Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

One of My Favorite Youtube channels and Sites - Jas. Townsend & Sons.

Dear Folks,

From time to time I like to share my favorite books, sites and recipes which inspired me.

As a gardener, cook (real foodie), author and lecturer on growing edibles in the desert southwest (or any USDA 9b+ area) and using all the bounty, searching for new or innovative recipes and foods is simply my passion.

Frankly when the world get's a little too chaotic or even hateful, I dive into something new for the garden or some new way to use what I grew or cook with or a new-to-me food.

Jas. Townsend  & Sons, is a family owned business, which employs about 30 people, that focuses on recreating the 18th Century (1700s era of the Revolutionary War times) with clothing, cooking utensils (they make their own pottery along with most of the items they sell on their site), supplies and other equipment.

Jon who narrates the videos is the son of the founder and his work is engaging and informative.

One of the very best reasons for looking at old recipes is the very basic fact, they used what was available to them, from their gardens, from what grew wild and what they created with sometimes limited resources.

Don't have a baking dish?  Make one out of flour and water!

Don't have an oven to bake in?  Make one out of dirt and water!

Youtube channel  (The specific link I put here is for 18th Century Fried Chicken!)  If you have a love old fashioned recipes and concepts, I encourage you to subscribe to their channel.

An interesting note about the 18th Century Fried Chicken recipe is the use of "verjus" aka "verjuice" which is the tart pressed juice of unripe green grapes.  I love researching ancient / old recipes and find some intriguing ingredients, not generally known or used in modern times.

Verjus is one of them.  I learned about this acidic vinegar option when reading about 15th Century Renaissance cooking.

In modern times we tend to focus on lemon juice or vinegar for the acid in recipes when there are options like verjus or even Seville Oranges.  In the desert southwest you know Seville Oranges for their American common name "Sour Orange".  Keep these two options in mind when recipes call for vinegar, you may find a new loved ingredient.

Back to Jas. Townsend & Sons.  There channel of cooking and recreating videos is getting quite large and everyone of them is interesting.  How to make a coffin (not what you think) -- it was a standing pie crust - very, very thick and was used in place of baking dishes, literally.  How to make a small earthen oven.  How to dry beef for carrying into the field.

Many of the videos are about how our soldiers survived while out in the wild and fighting for our Independence.

With our 4th Of July Independence Celebration, why not look into one or more recipes from the era and add them to your celebration table.


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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady
My Website

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Free Seed Share This Friday, and Some Recipes

Dear Folks,

This coming Friday, is one of my 3-times-a-year (time to coincide with the next sowing time here in the desert garden) Free Seed Share at the Mesa Farmers Market.

Friday, June 24th, 9 a.m. - Noon
20 East Main Street (West of Jimmy John's Parking Lot)
Parking is off of Pepper Place, North of Main Street
Restricted Parking is NOT in force on Fridays, so park where you wish.

FREE Seed Share/Swap - bring edible varieties of seed you have harvested (or purchased -- no GMO). Pick up some seed appropriate for sowing now or later. Don't have seed? Bring yourself and get growing!

I host this event because I want YOU to grow some or more of you own food.

Unemployment [economy or inflation] is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden. ~Orson Scott Card

That may be one of my all-time favorite quotes because it gets to the heart of planning and foresight.

. . .

My month-by-month planting Calendar is a great tool to keep you on track for when to plant your vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers, with maintenance tips and gardening helper tips.

. . .

RECIPES:

With the past two days too hot to be active in the gardens during the day, I took the opportunity to make a healthy dessert I have wanted to try out, and also make up some pasta sauce using the crock pot - outside!

I had some nice tomatoes from the Mesa Farmers Market last week (mine are just getting going) so I added some of my own garden herbs, stuck everything in the crock pot and set out on the patio. 8 hours later I had a lovely sauce.

