Roasted Fall Vegetable Sandwiches

I’m a sucker for neatly wrapped packages and smartly presented surprises.  With fall’s harvest so abundant right now, pita bread and wraps are a staple in my kitchen as a way to help this harried cook put structure to my sandwiches.  Stuff a wrap or pita full of colorful roasted vegetables  and top it off with some tangy cheese as a healthy and easy meal.

Use whatever local vegetables you’ve just picked up at the farmer’s market or, for that matter, whatever is in your refrigerator.  Every vegetable’s flavor becomes nearly exotic when it is grilled.  I’ve used;

Fresh Vegetables And Herbs From The Garden

Fresh Vegetables And Herbs From The Garden

1 green pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces

1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces

a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 onion cut in to 3/4″ pieces

a handful of Portobello mushrooms, halved

1 stems of fresh rosemary chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 pinch coarse salt

Chopped Veggies And Herbs

Chopped Veggies And Herbs

In a large bowl, toss the vegetables and rosemary with the olive oil until lightly coated.  Spread the veggies out on a baking sheet so they are in one even layer, and grill or bake in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes until roasted and tender.  Remove for the grill or oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt.  Serve in pita bread, wraps or any other bread of your choosing.  For added zing, stuff the wrap with your favorite cheese, fresh chevre is particularly nice.  Enjoy with wine.  Now that’s a wrap!

Roasted Fall Vegetable Sandwiches

Roasted Fall Vegetable Sandwich

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Caramelized Onion, Pear and Gorgonzola Flat Bread Pizza

Caramelized Onion, Pear and Gorgonzola Flat Bread Pizza

Caramelized Onion, Pear and Gorgonzola Flat Bread Pizza

Here it is;  the creme de la creme, the tastiest, most delectable flat bread pizza ever.  Tastiest ev-er.

 

Ingredients:

Your favorite flat bread.  I use Stone Fire All Natural Garlic NAAN flat bread.

One large red onion, thinly sliced.

Two tablespoons olive oil.

Three tablespoons balsamic vinegar.

Two pears.  I prefer Bosc  pears as they tend keep their shape and not become mushy during baking.

Six ounces Gorgonzola cheese

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Add thinly sliced onions and saute until browned.

Saute red onions in olive oil

Saute red onions in olive oil

When the onions are browned, add balsamic vinegar and saute until caramelized, bringing out the onion’s natural sweetness.

Balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

While the onions are cooking, take out the flat bread.

Flat bread

Flat bread

Next, the pears.

Bosc pear

Bosc pear

Quarter and core the pears.  Slice thinly and arrange evenly on the flat bread.

Sliced pears on flat bread

Sliced pears on flat bread

Place the caramelized onions evenly on the pizza.

Caramelized onions on pear and flat bread

Caramelized onions on pear and flat bread

Crumble Gorgonzola cheese evenly over the top.

Gorgonzola cheese crumbled on the pizza

Gorgonzola cheese crumbled on the pizza

Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the top and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes,  until the edges are lightly browned and the cheese is melted.

Browned edges and melted cheese

Browned edges and melted cheese

And here it is;  the creme de la creme, the tastiest, most delectable flat bread pizza ever.  Tastiest ev-er.

Ahhh

Ahhh

EV-ER!

Caramelized onion, pear and Gorgonzola flat bread pizza

Caramelized onion, pear and Gorgonzola flat bread pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate and Pecan Truffles

Chocolate and Pecan Truffles

Chocolate and Pecan Truffles

*24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate pieces

*1 cup heavy whipping cream

*2 ounces Pecan chips

*4 ounces Cocoa powder

 

In a heavy sauce pan bring cream to a boil.   Pour cream over chocolate pieces while stirring to melt and blend chocolate with cream until the mixture is dark and shiny and completely blended.

Chocolate blended with cream

Chocolate blended with cream

 

 

Stir in pecan chips, then remove from heat.

