My friend, Linda Ziedrich, has posted a richly informative article on Water Kefir “Tibicos”. I’ve been making this on and off and especially enjoy a refreshing probiotic-rich glass in warmer months. Linda, author of my much used “Joy of Pickling” has researched water kefir and brings forth information new to me. This is just like sharing seeds or plants with someone and having them return with a few new tricks on how to grow these plants. I do recall my morning of three showers, first when I got up, then opening my very fizzy water kefir and having it pour over my hair and all and then the cleanup.
To read this article click on http:agardenerstable.com on my blogroll to your right.
We are often asked how to store a packet of seed that’s partially used. all our Nichols Garden Nursery seed packets are resealable. But once opened and left lying around germination may reduce in response to heat and humidity changes. My easiest solution is to place the packets in a glass container. Either pour some desiccant to your jar of fold up some powdered milk in a paper towel and add to the jar with seeds. Close the jar and refrigerate. Check it from time to time. Especially useful with seeds you sow in spring and again in summer or fall for a fall winter garden.
Celeriac Salad is one of our winter favorites. A little unusual, easy to prepare, and keeps for three to four days. Serve as a salad or add to sandwiches.
February through mid-March is the time to start your celeriac transplants, they will seem slow to start but become quite robust. They’ll store through winter and an average root weighs up to a pound or more. Transplant to a sunny spot and you can keep in the ground unless a hard freeze is anticipated. These root cellar beautifully or store in damp sawdust. An unusual factoid is roots are probably the original jack-o-lanterns and were carved into fearsome faces.
Celeriac shredded 1 pound to 1.25
Carrots, 3 peeled
Cilantro ½ cup chopped and not packed
Garlic 2 gloves minced or pressed
Lemon juice ¼ cup
Olive oil 3 T
Sour cream 1T
Mayonnaise 2T, lowfat ok
Salt & pepper to taste
Peel the celeriac, cut into chunks and shred in a food processor. I always exert a little pressure for a thicker shred. Cut carrots into chunks and shred. Rinse cilantro and set aside. Mix garlic with following ingredients for dressing. Mix vegetables and dressing until well combined and then add cilantro. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and I hope you will enjoy.
Peas, flat, round, long and short, crisp or tender, these are one of the first vegetables to plant in spring. In many parts of the country Valentine’s Day is traditional for pea planting. I look around and it’s a pretty day this year with soil temperatures up to 40 degrees, suitable for pea planting. When I head home today the peas are going in the ground. Here are my favorites and why…what do you do with peas, eat them of course and toss polyspun row cover over the young sprouts if birds in your neighborhood think the young shoots are nesting material. The row cover also gives a temperature boost for faster growth. Plant seeds no deeper than 1”. I make a little furrow and cover with ½” of soil and once they’re up add more, so roots are protected from heat later in the season. I also use legume inoculant so there’s no need to need to add nitrogen since this organically approved product helps legume plants utilize atmospheric nitrogen for growth. All four varieties I’ve listed can be planted for spring and again in mid-July for a fall crop. These are all results of the Oregon State University Horticulture Dept. vegetable breeding program. Multiple disease resistant including enation virus and powdery mildew.
Cascadia Snap Pea: A tall bush type, more productive and sweeter than other bush snaps we’ve grown. Let tender pods fatten up for maximum flavor.
Oregon Sugar Pod II: The most widely grown Sugar Pod in the world. Perfect for Asian stir-fries and you’ve undoubtedly eaten this delicacy in many a Chinese restaurant.
Oregon Giant Sugar Pod: Pease are about 50% larger than OS Pod II and a touch sweeter. It’s a great home garden variety because it takes fewer for a meal and most home cooks like the larger size but little used commercially.
Oregon Trail Pea: This all-purpose shelling pea is twin podded and there’s nothing homier than shelling a mess of peas with a class of iced tea beside you.
We’ll share some pea recipes later in the season…but planting as early as possible is the essential first step. And, these all grow well in containers as Maggie and I discussed in McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container.
For holiday potlucks we like to do a little extra. Set on a bed of tender greens, this salad combines reds, greens and white as a holiday theme.
Butter Lettuce, Mache, & Radicchio, dressed lightly with oil, vinegar and salt
Roasted Beets: Peel, slice into narrow vertical strips, drizzle with oil, vinegar, salt and optional pomegranate molasses. Set in an inner ring over greens.
Deviled Eggs: 12 eggs hard boiled. Yolks, mashed and combined with a rounded teaspoon Dijon or your favorite mustard, a quarter teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Fill eggs with yolk mix. If any of the whites hopelessly break apart just add yolk to mixture and set aside or discard the whites. As a last step place eggs.
Parsley, rinsed and chopped, 1/3 cup…sprinkle over beets and salad greens followed by pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranate Seeds: Purchase ready to use if possible. Used about 1/3 of a cup and provided a delightful crunch.
Place eggs around salad and take to your event. Do not cover with plastic wrap, it will make a mess of the eggs. Sit it all on a large tray or cookie sheet in back of car.
Roasting beets: I wrap them individually in foil and roast at 350 for about an hour. This time I made the mistake of not peeling shortly after roasting and that did not save time.
Achoca (Cyclanthera) is sometimes referred to as a stuffing cucumber. It is native to the Andes and much cooked in Bolivia and is also grown and eaten in Bhutan. Recipes are difficult to find, most commonly it is stuffed with a rice & meat combination. I have made this but found filling small fruits rather time consuming. They can also be filled with cheese and baked. These are good sliced and used with mixed veggie stir fries. In Bolivia, garlic is standard with achoca so this recipe is extra generous. This mild vegetable picks up other flavors and seasonings. I like the appearance of the halved fruits, they cook easily in a skillet with high sides. In this photo fruits ranged from 2” to 5” in length.
2 tablespoons of oil
3 large cloves of garlic coarsely chopped (1.5 tablespoons)
½ to one cup sweet red pepper strips
1 pound or six cups of achoca halves, scooped free of seeds and pith
1 teaspoon or more Siracha sauce
With any stir fry it is best to have all the prep work done before cooking begins. Scoop out any loose material and seeds from the Achoca halves. Dried mature seeds may be used in a future garden. Heat skillet, when hot add garlic and in a few seconds add pepper strips. Last add achoca halves and stir and turn until they are softened about 5 minutes. If they are not yet tender cook for another one or two minutes, add Siracha sauce and salt to taste. This amount of siracha gives a spicy but not overpowering amount of heat but taste your way to your own preference.