mostly try to use whats coming out of the garden and  create a meal around those picks.  Sometimes I make what I call a make-ahead meal or side dish because I have harvested veggies from the garden that need to be used in someway sooner than later.   In fact, yesterday I had put together my Pasilla pepper and Polenta  Lasanga dish (recipe below) because the peppers needed to be used.  We love the mildly spicy but sweet pasilla pepper freshly cooked in many dishes.  This pasilla and polenta recipe is a staple favorite around here.   It is easy to make ahead, cook, and served warm a day or two later.  The flavors are enhanced and blended.

     I planned on serving this pasilla pepper and polenta lasagna tonight and asked hubby to contribute a thought on a side dish.  I mentioned to him I had black beans but didn’t want to serve rice with the meal because the lasagna already had polenta as a carb.  He asked if there was a cucumber and I replied “hello…….of course…tis the season!   This is what he found on the internet:

Cucumber and Black Bean Salad

1 seedless cucumber cut into 1/2 inch chunks  ( a Japanese cuc from my garden)

1 (15 oz) can black beans  ( I use Whole Foods Full Circle organic brand)

1 (8 oz) can or frozen whole corn ( again Whole Foods Full  Circle organic brand)

1 cup cherry tomatoes  (from my garden)

1/2 red onion ( a few small red onions from my garden)

3 TB chopped cilantro  (not on the recipe but added from my garden)

The Dressing

3 TB  extra-virgin olive oil  ( I use Bragg’s organic)

4 1/2 tsp orange marmalade  ( of course I use This One Trees Simply Orange Marmalade)

1 TB lemon juice ( from my own Meyer lemon tree previously juiced and frozen in cubes)

1 tsp honey ( Whole Foods organic)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

Salt and Pepper to taste

Serves 4 hungry people or 6 polite eaters!

Cucumber and Black Bean salad
Cucumber and Black Bean salad

Well THAT was super fast to put together, yummy and it looks so colorful and pretty!  Hubby and I think this salad is definitely a keeper and if doubled this recipe would also make a great summer BBQ buffet/party dish to bring along next time.   Make it and let me know if you agree!

Pasilla Pepper and Polenta Lasagna

Oven set at 350 ……………. and a 2 quart Pirex type casserole dish

6 pasilla peppers;   roasted or micro-waved and outer papery skins peeled

1  “chub” polenta  ( I use organic prepackaged in a tube then mashed til crumbly)

1 ( 15 oz) jar of Cacique Crema Mexicana or ( 8 oz sour cream and 4 oz milk to thin)

2 C. Monterey Jack cheese  ( grated)

1C.  Queso Fresco (crumbled)

2 TB pimento (chopped in the jar)

1 TB cumin

Paprika and Salt and Pepper to taste

* you can add chopped sauteed red onion and  minced jalapeno for added zing if so desired!

To peel pasillas:

* (micro-wave in plastic produce bag till soft but not over done, leave in bag for 20 min)

* roast over flame till all skins bubble and start to char; place in plastic bag for 30 min)

*  remove from bag and peel papery skins off

When pasillas are peeled,  tear into 3 or 4 strips length-wise and place onto paper towel to soak up all moisture left from cooking.

Meanwhile chop and mash up Polenta chub til crumbly.   Add 1/2 grated cheese and chopped pimento, ( onion and jalapeno) if wanted, salt and pepper.  Mix all with hands.

Now begin to layer lasagna style:  starting with bottom layer of pasilla, then a layer of Polenta mixture, layer of grated cheese, then a healthy drizzle of crema or thinned sour cream with sprinkling of cumin.   Another layer Pasilla,  polenta  mixture, cheese, crema and cumin.  You should have approx. 3 layers total to finish.  Sprinkle top layer with remaining cumin and some paprika.  It should look like this when finished…… then into the oven uncovered for 20-30 min or until bubbly.  Sprinkle Queso Fresco on servings.