Modified "Crazy" Tomato Sauce

Famous Italian Chef Marcello Hazan created this simple rustic sauce with just a stick of butter, a whole can of chopped tomatoes and 1 onion cut in half.  The sauce cooked down to a luscious and silky consistency.  Marcella took the onion out at the end.  I did not like to waste it, so after trying it her way I decided to mince the onion and add herbs.

From my garden for yesterday's sauce I had fresh basil, Greek Oregano and onion.  In my pantry I had my garlic I dried last year.

3 cups chopped tomatoes (I leave peel on and do not seed)
1/2 stick of sweet butter (sweet butter has salt in it)
1 sprig of basil, leaves slivered and stem reserved
2 sprigs of Greek Oregano
1/2 cup minced onion
1/8 teaspoon of dried garlic

In the crockpot, layer in, butter, tomatoes and all the herbs.  Put the lid on and turn the crockpot on low.  Do not stir for the first hour, to let the juices release from the tomatoes.
Check periodically to give the sauce a stir.
Allow to cook down to your preferred thickness.  (I let mine go about 8 hours.)
Remove the basil and oregano stems.
Use an immersion blender to puree if desired.
Serve or store for use later - can be frozen.

Microwave Yogurt Cheesecake

I am in love with the mini microwave cakes, also called "Cake in A Mug" and have made several types.  A chocolate cake and a cornbread.

Since it is just the two of us these are perfect to split between us.

I've been searching around for cheesecake in the microwave and most of them use some combination of cream cheese and sour cream.  I wanted to use Greek Yogurt because it has the tang of the sour cream/cream cheese mix, but has a high protein content and is just as creamy.  Because I had some left over pumpkin puree (Deane made a pumpkin bread pudding the other day - one of his specialty desserts), I decided to make a pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap crust.

I recommend a straight sided pyrex type dish.  I used a curved bowl because I did not have the right size, so the cheesecake flattened out more.  You will need a bowl/dish that holds about 2 cups filled

To make a non-pumpkin cheesecake, omit the pumpkin, increase the yogurt to 1 cup and substitute 1/4 teaspoon vanilla for the pumpkin spice.

3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (I had organic)
1 large or jumbo egg
1 1/2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I use organic)
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
7 ginger snaps - crushed
butter to for greasing bowl/dish.

Butter the bottom and sides of the microwave safe bowl.  You can use baking spray if you prefer. Pat crushed ginger snaps in the bottom and just a bit up the sides.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix yogurt and pumpkin puree.  Beat egg in a cup. In another bowl mix sugar, flour, and pumpkin pie spice.  All at once add beaten egg and sugar mix to the yogurt mix and beat, stir very well.  Set aside for 5 minutes to let the sugar completely dissolve.

Pour batter in prepared crust bowl.  Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes.  Check at the 3 minute level.  The center should not 'giggle' much when done.

Remove let cool and chill until firm before cutting.

I was very, very pleased with the way this turned out.  The taste was great, with a creamy texture and a bit of crunch from the ginger snaps.  And, 1/4 of the cheesecake would have about 7 grms of protein, and about 155 calories.  Pretty good ratio for a dessert!

You can serve plain.  We tried both plain and with a topping of some of my homemade Santa Rosa plum jam.  Yum!

I hope to see you at the Seed Share.

If you like my recipes, you may enjoy my Cook Book "101+ Recipes from The Herb Lady" - there are actually over 150 recipes using herbs and spices to flavor the food FIRST before reaching for the salt shaker.

I even included a "what I have on hand to cook" index.  As a cook and lover of cookbooks, I have always thought each cookbook should have a major ingredient index. Have chicken? The index lists what recipes call for chicken  Likewise with ingredients like eggs, tofu and vegetables.

Have a best day,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lecture - June 25th - Sow? 105 Degrees? Yes!!

Dear Folks,

My FREE lecture is next Saturday, June 25th, at 6 p.m. at the Mesa Urban Garden.

Mesa Urban Garden
212 East 1st Avenue (NEC of 1st Avenue & Hibbert)
Mesa, Arizona

I will be discussing sowing your fall garden - yes, you start seeding in July and August;  an historic companion planting practice called Monsoon Garden or Three Sisters, and more.

There are door prizes to the first 20 households who arrive and a raffle for 2 gift cards.

Register at the Mesa Urban Facebook post or just come out.  If you can register so we know how many to anticipate.

Mesa Urban Garden is a community organization whose mission is to inspire sustainable urban living through education, community involvement and creative cooperation.


The lecture is Free, however if you would like to support the garden and their activities - they donate food produced to the food bank and needy folks -- there is a charming musical donation machine which accepts quarters and I have asked them to put out a jar for donations.

You can inquire about renting a bed for yourself if you do not currently have a garden and want to get 'growing'.  The beds are inexpensive and include the prepared and ready to plant bed and watering is included.  The volunteers are always ready to answer questions.

Extra information:Water Use It Wisely, did a nice piece on Monsoon Gardening, in conjunction with Native Seed Search, they mention the lecture at the end.



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

http://www.herbs2u.net/

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Watering: The Right and Wrong Way to Water in The Desert & Other Hot Area Gardens

Dear Folks,

I posted this information on one of the facebook group pages this morning, thinking I would be just doing a short series of notes.  It turned out far longer and much read, so I decided I needed to turn it into a blog.

WATERING TIPS:

There really is a right way and a wrong way to water.

Wrong:  Irregular watering


Obviously plants need more water in the heat of the summer, but watering when you think the plant needs it as opposed to a schedule can cause things like cracked tomatoes, stressed plants (because the roots are not deep enough), and dead plants because the roots went from soggy/boggy to bone dry.

Because our gardens are large - they are on several types of automatic watering systems depending on the section.

I am not saying to go automatic systems - there is a fair amount of work to establish them initially.

However, what I noticed -- over many years -- is the mature/maturing plants ADAPT to a watering cycle.  Really they do.

Here is what happens:  (This not about new seeded areas or new seedlings - I will mention about seeded areas below).

You water deeply and then you allow the soil to start drying out.  The plant's roots follow the retreating water down as the soil dries.  And, this occurs more each time you deep water.  If you do not let the soil dry some, then the roots stay near the surface.

I recommend a moisture meter for the desert gardener - I think it is one of the best tools to learn the character of your garden.

Grass style watering -- 5 minutes a day, every day, will never give you healthy plants.

For established gardens - where the plants have been in for a couple of months, the meter should read on the 2-3 dry side before watering again, when the meter is inserted into the soil about 6 inches.

Our main gardens are now on a 4 day cycle and we can usually keep it at that through the summer. In the winter the timing will go up to 5 and than 6 day cycle.  Our trees are on 7 day year round.  In an exceptionally hot part of the summer, we may move the trees to 6 day cycle, but we have only had to do that once in many years.

Generally, water in the evening in the summer to minimize evaporation, and in the morning in the winter to minimize mildew.

How do you know you watered deeply enough?  Immediately after watering the bed or area, stick an 18 inch long skewer or rod straight down into the soil.  If you can't do this without impediment, you have not watered deeply enough.

DO look at your plants in the morning, before the summer day heats up.

DON'T look at them in the middle of the day, when the hot summer will cause many plants to wilt to preserve their moisture.

It may seem really impossible but I have grown plants on a 7 day water cycle - in the summer - adding a bit more water half way through (not a full watering cycle, just a good chug of the watering can at the root zone) if the temps are in the 110+ range.

The trick/tip is I grow densely (or with mulch) with as little or no soil surface showing so the plants provide their own "soil canopy" - not shading the plants, shading the soil.  This greatly minimizes evaporation (does not use more water because of the density) and keeps the soil cooler.

TRANSPLANTING:

Any time the temps are over 80 degrees harden off plants you intend to transplant.  Hardening off is just gradually introducing the plants to more sun each day:  1 hour today, then move into the shade (NOT indoors - you want them getting used to temp and sun), next day - 2 hours, then shade, etc. until they are in the sun for 4 hours and doing okay.  If we are in the 95+ and you really need to transplant, double the sequence - 1 hour the first 2 days, then 2 hours day 3-4 etc.  Taking a plant directly from the protected environment of the nursery or greenhouse and plunking it into the hot garden is going to almost ensure you either have a really, really strong plant or a dead one.   Transplant in the evening, give it a good soak and depending on the size of the plant (gal or 4 inch pot) you may need to give it a soak every day or every other day,  after several days, start increasing the amount of water while decreasing the frequency - from every day to every other day etc.

SEEDS/SEEDLINGS:

In mid-July we start "sowing" not transplanting for the fall garden.  The fall edibles like the cooling soil as the sun starts moving south.  New sown beds need to be watered every evening in the summer until you seed leaves, then you can back the watering to every other day, but increase the amount.

If you are sowing in an established bed, continue the regularly watering but water the seeded area every nigh.   When you start reducing the watering frequency, as the seeds emerge and grow, you are aiming at getting the seedlings on your regular water schedule.

A very light mulch over the seeded area will help minimize the heat impact and evaporation of the sun.  I also use chicken wire hats temporarily over new seeded areas to keep the birds off (I have a short video on my youtube channel showing how to use them.)

What happens if you water for a few days and nothing happens? 

I have folks tell me they did what I suggested, but nothing came up after several days or a week of watering each evening.  Many seeds take from about 7 days to more than a month to germinate.  When you stop watering the seed area, even for a day, what usually has occurred is the seed began to germinate - underground, the dormancy broken by the moisture - but if the seed hits a dry patch - when the watering stopped - the seed dies.

Below is a schedule I suggest - it is only a guide not a bible

As the temperatures rise, a guide (this is only a guide!) For mature gardens would be:


  70s water every 5-6 days for all but trees
  80s water every 4-5 days for all but trees
  90s water every 3-4 days for all but trees
  100s water every 2-3 days for all but trees
 

CONTAINERS:

I do have some LARGE containers and a raised bed.  They are watered every two days in the summer and every 3 days in the winter.

If you have to use small containers, snug them all together, to minimize the heat impact on most of the exterior surfaces.


Spaghetti Tube Watering System - Movable.

I thought I would add an illustration of a simple setup - which you can take with you if you are renting or getting ready to move. This will cost about $100 dollars depending on how many "heads" you need and if you choose to go with an automated timer.

I use this set up on my raised beds. The system works like this - you purchase a roll of black hose and one end cap to block the end and a female coupling to attach to your hose bibb. The automated timer is available from different companies with 1 or 2 outlets each with its own timer. The spaghetti tubing is also available in rolls and you cut the lengths to 1) go directly to the base of a plant OR 2) to allow you to center a spray head (first image) among plants / areas - the spray width is adjustable. I prefer the spray head, but the single spout (seen in image 2) is workable for a single plant. There are connectors to punch a hole in the hose, and attach the tubing. It goes together quickly and there is a tool for doing the punching you can purchase which does a uniform job of punching the holes - a knife will work but you have to be careful not to puncture through too big a hole. I've been using this set up for years.

As I need to, I replace a length of spaghetti (short or longer) and change the head from single or spray as needed or back and forth. I had to replace the timer after about 6 years and the batteries about every 2+ years. I hope this gives you a good option when a fully automated (dug in) system is out of the cost (and a lot of work) range or a soaker hose is not doing the job.  ( Soaker hoses soak "down" not "out" so if the plants are not near or beside the hose they may not get enough water.)





I hope these tips help you in your growing.
 




-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

http://www.herbs2u.net/

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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Potato Salad from the Garden and Around The Garden.

Dear Folks,

There is nothing more satisfying to a gardener to create great tasting meal options directly from the garden.

The other day I harvested onions, dried and also caramalized them in a crock pot.

I my pantry I had dried Rosemary, Celery and Mexican Oregano all harvested from my garden and dried for storage.

