Donating to Local Food Bank

The Howard County Community Garden food bank donation for July 21st

The Howard County Conservancy Community Garden donates a portion of its produce to the Howard County Food Bank every Tuesday and Thursday.  Volunteers pick the produce contributions from a plot solely dedicated to the food bank and from individuals’ gardens with portions marked for the food bank.  Often a gardener will mark their plot for the food bank when they are out of town for  an extended period of time.  The goal is to prevent waste in our gardens.

Yesterday, my son and I joined another gardener to pick the produce for donation.    It was fun and I learned how to harvest cabbage.  The cabbage head is cut from the thick stalk because a new cabbage head may grow from the old stalk.   I will look for cabbage regrowth in the food bank plot.

We collected three bags of produce including tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, Malabar spinach, zucchini, and eggplant.   It weighed in at 29 pounds at the food bank!   The fresh organic produce was greatly appreciated.

Over 36 million Americans are hungry and rely on local food pantries to help sustain their families.  For more information about how other gardeners are giving to food banks across Maryland and the United States visit Grow It Give It.

Spinach Pesto

spinach picked from our plot

The spinach in our garden plot is starting to flower so I picked a grocery bag full of spinach this week.  Slugs like green leafy vegetables so I always clean greens by putting them into our kitchen sink filled with water.   If there are slugs hidden in the greens they will float to the water surface in several minutes.   Before I cleaned our huge batch of spinach, I soaked a batch of fresh picked green leaf lettuce and found two small slugs!  Spinach leaves are tough so I put them through a soak and rinse cycle three times.  We ate the squeaky clean spinach in salads all week!

Today I made spinach pesto, mixed it with ricotta cheese and created a white pizza topping. Yummy!

Spinach Pesto is easy to make by pulsing the following ingredients together in a food processor.
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, well-washed and stemmed
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated, not canned
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Do you have any surprising spinach recipes?

A Peppery Thanksgiving Thought

My Pepper Guard Dog

A couple week ago I pulled out the last of the pepper plants in our community garden plot.  I collected several pounds of small to medium-sized, but crisp and tasty bell, banana and cubanelle peppers.  It took a little creativity to use all these peppers.  I made pepper and cheese casserole,  Italian turkey sausage with sauted peppers and onions, tortilla chicken soup with peppers, and roasted peppers marinated in garlic and  extra virgin olive oil.  I blanched, then froze about eight cups of chopped peppers.  Finally, I took a grocery bagful of peppers to our local food bank.   I am happy to say that we did not waste our last crop of peppers!

Here is my peppery Thanksgiving Day thought….just like my peppers, I do not want to waste  the gifts, big or small that God gives to me.  In God’s economy a grateful heart grows and produces more fruit.

May we all give thanks and celebrate the blessings in our lives this Thanksgiving holiday.    Have a safe and joyful Thanksgiving Day!   (and enjoy the leftovers!)

Tomato Tales

Traveling Tomatoes

Some of our  tomato plants are still producing small amounts of grape and cherry tomatoes.  We planted indeterminant tomato plants this year. An indeterminate tomato variety will continue to set and ripen fruit until killed off by frost.  We collected thousands of these sweeties this season.  Picking them can be tedious, but tasty.  My husband and son would pop them right into their mouths as they picked.  I tried several ways to cook and preserve these little guys.  I roasted them (at 250 degrees for 2 hours)  until they became shriveled like a sun dried tomato, then froze them in little baggies.  I sauteed them with garlic and olive oil and tossed in penne pasta.  I gave them away to friends and family.  This week, the batch in the photo traveled to the Howard County Food Bank.  A much appreciative staff carried them away to a refrigerator.  I am sure they will be enjoyed.  I hope more produce from our garden will travel to the food bank this season and  future seasons.