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.
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.
This time of year peppers are in glorious high production. A simple delicious preparation is to fry fresh thin walled peppers in a bit of olive oil until the skins are blistered. sprinkle with a bit of salt and eat holding the stem, pepper, seeds and all. This batch was with our Japanese Shishito Peppers which have the slightest spicy tang. Just recently a member of our book group fried up Spanish Padron Peppers picked fresh from her garden. They were equally delicious and very similar in taste to the Shishito we’ve been eating. Several years ago we were in Mexico and the restaurant served us Serrano peppers fried in a bit of oil and salted. Same preparation and a relatively thin walled pepper. These were hot as blazes and so delicious we kept eating though our faces were getting a little red. I urge you to give this seasonal treat a try.
This summer is the year of fruit. One crop of fruit goes banging into the next. My fingers are hopelessly purple after spending a weekend up to my elbows in Methley Plums Cherries, gooseberries, currants have come and gone and our previously most ungenerous plum has produced a bounty of fruit.
Sam Benowitz of Raintree Nursery in Washington, saw this early plum was forced into bloom for the Seattle Northwest Flower & Garden Show several years ago when NW Garden Writers Assoc. members and Pierce County WA Master Gardeners teamed up to construct a food garden promoting the GWA “Plant A Row For The Hungry” program. We received a gold medal and The People’s Choice Cup”. It was time for me to retire from designing show gardens.
When we dismantled the garden I purchased this plum tree from Sam and planted it in our home garden. While it has a lovely spring shower of blooms, in previous years the fruits have been small and sparse. This year we have a huge supply of medium sized Japanese plums. The fruits are a deep red, a delicious sweet tart flavor and a good size for eating out of hand. The pits are not freestone but can be cut in half and popped out with a paring knife. The deep colors must mean it’s full of anthocyanins and bioflavonoids.
With this much fruit, I’ve had ample opportunity to experiment on how what to do with pecks of plums. These are recipes which we can wing it with the abundance of summer, so nothing precise, be careful with hot peppers, the heat can build. I’m not giving you my recipe for jam failure but it happened. Eat your fill of these fresh plums. They’ll store for about two weeks in a refrigerator.
Fresh Plum Salsa, chopped up plums, jalapenos, cilantro, a colorful bell pepper, onion, a little garlic, lime juice and salt. If you want to use a processor do it with a light touch. I prefer the chopped texture.
Chipotle Plum Barbeque Sauce, 6 cups of pitted plums, 3 medium onions, chipotle chili powder & smoked paprika, or 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce, 3 large cloves of garlic, minced, ½ cup cider vinegar sugar and salt to taste after cooking. Run these ingredients in a food processor or finely chop. Put in a heavy non-reactive pan and simmer until thickened. Give these an occasional stir and it’s good to be doing another kitchen task so you can make there is no scorching. Remove from heat, season with sugar and salt. When cool package some up in small containers and share.
Plum Purple Basil Pie, Use any good pie recipe, I prefer those heavy on the fruit. Check out a peach pie recipe and simply substitute plums. The purple basil brings in a nice spicy flavor without little green specks but any basil can be used. A touch of cinnamon can be added.
Plum Dessert Sauce three cups of halved or quartered plums, 1 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons lavender flavored a honey ( a gift that is too strong for toast but good in sauces and lemonade)…add more if you think best, ½ cup sugar, 4 crushed or freshly ground cardamom seeds and 1 teaspoon vanilla. A little cinnamon, a bay leaf, a few drops of almond flavoring or liquor are all possible additions. Prepare the plums while you bring other ingredients to a boil in a non-reactive pan, reduce liquid by about 1/3. Add plums and gently cook for three minutes. If sauce seems too thin for your liking pour off some of the juices, cool slightly and combine with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Reheat until starch is cooked, it will be transparent. Excellent with pound cake, a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Homemade pound cake, good ice cream or real whipped cream recommended.
If you have a good supply of plums give one of these recipe suggestions a try and don’t be hesitant to tweak to your taste. These should work with almost any plum variety. I see our crop from the Prunus Mume is maturing fast. Just rubbing one leaves a fragrance on my fingers but coming up with something besides salted ume’ plums may be a challenge but oh, to capture the fragrance when it’s not an eating plum.
The predatory bugs, beetles and in this case the lovely Cinnabar moth are in full force in summer months. Before the Cinnabar Moth was introduced to control Tansy Ragwort, this plant was the bane of farmers with grazing cattle or horses. animals commonly died upon eating Tansy Ragwort. Sheep are curiously unaffected.
This plant, a member of the Senecio family is highly toxic and grew with abandon throughout Western Oregon until the introduction of this moth by Oregon State University researchers in 1960. The moth is native to western Europe and parts of Asia. the moths seek our the tansy plants, lay eggs and in a few weeks their larval offspring are denuding the plants of flowers and foliage. It has proven a positive introduction to our region. Like all predators they don’t exterminate their source of food. We do notice a cycle of tansy showing up along the roadsides and the following year an increase in Cinnabar Moths.
A stand of garden chives planted in the ground or growing in a container provides a lift to spring cookery. The mild onion-like flavor and tender texture. Schoenoprasm roughly translates to grassy leek or sedge leek. It is the slender foliage that can over mingle with weed grasses that leads me to grow it in a container. It is an attractive plant in late spring with the fresh outspread foliage. Our chives are just beginning to show buds and here are a few suggestions on how to use and care for chives.
When blooms open cut the tough flower stem all the way to the base. Give the flower head a sharp twist off the stem and it will break into a handful of lavender pink florets. These are delicious and beautiful scattered over a green salad, an omelet, baked potatoes, fresh fish, and more. The chives will produce all summer and benefit from regular light fertilizing. To harvest, determine how many stems you need and cut to the base and they will sprout new shoots. If you only cut half way down, the stubby stems will reproachfully sit and slowly turn brown at the tips.
Chives when provided six hours of sun a day, fertilizer and moisture grow vigorously and are best divided in late summer or early fall. Dig the clump from the ground or remove from container with a few taps and a tug. The simplest way to divide is drop the plant from about 15″ and roll to loosen the bulb clusters. These can be transplanted into assorted containers or planted in the ground. I recommend working about a tablespoon of bonemeal per pot or cluster when replanting. Plant several small clumps together so you have a strong planting come next spring.
This summer keep your plants fertilized, my usual preference is liquid seaweed, Sea Magic or Maxi Crop and a rounded teaspoon of bonemeal scratched into the soil per plant for established plantings. Chives are tolerant of some shade. Chive varieties recommended for greenhouses have a stouter stem and tolerate reduced light without becoming floppy.
We’ve been enjoying this all week and it is one of those recipe that varies not in a bad way but cilantro doesn’t always taste quite the same. Nevertheless, this began as a dip for carrots. Since then it’s been part of a salsa omelet, a dip for chips and added to burritos.
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
2-3 cloves peeled garlic
5 green onions
1-3 jalapeno peppers, deseeded
1/4 cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
Directions: all these ingredients will be chopped and placed in blender or food processor. Rinse cilantro and trim off stems, coarsely chop garlic, trim onions leaving 3-4″ green tips, cut peppers in half and remove seeds and pithy cavity lining. Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. You may wish to add peppers one by one since they vary in heat. Add a little less salt than you think necessary and allow mixture to sit in blender for 30 minutes. Add more jalapeno, salt as needed and even additional lime or lemon juice if you want additional tartness. Puree again and serve or store until needed. Our Purple Haze Hybrid carrots are shown on the plate with the Cilantro Dip. Cut the carrots on a sharp diagonal and they make great chips for dipping. These carrots are easy to grow with stunning delicious results. Cilantro can be sown every three weeks for a steady supply. Papaloquelite is a good summer substitute for cilantro which bolts in hot weather. Slices of Yacon should be delicious with this dip.
I‘m always looking for easy ways to use our crops of winter squash and have adapted this unusual recipe found in “Cooking From An Italian Garden by Scaravelli & Cohen. A cooked salad from winter squash struck me as novel and I wasn’t disappointed. The squash in the photo is Sibley Select, a sweet thick-fleshed Cucurbita maxima. Other varieties of winter squash are also suitable and find them preferable to pumpkin.
Winter squash 2-2.5 lb. piece, deseeded.
