Sunday, July 27, 2014

From Garden to Table: Greek Salad

Greek Salad, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, feta chese, kalamata olives, olive oil, fiestaware

    There is a planting box in my garden that is full of a variety of herbs, especially oregano.  Lots of oregano.  It has practically taken over the herb bed, and the bees love it - they flit in and out of my yard all day long, loving that oregano.  My first thought about how I would use this herb when I planted it was this Greek Salad.  The freshness of the herb gives this salad a bright summery taste!

This recipe is one I found here on the internet a very long time ago and I did not write down the source, but what I really liked about it is that, for the most part, it doesn't have any specific amounts of any of the ingredients.  It's unpretentious - just throw these things together and enjoy!

Greek Salad

3-4 tomatoes
1 cucumber
feta cheese
olive oil
kalamata olives

Cut the tomatoes, onion and cucumber in slices.  Mix them, add salt.  Add pieces of feta, oregano, olives, and at the end pour some olive oil.    That's it!   

oregano, fresh oregano, oregano growing, garden

Thanks for looking, and next week let's talk about art!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Garden: Mimicry and Camouflage

camoflauge spider, yellow spider, daffodil, spring
    This story really begins last spring; one day, I was sitting in my garden on a rare sunny day, sipping coffee, camera in my lap, looking, watching, waiting.  To my surprise, right next to me, I noticed a little yellow spider sitting in the soft ripples of a daffodil. 

Amazed by how its color was strikingly the same as that of the flower it sat within, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to photograph such a tiny creature. I tend to notice the small things in my garden, and I was sure that I had seen a light colored spider before, but I didn't realize that there was more to the story.

I had another spider encounter this past weekend, but this time it was the most surprising and delightful encounter with a spider I'd ever experienced!  

When I looked out the sliding glass door into my garden on Saturday, I saw that my favorite flower of all, the Star Gazer Lily, had its first bloom.  Of course I had to investigate, camera in hand.  As I was photographing this flower, I saw something inside it move, and I was shocked to see a spider that had the same exact coloration as the Star Gazer!  

Star Gazer Lily, Star Gazer Spider, white and pink spider, summer
Not only did these two spiders mimic the flowers they were sitting within, but they also resembled each other; they both have the same body type, with slight indentations on the top, and similar legs and faces.

Coincidentally, on Sunday I spotted a hummingbird in my garden while I was in the kitchen.  I quickly grabbed my camera, set it on burst mode at 1600 speed and began photographing it through the window.  Notice how the hummingbird has the ability to camouflage itself as it did here in Jimmy's still growing maple tree.  

Hummingbird, camouflage, maple tree, summer

What kinds of mimicry or camouflage have you seen in your part of the world?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekend Life

Hull USA Duck, Hydrangea

    Weekend Life is about slowing down.  Weekend Life is about less outside distraction.  Weekend Life is about small moments enjoyed.  If you're like me, you may not get many weekends like this.  Today I was reflecting on how rare it is around here when it's quiet and I'm not racing the clock, but rather letting it go, and realized I actually accomplished a few things.  For example, I had been waiting for the hydrangeas in my garden to bloom just so I could put one in this Hull USA duck planter.  

Then there were more blueberries in the garden that needed to be picked.    

blueberries, fiestaware

And I was able to spend a considerable amount of time in my studio working on scrapbook pages, and planning other projects.  

scrapbooking, Jillibean Soup, Crate Paper, Studio Calico, American Crafts cardstock, Fiscars scissors

Weekend Life.  Thanks for looking.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

From Garden to Table: Blueberry Kuchen

This Kuchen, or Quick Coffee Cake, is a recipe from my well worn copy of the "Joy Of Cooking" cookbook, and one I've been baking for quite a while.  It's quick because it does not involve yeast, yet it is a light cake that can be sweetened to your taste.  I've always chosen fresh fruit for the topping, and now that I have a garden, it makes perfect sense to use what I've grown.

kuchen, quick coffee cake, blueberry kuchen, blueberry coffee cake, quick white icing, shamrock fiestaware

This recipe calls for a 9 x 9-inch pan, however I have a favorite rectangular baking pan that is approximately 7 1/2" x 11" x 1", of which you can see roughly half of in the photo below.  The frosting is not part of the recipe, just an idea of Jimmy's that I thought was brilliant, and it too is from "Joy of Cooking".

kuchen, quick coffee cake, blueberries, blueberry coffee cake, quick white icing

I think it's safe to say that after three years, the blueberry bushes in my garden are now established.  This summer is the best yield thus far, and it makes me joyful to see so many fat plump berries just waiting to be picked. It's fun brainstorming ideas for how to prepare and eat them, and of course they are delicious right off the bush. 

blueberries, garden, kuchen, quick coffee cake, dessert

Here's the recipe for both the Kuchen and the Quick White Icing:
(I used my KitchenAid mixer for these.)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together:
  1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

Cream until soft in a large bowl:
  1/4 cup butter

Add gradually and cream until light:
  1/4 to to 1/2 cup sugar (I use honey instead of sugar - about 1/4 cup)

Beat in:
  1 egg
  2/3 cup milk (I have substituted soy or rice milk, and either works fine)

Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture.

  Either 3/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir the batter until smooth. Spread into a greased 9 x 9" pan. Cover with fresh fruits of your choice. Bake about 25 minutes. 

Quick White Icing

Yield: 1 cup which is more than enough for this lattice top - half this recipe will be just the right amount.

Cream together:
  2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  1/4 cup soft butter

Add and beat until smooth:
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  1 teaspoon vanilla
  3 to 4 tablespoons milk

If the icing is too thin, add more:
  Confectioner's sugar

If too thick, add:
  A little cream

What recipes do you enjoy making from the items in your garden?  

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