Blanched Asparagus

Asparagus might be even tastier cold than it is hot.  It makes a pretty  addition to a simple salad.

Bring salted water to a boil.  Then, add asparagus.  Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.  When you start to smell asparagus, let it cook for about another 30 seconds.  Then, immediately drain out the water.  It should still be firm and delicately crisp.  To serve warm, serve immediately.  Or, to serve it chilled,  cover asparagus in cold water.  Let sit for 2 minutes.  Drain and chill in the fridge.

Eat me.

Garden 2014 — Update

Lemon Boy
(On my new cutting board with silver spoon handles)

A Rainbow of Cajun Belle Peppers

A Bowl of Tomatoes for the Week

Another Week’s Worth of Tomatoes & 2 Cajun Belle Peppers


This weekend we picked even more Lemon Boy tomatoes… about 10 Lemon Boys.  We were too busy making tomato sandwiches to take pictures.  It’s a shame because every one of them was picture perfect (except for 1).

For the last three weeks we’ve gotten about 1 big bowl of tomatoes a week.  That’s about 3-6 full size tomatoes and a bowl of assorted Juliets, Tami Gs, and Sun Gold cherries.  And, that’s perfect for us.  The combination of 3 Lemon Boys, 3 Juliets, 3 Tami Gs and 3 Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are more prolific than any other year.  The Lemon Boy is even more prolific than the Early Girl which seems shocking for a yellow tomato.  But, we’re loving it.  It’s a good thing that we like to snack on the cherry tomatoes daily.  Or, we’d be overflowing with tomatoes.

In other news, someone loved this hot dog so much that I need to work on a homemade version.

Game Plan:

Nathan’s hot dogs
homemade cole slaw (vinegar based)
homemade chili
thinly shredded cheddar
diced sweet onion

Each item should be applied like condiment.

Let the testing begin!

Early Girl & Lemon Boy Tomato Sandwiches

Early Girl & Lemon Boy

Early Girl has a sweet, savory quality that is really lovely.  But, Lemon Boy has a brightness and a burst of acidity that makes it something special.  For a tomato sandwich, we both preferred the Lemon Boy.

And, it’s a beautiful tomato, too.

Early Girl is tender and very juicy.

They’re begging to be eaten.

Tomato Sandwich
makes 2

4 slices of bread, toasted
2 tomatoes, sliced
Extra Sharp White Cheddar (This made the better sandwich.)
Sharp Cheddar
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground fennel seeds
fine sea salt

Toast bread.  Lightly apply mayo.  Place two slices of cheese on top.  Then, arrange tomato slices.  Be sure to cover every inch of available sandwich space.  Grind pepper on top of tomato slices.  Sprinkle fennel and salt.  Then, slice each sandwich in half and devour ASAP.

Garden 2014 — Early Girl & Lemon Boy

The First Two Early Girl Tomatoes

Not too big, not too small… They’re just right.

Picked on Saturday, Jun 14, 2014

With the stem on, these ripen beautifully on the counter.  Just be sure that they’re close to about 80% ripe.

Picked On Jun 17, 2014

One Lemon Boy, 9 big Juliets, 24 Tami G, and 24 Sun Gold… the Juliets are really beautiful this year.  And, the Tami G tomatoes are all oddly small, but sweet and tasty.

Do you see what looks like a plump cherry tomato (upper right).  That’s actually a perfectly ripe Sun Gold. It’s so dark gold that it’s nearly orange.  It’s placed on top of the pile picked today.  In about two days, they’ll all be that beautiful dark golden orange.  The taste?  It’s the perfect blend of sweet and savory tomato perfection.

The Early Girls, Today

They’ve ripened perfectly on the counter.  Tonight, we’ll be tasting them for the first time.

I love our tiny little garden.

Sun Gold Cherry Snack

one handful of perfectly ripe Sun Gold cherries, halved
extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
black pepper, freshly ground
goat cheese, big chunks
rustic wheat bread, toasted

In a small bowl, toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, Toss again.  Add big chunks of creamy goat cheese.  Toss very gently.  While the bread is still warm, smash cheese and tomatoes on the bread.

Enjoy immediately.

Or, serve as a small salad with the toasted bread on the side.

