Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Dear Folks,

Our navel orange tree has some interesting looking things hanging around!  129 heads of garlic.

I was a little behind this year in cutting the scapes and getting the heads dug up 2 weeks later - got them all dug last night and then jumped in the kool tub (aka horse trough) to cool off.  Hung them this morning - I use metal hangers, mostly tying or using pinch clothes pins to hold them.  They should be hung in the shade.

Some of the heads are very small and probably won't form full cloves so I'm thinking 1) to dry them in the sun and grind for garlic granules, and 2) I think I'm going to relocate most of the garlic bed to another location this October.  The grapefruit tree is so huge it shades more now than it used to.

For garlic growing novices, you plant Oct 1 and no later than Nov 1st because they need the full winter cool to help form heads.  This hard-neck varieties (the kind you usually find in stores) put out a flower head called a scape, curling around and we cut them back (or should - I let them go a little longer than I should) when they reach the top of the leaves.  Then about 2 weeks later the leaves start to turn yellow and it is time to dig and dry the heads until the outside skin gets papery.  The whole cut scape, harvest heads and dry takes about 3-4 weeks from start to finish.  You can use them right away when dug, but the peel is harder to get off. Air drying allows for longer storage.  Depending on hour hot we are 1-2 weeks usually does it.  I generally save some of the heads in my crisper to replant next fall and I also order fresh from my supplier.

. . .

With Memorial Day Weekend coming up this is a great opportunity to use some fun ways with herbs:

At the Grill:

BBQ HERBS. With Memorial Day and July 4th coming up we all like to think about cooking outdoors. Some tried and true ways with herbs on the que:

BASTING BRUSHES: If you are basting foods, make a basting brush out of stiff pieces of herbs like rosemary, woody basil or thyme or savory. Allow the brushes to soak a bit in the oil or marinade before using.

SKEWERS: The stiff or woody sprigs of herbs make great skewers. Pierce food to be skewered first, for easy insertion of the herb. Soak herbs for 1 hour before using to prevent the herb from catching fire. Rosemary is frequently used, but try others (my favorite rosemary and pineapple). If the sprigs are a little too flexible, try using 2 or 3 sprigs at once.

HERB SMOKE: Soak the herbs for 1 hour before using and add to coals in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

HERB OILS AND MARINADES. Infuse any of your favorites in olive oil or make marinades with fruit juices. Allow marinades to "work" for 1 hour.

DRY RUBS: Rub herb mixes or make pastes out of the herbs with a bit of olive oil or melted butter, and pat or rub into food before grilling.

HERB WRAPS: A wrap is food encased in herbs and either grilled in a foil pouch or rested on the grill. If you don't have enough herb to completely wrap the food (like lemon grass leaves). Sear food one minute on each side and lay the herbs across the top and finish cooking without turning. Fish will work very nicely this way.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday folks, be kind to yourselves and one another,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady