Veggie-ghetti

Have you ever had so many vegetables you just do not have any idea of what to do with them? This is an issue many home gardeners will run into several times during peak harvest season. It is also an issue we were facing over the weekend. If you want to see how we turned a mess of veggies into a tasty vegetarian meal then keep reading! If you wanna get straight to the recipe, we understand that too!

This past Sunday it became abundantly clear that there was a need to have a veggie chop and freeze day. Baskets of produce on the counters and in both refrigerators spoke the same exact story. Things have been so busy as we have done final preparations for the Fall CSA that we hadn’t been able to work it in weekly as normal. So I got the youngsters to wash up all the produce and set up the chopping station. Ironically it was also time to prepare dinner. As I chopped hubby observed to see what he could use to add to our meal for the evening. I readily offered the three eggplants that I had chopped up. If you could have seen hubbies face as he said, “No. I don’t want those. It takes too much to get them to taste good.” Yep, he said that! See, unlike me, he doesn’t like the natural flavor eggplant offers. That is ok, many of us feel that way about various veggies. So he quickly grabbed up some Italian Roasting peppers and stuffed them while I continued to chop. Four quarts of okra later I was finally left with the remaining peppers, eggplant and long beans. I decided to do a stir fry mix. One contained eggplant, beans and peppers and the other contained eggplant and peppers only. I diced the eggplants into fairly small pieces. I wasn’t sure when I would use these mixes so I froze these as well.

The next day marked vegetarian week for me. So as I mediated on what to prepare to please me and my carnivorous family members I thought back to the eggplant stir fry mix and had an idea! I began to prepare the following. It was totally made up as I went however I’m sure that someone somewhere has done something similar before. So let’s get cooking shall we?

The Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Fresh Basil
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Spaghetti Noodles

The Prep

You will need to chop your veggies into a suitable size. Although I had no idea that we would be using these veggies for this meal when they where initially chopped, it just so happened that the size mimicked pieces of ground meat. So if you are going for a fake out then be sure to consider chopping small. If you are going for more of a ratatouille vibe then chunky is good.

Tip: Before you start chopping go ahead and fill your large stock pot with water for your noodles and put it on and medium high. Add salt if you prefer.

Let’s Cook!

This is so easy peasy that you really do not need the instructions but since this is after all a recipe we thought we better.

  • Add two tablespoons of olive oil to your pan and bring to a medium heat. Add all of your produce at the same time except the basil. Fry for 10 – 15 minutes while stirring frequently
  • Add seasonings (always to taste)
  • Add fresh basil
  • Add tomato sauce and allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes. Within this time add your pasta to your water which should be at a nice boil.
  • Add sauce to noodles & enjoy!

Click the photo for a short video of our preparation!

While eating dinner I asked hubby what he thought of the spaghetti. “It’s real good.” he mumbled between bites. I, feeling quite surprised and impressed with myself, had to tell him, “It’s those 3 eggplants you didn’t want to eat yesterday.” To which he laughed saying, “Touché, touché.” Mission accomplished!

Are you going to experiment with our Veggie-ghetti recipe? If so we would love to see your creation. Share your photos in the community section of our Facebook page or tag us in your Instagram post – #bainhomegardens. From our family to yours!


The Goings On – October 2020

October has arrived and for the first time in years, it actually feels like Fall. Admittedly, our bodies are still adjusting to cooling temperatures. Increasingly shorter days means all farm hands on deck while the sun shines in all its glory. All in the family have been very busy preparing for Fall. We have nearly gotten all of our long season crops planted and now we take a breath… a short one anyway! Check out what’s been happening since we last spoke.

The Produce

Okra has been growing like crazy! Finally with cooling night time temperatures it is slowing down. Thankfully we have been able to freeze quite a few gallons and should be set for the Fall.

Eggplants, for the second year in a row, have proven to be the divas of Bain Home Gardens. They finally decided to get with the program and are gifting us with delicious treats. All four varieties are coming along nicely, three of which are under the cover of Hoopty. We hope this means we can reap benefits for a few more months a least.

Asian greens are loving the cooler temps! Sadly the bugs love to munch on them as well as everything else! We have already enjoyed these as baby greens in sandwiches and cooked the mature greens in stir fries. We are filling more beds with these type of greens and they are available to purchase today on our listings page.

