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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flower Power

Sunflowers are not only pretty, but very interesting as well. These photos were taken this week at the Frog & PenguINN where there’s a small sunflower patch at the end of one of the vegetable beds.

The sunflower facts were gathered from various online sites. As readers of this blog know – and drop-ins will find out – Grenville and I like learning and sharing information.
DSCF6957The default direction of the sunflower head is to point east towards sunrise (the location of the sun when it rises over the horizon in the morning.) During the day motor cells in the sunflower stem tilt the flower bud to try to receive a maximum amount of sunlight. By evening, the sunflower head is pointing west, towards sunset (the location of the sun on the horizon just before it is no longer visible.) This causes the sunflower to basically trace a 180 degree arc, tracking the sun's position throughout the day, from horizon to horizon, sunrise to sunset. Overnight, the sunflower will reset to its original eastward positioning and wait for the morning, ready to follow the sun's path once again. Once blooming however, sunflowers no longer exhibit heliotropic behavior, and the stem is generally frozen into an eastward-facing position.sunflower to sky0731 (3) DSCF6953 sunflower petals0731 (3)sunflower petals0731 (1)What’s called the flower is actually a head (formally composite flower) of numerous florets (small flowers) crowded together. The outer florets are the sterile ray florets and can be yellow, maroon, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds.sunflower half open0731 (2) The florets within the sunflower's cluster are arranged in a spiral pattern. Each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; on a very large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head. sunflower inside0731 (1)sunflower florets Although a sunflower resembles one huge flower, a single sunflower head consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers (florets) joined together by a receptacle base.
sunflower CLOSE0728 (2) Sunflowers commonly grow to heights between 5 to 12 feet. In 1986, the tallest sunflower – 25 ft 5.5 in. was  grown in the Netherlands.
DSCF6867 DSCF6953 sunflower garden0731 (4) sunflower garden0731 (5) 
The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus – Helia for sun and Anthus for flower. Sunflowers belong to the family Asteraceae ( aster family). The sunflower's name is believed to have originated from the connection of the plant to the sun, both in looks and behavior. The sunflower is native to North America and was used by the Indians for food and oil. Some farmers use it to feed their livestock. They are a great way to attract birds and bees to your yard.
DSCF6864
Sunflower seeds are rich in oil, which they store as a source of energy and food. Sunflower seeds are crushed to give oil, which is frequently used for cooking and also is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and machinery lubricants. Experiments have shown that sunflower oil can be made into plastics.
DSCF6942
DSCF6941 sunflower half open0731 (7)  DSCF6860 In the U.S. the sunflower is the state flower of Kansas. But its the national flower of Russia which grows the most sunflowers.
DSCF6947 "Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do." – Helen Keller
DSCF6843

Want to know more about sunflowers?  There’s lots of information online at the  National Sunflower Association.

AND the WINNER is>>>>>>>

Almost forgot to post this to make it officially official. The grand prize winner of the 5 ton Zucchini  in the Flower to Veggie contest was our good friend Christer of the Cottage by Crane Lake.

Unfortunately, due to some silly regulations about over size and weight, the US Postal Service, UPS, and almost every shipping company will be unable to send it, so just drive on over here Christer and I'm sure we can squeeze it into your back seat, as long as the dogs stay home ;-). Or bring the dogs, take the zucchini home and leave the dogs with us :-)

The other squash is going to be turned into a casserole tonight by the Princess. I volunteered to do it or even just help but was told no, so i am off to the front porch (now that the temperature is tolerable 82.6F) to read, and stay safely out of the way.

Counting Dolpins

Well today was the big day. The annual Dolpin count. All along the Virginia coast the Dolpins were counted. I was part of a team that counted from the North end of Hog Island to the North end of Wreck Island. IMG_0595The weather was perfect. 75F, wind 5Kt, overcast, and seas @1ft or less. Our track took us 25 miles south of Wachapreague Va., .5 miles off shore, and back. Now it may sound easy counting Dolpins but it does take some practice since they don’t all surface at once. AND the sound of a boat motor can spook them so the three of us had to count a pod 5 or six times and then agree on a number. Some of the pods were really separated adding a new challenge. And of course they have a habit of swimming in circles causing you to count the same ones over. Our final count was 66. Our largest pod was 16.

So what is a DIMG_0598olpin really????? Well at first we thought we would find them in a bowling alley. Something like the head pin, the 10 pin. We also researched the possibility that it had something to do with VooDoo dolls.

But no it turned out to be a slight misspelling of Dolphin that escaped the attention of the staff of the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Center,,,,, until the shirts came back from the printer…..

scan0001 This may well become a collectors item and Beatrice and i can retire on the profits!!!!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Grenville’s Peach Pie

Belle-of-Georgia-Peach treeVeggies are not the only things that Grenville grew this season . Last week, he harvested peaches from the  dwarf Georgia Belle peach tree planted 3 years ago. Last year, we had a few peaches – enough for a small peach cobbler. This year’s harvest produced enough for a deep dish fresh peach pie. The peaches were small in size, but so sweet in taste.

