Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, January 01, 2016

My New Cookbook is Released! And, My New Year's Day Tradition - Planting Potatoes.

Dear Folks,

My new cookbook is released through my publisher site in print and ebook-pdf from.  It should be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print form in about a month.  I will keep you posted on that as it becomes available.

"A Victorian Style, Herb Inspired, 12 Course Dinner From The Herb Lady" is my re-creation of a sumptuous style meal with a focus on herbs for flavor and inspiration.

My Publisher's Site

This project actually began in the early 2000s when I created a full video cooking course on a 12 Course Style meal.

Over the last several months I realized I could create a short cookbook with pictures along with the recipes to give my readers some familiar and some unique ways with herbs.

The Victorian Dinner was meant to impress guests with the talents of the household's cooks.  Considered excessive by today's standards, the multi-course menu is usually used now-a-days for special events.  I do not suggest you attempt all of these in one dinner.. Use the ideas as a guide.  Give the dishes your own twist and make it your creation.

. . .

Today I will be planting my saved potatoes for a new crop to harvest in late Spring..

Do you have a planting New Year's tradition?  I find it helps me shake the cob-webs from my mind caused by all the hoop-a-la of the holidays and turn my focus back to planning and planting.

My Month-by-Month planting Calendar is the key to more success in your garden.

My Publisher
Through Changing Hands OnLine Bookstore
Through Amazon
Through Barnes & Noble

MY SURVEY - if you have not taken my survey yet - it is in the upper side bar.  I would really enjoy knowing and using your preferences for posting in the coming year.

HAPPY New Year To You All!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 International Year of Pulses (Legumes)

Dear Folks,

The United Nations has designated 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.  You can read up a bit about the focus here.

Are you a lover of beans? Or, not so much?

I grew up with a general disdain for beans, mostly because of the canned varieties used by everyone from my mom (and mom was a good cook) to those who brought the ubiquitous baked beans to picnics etc.

When I met my dear Deane, who has never met a bean he did not love, I needed to TRY and find beans and other legumes I could love and lovingly prepare for him.  My top favorites are Edamame (I LOVE the nutty not-beany taste of them), Lentils (fast cooking) and Garbonzos (mild and picks up the flavors of what they are cooked with) as hummus or part of stews.  Oh and I do like peanuts and peanut butter :-)

I am going to do a series of posts on legumes.  You probably already have read more than you need to on why they are so good for you and why you should eat more of them, but I will just list the high points:

--CHEAP protein!
--No cholesterol
--High Fiber
--Plays well with other foods (even assuming the flavor identity of what they are cooked or prepared with)
--Naturally low in sodium and sugars

Let me start you off with several things.

1)  I found a great site that lists many legumes in order of protein to calorie ratio.  This site did a lot of the research work for me on nutrient content.  Under each legume you can click on a more expanded chart of all the nutrition pulled from the Nutrient Data Base on the USDA - a site I use a lot to get as accurate a list of nutrition data on a food.

Nutritionist Daisy Whitbread runs this site and she lists soybeans as number 3 on the best protein to calorie ratio.  Specifically this one is for Mature Soybeans.

So I went and pulled comparable data from the NDB on Edamame (green, immature) and the ratios are about the same

Edamame, shelled and boiled:

100 Grams (equal to 3.5 ounces weighed - about 5 ounces in a cup measure)
Calories:  121
Protein Grams 11.91 g
Fiber Grams 5.2 g
Protein Gram to Calorie 1 Gram of Protein per 10.15 Calories

Soybeans, Mature, and boiled (from
100 Grams
Calories:  173
Protein Grams:   16.6 g
Fiber Grams:   6 g
Protein Gram to Calorie = 1 Gram of Protein per a 10.4 Calories

The ratios are the same.  With the mature soybeans you can go for more protein per portion, you also get more calories which can be a good thing if you need the energy.  If you are looking to control calories, go with the Edamame.

2)  While I'm discussing soybeans - a little history is in order.

Soy and soy products like Tofu, Tempeh (both on the chart) and Soy Sauce* have long been used in Asian cooking.

Before the growing interest in tofu and soy products when vegetarians and vegans wanted better protein sources starting back in the 60s and 70s and rapidly expanding in the last couple of decades, soybeans were grown primarily in the US for cattle feed.

Soybeans as food for people and as a soil nitrogen regenerative, became better known with the Great Depression. "Prior to the 1920 in the USA, the soybean was mainly a forage crop, a source of oil, meal (for feed) and industrial products, with very little used as food." -- wikipedia

In the past I have had some "ugh" reactions from folks who obviously grew up with canned soybeans when I've talked about the wonderful aspects of Edamame.  Poor-folk food and cattle feed were their memories.

As many of you know, the GMO chemical companies have so taken over the soybean growing something like 93% of soy grown here in the US is GMO.

BUY ORGANIC!  Whether for eating or sowing make sure the beans you purchase are organic.

*Soy Sauce (Tamari) actually has protein, but since it is only used sparingly in cooking the ratio amount is low.  See the chart here.

