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New Food Friday – Harira

20 Sep sxc.hu - lamb - iubitzoaia- 1030219

Harira. It sounds like something you would say to your dentist when he has his hands in your mouth.

There are many versions of Harira. In fact, I created my own version when I departed from the recipe I was following. Harira is a soup – stew. It is a Moroccan dish that is eaten often, but particularly at the end of Ramadan, a religious holiday. I was attracted to the recipe because it calls for Turmeric which is a spice I have grown to love. Now you know why I have selected this recipe for New Food Friday.

A lot of attention has been given to Turmeric lately. More research is needed, but some studies show that it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may help fight cancer and it may protect against certain diseases. Read more here.

I like to add Turmeric to a chicken dish that I make. I shake it on the potatoes, carrots, and/or onions that I add to my baking dish. It is also great on a Focaccia bread recipe I love. More about that in next month’s New Food Friday.

Another reason I was looking forward to making Harira is that it also calls for cilantro. I grew my own cilantro this year and within the last few days it started to bolt. I grew it from seed. It grew in a hanging planter

Cilantro

Cilantro growing in a planter. See my rose bush in the background?

and it also grew in my vegetable garden. It would have continued to grow in my vegetable garden if a rabbit didn’t also like it a lot and chewed it to the quick! (Which is why I ended up growing it in a hanging pot.) But really, it is so easy to grow! And the fragrance! It smells wonderful! You have to try it!

Here is the recipe for the Harira. I substituted ground turkey for the lamb. (You can also use beef or chicken.) I also substituted the vermicelli noodles for brown rice. Many recipes say to add flour to thicken the soup. I didn’t want to use flour which is why I added raw rice. It helped thicken the soup. The longer you cook it, the more it thickens. Also, I used a no sodium tomato sauce.

Ingredients

6 – 8 oz lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 celery stalks chopped
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 16-ounce can of low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 fresh tomato chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 cups water, divided
1/4 cup dry lentils, picked over and washed (I forgot to wash mine! I guess that means you won’t be dining over at my house anytime soon?)
3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed into 1 cup of water
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes again since I have so many of them this year.)
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown rice

Optional Thickener:
1 cup flour
2 cups water

Instructions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the meat and any meat bones if you have them and cook for a few minutes, stirring to brown the meat.
  2. Add the chopped cilantro, parsley, celery, onion, chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and turmeric.
  3. Stir in 3 cups of water. Heat over high heat bringing mixture to a light boil.
  4. Add the lentils, rice, tomato paste mixture, canned (or fresh) tomatoes, and tomato sauce and 3 cups of water.
  5. Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat to bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, simmering for 45 minutes with the lid ajar to help condense the soup. Stir occasionally.
  6. Taste soup for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if needed.
  7. If you prefer a thicker soup, you can add the flour water mixture after cooking 45 minutes. But I think adding it will dull the flavor and add empty calories.

Serves 6

Harira

Chopping Cilantro for my Harira

I wanted to use my Heirloom tomatoes for this dish but they weren’t ripe enough. Since I had plenty of cherry tomatoes, I used them instead.

Let the Harira come to a light boil.

Boiling Harira

Boiling Harira after all ingredients are added

After 45 minutes of cooking, the Harira thickens.

Thickened Harira

Thickened Harira after cooking 45 minutes

I enjoyed two bowls full of the Harira with my Focaccia bread.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Focaccia Bread

They went well together! This was good and I expect that tomorrow it will be even better. Next time I will use lamb for this dish. Harira is high in protein and fiber. With all the tomatoes, fresh and canned, it contains a lot of lycopene which contains antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. Read more about it  here.

To your good health!

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Inner Peace Award

23 Aug Inner Peace Award

I’ve been awarded the Inner Peace Award by Samina and I’m finally getting around to posting it!

Inner Peace Award

Inner Peace Award

Samina and I have had some interesting conversations about law enforcement. I know, not what you’d expect from me, is it. I had an incident to tell her about a few months ago when I accidentally locked myself out of my car with the keys on the front seat! I was helping a Lowes employee put my brand new lawnmower in my car which is how the keys ended up on the seat.

I went back into Lowes and told the customer service people what happened. They gave me their phone and dialed the Avon, Indiana police department. I really wasn’t exactly sure what was happening here because I was in a tizzy and stressing out about my car keys! I told the woman at the police station what had happened and she dispatched a police car to the store. I waited in the parking lot and within 10 minutes, the car arrived with a nice young police officer who had several gadgets to “break into my car!”

The first didn’t work. My heart sank. The second gadget elicited a “click” from my car door and voila! the door opened. I thanked him so profusely until he practically started laughing. I couldn’t help myself, what can I say. I left him there with all his gadgets, my car keys in my pocket, and ran back into the store because I had more shopping to do! LOL!

Needless to say, I didn’t have any inner peace that day so it’s ironic that I received this Inner Peace Award following my initial conversation with Samina! Once I got home, I had a heck of a time getting the gigantic box with my new lawnmower inside it, out of the back seat of my car! Then I dragged it through my garage and into my house to figure out how to put the thing together.  I bet I burned more than a few calories that day!

Fortunately, most of my days aren’t as exciting as that day. Most days I do have inner peace.  I get inner peace from exercising, writing, gardening, cooking, baking, working on my house, and helping others.

Thank you Samina for this award. My favorite thing about this award is that it has no rules. That’s my kind of award! And again, I find it ironic that this award has no rules – in effect we are breaking the rules (similar to breaking the law!) Maybe it’s just me and the way I look at things!

Peace out!

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New Food Friday – Gnudi

16 Aug sxc.hu 536766 stylesr1

In order to make this dish, you have to remove all your clothes. Just kidding! The dish being discussed today is called gnudi. They are a form of dumpling and it’s pronounced just like a sunbather who basks in the nude: a nudi! (Or a nudist?) I watched with interest as Martha Stewart made these on her cooking show. See here. She says they are a naked ravioli; a filling without the pasta casing. I am a big fan of ravioli but these were new to me and when I saw her boiling then basting them in browned butter with sage leaves, I knew I had to post them for a New Food Friday.

sxc.hu Gnu Barbara Schneider

This is a Gnu (sxc.hu Barbara Schneider)

First, go to your butcher shop and ask for a fillet of Gnu. Just kidding! There is no meat in this recipe!

Assemble your ingredients as it shows in the Martha Stewart video. I like to use paper plates when I want to roll foods in flour.

Knudi rolled in flour

Knudi rolled in flour

Using paper plates makes cleanup a breeze. I just throw the paper plate in the trash when I’m done.

I filled another paper plate with semolina flour and let the gnudi rest until I finished making all of them.

Knudi sitting on semolina

Knudi sitting on semolina

Then they went into the fridge for 1 hour.

Variations:

I had some leftover crab meat so I included it in my recipe. In my second batch, I added some boiled russet potato.

These gnudi were fun to make and easy! Your children might like to get involved. Since these are boiled, it’s a lot like boiling pasta and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to making pasta.

Knudi ready to be boiled

Knudi ready to be boiled

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve never made pasta but I know one of these days I will because it’s on my mental to do list! Here are the sage leaves straight from my garden.

Sage drying on a paper towel

Sage drying on a paper towel

Here are the chiffonaded sage leaves in browned butter.

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

These were delicious! I will definitely be making them again. I hope you try them!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

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It’s A Grander!

11 Aug Heirloom Tomato - 14.5 oz

OK, a Grander is a big sailfish and I’m talking about my tomato so I exaggerated a little.

Just a quick post since it’s already past 8:00 pm. Where did the day go? I had visions of writing so many things in this post and/or writing multiple posts and now I’m pushing it to write just this one since I have 4 clean loads of laundry on my bed waiting to be sorted and put away.

Back to my Grander. This summer I decided to plant heirloom tomatoes. I bought just one heirloom plant from Meijer. These things took off like gangbusters! I have never seen a tomato plant be so energetic. I did fertilize it a lot but I fertilized all my other tomato plants too and they haven’t run rampant on me like this one although they look healthy and productive.

