Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I mentioned in an earlier posting that I had a neighbor who had plethora of fruits growing in her tiny little Minneapolis yard. Here's an example:
Tonight I finally got to pick some of the plums that have finally ripened. (Have I happened to mention that this is a very slow year?) Anyway, so in about 15 minutes, I managed to clean off about 6 branches -- a tiny dent when you consider the size of the tree. And yet, that dent resulted in 12.5 POUNDS = 235 individual plums!! That's a lot of fruit.

My fiancee and I have already planned to make some Plum Leather (easy and people enjoy it as a healthy snack), and I'll probaby make a cobbler or two using the recipe provided in an earlier blog....likely something on the lines of Plum/Apple. (One of these I will give back to my neighbor for being so kind and sharing.)

We are also considering making plum butter and jam -- both are great as gifts and can easily be stored long-term. I'm currently on the search for good recipes that we can use -- any suggestions/recommendations are appreciated.
The following recipe I have seen referenced on multiple other sites. It's for a plum chutney and sounds tasty enough to give a "go".

Here's the recipe as provided at:
This recipe is from Delia Smith.

  • 3lb plums
  • 1lb apples
  • 3 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 heaped tsp ginger
  • 1lb seedless raisins
  • 1lb soft dark sugar
  • 1lb Demerara sugar
  • 1 pint vinegar (recipe says malt I used cider)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1oz allspice berries
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • large non-reactive pan
  • 6 jars
Note: you can adapt the spices to a mix of your favourites but you need roughly the same quantity, for example I had a smoked chilli in mine, and coriander because I like them.
Put the spices in a muslin square and tie it tightly with string. Stone the plums, finely chop the apples (cored but leave on the skins), finely chop the onions and put them all in a large pan. Crush the garlic and add it, the raisins, ginger, sugars and vinegar to the pan. Sprinkle in the salt and stir well.Suspend the whole spices in their ‘bag’ into the pan and tie to the handle for easy removal later. Bring to the boil and then simmer pour about 3 hours until the vinegar has almost disappeared and you have a thick, soft chutney. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Sterilise the jars and fill whilst both they and the chutney are still warm.L eave to mature in a cool place for a minimum of 3 months.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Potato, Leek, and Carrot Soup

An extremely easy, delicious late summer meal. This is my favorite soup recipe and perfect for this time of year as all three ingredients are ready to harvest or available at your farmers' market.

4-5 potatoes, cubed
2 large carrots, diced
3 large leeks, sliced
3 T butter or olive oil (I actually use 1 1/2 T of each)

Heat the butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add enough water just to cover the vegetables. Increase heat until water begins to boil, then decrease and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More Giving

A cabbage, a couple of squash, some peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and carrots for one family - now multiply that by a thousand!  We're seeing so many Giving Gardens in the news.  They're springing up all over the country - and there's plenty of room for more!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Beautiful Garden

I love these flowers, and so do the bees. Not only are the flowers beautiful, they are beneficial, too.

Bees are one of the best way to pollinate your garden, and flowers are the perfect attractor for bees. A bee's diet consists of nectar (carbs) and pollen (protein & fat) - sounds a lot like our diet, except our version of nectar and pollen is apple juice and peanut butter sandwiches.
Plant a variety of flowers and veggies that will bloom at different times throughout the growing season to offer the bees and other pollinating insects, like butterflies, a constant supply of food.
Aim to plant flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors. Bees are particularly drawn towards native plants and herbs. Plant the flowers in clusters, like you see in the beautiful photo of Cosmos Susan took early last Thursday morning. Other great flower options are Aster, Caltrop, Goldenrod, Lupine, Purple Coneflower and Rhododendron.
Not only will the bees thank you, but your garden will be beautiful and bounteous!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You say (green) tomato.....I say tasty treats

This summer hasn't been the most usual -- then again, is any summer typical when you live in Minnesota? This is one of those summers that although very lovely -- with nary a day when an air conditioner or fan needed to be used -- hasn't been the greatest for the summer harvest. Cool nights and very little rain -- it's been a challenge.

For anyone new to sustainable gardening, you might be a little less enthusiastic if your harvesting dreams are not coming to fruition as you had hoped. But fear not....unripe vegetables don't have to remain unripe and not all summers will be as cool as this.

In my own garden, which doesn't get nearly the hours of sunlight as the Giving Garden, I am now in a position of having a lot of green tomatoes. Usually by this time of year I've had so many red, yellow, orange, and "black" tomatoes (I am a fan of the heirloom), that I don't mind when the 'coons and squirrels sneak the occasional few. This summer, however, the only bounty of ripe tomatoes that I am receiving are from my cherry tomato plants. So, now I am on a quest to find things to do with softball sized green tomatoes.

Of course, I could ripen them in my cellar (and some I still will) or make "fried green tomatoes", but I was looking for something new. In my search, I came upon another blog that provided a very good recipe and some interesting commentary on green tomatoes. Check this out....and hopefully it will raise new hopes for the possibilities of your harvest!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Volunteer Squash

Our volunteer gardeners are getting a helping hand from a volunteer squash plant. Last year the squash was planted on the end of the garden by the corn. This year our most gorgeous squash plant planted itself just outside the garden next to the storage bin.