Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Our Garden Grows, Part VII

Rain, rain, unusually warm temps and, rain, have produced an extra lush/luxe garden this year.


Okra, kohlrabi, long beans, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, tat soi, tomatilloes, Chinese leeks, herbs, tomatoes, chili peppers . . . they've all thrived in the heat and humidity.

Zinnias of every color dominate the Cutting Garden in August.

Springy, long-legged flowers with delicate petals add height and panache to Cafe Drake HRV's dining table arrangements.

And there are plenty for cutting. Pruning these flowers encourages new growth and even more blossoms.

Old-fashioned bachelor buttons look charming nestled in Chinese blue and white vases in our peacock blue bedroom.

More flowers!

The gardens of Cafe Drake HRV are home to many helpful pollinators.

The cosmos have begun blossoming these week.



Our Mascot - Arabella Page - makes a most handsome lawn ornament, don't you think?

The pleasures of a short break on a Summer Sunday afternoon include catching up on reading al fresco.

With that guilty expression, we're guessing Arabella ate another of the newly arrived asters.

Dog Days of August

Dog Day Afternoon

Our very own little garden gnome, Lloyd Page.

Although he sleeps inside at night Lloyd prefers, during the summer, to spend the rest of his time outside, patrolling the perimeter, safeguarding against any and all invaders.
In the mood for Mexican on a weeknight, we plucked a few ingredients from the veggie patch - tomatilloes and poblano peppers.
Now that our tomatillo plant, um, bush, no, make that TREE, is heavy with fresh fruit we're making salsa several times a week. Here's one of the easiest: Heat 2 T. of oil in a non-stick or iron skillet, the latter preferable. Over medium-high heat add to the pan 1/2 an onion (peeled but not chopped), 4-6 whole tomatilloes, 2 cloves of garlic (whole and unpeeled) and 3 dried arbol chilies (broken into pieces). Cook for about 8 minutes total or until the tomatilloes have softened and the onion is deeply browned. Flip the ingredients around a couple of times to ensure more even browning. Remove pan from heat and allow everything to cool slightly before adding all to a blender. Don't forget to now peel the garlic; it will be soft and roasted and you only need to slide it from its skin. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the blender and process until smooth. Now season with salt and black pepper. Green salsas require quite a bit of salt so add in batches, tasting as you go along. A pinch of sugar will reduce the acidity and tartness but that's entirely optional. For best flavor chill the salsa at least 2 hours before enjoying . . . on baked or grilled fish, roast chicken, cheese enchiladas, black bean tacos, Cheddar and apple quesadillas, as a dip with chips and on and on and on.

Chocolate cherry tomatoes! Although the plant isn't producing as much as we hoped, the sugar-sweet treasures are true garden trophies.


With a variety of Asian stir-fry greens growing in the backyard, we decided to borrow a recipe from Saveur magazine and put up a batch of refrigerator pickles.



Cafe Drake HRV made slight changes to the original recipe and here's our version: Wash very well about 1/2 lb. of any tender Asian greens you'd like, such as mustard, mizuna, young bok choy plants etc. Remove any thick stalks and chop them into small pieces. Tear the leafy greens into bite size and stuff everything into a clean quart jar. Add to the jar just one clove of chopped garlic and some chili peppers, fresh or dried. Now, in a saucepan, bring to a boil 1/4 cup rice or white vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1 T. salt and 3 T. sugar. When boiling pour over the greens, filling the jar almost to the top. Seal with a lid and cool to room temperature. Place in the fridge. The pickles will be ready to eat within three days and should last for two weeks or more refrigerated. Uncommonly good as a condiment to everything. We've been spreading them over hummus sandwiches!

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