Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Garden Update

Well, it's that time again... and a lot is going on in the garden!  :)  This part of the garden season is my favorite because there is no need to water or weed.  The garden just takes care of itself.  Apart from the initial effort, there isn't much to do.  I like this time because I guess I'm lazy.... or maybe just really busy with 3 little guys.

We are just days away from some awesome fresh peas.  We are already eating baby peas straight off the vine.  They are a delicious mid-day snack.  There is no need to cook or steam when they are small and fresh. 

The first and second planting of purple onions are flowering.  I can't remember when we are supposed to pick them....  I suppose I should research that sooner than later.


Blueberries have been on the vine for a while but raspberries just started showing themselves.  We had to use stakes for support for the plants because they were getting crazy and wild and growing into the electric fence. 

Blueberry Plant

Raspberry Plant

We took the strawberries we had in the garden and added a few extra to make a giant double batch of no-cook freezer jam.  It was the first time I ever made this type of jam.  It has an entirely different flavor.  I love to store it in small tubs for easy serving and I don't have to worry about the jam going bad in the fridge... oh, and of course the most important part, I don't have to sterilize and can.  Time is very, very valuable these days.


Well, that's it for this week!  Hope to see you on over at Feet Off the Table.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Good Eats - BBQ

We've been in the area of VA for almost 3 years now (hard to believe) but it hasn't quite felt like home.  You see, we are BBQ connoisseurs and despite all our efforts and many tries at restaurants all over our area from Scottsville to Madison, we hadn't found our BBQ home yet.  It's not that there aren't plenty of restaurants selling BBQ in our area.  It just that unfortunately most of them just aren't quite good enough to call your mama about.  We had almost lost hope and thought we'd might never find amazingly good BBQ in our area...   until we found the BBQ Exchange of Gordonsville, VA.


At the BBQ exchange, patrons line up at a counter, cafeteria style to get their BBQ fix whether that be brisket, pork, chicken or even tofu .  Of course I've never tried the tofu because who are we kidding?  The meat is what we come for.   Both our faves, pulled pork and brisket are out of this world.  They do not dissapoint.  They are perfectly smoked with hickory flavor throughout, tender without being fatty, and all alround terrific.

The smokers doing their magic.

The sides are phenomenal as well. While I wouldn't get the sides everyday for fear of suffering a massive heart attack, they are mighty tasty making them very hard to pass up.   If buttery pound cake and corn bread had a love child, the corn bread they serve would be it.  I've never had anything like it.  The baked beans are a BBQ lovers best friend.  They even make their own homemade pickles which they will happily fry for you to order. Unfortunately, they do serve them up spear style while I prefer my fried pickles served more chip style.... but they are worth a try nonetheless!  Good thing I hadn't heard of this joint while pregnant!

Once you select your eats, you can choose your seat amongst several family style picnic tables covered with butcher paper where five different sauces await you from spicy to tangy to sweet and bacony...   along with a roll of paper towels in case things get messy.



 

I could definitely get used to this place.  I'm kinda glad this place is 30 minutes away...  keeps me outta trouble.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good Eats - Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs

Those who read this little blog may remember a post a while back about poulet a la moutard.  I just love that recipe.  It's incredibly easy to make but it does take a while to bake.  Some days I just don't have the time.  But I love the flavor profile so much, I was hoping I could find something similar that didn't require so much time.

I found a great recipe by Ellie Kreiger on the FoodNetwork.  Ellie is a nutritionist and heath food nut (which I love.)  The recipe is a littler healthier than the other version (not being served with pasta) and is really delicious too.   A key ingredient is maple syrup which is chock full of zinc and other antioxidants.  I just love it when sweet mixes with savory.  I've got a bit of sweet tooth and this does the trick.

You can get the full recipe here.


Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs


Recipe substitutions: I used french tarragon in lieu of marjoram because I wanted the same flavor profile.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Garden Update

It's been a while since my last garden post.  Unfortunately, my 4 year old computer caught a virus and the old hard drive died.  All is resolved now that we have a brand new computer.

So much has gone on the garden since the last post.  For one, we are already enjoying broccoli though it's technically the result of a huge blunder.  Nick forgot to add soil ammendments prior to planting the broccoli plants and they are heavy feeders so they weren't getting the nutrition they needed.  They grew fast and spindly.  They are delicious though and it hasn't stopped the kiddos from eating the raw broccoli by the head.  My kids are weird.


Strawberries are in season now as well.  It's so hard to squeeze off all the flowers the first year, but it has really paid off.  We've already gotten 2 large containers worth since Thursday when they started to turn red and there is plenty more on their way.  This is our first season of having strawberries and we had to celebrate with a big batch of Feet Off the Table's Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp.

 
Pickin' with GreenEyes.


I have never had rhubarb.  Ever.  But I couldn't help but grow it when I saw it at the co-op when we first started our garden.  You're not supposed to harvest it the first year so this our first year enjoying it as well.  It came in a while back along with the aspargus and I thought now was the right time to try it now that the strawberries are also in.  I harvested several sprigs out of the garden today, brought it in, rinced it and tasted it raw.  It tasted weird.  I was afraid to ruin my giant batch of fresh garden strawberries by mixing the rhubarb with them so we ended up with the plain strawberry crisp.  Let me tell you, it was still amazing!

 Yumm!

The peas are close to being ready for harvesting, the onions are starting to flower, and we planted tomatoes, squash, carrots, etc. a few weeks ago. Let's hope it's a fruitful year!