We live in zone 6a and I have been gardening and cooking for years. This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my success and those failures that come about on occasion. Plus, I want to hear from all the gardeners and bakers and cooks out there and learn from you. Feel free to share your ideas.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My First Charentais Melon

I just brought in my first Charentais melon and it is wonderful, plus it has a terrific fragrance. I bought my seeds from Baker Creek.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)

On of my favorite pasta sauces includes not only tomatoes, but I like to add eggplant from the garden. Plus, the sauce freezes great, and can be used on pizza too.

Here is a great recipe from Saveur for:

Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant)


2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4″ cubes
7 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
16 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti
4 oz. ricotta salata, grated

Heat oven to 500ยบ. Put eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tbsp. oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a 5-qt. pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and half the basil, season with salt, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to tomato sauce. Stir in reserved eggplant and toss to combine. Stir in remaining basil and season with salt. To serve, transfer pasta to a platter and garnish with ricotta salata.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Garden Update

Diva cucumber planting  which is round 2. I had to pull the first plating because of wilt and replanted with seed weeks ago. So far these are looking very good.

 Here are my Meyer Lemons. I have 11 lemons and they are starting to turn yellow.

Charentais melon

Asparagus fern. Isn't it pretty?

 Round 3 of basil.

My beets are starting to look more mature.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harvest Monday

Here is a photo of my latest harvest. It is a little bit of everything.
Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. So visit her site at Daphne's Dandelions

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More Fall Planting

Just finished pulling the determinate tomato plants and planting in its place, swiss chard and radicchio. This is the first time for radicchio, and we will see how it goes.

The cucumbers that I replanted several weeks ago are doing fabulously. They are producing little Diva cucumbers. I decided to plant them in a large pot. I ended up with wilt from the first planting and pulled them all up. So I am glad that round two is doing well.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cicada Killer Wasp

I had never heard of Cicada Killer Wasps and the past couple of weeks while in the garden, I noticed a very large flying insect that I thought was a horsefly. However, the closer I looked, it did not resemble anything  I had seen before. Our neighborhood now has been visited by Cicada Killer Wasps. The males do not sting, but they will dive after people in the garden. Sort of frightening because they are really huge.
Below is information on these wasps from Joe Boggs, a bug expert from Ohio State. For more info go to his post at Ron Wilson. As Joe Boggs states, these insects are impressive and I agree.

KILLERS ON THE LOOSE!  During a visit on Wednesday to Glenwood Gardens, a Hamilton County Park District park located north of Cincinnati, I observed one of the most impressive populations of cicada killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus) that I've ever seen in my entire career!  These giant wasps are the largest wasps found in Ohio, measuring 1 1/8" - 1 5/8" in length.  They are the nemesis of cicadas, particularly the annual dog-day cicadas (Tibicen spp.), so they are considered beneficial.  However, their low-level flights over sand volleyball courts, lawns, and bare areas in landscapes can be disconcerting.  Of course, if you know what's actually going on, fascination can replace fear when you look upon these impressive wasps.

First, remember that as with all bees and wasps, only the females possess stingers (ovipositors = egg depositors).  Second, unlike many of our other wasps, female cicada killers are notably non-aggressive.  You really have to work hard to make them sting!  The females spend their time digging and provisioning burrows with paralyzed cicada-prey.  Their attack on a cicada is signaled by an abrupt halt in the staccato "singing" of the cicada, often punctuated by a high-pitched screech, which usually means a cicada killer has committed an insecticidal act.

The males spend their time establishing and defending territories that encompass females.  Biologists call such collections of males gathering for the purpose of competitive mating "leks".  The males will aggressively buzz any transgressor who dares to enter their lek; including people.  The females prefer to dig their brood burrows in bare, well-drained soil that is exposed to full sunlight.  Although the wasps are considered solitary, all of the females have the same nesting requirements.  Thus, it is not unusual for there to be numerous burrows, and wasps, in relatively small areas.  The males are notoriously territorial and will chase after other males as well as picnickers, golfers, volleyball enthusiasts, and gardeners.  Fortunately, it's all a rouse since the males lack stingers.

