Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

One of My Favorite Youtube channels and Sites - Jas. Townsend & Sons.

Dear Folks,

From time to time I like to share my favorite books, sites and recipes which inspired me.

As a gardener, cook (real foodie), author and lecturer on growing edibles in the desert southwest (or any USDA 9b+ area) and using all the bounty, searching for new or innovative recipes and foods is simply my passion.

Frankly when the world get's a little too chaotic or even hateful, I dive into something new for the garden or some new way to use what I grew or cook with or a new-to-me food.

Jas. Townsend  & Sons, is a family owned business, which employs about 30 people, that focuses on recreating the 18th Century (1700s era of the Revolutionary War times) with clothing, cooking utensils (they make their own pottery along with most of the items they sell on their site), supplies and other equipment.

Jon who narrates the videos is the son of the founder and his work is engaging and informative.

One of the very best reasons for looking at old recipes is the very basic fact, they used what was available to them, from their gardens, from what grew wild and what they created with sometimes limited resources.

Don't have a baking dish?  Make one out of flour and water!

Don't have an oven to bake in?  Make one out of dirt and water!

Youtube channel  (The specific link I put here is for 18th Century Fried Chicken!)  If you have a love old fashioned recipes and concepts, I encourage you to subscribe to their channel.

An interesting note about the 18th Century Fried Chicken recipe is the use of "verjus" aka "verjuice" which is the tart pressed juice of unripe green grapes.  I love researching ancient / old recipes and find some intriguing ingredients, not generally known or used in modern times.

Verjus is one of them.  I learned about this acidic vinegar option when reading about 15th Century Renaissance cooking.

In modern times we tend to focus on lemon juice or vinegar for the acid in recipes when there are options like verjus or even Seville Oranges.  In the desert southwest you know Seville Oranges for their American common name "Sour Orange".  Keep these two options in mind when recipes call for vinegar, you may find a new loved ingredient.

Back to Jas. Townsend & Sons.  There channel of cooking and recreating videos is getting quite large and everyone of them is interesting.  How to make a coffin (not what you think) -- it was a standing pie crust - very, very thick and was used in place of baking dishes, literally.  How to make a small earthen oven.  How to dry beef for carrying into the field.

Many of the videos are about how our soldiers survived while out in the wild and fighting for our Independence.

With our 4th Of July Independence Celebration, why not look into one or more recipes from the era and add them to your celebration table.

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-- Catherine, The Herb Lady
My Website

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Free Seed Share This Friday, and Some Recipes

Dear Folks,

This coming Friday, is one of my 3-times-a-year (time to coincide with the next sowing time here in the desert garden) Free Seed Share at the Mesa Farmers Market.

Friday, June 24th, 9 a.m. - Noon
20 East Main Street (West of Jimmy John's Parking Lot)
Parking is off of Pepper Place, North of Main Street
Restricted Parking is NOT in force on Fridays, so park where you wish.

FREE Seed Share/Swap - bring edible varieties of seed you have harvested (or purchased -- no GMO). Pick up some seed appropriate for sowing now or later. Don't have seed? Bring yourself and get growing!

I host this event because I want YOU to grow some or more of you own food.

Unemployment [economy or inflation] is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden. ~Orson Scott Card

That may be one of my all-time favorite quotes because it gets to the heart of planning and foresight.

. . .

My month-by-month planting Calendar is a great tool to keep you on track for when to plant your vegetables, herbs, fruits and edible flowers, with maintenance tips and gardening helper tips.

. . .


With the past two days too hot to be active in the gardens during the day, I took the opportunity to make a healthy dessert I have wanted to try out, and also make up some pasta sauce using the crock pot - outside!

I had some nice tomatoes from the Mesa Farmers Market last week (mine are just getting going) so I added some of my own garden herbs, stuck everything in the crock pot and set out on the patio. 8 hours later I had a lovely sauce.

Modified "Crazy" Tomato Sauce

Famous Italian Chef Marcello Hazan created this simple rustic sauce with just a stick of butter, a whole can of chopped tomatoes and 1 onion cut in half.  The sauce cooked down to a luscious and silky consistency.  Marcella took the onion out at the end.  I did not like to waste it, so after trying it her way I decided to mince the onion and add herbs.

From my garden for yesterday's sauce I had fresh basil, Greek Oregano and onion.  In my pantry I had my garlic I dried last year.

3 cups chopped tomatoes (I leave peel on and do not seed)
1/2 stick of sweet butter (sweet butter has salt in it)
1 sprig of basil, leaves slivered and stem reserved
2 sprigs of Greek Oregano
1/2 cup minced onion
1/8 teaspoon of dried garlic

In the crockpot, layer in, butter, tomatoes and all the herbs.  Put the lid on and turn the crockpot on low.  Do not stir for the first hour, to let the juices release from the tomatoes.
Check periodically to give the sauce a stir.
Allow to cook down to your preferred thickness.  (I let mine go about 8 hours.)
Remove the basil and oregano stems.
Use an immersion blender to puree if desired.
Serve or store for use later - can be frozen.

Microwave Yogurt Cheesecake

I am in love with the mini microwave cakes, also called "Cake in A Mug" and have made several types.  A chocolate cake and a cornbread.

Since it is just the two of us these are perfect to split between us.

I've been searching around for cheesecake in the microwave and most of them use some combination of cream cheese and sour cream.  I wanted to use Greek Yogurt because it has the tang of the sour cream/cream cheese mix, but has a high protein content and is just as creamy.  Because I had some left over pumpkin puree (Deane made a pumpkin bread pudding the other day - one of his specialty desserts), I decided to make a pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap crust.

I recommend a straight sided pyrex type dish.  I used a curved bowl because I did not have the right size, so the cheesecake flattened out more.  You will need a bowl/dish that holds about 2 cups filled

To make a non-pumpkin cheesecake, omit the pumpkin, increase the yogurt to 1 cup and substitute 1/4 teaspoon vanilla for the pumpkin spice.

3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (I had organic)
1 large or jumbo egg
1 1/2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I use organic)
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
7 ginger snaps - crushed
butter to for greasing bowl/dish.

Butter the bottom and sides of the microwave safe bowl.  You can use baking spray if you prefer. Pat crushed ginger snaps in the bottom and just a bit up the sides.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix yogurt and pumpkin puree.  Beat egg in a cup. In another bowl mix sugar, flour, and pumpkin pie spice.  All at once add beaten egg and sugar mix to the yogurt mix and beat, stir very well.  Set aside for 5 minutes to let the sugar completely dissolve.

Pour batter in prepared crust bowl.  Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes.  Check at the 3 minute level.  The center should not 'giggle' much when done.

Remove let cool and chill until firm before cutting.

I was very, very pleased with the way this turned out.  The taste was great, with a creamy texture and a bit of crunch from the ginger snaps.  And, 1/4 of the cheesecake would have about 7 grms of protein, and about 155 calories.  Pretty good ratio for a dessert!

You can serve plain.  We tried both plain and with a topping of some of my homemade Santa Rosa plum jam.  Yum!

I hope to see you at the Seed Share.

If you like my recipes, you may enjoy my Cook Book "101+ Recipes from The Herb Lady" - there are actually over 150 recipes using herbs and spices to flavor the food FIRST before reaching for the salt shaker.

I even included a "what I have on hand to cook" index.  As a cook and lover of cookbooks, I have always thought each cookbook should have a major ingredient index. Have chicken? The index lists what recipes call for chicken  Likewise with ingredients like eggs, tofu and vegetables.

Have a best day,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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