Enough talk, here’s a photo. This was the first tomato to fruit from this plant. You should see the main stem! I’m going to have a heck of a time pulling it out of the ground when the season is over.

See, I’m just a frustrated writer who wants to write. Shut up Marcy and show them the tomato already! OK!

Heirloom Tomato - 14.5 oz

Heirloom Tomato – 14.5 oz

This is the biggest tomato I have ever grown! I’m getting a good yield from this plant and it’s barely mid-August. I haven’t tasted it yet. I plucked it because I didn’t want to take the chance that it might fall off and be eaten by bugs. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

Tomorrow tuna and egg salad sandwich with escarole leaves and fat slices of this tomato on rye. I promise to eat a slice on the side, lightly salted so as not to take anything away from the taste. Please heirloom tomato, don’t disappoint!

One of the big differences with heirloom tomatoes is that they are not as disease resistant as other hybrid tomato plants. Hybrid tomatoes generally have an inbred resistance to tobacco mosaic disease, but heirlooms don’t. Heirlooms are plants with seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation, just like heirloom jewelry and furniture! Heirloom tomato plants are known to have a flavor that is complex and rich. My mouth is watering! If it’s as good as it’s cracked up to be, I will be planting it from now on – inbred disease resistance be damned! I favor flavor!

OK, I’m off to watch TV whilst I fold and put away all my laundry. No rest for the weary! Cheerio!

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Signs of Spring: Wet Rains, Weeds, and Wandering Plants

25 May Columbine Flower

My garden is looking pretty and I’ve pulled a lot of weeds to get it to look that way!

Irises

Irises

We’ve had a lot of rain – like every other day. We’ve also had a roller coaster ride of temperatures, from low 40′s to mid-80′s.  It keeps going up and down!

First Rose of Spring

First Rose of Spring

When it’s cool, I make sure I get out in the backyard and get to work!

Flowering Thyme2

Flowering Thyme

I’ve had to mow the lawn weekly, unlike last spring/summer when we had the drought and I didn’t have to mow at all!

Boxwood

Boxwood

My neighbor’s lawn service shaved my Columbine flowers to the quick last summer but fortunately they came back full bloom. A resilient flower that mimics a resilient town in Colorado. When they spread out some more, I will transplant some to the front yard.

Columbine Flower

Columbine Flower

Half of the seeds I sowed in my vegetable garden died due to frost. FROST! In MAY! So, I went out yesterday and planted more seeds. My Cilantro survived though and it’s the first time I planted Cilantro.  Let’s hope there are no more frosts!

I have plants growing in my front yard also. Two of them,  I don’t know where they came from. One looks like a fir tree and it’s about 4 inches tall.  When it gets a little bigger, I’ll transplant it to my backyard. The other plant is a common spider plant. I transplanted it indoors last summer and the plant died. So, I was shocked to see another spider plant out front in the same spot where I removed the first one! The more I think I know about plants, the more they surprise me.

If you’re not growing a garden, you’re missing a lot of fun, good exercise, and Vitamin D.  It’s never too late to get started.

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New Food Friday – Chayote

4 Jan Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Although they’re spelled and pronounced similarly, Chayote and Coyote are two different animals. In fact, Chayote is a fruit! You already know what a Coyote looks like

and that is why I’m posting Chayote as the new food for New Food Friday.

Chayote, pronounced Cha-i-O-tee, is a fruit that is used like a vegetable.  It is originally native to Mexico or Central America.ChayoteIt is a very pretty pale green and the easiest produce I have ever peeled, fruit or vegetable! My paring knife just glides and therefore it is a pleasure to prepare.

As far as texture, it is like a cucumber or pickle: juicy and crunchy. But it doesn’t taste like a cucumber or pickle. It’s one of those fruits that has a taste that is hard to describe. It’s a pleasant taste, and mild flavored. I thought I detected a slightly peppery aftertaste on my first bite which was raw. It can be eaten raw in salads but I chose to roast it along with a medley of other vegetables. 

