Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Seed Cracker Recipe and Frost Survivor

Dear Folks,

This recipe is one I know I tried out last year some time and for the life of me I can't find my notes, so I decided to give it another try and came up with this recipe for a Seed Cheese Cracker - it is also gluten free.

I first thought about this when one of the nice raw foods vendors was at the farmers market (they had a seed/nut cracker), then I found recipe ideas on the internet, some noted as gluten free others focusing on using good-for-you seeds and nuts, others on the low-carb forums.

The nice thing about this recipe is you can change out the seeds, nuts and cheeses or leave the cheese out altogether.  You can add any herbs of your choice.

A couple of points:  most of these come out like a 'mash' so you want to create a baking form that is even all the way around and the same depth all the way through so they bake evenly.  And you need to watch them so they don't burn.  It may help to turn the pan around half way through to more evenly bake.  They crisp up more as they cool and dry, so don't over-bake thinking they need to be bone dry at the end of the baking cycle.

Just a note of caution - these are addictive!  :-)

I've given the link for the original recipe that I modified mine from below the recipe.

1/2 cup of flax seed meal
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (dried raw but not toasted), ground
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese*
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of water
Optional:  Any herbs of your choice either dried or fresh - if using fresh mince very finely.

Nuts/Seeds - use combinations that are appealing to you.  Stronger tasting seeds and nuts can be balanced with mild.  I think I might try a walnut/sunflower/basil/Parmesan next time.

Heat oven to 350.

I have a bullet grinder but you can use any kind of grinder you need to grind the seeds if not already ground.

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir, then add water and mix well so everything is moistened.

Spread on aluminum foil or silpat.  Cover with a piece of wax paper and roll out to even depth - about 1/8 - 1/4 inch, and even up the sides a bit by squaring off.  Use a long straight blade to score - you don't have to cut all the way through - it just makes it easier to break up after they cool.

Bake 15-18 minutes and watch carefully - if they start to brown too much remove and let cool.

This made 42 crackers for a total of approximately 771 calories, 37.45 grams of protein and 22 grams of fiber.  I have used a formula I came up with to measure the nutrient density of a product.  The formula is  20 or less is nutrient dense.  These crackers came out at 12.97.  The formula is grams of protein and fiber added then divided into the calories.  Try it out the next time you are in the store staring at a snack item.  The primary cracker I buy is Triscuit because it comes out to 20 - every other cracker is a far higher number and therefore not as nutritious for the calories.

*  I'm pretty sure I used cheddar cheese in the recipe I tried last year.  If you go with a nice cheddar or any hard cheese use the fine holes on your grater, to get an even mix of cheese to ground seeds.

Original Recipe Link is here.

. . .


I was delighted to discover that my orange bell pepper survived the killer freeze - I pulled away the leaves I mounded around the base and low and behold -- new growth.

I have some seedlings of these saved from last year but this larger root system will give me a jump start - I hope - on harvesting peppers sooner.

I'm just now beginning to remove dead top growth on shrubs and plants like the pepper.  While we are supposed to go down in temps this weekend I don't expect major frost damage in most of the valley, but if you know you are in a colder basin - plan on covering your tender plants like tomatoes, basil and peppers.  I recommend being prepared to cover whenever the night time temperature predictions are 40 or lower - just to be on the safe side.

The catnip around the base of this pepper plant was not damaged by the frosts at all.  Likewise your lettuces and kales will be fine.

Next year if we have frost potential with killer freeze possibilities I am going to do the leaf mounding with all my tender plants.  Worked like a dream with one of my tomatoes and this pepper plant.  Make a note for yourselves to have a plan for using the leaves.  I like my chicken wire cages/hats which I use normally to keep the birds, bunnies and squirrels away from young plants, but encircling a tender plant with the chicken wire and filling with leaves then draping a towel or cardboard over it all keep one of my tomatoes lush and green even though it was covered for 5 days.

Have a great time in the garden!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Volunteer Carrots and corning the beef

Dear Folks,

So, last year I planted carrots and let one of the plants go to seed - well okay, I forgot about it and it went to flower and seed before I pulled up last summer to prepare for fall planting.

The seeds randomly planted themselves, including in the pathway beside the bed, which is separated by bricks.  The carrots in the path came up this winter as a 'lawn' of green and I figured - what the heck - I will see what happens.  So periodically I would pull soil away to see if there was any appreciable growth.  Also the path is not watered directly - there is a little moisture spread from the actual growing bed, and of course we have had a lot of rain.  So yesterday I decided to poke around in the carrot lawn and guess what I found?

I carefully dug these out after softening the soil with some water, and there are still more to "grow" wider now that they more wiggle room.

You can see that the roots got kind of creative in working down into the harder soil.  I have not prepared these yet, but they may be a the heirloom short carrot Chantanay red core - you can't really see it in the picture but they have red "shoulders" -- anyway I'm delighted to have these volunteers to cook up.  There may be more ready that I can use for St. Patrick's day corned beef dinner.

One of the recommendations I give to folks about growing carrots here in the desert is very loose deep soil and choose short maturity varieties - you will have faster and better success, particularly if you successive sow them beginning in late summer/early fall.

So on to corning beef.  I tried it for the first time last year because I wanted to control the ingredients and I was completely pleased with the results - see link below for last year's post.

Last year I used Red Mountain Cattle grass fed brisket and it was great but I thought I would try a 'better' cut this year.  This year we purchased grass fed from Farmer Goose out on the west side and I decided to go with a roast.  I started the brining yesterday so it will be ready to go into the crock pot the morning of St. Patty's day.

About corning beef - my first post

The finished corned beef

Now that the weather is finally getting a bit warmer - don't forget to get your warm weather garden transplanting and sowing done ASAP so the plants have sufficient time to get good roots going before the heat hits.

Have a great week,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady