Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Homemade Sodas

Dear Folks,

I have a "thing" about the amount of garbage sodas for sale - mostly aimed at children.

So here are some great homemade sodas to help you and the family kick the junk habit. (the pictures is from Ms. Dudash's article in The Arizona Republic, March 13, 2015) All have some nutrients, and yes they are sweetened, but you can choose one of the real Stevia products (like Sweetleaf) to substitute for lower calorie (I say lower because many are made with some fruit juice so there is natural sweetness - but you also get Vitamin C along with other small levels of vitamins and in some minerals).

What child does not enjoy options?  You can have the base ready for action whenever there is a group or party.

Your base is a sweet condensed mix, either a 100% frozen juice concentrate (no sugar added), thawed or a flavored (you choose) syrup.  Example:  Many children enjoy orange soda.  All you need is thawed 100% orange juice concentrate to make a glass of orange soda.  There is a 100% frozen juice pineapple orange that is a nice version.

1/4 cup base to 3/4 cup chilled sparkling water, ice if you like and there you have a cold, refreshing glass of wholesome beverage.

The sparkling water can be any you like.  FYI Club soda has sodium in it, seltzer does not.  Many artisanal waters have micro nutrients.

First up is a neat recipe from Michell Dudash who did an article for the Arizona Republic.

This is a base for a Cola, which makes up to 14 glasses.  You store the base until you want a glass.  This is probably the most ingredient in these recipes, but since you are making a base for 14 glasses it is worth the extra time.

Ms. Dudash also shared some homemade versions of fast food favorites like Chicken Nuggets to get your children enjoying homemade fast food.

Bon Appetit Magazine posted a slide show of 12 homemade sodas.

TIP:  When making the ginger ale - don't throw away the ginger after making the base.  Save the slices, roll them in organic sugar, let air dry and you have candied ginger for nibbling or baking.

TIP:   If you make the lemongrass lime leaf soda and do not have Kaffir lime leaves you can use lemon or lime tree leaves from your own trees, just add 50% more leaves.  All citrus leaves are edible and have the scent and flavor of the fruit.

If you just wish to have some flavor, like the flavored seltzers available, muddle some fruit in the bottom of a glass, maybe add a piece of mint, top with chilled seltzer and ice and you have a refreshing drink.

Now that we are getting into the warm times, you should have some wholesome beverage options available to make refreshing and healthy drinks.

Have a best day,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

My publisher's site

For you gardeners - my "perpetual" calendar will give you the information for best gardening success in the desert - when to plant, tip and garden maintenance information.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Harvest Show & Tell at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum - Plant Sale Coming To End

Dear Folks,

Last Sunday I presented a lecture on the Key to Successful edible gardening in the desert - planting and sowing at the optimal time for the variety.

I brought along a sample of what I harvested from the garden that morning.

Rose, red lettuce, red celery, Syrian Oregano, Conehead Thyme, Spanish Thyme, Bay, Mexican Oregano, White Flowering Rosemary, Lavender, Red Onion (large scallion), White Alpine Strawberry, Limequat, Banana Leaf, Nasturitum Leaves (large and variegated) Edible Flowers: Nasturtium, Johnny Jump-Ups, Blue Sage, Purple Stock, Arugula, Arabian Jasmine, Calendula.

In all of my lectures I like to use my "show and smell" harvests to illustrate not only the wonderful range of scents but the beauty in an edible garden.

The picture also illustrates the timing of growing in the desert.  ALL of these plants have been growing in my gardens through the winter to enable me to harvest on a bright March morning.

My special thanks to Paul Wolterbeek for taking the picture.

My books (beginners guide to edible landscaping and a recipe book using herbs as the base flavor) are available at the gift shop at Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  Check them out the next time you visit the wonderful BTA.

Their spring plant sale is still going on through this coming weekend - March 28 - 29th.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

My Publisher's Site