Category Archives: Garden Happenings

Amaretto Cherry and Pear Crisp

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Yesterday I went out to water my garden and noticed some of the cherries on our lovely cherry tree were finally red and ready to be picked. I’d actually been waiting for a few weeks for them to finally ripen and now they’re ready! I’m a big fan of sharing the entire life span of an ingredient with you. Thus, the picture below. You can see in the right of the picture, some of the cherries are still yellow and are continuing to ripen. The star of this picture, however, is ready to be used in the mouthwatering recipe I’ve created for it. Yum!

I was inspired to use the fresh cherries in a baked crisp by a great blog post I recently read. You can check it out here if you’re interested! This is awesome as a dessert topped with ice cream but it also works well as a breakfast fruit bake since I’ve added minimal sugar. I might even have this after my morning juice today. Shhh!

I chose toasted almonds in this recipe because before baking, the cherries with get a little amaretto bath. The almond flavored liqueur in the filling and toasted almond in the topping work perfectly together.

The Recipe

  • Total active prep time: 10 minutes
  • Total inactive prep time: 30 minutes
  • Total cook time: 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4

The Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1 cup of cherries, pitted and halved
  • 2 medium pears, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons of amaretto liqueur (can be replaced by a couple teaspoons of almond extract if you’re not into liqueur)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of unbleached granulated sugar

For the topping

  • 1/2 cup of toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons of Earth Balance buttery stick, melted (this is a butter alternative with healthy Omega-3s)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash or two of salt

The Preparation

1. Combine all filling ingredients. Let soak for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so each piece of fruit gets it’s time in the amaretto bath.

2.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. To prepare your topping, combine all of the ingredients listed and set aside until the fruit has finished bathing. When the fruit is ready, steal a couple tablespoons of the amaretto liquid and throw it into the topping mix. If you need more liquid, add more of that liquid.

3. Spoon the fruit into four ramekins or a small glass baking dish. If a little bit of the liquid makes it’s way into the baking dish that’s ok but avoid adding too much extra liquid since the fruits let off their own when baking. If using ramekins, place them on a baking sheet just in case the yumminess bubbles over. Top the fruit filling with the almond topping and bake for 30 minutes.

I’ve found this recipe to be crunchy and satisfying with just the right amount of sweetness. I hope you enjoy it!

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Little Garden Update!

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My first tomatoes have arrived!! Three of them. They’re the green striped zebra heirloom tomatoes that I planted as a seedling last month. For some reason tomatoes always surprise me when they show up. One day a space will be tomato-less and the next day I’ll go out to supervise the garden growth (as if that helps) and there are three. It never fails to make me so excited. Just ask all of my friends and family whom I inundate with “new tomato” texts.

And there are peas! My peas really tested my patience this year. They did not wanna show up for the party. But no fear! Now they’re here :) I have some great recipes that include these babies that I’ll be sharing with you soon.

I’ve also been harvesting some really beautiful lettuces and arugula this week. Coming in strong are arugula, black seeded simpson, boston lettuce, and mesclun mix.

These are some greens I picked for some of my friends. Organic salads all around!

Earlier this week I planted leeks, okra (Clemson okra!), cucumbers, a striped German tomato plant, sweet peppers, and kaleidoscope carrots. Please send them some good vibes so I’ll have happy things to report :)

Re-blog!

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Look it! My friend Lauren wrote a little something about my garden so today, instead of reading my thoughts, you’re reading her thoughts about some of MY favorite hobbies. Pretty sweet.

From the Inside Out

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. ~ Alfred Austin

Growing up, I imagined at one point I would have a quaint little garden of my own, where I could spend hours and hours in the sun growing and nurturing the plants. Just kidding. I didn’t really. I mean, growing up on the farm, we had a garden. It was a small one, but I remember as a kid how nice it was when my mom would go and pick the fresh lettuce or even better, the fresh blackberries which she would mix them into vanilla ice cream. We could sit on the porch out back and watch fireflies come up out of the corn fields. Do any of you siblings remember that?

While my mom is an excellent gardener…

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Sexy Sticks

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Get your head out of the gutter, I’m talking about asparagus. I know, I know. This sounds like it’s going to be as entertaining as watching white paint dry with your most annoying relative. But it won’t be! I’ll tell you why asparagus is sexy.