Garden 2014 — Update

The First Bowl Of Tomatoes For 2014

Almost a dozen Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, 4 Juliets, a small handful of Tami G’s, and one Lemon Boy (slightly speckled, top right in the back, about the size of a small plum).  The day of the photo the Lemon Boy tomato was very bright yellow.  But, the next day, it had a dark golden hue that was similar to the Sun Golds.  Inside, it was a bright beautiful yellow.  It’s a very pretty tomato with a slightly more acidic flavor than the Sun Gold.  But, it’s acidic in a very good way.  They’re perfect to quarter.  So, they’ll make great salad tomatoes.

Roasted Tomato Sandwich, Italian American Style

rustic bread, toasted
homemade mayo
basil, if desired
fennel, freshly ground
black pepper, freshly ground
fine sea salt

Lightly brush bread with homemade mayonnaise.  Top with a basil leaves or shredded basil, if you like.  Then, while the tomatoes are still warm, arrange on top of the bread.  Sprinkle fennel, black pepper, and salt on top.  Consume immediately.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil
fine sea salt

Place tomato halves in a small casserole dish packed tightly together.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Then, sprinkle with salt.  Roast at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until they reach your desired state of doneness.  Turn off the oven.  Let cool in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  Tomatoes should still be warm.

Garden 2014 — First Tomatoes

The First Tomatoes

Two Sun gold and one Tami G, these were green yesterday.  Yesterday’s tomato pictures were taken in the late afternoon.  After taking those shots, I thought it would be at least another week before we had a ripe tomato.  And, today, we have three.  They’re barely ripe.  But, for our eager fingers they were ripe enough for picking.  We savored these first bites with a sprinkle of freshly ground fennel seed and a very light coarse grinding of black pepper.  The fennel brought out the sweetness to perfection.

Fresh Tomato Bites

cherry tomatoes, halved
fennel seed, freshly ground
black pepper, freshly ground, coarsely
fine sea salt

Cut cherry tomatoes in half.  Sprinkle lightly with freshly ground fennel, black pepper and sea salt.

Savor each bite.

A handful of vine ripe tomatoes make a perfect snack.  I’m already planning the next few bites.  The next tomatoes to ripen will be savored with a gentle sprinkling of  smoked sea salt.  We have crystals of hickory smoked sea salt and smoked Maldon sea salt.  The triangular flakes of Maldon sea salt have been smoked over English oak.  It’s lovely and mild.  The Juliet and Tami G  tomatoes will be perfect to taste with just a tiny touch of each type.  After that?  I’ll be mixing a touch of wasabi powder into fine sea salt.

Garden 2014 — Update

The roses are gone for another year.  But, they were more beautiful and more prolific than ever before.  The deep red blooms were stunning.

That gorgeous shade of deep dark red fades with each new each day.

Each color has its own beauty.

And, every unique bloom offers beauty to the world.

The Biggest Black Mission Fig In Our Yard

The Figs Are Sprouting Nicely

The other two, not so much…

The 4 Footer

Straining to the left in search of sun, it’s a goofy little tree.

The White Princess Peach

Sadly, the windstorm knocked most of the peaches off the tree about 2 weeks ago.

Some appear to be ripening much faster than others.  Another strong wind, knocked at least another 2 dozen peaches off this week.  Around 2 dozen peaches remain on the tree.  But, the tree appears to be very healthy.  So, this might be for the best.

The tiny apricot tree in the back was planted the same day.  It bloomed nicely this spring.  There were dozens of pretty little blossoms.

Early Girl

Lemon Boy

Both currently have about 4-6 small tomatoes.

Sun Gold Cherries

More Sun Gold Beauties

Unfortunately, the wind has knocked several greet tomatoes off.

Tami G

Juliet Towering Over Tami G


New Blossoms On Top

Because of the heavy rain, we’ve already fertilized once.  This made them sprout like crazy.

This is the garden today.

The Juliets are the tallest.  The Sun Gold Cherries are very close behind and they’re also the most fruitful.

This was about three weeks ago.

Rainbow Blend Cherries From Seed

Given that I started these seeds about two weeks too late, it’s a miracle they’re sprouting so beautifully.  The good news?  If the squirrels don’t kill them, I’ll have some cherry tomatoes later in the season.