In mid-May I harvested a variety of colored potatoes from the garden, just waiting in my kitchen basket for use.  In the top of the picture I show some of the potatoes I harvested.  I put the small ones aside in a cardboard box in the frig for planting next January 1st.

Yesterday was Potato Salad day.

After the onions finished cooking in the crock pot, in the bottom was dried/cooked remnants called "fond" by the chefs.  I decided it would be great to flavor the cooking water for the potatoes, so I soaked the fond in water, scrapped it all up and saved.

My Potato Salad Recipe

My potato salads tend to be basic components and I "wing" anything else.  I generally for what is called "German-type" versions which call for draining the hot potatoes, and immediately add oil (I opted for Olive Oil this time, I frequently use avocado), sufficient to coat the potatoes.  Then I start adding.

This was a small batch of potatoes, so I added about a teaspoon of whole celery leaf, rosemary leaves and Mexican Oregano, ground them in my palm for about 1/2 tsp of each.  Sprinkled over the taters.  Peel, and sliced 2 hard boiled eggs.  Added fresh ground black peppers, salt and about 3 tablespoons of the sun cooked onions from the other day (this was shown in my prior post - they barely wilted).  I cooked up 3 slices of un-cured bacon to crisp.  I checked if I needed to add more oil (I did) adjusted the salt and black pepper, tossed everything, then added the crumbled bacon and tossed again.  I added 2 tablespoons of mayo to give a bit more moisture, tossed one more time and it was ready.

So to recap: I used onions, potatoes, and herbs from my garden.  Very satisfying.

To serve, I had a crazy idea and decided on a potato salad sandwich!  Yeah, I know.  Deane was skeptical too but he is such a kind taste tester.  I did not want a lot of bread.  I used those "flatbread rounds," thin sandwich bread 5 grms each of Protein and Fiber because of the high protein/fiber combo.

A bit of mayo spread on the bread stacked about 1 inch high with the salad and served with apples from the tree.

It was a hit, really.  There was something about it - maybe comfort food - but it worked great, so we decided it was a keeper.  :-)

. . .

Around the Garden

One of the tomatoes I planted this year was from seed my sister sent me several years ago from New Jersey "Golden Jubilee".

I was happily checking as it started to ripen and then took a really good look at the cluster of 3 I was looking at.  The ripest one had bugs on it and as I looked closer I saw some in/out activity on the tiniest of holes, so I picked it, made sure there were not more intruders and set aside for a BLT later today.

The other 2 ripening - one has sunburn and the other is looking good.  I am going to let the sunburn one ripen fully and harvest the seeds.

While sitting out on the patio last night just as the twilight was approaching, Deane pointed out the Crescent Moon.  Because of my angle when I turned to look at it, what I was a leaf cutter "watermelon" citrus leaf high up and just framing the moon.  It called for a picture.

Finally, I am posting a picture illustrating the main mantra I seem to be repeating right now.  It is not about shading the plants, it is about shading the soil.

The picture is of one of my 22 inch wide pots.  I transplanted 2 small sweet pepper plants in May and tucked in there if you look closely are 2 moringa trees in small pots.  They are sitting on the soil surface temporarily because I have not figured out where to plant them yet.  I allowed the purslane (edible wild vegetable) to grow up and shelter the soil surface, all while giving all the plants the direct sun they needs. The pot sits in mostly full sun all day with late afternoon shade from a tree.  See how lush they all look?  The pepper has quadrupled in size and has flower buds on it (a variety I got from Vilardi Gardens I am eager to taste.  Suzanne Vilardi has the best Arizona Grown transplants.

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Have a great rest of the week.



-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

I Harvested Onions, and Preserved with Sun and Crockpot.

Sun Dried-in Jars, Caramalized and Frozen
Dear Folks,

I harvested some onions yesterday and did several things with them.  I cut the roots off an replanted - I'm hoping for some green tops to harvest as needed (this works, just it maybe too hot now for the onions to sprout again.  We will see.

onion roots planted and covered
I also sun dried the green tops and cut 'scallion' separately.  The greens have a milder flavor so I have options AND, I caramelized a batch in the crockpot!.

