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Brussel Sprouts

As master gardeners, we really dig a good reason to gather around the table. When delicious, garden-fresh food is involved we’re “all in”. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when we surprised our Raincatcher’s team leader, Lisa Centala, with a ‘bring your favorite dish’ salad buffet for her special birthday.

A tantalizing line up of salad bowls and platters was spread out the length of two 8-foot tables. We didn’t hesitate to fill our plates with the most amazing variety of green salads, vegetable salads, chicken salads and more. Approaching the end of the line were Artichoke Bites, Baguette slices spread with basil cream cheese and Hatch chili biscuits. No restraint was shown as evidenced by plates full of our garden-inspired selections.

One particular dish new to many of us and requested by all was the Zesty Brussels Sprouts. True to its name, the apple cider vinegar combined with sugar and horseradish was soaked up by each little sprout. They had just the right amount of zip to satisfy the palate. Kathey Roberts graciously shared the recipe for everyone to enjoy.

Raincatcher’s Iconic Picture of Brussel Sprouts! Agree?

Now is the time to plant Brussels sprouts. With their long maturity date, transplants should be in your garden by October 15th. 

Zesty Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

2 (10-ounce) bags frozen Brussels sprouts or use fresh from your garden or produce isle

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

5 Tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream of horseradish)

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Directions

Cook the sprouts according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vinegar, horseradish, salt and mustard. Add the sprouts and toss lightly. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

For more information about Brussel sprouts and a video about their care read here.

Linda Alexander

By the way, only 6 tickets left for the Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates lunch on October 16th.  Lecture is free.

 

Greek Vegan Domaldes Recipe

Judy and Yaiyia (Toney) discussing grape leaves at The Raincatcher’s Garden

You remember Yiayia aka Toney Davrados.  Yiayia is Greek for Grandmother and as any Greek Grandma would-she showed us how to make dolmades at our fabulous July  Grape Lecture and Lunch Event.

Now she has offered us the vegan version:

Yiayia’s Greek Dolmades Vegan Style

*Stuffed Grape Leaves with Rice and Herbs

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Greek Dolmades) are often served as part of a mezé (appetizer) plate.  Too often they come from a can and are not fresh. Fresh Greek Dolmades are far superior to the canned.  These can either be a main dish or an appetizer, depending on your appetite. These small bundles of rice and herbs wrapped in grape leaves are a favorite dish in Greece.

Toney surverys our grape leaves to show us leaves that are smooth on the back make better dolmades.

If you have never tried fresh Greek Dolmades, now is the time. They are very easy to make and so delicious!

*Fresh vine leaves: Blanch tender vine leaves for 2-3 seconds in boiling, salted water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl full of very cold water. Place in  colander to drain off water. Use a small sharp knife to remove any stems or tough veins they may have.

*When using bottled Grape Leaves:  To prepare bottled grape leaves, rinse well under cold water to remove the brine.  Place them in a colander (back side up) to drain and hold until ready to use

Ingredients

  • 60-70 tender vine leaves
  • 2 bunches fresh green onions, sliced in to very thin rounds
  • 1 large onion or 2 smaller ones, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • grated zest of 2 lemons
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice from 1 1/2 – 2 lemons

Preparing  filling:

Place a pan over medium to high heat.

Add the green onion, onion and garlic along with ½ the olive oil .

Sauté for 10-15 minutes, until they soften, caramelize nicely and shrink in volume.

Add the rice and sauté for 2-5 minutes.

Add the 1 ½ cup water and stir. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the rice soaks up the water.

When ready, remove from heat and set it aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Add the parsley, dill, mint, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To assemble:

Spread 4-5 vine leaves, and lemon juice on the bottom of a 22 cm pot. Use any ripped or broken vine leaves.

Place a vine leaf in the palm of your hand or on a cutting board (veins facing up and shiny side down).

Add 1 tablespoon of filling in the center, fold the sides of the vine leaf inward and roll to complete. Review the process here.

Transfer to the pot, placing the stuffed vine leaves in a row, one next to the other.

Repeat the same process for all the vine leaves.

When the first layer has been added, continue with a second and third, if needed until they are all done.

Add the remaining olive oil, and cover the stuffed vine leaves with a plate. This is done so that they don’t fall apart while cooking.

Add the warm or hot water, until they are completely covered.

Simmer for about 40-50 minutes until the rice is done and the vine leaves are tender.

When ready, remove from heat and set them aside to cool in the pot.

Let them cool for a bit, in the pot. They can be served warm or cold and should be enjoyed all on their own!

*Perfect sauce for dolmades

Serve the stuffed vine leaves with yogurt, dill, mint, olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

  • 8oz Yiayia’s Greek strained yogurt
  • 1tsp dill finely chopped
  • 1tsp mint finely chopped
  • 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper

Linda Alexander and Ann Lamb

Video by Starla Willis

Fall Veggie Gardening Resources

 

Last year our family chomped through lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and broccoli out of this little garden fall through spring.

Dallas Garden Buzz asked Daniel Cunningham, Horticulturist and Program Coordinator at Texas A&M AgriLife about fall gardening a couple of weeks ago. He has given us good information and was right on with his *rain prediction:

Fall is a great time for growing vegetables in Texas! Coming off the driest growing season (to date) in 109 years in DFW, even the most seasoned green thumb’s gardens may have struggled in 2018.

Plants and planters can be renewed this fall. Let’s rejoice in the fact that there are cooler temperatures ahead and hopefully some *well-timed rain events. AgriLife has an incredible network of resources to help folks root into fall vegetable gardening!

o    Sustainable Vegetable Gardening brochure

o    TAMU Fall Planting Guide

o    TAMU Vegetable Variety Selector

o    TAMU Vegetable Resources

o    TAMU Vegetable Integrated Pest Managment

o    TAMU Plant Clinic

 

Dallas Garden Buzz thanks Daniel Cunningham:       

Horticulturist | Program Coordinator     (972) 952-9223

@TXPlantGuy

 

 

August Garden Survey III

Kay Mcinnis and Wendy Leanse are the coordinators at the Temple Emanu-El Community Garden. This is Part III of our August Garden Survey. Great information from a fruitful Dallas County Master Gardener project on the grounds of Temple Emanu-El.

In August you should be planning for the fall. Take a look at the planting guide put out by TAMU. Its mostly too hot to plant seeds directly into the beds so it’s ideal to start plants indoors.

We are harvesting Long Beans, Cucumbers (particularly Armenian cucumbers which don’t seem to be bothered by aphids), okra, peppers, eggplant, collard greens and tons of black eyed peas and our Cucuzzi  squash has just started producing.

A Look Down Long Bean Alee; See Long Beans Dangling from the Vines

 

We have bitter melons planted that have also just started to bear. Ruth Klein introduced us to several tropical vegetables that don’t seem to be bothered by Texas pests that  have done well.

Bitter Melon at Temple Eman-uel Garden

We have 3 tomatoes planted to see if we can get a fall crop – maybe or maybe not…

We are at the end of our chard and will be preparing the beds to receive some Mustard Greens, Chinese Cabbage and various root vegetables that will produce through the winter.

As our current crops wind down, we will see if we can amend the soil and get a quick crop in or if we should re-new the beds with a cover crop. I have already ordered seeds for that since I found that last year things got sold out.

Last year we put in drip irrigation and are currently watering our beds 3 times a week for 60 min each. We will cut back if it ever rains again in Texas, or when it cools down. We also have volunteers that check our garden during the week to see if everything seems to be getting watered. We found that as the irrigation lines weather, they tend to pop off and need to be re-attached using hose clamps.

A Reminder of the Effort Involved to Lay Drip Irrigation, but it’s Worthwhile!

Our gardeners meet every week on Sunday at 8:30am where we clean up, weed, water what is necessary and harvest/prepare vegetables to take to the Vickery Meadows Food Pantry!

Kay McInnis, Master Gardener class of 2016

More information about long beans here.

August Garden Survey II

 It’s August and  I wanted to write a little something for the blog that would encourage our readers and remind them fall is coming.   Here’s Patti Brewer’s reply when everything seemed so bleak and no rain was in sight:

Well, I’m flattered you asked.  This spring we had the shortest growing season I’ve ever experienced in all these years.

 We had one big flourish of zucchini and yellow squash and then  production was halted because of the intense early heat  and lack of rain out west of Ft Worth where I veggie garden. This area is not the same growing zone as Dallas!
 Squash plants were babied when the spring would not come and covered  up when a freeze came through in late April; then the heat came with a vengeance. Plus I am ruthless for “squashing” the squash bugs and their eggs that always appear. I am blaming the limited squash harvest on the on the heat and lack of rain.
Patti, we agree it’s not  your fault! 

Brewer Vegetable Garden Earlier This Year

The only thing we are harvesting  now is jalapeños and Serrano peppers. Bell peppers are struggling. We usually get our most productive harvest of peppers in Oct and Nov.

It was 111 degrees one weekend in July!   We are sandy loamy soil. So you can imagine how things are barely hanging on in the veggie garden.

Blooms on a Regenerated Spring Tomato in 100 degrees-August 2018

I am trying to regenerate about half of our spring tomato plants. I will sprinkle our homemade compost on the tomatoes and peppers this weekend because it is getting down in to the low 70’s

We are not on a drip irrigation system in the garden. I have mulched and mulched again which has helped. We were a failure at beets. Not sure why. I do have a loofa growing on supports that the English peas were growing on in the early spring, But It hasn’t bloomed yet.

 

 

 

For the fall we always plant the following: mustard and turnip greens, garlic, spinach, turnips and kale. Sometimes we don’t plant the spinach or kale till November.

I will be planting a new area for wildflowers in September. I have harvested many wildflower seeds from this past spring! Just hope we get the rain for those to germinate. Our farm locate west of Weatherford is experiencing big time drought.

Orb Spider Spins a Victim!

 

 

My  recent video of a hummingbird hawk moth and a picture of an Orb spider mummifying a grasshopper have been our entertainment. All from out here in Palo Pinto county!!

 

Patti, did you get any rain in the last week?

Yes!!! As of August 19th, we have received almost 3 inches!!  I’m seeing my bluebonnets sprouting!! I have a new seeded wildflower plot that is 20 X 25 feet. That makes me happy. Loofah is vining like crazy. Still waiting on it to bloom. Tomatoes and peppers have so many promising blooms!!  I have a few tomatoes on the vine too!!

Temperatures although mostly still in upper 90s with lows in the low 70s are making my garden happy. Black eyed peas are up along with mustard and turnip greens. Kale is up because I shook the dried seeds from my kale plants from last winter! Previously planted in the summer was zipper cream peas and black eyes. They look great now and I picked some even. I planted Blue Lake Bush green beans yesterday.

Rain was very important for our entire place. Fall is my most favorite season!!

Patti Brewer, Master Gardener class of 2012

 

Fig Fest Dessert Recipes and Lecture 2018

Dallas County Master Gardeners Working Fig Fest

We had a great day at the garden on August 7th, out working early, tidying up the plants and helping them through this summer heat, and then inside to learn about the care and feeding of fig trees, a (relatively) easy and delicious plant we can grow out here in north Texas.

“Fig Fest” was the third in our series, “A New Crop of Classes.” Entertaining, informative, inspirational, flavorful and delicious were just some of the comments we heard from those who attended…77 to be exact. Jeff Raska, our Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, shared the biology, history, and how-to’s of growing figs locally, and Lisa Centala shared nutritional information about figs, which are a great source of dietary fiber and vitamins K and A.

Highlights from Jeff’s talk included:

  • Figs: You can love them to death. Figs love poor soil, but keep it well-drained and water consistently. You can even raise the bed a bit when planting with compost and mulch. Don’t add nitrogen – it will cut back fruit production.
  • The flower is inside the fig, and a tiny wasp pollinates it by climbing in and laying eggs
  • Figs are a Mediterranean plant and want no more than 800 chill hours. We are about as far north as we can be and still grow figs, which means the plant may die back in the winter. Allow your fig to have several trunks, and don’t worry if one or all die back – it will come back in the spring. In fact, don’t trim the dead wood away until the leaves come back in spring so you know which branches are really dead.
  • There are two varieties of fig trees: those that are everbearing, and those that bear once a season. Texas Everbearing (or Brown Turkey) will give an early crop in late spring/early summer, and the rest of the fruit will ripen from June through August. Celeste is also a recommended variety for our area, but it’s “one and done.” Celeste gives one crop a season but is a bit more cold-hardy than Texas Everbearing, which is why we chose this variety at Raincatcher’s.
  • Harvest your figs when they’re ripe (they have a little give when you squeeze them), because they won’t ripen off of the tree. And eat them quickly! They’ll start to ferment in just a couple of days.

For more information on cultivating figs, please visit this Aggie Horticulture site.

And, once again, following Jeff’s presentation we savored a fig-inspired lunch that would have kept Adam and Eve in the garden. We hope you enjoy the photos and recipes from a delightful summer class. Congratulations to a new crop of “fig experts!”

Trio of Fig Desserts

Fig and Strawberry Tart

Ingredients

For the Crust

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

Salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ to ½ cup ice water

Directions

Make the crust: Pulse flour, granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

Drizzle ¼ cup ice water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together (it should not be wet or sticky). If dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Press dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

Roll dough to a 14-inch circle (⅛ inch thick) on a floured surface. Fit dough into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch fluted round tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim excess dough flush with edges of pan using a knife. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove weights, and bake until set, about 5 minutes more. Let cool. Leave oven on.

For the Filling:

¾ cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons Armagnac, or other brandy, such as Cognac

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 ounces figs (about 7), trimmed and halved lengthwise

8 ounces strawberries (1 ½ cups), halved if large

Garnish: whipped cream

Make the Filling: Pulse hazelnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add sugars, zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, Armagnac, eggs, and vanilla; pulse until mixture is almost smooth.

Spread filling evenly into tart shell. Top with figs and strawberries. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325˚F; bake until set and dark brown on top, about 1 hour more. Garnish with whipped cream.

Lemony Rice Pudding with Figs and Saba

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

7 cups milk

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon zest

½ teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, split

1 pint fresh figs, quartered

Saba is an ancient sweetener traditionally made from freshly squeezed grape juice, known as must. It is basically a sweet grape syrup. Order online or purchase at specialty grocers. After opening, refrigerate up to one year.

 

 

Directions

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in first 2 ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes; drain.

Return rice to saucepan; stir in milk and next 4 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes or until thick. Remove vanilla bean. Remove from heat, and transfer to a glass bowl. Let stand 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Spoon into serving dishes; top each with figs and a drizzle of Saba.

Yield: Makes 10 servings

Fresh Fig Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 (15-ounce) can condensed milk

2 (13-ounce) cans evaporated milk

Juice of ½ lemon

3 pints peeled, fresh figs, mashed

2 cups sugar

Whole milk

Directions

Put all ingredients in freezer container. If the figs are very ripe, you may not need as much sugar as called for. Add whole milk to level freezer calls for to ensure proper freezing. Freeze in a 6-quart freezer according to directions.

Yield: Serves 20

Note: In the dessert picture there is a grilled fig spread with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a drizzle of honey. No recipe just buy and prepare!

Linda Alexander and Lisa Centala


*Our fourth and final class of 2018 is scheduled for Tuesday, October16th.

Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates promises to be a another educationally inspiring class. And following Jeff Raska’s presentation; don’t miss a bountiful lunch buffet filled with seasonal flavors.  Information about the class will be posted on this blog in early September.

Hope you can join us!

Fig Fest Recipes 2018

Figgy Focaccia

Ingredients

1 medium-size red onion

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Coarse sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Plain cornmeal

1 pound bakery pizza dough

8 fresh figs, halved

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

Directions

Preheat grill to 350˚F to 400˚F (medium-high) heat. Cut onion into ¾ to 1-inch slices. Brush onion slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Grill onion slices, without grill lid, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender and lightly charred.

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Lightly dust work surface with cornmeal. Stretch dough into a 10- to 12-inch oval on work surface. Place dough, cornmeal side down, on a greased baking sheet; drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Rub oil into dough. Arrange fig halves and grilled onion over dough, pressing lightly. Sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 425˚F on lowest oven rack 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

Spiced Fig Preserves

Spiced Fig Preserves

Ingredients

½ lemon (unpeeled), thickly sliced, seeded

1 ½ pounds fresh ripe figs, halved (about 4 cups)

2 ¼ cups sugar

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

2 ¼ teaspoons mined peeled fresh ginger

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Finely chop lemon in processor. Add figs. Using on/off turns, process until figs are coarsely pureed. Transfer mixture to heavy large saucepan. Add sugar, cinnamon stick, minced ginger and cloves. Simmer until mixture thickens to jam consistency and candy thermometer registers 200˚F, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.

Divide hot preserves among hot clean jars. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 months.

Yield: Makes about 3 ⅓ cups

Orange, Walnut, Gorgonzola and Mixed Greens Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Orange, Walnut, Gorgonzola and Mixed Greens Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Ingredients

¾ cup walnut halves

10 ounces mixed salad greens with arugula

2 large navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

4-5 fresh figs, quartered

½ cup sliced red onion

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup vegetable oil

⅔ cup orange juice

¼ cup white sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Directions

Place the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, toss the toasted walnuts, salad greens, oranges, and red onion.

In a large jar with a lid, mix the olive oil, vegetable oil, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, mustard, oregano, and pepper. Seal jar, and shake to mix.

Divide the salad greens mixture into individual servings. To serve, sprinkle with Gorgonzola cheese, and drizzle with the dressing mixture.

Fig Fest note: We omitted the gorgonzola when serving the salad at Fig Fest since it was already a topping for the flank steak. Otherwise, it is nice to include in the salad.

Abbe Bolich’s husband, Neil, and grandson grilling flank steak.

Rosemary Flank Steak with Fig Salsa

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (1 ¼ pound) flank steak

3 cups chopped fresh figs

1 green onion, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Directions

Stir together first 4 ingredients and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Rub into steak; cover and chill 30 minutes to 4 hours.

Preheat grill to 400˚F to 450˚F (high) heat. Toss together figs, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grill steak, covered with grill lid, 5 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes.

Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon fig salsa over steak and sprinkle with Gorgonzola.

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Linda Alexander

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