Baking chocolate chip cookies with the kids is one of my favorite family activities. When we had to go dairy and gluten free I was a little upset but I found a way to make chocolate chip cookies with some easy substitutions. Back when we […]
Hello, Mr. Oscoey here. If you don’t love garlic, you should probably just move on to the next post. If you love garlic as much as my family does, or you have a vampire problem, read on.
I don’t remember when I first ran across a recipe for a Lebanese garlic sauce called toum, but it has become a staple condiment in our refrigerator. The traditional Catalan aioli is a similar egg-less, mayonnaise-like sauce. There is some food science and a little bit of food magic which turns five simple ingredients into a fluffy, garlicy spread that is good on nearly everything (and also happens to be vegan).
Toum starts with garlic, water, and salt blitzed up in a food processor. This is where the food science comes in. Kenji Lopez-Alt from Serious Eats has written about the science of garlic flavor but the tl;dr is that the compound that we associate with the harsh, hot flavor of garlic (alliinase) become deactivated at low pH (more acidic). This means that the longer you wait to add the lemon juice, the more pungent, garlicy flavor will come through. Want garlic without the punch? Add some lemon juice at the same time as the water, before everything is whizzed up.
Once you get a smooth paste, oil is slowly drizzled in, alternating with splashes of water and lemon juice. In addition to making sure you add oil slowly, it helps to hold your breath and say a prayer to the food gods because in rare occasions the entire mixture breaks, leaving you with an oily mess. It’s pretty hard to recover once broken unless you start adding egg yolks.
When all the oil, water, and lemon juice has been incorporated, let the food processor whip up the mixture until you get a mayonnaise-like consistency.
This makes about two and a half pints of sauce, and halving the recipe isn’t recommended unless you have a smaller food processor. It should last a month in the fridge, but ours never makes it beyond a couple weeks.
Toum (Garlic Sauce)
- 1/2 cup garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup ice cold water
- 3 cups canola oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Step 1 Add garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of the water, and salt to the food processor. If you want to minimize the pungent garlic flavor add 1/4 cup of lemon juice as well.
- Step 2 Turn on the food processor run until a smooth paste is formed. If you did not add the lemon juice in step one, wait a few minutes then add (the longer you wait, the more pungent the garlic flavor will be). Process until everything is mixed together.
- Step 3 Add oil in a slow, steady stream while the food processor is running.
- Step 4 After about a cup of oil, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a tablespoon of water.
- Step 5 Continue drizzling in oil, alternating with lemon juice and water.
- Step 6 Once all the oil, lemon juice, and water has been incorporated, run the food processor until the sauce has a mayonnaise-like consistency.
We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line and once that is done we will start clearing the center of our fenced area. I am really excited to finally be able to use our back yard. That ivy has been staring me in the face for almost two years. Once it is out we will be able to start working on landscaping the back and possibly adding our chickens.
North property line before ivy removal.
North property line after ivy removal. We took out a 3-4 foot buffer so that the fence company could measure. We don’t have room in the yard waste for the massive amounts of ivy we removed so we moved it towards the middle of the ivy patch where it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. Next week I am doubling our yard waste pickup so that we can fill up two toters every week. That may still take us all summer to slowly add it but it is our best option at the moment.
View of the north property line from the bottom of the hill. The slope is moderately steep here. There was also quite a bit of native blackberry mixed in with the ivy and I am looking forward to checking it later in the summer for berries. There is a huge patch of it on the slope below my neighbor’s house on the public part of the ravine.
We also spent some time removing ivy in the south east corner. This area is behind a landscaped section and was pretty jungle like. I found a large amount of holly back here which I am pretty bummed about. It looks like the previous owners chopped down a pretty big holly tree at one point but left the stump which promptly sent out dozens of runners. I am not excited to remove them. We also cut down some of the lower hanging branches on the hemlock trees in this area since they would have interfered with the fence and were pretty dead looking. I did not get a picture of those before the light gave out but it looks much better.
In the ivy jungle I found an abandoned bird nest. It was pretty cool to find it and I am really glad the birds weren’t using it any more. One of the reasons we are pulling ivy out is because it provides shelter for rats to live in. I do not want to encourage them to live near our house, especially if we get chickens. The ivy behind our house has seriously damaged several large trees and needs to be pulled down so that the trees can recover and not fall on our house in a windstorm. English Ivy is nasty stuff and it will take many years to remove it from our yard but many of our neighbors have neglected their large trees and I am really concerned several will come down in the future.
