Category Archives: From Garden to Table

Grape Juice!

Our Grapes

Our Grapes

We made five gallons of grape juice this weekend!  I would love to think that I could put some up and save it, but who am I kidding?  Half of it is already gone!

Grape juice is incredibly easy to make.  All you have to do is wash the grapes and add water just until you can see through the grapes.  Add sugar or honey and heat on the stove until the skins pop.  Let it cool and then squeeze (or smoosh) all the juice out.  The honey definitely gave it a different flavor than the sugar.  The kids seem to prefer the sugared batch better.

We have a juicing stand that has a cone shaped collander and a wooden paddle just for the purpose, but John says that his grandmother used to squeeze and drain them through a cheese cloth (or pillow case or something).

Ours could have been filtered a little more.  We left it rather pulpy, but I love that earthy flavor.

-- Weather When Posted --

  • Temperature: 77°F;
  • Humidity: 81%;
  • Heat Index: 79°F;
  • Wind Chill: 77°F;
  • Pressure: 29.91 in.;





It’s almost ready!

I have no idea what kind this is.  I think I remember it being Clemson Spineless, but I bought it so long ago that I could be wrong.  I bought a Burgundy Okra one time too, but I know that is not what it is.  I save a pod every year and that is what I plant in the spring.  I always seem to have one or two that I miss harvesting and it seems a waste to throw them out.

Okra is a kind of hibiscus, Hibiscus esculentus, and it actually has a very pretty flower.  I must have missed this one flowering while I was on my mini-vacation.  It seems like the hotter it gets, the better okra likes it.  That makes one of us.  But at least there is something in my yard that doesn’t look totally exhausted from the heat.

I will have to be careful to check the pods daily now because they grow so fast, it’s easy to miss that perfect okra moment – when it is about 3 or 4 inches long.  And I really don’t want to leave them on the plant too long because that shuts down production.

Fried Okra!  I can’t wait.  We are gluten sensitive (well, at least three out of five of us are) but I have found that it tastes just as good fried in olive oil with salt and pepper (and maybe some Cajun seasonings) as it does breaded and fried.



Meat Free Spaghetti Squash Dinner

We have been eating meat free a lot this week.  In spite of the tornado. we have been able to harvest a few wonderful veggies: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash.

Garden Fresh Spaghetti Squash

OK, so the spaghetti squash I actually bought, but most everything else was from the garden.

Ingredients: Spaghetti squash, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, cloves of garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, sea salt, fresh basil, fresh oregano, feta and Parmesan cheese.

Since it was just my daughter and I eating that night, we only used half of the spaghetti squash, but a whole one would feed 4.

To cook the spaghetti squash, I cut a slit in the rind and microwaved until it was soft enough to cut in half.  Then I cut it in half, laid it face down in a shallow pan of water and microwaved for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I fixed a sauce with a variety of yellow and red chopped tomatoes, yellow squash, a sweet bell pepper from the garden, a couple of small cloves of garlic chopped – all fresh from the garden.  I sauteed them all in olive oil and seasoned to taste with sea salt.  Just as the squash was becoming tender, I added the fresh herbs and the pine nuts.

I removed the spaghetti squash strands from the spaghetti squash with a fork after it had sat and rested (out of the pan) for a few minutes.  It’s very hot!  Be careful.  I just scraped it out onto individual plates and then topped with the sauce.  We added the cheese at the table according to individual tastes.

I wish I had taken pictures because this was a gorgeous meal!  It tasted incredible too!

-- Weather When Posted --

  • Temperature: 85°F;
  • Humidity: 61%;
  • Heat Index: 88°F;
  • Wind Chill: 85°F;
  • Pressure: 29.9 in.;


Candied Rose Petals


The kids gave me a book for Mother’s Day called “The Little Big Book of Roses”.  It is a collection of recipes, tips, literary excerpts, facts, lore… a little bit of everything.  I love it!

One of the recipes in it is for candied rose petals.  Here it is…

Candied Rose Petals

Candied rose petals should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place with each layer separated by both wax paper and a paper towel.  Moisture is your enemy!

2 Egg whites, beaten

1 Cup granulated sugar

24 Organic rose petals

  1. Begin by inspecting your rose petals carefully.  They should be clean and unblemished.
  2. Beat egg whites in a shallow bowl until they are frothy.
  3. Place sugar in a separate shallow bowl.
  4. Using a clean pastry brush or soft tweezers, gently coat a single rose petal, first in egg white, then in sugar, on both sides.
  5. Lay each finished rose petal on wax paper and allow to dry.

I can’t wait to try this one!  I wish I had had this when I made Samantha’s “Rose Geranium Italian Cream Cake”.  I bet they would be great with brandied fruit, sorbet or ice cream also!

-- Weather When Posted --

  • Temperature: 85°F;
  • Humidity: 54%;
  • Heat Index: 86°F;
  • Wind Chill: 85°F;
  • Pressure: 29.96 in.;


Chilled Berry Soup

This is one of the most incredible recipes!  I got it from the Moosewood Cookbook.  We have not tried anything out of this cookbook that has not been incredible.

Chilled Berry Soup

Much more than just a soup, this refreshing tart-sweet preparation can be a summer beverage, a breakfast dish, or even a desert.

