One common thing I hear all the time from people that don’t cook is “I don’t know what to do.” I don’t think its their fault because TV shows and recipe books have over complicated cooking for far too long. It’s not rocket science if you have good ingredients. If you don’t have good ingredients, then your food will be bland. Finding or growing the most flavorful ingredients is my form of cheating (much like wrapping things in bacon – only healthier).
A monkey could prepare this tomato salad, and this was one of the most delicious sides I’ve had in a while. In fact I had something just like this at a restaurant for way to much money. The key was the ingredients. Grown in good organic soil and picked at peak ripeness. The heirloom tomatoes were from my friends garden, and the basil and the yellow pear tomatoes were from my garden. If you can’t get veg from your garden, get it at a farmer’s market. This will only be as good as the tomatoes you use.
Recipe for 2 servings:
- 4-5 tomatoes (try a few varieties)
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar (you can also try flavored balsamics. The one I used was fig balsamic)
- Dice tomatoes. Pick basil leaves (finely dice if large). Add oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Done.
If you haven’t planted summer squash yet, get on it! These are one of my favorite veggies to grow because they are so easy to grow and each plant gives anywhere from 5-10 squash. I’ve been harvesting nonstop, and they grow fast. This plant is in my front yard raised bed.
Summer squash are very sweet, soft, but they last a long time. Everyone seems to plant zucchini, but they get too big, foul quickly, and are sometimes bitter. Summer squash are 10 times better in my opinion.
Some of the easiest greens to grow for me have always been kale, chard, and collard greens. Here is a yield from 2 young kale plants and one collard green plant. This was shot a month ago, and these plants are still pumping out more leaves. Never kill the whole plant when harvesting. Just keep picking the big ones, and the plant will live on to produce 10 times more. If you take care of it, you can get months of fresh greens in your backyard garden. Pick lettuce the same way.
I’ll post a kale recipe tomorrow.
My dad hooked me up with some really nice garlic he just picked from his garden. Freshly picked garlic is a whole new world of flavor. Picture what store bought garlic goes through before it reaches your house. First its probably grown in Fresno valley, then put into an open air truck bed and driven to a distribution center. It sits there for a while. Then it finally gets delivered to a store. Then it sits there again until you buy it. Since garlic keeps for a while, your probably buying really old garlic. With that said, freshly picked garlic is better. More flavor. More nutrients.
Plant your own. It’s super easy. Just plant the cloves a few inches apart, water, and wait 4-8 months. If you accidentally let garlic sprout, don’t throw it away – plant it. You can pick it early before it forms a bulb, and the flavor is amazing also.
After 3 weeks in my new greenhouse, my first lettuce harvest is big enough to start picking. My guava tree was about to break with these huge pink guavas, so I decided to combine forces to make a bomb salad. This salad dressing recipe is super easy to make, and you can adapt it to any combination of flavors you like. Try different fruits and vinegars. It also keeps for a while in the fridge, and if you make it in a jar you’ve got the perfect storage device.
Guava Salad Dressing:
- 3 Guavas (Can also make this with a few handfuls of raspberries)
- Juice of 1 orange
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- Cut guava into chunks and juice lime and orange
- Add the juice, vinegar, and water and blend. (I use an immersion blender, but you can use any blender or food processor)
- Strain out seeds
- Lightly dress salad and add dried fig (use dried cranberries if you don’t have figs)
- Serve with bruschetta (Bread with caramalized peppers and onions with cheese on top)
My first crop is finally sprouting in the greenhouse my dad helped me build. It’s a small 6×6 foot box made from recycled solar panel glass and wood he cut from local fallen pine (cut on his super sweet saw mill). I’m planting all my greens in waves, so I’ll have new harvest ready every week. This first batch has cress, mesclun salad mix, red oak lettuce, siberian kale, and butter crunch lettuce. I plan on eating most of these when they are young, and then replanting. It only makes sense to grow your own lettuce because it is ready for you to eat everyday – if you plant correctly. Stay tuned for some recipes, and maybe some plans to build your own box.
One of my favorite foods is roasted peppers, so I grow a bunch every summer. I had a good crop of padron, shishito, california, and Hungarian hot wax peppers, so I would pan sear them for a side dish or snack. All you have to do is sear them really high for about 5 minutes until they color, and then turn down the heat and cook them for another 10 minutes until they are flimsy. Then put a good amount of lime and salt and eat. I like to cook them whole with the stems and seeds because the sweetest part is the seed pod right under the stem.
When I came back from my trip last week, I found these massive zucchini’s growing in my garden. That’s a 13.5 inch knife. I don’t know what to do with them. A friend said I can hollow them out and stuff them like bell peppers, and someone else said make zucchini bread. Last time I picked one this big, I cut it into slabs lengthwise and put it on the BBQ just for fun. They took up the whole grill. Any suggestions? My dad said make a zucch-o-lantern for Holloween.
Collecting seed is an easy way to save money when you grow your own food. It is so simple with certain plants, and it is especially easy with basil. Just let a few plants go to seed, and shake the seeds out. This is some purple basil seed I just collected, and I’ll just replant it again in my greenhouse.
I love cilantro, so I always collect seed from a few plants to get some coriander (cilantro seeds are called coriander). Coriander is a very good spice, and all you have to do is pick the dried seeds, toast them a little to bring out the flavor, and use them however you like. Tons of recipes call for coriander. My purpose for collecting seed is mainly for replanting the next batch of cilantro. A few plants produced around 70 grams of seed.