Pasilla Pepper and Polenta Lasagna
Pasilla Pepper and Polenta Lasagna

    This meal was delish.  The salad is a beautiful and perfect compliment to my Pasilla and Polenta Lasagna!  We have put this salad recipe into our “gotta have again and again” files!  

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Whether or not to deal with the Weather or not?!

   

   Today is HOT,HOT, HOT!!!    It is June 29th, 2013 and at 11:00 am it was 105!   The weather all across the western part of the country is experiencing a massive heat spell.  I am thinking of my family members in Phoenix AZ. with expected heat of 118.  WOW!  What an over night shift in weather huh?  I watered the garden very early this morning, threw ice in the chickens water and decided to stay in the rest of the day enjoying the high cost of air conditioning! 

     Just days ago I was agonizing over the prospects of my tomatoes and surprised at the early fruiting of all my peppers!  According to my garden veggies, spring this year has been short of normal.  

    Since planting in early March, the days have been  cool then hot then cool again……..right off the bat in early May I had to yank the zucchini  cuz it had NO male flowers!!  

Of course I only planted one this year because we get sick of too much zucchini and I’m bored with making  zucchini bread or whatever else I could make with ’em!   I would feed a lot of them to the chickens.  Anyway,  I have just planted a new seedling in a different bed to have a few zucchini  

Zucchini replant June 2013
Zucchini replant June 2013

plus I always grow an extra jumbo size for a friend up in Friday Harbor who enters the towns annual “Zucchini Race” every summer……………she is champ many years in a row so I don’t want to let her down.  Hope I can grow one big enough by mid August!

My tomatoes planted in March all got leaf-curl do the stress I think……. couldn’t get the watering figured out………but they are still producing so I haven’t yanked them.

Brandywine with leaf curl 2013
Brandywine with leaf curl 2013
Sun Sugar cherry tomato
Sun Sugar cherry tomato

 

   

 

The peppers I also planted in March are all fruiting much earlier than the usual July/August and they look amazing!  I’ve been picking and pickling Banana peppers since early June. 

 I also planted a few more tomatoes in early May (for insurance)  and none have the dreaded leaf-curl.  I even rescued and re-transplanted a doomed yellow pear tomato (wish I could find the picture ) that is now showing great promise for a good harvest.

Yellow Pear tomato  rejuvinated

This morning while watering I studied the snow peas.  Two planted right next to each other………so……….why is one plant producing peas and the other just can’t seem to get a grow on?  

Snow Pea in distress!
Snow Pea in distress!

Just as I was inspecting the sickly one for the millionth time……..viola!  I found THIS little bugger!  I’m not used to seeing worms in the garden.  

Its a what worm

Is it a looper!  Reminded of the the inch worm song from the Hans Christian Anderson film.  Cutest song but NOT a cute bug to have on ones snow peas I don’t think!   I thought they just measured marigolds! HA!   I’ll look it up while inside today keeping cool!

Hope all of you are keeping cool too.

 

Finally! Grapes!

Five years ago when our veggie beds were first planted I had also requested that the north wall of the garden be set up for my future grape trellis.  I spent  considerable time searching information on the how-to’s of raising table grapes.  I did not want to end up with the ornamental grape-less vines I often saw.  I wanted to grow true edible grapes.

Living in a valley that was once known for growing grapes that supported quite a few wineries for decades I knew that I shouldn’t fear climate as a possible deterrent.   And as for the ornamental vines that never really produced an edible grape cluster………well, now I know……… there is a purpose to choosing the right variety as well as getting the vine to produce the fruit.    And it was going to take a few years…….4 to 5 years to be truthful!

Young Flame and Thompson 2009
Young Flame and Thompson 2009

I did some in- depth research for several months on selecting a variety of grape that would be suitable for my climate zone.   As there were actually several choices, I wanted a seedless and the heartiest as I was going to commit to 3 to 4 years of managing and watering a plant that was not going to give immediate results.