Roast in oven 30-45 minutes, only until
it can be pierced by a fork but is still firm
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
2-3 green onions finely sliced
1 rounded Tbsp capers (optional)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
1 tsp. Nichols Malibu blend or ½ tsp oregano
2 garlic cloves finely minced
A few drops of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce
Allow lightly roasted squash to cool. Remove rind and cut into ½ inch cubes. Add chopped bell pepper and onions and combine with squash mixture.Add dressing and mix. Cover and marinate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight. When ready to serve add salt to taste and sprinkle with 2-3 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley. Serve at room temperature.
The flavor of garlic and hot pepper can intensify overnight. To correct add more chopped bell pepper or ½ cup chopped celery. This keeps for three to four days and is quickly transformed into soup with a 13 oz. can of coconut milk and ½ cup water. Blend until smooth. Place all in a medium size saucepan and simmer for ten minutes. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of cilantro.
Every New Year I cut branches of shrubs and trees to force into early bloom. Think Spring! Now we have vases and jars of Flowering Quince, Forsythia, Dogwood, Daphne, Hazelnut, and Willow. A branch of Snow Berry adds a little substance to it all. When I brought in the branches the stems were gently scrubbed and recut before placing in water. The first few days it’s best to change the water daily. After three or four days if the buds are swelling I ease up. If buds are not swelling and branches are not using water your house may be too dry and a misting will help the buds open. Also cut off 1/2″ of stem to give them a fresh start. These are meant as simple directions for casual enjoyment of what’s in the garden at the beginning of a brand New Year. Place one variety per container since they bloom and leaf out on different schedules. I’ll put up more photos when we have color. Place these flowering stems in a bright area but out of direct sun.
More recipes are needed for Elephant Garlic (purchase) with such a distinctive size and
flavor. A member of the leek family, Allium ampeloprasum, it doesn’t seem to produce viable seed. In spring mammoth scapes appear and can be harvested when flower buds form. For all types of garlic removing the flower buds directs the plant’s energy into bulb formation. These are a delicacy when sautéed. Come back for a recipe in late spring.
Pickling is a natural for these large mild cloves. So I offer you this recipe with the greatest respect for those who develop pickling recipes. The flavors change and develop over the first six weeks and even longer and it is important to have it acidic enough to not cause botulism. The vinegar mixture needs only brought to a boil and then poured into the jar. Vinegar boiled in an open kettle for more than a few minutes will evaporate acetic acid reducing overall acidity.
Makes 2 pints
2 to 3 heads Elephant Garlic
4 cups white wine vinegar
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
4 dried or fresh chili peppers
Directions: separate bulbs from garlic heads. Remove the skins and trim the root base. Cut bulbs lengthwise into three sections. In a saucepan put vinegar, spices, sugar and salt on to heat.
Put canner or stockpot on to boil with enough water to cover jars during processing. Put lids into hot water to soften while jars are prepared.
Slit peppers with a knife tip in 3-5 places. Place pieces of garlic, a bay leaf and peppers into freshly washed rinsed jars. Dip a spoon into brine, scoop out spices and add to jars. Add hot brine mixture to jars leaving ½” headspace. Wipe edges with a clean cloth or paper towel. Cover with heated lids and gently tighten rings.
Place jars in simmering waterbath. Jars should be covered by no more than an inch of water. Bring water to a strong simmer and once bubbles begin rising to surface process for 12 minutes. Remove jars from kettle and cool. Because I’m intimidated by any thoughts of spoilage or botulism my jars go into a refrigerator, another good reason for the small batch approach. The lids will be depressed as a sign of sealing. Your garlic should be fresh and is ready to eat in ten days but I prefer six weeks. I like to cut into sections when serving. A true garlic aficionado may want a third of a clove or more.
This version of pumpkin pie, incorporates winter squash or pumpkin, with gently cooked onion, feta, spearmint and filo, traditional Greek foods. Well the pumpkin is a little unusual but I have frozen winter squash left from last year. There are versions that are sweet as well as savory. I plan to make it again and will add half a cup of golden raisins, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper not so traditional but I think the flavors will compliment. Aleppo pepper is offered by Nichols and is a Syrian hot sweet paprika that is coarsely ground. I use a lot of this in my cooking, it’s a gentle intensely flavored pepper not widely available in this country. The coiled design is traditional but if you are in a hurry cook it as you would Spanakopita with a few layers of filo, then filling topped with 6-8 sheets of filo.
