Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

From The Garden to the Kitchen.

Edible Stock Flower
Dear Folks,

Wondering through the garden not only gives me ideas, but fun things to try using up.

While I have a selection of edible flowers in my gardens, I don't always remember to use them, so I decided I NEEDED to take advantage of some of them.  This gorgeous Purple Stock Matthiola incana is a cool weather loving perennial, incredibly fragrant AND a member of the broccoli family.

The basil family includes some wonderfully colorful flowers, usually the flowers are white. This Thai Basil has a purple flower bracket so dark it is almost black. You can just see some of the lilac colored flowers peaking out near the top of the photo.  Thai Basil has a wonderfully complex mix of flavors from the basic Basil  taste of clove with the addition of taragon/anise.

I harvested some of my sugar peas in two maturity stages:  young / flat pods and swollen / thick peas in the pods.  I have written many times on the joys of growing sugar peas here in the desert - fall to spring.  You can read my "ode" to sugar peas here. 

I am showing some of our oranges, just because it is a pretty contrast to the peas.  But I really want you to see the 3 different forms to use your sugar peas in.  One other is the completely dried pea which can be saved for sowing in the fall OR cooked as you would any dried pea.

I am not showing you a picture of the broth I made from the shells after shucking the peas, but it is wonderful.  In the past I have finely slivered the shells for salads and Pasta Primavera, but I wanted to see what other things I could do with them and found a reference to the "spring flavor" of a broth.  Bingo!  It was wonderful, exactly as described.  I put in a pot with water to cover, brought to a boil, covered, lowered to a simmer for 30 minutes, let cool slightly, strained and I used it for a form of "Fast Risotto" I  make - just plain delicious. [My "fast risotto" is made by using ONLY 2 times liquid to the amount of pasta - I usually use Orzo - resulting in a completely cooked pasta with the liquid all absorbed.  Simple, just watch so it does not burn.]

I harvested one of our beets and a turnip.  The beet and greens I sauteed for my guy who LOVES them.  I am slightly allergic to beets, spinach, and chard.  The turnip I saved to a fun take on potato salad.

<< >> Speaking of Harvesting . . .

If you love making teas you must check out The Essential Herbal Blog. These gals are incredible and their current post is all about gathering components for making your own dried tea mixes.  Reading their current post makes me want to head right out to gather and dry! I already make sun tea using fresh, but I need to start thinking of drying the ingredients for use when it is not sunny, as I already dry many of my own herbs for spicing up my food.

<< >>


Potato+Turnip+SugarPea Pods, w Thai Basil Flowers

I love a good turnip, often peeling and eating like an apple, but I had some potatoes for St. Patrick's meal so I thought I would just make one of my "hot" potato salads using equal amounts of turnip to potato.  So, my guy does not like turnips :-) - I decided to have him taste test after this was made without telling him there was turnip in it.  He loved it and said I "got" him.

The tip when cooking turnips and potatoes, more so with the turnips added, is to cook, drain then put them back in the pot on low, stirring, to boil off all excess moisture.

Potatoes - unpeeled, large dice
Turnips - peeled, large dice
Sugarpea pods cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Thai Basil Blossom, just cut to separate the flower heads.
Olive or avocado oil,
Lime or lemon juice
S&P to taste
Pinch of crushed rosemary.

Boil potatoes and turnip until just knife tender.  Drain, put back in pot, stirring to boil off all excess moisture.  Remove from heat and pour a small amount of oil over the potato/turnips, toss gently.  Putting the oil on while hot they absorb the oil better.

Meanwhile, make a dressing of the oil and juice (2 : 1 ratio), add S&P and Rosemary. Shake to give it a good mix.

Toss the potatoes and turnips with the diced sugar peas, pour over some of the dressing (you don't want it soggy, sprinkle the Thai Basil Flowers over and toss gently.  Serve immediately while warm or chill - either way it is delicious.

Microwave Crust-Less Quiche with Stock Blossoms

This recipe using the microwave is super simple, and fast.  The mild broccoli flavor of the stock blossoms added to the mix of taste.

The bowl shown is about 3 cups, perfect my guy and I to share a fast and tasty breakfast.

Spray or grease the bowl slightly to allow for easy release.

2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup of milk
2/3 cup of shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup approx of stock blossoms - I used my purple and lilac colored ones (you can substitute any greens you like up to 1 cup for 2 eggs)
1/2 cup slivered I'Itoi onions (a lovely combination flavor of onion and shallot) 

Have bowl ready.

Beat egg and milk together.  Add S&P.  Add cheese, onion and stock blossoms, fold in gently.