1. It has such a cool growth pattern.

  • Although it takes about 3 years to grow before its first harvest, an asparagus plant can continue to produce stalks for 10-20 years. Did you know that?? That just amazes me. Before I learned this I kinda thought that Michelle Duggar was the only thing that produced for up to two decades. One of the gardeners in our community garden grows asparagus in her plot so I’m lucky enough to show you a true to life picture that I took just yesterday. It’s a little difficult to see because of the asparagus “fern” growing around it but it just grows straight out of the ground like this:

2. It is really good for you.

  • Asparagus has loads of calcium, fiber, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. And that isn’t even the full list! I just stopped because I promised this would be entertaining. It even has some protein so stop asking me where I get my protein from! Just kidding, you can ask me whatever you want :)

3. It spruces up ANY plate and makes you look like a domestic super star.

  • This is a fact. Asparagus makes your dinner look like the P. Diddy (or whatever he goes by these days) of your dinner world. This is a dinner that I made the other night which consisted of a grilled portobello mushroom cap topped with tomato, basil, and sweet onion quinoa with a side of grilled asparagus. I’ll post that recipe later on if you want it but see how much better the plate looks because I added that sexy greenery? Even when asparagus isn’t the star it plays a great supporting role.

4. It’s so easy to prepare. Of all the ways you could prepare asparagus, this is my favorite way:

  • First, wash your asparagus and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Second, snap off the very bottom of each piece of asparagus. It tends to be very tough and the spear is much better without it.
  • Third, place all of the stalks on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and use your [clean] hands to toss everything together so each spear is coated with the flavorful additions.
  • Your last step is to bake the asparagus until you hear it sizzling in the oven. That’s what I do but if you aren’t preparing other things in the kitchen and can’t keep an ear out, bake it for about 12-15 minutes or until tender, which I guess is how normal people know when to take something out of the oven.

Asparagus is an early spring veg and it’s at the very, very end of it’s season so get your ass to the produce department or farmers’ market before it’s not anymore!

Happy Thursday! :)

The community garden gets a dose of botox!

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And a spray tan. Shoot, and a boob job. It looks goooood!

Yesterday, Chris Randall, who works with the New Haven Land Trust, told me that a volunteer project he had set up for a group of seniors from Hopkins School here in New Haven fell through. He asked if I might have enough work to keep them busy in the Grand Acres Community Garden today, which is the urban garden that I’m the coordinator of. I, of course, said yes. Enthusiastically I might add. 10-15 extra sets of hands are always extremely appreciated and it’s awesome to have help working on projects that make the garden look even better than it already is. I maayyy have made the executive decision not to go into work today so I could work all day in the garden too. Oh well. Sorry I’m not sorry :)

Just so you have a point of reference, that’s a picture of the garden before the day started. Yes, a liiiiittle messy. So anyway, the first thing I did this morning was drive to Home Depot to pick out new paint colors for the shed. I’d been looking forward to this for months. Why, you ask? This is why:

Certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing shed I’ve ever seen. That picture doesn’t even begin to cover the graffiti on the back. I guess when I said urban garden, I really meant urban garden! So that was one of the first (and biggest) cosmetic procedures endured by Grand Acres today. Here’s the after shot.

SO much better, right!? Just having hands on that project would have been super helpful. But we didn’t stop there baby, no we didn’t. Some strong young lads also cleared all of the weeds and grass that had grown in our hoop house. The good news is our hoop house really does its job. The bad news is that if you don’t pull the weeds every now and then you get a forest of grass, which is what we had. Now we have a cleared out, usable hoop house. See?

That’s Chris there, taking a picture of me taking a picture of him. And you might notice that I was standing on DIRT in the hoop house. So nice. While some were painting the shed and cleaning out the hoop house, others were weeding a flower box by the street. They arranged and planted some colorful annuals that I’m sure passersby will enjoy. You passersby better enjoy them! This isn’t a picture of that flower box but I thought you might enjoy these flowers, also from the garden.

During all of these various projects students were cutting grass, weed eating where the mower wouldn’t fit, and piling weeds into lawn bags. This is the finished product:

I can officially say it looks amazingHUGE thanks to the seniors at Hopkins School who helped out in the garden today and also to Chris, who worked to arrange the volunteer day for Grand Acres. Stop by our garden sometime, I’d be more than happy to give you a little tour.

Play dress up with your food.

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Nooo, I’m not talking about buying weird outfits for your tomatoes or putting a wig on your cantaloupe. That’s just bizarre. I’m talking about edible flowers. See, look how beautiful these are.

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Incorporating flowers, like these chive blossoms, into your food is a pretty simple way to take your dish to the next level. Pick them fresh if you can (the newest blossoms taste best), give them a little rinse, remove the stem from the center, and separate the florets. They’re perfect sprinkled over a salad. By the way, the yellow flowers are arugula blossoms. You can eat those spicy little babies, too!

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Be sure that whatever flowers you choose were grown organically regardless of who grew them. I can’t imagine pesticides or herbicides being tasty on your flowers. I prefer salt and pepper. And warning, NOT all flowers are edible. I repeat, not all flowers are edible! Do a little research first but for future reference, these are a few examples of flowers that are edible: pansies, honeysuckle, chamomile, day lilies, squash blossoms, and lots of herb blossoms. Yum. Have fun with your food! It’s meant to look as delicious as it tastes.

PS – These chive blossoms currently reside in my garden. I have quite an abundance of them so if you need to impress a date or the in laws I’ll save a few for you :)