We also recently harvested the first mustard greens of the Fall season both green and red varieties. These were planted in succession. In about a month we should be harvesting from our second planting and so on and so forth. We always plant an obscene amount of greens because we like to freeze them for use later in Summer when it is a bit harder to come by tender greens.

The farm is finally starting to look like a farm again since the beginning of our Fall make over! FINALLY!

Replanting

When Sally hit last month we didn’t know what to expect. Our biggest concern of late has been the high tunnel (Hoopty). We are always concerned about the possibility of wind damage. Fortunately that was not a problem. The high water levels did wash away some newly established seedlings in the field areas. Since we had many of these on stand-by for the Fall plant sale, we simply replaced those from our own stock. Sadly this meant we had to remove these from the sale. Thus replanting has been done for mustards, collards, broccoli and chard. Although we are working hard to rebuild stock for the continuation of the Fall plant sale, we cannot guarantee that there will be any plants available. If and when they are, we will make an announcement. Here is hoping!

New Crops

Artichoke seedlings breaking ground

One thing you have come to know about Bain Home Gardens is that we thrive off growing the unexpected or unconventional. It takes a lot of research, prayer and a whole lot of experimentation! The rewards far out weigh the losses in most cases. Over the past few years we have mastered growing long beans, kiwano melons, Thai eggplants, & most recently Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers. On the agenda this Fall is artichoke. We experimented with one variety last Fall with no success. No worries; our tenacious spirit fueled more research and this Fall we are trying our hands at a different variety. Who knows how this trial will go. However if successful we should have our very first artichokes early 2021.

CSA Season

October marks CSA season! It is an exciting time for us. It is finally time to share all that we have planned and grown with our members! Not to brag but our CSA members are the absolute best! We strive to grow diverse crops so our members have a healthy abundance in their eight week shares. Therefore supplies for non members maybe limited the during the eight week CSA. Please check our weekly listings page. We do have a little extra love to go around.

This Weeks Listings

This week we are happy to add our Asian Greens to to our listings page. I just had some scrambled with eggs and cheese – YUMMY! In addition Mr. Bain Home Gardener just gave the go ahead to list his pet project – Scotch Bonnet Peppers! Both of these are now live on the listings page!

This year is almost over and I’m sure you may share the sentiments of others we have spoken to who say, “Good riddance!” However this year has taught us a lot about ourselves. We have come to understand the true meaning of friends, family, love and togetherness. We have grown in ways we didn’t recognize we needed to and for that I have to say to 2020 – THANK YOU! Of course the real thanks goes to our heavenly father for supporting us and helping us to grow during such a difficult time.

Who knows what November will hold for the Bain Family! If you would like to see then check back next month for more Goings Ons at Bain Home Gardens.


Stuff-Loaded Peppers

Bell & Italian Roasting Peppers

Admit it. When you saw stuffed peppers you probably thought “Hasn’t that been done to death?” While we cannot disagree we felt a bit forced to reinvent the stuffed pepper. This year we planted far more peppers than we have ever before with the purpose of using them as the stars in our own salsas, pepper jellies and pickled peppers. These range from sweet to extremely hot! Well we have had the joy of using these for the intended purposes but all at once, in the last two months, these peppers have made up their mind to go CRAZY! Now what? Enter stuff peppers…

Just how exactly did we reinvent the stuffed peppers. We simply filled them with…well – STUFF! This “stuff” included anything we had recently harvested that needed to be prepared. So as you prepare your Stuff – Loaded Peppers keep in mind you can use WHATEVER you have on hand. Get creative with it. We sure did. It is as my mama used to say, “Work with what ya got.”

The Ingredients

  • Peppers – We used Italian Roasting Peppers & Bells
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Rice
  • Ground Turkey
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Oil of choice for frying
  • Flour
  • 2 Eggs for egg wash

The Prep

Although this recipe doesn’t require a high skill level it does require loads of chopping and in our case peeling as well (eggplants). My chopping skills can use some work so this took me longer than I really wanted. What is important is that you chop as finely as you can and try your best to chop each produce item about the same size.

We used our bell peppers for the baked version. To prepare them simply cut off the top and remove the ribs seeds. Massage with a little olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Place on cookie sheet and set aside.

