Tag Archives: tomatoes

The Survivors

2 Aug

As you are all aware, I planted my first veggie garden and started this blog on the same day in mid-June. Now, about a month and a half later, it’s about time for an update on how the garden has survived.

Here's the blossom on the eggplant. I'm hoping that this means we'll have some eggplant soon.

First off, planting in June is not really something that you should do. I think that for most of the plants that I selected, March would have been the ideal time. I’ll admit that a few items immediately committed suicide – including the strawberries and most of the herbs. They were dead within a week of planting. The two squash plants survived quite a while (one even produced blossoms) but they too succumbed to the overwhelming heat.

Fortunately for me, we’ve had quite a bit of rain, and temperatures that have been a little cooler than last summer, so some of the veggies have actually done quite well.

The tomato plant has been producing lots of tomatoes even though the leaves look quite unhealthy.

The survivors include the tomatoes. Though they looked rather peeked when planted, have lived and produced lots of small tomatoes for us to eat. They’ve actually been delicious. Oddly, the leaves have continued to look half dead, but the plant has given tomatoes very consistently (maybe 5 – 6 per week at the most – 3 this week).

The okra (yes, I planted okra) and eggplant have certainly been the most successful of the bunch. Both of the plants are now giant – the okra leaves are broad and flat and the largest ones are now about 16 inches across. They haven’t produced any actual okra yet, but I think that we may be getting some soon.

I'm not sure how big okra plants usually get, but the widest of the leaves on this one are about 16 inches across.

The eggplant has shown some promise this week by growing two pretty blossoms. It’s also gotten fairly large with its largest leaves being about 10 inches long. Do the blossoms mean that eggplants are soon to follow? I suppose that it remains to be seen.

Exciting news is that it’s almost time to plant the fall garden. I’ll probably start in about two weeks, but I’ve already selected a few new veggies that I want to try:

Brussels Sprouts

Cucumbers

Kale

Peas

Spinach

I’ll also add one or two other items depending on what’s available when I go to the store to buy my veggies.

Currently, my biggest debate is whether or not to start from seeds or from small plants. I’ll probably go with small plants, but that also depends on availability.

The “Secret” of Spaghetti Squash

8 Jul

It seems that there are two types of people in this world – those who are more than familiar with the idea of spaghetti squash and think it’s a pretty normal thing, and those who have no idea
what you’re talking about when you use the term “spaghetti squash.” You can tell you’re talking to the second type when you have a conversation like this:
“What are you eating?”
“Spaghetti Squash.”
“huh…” they smile awkwardly, look at the dish, which does not appear to contain squash, and then walk away thinking “maybe there was some squash mixed in with that pasta.”

I was one of the people who didn’t know about spaghetti squash for quite a while – I think I first tried it about 2 years ago.

For others who were not in on the secret, spaghetti squash is a type of squash that, once
cooked, comes out of its shell in very nice thin strings – similar to spaghetti pasta. It makes a great pasta substitute, and can be eaten in much the same way that you eat spaghetti.
Here’s the best part – it’s easy to make and healthier than eating regular pasta. It’s not exactly super-food, but take a look at the nutrition facts and you’ll see that it’s probably better than pasta unless you’re intentionally carb loading. Here’s a basic recipe that I’ve used a few times.

1 Spaghetti Squash
About 4 – 5 Tablespoons Water
4-5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 – 2 Tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
4-5 Leaves of Fresh Basil, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350.

This first step is the most difficult, after that, it’s easy – you have to cut the squash in half length-ways. This can be tricky since it’s pretty big and hard-shelled. Just get a good knife, plunge it into the middle, and slowly work your way through –careful not to cut yourself with the knife!

Scoop out & discard the seeds from the inside of the squash. At this point, you will see nothing that even vaguely resembles spaghetti except for the seed & strings that you’re scooping out – that’s ok.

Get a baking sheet with edges on it, and put a tiny bit of water in it – just enough to create a small layer in the bottom of the sheet.

Put the squash, cut side down, onto the sheet with the water and pop them in the oven.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes – the squash is ready when a sharp knife pierces the skin pretty easily.

Let the squash cool a little, then, when it’s cool enough to handle, hold it in one hand so that you’re looking at the cut side. You will still see no spaghetti-looking bits.

Get a fork, poke it into the “meat” of the squash at one end, and run the fork all the way down to the other end of the squash – NOW you’ll see that as it comes out, the squash looks like spaghetti.

When the squash is finished cooking and you run a fork through the "meat", it will come out as strings of spaghetti.

Use the fork to get all of the meat out of both sides of the squash and place in a bowl.
At this point, you can do just about anything with the squash. I prefer to keep it pretty simple – pour a few glugs of olive oil on it, and toss with garlic, basil, and tomato pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste. I’ve also heard that it’s great with Alfredo sauce – I imagine that there are quite a few options.

Enjoy!

Sprouts

14 Jun

Today is the first day of “Deliciously Austin,” a blog devoted to experiencing food in every way possible – growing it, cooking it, ordering it, but, most importantly, eating it.

My name is Ashley, and I live in Austin, Texas, where I’m constantly experimenting with new recipes, eating at as many new restaurants as I can, and, now, growing a vegetable garden.

This weekend, I finally planted my first vegetable garden. I say “finally” because it’s taken about three months to prepare the beds to plant (including removing grass that was growing in that area). I looked at quite a few websites to find out how exactly to go about planting my garden. Hands down, the best resource I found was Texas A&M’s AriLife Extension website. They offer several page reports on how, where and when to grow just about everything that grows in Texas. Based on their advice, I’m planning my garden for the fall & spring.

This is my new oregano plant, which was planted this weekend with several other herbs and veggies.

Unfortunately, after I had done the recommend soil test, created the raised beds, etc, it was already pretty late in the season to plant much. If you’re trying to start a garden, now is not really the time to do it – I believe that March or April is more appropriate, but I’m doing what I can. The nice people at the Great Outdoors did point me in the right direction for the vegetables that I could grow during the hot Texas summer. For the moment, I’m experimenting with what they recommended – I now have a lemon plant, some tomatoes, several herbs and spices, squash, okra, strawberries and eggplant growing in my garden.

Since it’s the beginning of my garden, it seems fitting that it should also be the beginning of Deliciously Austin. I’ve been tossing around the idea for a while, but am just now getting up the nerve to post my first entry. I’m certainly not a food “expert,” but like many people, I love good food and I love to try new things with food. One of my favorite ways to learn about new recipes and ideas is to read other people’s blogs. That being the case, I thought it was about time that I too started sharing what I learned while cooking and eating.

I hope you enjoy reading and come back to see me soon. Happy eating!