Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Bradford Watermelon "Making Lemonade out of Lemons" or Salad out of Damaged Melon

Dear Folks,

When life gives you lemons (challenges) make lemonade!  That is the happy way of looking at something unexpected.  Well, folks, I've got a great recipe for you, simple and tasty using a damaged, immature Bradford Watermelon.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the heirloom Bradford Watermelon I am so excited about its progress in our gardens.

Then several days ago, Deane noticed damage to the end of the 'youngest' melon.  Darn, but we thought, well let it go for more seeds.  But I was keeping an eye on it and the damage was extending.  Several readers on facebook said to cut and toss as it would be taking energy from the plant.  True.  But I wanted to see what I could do with the remaining melon.

Back in early August while inspecting the plant, I accidentally broke a baby Bradford off and thought first about composting then realized it really looked like a zucchini and found it a wonderful tasting "cucumber/zucchini" type food.  Read about that here.

So I did harvest the damaged melon yesterday, cut the bad end. (It is either blossom end rot or a critter or bacteria got into it before I could get it up on a brick to keep it off of the soil.)

I cut the damage part off and tasted a slice of the good part and was again so impressed with the taste. Even though it is not fully ripe, the pink is slightly sweet and all of the fruit is pleasant (no bitterness at all) cucumber like taste and texture.

I put it aside and figure I would see about using at least some of it later.

I had errands to do and one of them was to Costco.  While going down an aisle I spotted marinated artichoke hearts and BINGO I knew what I was going to do with my unripe melon.  I LOVE artichoke hearts, marinated or otherwise.  I can eat bowls full.  I've made dips with them - so good and good for you, love to add them to so many things, not just salads but pasta too.  Some years ago I made an Artichoke / Bean Hummus dip for a demo at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  It was devoured.

Preparing The Melon

I decided to remove the very, very thin skin with a potato peeler.  One of the remarkable things about the Bradford -- the tender, tasty skin -- if I had the time I would have tossed with a bit of oil and salt and roasted them to a crisp - maybe the next one.   :-)

I cut up the melon, removing the seeds (they are not mature enough to germinate) added an equal amount of artichoke hearts and since I did not get this done last night, today I will cut up some celery, add and toss.  The marinade from the artichoke hearts will be enough dressing.  I will think about adding some basil when it mix, but I'm wanting to keep that "cucumber/melon" flavor shining.

As an afterthought I could have saved the seeds, and like the skin tossed with oil and salt and roasted them.  I was tired when I got the chopping done so I did not think about this.  You did know watermelon seeds are edible didn't you? :-)  Just like pumpkin seeds they make a great roasted snack.

The amount of melon in the bowl is just a small part - I have about a half gallon container of more so we are going to be enjoying melon for a few days.  I will have to see what else I can make with this so-good fruit.  If I come up with some keeper recipes I will post.

Coming Up

FREE SEED SHARE - September 30th, 9 a.m. to Noon at the Mesa Farmers Market - watch for more details.

FREE lecture at Mesa Urban Garden, October 1st, 4:30 p.m. - Fall - "Planting Like It Is Spring" in the Desert Garden!  Watch for more details.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady


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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Microwave Quiche for Two

Dear Folks,

You know all those 5 minute-mug- microwave-cakes are all the 'thing' now.  I started making versions a couple of years ago, including chocolate cake and cornbread.

Ready to Microwave with Cheezits top/bottom
It is just usually the two of us and we are small meal eaters (but snackers) so unless I want to make extra to share with neighbors or have a shindig, I try to keep my meal preparations to 2 servings.

Plated after microwaving.
Quiche is a great way use garden produce, so for this recipe I used sweet potato, Egyptian spinach and basil leaves, plus a small yellow sweet bell pepper.  Quiche is a perfect way to use fresh herbs.

Most of the typical recipes call for a mug, but I like to use a bowl, preferably straight sided, to make a serving for two, which I just split in two.

My Microwave Quiche
For this recipe I used "cheezits" for the base.

2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup shredded cheese
1 cup loose packed shredded greens of choice or cooked, drained and chopped spinach
A grind or two of black pepper, just light sprinkle of salt (most cheeses have a lot of salt)
"Base" of crackers or a piece of toast cut to fit the bowl
Optional:  Two pieces of crisp bacon, chopped up
Optional:  small sliced pepper or other vegetable (in season gently cooked asparagus would be great) - approximately 1/4 cup

--Grease a 2 cup microwave safe bowl.
--Beat eggs until frothy, add milk and stir well.  Add cheese and greens, stirring well, then add bacon (if using), pepper and S&P.  Stir.
--Pour into bowl and top with "base".
--Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Your microwave may be slightly different in power.  A toothpick inserted should come out clean.
--Cover with a plate and upend - the quiche should slide out easily if you greased the bowl well.
--Serve and enjoy with fruit as a side.

If you like my recipes - I have two cookbooks

Have a great time in your kitchen with your garden bounty!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Barbados Cherry Tree Update

Dear Folks,

First - the "early bird pricing" - 20% off suggested SRP expires on September 14th for my 2017 Month-By-Month Wall Calendar.  Gift idea for your family or friends in USDA 9b and above?

2017 Month-by-Month Wall Calendar

Acerola Barbados Cherry (Malpighia emarginata) is a shrubby tree is native to Southern Mexico and Central and South America.  It is becoming more common in Southwest gardens as a substitute for common cherry trees like Bing which require high chill hours and will not fruit (or sometimes even grow) in the desert.

We put our Barbados in the ground on February 16, 2016.  6 months later it grown robustly as you can see from the picture.

We started seeing flowers in May and then mid August spotted two cherries, bright green.  I'm sure they were growing well before - just did not see them.  Then all of sudden they are bright red and then easy to pull off the stem.

The taste is as often described in references - tart sweet or sweet tart.  There are 3 seeds in each cherry and according to the references, they can be grown from seed, but may be hybridized, as I understand there are multiple varieties and crosses available.

I will probably see if the seeds germinate :-)

I am looking forward to more growth, more cherries and many years of a fun fruit option in the garden.


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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