4 cups baked or canned Pumpkin or Squash, pureed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ large onions sautéed in olive oil
¾ lb. feta cheese ,crumbled
1 ½ tbls. dried spearmint,
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 heaping tablespoons dry breadcrumbs or panko (see preparation notes)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1lb filo defrosted and allowed to sit out of refrigerator for one hour
1 10” Spring form pan coated with olive oil
Preparation: I used Sibley Squash which is not as moist as fresh or canned pumpkin. If you are using pumpkin try to pour off any visible liquid and include breadcrumbs which will be unnecessary with many squash.
Sauté onions finely chopped (a whirl in the food processor is fine) in olive oil for about 8 minutes at medium heat. Combine pumpkin, cooked onion, cheese, spearmint, crumbs, salt & pepper and taste. Note: eggs are added last so you can safely taste this mixture and check seasoning. Last stir in eggs.
Turn oven to 350 degrees and have a rack in center
Unwrap package of filo, and cover sheets with a tea towel.
On a clear work surface take first filo sheet, place it horizontally in front of you and very lightly brush with olive oil. Sheets do not need to be evenly coated. Place a second sheet on top of first and make an even strip of filling 2” above the lower edge and filling to the left and right margins. I used a scant ½ cup for each strip. Fold filo over the filling and roll over lightly brushing each turn with olive oil until you have completely rolled your first coil. Place this along the inside edge of pan. Lay each coil next to the last end and work to center until the pan is filled. Should you have extra filling wrap separately in filo and bake. If it looks as though you’ll run short start using a little less filling as you finish. Mine did come out exactly even with these amounts.
Lightly brush top of pie with olive oil and place in preheated 350 degree oven. Cook for one hour and check. If dough is still looking pale continue cooking and check at ten minute intervals until nicely browned. Carefully remove the pan ring, first running a knife blade along edge. Allow to cool for twenty minutes and then transfer to serving plate. Run a spatula all under pie to loosen before transferring. This recipe runs rather long because these steps will be new to most readers. If you have access to sheep milk feta buy it, as it produces a superior result. this pie served with a little salad is an adequate dinner and also a good side dish. This is good hot or cold. Reheat in a warm oven. A microwave does no favor to filo based dishes as they lose the delightful crisp quality and begin to steam.
Helen, who does much of our photography planted her fall/winter pantry in early September. It’s 20 feet long and covered in light polyspun row cover. She used 6″ boards. bed is 36″ wide but wanted to make it unattractive to cats. Her materials were sawed off 5/8″ deeply set and 10″ above the ground. wood dowels pounded into the ground and PVC pipe.
She was indignant that cats had been pawing through the bed as soon as she prepared the soil. Polyspun was initially effective until a cat or raccoon dive bombed it one night. Critter control that’s not cruel or lethal seems a constant issue for gardeners. Helen solved her problem by covering the polyspun with bird netting just to see if that would deter the cats and that has worked.
The beds stand 2′ high.
Lettuce 10 varieties
Chicken scratch mix, Italian parsley and single parsley, green wave mustard, five or six different radishes, water cress, mountain cress, and garden cress were all planted in early December.
Her bed is watered twice daily two twenty minute periods. Part of her lawn system.(now that we are in October the water has been off for several weeks)
Medium size ‘Garden Clips’ and used three on each span to keep everything in place
She has done all of this herself and this post will be followed up with pics of her current garden in a few days. Most areas of the US have what I call shoulder seasons when we can grow cool weather crops that actually taste better when grown in lower temperature. The cool temps encourage plants to generate more sugars which act as a natural anti freeze.
Our Nichols Garlic harvest is beautiful this year and what’s better to serve than pasta featuring fresh from the field garlic? This is a simple side dish, rich in garlic flavor and aromas, a good extra virgin olive oil and plenty of chopped fresh parsley.
