Saturday, September 27, 2008

More Garden Harvesting, Lentil Soup & Herbed Butter Rolls

The end of September is here and our garden is still chugging along quite nicely. We have a rather unconventional garden with it positioned in our front yard and planted in "ribbons" rather than a large square patch. Steve came up with the ribbon idea as we considered our sunlight and read Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Our thinking was to maximize our garden sunlight amongst our many trees and to disturb the soil as little as possible. (Read the book for more information on the latter part of our last comment.) This entailed lots of sod digging by hand and no tilling, but we accomplished our goal (albeit with some help from this lady) and are very pleased with the results. We very rarely need to do any sort of work in the garden other than harvesting and enjoying its beauty.

A photo of our garden from our roof earlier this summer...

And some recent photos from the ground...

There are still many many apples on our latest fruiting apple tree and we are picking and using as many as we can. If you are in the neighborhood, don't mind some worm holes and have a hankering for some super crunchy delicious apples let us know and we will help you pick some.

We are also currently harvesting lots of basil, fennel, calendula, tomatoes, beets, turnips and onions. A few days ago (during the midst of our painting frenzy) we picked the last of our summer squash and used some of our stored foods to make lentil soup. This soup is great everytime and can be adjusted to accommodate whatever vegetables you have.

Lentil Soup Recipe
2 cups dried lentils
6 cups water (adjust as needed)
2.5 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon

Put your lentils, water and Better Than Bouillon (see photo below for more information on this super delicious soup flavoring - we buy ours from our local natural foods coop) in a large stock pot, bring to a boil over high heat and then turn to medium or medium low to simmer. Brown lentils (what we used) take about 20-30 minutes to cook.

Once your lentils start to soften, add your vegetables. We used roasted tomatoes, onions, potatoes, red peppers and zucchini, but you really can use whatever you have on hand. You can also saute instead of roast or use whatever your preferred method of softening vegetables is. (If you don't soften your vegetables at all prior to addition to the lentil soup, your lentils will more than likely fall apart, but should still taste wonderful.) See here for more details on roasting. Remember that adding tomatoes will add lots more liquid to your soup as you cook down. Simmer till heated through, and to your desired consistency and tenderness of your vegetables. Here's a peak into our pot.

This recipe makes about 3 quarts of soup (depending on how many vegetables you add) so you get lots and lots for leftovers. As is the case with many soups, this one is even better a day or two after you make it.

We here at Coffeetree Bottoms are big, big fans of bread and make our own on a regular basis. For this meal, Steve requested Herbed Butter Rolls. (We retrieved this recipe off the internet along time ago, but are not sure of its origin. If you are reading this blog and it is your recipe, let us know and we will gladly give you credit.) This is a very easy and quick recipe.

Herbed Butter Rolls Recipe
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
~1 1/2 tsp herbs of choice
2 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
1 egg*
2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup wheat flour

*We usually never have eggs on hand and so make our own egg substitute. You can find this recipe and others here.

Egg Substitute: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp mild cooking oil + 1 tsp baking powder + 1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Combine all ingredients using a whisk in a bowl to allow some room for the ingredients to expand. Allow mixture to stand five minutes, whisk again and then add to the recipe.

1. In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Add your herbs (to this batch we added a tsp or so of thyme and some ground coriander; rosemary, sage and basil are also excellent additions), sugar or honey, salt, egg, butter and 1 cup of flour. Using a wire whisk, beat until smooth. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups flour with a wooden spoon and beat until smooth. Scrape batter from sides of the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.

2. Deflate batter by stirring with a wooden spoon. Use your wooden spoon to drop dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Set aside in a warm place and let rise for about 15-20 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

These rolls make your house smell wonderful!

A parting fall picture for you all - a hoverfly nectaring on New England Aster, in our opinions, one of Indiana's most brilliant fall native wildflowers.


  1. The roll recipe made my mouth water! Gotta make it tomorrow night for dinner. Have you tried growing wheat? I planted a small patch (15' x 50') of hard red winter wheat a couple of weeks ago and hope to harvest it late next summer. It should be fun to make bread with my own home-grown wheat!

    I found your blog through another one - can't remember which one right now. By the way, very cool that you live in South Bend IN. - I have two cousins that live there! So visiting your blog is almost like visiting them.

  2. hey, i made these rolls for dinner tonight, to go with a mediterranian veg soup- they rocked out. i used fresh garden basil and chopped pine nuts. i will say mine seemed a bit flatter than yours look, but that may have been the cold, wet day we've had; i just couldn't get a good rise. but they tasted great all the same. thanks will try the lentil soup with them next time! alicia


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