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Friday, July 17, 2009

The Elusive Quail Family

Three days ago I saw them for the first time. They weren't much more than little balls of fluff with legs. A group of baby quail were darting from plant to plant in the vegetable garden with their mothers. I tried to get closer for a picture, but alas they were quick to scurry and escaped the lens.

Today I saw them again. First thing this morning I saw the family walking across the street heading for the garden. Again I tried to get a shot, but they excel at hide and seek and I missed out a second time. Finally, this afternoon as I was sitting here working, they came walking across the front porch. I was able to snap a few shots before they disappeared again.

The cute baby quail living in our garden (and taking occasional strolls on our porch).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2009

Wow! It's the 15th already. Where has the time gone? Most of the blooms right now are in the vegetable garden. Here is an overview shot. We transplanted the seedlings on April 25th and have been harvesting a steady stream of tomatoes and peppers.

Last month I highlighted some of my marigolds. They continue to flourish. Mixed in with the marigolds are some sweet basil and parsley. They are cheerful greeters to the rows of tomato plants. On the lower right is our German Chamomile. I dried some last week (but haven't had a chance to post it yet). If you are interested in my results, check back soon.

Moving away from the vegetables, I discovered that another one of our citrus trees is blooming. This one is the Midknight Valencia Orange. The harvest season is late spring which is why it is lagging the other citrus blooms.

This flower is from an aloe plant. It is nearly finished blooming, but the hummingbirds have been enjoying it's sweet nectar for almost a month. The plant is just outside our kitchen window so I have caught several glimpses of the hummingbird land and drink from the flowers.

To see other blogger's July Blooms, head over to May Dreams Garden.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tomato Salsa

Now that the tomatoes are here, I can’t think of a better reason to make our favorite tomato salsa. This is the basic combination we use to dress our fish tacos. I went out to the garden and picked all the necessary ingredients (the tomatoes on the counter were from the store - the last ones we will buy this season!).

Peppers (can be mild or hot)
Lemon juice

There isn’t a fixed quantity of each ingredient. Tomatoes are the largest contributor (tonight augmented our homegrown with 6 medium store bought), followed by equal parts peppers (1 bell, 1 med, 1 hot) and onion (6 small ones which are roughly the equivalent of 1 medium), a few cloves garlic, cilantro to taste and lemon juice to bring out the flavor in the mixture. Dice everything up and put in a bowl. Stir to combine.

The salsa can be served right away or chilled before using. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days in a covered dish (although ours rarely lasts that long). In addition to tacos, this salsa can be added to a salad, served like bruschetta on toasted bread, or over pasta.

Spicy Scallops

Last night my husband bought some scallops but we didn’t get around to cooking them for dinner, so tonight it’s scallops. I browsed online for an inspiring scallop recipe, but couldn’t find any that caught my eye. Remembering the Firecracker Shrimp that Pioneer Woman made for the 4th of July, I became inspired to adapt that recipe to the scallops.

1.3 lbs fresh water sea scallops
2 tbs El Pato sauce (selected for it low sodium level)
3 tbs olive oil
1 tea sugar
5 cloves pressed garlic
Black pepper

1. In a bowl (with a cover) combine the sauce, olive oil, sugar, garlic, and pepper to taste.
2. Add the scallops and stir to coat. They will not be dripping with the mixture, it will be just enough to add flavor.
3. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator until ready to use (at least 20 min)
4. When ready to cook, heat some olive oil in a sauté pan
5. Place scallops in a single layer and cook for 5-10 minutes until opaque
6. Serve immediately

The scallops had a nice flavor, not too spicy, but with enough heat to notice. We served them over a salad with our homemade tomato salsa. Not wanting to waste the flavorful liquid in the sauté pan, we cooked some pasta and mixed it in. This gave the pasta hint of spice and went well with the scallops and salsa.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July Tomato

Happy 4th of July!

This morning I spent a few hours tending the garden. There have been some signs on red on a few of the tomatoes, but nothing was ripe. I came across this little beauty nestled up between a bunch of tomatoes. Yes, our first red tomato. I brought it inside and sliced it in half - it was ripe. The first taste of summer arrived today - the juicy, tangy, flesh of homegrown tomato.
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