the post that's all about summer gardening and cooking

June 28, 2024


On this beautiful summery day I have loads of veggie garden and flower garden pictures to share. Besides flowers, we are picking cucumbers, dill, green onions, green beans, parsley, chard, beet greens, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, fennel foliage, chives, sage, basil, and chive and borage flowers. Come on in and see what I do with the bounty!

Later in the summer we'll also be harvesting leeks, beets, and fennel bulbs but we are still waiting for the slicing tomatoes because the rats, bunnies, and/or squirrels are getting them first. We could have had several big slicers already but for the critters. We put out stinky concoctions and now have a trap but haven't caught anything yet. So frustrating. It's making me crazy. My husband had to put the trap away this week because we have a little house guest staying with us and I don’t want him to get near it.  We have watched our little pal many times over the years and I can tell he is getting older. He used to wander around the garden with me when I worked, but now he just likes to sleep in the sun. As soon as I go in the house he jumps on the sofa and takes another long nap. Dogs aren't allowed on our sofa but he has never cared about that rule. But still, isn't he so cute? He went to the groomer just for the occasion of staying with us and he's sporting a fancy little bob on his ears.

Besides my regular bumpy skinned Kirby type pickling cucumbers, I'm also growing tiny French gherkins for the first time. All summer I make these fresh refrigerator dills. My girlfriend gave me this long curvy cucumber below. It's an Asian or Armenian cucumber, but I'll ask her next week what is for sure when I see her at knitting. I think it's a few days away from picking and my plan is to make a cucumber and dill salad. So fun to have something so exotic in my garden!

The roses are in their second less magnificent bloom, but gorgeous non the less.

Our first dahlia of the year is a new one grown from a mixed seed packet called Cancan Girls developed by Floret. I've got a whole bed planted with the mixed seed and I cannot wait to see what unfolds, but if they are anything like this tufted beauty, I'll be in heaven! More on this later. This is just another reason why I love gardening so much! 

I had to bring it inside next to my sink.

Pinwheel zinnias, orange nasturtiums and blue toenails!
Looking at this picture I'm thinking toes are pretty ugly. At least mine are.

The zinnia border is coming along nicely. This year I'm growing different zinnia varieties than I normally do. I purchased the (very expensive) seeds from Floret, a small grower whom I wanted to support. Her photos are magnificent and her colors are the more soft pastel "wedding" type colors that are so popular now. We generally think of zinnias as being bright crayon box colors so it's a refreshing change. They make a gorgeous bouquet and even though I'm wondering if brighter colors in the border are better seen from our house and patios, I think I'm going to prefer these soft sorbet colors. The border peaks in July and August so I'll decide then whether or not I'll go back to the brights next year or try something completely different. One year I did asters and that was spectacular. 

My very kind neighbor texted me that the stupid squirrels were eating the plums off her tree faster than they could even ripen. They take one bite then throw them down and go to the next one, ruining them all. Argggh! She doesn't use them and hates to see them go to waste, so asked me to pick what I wanted and see if they would ripen later. My tall son came over and helped me pick a basket full. I kept them for a few days in the basket and they did ripen! We ate a few fresh and then I made three rustic plum tarts for the freezer. With any luck I'll have a few summer parties and will have my dessert ready to go!

I freeze them unbaked and in case you are wondering, those white bits on the top are chunks of butter. I used this recipe.

Does your cooking style change in the summer? Mine sure does! I love to cook, don't mind planning, but hate shopping. Usually on Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and pencil and paper in hand, I'll ask my husband what he wants to eat this week. I tell him what I have as far as meat, etc. in the freezer and we both know what is ripe in the garden and we plan our meals around that. I also check out my grocery store app and see what's on sale and then we choose four dinners and I make a shopping list. Why four? We usually have leftovers for the other nights and we also like to go out to dinner. After church and with list in hand, I go to the dreaded grocery store, honestly I really don't know why I loath it so much, then head to the vegetable market, and I like going there, and then I head home. Now I can’t say I do this every week and or even every month, but after a shopping haul and if I’m in the mood I try to prep as much as I can on Sunday so my weekday dinners can come together more quickly. I did this last Sunday and it was nice to have a few things ready to go. One of our favorite dinners in any season is lettuce wraps. I rarely follow a recipe anymore but I switch it up and make them Mexican style, Thai style, etc. 