Chayote with Mixed Veggies

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

When I roast vegetables, I usually roast them with chicken. I didn’t have any chicken on hand this time but that’s OK.  Roasted vegetables are very good on their own. If you can call all the spices I put on them “on their own”!

Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Chayote on the Vine – wikipedia – Thuydaonguyen

I drizzled olive oil on cut brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and piled the Chayote pieces on top. Everything got a spattering of salt and pepper. One side of the pan got dill, the other side got some other spice. The sweet potatoes got dashes of cinnamon, and since I had fresh mint on hand, I tore up some mint leaves and sprinkled them over top too. I also had fresh tarragon and sprinkled those leaves over top too. I shook some cayenne pepper over everything.

This is how I usually prepare roasted veggies with chicken: I line the pan with parchment paper, add a mixture of spices, whatever strikes my fancy, and roast them at 425F for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are charred and the chicken skin is crispy and to my liking. This is a very healthful way to eat vegetables.

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Spices & Herbs

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices Roasted

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, & Spices Roasted

I did this batch with my new convection toaster oven which cooks 25% quicker. I’m still getting used to it. The results were delicious! So, what tasted the best? Here are the results in order of preference:

1. The brussels sprouts (mmm, very good!)

2. The Chayote

3. The sweet potatoes

4. The russet potatoes

5. The carrots

Usually, I also add an onion quartered but as you can see from the photos, I had no room! Sometimes I add an apple, other times a quartered tomato.

I paid $.99/lb for my Chayote at Meijer or $.52 since it was a small one.

Chayote has a small soft seed which is edible but I removed it.

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Nutritional Facts (from USDA)

Serving Size: 3.5 oz

Calories: 19

Sodium: 2mg

Carbs:  5g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 1g

Vitamin C: 1%

Calcium: 2%

Iron: 2%

Vitamin B6: 4%

Folate: 23%

Manganese: 9%

To see a further breakdown of nutrients, go to this USDA webpage. 

Chayote has a pleasing texture and a mild taste. It is low in calories and very versatile because it can be added raw to a salad, made into a soup, or stuffed and baked. Chayote is worth trying.

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New Food Friday – Tomatillo

14 Dec Teboulah with Tomatillo

You’ve heard of them, you may have even eaten them in a salsa and didn’t know it. But have you cooked with one? Well, you know the drill. Say it with me: Tomatillo is the fruit being discussed for New Food Friday.

Tomatillo with paper skin removed

Tomatillo with paper skin removed

Tomatillo is a “papery” covered fruit that looks just like a green tomato. In fact, it is called tomate verde (green tomato) in Spanish. This papery husk is a good indication of its freshness. The husk should be light brown and not shriveled.

The tomatillo is of Mexican origin.  It is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, potassium and manganese. It is in the nightshade family. 

I couldn’t find a recipe online that stoked my fire. So, I decided to taste this pretty green globe to see if I could get some ideas as to which way I should go.  It wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be spicy. You know how in previous  New Food Friday posts I’ve said, “It looks like a potato, but it doesn’t taste like a potato.” Or, “It’s crunchy and juicy like an apple, but it doesn’t taste like an apple.” 

Tomatillo halved

Tomatillo halved

Well, a tomatillo looks like a green tomato from the outside, minus the papery skin, slices like a tomato, looks like a tomato on the inside with seeds and pulpy parts, and guess what? It tastes like a tomato!  It’s a bit more citrus flavored than a tomato and the skin has more crunch than a tomato. That helped me decide what to do with it.

Since I didn’t have any tomatoes in the house, I decided to make Tabbouleh using tomatillo instead of tomatoes. If you recall, the Tabbouleh recipe is here. I planned to have lamb chops for dinner and the Tabbouleh was a good side dish for it because it contains mint. Mint jelly is often paired with lamb so I knew this menu had potential.  While I was letting the Bulgar soak, I remembered that I had sun dried tomatoes in olive oil in the fridge. They went into the dish. I also thought that some lemon rind would look pretty in this dish. Is this a festive party in a bowl or what? The ingredients scream Mexico to me!

