Hot Sauce, Casserole, and Soup

From this pile of dishes and utensils…messaftercooking

…emerged these meals:

Veg-CVFPorkSausage-Cassarole vegsoup-hotsauce

On top, is a vegetable and pork sausage casserole. The sausage is from our Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm meat share; most of the veggies are from my garden and include potatoes, tomatoes, yellow sweet peppers, runner beans, tomato sauce, eggplant, garlic, chives, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Things not from the garden include a generous helping of mozzerella cheese, broccoli, tomato paste, celery salt, organic no salt seasoning, a bit of agave syrup instead of suger and paprika. It is VERY tasty, kind of like a cross between a shepherd’s pie and eggplant parmesean.

On the bottom right is a jalepeno hot sauce with jalepenos, tomatoes, tomatillos and garlic from the garden along with a little dash of dill vinegar and organic honey (not from my hive yet though). So good with tortilla chips!

On the bottom left is a vegetable stock made from whatever I needed to use up from the garden. I’ve been freezing the excess for the past 6 weeks and wanted to use it up before it developed off flavors, as I didn’t blanch anything prior to freezing. In addition to the bountiful tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers, this includes a LOT of dark leafy greens, including kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli leaves. My broccoli never flowered, but I discovered the leaves, minus the tough inner veins, taste just like the flower and are great for juicing, shredding and other uses. To make this stock I put all of the frozen, pureed vegetables in one pot, added Bragg’s and Costco organic no salt seasoning, plus maybe a dash of celery salt, and after about 40 minutes I had stock. To make a quick, delicious creamy soup I added some drinkable yougurt. Yum!

I must admit that my new Vitamix indespensible for making juices, salsas, or anything requiring blending. I bought my first one 20 years ago, and finally wore it out. It is an amazing appliance…I won’t do the full commercial but I will say this: it is my favorite appliance, and it actually does work as advertised. I spent a lot of money years ago and it became and integral part of how I operate in the kitchen. When it started to die I was dismayed. I couldn’t afford to buy one new this time, but a co-worker with a knack for bargain hunting tipped me off to a lady who was selling hers, less than a year old, for half the price! It seems I should have retired my old one years ago. I didn’t realize how poorly it performed in the last few years until I powered up the new one. So now I am back in business.

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What’s Blooming?

What do you get when you cross an art opening at a gallery with a farmer’s market? An art fair! That’s kind of what it feels like to me, anyway. I’ve been in gallery shows, and helped out a farmer’s market booth, and find both activities immensely enjoyable. Tomorrow is my first outdoor art fair and I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of new folks and showing off the fruits of my labor. The weather is supposed to be on the hot side of perfect.

I’m ready!

If you’re in the area and looking for something fun to do, check out What’s Blooming on Harrison. 

I’ll be at booth #78 on the South side of Harrison Street, east of Lombard.

Then after that I’ve got to focus a little bit on What’s Blooming in my garden. The weeds have definitely gotten the upper hand this year, so they need a little talking to! My little dwarf peach tree is leafing out and my fig tree looks awesome. The persimmons, japanese maple and paperbark maple are looking happy too. It occurred to me the other day that I might eventually be able to take the flaky bark from the mature paperbark maple and roll them into beads, kind of like the Ugandan barkcloth beads I bought from Mzuribeads.com. That might work together in a necklace. I also need to plant my canna lilies so I make sure to have lots of the perfect, round, unbreakable seeds that look great as spacer beads. They are a deep chocolate-brown. And of course, over the next week or so I need to plant lots of scarlet runner beans, the magic bean that started my jewelry making frenzy.

I’ll still have plenty of edibles, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, and such are going in the ground too. And then I need to harvest the bumper crop of garlic, carrots and purple peacock broccoli that lived through the winter and completely took over the square foot gardens.

What’s Blooming indeed!