Pour into bowl and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes.  The quiche will puff then collapse when you remove it.  A knife inserted should come out clean.

Serve and enjoy

. . .

You still have time to take advantage of My Publisher's discount and free mail shipping on my books and calendars.  Here is the post explaining it.  Act fast - it ends March 19th.

Have a best day in the garden and kitchen.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Friday, March 16, 2018

DISCOUNT on My Calendar and Books + Free Mail Shipping - Ends Soon!

Dear Folks,

My Publisher is offering a 10% discount on all print books and calendars (does not apply to PDFs) + free mail shipping.

They do this every so often so if you have wanted to order my new calendar or any of my books this is a good opportunity.  Expires March 19th.

Save 10% Off All Print Products
Free Mail or 50% Off Ground Shipping!

Use promo code BOOKSHIP18
Expires Mar 19 at 11:59 pm ET

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Monday, March 12, 2018

April Planting Tips - Springing Forward - Cool to Warm Then Hot!

Roselle In September - Planted in April
Dear Folks,

As we move from March to April it is not so much in like a lion out like a lamb as much as it is moving from a balmy 75-80 to 95+ temperatures and the plants that make the transition or "retire" for the season.

As I always say, the great thing about gardening in the desert is the ability to grow edibles year round.  There are those that like their feet cool in the fall through winter and those that like their feet warm early spring through fall.  And those perennials like fruit trees and perennial herbs which grow year round.  Many of those perennials are getting ready to, or are already blooming.

The annuals which have cool or warm preferences are the ones that can sometimes struggle along in the temperature transition times.

The last of the sugar peas are putting out flowers and pods and will soon brown and die back - and hopefully you are grabbing those dried pods to have peas to sow again starting in late summer.

The tomatoes you started or planted may be having repeat sessions of grow/stop/grow which is triggered when the soil is warm to their liking then we hit a cool "bump" and they stop growing, then restart when the soil warms again.  They will be fine.

We should be well past the possibility of frost, however we can get a cool day here or there and the possibility of hail if the conditions are just right.

***My Calendar gives you all my monthly planting information at your fingers tips.  Purchase at Amazon or through My Publisher.***  Links are also on the side bar here on the blog.

Artichoke, Jerusalem; Bean, Snap; Beans, Soy; Cantaloupe; Caper plants; Carrots; Cucumbers; Garlic, Green; Jicama; Melons, Musk; Okra; Onion, Green; Peanuts; Peas, Sugar; Peas, Black Eyed; Peppers; Radishes

Impatients Wallarana; Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii); Portulaca; Purslane; Scented Geraniums; Sunflower; Sweet Alyssum, Roselle/Jamaica Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Zinnia

FLOWER "MULCHING":  Soil (not the whole garden) canopy (shade) is necessary to protect young plants in the heat.  Purchase 6 packs of flowers, surround transplanted herb or veggie with 3-5 flower plants - "think" 12 inch diameter circle.  Why? This cools the soil surface and shades the sides of the primary transplant, without encouraging pests near tender stems, while still giving the plants all the sun they need.

Prune spring-flowering shrub fruit trees before flowering starts (April - May for shrubs like Pineapple Guava)

If you planted your potatoes January 1st you can start checking the end of this month for usable size — just insert your fingers gently into soil.  Potato plants will begin to die back with yellowing leaves and stems.  You can "store" the potatoes in the ground until you need them but you should harvest all by early June or they will start to sprout and grow again.

Example of Sunflower House from Internet

Get the children involved in gardening by helping them grow a Sunflower House.

Described in Linda Lovejoy's fabulous book "Sunflower Houses," this ‘hideaway' will delight your budding gardener.

Sunflower Houses are created using the growing sunflowers for the poles of the house.  Prepare the planting area and decide how wide and long you want the house to be — ex. 4 x 6 — and draw the dimensions in the soil, leaving an opening for the ‘door.'  Mammoth sunflowers (those that grow over 6 feet) are best for this.  Plant the sunflower seeds 2 or 3 to a hole, about 1 foot apart all along the ‘walls' of the house.  In between the sunflower seeds, sow edible vines like beans or cucumbers.  Given the water requirements, creating a trench for the walls will allow flood watering for the growing plants.
       These houses can be as elaborate as you and your children wish. Plant flower or strawberry beds along the outside walls;  herb and flower ground covers inside for a ‘carpet' are limited only to the imagination. The vines grow up the sunflowers and if they are enthusiastic enough, will even grow over the top of a narrow room creating a ceiling.
--do teach the children about bees, leaving them alone and avoiding them when they are "working" the flowers.

I hope you have a wonderful time in the garden as we spring forward into the warmer weather!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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