We used our Italian Roasting Peppers for the fried version. Slice them down the middle leaving the top on. Remove the ribs and the seeds.

Tip: Cooking the rice while you are fully emerged in chopping is a great idea. It will be done right around the same time you are! If preparing the baked version now is the time to preheat your oven to 375.

Let’s Cook!

The vegetables you choose to use for your stuffing will determine which order you cook them in.

  • If you are doing the baked version place them in the oven as soon as it is preheated and cook for 15 minutes.
  • If you are doing the fried version now is the time to get your fry daddy ready and heat the oil to about 370.
  • In a shallow frying pan add one tablespoon of oil of choice (we used coconut oil) and add ground turkey. When turkey is close to completely brown start adding your vegetables. (If you are doing the vegetarian version simply omit the turkey.)Here is the order and approximate time we stir fried our veggies before adding the next…
    1. Eggplant for 5 minutes
    2. Okra for for 5 minutes
    3. Tomato and onion added together and cooked for an additional 5 minutes
    4. Season to taste. We used garlic and salt.
  • Pull your bells peppers from the oven.
  • Mix the rice with your meat and veggie “stuff”. Cover with shredded cheese bake for 5 minutes and you are done!

If you are doing the fried version then you have a few more steps left.

  • Beat two eggs to create an egg wash.
  • Dip your peppers in flour. Dust off the extra flour. This will give your stuffing something to stick to.
  • Fill the peppers with your “stuff” mixture. Roll in egg wash then roll in flour.
  • Fry. Turn to ensure equal frying on each side.
  • Enjoy!

Nothing brings a family together like a home cooked meal. Why not give this fun recipe a try. If you choose to prepare these for your family, please let us know how they enjoyed them! Mr. Bain Home Gardener preferred the fried the most saying, “I could eat those all day!” Just what every cook wants to hear! Till next time – from our family to yours!


The Goings on – September 2020

So it has arrived – the month at which Summer turns to Fall! This is such an awesome time of the year for many reasons. It tends to be very beautiful. If you live in an area where there are many trees that are not of the evergreen variety then this stunning beauty is nothing new to you. Hues of orange & yellow meeting the blue sky is such a pleasing canvas. We have had the joy of vacationing in Tennessee early October and my, my, MY – JUST STUNNING! Alas… no vacation this year. Not going to beat that dead horse today – moving on! We have so many more positive things to focus on this month.

From Summer to Fall

The garden is always a mess this time of year. Some beds look just plain pitiful if I’m being 100% honest. The heat has ruined most of our Spring greens and what the heat didn’t get, the bugs did. This is nothing unusual but I felt the need to gripe just a little. So where does the positive come in? Well Fall is time to reinvent the farm a bit. Bed turnovers and crop rotation change the face of things rather quickly around here. For instance, the bed pictured below once had beans and Summer squash varieties in it. It has been amended with aged compost and now leafy greens live here and will until mid Winter. In a different bed where zucchini was planted our snow peas are coming up. Soon the area will be teaming with the beautiful lavender and white blossoms. Whatever failures and mistakes were made in Spring and Fall can literally be covered up and you simply start again. In this way season change over here at Bain Home Gardens is quite forgiving.

Sowing Our Seeds & Expanding

Creating new beds for our farm expansion project has been rather labor intensive. Our friends over at Hawkins Homestead Farm have been using a type of permanent bed system and with great success. They invited us to try it as well so we are experimenting with a few of those. You already know that these trials will be documented carefully so that we can assess how well these work for us as opposed to our usual high density technique. This has meant moving loads of compost, spreading, leveling… As I type my shoulders are saying, “massage me!” However the pain is so worth the gain! So far we have planted collards, mustard greens, kale, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, fennel and we didn’t even mention all of the root crops! We do not like to put all of our eggs in one basket so the planting has been split between the field and Hoopty. These have been and continue to be planted in succession to extend our harvest window.

In addition to the native Fall crops we are running trials with with a few non native vegetables, among these is artichoke. It is a beautiful edible ornamental plant that we would love to include in our landscaping. In addition we have heard that the flavor of a freshly harvested artichoke will blow your taste buds away!

Just recently we began to dig up our sweet potatoes. You can watch a short video of the beginning of the harvest here. These will be cured and most will be made available to our CSA members and our family. As we continue to harvest we will have a better idea as to if these can be made available to the general public.