Cultural practices that promote a thick growth of turfgrass will usually eliminate a cicada killer infestation in a lawn in one or two seasons.  In landscapes, the wasps prefer loose soil in full sun; however, they will occasionally set-up shop in open areas that are covered by a thin layer of mulch.  Deeping the mulch layer and periodical raking to disturb the mulch or adding plants to shade the soil will make conditions less favorable for the wasps.  Since this is a beneficial insect, there are no insecticide recommendations specific to controlling these wasps.  Education is one of the best approaches to reducing the angst sometimes caused by these wasps.  Indeed, Glenwood Gardens have a nice sign posted next to one of their cicada killer colonies located in a high-traffic area to educate the public on what's really going on with these bio-allies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday to Julia Child

I remember as a little kid watching Julia Child on WOSU. I was amazed by her and thought she was great. She was having so much fun. One of the first cookbooks I bought was

and then I bought
and then

and then


    and I have others, but you get the idea!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pinned on Pinterest for My Mixed Berry Galette

My mixed berry galette was pinned on pinterest at http://pinterest.com/pin/65091157085223736/

Pesto and Herbs

I have harvested the last of the basil for pesto. I freeze it in serving sizes for dinner to have later.Although I planted more seeds a few weeks ago for the third planting, it will be awhile before I get any basil from that planting..

I also found thyme and chives on sale at a local nursery and snapped those up too. They are now in the ground.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Favorite Cosmo Recipe

Here is my favorite Cosmo recipe and Friday evening is when I enjoy one of this. This recipe makes one serving and it is very easy to make.


  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger vodka
  • 1/2 fluid ounce cointreau
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces cranberry juice


  1. Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously for several seconds and strain into a cocktail glass. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking With Julia- Mixed Berry Galette

Well this month I am the host for TWDBWJ along with 
Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. The recipe we are hosting is the Mixed Berry Galette from The Baking With Julia cookbook. We loved this galette and I would make it again. It has a touch of cornmeal in the crust which gives it a nice crunch. I would advise placing the galette on parchment paper to catch all the dribbles while baking. Make sure you place the galette and parchment on a rimmed baking sheet also. It is delicious with vanilla ice cream.

I used about 2 tablespoons or so of sugar in the berries because they needed the sugar. The amount in the recipe would not have been adequate with the fruit I used. I also added a couple of plums.

The recipe is included below along with my photos. Enjoy and I encourage you to make this lovely galette.

Mixed Berry Galette
             ½ recipe Galette Dough, chilled

             1 ½ cups mixed fresh berries ( or cut up fruit)
             1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar

             1 tsp. honey

             1 tbsp. cold unsalted butter

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 11-inch circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. Since the dough is soft, you will need to lift it now and then and toss some more flour under it and over the top. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Spread the berries over the dough, leaving a 2 to 3 inch border. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over the fruit and drizzle with honey. Cut the butter into slivers and scatter it on top of the fruit. Fold the uncovered border of the dough over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you Iift it up and work your way around the galette. Dip a pastry brush in water, give the edge of the crust a light coating, and sprinkle the crust with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.
Bake the galette for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes. Slip a wide spatula or a small baking sheet under the galette and slide it onto the cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cutting the tart with a pizza wheel or a sharp knife.
The galette is best eaten the day that it is made.
Galette Dough
3 tbsp. sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
7 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces

Stir the sour cream and the ice water together in a small bowl, set aside. 
Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine.
Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and pulse 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter that vary in size from bread crumbs to peas. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms soft, moist curds.
Remove the dough from the food processor, divide in half. And press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.
The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. It is convenient to roll the dough into rounds, place parchment paper between each round, freeze them wrapped in plastic, this way you will need only 20 minutes to defrost a round at room temperature before it can be filled, folded into a galette and baked.
                       Contributing baker Flo Barker         
Recipe from Baking with Julia written by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Starting A New Round of Planting-Beets, Chard, and Radishes

Well I had room in half of one of my raised beds for more vegetables. So I planted beets, swiss chard and assorted radish seeds. However, before doing that, I raked in pine fines, organic fertilizer and cow poo.