Growing Soybeans In the Desert Garden

This is a fun crop to grow here in the desert.  You can begin planting Soybeans in late March and successive plant every 2-4 weeks through the end of May and into early June.  The successive planting works very well, because the beans ripen at the same time on each plant (for edamame), so you can harvest well into the middle of summer.  Always leave some to dry completely on the plant for 1) re-sowing next year, and 2) to have some dried for storage and cooking later.

Saving beans for re-sowing ensures you have NON-GMO beans AND you are regionally adapting your beans to your garden with each subsequent sowing and saving.

As with all legumes you get a two'fer when growing them and letting some of them dry completely.  Food and nitrogen fixing into your soil.  The nitrogen recharge of the soil is when the plant completes its life cycle and the nodules on the roots stay in the soil.

Plant in a sunny, well-draining spot.  Harvest for Edamame when the pods are plump, green and yield a little to pressure, about 50-65 days after sowing.  Let them go to full dried brown if you want them dried.


When purchasing Edamame, go for the shelled as it is usually a better price break, unless you want the fun "popping" appetizer of the pods simmered in seasoned water or broth.

I have use the Edamame beans in everything from salads to hummus type dips.  I've added them to my Stuffed Pumpkin recipe to boost the nutrient density for a Vegan Main Dish, to my Bean Chili, to Pasta Primavera, and all sorts of stews.


--Any good size squash can be used in place of a pumpkin.
--Pasta dishes with vegetables (like the Primavera) are a breeze to make.  Just add the vegetables to the pasta while boiling.  Calculate the amount of time for the vegetables to cook and add at the point in the cooking of the pasta.  Example:  The edamame needs 5 minutes, shredded zucchini or similar needs 1-2 minutes etc.  The pasta cooks for 9 minutes, so add the edamame after the pasta has cooked for 4 minutes, add the zucchini 3 minutes later.  Drain all together, and add seasonings and sauces.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Where To Purchase Plants and Monthly Planting Comment.

Dear Folks,

First thank you to all those who are taking the time to answer my survey question!

The survey, in the upper side bar, runs through January 6th.

JM asked where to purchase the plants I discuss, and also asked about a monthly planting list .  Very good questions.

PLANTS and SEEDS, Where I buy:

I cruise plant nurseries like some people cruise bars - I am addicted to seeing what might be new or I may be on a mission to purchase something, but can't resist looking at more additions to my gardens.

I also pick up seeds and plants at events where groups such as the AZ Herb Association may be participating or at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum or Desert Botanical Garden annual plants sales.

I also purchase a lot of seed for 1) my gardens and 2) to add to the seed bank inventory I bring, free, to the Mesa Community Farmers Market 3 times a year to coincide with the next sowing season here in the valley.  (The next one is January 20th - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m..)

Some of the more uncommon plants I grow I've grown from seed - like Roselle and Syrian Oregano (aka Hyssop of the Bible or Za'atar").

Locally I do shop at the chain nurseries but also A&P Nursery, Harper's Nursery and Suzanne Vilardi's plants (available at some farmers markets and several locally owned nurseries).

Some other than local nurseries resources I've used over the years are:

Plants:  Mountain Valley Growers

Seeds:  Bake Creek aka Rare Seeds  / Richters out of Canada  -- both companies have catalogs that will have your drooling.

. . .

I post a monthly planting list on the Valley Permaculture Alliance (VPA) site.  I do "cross-pollinate" posts but have not duplicated the lists, trying to keep some separation and subject matters unique.

Here is the link for the list for January

FYI - The VPA is a site dedicated to sustainable / permaculture of growing food, raising chickens etc.  Membership is free, but you do not have to be a member to read the posts on the forums.  VPA offers classes on a variety of subjects with low fees to attend.  I would encourage you to consider joining, it is free and is you are a member you can post and answer questions.

The number one comment I receive back from people on planting at the right time for the variety is "I don't remember to look at the 'book', 'post' etc.."

Back to the monthly planting lists.  I created my wall calendar for the specific purpose of giving you, the desert and deep south gardener, a tool to refer to, right there in your home.

While I have now published 2 years of the wall calendar, and I intend to do one each year (with new photos from my gardens) for the foreseeable future, the monthly planting information on vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers does not change from year to year unless I find new-to-me edibles to trial in my gardens.  So you can consider the calendar a perpetual one.

My calendar - in two forms - one stapled and one spiral bound.

Keep the comments coming, folks, and thank you JM for your comment.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

P.S.  I am readying a new short cookbook with a very special theme.  Watch for my release post.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Survey - What Do YOU Want To See More Of?

Dear Folks,

I have not done a survey in a while, so check out the survey question at the top of the side bar and let me know what you want to see more of.  The survey will be open until January 6th, when I will check and post the results (you can see the results when you vote).

If you have some specific topics not listed, by all means email me so I can add those topics to the list of preferences.

catherine at herbs2u dot net

Have a great day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe in the upper side bar link, to get all my posts!

Disclaimer: Clicking on links on this blog may earn me a small commission if you purchase something. Your price does not change.