Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's National Coffee Day - Tips, and Can We Grow It Here in The Desert - Giving it A Try!

Dear Folks,

Yes that is a coffee tree. I will talk about my experiment below.

I LOVE coffee. So much so that while I had to get off it twice on doctor's recommendations, I went back to my morning cuppa's each time.

I am rarely a purest on the subject of foods and recipes. Hummus, make it with any bean (or pea) you want. Burgers with blueberries in them -- check. Oatmeal as a side dish instead of rice -- check.

BUT when it comes to coffee after decades of office coffees that varied form week to sludge I want wonderful, fragrant, superior tasting coffee teach morning. I grind beans sometimes each day, but usually every several days. Store in a tight fitting glass jar in the frig waiting for me to make my morning coffees - 1 cup at a time!

I never liked iced coffee until several years ago when I saw a great short video on making it the perfect way.

I have enjoyed the Vietnamese Iced Coffee served in restaurants, even got the special filter (drip) which sits on the glass, but never got around to making it at home.

I can't find the video, but here is the simple trick. You are going to use your usual amount of grounds, whether pot or cut. Fill the pot or cup full of regular ice cubes - do not use mini cubes, you need the air space to make this ratio work out. Use 60% of the amount of water you normally use to make the coffee. Then make your pot or cup of coffee. Viola - Perfect Iced Coffee!!

There is apparently some science to this. The traditional way of making iced coffee it to 1) either make the coffee stronger and pour of ice, or 2) just pouring the usual hot coffee over ice. 1 usually tastes better than 2, but until you try to ice-in-the-pot method you won't have the BEST tasting coffee. Here is what happens. The very, very hot coffee is cooled immediately when it hits the cubes, immediately infusing the flavor with all of the "bright" notes coffee lovers want.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Recipe tips:

---Add some fresh coffee to your brown or beef gravy to add a rich note. If you do not over-use the coffee, no one can tell it is in there, it just tastes more flavorful.
---Of course any bakery chocolate can be enhanced with some coffee, add some brewed coffee, or I like to keep a jar of high quality espresso powder in the freezer for adding to recipes.

For Iced Coffee - how about replacing some of the ice cubes with Chocolate Ice Cubes!

My Version of Chocolate Ice Cubes
The original recipe, which I tried left grainy bits in the bottom of the cup not bad tasting, but I wanted all the flavor IN the coffee
7 ounces of milk
1 ounce of water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup of Ghiradelli Cocoa (already has sugar in it.

In a small sauce pan add some of the milk, the water, sugar and cocoa. Turn the burner on medium and stirring constantly dissolve the sugar and cocoa. Then add the rest of the milk and heat to meld everything. DO NOT BOIL - it is not necessary - only heat to ensure the sugar and cocoa are dissolved.

Pour into ice cube tray and freeze - they do not get as hard as water ice cubes. Pop out (you may have to lift an edge of each with a knife) and store in container or ziplock bag.

Add one to your cup of coffee or 2 to a glass of milk for a cold "cocoa".

Here is the original recipe. Use the ratio of sugar suggested if you use unsweetened cocoa. Give the link a minute to work - it is translating from French.

Here is a fun link with what else you do with coffee and coffee grounds. 14 tips for using coffee and grounds. No 10 - feed acid loving plants. My container growing Blueberry plants (see the cover picture of my calendar in the sidebar showing my handful of blueberries) do well with my 1-2 times a month days worth of coffee grounds sprinkled on the soil

Growing Coffee In The Desert
I was inspired to once again try a coffee plant/tree in my garden - I was not successful before because I tried at the wrong time of year in the wrong place.  The inspiration came from a podcast over at Urban Farm with Scott Murray, a well known permaculture expert in California, who decided to create companion orchard.  He was growing avocado trees and interplanted with coffee!!  Okey dokey, the other tree I want to try in this experiment is avocado, but I will wait on purchasing one.

This is going to be one of my experiments where I keep my fingers crossed.  I picked up a Barbados (Acerola) tree from Shamus O'Leary this past February and could not resist purchasing a Coffee Tree from him.  Here is the challenge.  They are frost sensitive and usually brought indoors in the winter, even here.

When I received a Mango from a friend last year, I decided to create an "under story" grouping using specific orientation and a combination of evergreen (citrus and bay) and deciduous (plum).

So here is the positioning.  The Coffee is in front of an Orange tree.  To the left you can see Bay leaves, and to the right a bit of the Mango.  What you can't see is to the right - a huge Santa Rosa Plum.  The Coffee is facing south.  So protection from the intense Northern sun in the summer, a goodly amount of sun from the East in the winter, plus the Southern exposure in the winter.

My hope is the canopy of the bay and citrus will provide some frost protection, and I will plan on covering on freeze nights.

I will keep you posted on how it goes and grows.

REMINDER:  Free Seed Share and Lecture coming up Friday and Saturday.

Have a great day in your garden!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Around The Garden Garlic and Peppers, More Pictures and Reminder About Free Seed Share and Lecture.

Dear Folks,

When is garlic not "the" garlic?

When it is Society Garlic or Elephant Garlic (but that is for another post).

The gorgeous orchid-like, lavender flowers of the Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), comes in a plain or striped leaf (I have the striped) variations.  This is a perennial member of the larger Amaryllidaceae family.  The "family" includes onions, garlic, leeks and Amaryllis.

Society Garlic is a strong garlic flavored plant.  The leaves and flowers are used not the roots.  It grows in clumps and should be separated every few years.  It will thrive in dappled shade, but can tolerate more sun.

The name comes from a feature people have reported -- no garlic breadth!  This lovely plant is worth adding to your garden, even if you prefer true garlic.

This spring I got two new-to-me sweet pepper plants from Suzanne Vilardi (of Vilardi Gardens) a very unusual and rare with a very long name Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper from Hungary.  ("Paradicsom" short name.)

I gave the plants a challenge by planting in one of my large pots with a southern exposure.  They settled down but it took all summer (I planted late) and now are pushing out a lot of fruit.  A "pumpkin" or "scalloped" shape they are meaty and sweet.  I am trying to decide if I will try stuffing them with something or just use in salads and pastas when they are fully ripe.  Most of these are about an inch and half or slightly bigger.  Reportedly they can get up to 3 inches across.

I am trying to establish a larger amount of sweet peppers in various areas of my gardens to give me a more consistent harvest.

Sun/Shade Tips.  While the peppers need the sun and warmth it is clear to me from my plants responses, that they appreciate some afternoon shade.  While they grew well in the middle of the summer, fruit not shielded from the sun by the leaves got sunburn.  This is particularly true for the fatter bells and this Paradicsom because they tend to fruit high on the stems, while my Lipstick/Gypsy peppers are more pendulous and hang below the leaf canopy.

I have prepared the bed where I will plant out my garlic on October 1st.  If you want head garlic in the spring, you need to plant no later than October 31st to ensure all the winter chill/cold necessary to force the garlic to produce clove heads.

It looks like a muddy bog right now and that was intentional.  I dug, sifted a bunch of gravel out of it, it was flooded and leveled.  This particularly area gets flooded for watering, so it is necessary to have it level.

I will plant very close together to have "green garlic" to pull through the winter for cooking.  Green Garlic aka Garlic Scallions is used just like a green onion/scallion - only garlic flavored.  Pulling every other plant during the winter gives me this great green garlic and slowly expands the area for the remaining plants to grow fat clove/filled heads.


Free Seed Share at the Mesa Farmers Market this week.

Free Lecture at the Mesa Urban Garden, MUG, Mesa's public community garden.

-- 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.