Marble Strips Hand Cut By My Honey

A project in the kitchen has kept us extremely busy this year.  But, we’ll be enjoying the fruits of our labor…


Salmon Ciabatta

A simple sandwich can be so satisfying if you take the steps to make it something special.  Smoke or roast your own meat.  Toast or grill the bread.  Make the condiments yourself.  And, include some fresh vegetables.

We’ve been experimenting with an oven smoker.  They’re so incredibly quick and easy to use..  The flavors seem to be slightly more mild than a real smoker.  This is probably due to the quicker cooking times.  But, we’re loving it.  We’ve smoked a few chickens, too.

Smoked Salmon On Ciabatta
makes 1 sandwich

ciabatta, sliced in half
smoked salmon filet
freshly made mayo
lettuce, shredded
tomatoes, thinly sliced
Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced (Add next time)
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Grill ciabatta on a lightly buttered griddle.  When, the first side turns golden, flip.  Spread a very thin layer of mayonnaise on the cut side of the bread.   Top with smoked salmon, lettuce, tomato, a sprinkle of sea salt and a light grinding of black pepper.

Garden 2014 — Update

Gazebo On Marietta Square

Rambling Red Climbing Rose

Gorgeous, healthy, and ridiculously hearty, we can’t kill this rose.  It’s perfect for us.  We’re guessing the type.  But, the hearty, vigorous nature and color of this rose matches the description to a T.

Those horrible beetles are devouring the rose leaves.

Flowering Sage

The sage…

…and oregano are taking over this little bed.  The marjoram is buried underneath the sage and the rambling red roses.  We’ll probably need to redo this bed next year.

Four Year Old Black Mission Fig

Out of three very healthy black mission fig trees planted, one is thriving.  It’s about 7 feet tall and over 5 feet wide.  It’s the one out of the three that receives almost  all-day sun.  The second healthiest is about 4 feet tall and three feet wide (less than 1/4 the size of the healthiest black mission).  We believe it gets approximately 3 hours less morning sun.  The tiny little one in the shade with about 3 hours of afternoon sun.  It’s about 2 feet tall with about 2 dozen leaves.  We’ve never seen a ripe fig on this poor little tree.  Squirrels may be eating the green figs.  And, it doesn’t help that rabbits were eating (and possibly still are) the lower leaves.

Blackberry Blossoms (With Thorns)

Flowering Blackberry Bushes Straining To Reach The Sun

Dozens of blackberries this year, it’ll be interesting to see how many the squirrels allow to ripen.  This year we’ve seen more blossoms and unripe blackberries than ever before.

Every raspberry sprout (too small to be a bush) made it through the long cold winter.  But, one of the thornless blackberry sprouts (on the hill far right) appears to be gone.  The other two thornless blackberries are sprouting.  But, they’re very small.  And, we haven’t seen any flowers or berries.

The raspberry shares a bed with loads of chocolate mint.  Even in the more shaded areas, the chocolate mint seems to be thriving.  It’s remaining in the bed, so far.

Rosemary With A Fresh Bed of Compost And Garden Soil In The Back

We’re hoping the blackberries will spread to fill the space.

The tomatoes are doing beautifully.  Every purchased plant has  multiple green tomatoes.  And, the rainbow cherries are sprouting very well.  We believe over 90 % of the seeds sprouted.  They appear to be very healthy.  But, the squirrels trample through the beds.  So, we can’t be sure of the exact percentage.  It’ll be interesting to see how many survive the daily trampling.

The Cajun Belle peppers are extremely healthy… so far.  Last year, the squirrels devoured the sweet peppers.  So, this will be interesting to see.

The only thing struggling due to the late frost appears to be the basil.  Every plant is alive.  But, they are growing at random rates.  Some are more slow growing than others.

Queso Burger

Take Grilled Burgers & Buns

Garnish With Cukes, Radishes, Queso, Cilantro…

Scallions & Onions

I chose to top my burger with a slice of grilled Vidalia onion, a thin slice of tomato, cilantro leaves and freshly crumbled queso fresco.

The cheese lover covered his burger in thin slices.  Then, he sprinkled the top of his burger (medium rare) and cheese with a mix of chili powders.