Something’s in my Garden/Pizza is a Girl’s Best Friend

Hi you guys!  How is Thursday going?  I thought I’d briefly sign on and post some pictures of my garden.  Hopefully someone can help me figure out what is eating my goodies.  So far, nothing has eaten my corn or the actual eggplant that is growing, but something or someone is nibbling off my squash and zucchini leaves, as well as parts of my eggplant plant.  Also, a few of my corn stalks and squash leaves are turning brown.  Any ideas?  I also got a close up of a cutie-pie grasshopper on my lettuce.  He (or she) seemed to be enjoying the sun.

Last night I had the house to myself and managed to get in a quick workout before picking up pizza from my favorite pizza place.  We never get it because their service can be hit-or-miss, but when I’m alone it is my go-to.  You have no idea how tasty this pizza is!  I got fried eggplant and roasted red peppers, and I was in heaven!  I honestly don’t know if it’s better hot and fresh or cold the next day.

This morning I took a much needed run through town and stopped to see the new tennis courts they put in.  I absolutely hate the colors, but they seem decent overall.  I threw in some agility on-court work to my workout to mix things up a bit.  I think I forgot how much I love being on a tennis court!  The run was was a good one, even though I wore my Vibram 5 Fingers.  I haven’t worn them all summer, and I’ve forgotten how they tear up the bottom of your feet when you’re breaking them in.  I didn’t want to wimp out just because I wore the wrong shoes though, so I still ran most of the way home.  Even with the banged-up feet, it felt good to get out and run!

Any ideas as to what’s in my garden?  Have you had any good take-out lately?  Was it better when you got it or the next day?

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See how some of the stems end in nubs and the leaves in the middle are turning brown?

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Why are my stalks turning brown?

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Can you see the eggplant nubs too?

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my Grasshopper buddy

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too good

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close-up

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Isn’t the red-green too circusy? I think it looks like they got a deal on paint.

Another Weekend in the Books

Hi everyone!  Hope you had a good weekend, or, if you’re in a later time zone, that you’re still enjoying it 🙂

We have a lot of birthdays in August in my house, and this weekend was another low-key celebratory weekend with lots of good food.

My town has a farmers’ market every Saturday morning throughout the summer (officially until Thanksgiving but there are some vendors that camp out all year), and we stocked up on local goodies.  I should remember to take pictures at the market to blog about, but in the meantime, the food I got at the market will have to do.

Friday night I made a Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella tomatoes from Whole Foods, which was really yummy, but doesn’t even compare to the Caprese salad I made tonight with the farmers’ market tomatoes.  I’ll label the pictures of both; let me know if you can see the difference too!

Along with Jersey tomatoes, we got some corn and some purple beans.  I took a lot of pictures of the purple beans, but they just photographed so well!  I tried to blanche them and shock them in ice water, but some of the gorgeous purple color still faded.  They taste just like green beans, and I can’t emphasize enough how fresh they were.

The beans went with a delicious chicken from Whole Foods, along with a yellow farmers’ market squash and the corn.

We also found purple potatoes at the farmers’ market yesterday.  The purple wasn’t supposed to be a theme, but like many times at farmers’ markets, you see what looks yummy and fresh and cook from there.  The potatoes went into rosemary roasted potatoes that my mom made to go with the brats we had for dinner.  The rosemary was from the garden, the brats were brought back in a cooler from Wisconsin last week.

Tonight we also roasted a pattypan squash that we got at the market just to see what it was like, and it was delicious!  Along with a sauteed onion, I think covers all the local and delicious food from this weekend.  Bear with all of my purple produce pictures, and enjoy the picture of tonight’s supermoon, if you can make it out between the trees and the blurriness.

What did you eat this weekend?  What were your favorites?

 

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Caprese salad with mozzarella and tomatoes from Whole Foods

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sweet farmers’ market corn

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washed purple beans

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washed purple bean close-up

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purple beans without stems

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Extra-vibrant purple bean close-up. No photoshopping, the beans just get more vibrant and colorful wet.

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purple beans in the pot

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purple beans in the pot close-up

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sooner-than-expected ice bath to save the color

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All done! A little purple, a little green, a lot delicious!

 

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Perfectly roasted.

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My plate. Squash, roasted garlic, chicken, beans, and corn.

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washed purple potatoes

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washed and quartered

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garlic and garden rosemary close-up

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purple potatoes with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary

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Jersey beefsteaks and the pattypan squash

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cutting in

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I think it looks like a lemon cut like this.

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ready to roast

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beefsteak close-up

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tomatoes zoomed out. love the thick slices!

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farmers’ market Caprese close-up. Mozzarella still from Whole Foods. Basil from my garden.

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Brats ready to go.

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My plate: roasted purple potatoes and pattypan squash, sauteed onions, and my brat.

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the Supermoon

Road Trip Recap and a Garden Update

Hey everyone!  It’s been a busy week!  Since I posted about my new ice cream toy, I was on an adventure!  Last week I went on an epic cross-country road trip {no big deal, just seven states in eight days}.  I didn’t do any cooking, but I do have pictures of deliciousness from the Midwest.  Possibly even better than the food I ate out and about is how much my veggie garden grew by the time I came home!  I did a lot of driving last week, and it really was a treat to come home to things growing on my plants that actually vaguely resembled real vegetables.  That’s never happened for me before!