 Well into my researching, I stumbled onto a website and actually ended up purchasing the E-book ( my first and only one ) from this guy who grows grapes in South Africa!   A comparable planting zone.  He calls himself “The Grape Guy”,  and from this E-book I learned there are 10 classes of grapes (the vitaceae) family, and  only 1 is considered efficient as a table (edible) grape and for wine-making.  These are from the “Vitus-class” of which there are approximately 32 species, “Vitus Vinifera” the European species and “Vitus Labruska” the American species.   Are you with me so far?   The American species and most if not all European species are now grafted onto disease resistant root stock which are the Vitus Vinifera or Vitus Labruska and Riparia.  All because of the deadly root disease “Phylloxera” that attacked and killed off 2/3rds of Europe’s vineyards in the 1800’s! 

Because hubby and I enjoy eating both green seedless and red seedless grapes, I chose a Thompson seedless (European grafted) and a Flame seedless (American developed here in California)  variety of the vitus family……. both popular grape varieties sold in our local grocery stores.  They were planted in the spring of 2008.  Did you know that the grapes we buy in the stores have been grown with a grape hormone to make them larger than mother nature would normally.   Growers use the growth hormone gibberellic acid, not more watering or better fertilizer , to plump up the crop,  all the more reason you might like to plant your own grapevines.

When the vines are planted they need to be managed as they grow.  One cannot just start clipping and chopping at the tendrils.   In the first few years, the center trunk is allowed to grow up and shoots from each side are chosen to be the main arms that will be trained horizontally to grow into what are called the “cane bearers”.  Then on to developing the fruiting shoots and spurs.  All this has taken 3 years and patience.  Even during the first growing years the vine will produce grapes but I was warned to pinch them off and NOT to let them mature because the vine itself needs to mature first!   Really hard to do! grapes early April 2013 2

Believe me……. I have followed my E-book how-to’s almost to the letter!  I have made some boo-boo’s however.  I planted my vines against a wall…….not recommended but I wanted to disguise an ugly wall and so far the vines seem to like where I put them.   I have also made mistakes in cutting shoots that are still a bit unrecognizable to me.  Last fall I even removed the Thompson vine…..possibly by mistake……… because I think I pruned it improperly as I had not seen it produce any fruit in the 3 years so far.  I referred to my E-book and I think I had made a pruning mistake and most likely could have re- developed the vine.

 Anyway,  this early spring was year 4.   With E-book in one hand and pruning shears in my other hand I carefully and diligently snipped at my Flame vine leaving just the right amount of spurs per shoot, managed the shoots and leaf growth, crossed my fingers and watched .   AND OH MY GOODNESS!  I have grapes……. FINALLY!!!!

ripening Flame seedless 2013
ripening Flame seedless 2013
Flame early May 2013
Flame early May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t bare it!   I have already plucked a few ripe little globes off the sets!  So far surprisingly good!  The grapes will also be quite sizable and of course hubby and I will be proud to eat these beautiful globes of Flame seedless grapes!

new grape arbor 2013
new grape arbor 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so far I am also enjoying my new grape arbor…..made by hubby…….. and have even planted tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, basil and a melon in the missing space that used to hold my Thompson.   I am contemplating planting a new Thompson vine next spring and hoping to make fewer mistakes.

As unpredictable as gardening is……. this truly is the longest I have spent with any one single garden project EVER!  Even composting renders a usable scrumptious product in a few months time.   Of course I say this as I am about to go check on my blackberries!  I have been cultivating these from a gift of berry shoots I was giving 3 years ago.  I couldn’t decide on a spot until this spring so I’ve been clipping the shoots and letting the root stalks mature.  I’ll get a post up for you all in a few weeks after I have indulged in the fig harvest that’s about to happen!

I will post pictures of my grape harvest  and wish me luck next spring!