Grenville’s peach pie that topped off our dinner of freshly made gazpacho. Sorry, you couldn’t be here to enjoy either the soup or the pie., but here’s the pie recipe. And, we know it’s not the same as enjoying a warm slice topped with vanilla bean ice cream. But, if you let us know when you plan to visit, Grenville can bake another one. Of course, you’ll have to wait until next year’s harvest.

Grenville’s Peach Pie

This recipe is adapted from The Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Home Baking cookbook with some TLC preparation by Grenville.

P1010857 Boil peaches to soften skin for easy removal. Grenville will tell you this is not an easy task – peach pits DO get HOT.

P1010855

  • Prepare pastry for a double crust 9-inch pie or open a box of Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, like we do.
  • ¾ C sugarP1010861
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ¼ - ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 C peeled and sliced peaches (skin peaches)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a deep dish pie plate with a crust.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add peaches and toss gently to coat.
  3. Pour into bottom crust and dot with butter.
  4. Top with either a plain or lattice crust.
  5. Sprinkle in a little more sugar and cinnamon – on top too.
  6. Bake  40 - 45 minutes or until filling is bubbly and peaches are tender.

P1010865

P1010874

P1010872

Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.
Got milk?  This dessert tastes great with a cold glass of milk

Enjoy ! (we did)

Peachy GA Facts

  • The first peaches were planted in the state in the eighteenth century, and the first commercial production occurred in the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Georgia ranks 3rd nationally in acreage devoted to peaches with more than 15,000 acres and in production behind California and South Carolina.
  • The Belle of Georgia peach, also called the Georgia Belle peach, was named after Mrs. Belle Hall of Ft. Valley, Georgia.
  • Samuel Henry Rumph, a Marshallville peach grower, discovered a new peach variety in 1870, which he named Elberta for his wife. The Elberta peach was the leading Georgia peach until 1960. Newer varieties, the J. H. Hale and Belle of Georgia, replaced the Elberta in commercial use.
  • Rumph is considered the father of the Georgia Peach Industry due to his use of refrigerated rail cars for rapid shipments to northern markets on a large scale.
  • There is no significant processing of peaches in Georgia. Nearly all peaches grown there are sold in the wholesale fresh market, with a small percentage sold at roadside markets.
  • Augusta National Golf Club, home to the annual Masters Tournament is the former site of Fruitland Nurseries. This 365-acre site was the old Berckmans nursery, which introduced  fruits, including peaches, for statewide distribution.

Veggie QUIZ Answers

OK, now that you had a chance to check out the veggie flowers posted yesterday. Did you figure out what veggies to with each ?  If you did guess, hope you had a bit of fun. And, HERE are the ANSWERS. Just to make it easier, the order here is the same as in the previous post, including the veggie flower.

cuke flwr0728 (1)

This is something we have had an abundance of in the garden this season.

CUKES

cuke (4)

 

 

 

 

 

butternut squash FLWRS (9)

Another veggie (still prefer this term to fruit) that we will soon harvest in bucketfuls is this one. This one still has a way to go before turning its wonderful orange color.

Butternut Squash

butternut squash (3)

eggplant flwr0728 (2) Did you figure out that this colorful purple and yellow flower is from the ever popular eggplant which ripens to a beautiful dark purple.

Eggplant

eggplant (1)

tomato flowr0728 (2)This flower produces an ever popular summer veggie that’s so popular with many gardeners.

Tomatoes

tomatoes0728 (2)

These next couple might have been a little harder to guess .  . .

green pepper FLWR (3) green pepper (1)

The delicate white flower on the left produces – did you get this one?

Green Pepper

 

 

 lima FLWR (4)And this grouping of white flowers results in . . . Lima Beanslima in pod (1)

This last one was not a trick question, since the photo looks similar to the first one posted . It’s in the same family. This yellow flower matures to – Yellow Crookneck Squash.yellow squash flwr0728   yellow squash0728 (4)

 

 

 

 

 

Grenville has graciously offered the following PRIZES – pickup ONLY. As you may have read someplace – maybe even on this blog – it’s been a BIG year at the F&P for cukes and zukes and we enjoy sharing.

1st prize = several large cukes & zukes
2nd prize = larger cukes & zukes
3rd prize = largest cukes & zukes

That’s it for the first – maybe even annual (monthly)? – Frog & PenguINN garden quiz – it was fun (at least for me).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gazpacho – Summer’s Soup

Got veggies – lots and lots of them?P1010843

If your garden overfloweth (like ours) here’s a great way to use those home-grown vegetables without turning on the stove or oven. This is a very good thing if you’ve been having the type of HOT summer weather that we’ve been having on the Eastern Shore. This version is courtesy of recipes from two of my favorite cookbooks: The Victory Garden Cookbook and The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, cukes  are the main ingredients.

