Category Archives: Gardening

2017 New Garden Is ready!

2017 Garden is ready

Raise Your Own Greens
Easy and versatile, broccoli, collards and buttercrunch lettuce have graced Southern gardens and tables for generations. This year I decide to grow these new plants in my garden. Since we live in an area that allows us to plant early, I suggest you get started now! Collards love the cold and can be planted early and late summer. When space is an issue, collards also work great in containers. I always make a plan of where I will planted my vegetables. That way I use my garden splace efficietly. I alway rotate my tomatoe plants, so they have a change at new soil. With any kind of lettuce your plant be perpared, they only grow a few weeks out of the year. But the taste is unbelieveable. Any fresh vegetable you grow, pick and eat that day has such flavor, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of planting a garden before. At least you know how and where your vegetables came from! ENJOY!!

Freezing Produce for the Winter

My Garden Veggie
My Garden Veggie

Every time I go to the farmers’ market I buy extra. I can not help it, it looks so good and smells wonderful. So yes , I freeze extra produce. It is not as simple as throwing it in the freezer and calling it a day. For one thing, freezing whole vegetables can harm their texture. This happens when ice crystals form, rupturing cell walls. The faster water freezes, the smaller the crystals it forms, so small or thin vegetables- peas, corn kernels, green beans- freeze best.
Before freezing, blanch the vegetables in boiling water. This helps maintain bright color and fresh flavor by deactivating enzymes that would cause them to drab during thawing.

Blanch the vegetables
Blanch the vegetables

Plunge vegetables into boiling salted water for a few moments to destroy enzymes that cause them to turn drab and mushy.

Spread into a single layer
Spread into a single layer

Spread the blanched veggies on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the freezer until frozen.

My peppers
My peppers
My carrots
My carrots

And for the first time I tried cauliflower.

from my garden
from my garden
Fresh corn on the cob
Fresh corn on the cob

I bought a lot of white corn, blanch them , cut the corn off the cob and place them on a baking sheet. Place them in the freezer and when they where frozen I made 6 small bags for us for the winter. Oh, we also eat the other 6 ears just the other night wow it was great !  So try and see what you can grow or buy at the market to freeze. Winter veggies are great in soups or just by themselves. ENJOY!!

Vinaigrettes for your Salads

I enjoy giving my leafy greens a flavor twist with four tasty homemade vinaigrette. My first step is to make just a basic vinaigrette. Since I have a lot of herbs is the summer, I use them to make my our dressing.
For the Basic Vinaigrettes:

1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
2 to 3 tsp. sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and ground black pepper

1. In a screw top jar combine oil, vinegar, shallots, oregano, mustard, sugar, and garlic. Cover tightly and shake well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. TIP-( The olive oil will solidify when chilled, so let vinaigrette stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.) Sir or shake well before using. ENJOY!!

Here are some other vinaigrettes I have tried. (Oh by the way you can get these bottles at Walmart or any Thrift Store, I am a true believe in a good Thrift Store, you can not believe what stuff people have no use for anymore.) Also when you see a different oil use that, same for vinegar, and don’t add oregano, mustard, sugar , garlic unless I say so.

My Vinaigrettes
My Vinaigrettes

Green Onion Vinaigrettes
Prepare as directed, EXCEPT substitute 1/2 cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar; omit shallots, oregano, garlic; add 2 tbsp. honey instead of sugar. Roughly chop the white and light green portions of 16 green onions ( 3 oz.) In a blender combine green onions, olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, and honey, Add 2 tsp. ground coriander. Cover; blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Asian Ginger Vinaigrettes
Prepare as directed; EXCEPT substitute canola oil for olive; 1/4 cup white wind vinegar for the red; omit oregano, mustard. In a screw-top jar combine canola oil, white vinegar, sugar, garlic. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped; 1 tbsp. finely chopped pickled ginger; 1 tbsp. liquid from the jar of pickled ginger; 1 tbsp. lime juice; and 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil. Cover tightly and shake well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dill Vinaigrettes
Prepare as directed, EXCEPT substitute 1/2 cup canola oil for 1/2 cup of olive oil; tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar for red wine vinegar; and snipped fresh dill for oregano. In a blender combine canola oil, olive oil, tarragon vinegar, shallots, dill, mustard, sugar and garlic. Add 1/4 to 1/3 tsp. bottled hot pepper sauce. Cover and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a screw top jar.

My favored salad is the one someone else made!

Fresh Herbs Are the Best!

When I walk out on to my porch, the scent of chives blossoms hits me first, then thyme, then lavender basil: I am so happy that my porch is full of herbs pots. I’ve always loved fresh herbs in my cooking.

In the morning, I always check my garden and herb pots on the porch for any bugs that may have found a home during the night.  Whether you grow your own or pick up a bouquet at the market, herbs are at their best in summer, which means now is the time to use them with wild abandon.  There are so many favorite summer recipes made even better by the addition of fresh herbs- a juicy burger, a colorful grain salad, fragrant roasted potatoes, and a cornmeal-flecked pound caked. Even your cocktails and desserts feature fresh herbs.

When warm weather hits, I even take to stirring my lemonade with rosemary sprig a delicious luxury I forgo in winter when the rosemary at the supermarket comes at a steep price and in a tiny plastic container.  My herb garden yields more herbs than I can use during the fleeting season. By summer’s end, I’ll be hanging brunches of thyme and sage to let them dry. Then I’ll use these “fresh” dried herbs throughout the winter. Ball puts out 4 ( 4oz.) jars you can use to store dried herbs.

2015 Garden
2015 Garden herbs

But for now, I will revel in the fragrance and flavors of just picked herbs. You should, too!

cutting herbs
cutting herbs

When life gives you herbs it time to make herb oils, butters, syrups, and more.

Flavored butters– Mash chopped herbs ( chives, parsley, basil, dill and thyme, for example) plus salt and pepper into a stick of softened unsalted butter.  Wrap the butter well in plastic and refrigerate  for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.  I used only dill for example for my  Chicken cutlets with tomatoes and basil for our company that came from Canada for a week.  I use a loaf of bread and heated it up and made herb butter to go along with it. The herb butter was just dill and a stick of unsalted butter mixed together. Well, needless to say we did not have any left overs. But the herb butter was a big hit.

Picture to follow.

There are some many different way to use your herbs. Here are a few I have tried:

Simple syrup, Herb oil, Herb vinegar, Herb stock, and Fried herbs.  If you are interested in any of thee recipes just email me and I will be glad to sent your my recipes.

Give your herbs a shave!

Gardening in your own backyard!

Everyone is all for locally grown foods – and you can’t get any more local than right outside your door. What are the rewards to have fresh vegetables from your own garden? There’s nothing simpler or more delicious than a tomato (from your garden) on a sandwich served on white bread with a little mayo. Yes, there is a heaven! I have my own garden and it is well worth the hard work to keep it going. I have planted Squash, Tomatoes, and Peppers. Also I planted a few herbs that I use in my cooking. “Fresh Is The Best.” Parsley, Sage, Basil, Oregano, and Thyme are the herbs of my choice to grown. There is nothing like going outside and cutting a few herbs to add to a great meal.

My garden Zucchini!
My garden Zucchini!

The garden’s biggest fan is my little friend (Bernie). We check the garden every morning to see that all the plants are doing what they a suppose too. This is Bernie’s first year of gardening, so he has a lot to learn.

Bernie first garden!
Bernie’s first garden!