Stir in pecan chips

Stir in pecan chips

Let stand at room temperature until thickening, about 1 hour.  Place the truffle mixture in to a refrigerator for an hour or so, until you are able to roll a ball shape.  Scoop spoonful amounts of the chocolate mixture in to a bowl of the cocoa powder.  Gently roll the chocolate between cocoa powdered palms to form a round powdered ball.  Place on parchment paper or plate.  Roll a second time in cocoa powder.  Serve at room temperature.  Makes about 40 truffles.

Chocolate and Pecan Truffles

Chocolate and Pecan Truffles

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Greek Flat Bread Pizza

 

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

*Italian herb flat bread

*Cherry or Grape tomatoes

*Quartered Artichoke hearts

*Pitted Kalamata olives

*Feta cheese

*Fresh Rosemary

*Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

 

I like to use Sun Gold tomatoes, a sweet and pretty variety of cherry tomato, to make this dish.

Sun Gold Tomatoes

Sun Gold Tomatoes

 

Any good cherry or grape tomatoes, or a chopped large tomato, will work too.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes and Grape Tomatoes

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes and Grape Tomatoes

Slice tomatoes and place them on an Italian herb Flat Bread.

Tomatoes sliced on Italian Herb Flat Bread

Tomatoes sliced on Italian Herb Flat Bread

Add quartered artichoke hearts.

Artichokes and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Artichokes and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Add sliced pitted Kalamata olives.

Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Chop fresh Rosemary or another of  your other favorite herbs.

Fresh Rosemary snipped from the garden

Fresh Rosemary snipped from the garden

Sprinkle fresh Rosemary over the flat bread.

Fresh Rosemary sprinkled on the flat bread

Fresh Rosemary sprinkled on the flat bread

 

Crumble Feta cheese over the top.

Crumbled Feta cheese over the top

Crumbled Feta cheese over the top

And a pinch of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper.

A pinch of kosher salt

A pinch of kosher salt

Place the pizza in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.

Baked pizza ready to cut and serve

Baked pizza ready to cut and serve

Serve with your favorite red wine ~ magnificent!

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

 

 

 

 

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Bed and Breakfast on the Farm

A double garage with a space above was a likely spot for a Guest House.

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast

The front (lake side) of the guest house.

The guest house is licensed as a Bed and Breakfast.

Front picture windows at the guest house.

Front picture windows at the guest house with shade sail sun protection.

Guests park behind the garage and stroll a wood plank path, past espaliered apple trees and a perennial garden, to the entrance stairs.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

The guest house offers a private entrance,

The private entrance.

The private entrance.

living room,

Living room

Living room

dinette,

Dinette

Dinette

kitchenette,

Kitchenette

Kitchenette with a stocked refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

and then on the way to a queen size bedroom.

Bedroom entrance

Bedroom entrance

Queen size bedroom

Queen size bedroom

and a full bathroom.

Full bathroom

Full bathroom

The guest house views overlook the lake.

View from the guest house

View from the guest house

And breakfast is served in the screen porch overlooking the lake.

Breakfast served on the screened porch

Breakfast served on the screened porch

We’d love to host your stay at the Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast!

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Planting Christmas Trees on the Farm

One of our favorite times of the year at the Dutch Lake Farm is Christmas season.  Every year on Thanksgiving weekend we open the farm to families in search of a Christmas tree, to cut their own tree.  We  offer free hay wagon rides out to the tree fields to select and cut their fresh tree, then enjoy a free cup of cocoa with all the fixings at the cocoa bar!

For every tree that is harvested we replant five.  This year we’re planting 500 Balsam Fir.

The small seedlings were first planted in to 2 gallon pots  two years ago.  We keep the young trees in pots for two years so they are easier to weed and water.

Seedlings are started in 2 gallon pots.

Seedlings are started in 2 gallon pots.

The most import step in planting is to layout the planting grid.  We carefully measure the field, marking each spot where a tree will be planted.   We use a 100′ rope, marked every 10′ indicating the spacing.

Rope used to layout tree spacing.

Rope used to layout tree spacing.

We use spray paint at every 10′ marking so the post hole digger will be easily placed in the correct location.  I’m sure there is some way more sophisticated, techy way the larger tree farms do this, probably using GPS or some such technology, but ‘the rope’ has served us well over the last ten years.

Spray paint indicating the 10' spacing.