We shall see how that goes. I need to harvest basil this week and make more pesto to freeze.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Highlights of the Ohio Valley Greenmarket: Event and Lectures

This is what I will be doing on Sunday. Can you believe this is free??? Glenwood Gardens is a fabulous place.It is like having a little piece of heaven on this Earth. Anyone interested in more info can click here.
You should check out Jennifer Bartley's website at  www.americanpotager.com . She will be one of the speakers.


All Day


 Meet the Greenmarket community and learn how local businesses are making a sustainable difference. Join us for the day at Glenwood Gardens and enjoy free admission to the Highfield Discovery Garden, then down to the meadow for a children's farmers market, local vendors, cooking and gardening demonstrations, and discussions. Listen to compelling local speakers, including Jennifer Bartley, author of The Kitchen Garden Handbook. Glenwood Gardens will be open for exploration and attendance is free!

Highlights of the Ohio Valley Greenmarket:
  • Highfield Discovery Garden is FREE August 5! (Save $5/person)
  • Meet and buy from local food producers at the Farmers' Market in the Meadow
  • See the new Ford C-Max Hybrid and Ford Focus Electric cars
  • Bring the kids to shop at the Whole Foods Children's Farmer's Market
  • Meet local producers that supply regional Chipotle restaurants
  • Climb inside Metro's hybrid buses!
  • Taste locally grown and produced Ohio wines
  • Free Stuff!

    Eventbrite - Ohio Valley Greenmarket

    The Greater Cincinnati Master Gardeners Speakers Tent

    Todd Shock & Amber GalliharChipotle – Cultivating a Better World
    Steven GeddesHeritage Breed Pigs
    Braden Trauth of This Land
    Permaculture: The Path into the Next Millennium
    Kathy Charvat of The Greater Cincinnati Master Gardeners
    Achieving a Big Harvest from Little Plants in Pots
    Brad Rogers of Urban Harvest
    High-Yield Urban Aquaponics
    Juliann Gardner of One Small GardenGrowing Four Seasons of Veggies in One Small Garden
    Heather Curliss of Greener Stock
    Holistic Approach to Green Design and Building
    Jennifer Bartley of American Potager
    Sizzle! Cooking Fresh from the Summer Garden

    Matthew Kennedy of Sustain Brands
    Local and Sustainable: Working within the Current Business Structure


    Jennifer Bartley is the founder of American Potager, a landscape architecture firm in Columbus Ohio, specializing in seasonal, sustainable, and edible landscapes. She is most recently the author of The Kitchen Gardener's Handbook, exploring the potential to mix traditional ornamental gardens with seasonal and edible plants for the kitchen. The book contains information about gardening tips, garden design advice, and seasonal recipes. www.americanpotager.com

    Charentais Melon

    Charentais Melon is a French Melon that you will not find in the grocery store. It does not travel well and you may find it in the farmer's market. Otherwise  you will have to grow your own. Growing cucumbers and melons in my garden is a challenge because of beetles and they carry wilt diseases that destroy these plants. We love Charentais Melon and so I decided to try to grow this year. Here is an example of what we have so far. The melons are now the size of a baseball.
    It was so humid outside when I took this photo that the photo fogged over. I am keeping my fingers crossed, but I continue to battle the beetles with neem and insecticidal soap.

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    What is Going On in The Garden

    Round 2 of the bush beans should have beans ready to pick in a couple of weeks. I planted round 3 of the bush beans last week and they are sprouting. I have swiss chard ready to harvest, along with more tomatoes and basil. Eggplant and zucchini are coming along nicely.

    I have melons the size of tennis balls and hopefully wilt will not attack the vines. What I can tell you is that the yellow beetles with black spots are very attracted to the vines. So I with spray them with Neem this weekend.

    Plus I plan to plant more basil this week and swiss chard.