In anticipation of a new fence we cut some of the lower branches off of one of our hemlock trees. They were starting to grow over our path down to the ravine and parts of them were very dead looking. Basically they were hair-pulling spider havens so they had to go. We were told last summer that we should cut some of them out to allow more light into the back yard and quoted $500-600 for them to come out and remove them. It took my husband 30 minutes with a ladder and our tiny chain saw to cut four or so branches down and open up the pathway. He spent a little bit longer cutting up the branches a bit and burning some of the smaller ones but we do that sort of thing after every winter storm so it wasn’t a big deal. It really goes to show that if you have a little know how and a willingness to work you can save a ton of money doing as much as you can by yourself. I grew up cutting down trees and clearing land and I am really enjoying working out on ours. We will have to hire someone to remove trees since they are so close to the house but we can definitely handle the smaller stuff!
On a more positive note our gigantic hydrangea bushes are in full bloom. They are absolutely gorgeous. I love hydrangeas and I am really glad our house has such beautiful ones!
Some of our other plants are finally blooming. Our butterfly bush has a few blossoms and the fuchsias are just starting to flower. I am really glad the flowers are coming out because I am having a problem getting my squash flowers pollinated.
Because my vegetables aren’t getting pollinated very well I went out and bought some lavender plants to put next to the vegetable garden. I am going to take out our boxwood hedge and make a lavender hedge instead. I am hoping that will solve my squash problem.
My daughter also wanted me to take some pictures of her fairy garden. It is growing very well. Everything is blooming and growing fast. I may have to talk her into moving it to a larger pot next year. She checks on it every day and we talk about how the flowers are doing. It is really sweet to see her take ownership of her plants and care for them so well.
Our fruit garden is doing well. The apples are growing and looking very healthy. We have been picking a handful of raspberries and blueberries every day. Thanks to my kids they never make it inside but they have a lot of fun picking them and eating them. My son is not a fruit person but he will eat fruit from our garden!
Our tomatoes still have a few fruits on them. Many of the other gardeners in my local community are having trouble growing tomatoes this year. Last year we had such a bumper crop I am not surprised. We had way too many tomatoes last year so having way fewer is totally ok with me.
My sunflowers were doing so poorly after being attacked by slugs that I went out and bought a dwarf sunflower to plant near the squash. I am hoping it will attract some bees as well as grow enough so that we can get a few seeds from it. Of course after I planted it my other sunflowers started taking off but that is ok. They are nowhere near close to blooming so I think it will help to have them blooming at different times.
I have one large yellow zucchini but there are also now some smaller ones so I have a little hope! The new ones happened after I planted the sunflowers and bought the lavender and I can’t tell if they have been pollinated yet but keep your fingers crossed!
There are two spaghetti squash out in the garden and this one is getting pretty big. It is about the length of my hand right now and it has doubled in size over the past few days. I love spaghetti squash so I am really excited about this one!
There are a few female pumpkin flowers. Most of them shrivel up shortly after blooming. This one was closed mid-day so I am hoping it has been pollinated. I tried hand pollinating another one so that we will get at least one pumpkin this year. Hopefully it worked!
My squash are completely taking over my beds. I have had to corral the pumpkin ones several times. They keep trying to escape to the neighbor’s yard. I honestly didn’t think many of them would grow so next year I will know and plant only a couple of them.
Our bush bean plants are doing very well. They just started flowering and I did see a couple of bees on them this morning so we should get at least a few beans out of them.
Our green beans are still struggling. They were pretty eaten up by slugs but are recovering. I need to put some netting over our bamboo poles to help them climb. I changed the watering system around a bit so that they are getting more water and they seem to be doing better now.
Our freeloading ground cherries are thriving despite being stepped on almost daily. A few of them even have a few fruits on them so we are excited to eat some and see if they taste as good as last year’s.
The carrots have finally started taking off. They have really been putting out a lot of greens and I am excited to try drying the greens this year to add to recipes. I found this excellent article on A Modern Homestead that details how to use carrot greens in your cooking. I am really excited to try some of her ideas!
Whew. A lot went on in our garden this week! I am really excited that our vegetables are starting to take off and hoping to start harvesting some of the squash this week. We will be spending a bunch more time on ivy removal and clearing up what we can from the back yard. I am already thinking about projects for next year and what we will do differently in the vegetable garden.
What is happening in your garden this week?
We have had some excitement in the garden this week. Our plants are continuing to grow super fast from our week of excellent sun and we harvested our first few strawberries. I got some more seedlings planted and we spent quite a bit of time weeding and cleaning up the back yard. Whew. It was a lot of work but well worth it in the end.
Our first ripe strawberries happened this week. Our daughter ate a few of them but the rest were stolen by our thieving squirrel. I had to chase him off twice and just now when I went out to turn on the soaker hose I discovered he had left a half ripe one on the sidewalk. Luckily we are all strawberried out from picking them last weekend so our daughter didn’t even notice. Usually she is way more on top of that sort of thing.
