Blueberry Fool for April Fool’s Day

Fruit fools are old fashioned desserts made from on a handful of ingredients. As a gardener with a freezer I have food in the freezer to use before the bounty of summer is upon us. Blueberry FoolI’ve always thought recipes for fruit fool’s were too rich and have passed them by. In anticipation of April Fool’s Day and wanting an unbaked dessert with blueberries this seemed doable. I doubled the blue berries, replaced half the whipping cream with yogurt, cut the sugar to two tablespoons and added two tablespoons of Greek rose preserves. Another time I’ll try orange marmalade.

Recipe for 4

2 cups frozen Blueberries                                                                                                   1/2 cup heavy whipping cream                                                                                          2 tablespoons sugar                                                                                                             1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons rose petal preserves

BBFool setupSelect four glass containers for your dessert dishes. Coarsely chop frozen berries in a food processor and set aside a few whole berries to use as a topping. Whip cream in a cold mixing bowel and stir in sugar. Add preserves to yogurt. To setup this dessert alternate spoonfuls of berries, yogurt and whipped cream into each glass until all ingredients are used. Lightly run a table knife lightly through each dessert serving.

Dandelion Bud Omelet

First Day of Spring. Here it was beautiful and sunny though once again rain was predicted. I was out pulling dandelions today and remembered how much we love a dandelion bud omelet. Here’s my recipe from Basic Herb cookery. They remind me of artichokes.

dandelion bud omelet½ cup dandelion buds

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 9-12” non-stick skillet on medium high. Saute rinsed and drained dandelion buds in butter until softened. Pour beaten eggs over buds and sprinkle choves over the eggs. Use a spatula to gently lift eggs in pan and let uncooked eggsrun under cooked portion. When bottom is golden and eggs have set on the outer edges, fold in half. Remove from heat and let firm up for about 30 seconds before serving.Two or three tablespoons Swiss or freshly shredded Parmesan cheese adds to the flavor.

Today I used a full cup of young buds and 6 eggs for three people. Our daughter gave us truffle salt so sprinkled that on…delicious, and with a bit of parmesan quite a delicious dinner. Garnished with a few blossoms and substituted fresh green onions for chives.

When pulling the dandelions I was struck by how many slugs were hanging around though I wasn’t seeing damaged buds, they obviously had been eating petals.

Winter Kale with Cranberries and Apples

Winter gardens are often brimming with kale sweetened from a few frosty days. There are many ways to serve this hyper nutritious vegetable. Young tender kale needs no special preparation other than removing stems thicker than a pencil. Over mature kale can be tough if the leaf veins are over developed. If so, remove the stem and most obvious veins, chop the kale and parboil six minutes. Strain, and braise in skillet following the recipe below. Parboiling is a traditional Mediterranean method and your kale will be more tender and milder in flavor.

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1 1/2 lbs kale, prepared following above directions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste or 1 teaspoon Siracha sauce (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white balsamic or cider vinegar
2 tart firm apples sliced vertically into ½” thick pieces Remove core but don’t peel

 Take a large skillet fitted with a lid and place on medium high heat; Add oil, and chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Now add coarsely chopped or parboiled kale and garlic. Cook ten minutes or until tender. Toss in a handful of dried cranberries, a touch of hot sauce and salt and turn with spatula. When kale is cooked add slender vertical slices of two unpeeled tart apples, Cover, let sit ten minutes and it’s ready to serve. The objective is to have tender kale and semi cooked apples.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Foods of the Americas with recipe links

thanksgiving-dinner4in.jpg

All of us at Nichols Garden Nursery wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Among several of our favorite recipes for Thanksgiving dinner are those which include foods specific to the Western Hemisphere prior to Columbus. Hope you’ll find useful recipes and menu ideas.   Also if you are looking for recipes for yacon we have developed several to offer. This plant of the Andes, our best selling plant, produces heavy yields of crunchy sweet tubers. They make a great low calorie snack, peeled, sliced, and sprinkled with a few drops of lime juice and a touch of salt.