The Apricot and the Ant!

Apricots!  A delicate fare

Just as we were winding down with the last of the marmalade making, in came a call to come and get some apricots!

I had the great honor today of starting out This One Trees “Private Reserve Preserves” with the seasons first picked apricots at a home just two houses from the home I grew up in!   Ms.  Aimee is my aunt, born and raised on a farm in North Dakota.  She is spry as you please  and has lived in this home for 48 of her 93 years.  She pleaded, “come get the apricots, they’re ready NOW!”    She knew I was canning for other fruit tree owners so she made sure to get on the “Private Reserve Preserves” list at This One Tree!

When apricots are ripe you can’t wait around to harvest them!  They have what I call a short ripe life.  They are extremely susceptible to bruising and they must be attended to A.S.A.P.   In my post “Fruit.i.licious” I explain how harvesting these delicacies are mostly torture and never mind the few bird invasions, it’s the ants that will beat you to the pulp!  Literally!

All that rinsing and still found an ant. A determined soldier!
The Apricot and the Ant!

All that rinsing and still found an ant.  A determined soldier!

This back yard apricot tree is at least 45 years old.  It has a massive craggy and knotty trunk with huge limbs and meandering unkempt branches looking like something one would see illustrated in a witches tale.  It stands as a matriarch to several other fruit trees   ( 3 Meyer lemon and a white grapefruit)  in this yard.  I hadn’t climbed this tree since before my girls were born which was 30 some years ago!  It is not as well maintained as it has been in the past  but this tree is still a big producer.  Picking the apricots is much more labor intensive than “putting them up”, which is what my grandma called canning the goods!  I have fond memories of my grandma and aunt canning the apricots and the aroma of that simmering fruit is still embedded in my mind.  I don’t recall being involved in the canning part of the apricot harvest but I do remember picking and eating freshly picked apricots and grandma’s home made apricot cobbler……YUM!

Fresh Apricots!
Fresh Apricots!

Today I had pick of the best of the apricots.    Just touching some of the branches was cause for a slew of these beauties to release and plummet to the ground below .   After 30 minutes, I had bagged 12 lbs that were perfectly ripe and would yield a few beautiful batches of delectable Apricot jam!

After splitting and pitting and canning 20 pints of jam I still ended up with plenty of freshly halved apricots to put into 3 freezer bags for pies later!

Aimee requested 6 pints of Apricot Jam, plenty to last her till next season!   The rest we have stored in OUR PANTRY ready for you to purchase some!

Yielded 20 pints of jam and filling for 3 pies!
Yielded 20 pints of jam and filling for 3 pies!

The Author

 Welcome to This One Tree!

     Currently you will have to know me as “the wizard behind the curtain”…… or more fitting, “the machine behind the scenes”, and that is just where I’m comfortable right now!

      First of all, I have never had the privilege of calling myself an author!   I usually just call myself busy!    This makes writing about myself a bit of a conundrum.   But I am working on it!   I have contemplated who I am many times throughout my life and as I started to jot down some experiences and accomplishments, I knew to be fair and not leave out the huge challenges,  mountains climbed,  lessons learned and consequences paid.   I can say that I’m no spring chicken and to be honest,  I mostly rule the roost!   I am usually devoted to my passions and have upheld the rule that practice makes perfect!   I am competitive and somewhat work-obsessed, which I think means I’m a type “A” personality.  I still say that I am just a very busy girl!

    This blog is a compilation of the journey I am on now.   I’ve been calling it the quieter, calmer chapter of life;   just in time for what seems to be a trending movement to revisit a slower (The Slow Movement)  sustainable lifestyle!   I’m not sold on the slower part just yet because I am too busy to feel any slowwwwww……….but it is certainly much, much calmer and quieter.   

     As for now……if you choose to browse around This One Tree and catch little snippets and blurbs interspersed in the blogs and pages…… I think you will do well in discovering who I am!