We purchased and planted most of our summer garden on Mother’s Day and are looking forward to some delicious garden goodies over the summer months! We are growing some of our annual favorites, but always pick out some new and different varieties to try as well. Here’s what’s growing in our summer garden this year: basil, oregano, thyme, mint, parsley, chives, shallots, strawberries, a variety of peppers (jalapeño, habanero, etc.) and tomatoes (Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey, Black Krim, and Chello), red leaf lettuce, kale, marigolds, nasturtium, dianthus, lavender, and ketchup and mustard roses. We’ll be adding coleus and maybe a few other things to pots in the coming weeks too. We also planted a few hanging baskets and pots with pretty, trailing plants like sweet potato vine, etc. Happy gardening!
It seems our garden is really set up to make sauces and hot sauce more than anything else. Rather than just using our serrano peppers for hot sauce again (which we still may do) we decided to mix them with our tomatoes for a nice salsa that can be quick canned for preserving in the fridge or freezer.
- 1/2 red onion (roasted on grill and diced)
- mix of roma and heirloom tomatoes, about 14 heirloom and 8 roma
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (+ some to coat the onions and tomatoes)
- 3 cloves of garlic pressed into a paste
- lots of serrano peppers minced (we lost count at 12, there may be more)
- cilantro to your taste (we used about a 1/2 cup loosely packed then finely chopped)
- 1 cup + 1 tbsp of distilled white vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
On a grill roast the tomatoes and onions. Remove from grill and let cool. Small dice the onion. Core the tomatoes and put into a blender or food processor and puree (ours produced just over 4 cups of tomato sauce). Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and peppers and sauté for a few minutes (3-4). Add the onions and continue to sauté for a couple more minutes (2-3). Add the tomato sauce and vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken a bit. Add the cilantro and salt and pepper to your taste.
This recipe is not safe tested for real canning, we’re not certain about whether or not there is enough acid to keep it on a shelf for long term. That said, there should be enough vinegar for long term freezing and making it shelf stable in your fridge for a while.
Also pictured above, we pickled our garden jalapeños using this recipe.
It’s peach season in Michigan and there is an abundant supply of juicy, ripe fruit available at our local farmer’s markets – or if you’re lucky enough to have a friend who has peach trees and is willing to share, from friends too! We were inspired by our friend Jennifer, who recently made and shared a beautiful peach crisp photo, and our friend Laura, who generously gave us a bag of peaches from her yard, to make our own peach crisp and it did not disappoint; we used this recipe as a guide (thank you, Jennifer!) and Ryan did a bit of tweaking using what we had available in our pantry (we added oats and cinnamon and left out the garam masala).
While we aren’t growing our own peaches, we are growing our own tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, peppers, and herbs this summer and our tomato plants are producing some beautiful fruit; just look at this heaping bowl of tomato (there’s a zucchini hiding in there too) goodness! As our ripe tomato count is rising, we’re considering what do with them all…pasta sauce, salsa, etc. I couldn’t resist snapping a quick photo of them all piled up in this beautiful bowl by Abigail Murray Studio on top of this tea towel by MirDinara.
We also took some time this weekend to use the laser cutter at Maker Works to make a custom-etched dog tag for Maddy; what we ended up with was 100 times better than what we were able to get from the machine at the pet store too. DIY for the win!
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for me – at the office, we packed up everything to move into our new space while at the same time packing for Ross on the Road events we’re traveling for in seven cities from Tuesday, July 19th (in Boston) through Thursday, July 28th (in Chicago); in the process, I’ve been lucky enough to see some really beautiful event spaces, like the Ascent Lounge in New York and the First Amendment Lounge at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. In NY, I made a point to stop by Junior’s and pick up some black and white cookies to take home (I can’t resist, they’re so good!) and in DC I was sure to take a stroll by The White House of course. Next week, I’m headed to Los Angeles and Chicago and looking forward to it.
In Ann Arbor, we had Art Fair this week…which always brings our hottest summer temperatures and thunderstorms; Ryan and I enjoyed strolling around downtown and seeing the sights yesterday. It’s always so good to come home! Speaking of home, I’m lucky enough to have a husband who is an amazing cook – I’ve been craving some delicious pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil so Ryan was kind enough to cook that up for me when I returned home from DC on Friday, yum! Our garden is doing great; we pulled a whole bowl full of fresh tomatoes from our garden box just yesterday and our peppers, onions, and herbs seem to be enjoying the summer weather too.
