How and When to Pick Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are an amazingly tasty gift from the garlic gods who deemed the waiting period for garlic bulbs to be too long. Enough with the edible gardening mythology. Let’s move on to the tips.

The video below offers up the basics on how and when to harvest garlic scapes.


Parting Shot…Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


Never Waste A Tomato Again

Every season we say the same thing, “we can’t wait to jar our plum tomatoes”. Every season we do the same thing, “Nonna, can you please jar our tomatoes?”

We just do not have the time to deal with the abundance of San Marzano plum tomatoes that we harvest all at once. These past few seasons we discovered oven roasting them. It is a quick, easy way to ensure not a single tomato goes to waste. Anyone can execute this recipe with ease.

Roasted tomatoes taste great alone, on top of a crusty piece of bread or mixed into a pasta Primavera. I hope our readers will share their favorite uses with us.

oven roasted tomatoes

finished and ready to eat, or save (not)

Here’s How To Do It

Simply slice each plum tomato in half lengthwise. Then place the cut halves onto a lightly oiled baking pan cut side up. We season ours with some dried herbs (from our garden of course), garlic powder and a touch of grated Parmesan cheese. Of course, you can roast them plain as well.

Next, place the pan into an oven set to 400 degrees. You can slow roast them at a lower temperature as well for an even more intense flavor. We usually roast at 400 degrees because it is much quicker. Check on them often because cooking times depend on thickness of the tomato halves.

The tomatoes are done when they look like the ones in the picture above. Look at those nice charred edges and super concentrated flavors!

Note, in the summer we use our grill and BBQ a lot. I often roast tomatoes on the grill to keep from heating up the house too much. Instead of a baking pan I use a sheet of heavy-duty foil (well oiled) placed on the top rack of the grill or away from the coals if using a BBQ.



Taste Garden Fresh Basil All Year Long

In a typical growing season we have tons of basil. Anyone who visits our home must leave with some. If they refuse we find a way to sneak it into their belongings before they leave!

This season is different. We have had our own Beetlemania, but our version does not hail from the UK. Our Beetlemania is the Japanese variety and they have devoured most of our crop. However, I do believe my daughter named one of them Ringo.

Thankfully a friend and local edible gardening enthusiast traded me some of her perfect Genovese Basil for our tomatillos. This evening I made a batch of fresh pesto to ensure not a single leaf went to waste. Tonight’s batch was destined to be preserved in the freezer.

After posting some pictures on Instagram I figured I would share the recipe. Making pesto is really easy and the recipe can be followed loosely and/or modified to your liking. Sometimes I use pine nuts, other times walnuts. Sometimes I use no nuts at all. Just don’t use donuts!

pesto,ice cubes

Pesto “ice cubes” ready preserved for the future

Anyway, here is a basic basil pesto recipe to get your started. Once finished you can freeze in ice-cube trays. I like the silicone kind because they allow for easy removal of the finished product. Plus, silicone ice-cube molds often have fun shapes. The one in the picture has sunshine smiley faces ūüôā

Basil Pesto

Always wash your basil really well before using and never use the stems. It takes more time, but using just the leaves is a must.

– 4 cups of basil leaves (pack them into the measuring cup)

– 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts – I prefer to lightly toast mine. Just never let them get too dark or burnt. The flavor will ruin your pesto

– 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano grated cheese

– 3 garlic cloves (more if you are trying to keep vampires away)

– 1/4 cups good quality extra virgin olive oil

– teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

– teaspoon lemon zest

– salt to taste (sometimes a few red pepper flakes if I am feeling naughty)

Step by Step

I do not blanche my basil if the leaves are tender. However, many recipes call for blanching of the leaves before processing. I rarely have the time to mess with the ice baths and all that. So, this is the no blanching recipe. I will say blanching the leaves can yield better results in most cases. You decide!

Stick the 4 cups of packed basil leaves, garlic cloves, nuts of your choice, cheese and lemon zest into the food processor. Turn on the processor and then stream in the oil and teaspoon of lemon juice. Process until smooth and add a bit of salt if you like. I use very little salt in my cooking.

A small spatula works great to get every last drop of the pesto into your ice cube trays. Pop the tray or mold into the freezer and once frozen transfer the cubes into a sealed container for longer-term freezing. Do not leave the cubes uncovered because they will pick up unwanted flavors from your foods.

Theory of Tomatillo Relativity

All items are grown in the DIY Backyard Farm except for the limes.

1 lb. Tomatillos + 1 Jalapeno + 1/2 Red Zeppelin Onion + 1 Small Head Garlic + Red Hot Smoker Grill + Vitamix Blender = One tasty fire roasted tomatillo salsa!


Fire roasting in the smoker grill

tomatillo salsa

The finished product, up close and personal

Bring Back a Taste of Warmer Months

As cold weather sets in for many parts of the world you may find yourself feeling dull and a bit weary of bland, imported produce. Unless of course you live in a wonderfully temperate climate like California!  For the rest of us there are ways to allow our edible gardens to keep on giving long after the last crops are harvested.  Just say NO to produce that logs more mileage than a business traveler!

Winter squash offers up a chance for us to taste all the sun and nutrients that went into growing such a glorious edible long after summer is gone.  In fact, if stored well these beauties can last for months!  Last season we had some Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti, and Kabocha squash last right into early March.  This season we stocked up with extras and have been enjoying simple, quick recipes like the one you can see here in this video.

Winter squash are relatively inexpensive too, so they are a win-win!

Storing them is not difficult either.  They need to be wiped down really well and then dried off with a clean paper or cloth towel. After that you can find a nice cool, dry place for them to hang out together.  Just avoid stacking or clumping them too tight as air needs to flow around them.  If you notice any signs of rotting or mold be sure to remove the offender before it contaminates the rest of your beloved beauties.

Wait, what do you do with all these??? ¬†That is the fun and easy part. ¬†There are countless recipes available. ¬†If you or a loved one is not a fan of squash then maybe they have not tried the right one or recipe. ¬†For example, spaghetti squash is called that for a reason. When prepared right this garden wonder can stand in for the pasta it is named after. ¬†Here’s a great spaghetti squash recipe we found on the Food Network Website. ¬†You won’t miss the wheat pasta one bit and neither will your waistline (spaghetti squash has fewer calories when compared to similar serving sizes of wheat pasta). ¬†Are there any limits to the wonders of Winter Squash? ¬†This is beginning to sound like a late night infomercial!

Chances Are You Have Some of These on Your Porch

Pumpkins!  What to do with all those wonderful, orange gourds???  Sure there are pies and roasted pumpkin seeds.  Some folks hollow out the smaller ones and serve pumpkin soup in them.  However, what about healthier options for dessert?

Here is a pumpkin bar recipe we plan to try because it contains a large amount of pumpkin puree and well, because we just love finding healthier ways to make delicious foods.  Sure you can use the 2 cans of pumpkin puree this recipe calls for, but why not just puree your own?

Small, orange varieties like New England Pie or Amish Pie work best.  However, there are so many other exciting pumpkin varieties to explore.  Here is a great pumpkin resource from a family farm in California.  These folks seem to really know their pumpkins!  Maybe this little bit of pumpkin knowledge will inspire you to grow your own?  Warning, edible gardening can be addicting!