Veggie-ghettie

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!


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!


Jalapeno Garlic Pickles

I love stepping outside of the ordinary and trying something new! New foods new places – I am a traveler at heart. No one told my wallet so farmer it is! What I’ve come to learn is that is actually the next best thing. Those that can’t travel, grow!
New and exciting is adventurous and all however there are a few good ‘ole foods that have found a home in my heart and one of those is pickles! I absolutely love pickled foods – anything from okra to beans! Now you know pickled cucumbers fall into that group! In recent years my husband has begun grilling with pickle juice. You would have to ask him the point of it. All I know is it tastes DIVINE by the time it hits the plate! So here at the Bain home, I eat the pickles, Mr. Bain Home Gardener grills with the juice. Funny right? Well I slipped up and said I was making more pickles and now a certain someone is holding me to it. Join as we make easy Jalapeno Garlic Peppers and Pickled Jalapenos at the same time!
The Produce
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 Garlic clove with stem
  • 5 medium jalapenos
  • 1 sprig fresh Dill
Let’s Prep
  • Wash a 16 oz Mason jar appropriate to the size of the cucumbers you have on hand (if you are making spears as we did) and an 8 oz jar for jalapenos. We didn’t account for how much the jalapenos would cook down so used 2 16 oz jars when actually only an 8 oz  jar was actually needed.

 

  • Sterilize jar, lid and ring. Since we are doing a refrigerated version just for our family this step really isn’t necessary however we are being extra cautious while maintaining a certain ease. We simply washed our jars well with really warm soapy water and rinsed. We then placed water into a 8 × 8 pan and placed jars upside down in pan with water at the base in a 250° oven. We added the rings and lids to this pan as well.

 

  • Chop the cucumber, jalapenos and green garlic (up to the beginning of the leaves) to desired size. Consider wearing gloves when handling the peppers AND DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE!
The Spices (always to taste)
We used a pinch (mama’s unit of measurement) of each of the tasty spices below:
  • Celery Salt
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic Powder
  •  Dill Seed
We also Added:
  •  4 African Peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon of pickling salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
The Brine
  • We used 10 ounces water to 10 ounces of white vinegar, a one to one ratio.

Let’s Cook
  • Mix brine with jalapenos and garlic into a pot. Add spices. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute then simmer for 4 minutes. You will notice the deep green color changing on the jalapenos to a more olive color. This means the vinegar is infusing into the jalapenos and the jalapeno flavor is diffusing into the brine. This is exactly what we want!
  • With about 1 minute left to simmer carefully remove the jars from the oven.
  • Loosely pack cucumber spears into the 16 oz jar leaving room for jalapeno/brine mixture.
  • Using a spoon, scoop out 2 tablespoons of jalapenos and place them into the jar of cucumbers. Then pour enough of the brine over the spears to cover them. Leave a quarter inch head-space in jar.
  • Pour the remaining, jalapeno brine mixture into your 8 oz jar leaving the same quarter inch head-space. These pickled jalapenos are great on tacos, burritos and greens!

  • Using a paper towel dipped in vinegar, wipe the rims of both jars.

 

  • Apply lids and rings securely.
  • Now carefully flip the the jars upside down. Allow to stay in this position until completely cool. The heat will normally seal the jar. Again this is just something we do for small batches for the family.

  • Refrigerate. We refrigerate as a precaution since the pickles are not water bath processed or pressure canned. Better safe!
You can enjoy these right away if you desire. However, if you want the flavor deeply infused into the cucumbers  then allow about 7 – 10 days before trying. Now for our moment of honesty – we never wait that long! We usually wait at least one day and then we begin tasting. Maybe you will be more patient than us!
So are you going to try this simple recipe? If you do you know we wanna see those photos! Let us know how they come out! If you would rather let us do it we understand. You can pre-order yours here – from our family to yours!

