Garden: 2017

Garden 2017 planting day | Kale and Ale

Tonight we planted our garden. Every year it’s an exciting day: The possibilities are endless and there are no failed plants at this point. Everything is cute and small, and the yield and hopes are great.

We like to try some standbys and some new things. This year we are trying broccoli for the first time, wish us luck. (Disclosure: The last minute thing we try usually doesn’t do great.) Now in our third year, Aaron and I tried to plan for how big things get, how much sun they get and how much space they need. Each year we learn a little more and take that into consideration.

RELATED: Tips for first-time gardeners

This year, we went to the University of Minnesota Master Gardener sale, where they sell what they have grown, which often means unique or heirloom varieties of food. The garden has:

  • Sugarsnax carrots
  • Rosemary (in a pot)
  • Apple mint (in a pot)
  • Packman broccoli
  • Basil
  • Peppers:
    • Marconi
    • Serrano
    • Carmen
    • Chocolate beauty
  • Tomato:
    • Martino’s roma
    • Lemon boy
    • Tumbling Tom (in a hanging pot)
  • Chives (already had)

For reference, read my post of what I planted in 2016.

What will you be growing this year? What is your favorite thing about gardening?

Easy Memorial Day weekend treats

It’s Memorial Day weekend, the official start to summer! Hope you all have outdoor plans and a long weekend in your future. If your plans involve bringing food to an event, the last thing you want is spending a lot of time preparing a hot dish. I offer a few quick and delicious foods that are sure to be a hit.

Basil, mozzarella and tomato skewers

Basil, mozzarella and tomato | KaleAndAle.com

Basil, mozzarella and tomato on a toothpick. Instant appetizer!

While on my honeymoon, I had these at a bed and breakfast we were staying at. I had never seen them before, and it was such a simple idea with a popular combination of foods. Just put a basil leaf, mozzarella cube and cherry or grape tomato on a toothpick. If you wish, sprinkle salt and pepper and a little olive oil. The green doesn’t exactly scream America, but it’s darn good and what I’m taking to my Memorial Day potluck.

Festive strawberry

Red, white and blue strawberries | KaleAndAle.com

Festive strawberry. Image from Pinterest and Tumblr

I came across this on Pinterest and love the color and food. I don’t know the original source of this recipe, as I traced it back to a person who got the picture from her sister. It is a strawberry dipped in white chocolate dipped in blue sugar sprinkles. For a healthier and less-sweet version, I could see the strawberry being dipped in vanilla or Greek yogurt and possibly blueberry jam.

Patriotic parfait

My friend Kim brought a wonderful parfait to a 4th of July potluck last year. It had blueberries and strawberries in low fat vanilla yogurt all in a stars-and-stripes bowl (bonus points!) and granola on the side to add on top. It was interactive, healthy, patriotic and tasty.

How will you spend the long weekend? What food and drink to you plan on celebrating with?

Learning to like zucchini

About 10 months ago I blogged about trying to get into kale, squash and zucchini, three foods I wanted to eat more of and learn to like. Seven months ago I joined a Community Supported Agriculture program that provides me with zucchini year-round.

I don’t hate zucchini, but if it’s not prepared a certain way, I really don’t like it. I won’t eat it mushy or by itself. I love it fried (then again, I can’t remember a fried food I don’t liked!), baked into foods, as fritters, baked like chips (a reason to justify buying a mandoline and dehydrator, two items I want) and in sandwiches or burritos. I have tried different recipes and styles, but if it’s the main ingredient, I’m just not a fan.

I have gotten zucchini in every CSA box I’ve received. And I know it’s good for me, so I really want to eat it and not waste it. I just want to make it ways I will enjoy.

This week I got my produce, and again there was zucchini in the box. There were also a lot of tomatoes, a few very ripe. I decided this would be the perfect week to try a recipe I’ve meant to make for a while, zucchini “pasta” and a simple tomato sauce.

I found an easy recipe for each from food sites I love: zucchini “spaghetti” on Slashfood and uncooked tomato sauce on The Kitchn, modifying both recipes a bit.

  • I sliced two large zucchinis very thin, as matchstick-like as I could (again, a mandoline would be easier) and tossed them with enough olive oil to coat, two garlic cloves minced, salt, pepper and a quick splash of balsamic vinaigrette. I let them marinate overnight and sautéed them the next day.
  • Into the blender I put two large tomatoes roughly chopped; about 15 basil leaves; salt, pepper and garlic to taste; and a splash of olive oil. I pulsed the ingredients until I got the consistency I wanted.
  • When the zucchini was cooked, I poured the sauce into the pan with the zucchini for a minute or two, letting it warm.
  • Eat! I had mine with homemade rosemary bread to sop up extra sauce. The whole meal was great, filling but lighter than pasta and more flavorful than spaghetti sauce in a jar.

Based on my likes and dislikes for zucchini dishes, if anyone has a way to prepare zucchini or a dish you think I might like, I would love to know about it.