Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My New Favorite: Cosmos

I love Cosmos. As promised in an earlier post, I am sharing photos of them now that they are in full bloom. They pair so nicely, I think, with sunflowers in the garden. Here they are growing in a clump near a wood fence with sunflowers behind. Why do I love these? They are tall with beautiful, feathery foliage. They fill in previously empty spots in our back yard and front garden with bright green and shades of pink and white. I love how they grew so easily. I threw down some seeds, scratched them in, and watered once in a while. They are so pretty when they move with the wind. Oh do I have plans to put these in more places next spring! I can see them just lining the wood fence, mixed in with sunflowers for some bright color in the fall out the back window.

Sunflower from "Evening Sun Mix." I'm so glad that I did get around to planting some sunflowers, though a bit late. It's been a real joy to see them start to bloom. I had only one complaint. I told husband, "They are facing the wrong way!." "Which way do you want them to face?" "At the house. " They are looking away from the house, but that is the way with sunflowers. They know where the sun is but they don't care one bit where the gardener's window looks. It is nice to know they will help feed some birds this winter, as I don't plan to harvest any seeds.

Now you can see just how tiny the miniature bell peppers can be. I have been finding uses for these nearly every evening. It's fun to grab a bunch of them to slice up for dinner. One good use is with "gallo pinto", a dish I learned to make in Costa Rica. Here is a recipe for my version:

Gallo Pinto Costa Rican Breakfast
(A good way to use leftover rice)

1-2 cups cooked leftover rice, one day old taken from the fridge. It is very important that it is day old rice.
1 regular ~15 oz. can black beans, drained (or the equivalent of home cooked beans)
About ½ cup chopped onion or more
1-3 cloves garlic, chopped
About 2-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, more or less for taste
1 chopped regular-sized red pepper, bell or other kind ok depending on how spicy you like. Green or other bell peppers work too. (Several miniature peppers)
1-3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
Salt to taste (¼ tsp)
Pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet.
2. Add the rice, onion, pepper and garlic to the skillet and fry until the rice begins to turn a little brown. Stir regularly to keep rice from burning.
3. Add the beans, including some of the liquid but not all.
4. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley.
6. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.
7. Serve for any meal of the day.

When I made this last week, I didn't have any fresh cilantro in the garden. Luckily, I had saved some chopped cilantro in ice cube trays earlier this summer. In the last few minutes of cooking, I added a few to the pan and let them melt in.
Tip of the day: Save that cilantro for later! I put 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro in each cube of an ice cube tray and added water to fill, then froze. Then I popped them out into freezer bags.
I have since planted more cilantro for, hopefully, a fall harvest.

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