Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Two Recipes and Around the Garden!

Dear Folks,

I've been playing with my food again, but first - LOOKY - my banana has fruit set!!

What started out as a healthy flower bud on the banana plant in Late November, took a hard hit with the freezes damaging most of the plant including the flower bud - but it hung on and we suddenly noticed his past week that fruit has set. Whooppeee!

We have not had fruit since 2017 because - well - timing is everything for these plants.  We had the most delicious harvest that year when we got bunches off of all the plants.  Then as nature will, the mother plant which can only fruit once, died. Pups came up, nice and robustly, but they take about 12-18 months to reach fruiting size, AND  because the fruit takes about (normally) 4 months from flower emerging and correct temperature range, this is the first viable bunch.

The flower bud stalled with the freezing temperatures but did not die back and hung on until the soil and air temps warmed.  Can't wait to make real banana pudding again!

During the rain and after while it was still cool, the little Inca Doves huddled on one of our peach tree branches.

Meanwhile our plum is blooming profusely - it looks like a wedding veil with this many flowers all over the tree.

Our other peach tree was in full bloom several weeks ago and because of the freeze we think stone fruit trees will give us a nice harvest this year. Last year's warm winter gave is next to nothing fruit wise. 

Nasturtiums - I use the flowers in one of the recipes below, and their enthusiastic growth each year makes us chuckle.   Here one of the vines is climbing our Limequat tree (I use the juice in a recipe below).

One more plant picture and this is so unique I wanted to show it to you.  FIRST - this is a very toxic plant (seriously poisonous!!!), but popular in the valley with its gorgeous grape-scented flowers.  I noticed this unusual growth on these trees at a Walgreens near us.  I have observed the tree over many years - appreciating the beauty of Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora).  Several weeks ago we noticed this unusual growth, at the time very dry looking.  Then in full bloom this past week, the "growths" had flower buds on them!!! So I got pictures, and  I asked on one of the garden forums for help in identifying it, because I could find no reference to it.  Several of the great folks ID'd as a "Fasciation" a type of fusion growth similar to the Crested Saguaros and just as rare.  Possibly caused by our strange winter weather this "staghorn" growth can occur in other plants.

Now to the food!

The first recipe uses eggs and I just have to show you how my sweet guy designates our hard boiled eggs.  His faces get more creative each time he makes them - BTW with all of my cooking expertise - I can't hard boil eggs right!  So my sweetie does it for us.  By the time we go through half of cooked vs non-cooked we just combine the eggs in one carton.

The inspiration for this recipe comes via my favorite Chicken Lady, Lisa Steele over at Fresh Eggs Daily.  She has teamed up with another blogger, Kate of Framed Cooks, who has been churning out egg recipes so fun to read for ideas.  My recipe today combines a couple of ideas I have used before - avocado in egg salad, and eggs over oatmeal - but in a unique way.  Kate made eggs over cheesy polenta and now makes a non-mayo avocado egg salad.  So I combined the two with my version.

Avocado Eggsalad Over Savory Oatmeal.

I use my own homemade garden herb and vegetable bouillon in the oatmeal and my limequat juice and I'ioti onion tops in the egg salad.

Serves 2

2 hard-boiled eggs roughly chopped, sprinkle of salt
1 small avocado, mashed with lime juice and ground black pepper
small bunch of I'ioti onion tops snipped

Let eggs and avocado sit out for 1/2 to 1 hour to come to room temperature (so they are not too cold to top oatmeal)

Gently combine eggs, onions and avocado, set aside

1 cup of old fashioned oats
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon of my homemade dried vegetable bouillon
salt to taste
1/3 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Nasturtium flower petals for garnish.

Prepare oatmeal - typically simmered 5-6 minutes while stirring, until thickened, remove from heat add cheese and stir to combine.

Pour into bowls, top with avocado egg salad and garnish with flower petals.


Next recipe is Making Bread in a Microwave!

Follow me on this one.  For a variety of reasons, time, economy of scale and that we do not like to either waste food or eat the same thing repeatedly (variety of menu), I decided to do some research on making "bread" in a microwave. Important I do not mean convection, I mean microwave.

There are many recipes now on mug cakes in a microwave and I have made them and we really enjoy them - perfect for us to share with no leftovers and not too much food.

Using that as a premise I took a whole bunch of different ideas and developed this first try at a Microwave Bread.  It comes out like a cross between a biscuit and a soda bread.  Of course there is no browning in a microwave (unless you use special accessories - another step I do not want) but I found the slices toast up really nice in the toaster.

Mix ingredients, cook for 3 and half minutes - total time from flour to eat is about 10 minutes.  Who wouldn't love that convenience?

A couple more notes.  I wanted more nutrition so the organic flour and eggs gives a nice amount of protein for the entire loaf - about 25 grams.  Next versions I want to try are 1) use a sourdough starter, OR 2) some yogurt to give a tang.  I will also try versions with cheese.  I could eat my weight in sourdough, but truthfully it is not the most nutritious of breads so I want to come up with something that combines most of those two elements.  I will keep you posted on how future versions turn out.

This makes a 4 x 4 inch 2 inch high loaf, perfect for us.

My Microwave Bread
1 cup of organic all purpose flour
4 teaspoons of avocado oil (or choice of oil - I like the mild flavor for baking)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of my dried rosemary crushed
2 jumbo eggs*

Combine dry ingredients.  Add oil to dry.  Beat egg separately (I highly recommend this as opposed to adding, then beating the eggs in the dry ingredients.

*Adjust the eggs up or down - I will use only 1 egg next time but add cheese and/or yogurt and/or sourdough starter. REMEMBER baking is a balance of moist to dry.

This is a very thick batter almost dough.  Pour into a small microwave suitable container.   I wanted square to give me better control of slices.

Microwave on high for 3 and a half minutes.  The container will be VERY hot.  Remove and let cool before slicing.  The bread should easily slide out of the container.

The interior is dense but moist and toasted has a nice crust.

I have topped with butter (of course) and plain yogurt and made a mini sandwich with it.  I have not yet done avocado toast with it - that might be today!

I hope you give this a try and let me know what you think.

If you like my cooking and gardening ideas you can find my books and calendars for sale at your choice of retailers.

Lastly I am putting our corned beef to cook today, scheduling made this the only day that would work and I think we may wind up with a pretty enough day to eat outside.  I do my own "corning" (brining).  There is no reason to reserve it to St. Patrick's Day - if you want to give it a try here is my recipe and process.  I first did corning in 2012 and have posted several times about it.

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoying our warming weather.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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