Let's build a lettuce wrap! Use only big and beautiful bib lettuce. I can buy bib year 'round, but if it looks less than wonderful, we don't have wraps that week. Clockwise from top left, add a wee bit of rice to the cup, then sprinkle on soy sauce. Next add coleslaw mix and finely chopped jalapeño and poblano peppers and top with sriracha mayonnaise. To make that just mix sriracha and mayo to taste. We like it spicy! Next comes sliced chicken topped with Asian dressing from a bottle, cilantro and sesame seeds. I made twelve and we had enough leftover for lunch the next day. You eat a wrap with your hands like a taco, but a fork is helpful at the end.

I prepped a lot of my veggies on Sunday and made deviled eggs, guacamole and potato salad.

 I also made zucchini fritters. This is a summer staple at Casa Knitionary.

I'd love to know how many hard boiled eggs I've made in my 51 years of married life. I think thousands and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. I use to boil dozens a week for deviled eggs to bring to church. Plus my guys devour, no inhale, deviled eggs themselves and if I made them for church, I had to make a dozen for home too. HB eggs can be tricky, as in difficult to peel and often have an unappetizing green coating on the yolk. While I'm sure there are many ways to guarantee perfection, my method has never failed me. They are always perfectly cooked, easy to peel, and never ever have that horrible greenish tint. First, you'll need to buy a little gadget, but not to worry, it's cheap and tiny and mine is at least 20 years old and still works great. It's a color changing egg timer! I don't usually recommend that you clutter up your kitchen with more gadgets, but this is something you will love! Summer is deviled egg season!

Put the timer in the center of a pot. Place eggs, either cold or room temp, around the timer and fill with room temperature tap water covering 1-2" above the eggs. Put on high heat, and when the water is at a rapid boil, turn down to a medium low boil and continue to cook until the timer has changed to the color that represents your desired doneness. It takes ten minutes or so. Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath by filling a big bowl with a lot of ice. Add water. When the eggs are done, quickly drain off boiling water and plunge the eggs into the ice water bath. Let sit in the ice water for 5 minutes to stop the cooking. Take an egg and gently tap all around to break the shell all around--I tap it on the sink, then peel. The peel should release easily. Please let me know if you try this and let me know what you think or if you have another foolproof way to boil eggs.

My son adds one more step. Before adding to the water, hold the egg up to your ear and gently tap with the back of the spoon until you hear the membrane pop. It doesn't break the shell, just the membrane. I do it if I remember but my original methods works anyway so that's probably why I don't remember.

I cook a HB egg until the entire "hard" section changes color, but if you want a soft boiled egg or a jammy yolk, you will take them out before. I love this little thing!

As for my deviled egg recipe--I don't have one and always wing it! All I do is mash up the yolk and any torn whites, mix with mayo and a tiny teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Next I add whatever crunchy thing I have on hand, usually chopped celery, pickles, green onion, and chives.  If I have fresh parsley and dill I add that, but I'll add dried dill if fresh is not available. I also add celery seed and beau monde seasoning and of course salt and pepper to taste. 

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  1. So pretty Kristen. I sooooo look forward to your summer gardening posts. Melody

  2. This was magical! The "bride" zinnas are a winner. I love the colors. Your garden looks beautiful. Good luck getting rid of the critters....soon I hope. Cucumber dill salad is delicious. Hoping you will be harvesting delicious tomatoes soon. Plum tarts, yum!

    1. Hello my dear. I think you will love the soft colors of the new zinnias. I can't wait to show them to you. We just had the cucumber salad tonight and it was so good and light and fresh. Debbie gave me the Asian cucumber!

  3. Your garden is SPECTACULAR!!!! I love reading your posts and seeing your incredible photos!!!! Thank you for sharing!


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