Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Seasonal Harvest and Next Season Seedling Sprouting.

Dear Folks,

A tiny hint of the new year and next season.

Today is December 21, 2019 and I thought it was a lovely portend that one of my Yellow Summer Squash seedlings sprouted today!

On December 10th, I started several types of spring/summer seeds in Jiffy Pellets to plant out on or about February 1st.  I like using these starter options as there is no transplant shock.

I am using several grocery store produce boxes as mini-greenhouses, putting them out in the sun during the day then back into my laundry / water heater shed at night.

Meanwhile,yesterday I harvested some fun things from the garden. Pink Grapefruit, 2 kinds of Navel Oranges, Breakfast Radishes, Detroit Dark Red Beet and Chantenay Carrots (my favorite, tasty at any size).

I kind of planted the beets in the wrong orientation, so I harvested these for the stems and greens as the roots are not getting mature.  Hoping the remainder will bulk up now that I have thinned the area out.

Planting orientation:  I made the mistake of planting north to south instead of east to west.  This may not seem like a big deal but it turned out to be a very big deal as the radishes to the south completely shaded the growing beets most of the day, so I got a big growth of greens, but not the roots - yet.

I cooked up the beet greens for my guy last night, carrots for him tonight (I'm slightly allergic to beets and spinach, but I will snag some of the cooked carrots tonight-- I actually prefer my carrots raw :-).

I added some sliced radish to a mini ham and cheese sandwich for some crunch.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Peanuts, Garden, Microwave Omelette, Peanut Butter Cookies And Holiday Entertaining!

Dear Folks,

Pictured are my peanuts drying - more on that below, but first. .
Peanuts...and chocolate.  I like both but not necessarily in the form of say a Reese's.  They do not have a 'balance' of flavors with the peanut butter over-taking the chocolate.

I found a combination that pleases both myself and my wonderful guy, who loves Reese's but is always willing to try something I make.

A couple of years ago, during one of my holiday baking times, he asked if I would make peanut butter cookies.  I said sure, then started looking at recipes and got to thinking how I might add chocolate to it (he is after all a true choco-holic).

After looking at recipes and while shopping later I found the solution.  Chocolate Peanut Butter, oh my!  And it was DARK chocolate peanut butter - even better.

The brand for your notes is "Peanut Butter & Co. - Dark Chocolately Dreams" and it is non-gmo and gluten-free, if that is a consideration.  There is at least one other brand and you could probably substitute something like Nutella - but it has a lot of extra ingredients.

So to the recipe.

It is really simple.  A 4 ingredient delight that whips up quickly and turns into a flattened crinkle cookie.  If you like to embellish you can add chocolate chips (my guy said when I tried that in one version he felt like it was too much - I said "what did you do with Deane?"), or you could add more nuts.  But the plain recipe is just wonderful as is.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crinkle Cookies.

1 whole jar (2 cups - 16oz) Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter*
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper - it is just easier to slide them off with all the fat in them.
Drop by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets
Do NOT flatten
Bake 7-9 minutes or until cookies are puffed and cracked (you will see the cracks forming when they are ready)
LET STAND on baking sheet 5 minutes or until firm.
Remove to wire rack to finish cooling and cool completely before boxing up.
They freeze nicely.
NOTE:  If your oven runs hot decrease temp to325 and bake 10-12 minutes

* If you use a chocolate peanut butter which is 14 oz I would not worry about adjusting the other ingredients.

Makes about 53 cookies and gives you a little less than 2 grams of protein each cookie the calories are high, but at least you are getting some decent protein :-)  

45 Second Microwave Omelette

This is a super fast breakfast or snack.  These minute microwave scrambled egg recipes are all over the internet.  I modified one to suit my tastes adding herbs from the garden and/or cheese.  This morning I decided to serve over toast with a bit of cheese under the egg to add a little extra to the meal.  I used snipped celery, parsley and I'itoli onions from the garden.  Many recipes suggest a mug, I use a soup bowl to get the egg to spread out.

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
salt and pepper
Optional herbs and/or cheese
Optional toast

Toast the bread and butter if you like.  If you are using cheese put it on the toast.
Mix the egg, milk and salt in pepper in a mug, then pour into a soup bowl.  Top with optional snipped herbs and microwave on high for 45 seconds.  The omelette slides easily out of the bowl.

 Around The Garden

I have been growing peanuts for a couple of years now.  I just wanted to try itThe first year I tried, I did not quite get the culture right.  I generally mulch much of my beds and/or containers and that is mistake with peanuts as the plant puts out a flower which then "dips" down into the soil to great the "ground nut" meaning they grow as clusters around the roots.

Once I got that figured out the rest was easy.  Break up - gently - the shells and plant each peanut with the skin on about 1 1/2 - 3 inches down.  Ideally you will be planting in a bed and spaced about 8 inches apart.  Plant in April (interestingly they have similar heat requirements as sweet potatoes) and plan on harvesting late fall early winter - the past two years I have harvested mid-December as the plants began to go down.

Fall Leaves - our deciduous trees here in the desert crack me up - about the beginning of September 1st the first couple of leaves fall and then a few here and there.  Then one morning - overnight - in December I will walk out and the majority of the rest of the leaves had fallen - all at once!  It decided "IT FALLED"

Last week the trees, Saturn Peach and Fig - FALLED!

Great mulch.  Much of it we rake back into the tree wells, but I also use the dried leaves as mulch for beds, and containers.

TWO More recipe ideas - or not so much recipe as just really cool entertaining ideas - even if it just for a special date night.

I am going to be making a "board" grazing tray for Christmas Eve when we a couple of family over.  This so cool ideas from the folks over at Sweet Paul Magazine is going to be incorporate in my board as I have a lot of rosemary. 

I have been gathering various items for my board and hope everyone really enjoys the idea.  I usually do big dinners but I have been so wanting an opportunity to do one of these attractive, casual, nibble/graze arrangements.

The other idea which really caught my eye is for a cocktail - served in a glass Christmas Ball.  How cool it that!

Besides the choice of this serving container, the recipe uses fresh pine tree tips which have a citrus flavor. If you have fresh pine or fir trees the bright green new growth is perfect for this.  You can use older but newer is better.  I experimented with pine tips a couple of years ago and it was fun.  Of course you could make and serve any cocktail in this so-fun container.

Here is the recipe. 

If you missed my January Planting Tips - here is the link. 

I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year and Yuletide.  Enjoy your personal celebrations in comfort with peace, kindness and patient understanding.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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