Fall is also the time of the year that we plant our bulbing plants – flowers, onions and garlic. Beds also have to be amended and prepared for these as they should be shipped to us with in the next few weeks. Many of these will not be ready to harvest until May – July of 2021! TALK ABOUT PLANNING AHEAD!

September – Why Special for BHG?

We mentioned earlier that September is a very special month for Bain Home Gardens. We wanted to elaborate on why. On September 23rd 2019 a dream began to be realized for our family. That is the week we broke ground on our high tunnel that we have affectionately come to call Hoopty. To think a structure of wood and plastic could change the face of a business. Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly limited just how much change has been implemented but we see great potential! Here is a cute little video in which we take a little walk down memory lane. I’m a firm believer in never forgetting where you came from. It took a little less than three months to complete our structure. It was well worth the time!

Because we were able to start planting earlier in Hoopty, this years cucumber, tomato, pepper and okra harvest have been more than prolific! We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We have been able to supply our family, Kith & Kin CSA and and our loyal customers throughout the Wiregrass; not to mention the jars we have canned and bags we have frozen. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies however. We have certainly had our share of failures in learning to grow in this unique ecosystem. We have learned what grows well in this environment and what doesn’t. As I feared, pests have been a huge irritant. These issues you could say are a part of the learning curve for high tunnel growing. Thankfully we have received guidance from the best in the trade and are paving our own way by creating a knowledge base for growing organically. We are taking notes on every single thing and are certain that this will ensure that the 2021 growing season will be even more spectacular!

Kith & Kin CSA

This month also marks the beginning of our Fall CSA. Thanks to farm expansions on both farms we offered more shares this season than we ever have! This is very exciting for us. This community continues to grow each season and we are excited to welcome our new members as well as welcome back our members that have been with us since the beginning!

This Week’s Listings

You may have noticed that our produce listings have been more limited as of late. As aforementioned the Fall turnover on the farm will temporarily limit available produce options. However we are very excited to be able to offer even limited options year round. This is what we have available this week:

  • Basil – We have Purple, Thai, and Genovese varieties. If you have a preference please indicate.
  • Lemon Grass
  • Pepper Basket
  • Jams & Jellies

Keep in mind that our Summer Plant Sale is also underway. We are happy to help you get your Fall gardens established with plants from our Clean Starts selection. If you want to feed your family your own home grown goodness then this is a fantastic place to start!

All in all it has been an extremely busy month! We have the calluses to prove it! It is however so rewarding to work hard and see the fruits of our labor! Check back next month for more goings on at Bain Home Gardens.


Our Top Home Learning Hacks

So you are going about your merry way and along comes a global pandemic that derails your life! Welcome to life with COVID-19!

Life has changed for many of us in ways we never thought possible. Lysol is now a rare commodity. Right after checking for our keys and wallets, we now check for masks and gloves before leaving home. A cough is a dreaded sound in a crowd of people. Yes, life is truly different as opposed to 2019. More to the point though are the changes many parents are being forced to make – the transition from brick and mortar school to virtual or homeschooling.

What is the Difference?


Homeschooling is private schooling by a parent or other full-time instructor. Curriculum can be supplied by an outside source, paid or free. The options are endless! In most states you will need to be enrolled in an umbrella school. Your base requirements for schooling will be determined in large part by your umbrella school.

Virtual schooling for our purposes is public schooling done from the home of the student. A learning coach is responsible for checking that student assignments are completed, keeping the student on track with assigned lesson plan, logging daily attendance and more. Curriculum is provided based on the state the student is enrolled in. Teachers are assigned to each grade or subject by the school but may not be as accessible as one would hope. Learning is online based. Programs utilized my vary from state to state & from year to year.

Our family has had experience in both of these learning platforms. So we refer to both collectively as home learning. Each have their pros and cons. However, there are some specific techniques we applied to both that has allowed for us to have  a good measure of success. This took lots of trial and error! Seriously, mistakes were made! Our mistakes however do not have to be your own.  Although we do not profess to be experts we do want to share what we have learned over the years in hopes that it can be of benefit to you and your family. So here are our top 5 hacks to home learning!

