Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Apple-less Apple Tree, an Herb-infused Dipping Oil and Other Summer Foods

The apple 'Honeycrisp' has just four apples hanging in a clump on the east side. The buds all froze in our repeated hard freezes right up into May.  Notice I was finally physically able to scoot around in this shrub border and weed.  No small task was this!
Not only will there be virtually no apple, but no cherries either.  The freezes and the brutal winter killed the apricot.  The pear with the help of the neighborhood bees is loaded.  I also am picking quite a few raspberries from my small stand.  The strawberries did well, scary sink hole opening up in the bed, non-withstanding.

I am also getting enough yellow summer squash to satisfy the urge for something crunchy, although I wish I had some cucumbers sited as well as I sited the squash.  My cukes have yet to deliver.  This cool summer is delaying tomatoes and pepper, although the cherry tomatoes have put out enough for salads.  I hope to be able to freeze quite a few Romas for use on fajitas through the winter.  Having my freezer loaded down with Romas hurriedly washed and froze last fall just after my injury was great when I eventually returned home.

I have been cutting a few florets of broccoli here and there along with some cabbage and parsley.  This year I used parsley as a filler in hanging baskets and pots.  There is always some near at hand.  Incorporating summer produce into the landscape plan is a way to grow more of my food here versus at the family garden which I find harder and harder to maintain.  Gardening there is a growing experience for more than the food, the Gardening Twins and Baby Gardener help, but it has much in common with attempts at the herding of cats.

I sited my cabbage in a poor spot.  Early on it seemed sunny enough.  As summer progressed though it seems to be receiving more and more shade.  I get leaves, but no heads have formed.

Usually I have enough basil to do with whatever I like.  This year it is at a premium, with the majority of it dropping into space and time in the form of a sink hole and the remainder growing slowly because of cool temperatures.  I also diversified my basil a bit going with some 'Thai Queen' ornamentally-prized for its dark purple flowers and stems.  I, and Handsome Son's Girlfriend, found the smell off-putting and not like basil at all; certainly not usable in a culinary fashion.

For an herb to take up space here, I have to be able to use it as a seasoning.  I won't be growing that particular form of basil again.  I will stick to 'Genovesee' in the future.

Instead, because of the lack of basil, I have used my perennial oregano a lot more.  Handsome Son's Girlfriend (The Girlfriend?  HSG?) came up with this recipe for a dipping oil for crusty bread, which we have all agreed is a winner and much preferable over the expensive dipping oils you can purchase in distant gourmet markets.

Here it is:

Dipping Oil for Crusty Bread

3 Tablespoons butter, melted (microwaving 45 seconds on high in my 1100 w microwave did the trick)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 sprigs of oregano (the leaves stripped off and finely chopped, toss the stems; the sprigs were about 8" long and starting to form flower buds, which were also finely chopped as they were still tender)
a pinch of black pepper.

Once this was combined we held it on my stove over the standing pilot.  This spot on my stove is fairly hot to the touch, maintaining a temp around 110 degree in a circle about the size of a coffee cup.  Standing pilots are seldom the "rage" due to their energy inefficiency, but with my tiny house and tiny stove, that's the way it is.  If you do not have some sort of warming feature on your stove you might try holding it on the warming plate for your coffee maker or something similar until you are ready to use it.


  1. I don't have a sinkhole, but my basil is lethargic with the cold weather this year.