Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake:
An Easy 4th of July Dessert Recipe

Take a Break and Have Some Cake!

Remember that orange yogurt cake I served up for breakfast alongside a pile of freshly picked strawberries from the garden a few weeks back?

Well I've been tinkering with the recipe and am now perfectly pleased with the results. This is the kind of easy cake recipe I love to have in my collection, and I know I'll be turning to it again and again. It mixes up quickly, stands up to being transported even on hot afternoons, and stays moist for several days. Like most baked goods it also freezes beautifully, and it can even be sliced while still frozen. Serve in bowls topped with fresh berries and ice cream or on napkins at picnics and potlucks.

You'll find the recipe in my post, Strawberries in the Garden & an Orange Yogurt Cake Recipe in the Kitchen, over on Farmgirl Fare, where it's already been receiving rave reviews. Enjoy!

Will goodies from the garden or farmers' market be part of your 4th of July celebration?

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we love homegrown fruits and vegetables but are also crazy about cake.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Garden Journal 7/1/08:
A Helpful List of What's Been Happening

First Echinacea Bloom of the Year - June 19th

Realization of the Day:
The best intentions are simply not making it from brain to blog. I just jotted down a quick list of things I've been planning to write about - there are 39 so far. And that was just off the top of my head.

The other day I came across the cute little notebook I started using last year for garden notes. Some days I even took it out into the garden with me! I didn't come close to filling it up, but I've realized that even just a sentence or two can be extremely helpful, such as the one that says 11/8 and 11/10: planted two beds of garlic. I had no clue when I'd planted the garlic until I saw that note.

Okay. So it's July (how exactly did that happen?), and since it looks doubtful that I'll get to much of that list, here's a quick rundown of what's growing and what I've been doing in the garden. I'm still hoping to write individual posts about a lot of this stuff (I've learned so much already this year!), but at least this will give me an idea of what the garden was like on the first day of July. In no particular order:

— The echinacea is blooming like crazy and the flowers are covered with butterflies and moths. The plants have begun spreading a couple of feet into the grass which is fine with me, as I'd rather have flowers than lawn.

— The spiderwort (I love that stuff!) is still blooming. And it's been busy jumping the flowerbed rock boundary, too. There are also volunteers blooming next to the compost bins, which are several yards from the original plants.

— There are only a few potato beetles left on the potato plants - thank goodness.

— The potato beetles have been replaced by Japanese beetles - more than I've ever seen in previous years. They're concentrating on the potatoes, raspberries, and a yellow flowering plant in the chive flower bed that I'm not sure I seeded last year or not (I didn't scatter any flower seeds in there this year). If not, it's a pretty enough weed to have earned a place there. Of course all wildflowers could be considered 'weeds.'

— The 17 tomato plants that went in the ground in early June have been trimmed, mulched, and are taking off.

— I refreshed, watered, and mulched the Cavendish strawberry bed the other day, and the remaining plants are already putting on new leaves.

— There are four different colors of Bachelor's Buttons blooming in the chive flower bed. So pretty! A few volunteer red poppies from the seeds my pal Betty Western sent me last year from her beautiful garden in England (just scroll down past her ever-so-helpful dogs) have been popping up, too. Plus a pretty, black-eyed Susan type flowering plant I don't remember seeing or seeding last year is big and happy.

— The 8 pepper plants in the ground (4 California Golden Wonder and 4 Chocolate - no idea when I planted them) have been mulched. They still look small and scraggly but have been putting on new leaves. I have hope.

— Transplanted 4 really pathetic looking California Golden Wonder plants into the greenhouse as an experiment. (They looked fine when I bought them, but that was ages ago.)

— Harvested both beds of garlic two days ago. Ended up with about 150 heads, mostly on the small (and disappointing) side, though some are nice and big. They're drying in the living room on a large tray covered with an enormous cardboard box (because they're supposed to be in a dark spot). This does nothing to ruin the decor of The Shack, which can only be described as scary. And cluttered. You hardly even notice the box!

— Planted three kinds of cucumber seedlings last night in one of the garlic beds. Started the seeds in containers in the greenhouse on June 12th.

- We moved 10 ewes and 12 lambs into the farmyard last week, and they've already poked their wooly little heads through the garden fence and munched down a large chunk of the comfrey plant, as well as most of the sunchoke seedlings still in containers. Serves me right for not getting them into the ground I guess. (I'm hoping to write more about growing sunchokes - also called Jerusalem artichokes - soon. Maybe after I actually plant mine!)

— Tucked one of the common thyme plants I bought a while back (when? when?) in a little empty spot next to the other thyme in the greenhouse.

- The little rosemary bush in the greenhouse looks fantastic. I used a lot of rosemary during late spring, and it really benefitted from all that pruning.

— The big, beautiful purple sage plant I bought and transplanted into the greenhouse last month has survived being ravaged numerous times by a mysterious, nocturnal something (that isn't affected by diatomaceous earth). It has about six little leaves left. I have hope - but knew I should have bought two plants!

— Trimmed both lemon balm plants way back two nights ago - the one that's been in a pot for several years (I'd put it in something bigger, but I don't have anything bigger!) and the gigantic volunteer in the greenhouse. (Still no idea how it ended up there, but I'm sure glad it did).

- The pot of Greek Oregano (which also probably needs to be transplanted into something bigger) is about to flower.

Chock Full of Chard (which really needs thinning!) in the Greenhouse

From Garden to Mouth:
(I usually say From Garden to Table, but a lot of this stuff never actually made it to the kitchen, let alone the table)

Swiss chard galore in the greenhouse! Patch on the right side from seeds I started on February 14th (photo above). Most of the left side is full of volunteer plants (which are actually doing better than what I planted).

— Ate the first tomato of the year - from a sad looking, stunted little plant still in its tiny pot! How embarrassing is that? It was the size of a small cherry tomato but probably wasn't supposed to be. Very tasty, though! I've really been craving fresh tomatoes lately.

— Have been nibbling on a few ripe raspberries. Not very many this year, and they aren't very sweet, but a few raspberries are better than no raspberries! I only got around to pruning, weeding, and mulching about 1/4 of the patch - which is at least 1/4 more than I did last year.

— Have been eating a few Maxibel bush beans (again, no idea when I planted the seeds) over the past couple of days, but last night I picked several large handfuls of them. Enjoyed some quickly steamed and tossed with teriyaki sauce; the rest will be vacuum sealed (with my new FoodSaver - we upgraded!) and frozen until winter when they will be really appreciated.

I'm probably forgetting some stuff, but this is definitely a start — and it sure makes me feel like I've been accomplishing something out there! We had a small break in the heat and humidity over the past few days, and I made the most of it.

So what's been happening in your garden? Are you totally on top of things? Incredibly behind? Inundated with ravenous pests? Already buried under a mountain of zucchini or tired of tomatoes? (If so, I'm jealous.) Do tell!

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where every homegrown bite reminds us of how much we love to garden and how much all the effort and frustration is worth it - even if it's the only bite of something we'll get for the year.