Remain Structured


If your kids where previously enrolled in a brick and mortar school then this is something they are already accustomed to. It is, however, up to parents to maintain this structure. This will require a measure of self discipline for all parties involved, particularly the parents. If you are a working parent this will be particularly difficult but it is possible. Set designated start and stop times for school. At our home we begin each school day by 8 a.m. On an average day, assignments are completed by 1 p.m. If not we have a hard stop time of 3 p.m. This prevents mental exhaustion of student and teacher. Trust me, once you’ve reached that point nothing good results!

Get dressed for school. It may seem simple enough but it is easy to allow our young ones to stumble out of bed, grab bowl of cereal and report to their desks in their pajamas. I mean, who’s going to see them – right? True; but consider this. Our attitude is reflected in the way we dress. Why do we dress professionally for interviews? We want our potential employers to see a confident responsible person so we dress as such. As a result we feel self assured and will likely ace the interview. It’s no different with school. If your area requires school uniforms you may try that each day or you may create your own dress code. At our home a button down shirt or a polo style shirt with slacks or jeans is acceptable.

Accountability


Accountability is defined as “the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.” Every school has a code of conduct. It outlines the rules and clearly defines the consequences if said rules are not followed. You likely already have house rules. Create a code of conduct for your home learning as well and consider it an addendum to the house rules. Follow it consistently. This may take much energy in the beginning but as everyone becomes adjusted to their new routine it becomes easier. In our home hubby serves as the “principal”. If we are having issues that I as the teacher cannot resolve with the kids, they get sent to the principal’s office. This rarely happens! Just knowing that it can is more than enough to keep the kiddos on the straight and narrow. It isn’t that you are running some military training school but there has to be a measure of order in the environment for it to be conducive to learning. The students must understand that there will be consequences even though they are at home. You will find things going much smoother throughout the year with applying this one hack!

Take Frequent Breaks


This is something that breaks the norm of conventional schooling but it pays huge dividends! Taking breaks refreshes the brain and emotional state. You can decided when and for how long but be sure to incorporate these particularly during your struggle subjects. For us these are History and Mathematics. We take 10 – 15 minute breaks. As a parent and homemaker I usually take this time to do do a quick chore like taking meat out to thaw for dinner or making a business call. Our kids will do anything from walking the dog to taking a quick power nap. We find that the ratio 1 hour of work to 10 minutes of break is much better than banging our heads against the wall! Often times when there is a problem we can’t seem to figure out, we take a break, come back and the solution just jumps out! Invaluable!

Play Background Music


One of our children has ADD. Quite sometime ago we began to play nature sounds music or some type or orchestral music. He was so young that if he recognized the song he would stop and sing along. This created even more struggle because the class was immediately turned into a concert! Thus the instrumental music. As he got older we migrated to music more pleasing to his tastes. Even throughout college he continued this practice with jazz tunes. This sets a mild and calm mood setting mind and emotions at ease to tackle the day. Studies have shown that “background music may improve focus on a task by providing motivation and improving  mood. During long study sessions, music can aid endurance.

Have Fun!


While these are difficult times make the most of the extra time you have together with your young ones. Their minds are now in your hands. While proceeding with caution don’t forget to have some fun too. YouTube some fun Science experiments on the current topic of class. Do some fun physical activities together. Create a crazy recipe that even the dog won’t eat. Laugh!

Since your child maybe feeling more and more isolated you now also have to factor in his/her socialization. We have made use of the Zoom app and had family game nights with friends. Also though the kids have created links and invited their friends to hang out & play games. Please consider age and adult supervision accordingly. Our young ones need an outlet to express how COVID-19 has changed their lives. As parents we want to be there as much as humanly possible but a real friend is also a good source of comfort. The emotional support they get from each other goes along way towards making the school day more bearable for them and you.

In conclusion, be patient with your children and yourselves. Rather than view this change as yet another complication of COVID-19 look at it as a new adventure, a new chapter in the book that is your family. Prospective is everything! Your students will mimic your negative attitude much quicker than a positive one. So even when there are screw ups and failing grades try to have a good outlook and remember there is always tomorrow!

These techniques and suggestions are from the outlook of the parent. In our next series we will interview the kiddos and see what suggestions they have to offer. That should be a real treat. I’m honestly scared!

Happy learning – from our family to yours!