I also distributed the extra greens through out the garden to discourage pest bugs. I don't expect it to last long as a deterrent but for now it is good.  It will dry and provide some mulch.

I already knew I wanted to dry some of the onions, but I had a lot of them.  3-4 of them filled my drying trays when chopped up.  I thought caramelized onions, but they take a long time and heat up the kitchen.  I frequently use the crock pot for cooking in the summer (I've even made bread) because I put it out on the patio and further keep the extra heat outside.

I went looking and found a recipe for caramelizing onions in a crock pot :-)

The suggestion was olive oil or melted butter.  And this was going to be different because I was not using big fat onions I was using large scallions.  I needed to get these out of the garden because the volunteer tomato and pichu berry were completely shading the onions.

(It takes about 10 months for onions to reach storage bulb size here in the desert (last year it was August.)

Cock Pot Caramelized Onions

Chop or thinly slice your onions and toss with olive oil or melted butter to coat all.  I chose to use olive oil, and put a thin amount in the crockpot first before I tossed the chopped with more.

Fill your crock pot about 3/4's full.  Turn on low and let cook for about 10 hours.

Worked like a charm.

The caramelized onions will only last about a week in the frig, so I decided to freeze in a ziplock.  The oil will allow me to break off chunks for use when I want to add to pasta, soup, or stew or use on a sandwich.

SOME NOTES:  The aroma and flavor of these is awesome.  Since I used scallions which had less density than a regular onion, I could have stopped at about 8 hours.  My wonderful scallions cooked down almost to a jam and the approximate 3 cups or so of chopped reduced to about 3/4 of a cup.  I was fine with that, but will keep the ratio reduction in mind for the future.  The recipe I based this on said 10 hours for regular caramelized onions but if you want "jam" cook for a couple more hours.

Since I was already sun drying the other onions in the sun, and it was HOT (yesterday when I started this it got to 109+) I thought I would see what would happen with a small amount of the olive oil tossed onion in the sun.  The result was significantly difference from the crock pot.  Obviously the sun did not mimic the crock pot heat and moisture.  We used most of the sun cooked onions on hot dogs last night and I'm using the rest of them when I use my potatoes for a potato salad later today.

Sun Drying Onions

After chopping the sun does all the work.  The green parts dried in about half a day, but I had to take the white/red part (these are red onion / scallions) in overnight because they were not quite dry, put them out this morning for about 2 hours and they were perfectly dry.

I mentioned before that I had an opportunity to purchase a round set of dehydrator trays (without the motor) which allowed me to have more capacity for sun drying.

You can cover with paper towel as I show or one of those picnic mesh domes.  I also sometimes stack the trays with their cover.  This is nice and compact, but you need to rotate the trays, through out the day as, the top tray and sometimes the bottom one dry out fastest.

Anything that is not completely dry, bring in overnight so they do not start to reabsorb moisture.

As with cooking, sun drying or any drying method reduces the volume of the food with the moisture withdrawn.  They store very well in mason jars and are ready to use when I need dry.  I still have some dried from last summer and they are still fragrant and tasty.  Always store in the cool, dry and dark to preserve flavor and aroma.

Here are some links to a few of my prior blog posts on sun drying.

Homemade dried vegetable bouillon - a mix of my herbs and veggies

Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sun Drying Fruit and Herbs

Finally, while you are harvesting, don't forget to let some of your beloved veggies and herbs go to flower and seed so you can harvest the mature and dry seed for re-sowing later.

This is "regional adaptation" at its best.  What did great in your garden will produce subsequent generations of stronger and more adapted plants.

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Have a great week in, and "from" the garden,


-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

herbs2u.net

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What To Make When You Have A LOT of Celery.

Dear Folks,

I grow celery - in the desert garden - and because I let it reseed each year I usually have a LOT of it this time of year.  Some of it is going into flower (and I will capture some seed later for my seed bank inventory), but right now I have a lot of fresh leaves.

