Saturday, April 23, 2011

What baby chilis look like

So, remember the question I asked last week about what chilis look like when they're brand new? Here's the answer.

There are tiny little flowers growing among the chili plant leaves (which are gigantic now). I'm going to assume that this is what's going to grow into a beautiful hot chili in a few weeks.

Both the herbs and the chilis are sucking up water like crazy. The tub was almost empty in both today, so I spent a few minutes filling them up again.

The cilantro is doing something interesting. Remember how I said that the early plants grew and then flopped down? Turns out out of one "flopped down" part spawned a bunch of cilantro leaves which are finally looking like cilantro. In other words, in the picture below it looks like there are a whole bunch of stems coming out of the seed pod, but in actuality there are only one or two stems which branch off into others.

In the meantime, all the herbs are still doing well except the parsley, which is still looking the most anemic of all of them. Come on parsley, you can do it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Update on the Aerogarden Chili and Herbs

I think after all these years of indoor gardening I'm getting pretty good at this Aerogarden thing. Here's what the herbs are looking like.

The basil, of course, is showing off as usual. It's already grown into the lights twice. Unlike the early days of this blog when I would feel compelled to make pesto every time I pruned basil, now I just chop it, take a nice whiff of it, and throw it away. I know there'll be more.

I was really worried about the cilantro for a while. It had grown and then it just flopped to the ground. But over time something interesting has happened--the bottom of the stem is still bent over, but the tops are growing fast and strong back towards the light. I like your spirit,'re down but you're not out.

The parsley, on the other hand, is really growing very slowly. But there are two tiny stalks up, and I have confidence in now time they'll be as resilient as the cilantro.

What surprised me most was the thyme. In previous Aerogardens, I hardly got a little sprig. Today, they're growing through the roof. So much so that I had to scramble to find a recipe (which I found, see below).

The chili is growing like gangbusters. Here's what they look like now.

They grow up so fast, don't they? To be honest, I'm not sure what to expect next...will there be flowers that turn into chilis? Or will the chilis just grow? Tune in in the coming weeks and you'll find out.
Not wanting to waste any thyme, I used good thyme management skills to make a recipe I found for carrots. It was a ridiculously simple recipe: just toss carrots, fresh thyme sprigs, and garlic together with olive oil and throw it covered into the oven.

The roast carrots came out pretty good, but...where did the thyme go? . Overall, it was a yummy dish, but if I had to do over again I would have put more thyme into it. (okay, rest assured I'm running out of these puns, so you won't have to put up with them for much longer)

Here's something I am VERY excited about. Remember that tomato plant I pulled from my AeroGrow so many weeks ago and repotted? Just a few weeks ago I said that it wasn't growing flowers and that I was pretty much going to toss it. Turns out it got the hint. It has been growing...and growing...and growing, with lots and lots of flowers. I put it on my kitchen windowsill. Wonder how I am defying gravity? You probably can't see it in the picture, but I actually used the Trellis Coil from my Aerogarden and hooked them onto the window blinds. They are doing a super job of holding up all the branches. 

As I did when they were under the grow lights, I'm pruning dead leaves as I see them and "pollenating" the plan by tapping on the branches underneath the flowers until I see a tiny poof of pollen. 

How's this for cool--the plant and the tomatoes are actually bigger than they ever were under the Aerogarden.

This is where I think the good Lord is pretty cool. With anything that man creates, once it's broken, you basically toss it out because it's useless. Here, I had a tomato plant which I'd all but given up on and was about to toss in the trash. But now, it's got a whole new life and it looks like I'll be harvesting yet another batch of tomatoes. In my younger days I'd be philosophical and come up with a metaphor about how you should never give up and how everything you need to overcome life's present difficulties is within you...but in my old age I'm not as insightful as I used to be :P

Remember those cilantro seeds (coriander seeds) I planted? They're growing too, although at about 1/2 of the rate the Aerogarden cilantro is growing. It should be interesting to compare their tastes later on.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Glad you could join us, parsley

So, happily all the herbs came up a few days ago. As usual, the basil is showing off. The thyme in my last garden wilted and had a quick demise, but happily this go-around the thymes they are a-changing. Sages (another crop I haven't have much luck with lately) look good. 

And the one I was worrying about most, the cilantro, not only grew, if you look at the picture clearly you'll see that the smooth edges of the first leaf are already starting to get their "cilantro" characteristics! 

The one holdout this whole time has been the parsley. I was about to call Aerogarden to ask for a replacement. But lo and behold, this little guy just sprang up yesterday. 

So we're looking good. All present and accounted for! 

Speaking of parsley, remember that I replanted my parsley plant from the last Aerogarden and made it into a houseplant? Well, happily, that's been growing like crazy too. So much so that I had to scramble to find some good parsley recipes. Here's just one half of the harvest from the plant: 

So, Lisa and I decided to have two cooking nights. We searched for recipes that used lots and lots of parsley. The first one was baked Dijon Salmon. First step was mixing the dry ingredients and the four teaspoons of chopped parsley. Lisa bought panko bread crumbs, which I wasn't sure would work. Turns out it was the best decision ever. 

Second step was slathering the salmon with a honey mustard coating and then sprinking on the coating. 

Now for the cruel part--I forgot to take a picture of the finished product! The fish looked and smelled so good that I just devoured it (by the time I remembered I was supposed to take a picture, there were about two bites left). But fear not, I'll be taking a trip to Seattle sometime in the next few months, and I promise I'll make this same recipe with some salmon I'm bringing home from there :P

For our second recipe, we cooked oven fried parmesan chicken. First step was chopping the par-sa-ley:

Then mixing it together with a delightful mixture that included, among other things, freshly grated parmesian cheese and panko bread crumbs.

Dip the chicken in a garlic butter mixture, and coat with the dry ingredients and bake. 

This time I did manage to take a picture of the finished product. Once again, it tasted just phenomenal. The chicken was juicy and not heavy like deep-fried chicken, and the taste and crunch were amazing. I even helped myself to some of the salty greasy bits on the bottom of the pan (admit it, you do that too). 

The parsley plant was decimated, of course, after two days of cooking with so much parsley. But I'm still putting it under the single grow light of my third Aerogarden, and after only a few days a few stalks have popped up again. It's really cool not to have to buy those little plastic package of herbs at the supermarket. I just wish I could have endless supplies of other things, like milk (wouldn't it be cool if they were working on the AeroCow next?)