All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Fun and Flavors

  Ricky and I got together this afternoon for pumpkin food and carving.  I cooked; he carved.  :)  Then, we had a fun time making some yummy Rice Krispie Candy-Corn Treats to share with others.

 The menu:

Marbled Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies

(My sister preferred the no-carving-necessary approach!)

Rice Krispie Candy-Corn Treats

These were lots of fun to make, and easy too!  And, everyone who sampled them loved the bright, unexpected flavor from the orange and lemon zest.


Source:  Everyday Food magazine, October 2012

9 T. unsalted butter, divided
12 c. miniature marshmallows, divided
3/4 t. fine salt, divided
9 c. crisp puffed-rice cereal, divided
1 T. grated orange zest
yellow and red food coloring
1 T. grated lemon zest

Lightly coat a 5x9" loaf pan with cooking spray.  In a large saucepan, melt 3 T. butter over medium heat.  Add 4 c. miniature marshmallows and 1/4 t. salt; stir until melted.  Stir in 3 c. cereal and immediately transfer to pan.  Coat an offset spatula with cooking spray and firmly press mixture into an even layer.

Rinse saucepan.  Repeat step 1 twice:  To second batch, add orange zest and enough yellow and red food coloring to tine marshmallow mixture orange before adding cereal, then press into pan.  To third batch, add lemon zest and enough yellow food coloring to tint marshmallow mixture yellow.  Press third batch into pan.

Let set 2 hours (or overnight).  Run a small knife around edges of pan and invert loaf onto a cutting board.  With a serrated knife, cut loaf into 10 slices.  Cut each slice in half crosswise.

Using your hands, gently mold each treat into a candy-corn shape.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's that time of year again...

... for planting garlic!  At least, for me anyway!  I still don't know the exact planting date to aim for - every gardener, every gardening book, every website has something different to say regarding when to plant garlic - anywhere from 6 weeks before the last date of frost (which would end up being the being the beginning of September for our area) to the shortest day of the year (December 21).  Of course, what zone you live in plays a key role in determining when to plant.  So, I've been keeping track of my planting dates each year, and earlier does seem to make a difference in the size of the mature garlic bulb.  It's often not an option for me to plant in September because there's usually something still growing in the spot I plan to plant garlic for the following year's harvest.  And, even if I aim for a date, it's usually at least two weeks after that that I actually get around to it.  This year I procrastinated, because I just wasn't sure where I wanted to plant based on next year's garden layout (which I haven't figured out yet!).  And, I wasn't sure which of my various garden boxes would give it the ideal growing conditions.  (Am I wearing you out yet?!  Gardening isn't meant to be difficult, but I have a tendency to make it more complicated than it needs to be because I so want everything to turn out well....)  Anyway, a friend's husband said Columbus Day (October 8) is a good time to plant for this area, and I think he's probably right.

Except for knowing when to plant it, I think growing garlic is the coolest thing.  And, once you start growing your own garlic, if you plant enough the first year and save enough bulbs for the fall planting, you never need to buy garlic again!  (How's that for a deal?!)  I intentionally planted enough last year so that I would have some extra to share with other gardening friends, so they in turn could start their own garlic crops and become sustainable garlic growers too.  Most commercial garlic is imported from China and has been infested with who-knows what and who-knows-how-many chemicals, so growing your own garlic or at least buying local garlic is a very, very good thing, not to mention a flavorful endeavor! 

My garlic stash is the offspring of some local garlic that was given to me by a friend 2 years ago.  It's been easy to grow and stores beautifully.  When you're ready to plant, simply select your biggest and healthiest-looking bulbs,

separate them into cloves, then plant the cloves 1-2" deep with the pointed end facing up.  I use the square-foot gardening method and plant 9 cloves per square.  They behave similar to a spring-flowering bulb - they get planted in the fall, get a start on their growing if they are planted early enough, they take a rest over the winter, then send up their green stalks in the spring, then send up their lovely flowers (otherwise known as garlic scapes) sometime in June, and the garlic bulbs are harvested shortly after that (when about 1/3 of the foliage has turned brown).

In addition to anticipating an abundant garlic crop next year, I'm also looking forward to trying out some more garlic-scape recipes in June!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Green Beans!

This is what I missed when I was gathering up all my garden produce in the dark the other evening!  At first I was distressed, thinking the frost had damaged them too much.  But, on closer inspection, they seemed to have survived well enough, although the green beans should have been picked over a week ago; I didn't even realize I had another picking waiting for me.  I was afraid the beans would end up going to waste, but then I remembered my foodie friend Julia telling me about a Cream of Green Bean Soup she makes with beans that are on the mature side.  So, that's what these are destined to become!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Final Haul

This is the haul from last night - frost was in the forecast, so I gathered up all the frost-sensitive produce (with the help of my forehead flashlight since it was dark by the time I got home!).  I always hate to pick my produce and end its growing season, just in case the forecast wouldn't come to pass, but I'm glad I did...


... since it was a record hard frost for this area.

But, there's lots more frost-hardy produce waiting to be used in my garden in addition to the broccoli that doesn't mind the cold - arugula and baby lettuce (they survived the frost with some protection), Swiss chard, kale, beets, carrots and even a few sugar peas.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bananas, Bananas, Bananas....

I'm pretty zealous these days about eating local, in-season produce.  I so believe in this approach to eating, and have come to love local produce over exotic fruits and veggies.  BUT, I simply could not pass up a 40-pound case of organic bananas for only $6.00 at Root's this evening!!  They make the best dehydrated bananas, or banana candy, as my nephew likes to call them.  So, now I know what I'll be up to this week!  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Homegrown Popcorn

At my request, my soon-to-be-87-year-old father was gracious enough to grow some popcorn for me this year.  I just don't have enough space to grow corn in my garden, but my dad has a large garden and is still agile enough to exercise his green thumb.  

He grew two varieties for me,

Strawberry popcorn which can be used for ornamental purposes OR for eating,

and the Snowpuff variety. 

We had no trouble shelling the white popcorn, but we had a terrible time with the Strawberry.  In fact, my dad insisted that I didn't know what I was talking about, and that the Strawberry wasn't meant to be eaten.  But, I double checked the Rohrer Seeds catalog when I got home, and indeed it said it can be popped into fluffy white popcorn.  When I get hungry enough, I'll work at shelling it.  But for now, it's being used for decoration.