Monthly Archives: August 2013

Easy Quinoa Peach Crisp

Peaches are in season! Peaches are a wonderful addition to this twist on an old favorite, peach crisp. Quinoa (keen-wah) is a whole grain you will want to include in your healthy diet. It is delicious and nutritious. Some even call it a super food! It is one of my new favorite foods and hopefully will be one of yours too!

• 3 cans (16 ounces each) peaches, drained and sliced (or use fresh)
• 1/3 cup margarine
• 1/3 cup flour
• 1 cup uncooked quinoa
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray and arrange peaches on bottom.
2. Melt margarine in a small glass dish in microwave for 45 seconds.
3. Mix flour, quinoa, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
4. Add margarine and mix until crumbly.
5. Sprinkle mixture over peaches.
6. Microwave uncovered for 7 to 8 minutes.

Garlic Trial Results: Final Thoughts

We wrapped up our “Year of Garlic” in the Demo Garden this morning with a tasting of all the different varieties and a chance to observe the size of the cloves, the number of cloves, and the size of the bulbs. I had also made some observations earlier to record.

I roasted two heads of each variety of garlic, which we then tried on pieces of French bread. (I roasted the garlic by separating the cloves, trimming off the bottom of each, then tossing them in olive oil and wrapping them in foil packets. I roasted them in the oven for 45 minutes at 350. This method was supposed to be less mess than roasting a whole head and squeezing it out. Not so much, at least for some of the varieties.

Here are my final thoughts and comments on all the different varieties. (Any recommendations are still cautionary, because we only tried them in our garden situation and only this year. There may be different results in different years or in different locations.) If you want to get a look at pictures of all the varieties, go here.

Top Performers (Highly Recommended for Planting)

Maiskij – This was the earliest variety that was very healthy and impressive all along. The bulbs were huge and the cloves were medium-large, with about 15 cloves per head.

Music – This variety was later to mature, but was also very healthy all along. The bulbs were very large and the cloves were also large to very large. There were only 9 cloves on the head I opened, but they were all big and peeled easily.

Purple Glazer – This variety was donated to the trial by one of our Master Gardeners than grows it every year. It was a winner! The bulbs weren’t as big as the other two, but they were nice sized and the cloves were large to very large. There were 9-10 cloves per head again here.

Good Performers (Recommended for Planting)

Ajo Rojo – This garlic was also earlier maturing with large bulbs. It only had medium to large cloves, with 12 cloves per bulb. I really like this variety, but I didn’t feel like it held up as well to storage as some of the others.

Chesnok Red – Another variety with nice sized bulbs and cloves. The cloves were large with 9-10 per bulb. I’m not sure why this one is not in the “Top Performers” category. I think I just generally felt the plants weren’t quite as vigorous and the bulbs weren’t quite as uniformly nice. Still a really nice variety.

Mediocre Performers (Might be Worth Another Try)

Killarney Red – This variety had nice sized bulbs, large cloves, 12 cloves per bulb and was very similar to Music and Chesnok Red. Main reason it is in this group is that I felt like the survival rate might not have been quite as good after planting, and I threw away half a dozen bulbs when I took them down last week. Still, I know this variety wasn’t quite as dry when we harvested it, so I would want to try it again before calling it a definite bust.

Sonoran – This variety just never stood out. I don’t remember anything particularly great about it or anything bad. It had nice sized but slightly smaller bulbs, the cloves were medium sized, and there were 10 cloves per bulb.

Inchelium Red – This is one of the softnecks, and I guess I rated it here just because I don’t like it. It had large bulbs, but with 15 cloves per bulb, the cloves were a little smaller. This is supposed to be the middle of the road mild flavored garlic. Maybe that’s why I call it mediocre?

Persian Star – I originally put Persian Star in the “Poor” category, but upgraded it after further consideration. The bulbs were medium sized, the cloves were medium sized, and there were 10 cloves per bulb. This one also lost several bulbs in storage, so I guess that’s why I thought it deserved another chance. That and it is such a beautiful purple!

S & H Silver – This is the other softneck and probably the most similar to what you would find in the grocery store. The bulbs were fairly small and the cloves were small and numerous (18 per bulb). I really dislike small cloves, so for me this is not a great variety. Still, it did relatively well and I can see that some people might want to plant it.