What to do?  Most people do not think of celery as a vegetable, they think in terms of a bit of flavor for soups, stews, sandwich salads (Tuna, etc.).


Over a decade ago I developed a braised celery and cranberry dish for Thanksgiving and it was great.  I posted it here on the blog last fall.

However I have not done much with it since (outside of always adding to sandwich salads) except to dry to add to my pantry, and even make it a part of my homemade vegetable bouillon.

But now that I have no lettuce in the garden, and I have a LOT of celery I mulled what I could do with it.

I thought about using it "in place" of lettuce, so our lunch yesterday was a Bacon, Celery, Basil, Tomato sandwich with our apples on the side, on raisin toast :-)

I got to thinking about a celery leaf "pesto" and the Sweet Potato Linguine I have and dinner was now planned.  (The pasta is from locally producer DeCio Pasta in Tempe, and I purchased at the Mesa Community Farmers Market.  Great products with excellent ingredients.) Also pictured in the last farme, I sauteed up some sliced beets and beet tops (from the garden) for Deane as a side dish for him (he loves them, I'm slightly allergic to them).

Celery Pesto Pasta Primavera

This kind of dish is not about exact ingredient ratios, increase or reduce as you like.  I decided on a "raw" sauce created by chopping fresh tomatoes and onion and placing in a bowl, adding the "pesto" a dribble of olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Then when the pasta is done, drain quickly and add to bowl, let sit for a minute or two to heat the veggies and then toss.

Handful of celery leaves (substitute parsley or more basil if you do not have celery)
4 small sprigs of basil
2 small sweet peppers, cored and slivered
1-2 small tomatoes or 1 medium size, chopped
Scallion, 2 inch piece, minced
Parmesan Cheese, grated
Chopped walnuts
Linguine or Spaghetti (1-2 servings)
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a bowl, place chopped tomatoes and onion.

Rinse celery and basil, place in a blender or bullet grinder with a bit of water and buzz until ground up.  Drain, catching the water*.  Add to bowl, drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, add cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

Boil pasta according to directions.  In the last minute add the slivered peppers, stir to mix with pasta.  When done, drain, but leave slightly damp and immediately add to bowl.  Let sit for 1-2 minutes to allow the veggies to heat up.  Toss, plate up and top with Cheese and Walnuts.

Turned out great.  The sweet peppers added a note of sweetness to all the savory elements.

*This "herb" water contains a lot of flavor from the herbs/greens used, so I add it to my stock container in the freezer for the next stock making time.

So, what else can you use fresh celery leaves for?  Some nice ideas found on the internet:

Make a celery simple syrup -- ratio is 1/2 to 1 cup of rinsed celery leaves, 1 cup each sugar and water.  Bring water and sugar to a boil, stir until well dissolved, add celery and let steep until cool or overnight (to taste). Drain, discard the leaves and store the syrup in the frig for up to 1 week.
-----Use to make celery soda -- 1/4 cup of celery syrup, add 3/4 cup of cold seltzer or sparkling water, stir and enjoy.
-----Use as the simple syrup in any cocktail.  Combine with fresh mint for a different Mojito 

Use in place of parsley or lettuce in a recipe.

Substitute for Loveage (a celery flavored herb) in recipes. (Loveage is a far stronger flavored celery taste so adjust recipe when using celery.)

What new or old fashioned way have you used celery leaf?

. . .

Next Events Coming Up:

I am speaking at the monthly meeting at the Arizona Herb Association on June 2nd.  Topic is Stevia and Syrian Oregano.  Their business meeting starts at 7 p.m. and my talk will be approximately 8 p.m.  Great organization to join.

June 24, 2016, Friday, 9 a.m. - Noon
FREE Seed Share / Swap
Mesa Farmers Market

June 25, 2016, Saturday, 6 p.m.
Sow! 105? Yes!
Lecture at Mesa Urban Garden (MUG) on sowing in the summer
Free (consider donating to the garden or renting a bed)

. . .

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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