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 quarts boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt
6-8 oz of dry spaghetti or linguine
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preparation is the key to this recipe. First rinse and chop parsley then set aside so you can give full attention to past and garlic as they cook. Peel and chop garlic and set aside. Bring salted water to a boil and add pasta, gently stirring into water so it does not break or stick to pot.
Take a large skillet and heat to medium low temperature. Add olive oil and garlic, gently cooking with no trace of browning. If it’s cooking too fast lift pan from heat and reduce temperature. Garlic is cooked only until soft ands aromatic. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8 minutes, until barely tender. Scoop from pot and add to skillet with parsley. Gently combine ingredients and serve piping hot with a grating of fresh black pepper. This is traditionally served without cheese but add if you like. Garlic can be increased to suit your tastes but always cook slowly as it is retains the rich garlic flavor and aroma. Sprinkle with few red pepper flakes for a light flavor burst.
When garden greens are overly mature, on the verge of bolting, aging and consequently becoming bitter and less than tender and succulent use this classic Mediterranean technique. In Italy and Greece where people treasure their cooked greens and enjoy a slight bitterness they commonly parboil the greens in lightly salted water and then saute’ these greens in olive oil and a little garlic.
I use this method with mixed and aging greens of, endives, chicory, mustard, pac choi, chard etc. Into the pot of boiling water go chunky stems and leaves washed, but barely trimmed. If stems seem truly tough I either discard or toss those in a minute ahead of the leaves. Boil for three minutes and drain in a colander while heating a skillet with olive oil and a generous amount of chopped garlic that is allowed to soften but not brown. Dump in the greens and stir around for another three to four minutes. On occasion, I’ve added seed free sliceed Kalamata olives, dried currants, raisins or a sprinkle of pepper sauce. Serve on a platter hot or at room temperature, sometimes surrounded by fresh lemon wedges. The volume of these greens is dramatically reduced. This double cooking method results in very tender delicious greens. There is absolutely no reason to do anything more than a slight chopping of these greens. While I’m sure leftovers would be good we’ve yet to have any.
I’d say use any of your garden greens except large amounts of carrot leaves which don’t taste good and in spite of a recent article to the contrary, the jury is still out on whether these are healthful to eat. You’ll lose a few vitamins by boiling but you will be be preparing a dish with a high nutrient profile yet low in calories.
I want all our blog visitors to know we are now on facebook and you tube.
This is where we comment on gardening and keep you informed about what is happening here at our nursery/seed company:
Here is the first episode of our new series of short instructional videos on how to grow, care for and use herbs from your garden. This session is “How to Make a Lavender Wreath”.
Please visit our site, request a catalog if you don’t already have one and of course check out our online catalog. We are a 62 year old family seed owned seed company located in Albany, OR.
Shortbread is such a classic favorite. Simple, easy to find ingredients, uncomplicated to prepare and always good, sometimes better , sometimes best, but always good.
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature plus a bit to butter pan
2 1/2 cups presifted unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons coarsely ground Nichols Four Pepper Blend
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly butter a 10″ spring form pan, set aside
Stir together flour, salt and 2 teaspoons Nichols Four Pepper Blend, set aside
Put butter and powdered sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixing just until combined.
Using spatula spread dough evenly into prepared pan, smoothing top. Lightly mark dough into wedges or cubes.Bake until shortbread is light golden brown about one hour twenty minutes. “I like to line pan with a circle of parchment paper.”
Transfer pan to wire rack. Immediately sprinkle with granulated sugar and remaining teaspoon of Nichols Four Pepper Blend. Remove spring form rim and place pan on a cooling rack. let cool, transfer to a flat surface and cut into wedges or cubes.
Our annual Nichols Garden Nursery Plant Day is Saturday, May 14th. Discounts, refreshments, and great plant selections. Carol Deppe will be discussing and signing her new book “The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. Our knowledgeable staff is available to help make the best variety selections for your food garden.
Visit the Nichols website www.NicholsGardenNursery.com you will discover all seed varieties containing the word black are discounted 50% until midnight Friday, November 26th.
Catalogs for 2011 are in the mail. Not on our list, please go to our catalog request form and ask us to send one to you. Check here and at the website for coming selections that made a seed crop too late to list.