Every Thanksgiving I set myself a little challenge of preparing foods of the Western Hemisphere for this quintessential US holiday. What I’ve learned is only a few of the foods we associate with this celebration actually originated in the US, cranberries, pecans, sunflowers and of course turkeys. Corn, squash, potatoes, chocolate, etc. all made their way north from Central and South American. But then we’ve always been a mixed lot so why not our foodstuffs.

Here in Oregon it feels like winter. It’s wet and windy. Stay cozy.

Here are recipe links featuring foods of the Americas. All of these are on the Gardeners Pantry.

Thanksgiving Recipe- Gluten Free Corn Sticks

Thanksgiving – Zesty Chocolate Pecan Pie

Thankgiving Baked Squash

Yacon Pineapple Slaw

Thanksgiving – Tomato Aspic

Achoca with Sweet Red Peppers

Thanksgiving-Cornbread and Sunflower Seed Stuffing

Easy “Mole” Sauce for Turkey

All America Thanksgiving Menu 2006

Triple Ginger Cookies

Served @ Nichols 2013 Plant Day and a few tea and Ginger Cookiescookie Saturdays. My favorite cookie. Easy to make the dough can be frozen and pulled out as needed. Use unsalted butter for a crisp cookie. we offer the spices listed below and recommend the Bakers Cut Ginger, so easy to handle and the Vietnamese Cinnamon is rich in flavor. I tend to usually not cloves but they belong on this cookie. Grating a cold cube of butter is a quick solution when butter is cold from the refrigerator.

Oven temperature 350 degrees  Form into 1″ balls  Bake 12 minutes  Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper and leave cookies on sheet for three minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Makes two to three dozen cookies depending on size. With a 1″ ball I get 30 cookies.

2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Vietnamese/Saigon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves, ground
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup Bakers Cut Ginger or minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon pressed minced fresh ginger juice
1 cup light brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter (softened or grated)
1 egg
¼ cup unsulphured molasses

Sift first six ingredients and set aside. Place remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, turn to medium low speed and when ingredients are well combined add flour mix one cup at a time and only mix until it develops a dough like consistency. Place dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove and follow instructions above. These cookies spread  so don’t place closely together.
*The ginger juice will be about 1/2 teaspoon and can be pressed through a very clean garlic press. If frozen and thawed before pressing it will be quite easy.

Cinnabar Moth Larvae Devouring Groundsel

IMG_20130711_132115_698Started to pull a groundsel plant from an Oca bed and realized Cinnabar Moth larvae were actively defoliating it. Cinnabar moths, native to Western Europe, were introduced  to Western Oregon some thirty years ago to control Tansy Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea and G alternate food source for moth larvae. Tansy ragwort is exceptionally vigorous, non native and will edge in and cover a pasture. The abundance of toxic alkaloids in ragwort can cause fatal liver damage in both cattle and horses. I’m leaving this weed in my garden to nourish these beneficial larvae but will clip off flowers and seed heads. The drama of nature plays out in the garden.

Plum Salsa

Plum Salsa

Plum Salsa

If summer demands fresh salsa and tomatoes aren’t ripe consider plums or other fruits as a base. Here in the Pacific Northwest a good plum tree will easily produce a bushel or two of fruit every year. This recipe has a touch of SE Asia to it but if you want a savory Mexican touch, hold the mint, cucumber, and fish sauce. Spice it up a bit with chipotle pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon mild chile powder and possibly some minced garlic. This “free form”salsa is good in a burrito, over veggies and rice, with chicken breast, fish or meat.

2 cups chopped fresh plums (not overly ripe)

2/3 cup Walla Walla Sweet or other mild onion

½ cup diced cucumber (include no seeds)

2 minced Jalapeno peppers, seeds and removed

4 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons minced Vietnamese or other mint

1 tablespoon Nuoc Mam fish sauce or salt to taste

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