Good News Cooking

Hello, dear pond readers! At last, today is the day I write about my adventures in cooking the harvest from my Good News Garden. I have cooked an old favorite, new favorites, a disastrous experiment, and learned how to pickle. I have also scarfed down sweet peas fresh from the vine and blueberries fresh from my small but lovely shrub after rinsing them off with my water bottle or the hose. It has all been a treat of an adventure and I even managed to get some pictures.

Mashed cauliflower is an old favorite in my household. The directions are simple: 1) steam fresh cauliflower 2) mash with room-temp cream cheese 3) season to taste 4) nom with enthusiasm. Yes, your kitchen will be redolent with cauliflower smell if you’re not prompt about cleaning the saucepan but the dish is delicious. This year, I successfully managed to grow and harvest a cauliflower head, praise be to God. I also harvested some tiny Yukon gold potatoes and tiny yellow onions. I steamed the lot altogether, mashed it with cream cheese, and spiced it with black pepper, ground mustard, paprika, and a hint of sea salt. There were no leftovers, only happy tummies.

A new favorite to our kitchen is radish-green pesto. I planted radishes this year as an experiment and it did not go as expected. Instead of getting neat little rosy roots, the plants all bolted and I got an abundant supply of greens. I looked up ways to use them and found this excellent radish-green pesto recipe from Love and Lemons. My Wee Bairn and I went over to my mom-in-law’s to use her food processor to make a giant batch of pesto. It turned out to be the best pesto that I’ve ever had and I really like pesto. I made a slightly more bitter batch with beet greens that I froze for later. A significant amount of fresh radish pesto was enjoyed as a dip with cheese and crackers in addition to pasta. The Wee Bairn even ate some! It was a miracle. In keeping with the Good News Garden principle of sharing the harvest, I shared the pesto with my folks and with friends. The beet and radish green pesto batch proved to taste amazing when mixed with feta or mixed into recipes like my vegan ratatouille. The vegan ratatouille also included onion and fresh tomatoes from the garden, too. Bonus, my friends’ child really liked the ratatouille, too. Huzzah!

Last year, my Good News Garden was blessed with numerous spaghetti squash. I was able to give a lot away but I also used a lot in creative kitchen experiment. I made a spaghetti squash casserole last year that I was super excited about because not only did my Wee Bairn help me make the casserole as official pour-er of veggies, cheese, sauce, and spice but said picky-eater actually ate it with gusto. It was a beautiful moment in time. Alas, I neglected to write the recipe down and I blame my post-dinner food coma. This year though, with my beautiful little spaghetti squash, I had to try again. Last year, I had layered spaghetti squash, spiraled butternut squash, spiraled carrot, and spiraled beets with a three cheese mixture under a red sauce with veggie meat crumbles, spices, and more cheese. I tried something similar this year but I didn’t have all the spiraled veggies. To compensate, I added veggies from the Good News Garden. I was out of red sauce and red sauce ingredients but had leftover homemade meat sauce from my mom-in-law and some meatless veggie sausages. I layered spiraled frozen butternut squash, spiraled frozen zucchini, my spaghetti squash, my green beans, my green peas, my broccoli, my Yukon gold potatoes, and one of my small yellow onions in a 9×13″ pan. I poured the meat sauce over top, layered on a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, a thin layer of beet pesto, the veggie sausages, extra cheese, and homemade buttered bread crumbs during the last six minutes. I baked the whole thing for 30 minutes total at 350F. The first night, the zucchini flavor was too strong but as leftovers, it was delicious with wonderful flavor bursts throughout as one encountered the different garden contributions. I liked it. The Wee Bairn declined to try any but oh well. At least now, I’ve written it all down.

Quiches and frittatas have long been go-to recipes in my kitchen, especially when entertaining. In celebration of getting to spend the day with family, I made a frittata with a garden fresh twist. I microwaved frozen spinach and layered it on the bottom of a 9×13″ pan. I layered two packages of low-fat/low-sodium feta cheese on top of the spinach then fresh broccoli from the garden, my onion, and some of my homemade beet pesto on top. I poured 10 beaten eggs over the mixture, a few more crumbles of feta, and some squirts of pureed basil on top before baking the whole thing for 45 minutes at 425F. My beloved little sis declared it the best frittata ever and we gobbled it up in very short order.

Best Frittata Ever

My kitchen disaster was a foray into making roasted cauliflower leaves. I’ve read that they’re delicious and similar to kale leaves or seaweed and thought I would try it with the remains of my garden cauliflower plant. This did not go well. I burned them into charcoal briquettes and managed to get the whole house to smell like dead cauliflower for far too long. At least I didn’t set the smoke alarm off.

So Many Cauliflower Leaves, So Little Skill at Roasting Them

A far better kitchen experiment this summer has been learning how to pickle. After watching an episode of Waffles and Mochi about pickles, my Wee Bairn, my spouse, and I were all fired up to try it ourselves with our Good News Garden harvest. I found this recipe for refrigerator pickles before I knew that Waffles and Mochi had their own magic pickle recipe. More pickle fun to try! Because I did not have seeds called for in the recipe I tried, I used powdered spices instead. We assembled the other ingredients for the refrigerator recipe, filled the jars as a family, and waited with bated breath for two weeks until Pickle Day. We packed the jars with sweet peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, garden carrots, garden cucumbers supplemented with store cucumbers, garden onions, fresh dill, and the single beet that I had successfully grown. Stuffing a little bit of all the vegetables in the jars was super fun for all three of us. We made an event out of Pickle Day by gathering a cheese plate, crackers, and soup to enjoy the pickles with my mom-in-law. Turns out, we did great! The pickles were crunchy, flavorful, and paired well with our improvised charcuterie board. I think that I’ve found a new kitchen hobby to experiment with alongside my family.

Fruit is a favorite in our family and we were successfully able to grow some in the garden this year. The honeydew have been an experiment with mixed results. I grew two tiny melons roughly the size of a nectarine. They tasted bitter but made the kitchen smell delicious. My foray into growing blueberries has gone well. I bought a small shrub that had green berries on it which managed to hang on until they ripened. My Wee Bairn takes great delight in watering the shrub with whatever rain is in the nearby rain gauge and being able to turn 12 fresh berries into an evening snack for the two of us was elementally satisfying. The watermelons have been a particular source of excitement. One was stolen off the vine by some creature but two survived albeit at a small size. I didn’t know if they were big enough to eat or not but when the curly vine by the melons got brown, I took a chance and picked them. My mom-in-law cut them up for me and they tasted delicious. What a treat! I feel ridiculously pleased and profoundly grateful that we were able to feast on garden grown watermelon as a family. Fun fact, the Wee Bairn took the watermelon picture below and I’m chuffed to display it here.

I have ambitions to use the rind from my tiny watermelons to make watermelon pickles this weekend. We’ll see how it goes but even if it doesn’t turn out, trying a new kitchen adventure is fun. How is your garden going this year, dear pond readers? Any new kitchen experiments? Other creative ideas?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

I will close with an image of my asters blooming and helping my pollinator neighbors bulk up for winter. I’ve seen multiple monarchs and many bees sampling the asters and it is inspiring.

Fall Asters and Good News Garden Sign by E.A. Schneider

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