Hope you have all had a great Thanksgiving. We had three generations gathered around our table, good food, good conversation, a trace of snow on the ground, we are moving to winter.
A few minutes ago there was a tapping at our back door, odd, it was a large raccoon. That, and the deer tracks up and down our snow covered street reminds us we are not alone in our city.
Nasturtium blossoms and Vietnamese mint add a refreshing light touch to these rolls. The rice paper is nearly transparent and the nasturtiums backed by green lettuce are beautifully displayed. Vietnamese spring rolls are never fried and contain only the freshest ingredients. Try a few practice rolls and you’re ready to go. Perfect or not they are delicious. The recipe below has standard ingredients but the beauty of spring rolls is you can improvise. For a vegetarian roll substitute tofu and a few crunchy bean sprouts for the shrimp and replace fish sauce with soy sauce.
Marcie Wolf, our neighbor and friend, came up with the idea of using nasturtiums and took me through her process. Our photo demonstrates the prepped ingredients all in place for ease and efficiency. Use any leftovers for salad.
Ingredients for 12 rolls:
12 rice paper disks, 8.5” (banh trang)
12 perfect nasturtium flowers inspected for insects
Dark Green loose leaf lettuce torn into 5”-6” by 3” strips
Sweet red pepper cut into narrow strips
Cucumber cut into narrow strips
4 oz. fine rice vermicelli (maifun) soaked in hot water for 10 minutes.
Drain noodles, snip with scissors into 4” to 6” lengths, place
in dish with 2 teaspoons fish sauce and 1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup Oregon bay shrimp or 24 medium cooked shrimp sliced in
2 carrots shredded or julienned
Fresh basil and mint chopped and combined
½ cup chopped roasted peanuts
Dipping Sauce to serve with spring rolls
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
1 large clove garlic minced or pressed
1 Thai chili or jalapeno pepper minced
1 tablespoon peanut butter
Stir above ingredients together and serve in
bowl with a small ladle or tiny individual dishes.
Dip a single rice paper sheet into warm water for a few seconds until pliable and place on work surface. On lower third of rice paper place nasturtium flower face down. Trim backside so it lies flat. Cover with a piece of lettuce shiny side down. Place a pepper strip at the bottom of lettuce and a cucumber strip just above, these will anchor your ingredients making it easier to roll. Next add a few strands of vermicelli, shrimps, carrot, herbs and peanuts. Pull up bottom part of rice paper to cover filling, use pepper and cucumber to hold all in place, fold in sides and roll towards top and you have a wrapped spring roll. Tips: the paper becomes just a little elastic and with only a little practice you’ll gain a feel for this stage. You will want to play a little with exact placement of nasturtium and lettuce so the finished roll nicely displays these without any extra rice paper edge on top of them.
There are several steps but before long you’ll find it becomes quite easy. Don’t hesitate to adjust flavors if you find anything too hot, too salty or too acidic, Vietnamese Mint and Thai Basil are the most authentic herbs but don’t hesitate to use fresh spearmint and your favorite basil. Nasturtiums should not be sprayed.
If you have questions post a comment and I’ll reply.
Keane and I are still savoring the totally wonderful Saturday we spent in Newport. I was as unrealistic as ever when greeted by a gazillion, beautiful, well-grown plants and bought enough to keep us busy this holiday weekend. Forget barbeques, we’re just trying to plant and get the deck cleared.
One thing I love at these shows is seeing and talking with friends and customers. Mike Darcy of KXL 750 and “In the Garden” broadcast from the show. He generously invited me to talk for a bit and answer call in questions. Kym Pokorny of the Oregonian newspaper “Home & Garden” magazine, Ed Hume, Luci Hardiman and Jim Gilbert were all speakers and all are established plant experts. It’s a great little show and a fine place to spend a weekend in June. Hope to see you next year. Here Keane and I are with our friend Ed Hume, shown on the left, seedsman and fellow garden writer.
Kudos to Jim Myers who organizes this show and benefits Samaritan House, the only family shelter within three Oregon coastal counties. Samaritan House offers both emergency shelter and case management services. Serendipitously, this expo fosters community among Northwest gardeners and a great outlet for plant lust.