Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memorial Day - Honoring and in the Garden, On The Grill and More

Soy Beans - see text below
Dear Folks,

Memorial Day is a time to honor our fallen military heroes (Veterans Day honors the living), many of us get out and also fire up the grill and enjoy the great outdoors and backyards.

Pause and honor those who have made it possible to actually have a gathering.

I like "Packages from Home" a local non-profit (Glendale)- they send packages (like much loved snacks) to deployed Military around the world.

Raise your flag and/or participate in a Memorial Day celebration.  Here is a link for events and activities around the Valley for 2017.  Check out the Pioneer Cemetery event (Pioneer and Military Memorial Park, 14th Avenue and Jefferson Street, Phoenix. Free).

Read up on the Flanders Poppy associated with Memorial Day.

In the Garden.

In the picture above, I show harvested Soy Beans - each bush ripens all at once, so be ready to get the pods when young (if you want edamame) or allow to go completely dry for storage.

Heading into June there is not a lot to sow/plant.  Here is the link to my June Planting Tips post.

I tend to be a random / flexible gardener.  While I plant/sow on a certain calendar** reference for best success, I also like to have celebration plantings.  October 1st is for planting Garlic.  January 1st is for planting Potaotes (Irish type).  I think I'm going to start a new tradition -- Memorial Day for sowing Blackeyed Peas and Soy Beans, both love the heat going into the summer and give you two things -- food and nitrogen back into the soil.  In July you can plant the native Tepary Beans. (How about making the Tepary Bean planting a July 4th tradition!)  The Tepary is a southwest native and part of the Monsoon garden as they take off with the beginning of the Monsoon rains and grow well into the summer for harvesting in late summer / early fall.

Check out this cool dense planting technique, which would great for the peas and beans and also for sugar pea sowing in the fall.  Any gutter could be used or you could just densely plant in the ground as shown.  I thought this was such a great idea I wanted to make sure you saw it.  Your soil needs to be healthy and well amended to support the dense growth.  If you have had a problem with birds etc. eating or digging up your carefully planted seeds, you will appreciate this method to get the plants going in large quantities to ensure you have a great crop.

Don't forget to get your sweet potatoes planted too.  They also love and need all the summer heat to produce well.

At The Grill/In The Kitchen

At the Grill:

BBQ HERBS. With Memorial Day and July 4th coming up we all like to think about cooking outdoors. Some tried and true ways with herbs on the que:

BASTING BRUSHES: If you are basting foods, make a basting brush out of stiff pieces of herbs like rosemary, woody basil or thyme or savory. Allow the brushes to soak a bit in the oil or marinade before using.

SKEWERS: The stiff or woody sprigs of herbs make great skewers. Pierce food to be skewered first, for easy insertion of the herb. Soak herbs for 1 hour before using to prevent the herb from catching fire. Rosemary is frequently used, but try others (my favorite rosemary and pineapple). If the sprigs are a little too flexible, try using 2 or 3 sprigs at once.

HERB SMOKE: Soak the herbs for 1 hour before using and add to coals in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

HERB OILS AND MARINADES. Infuse any of your favorites in olive oil or make marinades with fruit juices. Allow marinades to "work" for 1 hour.

DRY RUBS: Rub herb mixes or make pastes out of the herbs with a bit of olive oil or melted butter, and pat or rub into food before grilling.  (Perfect for a butterflied chicken, turkey or pork loin.)

HERB WRAPS: A wrap is food encased in herbs and either grilled in a foil pouch or rested on the grill. If you don't have enough herb to completely wrap the food (like lemon grass leaves). Sear food one minute on each side and lay the herbs across the top and finish cooking without turning. Fish will work very nicely this way.

Make a nice herb flavored potato salad and serve in edible containers like pepper halves or cucumber or zucchini boats.

If you are growing bananas (yes they do grow here in the valley) how about a luscious homemade banana pudding for dessert!

I adapted a basic egg-free vanilla pudding recipe for this treat.

Homemade Banana Pudding

2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar (I use organic and you can use less if you like)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup coarsely chopped banana

Shake cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the milk in a capped jar to mix well (no lumps to deal with).

Mash bananas slightly with about 1/4 cup of the milk.

Bring rest of milk, sugar, and salt to high simmer on the stove, stirring constantly.  Slowly add milk/cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly.  Add milk banana mixture and increase temperature, stirring regularly until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter, stir to mix in well and pour into pan or individual cups.  Cool and chill in refrigerator.

We loved how this turned out!

As a child, pudding was one of my favorite treats and still is.  Wholesome, nutritious and really great tasting.

I hope your Memorial Day celebrations are fun, safe, memory producing and tasty!

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