Saturday, July 26, 2008

More pie

Sorry, I still haven't found my garden blogging muse. Please accept more pie blogging.

You may recall my peach and blueberry pie, but there was also a cherry pie, which was OK, given that it was made with sweet cherries instead of the coveted sour Montmorency cherries -- we just can't seem to find them around here. 

But being as it is the height of Texas freestone peach season, I'm trying to take full advantage of the ready availability of plump ripe local peaches. Peaches are, after all, the most delicious fruit. This is a fact that cannot be disputed*.

I went with straight peaches this time, mainly because blackberries are so damned expensive. However, I mixed it up a bit with a technique I've had good luck with in the past -- a grated top crust.

When you're done mixing up your crust, treat the bottom crust as normal, but take the dough for the top crust and pack it into a ball or hunk. Leave it in the refrigerator as long as you can so it sets up nice and firm. Then, when you've filled the bottom shell with filling, grate the cold dough just like cheese over the top of the pie.

Then bake it like normal. No worries about vent holes -- the juices will bubble up through it and around the edges. This time, about halfway through I sprinkled it liberally with vanilla sugar.

It came out like this:

I'm a little perturbed that it doesn't brown up better than that -- the lower-lying bits of crust are done, but look awfully pale. Maybe spraying it with butter would help or perhaps I need to fiddle with the temperature a bit more. Anyone have suggestions?

Oh, and in case you were skeptical of claims elsewhere -- lard really is the way to go. I've been doing a 3/4 lard to 1/4 butter lately and it comes out perfect.

* I will accept arguments on behalf of the pineapple and mango, but these will ultimately fail.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

The end of the line

Hey, what do you know, if you spend some time gardening, you get some ideas for your garden blog.

I took advantage of the sub-90 morning temperature to get out and check on the back 40.

Visiting the tomatoes, I was faced with the annual conundrum.

As you may know, once temperatures get consistently above 90 in the daytime and above 70 at night, tomatoes tend to stop blossoming or drop their blossoms before they set fruit. Here in Central Texas and other hot climates, that means that by mid-July, we're pretty much done seeing any tiny new green tomatoes. And this year, with a string of 100-degree days in early, we've been pretty done for a while.

What to do? You can keep watering the scraggly things in hopes that they'll still be healthy enough to start fruiting again when it cools off. You can chop them off at the kneecaps to make them put out new young sprouts and hope those produce fruit later. Or you can plant fresh seedlings, either grown from seed or rooted from suckers taken off the mature plants.

I've tried just about all of these and never had much success, yet I've still had trouble bringing myself to make the obvious choice. Not so this year.

Thanks for the memories and mouth ulcers, Brandywine, Persimmon and Black Krim. The compost pile thanks you for the greenery.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bringing Practical Back

I seem to have been been too busy or unmotivated to come up with anything good to write about in the past week. Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of this here garden blog.

Saturday I dropped some nutrition on a few plants. Everybody is looking mighty tired in this every-day 100-degree heat, so I thought maybe they could use some encouragement. I pulled out my trusty fertilizer bucket and gave a handful each of cottonseed, bone, and kelp meal to the cantaloupes and the new Tromboncino and Butternut squashes. 

I also gave a little bone and kelp to the peppers which have, as usual, been disappointing me with their refusal to hold onto blossoms long enough to make peppers. Yes, Cayenne, that's right, you've been very good about making peppers, although I wouldn't get too cocky since you can't seem to turn any of them red.

And then I yanked three tomatoes -- the ones that were growing around the compost bin, Japanese tomato-ring style. That's a shady area and it doesn't get much water, so they were all pretty sad looking. The upside of that is that I can now get to the compost to turn it, which reminds me that I've been meaning to write up my compost situation, which I'm sure you will all be hotly anticipating over the next week.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008


I'm afraid I'm a little dry on gardening news. I actually did some work on my neglected St. Augustine crop yesterday, but that wasn't as exciting as what I did afterward.


Thursday, July 3, 2008


Talk about a late bloomer. To be fair, these Persimmons have probably been ripe for a few days, but I just realized they weren't going to turn red. So I pulled one yesterday and sliced it up for turkey burgers.

They're pretty large and have an amazing creamy color. They're also probably the meatiest tomato I've ever seen.

The flesh is very firm and kind of tart -- actually almost salty.

A very interesting tomato, but I don't think I'll grow them again. This plant only ended up with 4 fruits, and honestly, I'm in it for sweet and tomato-y, not tart and salty.

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