Garden Fresh Pasta

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The baskets were so beautiful this week that Rachel and I were a tad bit jealous! Can you blame us? Truly it is OK since we are also members of this CSA and we harvest for ourselves when we harvest for you. Here is a meal that we did Sunday evening with our baskets. It was so good that we thought we would share!

If you have followed our recipes then you know that we really REALLY hate waste. So at our home we reinvent leftovers quite often. This is especially so on the weekends when I really have tired of cooking. So for the beginning of the recipe I’ll share the pasta which happened to be the left over portion.

The Pasta

I used Rigatoni pasta Saturday night to go with the meatballs in tomato sauce instead of Angel Hair pasta. After cooking I did the following:

  • Drain pasta.
  • Add back to pot and place on a no heat on the burner.
  • Add 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese.
  • Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and stir until the pasta is well coated.
  • Season to taste – we used our own home grown dried basil.

The Garden Fresh

When we say garden fresh we usually are referring to the fact that it was freshly harvested from the garden. While we used items from our weekly baskets and other fresh produce, this recipe really will work with just about any vegetables you have on hand – fresh or frozen.

Ingredients – All of the ingredients were diced finely.

  • 3 small eggplant (totaling 6 oz)
  • 5 ounces winter greens
  • 2 small turnip roots
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 radish root

Let’s Cook

  • Add your freshly diced produce to 2 tablespoons warm olive oil and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Season to taste – We used an all purpose seasoning here.
    • At this point I put a small amount into a bowl and sent it into the living room for Mr. Bain Home Gardener to try. All I heard was “WOW!” So if you would like to stop here and just enjoy your veggies, you will not be disappointed!

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  • Add pasta and be sure to blend well.
  • ENJOY!

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As we transition from Fall to Winter there will be beautiful greens and root crops in abundance! WE CANT WAIT! Rest assured that we will be cooking more and more garden fresh meals and we will try our best to save the best ones to create more easy yet tasty recipes – from our family to yours!


Eggplant Chips

So you have these beautiful Thai Eggplants in your basket – what next?

First of all let me tell you why we decided to grow Thai Purple Ribbed Eggplant (that’s a mouthful!). Have you seen them? They’re beautiful! Outside of that, it’s something we would personally like to see in grocery stores or at the very least Farmer’s Markets. So we figured we would grow it ourselves! And while its stunning beauty is why we started growing it, its taste and ease of preparation is why we will continue growing it!

So just how do we prepare?

The Eggplant

Since your eggplant came from Bain Home Gardens or Hawkins Homestead Farm, you do not have to worry about harmful chemicals. It has been rinsed and inspected for critters. Having said that do one final wash before cooking.

  • Preheat oven to °400.
  • Remove the stems from eggplants. We have found this to be a little tricky with these varieties. The cap of the stem tends to really hug the fruit so you will need to pull the cap up on each of the ends to see the best place to cut. This is the best way to prevent excessive waste of your veggies. If that is not a concern for you, you may simply cut as you wish.
  • For our chips you really want to cut the slices thinly. Otherwise cut them to your liking and adjust cook time to account for thickness. We cut ours thinly thus a shorter cook time.
  • Place sliced eggplant on a plate and sprinkle with salt. Leave 10 minutes. This allows time for the salt to pull the water out of the eggplant which makes for crunchy slices (chips). Pat dry with a cloth.

*If you are going for a more traditional take on your meal, skip the above step.

  • Brush on a thin coat of oil of choice. We used Olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with seasoning of choice. We love garlic so we used garlic powder.

Let’s Cook

  • On a nonstick cooking sheet arrange eggplant slices so they are not touching.
  • Bake on °400 for 15 minutes. *Remember to adjust this accordingly if your slices are cut thicker.
  • Once done, remove from oven allowing to sit for 2 minutes before eating.
  • Enjoy!

We prepared our Eggplant Chips with Fettuccini & Greens Pesto for a more sophisticated switch up on brunch. That recipe to follow in the upcoming weeks. Look out for it along with more home grown goodness – from our family to yours!