Recipes for a Cheapskate: Tomatillo Salsa

While I don't have a crop of tomatoes yet, I do have a lot of chiles and onions.

It's time to make this season's first batch of salsa.

I pick a handful of chiles, using a pastry box to keep the varieties separate. Serrano is on the left and the unknown variety on the right is a very much hotter chile.

I have to go to the store to get a tomato and some tomatillos. I peel the sheath off of the tomatillos, peel a small onion from the garden, and toss in a mixture of my red chiles.

Now, I move out to the patio and light up some coals on the barbecue.

I get a perforated tray to put the small chiles on and roast them, the tomatillos, tomatoes, and a couple of ears of corn for kicks on the grill over indirect heat. I'll move over to direct heat towards the end to get some char on them.

Finally, it all goes into a blender where I add minced garlic and salt to taste. Then it's done.

Most of this I will freeze until later this summer when the bell peppers are ready to eat. Then, I'll mix this salsa with cream cheese to make stuffed bell peppers.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Thoughtful Thursday

Not a lot of words today. Just sitting and enjoying the fruits of my labors. 

I'm sitting in my patio chair, listening to some tunes, and enjoying a cool cocktail. I've got a camera with a nice zoom lens.  Let's see what I can see from here, starting with the hanging basket at the top.

The grapes will be ripe soon, I can't wait to taste them.

This red bougainvillea is on it's second bloom... is our newest bougainvillea member, this coral colored guy.

Finally, as usual, the yard is surrounded by these fragrant, white plumerias.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

The Prodigal Son Returns

This is our guava tree. We used to grow it in a giant pot on our patio. The tree did very well there and gave us a lot of fruit.

The tree, grown from seed believe it or not, got to be top heavy. A stiff breeze would knock it over.

We transplanted into larger and larger pots to no avail. I'd fill the bottom of the pot with heavy rocks and it would still tip over.

Every flip would shock the plant and we'd get less and less fruit.

Finally, my wife had it transplanted into the ground at the far end of our backyard.  The tree grew, looked healthy but wouldn't produce fruit.

Years went by but, finally, this year looks good. Here's a flower from the tree.

Of course where there's flowers, there should be fruit. Lo and behold there is fruit.

Lots of fruit.

Hundreds of fruit.

After a long sojourn, the tree appears to be back. Guava will be back on the menu for this fall and winter.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Summer Previews at Cheapskate Farms

Our last post showed you what we picked this week, this post will show you what's coming soon.

The future is all about chiles. So is the present, as a matter of fact.  This one is a very hot one that I do not know the name of. We got the seeds from a batch of chiles my wife's uncle grew. I just know that it is delicious and the hottest chile in our garden.

These jalapenos will be ready soon too. We're growing them in a pot on the patio.

Way, way down on the heat fact, they have none...are the bell peppers who make up for the lack of heat with their great flavor. I love growing this and they make for a great, late harvest food.

While our heirloom tomatoes are still taking their sweet time setting fruit, this cherry tomato in a hanging basket will be ripe soon.

In other news, a branch of our plumeria broke off.

Here is a closer look. This is quite common, they are very brittle, but you can stick the broken stem in the ground and it will grow into a new plumeria tree.


Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Chiles, Sweet Onions, and Corn...Oh My!

Harvest season continues here at Cheapskate farms. Although, I don't have time to cook it this weekend, I need to harvest the corn before it's too late.

Out in my 4-foot cornfield, five stalks continue to grow.

Here are a couple, with ears sheathed in red husks (although the kernels are still yellow).

Our Serrano chiles are turning bright red, so I'll pick those too.

In the onion patch, the bulbs want to be picked so bad, they're pushing their way up through the soil.

I'll pick these for now and save the rest for later.

And here is this week's harvest, 4 ears of corn (one is hidden), sweet onions, and Serrano chiles.

There're still three ears of corn left that can go another week or two, tons of chiles, and two more groups of sweet onion bulbs to pull up after we eat these.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

It's The Middle Of July...Where Are My &*$#@ Tomatoes?

This year, I decided to try growing heirloom tomatoes instead of the usual hybrids. I harvested the seeds from some fruit I bought at the farmer's market, so I don't know what the exact variety is.

I planted in February, transplanted late March, and's just starting to flower. Usually, I'd have scads of tomatoes by now but these are taking forever.

Next year, I'll be planting hybrids as well...quick growing ones.

The zucchini's getting close to played out.  I've just got a few of these smaller squashes coming up now.

The plant started to grow over the walkway, so I took this stick and am attempting to hold it back in the planter.

The chiles are really pumping out the fruit and we'll be harvesting this from now til...who knows? These last a long time.

Finally, the dragon fruit is producing it's first flower of the season. Incredibly spectacular looking fruit but a bit on the bland side.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Battling the Smut!

The grapevine is the focus of our most intense efforts in the summer. This is when the fruit is ripening and, if we're not careful, we could lose the entire crop if we fail to pay attention.

Our vine is a Ruby Red Seedless that produces delicious, medium size, red berries.

We've chronicled our other efforts at keeping the birds and rodents away from it with our wire and netting barrier.  Another problem is fungus.

Ruby Reds are a little more susceptible to fungus than most grapes. When prepping the plant at the beginning of the season, I sprinkle liberally with sulfur dust and then again when the fruit starts really showing, usually in June.

Still, as you can see at the top, the fruit is starting to turn to the ripe color but the dirty black stuff is smut...a type of fungus.

Left untreated, it will split the fruit open before ripening.

So I got some sulfur dust, poured some in a spray bottle, filled with water, and started spraying. And spraying, and spraying.  Plant's about soaked in a sulfur solution now.

Keeping my fingers crossed that the fruit will make it to the end of summer harvest...

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Too Hot to Handle

I had a slate of chores to do this weekend but a heat wave hit and temps spiked to over 110 on our patio (that's about 44 degrees for my European friends). 

Had to take a breather and take it back up next weekend. The lawn did need mowing but I just hit the worst spots with the weed whacker. 

This zucchini was in danger of going overripe, so I went out and got that too before I died of heat stroke. It's big enough for the three of us to feed on for a week.

I'll try to pick it back up next weekend...


Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...