Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bye Bye Buzzards Day Food Sampling at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum - September 21, 2013

Dear Folks,

Below are the recipes for the food sampling I did today at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  I developed this menu for the first time last year and it was a fun 'take' on the celebrations surrounding the migratory flock of Turkey Vultures which summer at the Arboretum.

My chili recipe is a version of the real chili of Mexico which uses no tomatoes.  While I love tomatoes and tomato products in my opinion it is overused as a seasoning instead of good spices and herbs.

“No Kill” Chili

Adapted from my book “101+ Recipes from The Herb Lady

Vegan and vegetarian friendly.  The refried beans give the thickness to the chili.  All herbs and spice measurements are listed for dry.  Triple the amount if using fresh.  (I doubled the basic recipe adding 1 can of Great Northern Beans– any white bean will do – including the liquid, and used 2 cups of edamame - not 4 but you can add more or less beans and liquid to suit your preferences.)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon Epazote (divided)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 can (15 oz) black beans w/liquid
1 can (16 oz) vegetarian refried beans
2 cups frozen green soybeans (shelled)
Optional: Topping using favorite Corn Bread Recipe.

Heat oil in heavy pan, add onion and garlic and stir for 1 minute, add all spices, and only half of Epazote and 1/2 cup water. Continuing stirring until all are well mixed, add other 1/2 cup water, refried beans and black beans (including bean liquid). Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add soy beans and continuing cooking for additional 15 minutes adding reserved Epazote in the last 10 minutes.

Optional topping. Set oven to 400 degrees and have ready a medium casserole pan. Mix corn bread batter according to your recipe and set aside. After adding soy beans to chili cook for 5 minutes. Add epazote, stir and pour beans into casserole. Gently pour corn bread batter over beans. Bake for 20 minutes approximately, until bread is golden brown.  IMPORTANT: The chili should be hot from the stove to make the cornbread cook faster.  If you start with cold chili you may need to add 50% more cooking time +/- so keep an eye on it.

Chili recipes are all about options: Add any of the following to the top of the beans before serving or before adding the batter: shredded cheese, chopped fresh onions, chopped fresh cilantro, green chilies or jalapenos if you want heat, chopped celery (I like the crunch).

Carrion Chili Con Frijoles
To the basic bean chili recipe, I grilled up top round boneless thin steaks that I rubbed with a bit of olive oil and some of the oregano and cumin, cut into small pieces and added to the chili.

True Grit Cornbread
I am not a fan of dry cornbread.  I like it moist and slightly sweet.  The ‘grit’ in the recipe title refers to my swapping out half of the cornmeal called for with corn grits/polenta.

3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup corn grits / polenta
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar (I use organic)
1/3 cup honey**
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used avocado oil this time but any good quality oil including olive works nicely)
4 ozs. shredded whiter cheddar

**Tip: use the oil measuring cup to measure the honey and it will all slide out easily into the mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.

Mix the cornmeal and grits with the milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes while you measure the other ingredients out.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In the cornmeal mixture, beat in eggs, oil, and honey, stir in cheese, add flour mix and whisk until batter is smooth.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. (Mine was done at 32 minutes.)

Something Weedy This Way Comes Salad

Organic Baby Spring Greens (5 oz package is about a gallon of greens, fluffed)
about 1 cup of mixed fresh herbs, chopped:
Lemon Verbena
French Tarragon
Horseradish Leaf
Za-tar (Middle Eastern Oregano)
Sweet Basil

I made a simple dressing of 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons of olive oil and a scant ½ teaspoon of salt.

You can find more recipes in my book, available at these sites:




-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bird of Paradise - One of My Few Ornamentals

Dear Folks,

Isn't she gorgeous!

Taken today September 17, 2013, I do not have many ornamental-only plants in the garden because I want to concentrate on food-producing plants.

As with some of the other ornamental plants (like the Amaryllis bulb my dad gave me back in the early 1980's), this beautiful dwarf bird of paradise has a story.

By the way, the dwarf bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) has the prettiest flower, I think.  The giant bird of paradise has a blue/white flower and is not nearly as showy. The plant family is part of the a large family which includes ginger.

When I moved to Arizona I was taken with the possibilities of what could be grown here, but as I was in an apartment, I had no real room to try out some things.  On the other hand the office I worked in at the time had a large picture window in the front.  I happened across a package of bird of paradise seeds and thought I would try to grow them.  So I potted them up and one of the seeds germinated and took off.

This was in late 1976 or early 1977.  I then carried the plant around in one succeedingly larger container over the years keeping it inside or outside as the conditions of my home allowed.

I finally planted at our home about 8 or so years ago.  These plants need a certain number of leaves to produce enough energy to create this large flower.  It bloomed for the first time 3 years ago and we promptly had the first killing freeze in 20 years!!

The plant went to the ground but I was hopeful.  It came back, then got somewhat frozen again this past winter but did not go completely to the ground.

This and 2 other flower spikes which have not yet opened are only the second time it has bloomed for me in the 37 or so years I have trundled the poor thing around.  So I found her happy spot and hope to enjoy blooms in succeeding years.

. . .

Coming Up

Bye-Bye Buzzards Food Sample Fun at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Free Seed Share at the Mesa Community Farmers Market

Ground to Table Class at Smiling Dog Landscaping.

See my website page for links.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

You can find my books at these links: