life is always about the journey...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Freshness Rules!

Let me count the ways that I LOVE fresh produce...fresh from the farmer's market is great...BUT fresh from MY garden is even better! The taste is 1000x better than what's bought at the stores that's for sure.  When we went to Maui a couple of years ago we were AMAZED at the different flavor bananas and pineapple had because they were off the tree fresh and soooo yummy!  I've always had a garden since I've been married, sometimes it was a container garden (when we lived in a condo) and sometimes it was a DEAD garden LOL due to lack of rain and us away on vacation.  But I've always tried to have a garden and shop at the farmer's markets during the summer as much as I can.

You could say my mom was farm-2-table-hippy-cool before it was "in style".  Growing up we had a HUGE garden and most of what we ate in the summer came from the garden.  My mom canned most things (pickles, corn, tomatoes, jams, etc) and made her own bread, yogurt...pretty much everything except meat/poultry/seafood.  Although we did live on an inlet of the Chesapeake Bay so fresh fish/crabs/oysters were...are...a way of life here thank goodness because seafood rules SUPREME in my book.  My mom still cooks like that...makes bread most days, is the most amazing baker in the whole wide world and has been going to the local Amish market for veggies & fruits since before I was born.  I was the girl in elementary school BEGGING my friends to bring me bags of Doritos or Oreos because I never got that in my lunchbox.  It was more likely to be pita sandwich with bean sprouts and something homemade like soup LOL.  I didn't appreciate it then but I DO appreciate it now...I never had all that processed junk entering my body at a young age.  And yeah I do keep some junk in my house nowadays but I'm careful most of the time about what I feed myself and my family.  But I learned if you totally forbid the junk your kids (and meself lol) will go searching it out more.  I just offer MORE healthy choices at meal times!

So this is my garden currently...its 16 feet by 5.5 ft and it gets sunlight for most of the day which all my plants seem to love.  I love having raised beds and I use organic soil and compost fertilizer on it (I will have more on my DIY compost container, hee).  I don't use any pesticides or chemicals in my garden, no sirreeee!  I have a plastic wire fence surrounding the garden that hubby created with an easy opening for me to get inside to weed, plant and harvest.  We have lots of bunnies, groundhogs and deer that like to nibble so I gotta protect it as much as I can...not to mention 2 doggies that like to dig in it oy!  So in the top garden I have only tomato plants with a few pepper plants and cilantro (and marigolds surround it to keep away bad buggies & deer).  I plant a variety of heirloom, large tomato and cherry tomato plants...peppers are green and jalepeno.  Then in the lower garden I have zucchini, cucumbers, different gourmet lettuces, radishes, onions, peas, wax beans and green beans.   As I go thru the lettuce I plant new seedlings, it grows quick and ensures that I will have lettuce thru the summer!  I'd really like to add one more bed to the garden for things like cabbage, cauliflower and larger veggies...shhhh don't tell the hubby because he's my builder and I know he will GROAN LOL...but I will plan it for NEXT year!!
**our neighbor's sprinkler system sprays in my garden most evenings so it gets watered for free hahahaha...thanks neighbors, I shall share some veggies with them**

I totally plan to can some things this year...I grew up watching my mom and I figure I can do it too.  So I bought all the "stuff" I needed and I have plans to do pickles, tomatoes and some jams with fruit from local farms.  So when I do that I will keep you in the loop...I'm sure it will be a series of mishaps and successes!!

These were some of the lettuces I pulled from the garden the other night...its a mix of different lettuces.  Fresh lettuce is soooo good, sweet and I could just sit and eat it plain...but what fun would that be right?  LOL!

So I decided to make a lettuce (from my garden), tomato (from farmer's market), mozzerella (from local farm) and balsamic dressing salad.  OMGeee it was so good we were fighting over it LOL.  I served it with roast chicken, parmesan risotta and semolina bread.  Our farmers market has a bunch of local farms at it and they sell everything from farm made honey, mushrooms, veggies to cheeses, dairy and meats.  I have to CONTROL myself to not over buy LOL because I want it ALL!  And best part is we know EXACTLY where it comes from and how it was made/grown/ much better that way.

So the balsamic dressing is a Suzanne've tweaked different recipes over the years to come up with my own version.  I've put it below for you if you want to try it along with some measurements are as close as I can approximate because you know I don't measure when I cook!  Enjoy!


EDITED:  Here are a few pics of my DIY fence LOL...its cheap, it works and it was easy to create...well easy for my hubby to make ;)  Its plastic fencing from Lowes that comes in a large roll and is pretty inexpensive.  Then he bought bamboo poles and cut them all to a uniform  size and used plastic ties to attach the fencing to the rods tightly (you could of course use any dowels or wood poles for it too, we just like bamboo and its light).  We just stick them in the soil around the garden.  For the opening/gate he created a permanent hole in the ground using a plastic screw anchor in a large the rod goes in neatly in the ground and is easy to pull out and put back when I want to get in with just a bit of overlapping on the fence.  He also nailed fencing to the wooden fence alongside the garden because those buggars will crawl right through the pickets into my garden and eat a good meal LOL!  So that's the fencing we use, its easy to install and inexpensive and we can add to it if we make the garden bigger at some point!


(I have a few more links to put up but both blogger & my Mac aren't cooperating...arghhh...will try in the morn)

I'm linking this up at A Bowl Full of Lemons Linky Party!



  1. Thanks Suzanne!!! Pinned!!

  2. oh please soon on the DYI compost bin since that is what I am researching right now!
    the PaperTemptress

  3. ahah I enjoy so much reading you from time to time! It's my first year planting marigolds around tomatoes and veggies, I used to plant basilic for the same reason, but now that I can have somw flowers poppin' in, why not?
    I'll sure try your balsamic recipe :)

  4. Mmmmmm, that sounds delish! I will try it on roasted veggies that we have growing aa well. Thanks!

  5. Hello Suzanne, you garden looks fantastic, we always had a garden my father would make for us every year, now I live in an apt. so no garden for me so I love you share yours, that is my favorite recipe for the summer I could live on it the whole summer long. thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend..

  6. Everything looks so yummy! And, no weeds. Love that idea! Liz S.


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