We pulled all the onions from our garden, cleaned them up, and put them in a basket to use in cooking; I really love the color of these onion skins too – aren’t they lovely? And we found this pretty, gold-rimmed glass at an estate sale last week and I thought it looked quite nice filled with these dark red alstroemeria.
Speaking of cooking, Ryan used up most all of our garden tomatoes making a green zebra gazpacho (he used a version of this recipe, with a combination of green zebra and granny smith tomatoes we grew) and our garden peppers making hot sauce – yum, I’m looking forward to enjoying all of this!
Ryan was out of town recently and we’ve been so busy lately, so it was really nice to take the day off on Sunday for some much needed R&R and spend some time together; our Sunday included brunch and a nap and it was pretty fantastic. We’ve been getting lots of tomatoes and some peppers from our garden too and I was excited to pick this red bell pepper and several jalapeño and cayenne peppers. I really like these sodas (the Juniper Berry is my current favorite)! Have you heard of Little Free Library? There’s one in our neighborhood and it’s adorable.
For me, the weekend brought lots of tomatoes and 1 ripe cayenne pepper from our garden – now that we have a bowl full of various kinds of tomatoes, we’ll have to figure out what we want to do with them. Also, I was happy to see Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp; it was completely ridiculous and funny (which is just what I needed), I love the cast, and I think Paul Rudd is pretty great! Speaking of Paul Rudd, I thought this was funny. And there’s something really lovely about the summer evening light…
With temperatures in the 90s now, summer is undeniably here – and with it being the start of August this weekend, it will soon be over. I’ve managed to pick a whole bowl of ripe tomatoes from our garden with many more ripening on the vine, I’m excited to see our various peppers getting bigger and closer to being ready to pick every day, and our lettuce has reached the stage where it resembles a small tree; although we continually pick leaves off the lettuce plants throughout the summer, as we need them, we never seem to be able to keep up with how fast the plants grow and I always find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of it we end up with in the end – but, it’s so nice to have fresh-from-the-garden lettuce. Neighborhood walks are always enjoyable and I love to see how all the trees, plants, and flowers change throughout the seasons; there are some really stunning flowers out now.
We decided to make some soup to warm us up from the cold weather that finally arrived. So I made a spin on a classic, spaghetti-os. It is a simple roasted tomato & red pepper soup with circle shaped pasta, anelli, added to it.
- 1 package of anelli pasta (or any other circle shaped pasta)
- tomatoes on the vine (about 24 small/medium sized ones)
- 6 red bell peppers
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup red wine + a little more to splash in later
- a heaping tablespoon dried oregano
- a heaping tablespoon of course ground black pepper
- enough olive oil for roasting the red peppers and tomatoes and cooking the onion and garlic
- salt to taste
Roast the tomatoes and red peppers, lightly coated with olive oil, in an oven at 350° for about 35-45 minutes or until they start to blacken here and there. Set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to the touch core the tomatoes and cut the stems and deseed the red peppers. Cut the red peppers into strips (if your blender is powerful enough no need to do this). Put the tomatoes and red peppers in a blender and puree. Add some olive oil to a large soup pot over medium heat. Sweat the onions and garlic, about five minutes. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the red wine reduces. Once reduced add the tomato and red pepper puree. Add the oregano, pepper, and a few extra splashes of red wine. Simmer for at least 10 minutes to get the flavors to mix. Salt to your taste preference. You can puree the soup again at this point, or just let the onions and other ingredients add a bit of texture to it. I’m lazy so I just left it as is.
In a separate container cook the pasta according to the directions. Once cooked you can add it directly to the soup. The pasta will soak up some moisture in the soup when stored, so if you can’t eat it all when you make it I recommend coating the pasta in some olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt, storing it separately, and just add the pasta to the soup before serving. “The greatest invention since the napkin.”
It is a glorious day out and my “little lime” hydrangeas are blooming! Also, more ripe tomatoes to pick and enjoy. And a fun walk to the park with this cute little girl who has the most beautiful blue eyes, blond curls, and sweetly answers “yeah” so matter-of-factly in the most adorable way…