The lettuce in the top of our strawberry tower continues to flourish and our three year old continues to be the only one eating it. She spends most of her time in the front yard randomly telling me she is going to eat a piece and then running over there and chowing down. It is awesome because she will not eat lettuce in the house. We haven’t been eating a lot of salad lately and I honestly prefer romaine lettuce but I should really pick some of it so we can eat it. Maybe I will put some in my salad next week. I need to buy more seeds so I can do some succession planting. I have a long planter I want to fill with a variety of lettuce but just haven’t gotten around to.
Our apple tree has a couple of apples. I was really surprised since we planted it only a year ago. I thinned a few of the smaller ones but I am on the fence about the remaining ones. I have heard conflicting information about whether to leave apples on the tree before the third year and honestly I haven’t had time to look it up again to double check. So far of the 5 varieties on our combination tree the only two with fruit are the Gravenstein and the Gala. I will probably end up removing them. I think we also need to prune back our tree a bit since it is a little leggy so I will definitely have to read up on my apple tree care this week!
Our bush beans are doing well. I thinned them a bit after I took this picture but I am still having a hard time ripping seedlings out since they are all so healthy. I know that they will be too crowded though so eventually we will be down to about 4 based on the space available in the bed. I will continue to pull a couple out every week until we are at a good number.
Our carrots are doing ok. They are finally growing a little bit but not super fast. We didn’t have much luck with these seeds last year. There is a lot of room in this bed so I may grow some fast growing plants such as radishes on the edges while the beans and carrots grow since I am running out of room in my garden. I have heard that is a way to increase your crop yield but it may need more soil amending than I am ready to do.
Our broccoli seems to be having a hard time getting started. All of our seedlings are still small and a little leggy so I may start some other plants inside for crop succession since we eat a lot of broccoli. I am just really short on time and a little concerned that the garden will get away from me if I plant too much.
The luffa plants are in the ground with their trellis and doing well. I may have to guide them towards the trellis with some string but they have grown a couple of inches since I planted them a week ago which is fabulous!
So I am only partially certain these are both cucumbers. We may have mixed up our seedlings since I only labeled the front of the rows and I didn’t warn my husband when he brought me some and then I may have forgotten and mixed them up even further but hey, it will be a nice surprise later? I don’t have enough trellises so I planted these two along the fence hoping they would grow up the fence if they needed more space. I am quickly realizing we need a much bigger garden if we are to grow the amount of food I want to.
Our green beans are starting to come up under our tepee and I am really excited about it. The little kids are going to have a ton of fun sitting in there while I garden sneaking fresh green beans. I really with I had room for a bigger crop of green beans so that we could freeze a bunch but maybe next year.
Our squash continue to do well. The zucchini is really taking off. I was slightly crazy and planted my last zucchini plant so we have four total with a couple of yellow squash and possibly some spaghetti squash. That is a lot of squash for us. I put some Mylar firecracker decorations in the squash and pumpkin beds because I suspect the squirrel is eating some of the blossoms. I did some research and Mylar strips are supposed to keep both birds and squirrels out and we happened to be at the craft store and saw these with the Fourth of July decorations. They are pretty garish but I love them. Hopefully they work.
Both our Shortcake and our mystery raspberries are doing well. We have a number of berries on the larger variety and I am hoping I will be able to freeze some of them.
The blueberries continue to look delicious. I am really excited to eat them later this year!
My gigantic Hydrangea bushes in the front are covered in blossoms. They seem to have grown at least two feet in the last month as well and I can no longer get even close to trimming them back to a decent height. I am pretty sure I will be majorly chopping these back this year and probably won’t get any blossoms on them next year but I am ok with that because they are completely taking over the space and it is going to be a nightmare trimming all of those flowers. Last year there were probably a third of the blossoms and I spent several hours a week deadheading these bushes alone.
I thought I would post a picture of our small herb garden. We planted Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano and Sage last year. They Rosemary didn’t make it through the winter and I have yet to buy another plant. For some reason I keep not liking the ones I see in the store or they are tiny. We also have some garlic in there that we planted last spring that probably should have been harvested. I will probably pull one up at the end of the summer and see how they are doing. We are going to have to redo this section after a little bit since the plants are starting to crowd together.
I think the next few weeks will be interesting as the garden really starts to take off with the nicer weather. We are planning on removing all of the ivy in the back by mid-July so we can install our back fence. We have made some progress but there is quite a bit of it and we haven’t had time with all of the end of the school year stuff going on. I also really need to weed the side yards and start trimming all of the bushes that tend to overgrow. I need to move or find homes for several bushes in order to put the fence in and that will take some time as well.
What’s happening in your garden this week?