Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipe: Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese & Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette

Arugula salad with pan-fried herbed potatoes, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and kalamata olive vinaigrette
This light main course salad is a perfect way to celebrate the summer harvest (recipe here).

I'm kicking off BlogHer's new Market Fresh Cooking series with this beautiful Arugula Salad with Pan-Fried Herbed Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese that's full of flavor and bursting with summer bounty. For this batch I used arugula, parsley, thyme, and red onions from my garden.

The crisp, herby potatoes also taste great on their own, and the Kalamata olive vinaigrette is wonderful on other things too. I love it tossed with cucumbers and tomatoes. To make this a more substantial meal, simply add some leftover grilled chicken or steak.

No arugula? Make it with romaine lettuce instead. My favorite variety of romaine is an easy to grow heirloom called Parris Island Cos, which is crisp, tasty, and amazingly heat tolerant. 

Coming up next on In My Kitchen Garden: Can you grow arugula during the summer? Yes!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blasted Birthday Blister Beetles: Garden Journal 7/10/12

Blister beetles attacking Swiss chard 1 -
Blister beetles attacking Swiss chard in my kitchen garden.

For more about how to deal with blister beetles—and the many ways we use diatomaceous earth around the farm—check out this post.

Realization of the Day:
I knew better, I really did. Translation: I am a lazy gardening idiot.

There are several things that I block out each year once they're over, like lambing season, which is very cute but stressful and totally exhausting. Poisonous snake season. Chiggers and ticks and the unsightly, horribly itchy ankles they cause. Hot and humid Missouri summers that often last five months.

So when I saw a couple of blister beetles, which love hot, dry weather, trotting along the burned up grass near the sheep barn the other day, what did I do? Nothing.

What should I have done? Raced back to the garden and liberally doused the pepper plants, tomato plants, and Swiss chard, as well as the surrounding soil, with food grade diatomaceous earth (which we buy in economical 50-pound bags - it will last indefinitely if kept dry). These are the crops they seem to go after the most, although I know they also like beans.

Yesterday morning I went out to the garden and discovered that the ravenous blister beetles had arrived just in time for my birthday. The 4'x4' patch of densely planted, previously beautiful Swiss chard was teeming with them—and the leaves that hadn't been devoured were covered with their disgusting droppings. I found minor damage on a few tomato plants too.

I tossed handfuls of diatomaceous earth all over the chard leaves, and then sprinkled some around all the tomato and pepper plants, along with the eggplants just in case, and then went back inside to block out the depressing invasion and have some cake.

And then I got my birthday wish and it rained—and washed away all of the diatomaceous earth I'd just put out.

More below. . .

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Red, White, Blue—and Green!—Fourth of July

Freshly picked Masai filet beans (haricots verts) from the kitchen garden -
Freshly picked Masai green beans (haricots verts)

Will you be eating anything from your garden this Independence Day? I don't know what we're going to grill yet (probably something doused with my easy, all natural homemade BBQ sauce), but I do know we'll be having green beans—the fridge is overflowing with them.

I picked all 32 feet of mine (Slenderette and Masai), then couldn't resist buying a few more pounds of pretty filet beans (the delicate, thin green beans also called haricots verts) from our Amish neighbors—and then another big bag from an older couple in town that was selling their extra backyard bounty.

Time to get out my beloved FoodSaver vacuum sealer and start filling the freezer! Just blanch 3 minutes (a little longer for fatter beans), cool in ice water, drain, pack into bags, and seal. (I use this model FoodSaver and make my own bags from rolls of FoodSaver bag material.) These beautiful beans will be an extra welcome treat when we pull them out for dinner in the middle of winter.

To see more of what's growing right now in my kitchen garden, check out the latest installment of the popular new Friday Farm Fix on Farmgirl Fare.

Have a safe, happy, and delicious holiday!

©, where I'm thinking old-fashioned blackberry crisp for dessert tomorrow. And maybe some all-American giant chocolate chip cookies too.