Even Without Much Rain, Delicious Veggies Coming from the Garden

Another evening's garden pickings: lettuce, peas, turnips, and a few green onions.

Another evening’s garden pickings: lettuce, peas, turnips, and a few green onions.

On this last day of the month, another front came through this afternoon bringing in a cool spring wind from the north, but March is hardly “going out like a lion.”  Though we’ve had other storms come through, not much precipitation has come with the wind.

Despite the lack of much rain, the little garden behind the garage has been producing fresh vegetables for supper.  The turnips, especially, have been delicious, whether raw or cooked.

The beans I’ve planted haven’t come in very well, and i don’t know whether I will fill in with more.  In reality, fresh, store-bought beans taste pretty good, and there’s no bending over to pick them.

Green peas and turnips sautéed with some bits of green onion, all fresh from the garden, make for a delicious veggie dish for supper.

Green peas and turnips sautéed with some bits of green onion, all fresh from the garden, make for a delicious veggie dish for supper.

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A Couple of Tricks Help Make for a Delicious Sunday Breakfast

Here's Sunday Breakfast!  An easy omelet made with leftover Mexican rice and crunchy wheat tortillas.

Here’s Sunday Breakfast! An easy omelet made with leftover Mexican rice and crunchy wheat tortillas.

Heloise I ain’t.  But along the way, I’ve learned a number of tricks that help make cooking faster and easier.

The weekend is the only time I can make a real breakfast.  On most weekdays, the first meal of the day is a couple of toaster waffles snarfed down on the main road between my neighborhood streets and the freeway.

On Saturday and Sunday, when I finally rouse myself enough to want something to eat, I’ve already drowsily completed a few other tasks such as pulling out chunks of chickweed from the garden, or like this morning, repotting a couple of African violets.

I rarely disappoint myself with home-cooked breakfast; this morning it was an omelet made with bacon and Mexican rice left over from yesterday’s takeout.  Alongside came a couple of wheat tortillas.

If you re-package bacon and store in the freezer, it won't spoil and go to waste.

If you re-package bacon and store in the freezer, it won’t spoil and go to waste.

Trick 1:  I used to never be able to finish a package of bacon before it began to spoil in the refrigerator, but from my sister, I learned how to keep ready-to-cook bacon on hand.  Just freeze it!  After you get the bacon home from the store, open the package.  Separate the slices of bacon and lay the individual slices on sheets of non-stick aluminum foil (or wax paper).  Layer the foil sheets, being sure to cover the bacon on the top with another sheet of foil.  Put the foil layers of bacon in a freezer bag, folding the foil to fit into the bag, if necessary.  Then whenever you want bacon, just take the bag out of the freezer and easily pull off as many slices as you want.  No more spoiled bacon!

Trick 2:  Heat up wheat tortillas in a regular toaster.  Just fold the tortilla in half and ease one end into the bread slot of the toaster.  Gently  push it down while you push the toaster lever down.  Set it for about medium time.  When it pops up, turn the folded tortilla around and do the same to the other end.  To me, the resulting crunchy tortilla tastes much better than one heated in the microwave.  It’s just perfect for filling with scrambled eggs!

Breezy Sunday–Time for a Home-cooked Dinner Including Fresh Green Beans

The only thing that would make these home-cooked green beans better would be if they were also home-grown.

Blustery breezes and an uncertain sky haven’t put a damper on this penultimate day of February.  For the first time in a couple of weeks, I’m back in my groove.  (I’ll try to add another post about what’s been happening later.) 

The back door is open, with the screen on the storm door pulled down to let in some of the breeze.  What’s more, I’m making a real Sunday dinner.  (Isn’t it a bit confusing that we have Sunday dinners at lunchtime?)

So here’s what’s cooking:  a ham glazed with a mixture of jam, brown sugar, brown mustard, peanut sauce, and wasabi sauce, and simple scalloped potatoes with bits of onion and butter, layered with about 3 tablespoons of flour, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and a cup of half-and-half poured over the top before going into the oven.  Already cooked and resting on the cooktop is a kettle of fresh green beans.

Fresh green beans are one of my favorite vegetables.  In comparison, the frozen ones are almost inedible, and green beans from a can aren’t a lot better.

Making  fresh, home-cooked green beans isn’t very difficult.  Some people think getting them ready is too much work.  I just dump them into a colander and wash them several times, then take a kitchen scissors and nip off the stem, then rinse them off again a time or two.

Home-cooked Green Beans

  • 1 pound fresh green beans washed and stemmed
  • 3 slices of bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 green onions including most of the tops loosely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 or 2 “splashes” of white wine
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic salad dressing
  • 3 to 4 cups of water
  • pepper and salt to taste

Put a heavy kettle on the stove and turn the burner to medium high.  When the kettle is hot, add the oil, then the bacon and onion.  Cook until the bacon begins to brown; then add the onions  and cook until they become translucent.  Keep the bacon and onion moving with a spoon or silicon spatula so they don’t burn.  If the bacon cooks off quite a bit of fat, remove the excess with a spoon.  (I find that most bacon these days contains a lot of water and not a lot of fat cooks out; that’s why it will stick to the pan and may burn.) 

Add a splash or two of white wine and a couple of tablespoons of water to de-glaze the bottom of the kettle.  Use a silicon spatula to help get all the “goodies” off the bottom of the pan.  Add the balsamic dressing (or balsamic vinegar) and about 1/2 cup of water and stir in.  Let the liquid cook until it bubbles. 

Put the fresh green beans into the kettle and add enough water so that there is an inch or two of liquid in the kettle.  About two-thirds of the beans will not be covered.  Put a lid on the kettle and leave on medium-high heat until the liquid boils, then turn down to medium-low and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the beans are cooked to your liking.  (Some like beans cooked less and other liked them cooked until they are limp.)

This recipe will make 6-8 servings.  You can make this recipe a day ahead of time, and just re-heat.  I think these beans are even better the second day because they absorb  more of the bacon flavor.