Saturday morning we left butt-early {that is the technical term for any time before the sun is up} and drove through Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana before stopping in Illinois outside of Chicago and stumbling into a neighborhood Jimmy Buffet party.  Our home base in the Midwest was with family in Illinois, but there were smaller day trips to Wisconsin and an overnight in Minneapolis.  Lots of driving!  It was really good to see family and friends that I don’t get to see as often as I’d like!

I saw my first in-person skunks and almost got skunked for the first time.  Seeing the tail end of a skunk is a scary sight!  I played the bean bag toss game for the first time – and lost every game I played, but had a lot of fun!  I also ate an insane amount of cheese and ice cream, and loved every minute of it!  I ate some pie, and some Kringle {I think it’s a southern Wisconsin thing – it’s a filled pastry that they heat up and butter!}, which was really good.

I also finally got to pet a cow!  It’s been a while, and I don’t know what exactly it is about them that I love, but I think cows are the ultimate cute.  Not only was the farmer at the random farm we stopped at nice enough to take me to the calf barn, but even took a calf out of its stall so I could pet it and take pictures.  I’ve never had a calf suck my fingers before, but it was the best.  In the least weird way, I just think they’re super calm animals, and I love the mooing.

Minneapolis was cool in its own chill way.  I was just there for an overnight, so I didn’t get to explore as much as I would like, but from my walk to the Mississippi River from the hotel, it looks like they have an awesome library and Whole Foods, and a shared bike system (think Bixi for the Montrealers, or Citibike for NYC).  All super-neat!

I also met some players from Manchester United who were staying at the same hotel.  We happened to be working out at the hotel gym at the same time.  Not only were they tall and gorgeous – with British accents – but they were truly the nicest guys and stopped to talk to me even when it was obvious that I am the Soccer Ignoramus.  I don’t have pictures of them because I didn’t want to rudely fangirl when I clearly had to ask to know who they were, but they definitely made a new fan for their team.

Hours and hours and many states later, back in Jersey the veggies have grown!  The corn was getting tall before I left, but when I came back, the ears had started to resemble something I might actually want to eat.  The eggplant got bigger, and the eggplant plants got bigger, and the squash/zucchini has spread out everywhere.  It’s truly amazing!  I’m amazed, at least, because nothing has grown this well before in our rocky claylike soil.

I spent a good part of Sunday afternoon weeding, even though it was too hot to wear my new farming overalls from Wisconsin {I’m just as excited about those as I am about the cows}, and it was strangely relaxing.  What kind of weeds do you have in your garden?  I don’t know the names, but aside from the clover, which is obvious and I actually kind of like to look at, all the weeds are so small that they’re more of a pain to pull out than they would be if they were a little bit bigger.

I went to a vegetable garden demonstration in town about a month ago, and the woman whose garden it was suggested using grass clippings as mulch around your veggies.  It’s supposed to cut down on weeding and watering because it holds moisture in.  I still water every day, because I’m confused as to how the grass can keep the water in but not also keep it out, but I’d like to think that I have fewer weeds than before.  I also like the fact that as the grass decomposes, it will continue to fertilize the veggies and make the soil more habitable.

How is everyone’s summer going?  I’m sad at how quickly it’s disappearing and that we haven’t had a heatwave yet.  It hasn’t felt properly summery!  Most of August still stretches before us though, and I plan on laying low, but what are your plans?  I want to hear about your getaways and your staycations!  Stay cool and keep me posted 🙂

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real Wisconsin ice cream – Round One

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a tuna melt with Cheddar cheese on a pretzel bun!

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grilled cheese with tomato and corn

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Wisconsin ducks

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I finally got to play with the cows!

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finger-sucking

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more calf love

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Wisconsin ice cream from a gas station. I would judge me too if it wasn’t so good!

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giant mouse on the way to Minnesota

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giant orange moose on the way to Minnesota

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the Mississippi River as seen from Minneapolis

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mini grilled cheese and tomato soup!

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mini desserts!

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Ice cream from the Babcock Dairy. Some of my favorite ice cream in the world!

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Cows from the highway.  They’re kind of far, but I just think they’re so cute!

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Camomile flowers

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Remarkably tall corn with tassels and ears!  The ones in back are about 6′ tall now.

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close-up of the ears

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My lone eggplant. Maybe three inches long, but it’s going to taste so good!

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The squash. I’m not sure if it’s going to produce anything, but it’s definitely spreading out and growing, which makes me happy.

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omelette with fresh basil from the garden

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baby ducks down the shore in NJ, but so cute I had to share

More Corn, and a Weekend Update

Hey you guys!  How was your weekend?  A lot has been going on over here lately.  I’m still in the process of moving out of my apartment, and weighing the pros and cons of moving my furniture home.  As in, I love it all, but it’s also all IKEA furniture, so is it worth the schlepp?  Anyone in Montreal need a bed/futon/dresser/etc?  Let’s talk please. {Seriously, it’s all in really good condition…}  I also have a bunch of Montreal foodie pictures that I have to share with you guys in another post before I leave the city for the foreseeable future, so stay tuned on the Montreal front!

