Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, February 03, 2017

My Poll - Workshop Options - Good Looks, Good Scents, Good Eats

Dear Folks,

I need a few minutes of your time to take a poll.

10 years ago I created a 3 day workshop(a total of 7.5 to 9+ hours over the 3 days) to cover all aspects of growing and using culinary herbs in the desert southwest and USDA Zone 9b and above.

The workshop was popular and I received rave reviews on it.

But it was a 3 day workshop and times change in terms of presenting a live workshops with most folks having trouble with conflicting schedules etc.  Fast forward to today's digital media, podcast and streaming services and I decided that I can create the workshop in a couple of different forms.

Take my POLL in the upper right side bar so I can determine what you all would find the most helpful. The poll will be open for 2 weeks.

The manual and audio would cost the most, with choices of disc or flash drive options.

I do not have a cost figured out yet, however I feel it would be a great value for the breadth of information in the workshop materials.

The manual alone would be approximately half of the full price.  Print editions are more expensive than PDF files.

I would welcome your additional comments and thoughts which you can send to my email account.

I hope to hear from you either with your poll vote or email or both.

Thank you for taking the time to help me, find additional ways to help you!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves "Dolma", and A Grain Salad

Dear Folks,

Yesterday morning I cooked up a mix of barley and red quinoa to use in several ways.  The picture here is what I finished with.

This is what I started with.

When I cook mixed grains together I start with the one that takes the longest time to cook and then start adding the next grain(s) based on how long they take to cook and wind up with perfectly cooked grains for use in salads, My Stuffed Nasturtium "Dolma"**, stews and soups.

Cook grains based on directions.  Barley takes 40 minutes with a 1:3 ratio of grain to water.  Quinoa is a 1:2 Ratio cooked for 20 minutes.

I first made Stuffed Nasturtium leaves several years ago after gazing at the ENORMOUS leaves my plants put out each winter.  In that year some of the leaves were 8 inches across. 
This year, if you can get a perspective of the ones I'm holding here, some of the leaves were closer to 9+ inches.

I also use nasturtium leaves in sandwiches like lettuce and slivered in salads and soups. They add a mild peppery bite to foods.

** "Dolma" aka "Stuffed Grape Leaves" is a very, very old recipe from the Biblical Lands.  In fact the original dolma, according to my research was actually stuffed fig leaves, but the grape leaf version is the one most familiar to those who have tasted these addictive foods.  Sometimes meat is used and should be cooked thoroughly before incorporating into the mix.  Mine is a vegan / vegetarian friendly version.

My original blog post on making these is here.

Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves "Dolma"

Use these ratios as a guide.  You can add more or less of any ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil / lemon juice mix, which needs to stay the same 1:1 to keep the lemony flavor true.

1 1/2 cups of cooled, cooked mixed grains of choice (I used 2 parts barley to 1 part quinoa - rinse quinoa well)
10 nasturtium leaves (more or less depending on size)  Rinse, pat dry, cut off stem as close to leaf as possible
8 kalamata olives sliced.
1/4 cup loose packed and sliced parsley and spearmint leaves
1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
S&P to taste (the olives will add salty flavor)
1/4 cup of lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 cup of olive oil.

Carrots, potatoes or any vegetable to use as "fill" as needed.

Fold olives, herbs and carrots into the grains, you do not want to "mush" them.

Vigorously shake lemon juice and oil to mix well.  Pour 1/3 over the grain mix and fold in.  Pour 1/3 into pot you will be cooking the "dolma" in.

Working with one leaf at a time, start with stem side up.  Place about 2 tablespoons near the base and fold as you would any wrap or burrito.  Fold each bundle tightly and place seam side down in the pot. 
The goal is to have no space where they could loosen up.  Tuck carrots or similar vegetable pieces in to make sure they are all tight together.
Pour the remaining lemon juice/oil mixture over the "dolma", add water to bring liquid level about half way up the bundles (they should not be submerged) and set on burner, covered.  Bring to a simmer and WATCH CAREFULLY.  If you let it boil the bundles will try to loosen and separate.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Serve hot or let cool.  Refrigerate any leftovers - if there are any.  The cooked carrots make a nice side dish or addition to salads. 
FYI - because I was also making salad while these were cooking the pot started to boil before I noticed, and that is what make the finished "dolmas" look a little wrinkled - my multi-tasking gets me every time - don't do that! :-)

Hungary Paradicsom Pepper
Next I made a salad of some foods from the garden like my Paradicsom sweet pepper, parsley, along with store bought sliced celery, shredded carrot, onion and tomatoes using an "almost empty mustard jar"* to make the dressing.