Gazpacho is a cold tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalusia. The name has become an almost generic term for chilled vegetable soup. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal (where it is known as gaspacho) and parts of Latin America. Its usually referred to as a summer soup since that’s when the fresh vegetables it uses are most plentiful and because of the soup’s refreshing qualities.

Gazpacho

There are countless gazpacho recipes in Spain and elsewhere. The most familiar one is a pureed salad of summery vegetables. Classic gazpachos are thickened with bread.

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 ½ cucumbers
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 10-12 scallions
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Salt  & freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ C red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley (if available)
  • 3 C tomato juice or vegetable juice (V8)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Croutons
  1. Peel, seed, coarsely shop the tomatoes in a food processor.
  2. Finely chop (but don’t puree) cukes, peppers, and onions in the food processor. Note: You can do each separately and remove to holding bowls.
  3. Mash garlic and 1 tsp salt. Stir in vinegar and oil. Combine with chopped vegetables and add tomato juice.
  4. Chop cilantro or parsley leaves.
  5. Combine veggies and season with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

P1010849Stir well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve in chilled bowls with a side of crusty bread and a glass of wine.

 Tasty Additions

  • Add ½ - 1 C soft fresh breadcrumbs with vinegar and oil.
  • Mash in fresh herbs, such as basil with the garlic.
  • Serve soup with chopped vegetable garnishes such as finely chopped cucumbers, peppers, scallions or celery.

Veggie Flower QUIZ

Early this morning (before the heat and humidity set in, again), I explored the Frog & PenguINN vegetable garden to see what was in bloom. Regular followers will know this has been a bountiful season, thanks to Grenville’s gardening talents.  As some blog visitors are also gardeners and photographers, I put together a “quiz” by posting flower photos of what was in the garden, and letting you all “guess” what vegetable (or fruit as they are more correctly called) would be the end result. (YES, I will give “answers” but  not until the next blog post. Grenville said he will give PRIZES.)

I found out that we’ve been growing a lot of fruit in our vegetable garden. Why you may wonder – or maybe you already knew this. Botanically speaking, anything with an  enclosed seed that develops from a flower and grows on top of the soil is considered a fruit. But, many of these so-called fruits are are usually perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables. Learn something every day!

Here goes -- HOW many can you identify?
The flower displays first, followed by the clue.

cuke flwr0728 (1)

CLUE #1 -The fruit from this flower is known scientifically as Cucumis sativus. This plant belongs to the same family as watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin, and other types of squash. It’s usually eaten in the unripe green form and is over 90% water; ripe yellow ones can be bitter. It is a creeping vine that roots in the ground. The large leaves form a canopy over the fruit to hide it.

butternut squash FLWRS (9)

CLUE #2 - This vegetable is also a fruit with an outer yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. It can be be roasted, toasted, pureed in a colorful soup, or mashed into soups, casseroles, breads, and muffins. Its taste is sweet and nutty,similar to a pumpkin.  It grows on a vine.

eggplant flwr0728 (1) CLUE #3 - This plant is native to India, Pakistan, Nepal. The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and has many small, soft seeds, which are edible, but bitter as they contain nicotinoid alkaloids. The fruit is fleshy, with a meaty texture and often used as a vegetable in cooking. Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape and color, especially purple, green, white and even orange varieties. This plant is a member of the family Solanaceae (also called nightshades) and is closely related to the tomato.

tomato flowr0728 (2)

CLUE #4- The fruit of this flower also belongs to the nightshade family. The fruit is eaten raw or as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, or drinks. While botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes, which has caused some confusion. The fruit is rich in an antioxidant, lycopene (an enzyme said to counteract the damaging effects of oxygen in tissues) and may have beneficial health effects.

green pepper FLWR (3)CLUE #5 - The color can be green, red, yellow, orange and even white, rainbow (between stages of ripening) and purple, depending on when they are harvested and the specific cultivar. Green are less sweet and slightly more bitter than red, yellow or orange. The taste of ripe ones can vary with growing conditions and post-harvest storage; the sweetest ripen fully on the plant in full sunshine, while fruit harvested green and ripened in storage are less sweet.

lima FLWR (4)

CLUE #6 - This plant produces a legume that is flat, oblong and slightly curved, averaging about 3 inches long. Within the pod are the two to four flat kidney-shaped seeds that are generally cream or green in color, although certain varieties feature colors like white, red, purple, brown or black.

yellow squash flwr0728

CLUE #7 - This flower produces a bulbous shaped vegetable with bumpy, yellow skin and sweet flesh. It is a short-season bearer and is high in fiber and vitamin C. The rich flavor makes it a great filler in a wide range of dishes, alone or as a side dish. When cut open, it has pale yellow flesh and seeds. The  seeds and skin are edible with a sweet, slightly nutty taste. It is a good choice for summer grilling, gratins, and similar dishes. It can also be eaten raw and adds a nice texture to salads when grated.

 

HAVE FUN !

ANSWERS will be in the next post with photos of both the flower and the veggie or fruit (whichever you prefer).

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