Frozen berries work very well in here so you don’t need to wait for perfect fresh ones.  Blue, black-, rasp- and strawberries can all be found in frozen, unsweetened for in the supermarket.  You can also freeze your own during an abundant season.  Frozen berries give off generous amounts of pure berry juice as they defrost, and you can include all of it in the soup.  It creates an indescribably lovely color.

3 cups orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)

3 cups buttermilk or yogurt (non-fat OK)

1 to 2 Tbs. fresh lemon or lime juice

optional:  1 to 2 Tbs. sugar or honey

2 to 3 cups berries ~ any kind or any combination (Leave smaller berries whole.  Larger ones should be sliced)

optional:  a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg and/or a few sprigs of fresh mint for ganish

1)  Whisk together orange juice and buttermilk or yogurt.  Add lemon or lime juice and optional sugar or honey (or not), to taste.  Cover and chill until serving time.

2) When you’re ready to serve, place about 1/2 cup berries in each bowl.  Ladle the soup on top.  If desired, dust very lightly with cinnamon and/or nutmeg, and garnish with a few small sprigs of mint.

I’m honestly not a buttermilk fan, but this is the most wonderful stuff!  We have been known to just drink it or pour it over vanilla ice cream.  My favorite berries in it are raspberries because the soup fills the well in the berries.  And we use the options of honey and nutmeg and sometimes the mint sprigs.

-- Weather When Posted --

  • Temperature: 61°F;
  • Humidity: 89%;
  • Heat Index: 61°F;
  • Wind Chill: 60°F;
  • Pressure: 30.16 in.;


Mom’s “A Cup, A Cup, A Cup” Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry Leaf

Blackberry Leaf

I’m sure that Mom probably got this recipe from someone else, but who knows who from.  But I got it from her and it is wonderful and super easy!

Ingredients:  1 cup of blackberries

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of flour

1  cup of milk

1/2 cup of sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

Coat the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish with the butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir 1/2 cup of sugar into berries and set aside to develop a syrup.

Mix all remaining dry ingredients together and add milk to make a batter.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Spoon the berries and syrup on top of the batter.  Bake for thirty minutes.

In my opinion, this cobbler tastes best with a spoon full of either homemade vanilla ice cream or the next best thing – Blue Bell’s Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream on top!



Ahhh… Basil!



I love it!  I love the taste.  I love the smell.  I love the shape of the plant.  And basil must like me too because my plants tend to get huge.  But that’s OK.  I will eat it all summer long!

There are many different varieties of basil and I have tried several, but my favorite is still the plain old ‘Sweet Basil’ or the ‘Genovese Basil’.  It reminds me of the three years I lived in Italy.

Although it’s not a native to Texas, basil is so easy to grow here and a must for any herb garden.  it is incredible in any pasta dish.  It will grow strong up until the first frost with a slight lag during the highest heat of the summer (this may be more of a water issue since I tend not to do a lot of extra watering).

Basil will start to flower later in the season.  At this point, I usually cut it back pretty good from the top and use the youngest leaves and toss the rest in the compost.  The older leaves start to get a strong hot flavor to them.

For a great summer salad, try slicing up some homegrown tomatoes along with some fresh mozzarella (you know, the wet kind) and then top with basil cut into small strips. Don’t wash the basil too much or you will lose a lot of the flavor – just enough to knock and dirt or sand off of it.  Then drizzle some olive oil over it and give it a good sprinkling of sea salt.  This is what is called a ‘Caprese Salad’.  You can eat it like this or put it on a nice crusty roll and eat it like a sandwich.  Yum!


Rose Geranium Italian Cream Cake

Samantha's Wonderful Birthday Cake!

Samantha's Wonderful Birthday Cake!

Rose Geranium Italian Cream Cake From  Along the Garden Path by Bill and Sylvia Varney

This was the most wonderful birthday cake!  We made it with rose geranium and decorated it with rose petals from our garden.  Unfortunately, we will now have to learn how to make a gluten-free version.

4 large rose geranium leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
5 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Rose cream frosting

Mince geranium leaves with 1/2 cup sugar in food processor.  Cream sugar mixture, butter, 1 cup sugar, salt and vanilla in mixer bowl until light an fluffy.  Whip egg whites in small mixer bowl until soft peaks form.  Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar gradually, beating constantly until stiff peaks form and then set aside.  Add egg yolks 1 at a time to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.  Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk.  Add buttermilk mixture and flour alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.  Fold egg whites into batter.  Stir in pecans and coconut.  Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes or until layers test done.  Cool in pans for several minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Spread Rose Cream Frosting between layers and cover top and side of cake.  Garnish with additional geranium leave and rose buds or petals.  This cake must be stored in the refrigerator if it is not eaten the same day it is prepared.

Yields 12 servings

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 drop rose geranium essential oil (I didn’t have any, so I just put some of the leaves in the sugar and let set over night)
1 1/2 pounds confectioner’s sugar

Cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla and essential oil in mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add confectioner’s sugar gradually, beating until of spreading consistency.

Yields enough frosting for a 3-layer cake (We actually had some left over that was wonderful on strawberries!)