Friday, August 26, 2011

Where did my garden go?

 Over a month of temperatures in the 90's and no rain to amount to anything and my poor garden is a parched wasteland. 

The jalapenos did produce like mad until the past week.  I managed to make 8 half pints of jalapeno jelly and 5 half pints of pepper relish from the production of just four plants stuck in a bag of composted manure.

The tomatoes came on strong then the fruit got smaller and smaller.  I still have green tomatoes on the plants but they are about golf ball size.  And the plants are drying out.  All told we only canned 4 pints of salsa.
This flower is the one of the best reasons to grow okra.
 The okra is about 4 feet high and if I don't check everyday we find one the size of a banana.  We pickled two pints of okra, which is selling in the store for almost $5.  And the seed was saved from last year.  So I have no investment in the okra other than space and it has given me both gorgeous plants, lovely flowers and lots of tasty little green pods which we have steamed, stewed, fried and sauteed.
Another lovely okra blossom

 Among the tomatoes that I had started from seed was a cucumber plant.  The seed just hitchhiked in when I was setting out the little seedlings.  This plant has managed to get into everything and produce nothing until last week.  We found an almost perfect 6" cucumber lurking under the base. 

I had done 4 successive green bean plantings.  The first and second produced well. The third and fourth were flops.  The first planting is still setting beans but the dry weather hasn't been doing them any favors.

I lost all my squash and the majority of my cucumbers to squash bugs and blight.  The squash bugs were fierce this year.

The Swiss chard is puny but still going.  Hopefully we can cut that into the frost.
The sneaky cucumber

Tonight I am cooking pinto beans and cornbread, a recipe I got from Ree Drummond's website  Pioneer Woman.  She will have her own show on Food Network starting this weekend!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's 90 Degrees so of Course I'm making Bolognese

I am indulging in my favorite Saturday afternoon activity - cooking and watching cooking shows while I cook with a glass of wine in my hand.  I have been canning the meager bounty of our garden (shouldn't complain, last year we got squat) but this is different.  This is my very favorite meat sauce for pasta.  And it only gets better with reheats.

This is not a quick recipe.  This takes 3-4 hours to do correctly.  Longer if you double because the cooking times just double as well.

                         Classic  Bolognese Sauce

  4        tablespoons  unsalted butter
     1/2        medium  onion -- diced
  1              small  carrot -- diced
  1              stalk  celery -- diced
     1/4         pound  ground beef chuck
     1/4         pound  ground veal
     1/4         pound  ground pork
  1               cups  whole milk
  1               cups  dry white wine
  28            Ounces  whole tomatoes with juice -- milled or crushed

Mince celery, onion, carrot and garlic in food processor until a coarse paste.

Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute until  browned, about 20 minutes. Add ground meat and 1/2 teaspoon salt; crumble meat into tiny pieces with edge of wooden spoon. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, until  browned, about 20 minutes.

Add milk and bring to a heavy simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 15 to 25 minutes.

Add wine and bring to a heavy simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 15 to 25 minutes longer.

Add the crushed tomatoes and their juice and  bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with occasional bubble or two at surface,  about 3-4 hours.  Add additional water as needed during cooking.  Adjust seasonings with salt to taste.

Last week we canned salsa (5 pints), pickled Okra (2 pints) and Jalapeno Jelly (8 half-pints).  Jalapenos are still producing so I think I'll make jalapeno relish.  That should wrap up our hot and spicy needs for the winter.

I tried to take a picture of my bolognese but the camera lens fogged.