Anyway, being back in NJ means more time for corn.  The second batch of corn went in Friday night.  These are from a different plant store, where they had blue corn and white corn.  The blue corn is a little bigger than the first batch of white corn was when it got planted, and the new batch of white corn is absolutely gigantic!  You know the saying, “knee high by the 4th of July?”  These guys are about a month early.  The nursery where I got them must have one serious greenhouse! {Sidenote, I just Googled that phrase, to make sure it’s actually a saying you might know, and not just something my family says, and found this neat article on Bon Apetit.  Yes, I just said neat.  And seeing how well the real farmed corn is doing, I’m getting some serious corn envy.  Maybe this will be the year it finally gets taller than me!}

I’m hoping both sets of new corn all settles in well with the first batch that was planted about ten days ago.  The first batch of corn is still smallish, but dark green and growing, whereas the new corn is huge, with some definitely yellow leaves.  Hopefully this morning’s constant downpour will help it out.  Planting the new corn also gave me an excuse to try an build up a mini-retaining wall.  I bordered the planting bed with rocks in a hopefully-not-futile effort to keep some of the good compost, nutrients, and water from all sliding downhill.  We’ll see how it goes.  Either way, the definition it gives the garden is quite pretty!

This weekend was great, with a trip down the shore for a double birthday party.  I was able to squeeze in a late night trip to the Boardwalk for Kohr’s ice cream, and the ocean has finally warmed up to above arctic temperatures.  The waves were calm and it was amazingly gorgeous.  I’m afraid the summer is going to fly by in an instant, so I’m really trying to make the most of it this year.

In the meantime, here are some corny corn pictures, plus a few weekend food/fun pictures thrown in.  Are any of you growing corn?  I’d love to hear about it!

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New white corn on the left. Blue corn on the right.

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Definitely already knee-high.

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Nocturnal planting, again. Thank God for flood lights!

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First big drink.

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Water droplets hanging on.

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Finally a shot in daylight. The blue are in the far back, and the big ones are the new white stalks. The smaller, greener ones, are the older white stalks.

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Birthday cupcake tower. I didn’t bake any, just helped arrange them on the cupcake tower. Four kinds – vanilla cake w/ vanilla frosting, vanilla cake w/ chocolate frosting, chocolate cake w/ vanilla frosting, chocolate cake w/ chocolate frosting! Had to try all four!

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The view at the gorgeous shore!

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New donut place opened up dts (down the shore), had to try it. Props and big thanks to the people who saved me a donut even though I arrived hours after breakfast 🙂 PS it was delicious!

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Half vanilla-half chocolate swirl with rainbow sprinkles. Nothing beats it. Somehow even sprinkles are better on the Boardwalk. Maybe it’s the salt air…

Corn’s In, Finally!

Hey you guys!  Happy Friday!!  Seriously, I think the best part of three-day weekends that end on a Monday are the four-day weeks that follow.

I just wanted to say that my corn is planted, finally.  It sat in the sad little black plastic seedling things for a week until I finally got around to it.  Not optimal, but it’s finally in.  I don’t think I’m doing a full-blown garden this year, not that I usually do.  I’m not into gardening for the sake of gardening, but I do like trying to grow some veggies and live a bit more sustainably.  Plus, the planting process is when you realize why you’ve been hoarding food scraps all winter and keeping a compost bin.  It really is like black gold!!

Where I live, the soil is pretty crappy.  It’s basically thick clay with a whole bunch of rocks, which means good compost or topsoil is essential to growing anything.  I like to use my home-grown compost since I know exactly what’s in it, it’s already in my own backyard, and you can’t get much better than free.  I know it’s not organic unless it’s made with only organic food scraps, but hopefully as I transition to eating more organically, my compost will end up being fully organic.  If not, I tell myself that at least I’m not producing more CO2 by driving to the dirt store and schlepping it home.

However you get your dirt, I think there’s just something fun about growing your own food, and I wanted to share it all with you guys.  Right now there’s not much to look at, but maybe there will be more in the next week or so.  More corn, tomatoes, who knows?  Have you had any experience with blue corn and white corn planted close together?  I just put down white but I would love to try blue!  The deer and other four-leggeds tend to devour anything leafy, but I would love some more herbs {I have some parsley, basil, chives, oregano, and for the first time – chamomile – chilling in some window boxes, but I would love to add some rosemary.}, or maybe some red peppers or eggplant?  Dream big, right?

In the mean time, weeds are pulled, compost has been hauled to the planting beds {I should put down more but it’s a start}, the plants are watered, and life is good.  Do you have any garden plans for the summer?  Am I totally late to the game and you guys have had plants in for weeks already?  Let me know and I’ll keep you posted on my garden 🙂

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the bed after being tilled. big improvement from before already!!

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twilight planting. Corn is in!

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first big drink. they’re thirsty!

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All tucked in for the night! Hopefully deer-deterrent chicken wire.

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They made it through the night!