Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vegetables in Training

While looking around Cracker Barrel's gift shop, I found this cute garden stake sign that said "Vegetables in Training." I thought how fitting this sign would be in my garden.  My dad and I have always wanted to have a big garden that overflowed with vegetables.  One year my dad used an antique manual tiller that we had to till up our soon-to-be garden spot. I came behind him and dropped an assortment of vegetable seeds.  My dad and I were exhausted but excited about what tastey vegetables would come from our hard work. Our dreams were soon washed away from a hard rain that washed some of our seeds away and the other seeds didn't produce but a few vegetable plants.
This year we decided to plant small vegetable plants instead of seeds.  My mom and I ventured to the garden store to purchase our garden's plants. I couldn't contain myself and began grabbing various plants including eggplant, red bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini. My eyes scanned the various tomato plants. I didn't know there were so many different kinds especially the hybrid tomatoes. I filled my shopping cart with yellow boy, heirloom, big boy, grape and cherry tomato plants.  I am not even a cucumber fan but a lemon cucumber plant peaked my interest. 
Since helping my mom and dad excavate, cover plants with dirt, and water them, I have been watching them grow every day. The progress is exciting!
Finally fruits of our labor!
Speaking of fruit, I also planted some strawberry plants.
Using my strawberries, I created a cupcake recipe. It is called a Balsamic Strawberry "Short" cupcake. In the summer I love making strawberry shortcake and so I created a cupcake version. The addition of a good quality thick balsamic gave a slight acidic, sweet and tart component to the dessert. While in New Orleans shopping on Magazine Street, I found a shop called Vom Fass. They sell a balsamic that is rich, thick, and sweet. It is called Aceto Balsamico di Modena "Maletti."  The great thing about Vom Fass is that you can sample their oak barrel stored olive oils and balsamics before you purchase them.
Without further ado my cupcake recipe:

Balsamic Strawberry “Short” Cupcakes

“Short” Cupcakes
1 stick butter – room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, separated (room temp)
¾ cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Balsamic Strawberries
3 cup sliced strawberries
3 Tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar*

Whipped Cream
2 cups whipping cream
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Balsamic vinegar (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
In a mixing bowl, whisk butter until creamy consistency. Slowly add in sugar until incorporated.  Beat egg yolks one at a time in a small bowl and whisk into butter and sugar mixture.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Alternately add dry ingredients and milk into butter mixture, being sure to start and end with the flour mixture. Whisk batter after each addition.  Lastly, add vanilla. Fold in beaten egg whites. Fill 20-25 cupcake liners a little more than half full. Do not over fill. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire baking rack.
In a bowl, toss strawberry slices with balsamic vinegar.
Using a hand mixer, beat whipping cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat until combined.
To assemble cupcakes, arrange strawberry slices onto cupcakes and top with whipped cream. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over whipped cream. Serve immediately.
Yields: 20-25 cupcakes


  1. Good job on the garden. I am trying my hand at it myself this season. Here in michigan we are far behind you guys in progress; no fruit yet. Short growing season up here in the north.


  2. Fruits of ur labour.... i love the phrase...
    If we grow the fruit or flower , we find its too hard to pick them! am i right.
    I used to watch it daily in the garden.
    The receipe you made is precious...
    p/s: Whitney the blog looks delicious and fresh..
    Keep Growing..

  3. Keep it going! It's truly COOL to garden!

  4. Wow, you´re amazing, all those vegetables sounds delicious. Since I´m a vegetarian this is great news :D
    By the way, what are hybrid tomatoes? ^^

  5. Since moving to central Arkansas, I've been missing the longer Southern Mississippi growing season and richer soil. Each year I try to improve the quality of my soil by adding more composted material, and each year I try a few new different things to go along with the standard tomatoes, cucumbers peppers and green beans. This year it's tarragon, red potatoes and sweet peas.

    Keep up the gardening. Nothing better than fresh produce you've grown yourself!

  6. Hybrid tomatoes are when two different tomatoes are crossed to make a third type of tomato.

  7. @Scott What do you like to do with tarragon?

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