Poor Performers (Probably Not Worth Another Try)

Ferganskij – This variety had poor germination and growth last fall, which continued all season. The bulbs, not surprisingly were small. The cloves were medium sized, with 12 cloves per head. There seemed to be many better choices.

Siberian – This variety was probably the poorest performer of all of them, with poor germination, poor growth, small plants, and small bulbs.  Surprisingly, the cloves were large, and there were 8-9 cloves per bulb. We also lost some in storage. The final bulbs were pretty nice, there were just only a few of them by the time it was all said and done!

How To Tell if a Trellised Watermelon is Ripe

After my post last week about harvesting and tasting a couple of melons, I emailed with a reader who was wondering how to tell if her trellised watermelons were ripe and ready to pick.

The real challenge is that the typical “first sign” is to look for the yellow spot on the bottom where it is sitting on the ground…except that there is no spot on trellised melons! The next guideline (which can vary with variety) is to look for the tendril closest to the melon to see if it is dying and drying to brown. The other guideline is to feel the rind for “sugar bumps,” tiny bumps that develop when there is a high sugar concentration, signalling ripeness.

Now in my book, the yellow spot is most reliable, and the options become increasingly unreliable. Sugar bumps? Really? Of course, lots of people use the “thumping” method, but that isn’t very reliable either. I think some people are better at it than others, but you still sometimes get a dud.

Anyway, long story short, I decided to go out and take a look at the vine to see if there was any sign of the tendrils browning – either where we had picked a couple melons earlier this week or next to some of the other melons on the vine. And what do you know? There were brown tendrils!

So now the next step is to correlate the brown tendrils with actual ripe, tasty watermelons.

UPDATE: I picked 3 watermelons on Friday that we tried at the Saturday Sampler this weekend. One was actually overripe and decaying, (which I thought had a still green tendril, but maybe not…) The one that had a fully dried tendril was perfect, and the one that was still drying down was good, but not as good as the other one. So in this case, the tendrils are a good guide!

Friday PhotoEssay

I have so many great pictures from this week that I feel like I need to do two or three PhotoEssays. Or perhaps I should just plan to write a couple more posts for next week? That might be a plan…especially since I’ve been struggling to get something posted on Mondays this year.

Here’s the whole garden picture from this week, but from the other side of the garden today. The trellis and sweet potatoes are really impressive, but the tomatoes are equally crazy!

It is starting to feel a little bit like a tropical rainforest around here, and some of the plants are clearly thriving in this weather. Some of the begonias are just lush and this zucchini plant has HUGE leaves and flowers. (The white/silver you see on the leaves is just natural coloration for this variety, not powdery mildew.)

We had the hardest time getting the cucumber vine started on the trellis this spring when there wasn’t much moisture. After replanting multiple times, we finally had one seed germinate, and it is just now producing. It is one of the ‘Salt & Pepper’ Cucumbers that we had last year.

After having caterpillars munching on herbs for the last several weeks, it looks like we’re starting to see some butterflies!

We turned the soil in this bed again to keep working in the remnants of the crazy buckwheat. It looks much cleaner after that second turning.

I was busy roasting garlic yesterday so we could taste test it all next week, and I thought I’d take a picture of one of the elephant garlic bulbs and one of the larger regular garlic bulbs. Quite a difference! (In my opinion, the Elephant Garlic doesn’t taste very good roasted either. Maybe it just isn’t garlick-y enough?)

Hmm…this ‘Rosa Bianca’ eggplant seems to be more purple than rose. I wonder if the color is an effect of the cooler night temperatures? It’s certainly pretty, and I’m sure there is no effect on the edibility. It’s just interesting that the colors are so much more vibrant all of a sudden. The ones I picked at the beginning of the week were almost white.

Have a great weekend!

Squash Blossom Frittata with Garden Vegetables

SBlossom Fritta
Serves 6
2 small zucchini diced
1 large onion diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2-3 stalks of Swiss chard or other greens
6 eggs
¼ cup low-fat 1% milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 squash blossoms
1 cherry tomato for garnish
Cooking spray
In a deep dish 9” pie pan, layer the zucchini, onion, green pepper and tomato. In a bowl, add the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and garlic. Blend until everything is mixed well. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Carefully cut the squash blossoms on one side without cutting through the entire flower. Open flowers and arrange on top of dish in a circular pattern. Add cherry tomato in the center for garnish. Bake at 350˚F, for 50-60 minutes, or until center is set. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into it. Serve with fresh fruit and crusty whole grain bread.