Spray paint indicating the 10′ spacing.

Once the field is marked we use a John Deere 3010 tractor with a 3 point hitch, power takeoff post hole digger with a 12″ auger to drill the holes as indicated on the grid.  Be careful!

There’s only one thing that feels better than planting a tree; and that’s planting five hundred!

Newly planted two year old Balsam Fir

Newly planted two-year old Balsam Fir

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Espalier Apple Tree Fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Espalier is the art of training trees, very often fruit trees, to grow on a flat plane. This technique not only creates an interesting plant structure – a ‘living sculpture’, but also is useful as a space saver for small space gardens.   Trees trained in the espalier technique are trained against a flat wall, building, or against a free-standing structure.

I’ve long been fascinated by lovely photographs of espaliered trees in beautiful garden settings, which prompted me to do some reading and sit in on a seminar where I took copious notes.  It is from this research that I gather my information to share with you.

I’ve chosen an espalier project in an effort to create a ‘living fence’ for along a wood plank sidewalk which leads up to the entrance of my bed and breakfast/guest house.  The walkway was wide open to the driveway, yard, and the harsh winter winds, so it was in want of being a bit cozier.

Plank sidewalk with post structure

Plank sidewalk with post structure

I’ll need to build a structure to support my trees rather than utilizing a wall for support, but for blogging purposes, the technique of espalier is the same no matter the structure you select.  I chose apple trees as my plant material for the benefits of spring flowers, summer foliage and fall fruit that will dangle from the structure like ornaments, beckoning my guests to help themselves! During the winter months I’ll utilize the structure for stringing white mini lights.

Apple trees lend themselves well to many espalier forms.  The pattern I’ve chosen is a horizontal tiered cordon method, therefore the structure I’ve built is specific to the horizontal pattern as seen in figure a.

When planting the trees, orient the branching along the cables where they will be secured during the pruning process.

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

The art of espalier is based upon the complex relationship between auxin and cytokinins, two growth hormones in plants.  Auxins have a cardinal role in coordination of many growth processes and are essential for plant body development.  Cytokinins promote cell division in plant roots and shoots.  Pruning changes the relationship between auxin and cytokinin. When a leader branch is growing straight up, auxin levels are at a higher rate and growth is more vertical.  The more you angle a branch, the greater you are changing the relationship of auxin to cytokinin, and there becomes less vertical growth, but more horizontal branching and more fruiting.  This is the reason for pinching back perennials and annuals, and is witnessed when you bend a rose bush on a hoop as a result there are more prolific blooms.

My young trees were supple and with good lateral branching, therefore I capitalized on that attribute and merely secured the lower branches to my first tier wire cable, using soft vinyl stretch tie.  I pruned subsequent buds and branching from the trunk moving up to the next set of branches at the second tier of cable structure, securing the supple branches in a similar manner.  Had the branches been woodier, I would have slowly moved the branching down to position, creating a temporary structure to ease the branches down in to place at the cable wire.

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

As you’re training your apple tree, keep the small shoots along the cordon trimmed back to 4” to 5” long.  Your tree will continue to grow and mature, and every flower will become a fruiting bud.  Eventually your fruit tree will become its own support structure.  In general, espaliered trees’ fruit will be larger and sweeter, because their fruit is exposed to more sunlight and the trees have been pruned regularly to keep their shape.

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

The three espalier apple trees have been growing for about one month.  They are all healthy and filling in nicely with leaves and new growth.  I have pruned off any new budding branches that have sprouted from the main stem, in order to keep all of the growth directed on the two lower lateral cordons that I’ve secured to the horizontal cables.

I had selected two buds to become the third cordons which will become next year’s growth along the third cable on the structure.  These young branches are growing out nicely.   Depending upon the rate of growth, I may secure these branches to the third cable later this summer.  You can see the upper new branching in the photo below.

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

An espalier tree is never ‘finished’.  They require pruning at least three times each season in order to maintain the beautiful structured shape; I recommend June 1, July 1 and August 1.  This particular walk way enclosure will require two more years of growth to reach the uppermost, fourth horizontal cable.  Then after wards, it will just be ‘maintenance’ pruning.

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