Teboulah with Tomatillo

Teboulah with Tomatillo

The end result was as delicious as it was pretty. The lemon rind was a great, tasty addition. If you decide you like tomatillo, look for dry, hard tomatillos with tightly fitting husks that are free of mold. Keep them in your crisper drawer of your refrigerator (unlike tomatoes).You can also grow them in your garden in the spring. Burpee sells the seeds and they mature in about 100 days.

I also decided to try tomatillo cooked. It looked pretty sliced on top of a personal sized pan pizza.

Tomatillo

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza with Tomatillo

It had all the colors of the Mexican flag! Green, white, and red! (The same colors of the Italian flag.) This was the first time I tried making pizza in a cast iron skillet and I liked it! Less mess to clean up. There are many recipes online for cast iron skillet pizza, just be sure your pan is well seasoned. It’s easy to remove the pizza from the pan with a spatula.

Tomatillo

Skillet Pizza with Tomatillo, plated

Tomatillo; it’s not just for salsa anymore! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Food Friday – Baba Ghanouj (Baba Ghanoush)

9 Nov Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanouj (prounounced Baba Ghanoosh) is the food I’m discussing today for New Food Friday. Does it sound familiar to you? I think I may have heard it first on the Jerry Seinfeld sitcom.

I picked up a can when I bought the can of ZiYad Hummus and Tahini dip. They were both the same price, on sale for $2.29 each.

Ziyad makes this Baba Ghanouj which is an eggplant and Tahini dip. They fire roast the eggplant and add the following ingredients: tahini, salt, citric acid.

Preparation suggestion on the can: add lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Drizzle olive oil on top.

Click me to enlarge

Nutritional Facts:

The sodium level is high: 478mg so if you are watching your salt intake, you may only be able to have a small amount. I think we should all watch our salt intake so I may make my own version fresh in the future.

The Taste

The taste of this Baba Ghanouj is very smokey. It’s like eating charred wood but a creamy version of charred wood. So, they’re not kidding when they say they fire roast the eggplant! I liked it. There are chunks of eggplant in the dip which I enjoyed too.  I did not add any lemon juice or garlic or salt because I didn’t think it needed anything.You can see from the front cover of the can that the product is tan in color. The yellow part is olive oil. The red sprinkles in the center and around the dish are pomegranate seeds.

The Accompaniments

Baba Ghanouj is most often eaten with pita bread. It can also be eaten as a dip with raw vegetables. This could pair well with certain flavors of Triscuits which come in many varieties now, Rosemary and olive oil being my favorite. I like Baba Ghanouj with pretzels, the larger pretzels with less salt. This would also be a good spread on a wrap. I tried it on a bun with a turkey burger but instead of a barbeque taste, it brought out a more lemony flavor which I did not care for. That surprised me. In fact, the way I liked it best was without any accompaniment.

Here is a nice sized eggplant growing on a vine. Isn’t it a beauty?

 This is what sesame seeds look like (below) in case you’ve never seen them. The photo shows them enlarged. They are much smaller in reality. There are also black sesame seeds. Tahini can be made from either the white sesame or the black sesame seed. This Baba Ghanouj uses the white sesame seeds. The seeds are crushed to make a paste.  You can find the seeds on the spice aisle of your grocery store. If you want the paste (the tahini), look in the ethnic aisle. It usually comes in a jar and is not cheap!

On the other hand, this canned version of Baba Ghanouj is very convenient to carry with you say, to a picnic because it has a pop-top and can be eaten cold or at room temperature. Once opened though any leftovers should be refrigerated. Another benefit of the canned version is that it can be easily stored on your pantry shelf to be used at a moment’s notice. So, it’s good in a pinch!

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The Last Rose of Summer

28 Oct Last Roses of Summer

I have a pretty rose bush called Peach Drift that is low maintenance and low in height but high in color and blossoms. It is considered a compact groundcover rose. I am very happy with this rosebush because the colors are gorgeous and the blooms are generous! Also, recently it was showcased on P. Allen Smith‘s television show.