When I make a grain salad, I add an equal - or more - amount of sliced and shredded vegetables to create a hardy salad.  With the mix of barley and quinoa this is a high-protein meal by itself or as a side dish.

*European housewives and cooks, always frugal, saved the mustard jar for making salad dressings and sauces - perfect for adding a bit of zip to the end result, and a ready-made "shaker".

For these kind of dressings I want the lemon flavor to be mild unlike the forward-front lemony mix of the "Dolma".

1 part lemon juice, 3 parts avocado oil (I like the milder flavored avocado oil over olive oil for grain salads), into the mustard jar (shaking is easier than stirring - AND citrus juice acid in dressings stays mixed longer), add salt and pepper directly to the jar.

Toss the grains and veggies together, add just enough dressing to coat (don't make it soggy) and serve, or chill before serving.

 When my friends and family started tasting this grain salad, I got requests for this salad to bring as my contribution to gatherings.  It keeps well covered in the refrigerator for several days.

When I cut the celery for the salad I cut off the root to "re-root" for transplanting out as one of my 'recycled kitchen garden' plantings.  They grow very well this time of year, giving me fresh cutting celery stalks by mid-March.  It will be ready to transplant out tomorrow when that part of the garden will water, to get it growing well and fast.

I also played around with my Mologai purple sweet potato, deciding to try making some "chips" in the microwave.  This type of sweet potato is one of the "dry" type so while I like the taste and crunch, Deane thought they were too tough.  Also, I do not have a fine slicing mandoline, so they were thicker than thin.

I do like them and will try something different for cutting.  If you want to try this yourself, slice your sweet potato very, very thin.  Place separated on a microwave safe plate, lined with a paper towel.  Brush with a bit of oil if you like, sprinkle with sea or coarse salt and microwave on high for 3 minutes.  They dry/crisp when they cool, but if you think they are still too moist, turn over and microwave at 50% for 1-3 minutes more. Cool and enjoy.


My next free seed share will be on February 25th at the Mesa Urban Garden.  Watch for details.

I am going to post a poll in a few days asking if you all have an interest in an On Line Workshop.  Basically a series of downloadable mp3 files along with a companion manual.  I have presented these detail/information heavy workshops in the past to great reviews.  With the current busy lives and tech advances I am thinking it is time to put the workshop into a digital form so anyone can take advantage of it at the own pace.

I hope you enjoy these recipe ideas, using foods from your own garden.

Have a great week!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Broccoli Leaves, Happy Worms, Aquaponics and WWII Thrifty Crafts

Dear Folks,

In the last couple of days videos and more have crossed my screen and I wanted to share them with you because they are on the subject of growing your own food and using it.

If you raised chickens, ducks and other poultry for meat, in addition to eggs [disclaimer: I personally do not but realize many folks do], there was a segment on the great BBC Series Wartime Farm where using feathers was referenced from a book created by the Women's Institute of England during WWII to aid in getting by during the forced blockades of food and other resources by the Germans.

The video starts at the point where the feathers are discussed.  FYI This series, along with several more period farming shows, is just wonderful for showing how things were done "then" - and I think giving the viewer ideas for how things can be done now.

The booklet referenced is a downloadable PDF.,-edited-by-m.-somerville-1943-oxford-university-press.pdf

Next Up: My friend Jacq Davis over at Epic Yard Farm posted a short video on how to create mini-compost piles to get your worms working for you.

Next Up: So many of the leaves of veggies which produce heads like broccoli are under-utilized My friend Cricket Aldridge did a nice article on using these great greens. Keep brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage in mind for using the leaves, not just the heads.

Finally, a nice write up quoting Dr. George Brooks on aquaponics. Aquaponics is really a very ancient type of farming letting the fish provide the fertilizer for growing all sorts of edible plants.

Nice weather expected this week.  Make it a great week in the garden and kitchen for you and your family.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady If you enjoyed this post, subscribe below by entering your email, to get all my posts!

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