Monday, July 24, 2006


The homegrown food for today is zucchini.
Home grown zucchini, like Rodney Dangerfield, seems to get no respect. It’s the butt of jokes and people act like it’s harder to give away than a litter of kittens. It does have a habit of hiding under its leaves and growing too big which is a shame because, in my opinion, size DOES matter. Smaller is better for zucchini. I like zucchini best about an inch in diameter. Bigger zucchini can be used for zucchini bread. I also sometimes make a casserole of zucchini, mozzarella, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce with zucchini up to 2 or so inches in diameter, but my favorite zucchinis are the very little ones that are smaller than are available in stores in the USA.

I picked my first zucchini this weekend. It was even smaller than the one inch diameter size I prefer, but you know how it is with zucchini, if you look away for a moment, it may double in size, so I grabbed it while it was still small. I decided to stuff the flower with a mixture of some feta, breadcrumbs and milk, then dipped it in egg and fried it. I would have preferred goat cheese for the stuffing, but had none. The zucchini I simply sliced and sautéed for a few minutes in olive oil. Together with some sliced tomatoes, it was a nice lunch.

Stuffed zucchini blossoms are a great way to use the flowers, especially the male blossoms that aren’t going to form zucchinis anyway. Just be sure to leave some male flowers on the plant so the female flowers can get pollinated. If you’re wondering which is which, the females have tiny zucchinis at the base of the flower. The males do not.

Variety: Franchi Seeds – Striato d’Italia ( Italian Striped)
I like this variety because it has ridges and nice flowers and of course because it tastes good.

Home Grown Dinner

I’ve decided to try and feature something I grow, catch, forage or harvest each day and see how long I can go with that theme. I’ll certainly interrupt the theme if a wild turkey plops itself in front of my camera and sits still or something interesting happens that I actually get a photo of, but I am curious just how many things I actually do grow and how long I can go with this theme.

Today’s feature was to be spigariello, but I’ll save that for another post because the photo does not do it justice. Today’s post instead will be the medley of the home grown dinner that includes the spigariello.

Everything on my dinner and salad plate I grew or caught, except for some butter, olive oil and salt which you can’t actually see, but it’s there improving what already tastes good. I enjoy and have lots of fun with the challenge of cooking meals mostly from things I grew, or in this case caught also. It’s kind of like a game for me to fashion a meal from what I can get from the garden or raise. I’ve added the categories of catching or foraging, because it’s my game so I can make up the rules. What you see some is of the striped bass that I froze after the Boston Harbor fishing expedition baked with a little butter and parsley, the first garden tomatoes with olive oil, basil and salt, and spigariello, boiled and then sautéed in a little olive oil. The spigariello is not actually as dark as it looks the photo. At the top of the plate is my favorite part of this meal. It's new Yukon Gold potatoes mashed with butter in which sage has been sautéed. The salad plate consists of romaine lettuce and a few Sweet 100 and Sungold cherry tomatoes, dressed with a little olive oil and salt. What follows is the recipe for the potatoes, It's so simple that it's really more of a concept than a recipe

Recipe: Potatoes with sage butter.
Boil some potatoes. Remove the skins.
Melt some butter in a sauté pan.
Chop up some fresh sage and sauté it in the butter for a few minutes until the butter just begins to start getting brown, but doesn’t actually turn brown. This will infuse the butter with the sage flavor.
Add the butter and sage mixture to the potatoes and mash.
Add salt to taste.

I purposely left the amount of sage butter to use out of this recipe. It’s a matter of taste and conscience. I used about a tablespoon of butter for one serving and it seemed right to me. I swear it tastes even better with new freshly dug potatoes, but it’s actually good with any old potatoes you may have around.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fava Beans

After seeing a friend in Vermont grow fava beans a few years ago, I decided that I'd give them a try. Fresh fava beans are not often available in the store and I really like them so I figured why not grow my own. They are a cool weather crop and should be planted in Massachusetts as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. I started mine indoors because the place I garden is often wet in the spring and doesn't get plowed until late. This year it was plowed early. I transplanted my seedlings and then it turned cold and very windy and we had record rainfall. The seedlings simply disappeared. I'm not sure whether the rain rotted them or the wind dried them up. About a month ago one weak little plant reappeared, or more likely grew from one of the original seeds that didn't germinate at the time of transplanting. What you are looking at in the photo is my entire fava bean crop of 2006 - one little plant with one little pod. I'm not giving up on favas. I hope to try them again next year.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Artichokes Day 118

I wasn't sure I'd ever see a bud on my artichokes, but one of the artichoke plants has just formed a bud. It's still very small even though it looks huge in the first photo. This is the first year I've ever tried artichokes. Although artichokes are certainly not a typical Massachusetts crop, I've seen them in other's gardens that know that it is possible. The plants must be tricked into thinking that they are in their second year when they are only really in their first year. Apparently this one has been fooled. You can see previous photos of the artichoke sprouting, on day 20 and on day 57 if you'd like to follow its progress. If I actually get to eat one of these artichokes this year I'll create a post of exactly the steps I followed.