The colors are pink, coral, and pale orange. I’ve had no problems with bugs or any problems and I’ve had it for four years. My only regret is that I planted it where I can’t see it from my patio doors! I just may decide to try and propagate it.

When the weather is gloomy and gray as it is today, you need a touch of mother nature’s beauty to feed your soul for your good health.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Enjoy my last blooms of this summer’s passing.

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Trees in My Garden

15 Aug Austrian Pine and Colorado Blue Spruce

I’ve been living in my house for 15 years. During that time, I’ve planted a few trees, bushes, flowers, vines, vegetables, and herbs. The birds have done their share of “planting” too.

White Pine when it was a baby

This is what my White Pine looked like when I first planted it. It was about 3′ tall.  I bought it at Meijer where I get most of my plants.

I can’t tell from the photo if I started my vegetable garden or not. It doesn’t look like it.

You can see that I planted the tree a safe distance away from my house. Or, at least it appears that way.

Now, many years later, this is what my White Pine looks like. It’s not a baby anymore! It produces many pine cones.

White Pine “baby” is all grown up and still growing!

My vegetable garden has been in place for many years now too and the White Pine provided needed shade for it this summer. Even though this summer was a hot one and broke records, my house was not nearly as warm as it had been in years past. I think my trees have kept my property cooler. My once gigantic backyard now dwarfs in comparison to my trees!

 

Austrian White Pine

With a name like Austrian White Pine (above) you would think this tree would be very photogenic. I had to take 5 shots of it and I’m still not happy with the results. I ended up chopping the top off in the photo. I’ll try to get a better shot. But you can see the shape of the pine needles and the bushiness of the shape of the branches. It’s a very dark green which doesn’t quite show in the photo. It produces pine cones too. Austrian White Pines are slow growers.

You know, I didn’t take a shot of my Silver Maple, a tree that the birds “planted.” I just took a look at my backyard now and the tree is casting a good amount of shade on my house which I never realized before. This is the reason my bedroom is much cooler. When I saw this tree growing as a baby, I tried to hack it down. All that did was create two trunks. This was a very determined tree. It has gotten very tall and is now spreading out. I’m glad I didn’t kill it. I’ll get a photo of it soon to include here.

I’m also very proud of my Colorado Blue Spruce below. You can really appreciate the blue color of this spruce in contrast to my neighbor’s green tree behind it.

To learn more about my trees and to learn the Top 6 Reasons You Need Trees in Your Yard click this link.

Colorado Blue Spruce – love the blue

Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

26 Jul My Cherry Tomatoes

This is my “mystery” tomato plant. I now know why the tomato seedlings were on sale at the beginning of the season. All the other seedlings were cherry tomatoes. This one is a Bush tomato plant. How do I know? I know because I planted Bush tomatoes a few summers ago. They are beautiful to look at, juicy, and totally tasteless. You can see my cherry tomatoes in the background.

On the right are my onion chives (or scallions). See the round bulb at the top? It’s ready to flower and go to seed. I’ve got onion chives growing all over my garden. I allow it because they are a pest deterrent and it keeps me “rich” in onions.

I must say, knock on wood, everything in the garden is healthy. So far, I don’t see any pests. They probably all died of thirst or heat stroke. I did find a snake in my garden once. It was a green garden snake and it was dead. That wasn’t in my present garden though, it was when I lived in Lexington, KY.  However, if you want to read a story I wrote about a rattlesnake, click here.

After I watered the garden today, a butterfly flew up to me as if to say “thank you.” ; – )

This is the final installment (IV) of My Vegetable Garden, unless something pops up that I think you might enjoy. I want to try growing artichokes in the future because I am a big fan of them. I need to order them in the mail I think since it’s probably too late to find seeds in the supermarket. Hope you all enjoyed my garden as much as I do.

