Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Work in Progress Wednesday

I usually have a number of things that I am juggling at any given time, so finding some things “in progress” to discuss is just about the easiest conversation starter one could give me!

When one of my favorite bloggers, Shellyfish, started a “Work in Progress Wednesday”  project to encourage fellow bloggers to share their artistic endeavors and crafty works in progress with one another, I immediately wanted to participate but hung back because – as many of you have noticed – midweek blogging can be a challenge for me.  However, after weeks of watching the participants’ works in progress transform, one by one, into works completed, I decided to find the time mid-week and participate because I, too, need to get some of these works in progress moving along to the finish line!

First I’ll share the food related work, and then, at the bottom, it’ll be the crafty stuff for those of you who are interested.

My garden (an edible work in progress):

In the Garden

In the Garden

Currently in my “winter” garden I am growing: basil, rosemary, 2 kinds of oregano, 3 kinds of mint, sage, eggplant, ancho peppers, zucchini, butternut squash, scallions, big mama limas, spinach, 3 kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell peppers, flavorburst bell peppers, anaheim peppers, false alarm habeneros, bush beans, a mystery squash that is growing out of my compost pile (I suspect pumpkin), and a wide variety of flowers.

My quilt (a inedible work in progress):

Quilt in Progress

Quilt in Progress

This is a simple quilt made of 4×4″ squares of Amy Butler Midwest Modern fabric.

And there’s this guy who hung around as I took pictures of the quilt but, as you can see, was not altogether interested in my project (I’ll try not to take it personally):



Isn’t he handsome?

If you like what you see with the works in progress, take some time to check out other Wednesday Works in Progress.  Also, while you’re cruising around the internet take the time to stop by and check out another awesome & creative blogger to see what Jes did with my humble little banana bread recipe. She’s provided you with your Sunday morning breakfast!


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I don’t watch much TV, but when I do it’s almost always one of the following:

1. CNN with my tea and breakfast on the weekdays, no exceptions
2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Cobert Report hour
3. Project Runway
4. Competitive cooking shows (ie. The Iron Chef, Top Chef, etc.)

One recent show that pulled me in was The Next Food Network Star. Strange, I know, given that the Food Network is wont to showcase all things meat and cheese, but I enjoy watching people get creative with their ingredients. I find that it inspires me to get into my kitchen or onto our grill and try something new.

Such was the case with this recipe. I have to expose my non-Foodie ways and admit that I had never even heard of cassoulet before the Throwdown episode of The Next Food Network Star, wherein the final four contestants got paired off and had to make not only their signature dish but attempt to outdo their competitor’s signature dish, as well – all in 45 minutes.

Lisa Garza, the prim and proper reincarnation of Martha Stewart, declared her signature dish to be cassoulet. To me it seemed a given that she would choose something French for her dish. She described cassoulet as being “beans and sausage” and a comfort food. Interesting. By the time she was done (and Bobby Flay declared her cassoulet to be the best he’s ever had) I was hooked. This was a dish that would be mine.

Veganizing Lisa’s cassoulet recipe was surprisingly easy. Her original recipe can be found here. I cut back on the amount of oil and garlic, I exchanged her sausage and chicken stock for their vegan counterparts, and I replaced her spinach pesto with my basil pesto. I was happy to be able to use herbs straight from my garden for this dish. (On a complete aside: if you do not grow your own herbs, I highly recommend that you change that right now. If you don’t have a garden plot, herbs grow just as well in pots on a windowsill. Fresh herbs snipped from the plant moments before use in a recipe adds a freshness to food that con not be replicated by store bought herbs.)

In the end, I must say that this dish is pretty amazing. It looks fancy and like it took a lot of work, while at the same time it is very comforting and flavorful – and it only took about an hour. I made this for us after work one day – while it simmered I was able to take care of other things around the house (I love recipes that allow me to multi task!)  It also makes fantastic leftovers for lunch the next day.

(I must apologize for the subpar photos for this post – they most definitely do not portray the loveliness of this dish!)

White Bean Cassoulet
Recipe adapted from Lisa Garza from The Next Food Network Star

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 herb bouquet tied with string: 4 stems fresh rosemary, 8 stems fresh oregano, 10 stems fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 cans white beans
2 quarts Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
4 links Field Grain Co. Spicy Italian Sausages

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until lightly browned at the edges. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds

2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the sausages. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes.

3. While the beans and vegetables are simmering, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausages on each side, remove from heat, and slice into ¼ inch slices.

4. Stir in the sausage and cook for 10 more minutes.

5. To serve: ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of pesto, and serve with a crostini.


1 French baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
A few tablespoons olive oil
A few teaspoons nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic

1. Heat the oven to 400F.

2. Lightly brush each slice of bread with olive oil. Sprinkle each slice with nutritional yeast.

3. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on middle rack.

4. Remove bread from oven, and rub each slice with the cloves of garlic. Serve warm.

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Beans with Fresh Herbs

As I sat this afternoon scheming up what to make for dinner, I suddenly remembered the can of canelli beans I had sitting in my pantry. I also had several plump red tomatoes from a friend’s garden sitting on my counter and an abundance of fresh green herbs happily basking in the sun in my own garden.

