Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

My "International" Sauerkraut Soup

Dear Folks,

I made this soup a while back and shared on facebook, but I think it needs to be "out there" for all to consider making this delicious soup.

I make my own lacto fermented sauerkraut and recently I was seeing recipes for "sauerkraut soup" - they sounded good to me particularly for the fact that LF sauerkraut is brined and not made with vinegar.


Jewish (Organic chicken broth)
Polish (Kielbasa Sausage - No preservatives or nitrates & my homemade sauerkraut)
Italian (Organic Cannellini Beans, drained)

. . . and that is it!

Add a tablespoon of avocado or olive oil to a sauce pan, heat on medium, add cut up sausage (it is already cooked), saute to brown a bit

Add chicken broth bring to a boil, add beans and bring back to a boil, immediately add drained sauerkraut, stir and serve.

Portions are based on how many servings you want.

Loved the way this turned out - in our house this is called a Keeper!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, March 03, 2017

What's For Dinner? Vegetarian and Lent Friendly - Mostly From The Garden!

Dear Folks,

I was in the mood for a "pasta" dish last night.  Spiralizing is all the rage now for "pasta" but long shredded vegetables works great too.

The way I prepare these kind of meals is with these basics:

Fat - 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on how much you are making - butter, olive or avocado oil, no-nitrate bacon fat (I sometimes make a mix of butter, bacon fat and oil - about a 1/3 each).

Water - about a 1/4 to 1 cup depending on how much you are making

Greens -- any nice mix you have shredded - to be used as a fresh, cool base or stirred in at the last minute.

Vegetables -- sweet potato, carrots, sweet peppers, zucchini or squash shredded on the large box hole side

Herbs -- dried or fresh (your choice) and chopped fresh onion and/or garlic

Protein -- Top with a fried egg or shredded cheese, or cubed tofu (for omnivores you can stir in your choice of chopped meat)

Sweet Potato / Carrot "Pasta"
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian 

1/2 teaspoon each of organic butter and no-nitrate bacon fat

From the garden I used red romaine lettuce, red sales lettuce, nasturtium and sorrell leavesI'itoi onion (now naturalized in Arizona - a flavor similar to shallots), purple sweet potato (Molakai)

I shredded about 3/4 cup each of carrots and purple sweet potato.  Slivered up the greens and I'itoi onion.

1 tablespoon of my dried Mexican Oregano
Salt to taste

I shredded (with a smaller shredder) some Garlic, Black Pepper Cheddar (Arizona Cheese Company)


Heat the fats in a frying pan, add onion and stir for 1-2 minutes.  Add carrot and sweet potato and about 1/4 cup of water (to start you may need to add more), (add herbs now) cover and simmer on high, stirring occasionally.

I added about a tablespoon of my dried Mexican Oregano before I covered and gave it all a good stir and a dash of salt.

Add more water to keep from sticking but be careful not to add too much  -- you want all the water absorbed.  Cooking time total is 5-7 minutes.

Make a bed of the fresh greens, top with the cooked vegetables and add the shredded cheese.

The cheese makes it all creamy as it melts into the hot vegetables.

I hope this recipe gives you some ideas for making a vegetable type "pasta" or stew.

For a couple of other egg/vegetable dishes click here.

TWO PLANT SALES coming up!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum March 10-26 --

Desert Botanical Garden March 17 - 19 --

Have a great day in the garden and kitchen!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Around The Garden & Kitchen, March 1st & Seed Libraries.

Fermented Sauerkraut
Dear Folks,  

About once a month I am "unplugging" and contemplating my gardens and "what's cooking" in my thoughts on edibles and delicious foods.  I will be offline for several days to catch up and see what may be new and fun.

I just returned from my "unplugged" time visiting with family and friends and generally musing on ideas and things.

Around The Garden:

First if you have peach trees now or very soon it will be time to thin the baby peaches to:  1) get bigger fruit, and 2) help keep too much weight off the branches.

Don't discard the baby peaches.  Ones the size of small olives, have no formed pit, so they can be pickled or brined for once a year treat.

Here is my post from last year, which includes my short video link on how to thin your peaches and a pickling recipe.  This year I will be trying my lacto-fermentation brining to see how they taste.

Every year for the past several years we have had a white ringneck dove (they are normally a grey color) in the mix of doves which visit us (yes we put seed out :-).  The dove may or may not be the same one, but appears to always be a female.

On chilly days (like February 23rd, when this picture was taken) the little Inca Doves huddle together and we have seen them stacked like cord-wood, shifting as one got warmed up or needed to get in the mix.

We have four kinds of doves visiting our gardens:  White Wing, Mourning Doves, The Ringneck and the Inca.  Soon we will be hearing the call of the Quail as they start coming through and later with their babies (we call them eggs-with-legs for their tiny speedy runs through the yard).

Apple Blossoms always are a welcome sign of spring - this Golden Dorsett will start giving us fruit in May.

Caper Plant - New Growth
There is new growth on the Caper plant I pruned back in January.  Another sign of delicious things to come -- CAPER BERRIES!  This year I am looking forward to fermenting (brining) the berries instead of the buds (the typical "caper") because you get "more" for the effort.  If you have never had a caper berry (they are showing up more in restaurants) they are like an olive - delicious!


I had an opportunity to get a "KrautSource" stainless steel fermenting cap for mason jars.  The unit is designed to help keep the fermenting foods completely submerged, while letting the gas created during the process.  I am going to use this for my caper berry fermenting later on.  Traditionally I use a weighed jar inside the main jar to hold everything down.  This is a good option.  The top is pictured in my collage here.

And speaking of fermenting, I just finished making a new batch of lacto-fermented sauerkraut and I decided to add a shredded organic apple to the mix.  I made coleslaw with cabbage and apple, why not sauerkraut.  I'm going to dream up some fun ways to use this.  FYI -- Any recipe (their may be exceptions, but I can't think of one right now) which calls for pickles or olives, you can substitute fermented sauerkraut.  It does not have the tang of vinegar but instead a brine almost sweet taste.  Give it a try.

I am a big fan of using oatmeal as a savory addition/base for meals. It subs nicely for a typical side dish like rice or mashed potatoes, can be seasoned with any combinations of herbs and spices you love and is a super healthy option (don't use instant).

I made up a batch the other day for our breakfast, sauteeing some diced celery and onion in a bit of butter.  Added the water oatmeal and salt (directions are on the old fashioned oats container), stirred until done (about 5 minutes) plated up with a slice of American cheese (it melts nicely into the hot oatmeal) and topped with a soft fried egg.  Bacon and eggs is our once a week treat, but as you can see we don't make it a huge meal.  That is a salad size plate.  I hope you try savory oatmeals sometime, easy, fast, delicious and healthy.

Seed Banks/Libraries

I just had my last free seed share until fall at the Mesa Urban Garden.  I then took a bunch of seed over to the Seed Library at the Mesa Library.  (I still have a lot of seed in my seed bank.)

Here is the link on the Mesa Seed Library.  If you have a library card you can check out seeds and then when you harvest at the end of the season, return some to keep the seed library going.

Phoenix Libraries also have seed libraries at several branches.  Here is the link.
These seed libraries are wonderful, BUT require the support of the community.  If you think this is a no-brainer, consider that some seed libraries within city libraries were shut out because of concerns from Ag-related entities.  Keep the seed libraries open by using them!!!

Have a great day in the garden and kitchen,

Check out the links in the sidebar for my planting guides, calendar and books.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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