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Rewards for Doing Everything Right in Your Vegetable Garden

23 Jul sxc.hu/bury-osiol Paweł Zawistowski-raspberries

When you’ve done everything right in your vegetable garden, and when the stars and the moon are in the right position, and the weather has cooperated, and you’ve been lucky to boot, you can sometimes end up with too many vegetables! What? Too many? Yes, it’s happened to me. Let me tell you about it.

I had a surplus of tomatoes one summer. Here’s what I did with them and with other notorious over-producers in the vegetable garden. Click here to learn more.

I am not fortunate enough to be growing fruit in my backyard but boy, I am so itching to do so. Here is a recipe I made with store-bought fruit of which I had an over-abundance. This recipe has a terrible name: Raspberry Grunt. The name comes from the New England states as I understand it. They call it a Slump in Rhode Island and a Grunt in Massachusetts. I think it should be called a Plump.

I purchased a small box of raspberries at my local Meijer because they looked so fresh and plump and the price was right. I had no idea what I was going to make with them. I did what I usually do, checked my cookbooks, looked online, etc. I found the Raspberry Grunt on Martha Stewart’s website. Well, I didn’t have enough raspberries and her recipe also called for blackberries. I didn’t have any of those. But I did have some nectarines and some plums on hand so that is what I used.

The reason I was drawn to this particular recipe is because I didn’t have to turn on the oven. It cooks on the stove top. We’re probably going to hit 100 degrees again today and I don’t want to make my air conditioner run anymore than it has to!

First, I tasted one of the raspberries. Wow! Talk about tart! I would have rather bitten into a lemon. So, I made sure I added more sugar than the recipe called for. That is the opposite of what I usually do in a recipe. Here is what the fruit looked like when everything was rinsed, peeled, and cut into slices.

My Recipe

1  1/4 Cup sugar

1/4 teasp. plus pinch cinnamon

3/4 Cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teasp. ground ginger

1/3 Cup milk, room temperature

3 Tablesp. unsalted butter, melted

2 Cups raspberries

2 nectarines, pitted and peeled

2 plums, pitted and peeled

2 Tablesp. lemon juice or orange marmalade

3/4 teasp. baking powder

salt

Directions

Mix 2 Tablsp. sugar and 1/4 teasp. cinnamon and set aside. Wisk flour, 2 Tablesp. of the sugar, baking powder, pinch salt, and ginger in a bowl and set aside.  Stir milk and melted butter in small bowl. Mix the milk/butter into the flour mixture and set aside.

Put the fruit into a skillet and add 2 Tablsp water. Add the remaining pinch of cinnamon. Add the lemon juice or marmalade and the remaining sugar. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat stirring occasionally.

Drop 8 large dollops of batter on top of the fruit mixture. Using two spoons to do this helps. Space them evenly apart. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the top of the batter dumplings. Cover and reduce the heat to medium or lower depending on your stove. Cook until the dumplings are cooked through and the juices are bubbling, about 12-15 minutes. You can serve it warm as is or with cream drizzled on top or ice cream.  I also like it served cold.

Here is a photo of the results.

My take on the taste and texture.

Even though I added 1/4 cup more sugar than the original Martha Stewart recipe, my fruit was still too tart. I didn’t add lemon juice as was required in the original recipe either; I used my homemade orange marmalade instead which was very sweet. Yet I still wanted to pucker because it was tart! True, I didn’t drizzle cream or serve it with ice cream which would have helped a lot. So, if you use berries, especially raspberries in your recipe, you may want to add more sugar, especially if you don’t serve it with cream or ice cream.

The dumplings. Now this is what made it worthwhile. These dumplings were out of this world. They were fluffy, big, tender, and delicious. I ate two but I wanted to eat four. This was my breakfast today. I’m going to have some for dessert after dinner too! It may not taste as tart when it’s cold.

Extra Tip. The other thing I did differently was that I used powdered milk. So, I mixed 1/3 cup water with 3 tablespoons powdered milk. The box directions say use 5 tablespoons powdered milk to an 8 oz glass of water to get 8 oz of milk. I added a lot more than was needed. Why? We need our calcium for good health. I add powdered milk to a lot of recipes. You can’t tell the difference.