In my mind, white beans + tomatoes + fresh herbs = delicious.

But wait …

White beans + tomatoes + fresh herbs + caramelized onions = my simple and delicious dinner for tonight.

As I happily set about caramelizing onions and picking my herbs out of my garden, I was excitedly looking forward to dressing up my canelli beans with such fresh ingredients. Imagine my dismay when I opened my pantry and realized that my canelli beans were merely a figment of my imagination. (The question remains: where in the world did I see those beans???) My choices were black beans or garbanzo beans. I went with the garbanzo beans as they fit more into my picture of what this dish was supposed to look like on my plate.

As I sat down to my plate of caramelized onions, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and garbanzo beans, I was resentfully eying the grabanzos and rueing that they were not canelli beans. They weren’t even butter beans.  All it took, however, was one bite for me to quickly make amends with my beloved garbanzos and tell them that I will never doubt them again …

Beans with Fresh Herbs

1 tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans
2 tomatoes, diced
1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, and rosemary)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, lower heat to medium low, and sauté the onions for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a nice caramel brown color.
2. Add the garlic, sauté for 30 seconds, add garbanzos, and turn heat up to medium. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes; cook for an additional five minutes. Stir in fresh herbs, cooks for 2-3 more minutes, season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs.

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An Abundance of Gold

As has been well documented on this blog, I have a very generous, very large yellow pear tomato plant taking over my garden. (Never fear, however – we’ve been busy this week carving our two new garden plots.) The tomato plant has kicked into over drive this past week and I’ve been having trouble keeping up with its productivity. We’ve been eating tomato carpaccio just about every day and tossing tomatoes in every salad, but I had to find new ways of using the things. The first recipe listed below was inspired by a recipe that I have been wanting to try for some time now: the Golden Gazpacho on Freshtopia. I had to adapt it somewhat to accommodate my available ingredients (I did not have a lemon cucumber and the store in town only had sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, which I avoid in favor of the ones that come in packages and need to be re-hydrated in hot water) and to adjust it to my taste, and it turned out really very good.  I would still like to try the recipe as posted on Freshtopia because I think the sundried tomatoes would really make the gazpacho something special. The second recipe listed below- yellow tomato sauce – was one I made up on the spot the other night when Dan requested pasta for dinner. The sauce was delicious, and I served it with steamed vegetables.

Tomorrow we are off for a week of rest, relaxation, and adventuring on Kauai. There are some leftovers in the fridge that you can nibble on while we’re away 🙂 I look forward to catching up with everyone when we get back! Have a wonderful week!

Yellow Gazpacho

2 ½ cups yellow pear tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled
1 clove garlic
½ an avocado
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp agave
4 large basil leaves
Hot sauce, salt & pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar, chopped yellow tomatoes, chopped avocado, and basil leaves to garnish

Mix all ingredients tomatoes through basil in a food processor until your desired consistency is reached.  Taste and season with hot sauce, salt, and pepper.  Top serve, garnish with sliced tomatoes, avocado, and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Yellow Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups yellow pear tomatoes
¼ cup chopped basil
Salt and pepper to taste

1.    Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes.

2.    Use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes a bit.  Add salt and pepper.  Cook the sauce over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring e3very so often, until all of the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce a cooked down and thickened (it won’t thicken too much, but it will transition from watery to saucy consistency).

3.    Pour over the pasta of your choice, add vegetables, and enjoy!

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Tomato Carpaccio

This is not so much a recipe as it is an ode to my garden. I love my garden. After admiring the garden of a good friend last spring, I was surprised by him pulling up to my house one Saturday morning with some lumber, tools, and a pickup truck full of soil. A few short hours later I had my own raised garden bed.

Last go around, my garden yielded zucchinis, red peppers, snap peas, green bush beans, and cucumbers. For this winter garden I planted cilantro, yellow pear tomatoes, yellow peppers, zucchini, okra, butternut squash, and scallopini bush squash. While it’s been quite the bounty, I think I’ve been most pleased with the butternut squash production because at the store they run over $3/lb … and we all know how heavy those things are! (Are butternut squash that expensive everywhere or just on Maui?) I just made a batch of butternut squash bisque two nights ago with two squashes from the garden and the fresh taste converted butternut -hating Dan into a true believer. Sadly, we dove into the bisque so quickly that there was no photographic evidence to prove its existence … so, instead, I will share with you the first fruits of my unbelievably large tomato plant.


My tomato plant is heavy with tomatoes, but they are taking their sweet time ripening. Tonight yielded the first yellow tomatoes form the plant … five beautiful, yellow tomatoes. Small tomatoes. What does one do with five small tomatoes? In my case, I made tomato carpaccio. I sliced each of my little ‘maters into three or four thin slices, placed them on a plate drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and I lightly seasoned them with salt and pepper. Basil would have been a lovely finishing touch, but alas, I had none on hand. Enjoy – we sure did!


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