August 25, 2010

the intoxicating moonflower

They say it's something our grandmother's would have planted but it's making a comeback in modern day flower gardens. The moonflower is a vine that can get up to 18 ft.+ tall and it only blooms at night. The blooms are large 5-6" white flowers that have the most amazing fragrance. I wish I could bottle it and I'm surprised someone hasn't already.

I first saw the plant at a local nursery and proceeded to look it up on the internet. I found that you can buy seed packets for a couple dollars so instead of buying one plant for $12 I opted for the seeds and started about 15 of my own in little recycled plastic pots from my past nursery purchases. Not all of the seeds sprouted but most of them did. Once the vine was about 12" tall I planted the ones I wanted in the ground and gave a few away to neighbors. Two of the vines flank my front porch steps climbing the white columns. They have become so dense they provide a certain amount of shade from the afternoon sun but most importantly, and what I was going for, beauty.

I am not a photographer and trying to get a great evening shot of this spectacular bloom was not easy but I hope the pictures give you an idea of what to expect if you choose to start your own moonflowers from seed next spring.

I like to sit on my front porch at night with the lights off and enjoy the fragrance that emanates from these lush, white, blooms, gaze at the stars and enjoy the peace and quiet.

August 18, 2010

recipe for garden salsa

8-10 Roma tomatoes
1/2 Medium onion
1/2  Green or yellow pepper
1 c Loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 Jalapeno pepper (depending on the size)
2 Cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. lime juice
Kosher salt to taste

If you like your salsa chunky you can rough chop all of these ingredients making sure the garlic is finely chopped. Mix it up in a large bowl, add your lime juice and salt to taste and let sit at room temp. for about an hour or so to let the flavors really meld.

If you like a traditional salsa you can use a food processor and blend all your ingredients. I have a technique for this... You want to add the harder veggies first starting with your onion and then followed by your peppers when those have a rough chop add the cilantro leaves. Stop the processor use a garlic press for your cloves of garlic and then add the tomatoes quartered. Once the tomatoes are added and before starting the processor add the salt and lime juice. Using the pulse feature on your machine, pulse the mixture to the consistency that you like. Keep in mind the processor works quickly.

You can use this mixture as a traditional dip for tortilla chips or you can top scrambled eggs or crispy hash browns with it, add it to cream cheese for a thick, rich dip, top all your Mexican foods with a big spoonful... or my favorite is to pan fry small tortilla shells with a light brushing of corn oil and when they're hot and crispy top the tortilla's with the refried bean mixture, some thinly sliced iceburg lettuce, cheddar cheese and then the salsa. It makes for a light refreshing meal. Don't forget a dollop of sour cream.


August 11, 2010

you say tomayto I say tomahto, lets call the whole thing off...

Just kidding... I don't want to call anything off.

There will be a recipe for fresh garden salsa coming soon but until then here are a couple pics of produce from my little urban garden. Roma, black velvet, chocolate cherry, pear and cherokee variety tomatoes pictured. There is also a yellow pepper, a green pepper and several jalapeno peppers. Perfect for mixing up a batch of homemade, garden fresh salsa!

These are all the ingredients needed to make some of the best salsa around.

August 8, 2010


Roma, yellow pear and chocolate cherry tomatoes mixed with fresh basil, garlic, kosher salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Simple ingredients for a great tasting, fresh appetizer or even as the star of an effortless meal.

What you will need:

5 tomatoes (You can use any tomatoes you have on hand I just so happen to have some roma, yellow pear and chocolate cherry from my garden)
1/2 c. of loosely packed basil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (more or less depending on your preference)
1 clove of garlic
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil + more to brush on the bread before putting it under the broiler
1 baguette sliced on the diagonal

Rough chop the tomatoes and add them to your bowl
Sprinkle on the kosher salt
Use a garlic press for your garlic or chop very fine
Drizzle on the olive oil
Top with the basil after slicing it up finely
Gently mix all of the ingredients
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand a room temperature letting all the flavors meld for at least an hour.

Voila it's ready to serve and I promise you won't be disappointed.

This recipe typically calls for balsamic vinegar but I leave it out because I feel it takes away from the wonderful flavors of the basil & the garlic when paired with fresh garden tomatoes. It also calls for a baguette sliced and then brushed with either butter or olive oil and then either pan fried like french toast or a grilled cheese or you can put it under the broiler. Whatever your preference. If you're looking for a lighter, healthier version brush some olive oil on your bread and put it under the broiler for 60 seconds. Please watch your bread because a broiler can really do some damage to your goods if you're not paying close attention... or if you're like me and you have kids and dogs at your feet when you're trying to get a meal on the table and you forget that you even have bread under the broiler. I should have posted a picture of this lovely mixture on top of the bread but it all got eaten before I had a chance. One more thought this mixture can top a simple white pizza and really add some zing or even if you want bruschetta with a heavier meal consistency add some mozzarella cheese, melt it on the top (under the broiler) and then top it with this mixture. You won't be disappointed.

August 4, 2010

the flight of the bumblebee

I have to say I love seeing these wonderful, yellow and black striped insects in my yard. They do so much for our plant life and for our crops. If you want to see more in your yard plant things like lavender, flowering sage, phlox, sunflowers and these lovely Rose of Sharon shrubs.
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