I will definitely make this again using different fruits. I might even use frozen fruit to make it easier and quicker.

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Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

21 Jul sxc.hu/ lockstockb

On the right is my parsley plant. It is three years old.  It comes back every year even though they say it isn’t supposed to (It’s a biennial). I find that when I leave things alone and let them go to seed, they reward me by continuing to appear every year.

My rosemary, below, sits next to my sage plant. You can see some of the leaves of the sage plant on the lower left of the photo. I do tend to cram everything together. Fresh rosemary is the bomb. As long as I have fresh, I will never use the dried stuff again.  

If you want to learn more about my herbs, click here.  Continued…….

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Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

19 Jul sxc.hu/ pat61nl Patrizia Schiozzi http://fotografie.patriziaschiozzi.nl

This is a very robust sage plant above. I pick the leaves and it comes back threefold. It not only makes food taste good, but it’s a beautiful, full plant and a lovely greenish-blue color that matches my Colorado Blue Spruce and my “White” pine.

I’ve neglected watering my thyme on the right, because it was taking over my vegetable garden.  It is also very hardy and very fragrant. You can see how brown my grass is in the lower part of the photo  due to the drought we are having in Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Yesterday we actually had some rain! Phew! What a relief! I never thought I’d be worried about rainfall!   Continued……

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Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

19 Jul My Harvest - Marcella Rousseau

Above is my potted cherry tomato plant. There are no tomatoes on it because I picked them all. It’s so convenient to pick and to water. I just slide open the patio doors and dump a glass of water on it!
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On the right are my garlic chives.  Would you have guessed that garlic chives could have such pretty flowers? 
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Continued…….
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Teaching Kids to Like Vegetables

12 Jul sxc.hu Lousam httpwww.naturallyhealthylifestyles.co ..sugar snap peas

MIKE EATING “CANDY” FOR BREAKFAST

It does your heart good when your child wakes up in the morning wanting to eat Sugar Snap Peas for breakfast. It just makes all the work in the garden worthwhile, you know?

He wolfed down those sugar snaps. I didn’t think I would have any left over to serve with a meal!

Not that I’m complaining. He still loves vegetables to this day and in fact loves to cook Thai dishes. If you’ve got little ones at home, you don’t have to force them to eat vegetables. There is a much easier way. Read on….

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Making Blender Compost for the Garden

11 Jul WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY GARDEN KITTY?  I SEE YOU!!!

ARE YOU CONTEMPLATING DIGGING UP MY PLANT KITTY?

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. I guess I was in an inventive mood when I created a way to make composting that didn’t involve a bin or the effort of turning over the compost at intervals. 

I didn’t have to build anything and I didn’t have to buy anything. So, how did I do it?

After you’ve enjoyed looking at these kitties, click here to learn how I did it.

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Good Health and Good Gardening Go Together

28 Jun sxc.hu Nota - Tomatoes

I have been a vegetable gardener for many years. It seems that no matter how much you plan in the garden, something unexpected always comes up! (Literally!)

For example, I purchased some tomato seedlings at a local store this Spring and I thought I was buying cherry tomatoes. It turned out that four of the plants were cherry tomatoes but one was a different kind of tomato plant. The tomatoes are medium size and I have no idea what they are! Don’t you just love surprises? I can’t wait to bite into one of them.

My garden this year is doing well considering the drought and heat wave we are having and I have been good about watering it every other day or so.

If you’ve never grown a vegetable garden or herb garden before, you may want to give it a try. I offer some tips for someone who wants an easy garden with not much effort.

Having your own vegetable garden provides you with the freshest produce and highest vitamin and mineral content which is better for your health, not to mention that you will be getting good exercise and sunshine which provides Vitamin D. Make sure you wear sunscreen though to protect your skin.

I enjoy the butterflies, the bees, and sometimes the hummingbirds who frequent my garden. Gardening has so many benefits. I hope you try a garden today, even if you just have a small area by a windowsill. Give it a try!

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