Kale Salad with Quinoa, and Black Kabuli Garbanzo Beans.

It seems we’ve moved into that time of year when a good selection of food from the garden becomes a bit scarce, what in olden times was called The Hungry Gap. Making a salad becomes a mix of what is in the house and garden. kale salad with garbanzosYesterday’s salad was based around the ever reliable kale. It’s getting a little tough but stripping it off the stem, tearing it into small pieces and then massaging with a small amount of olive oil renders it rather succulent.

We’re offering a new garbanzo this year, Organic Black Kabuli Beans. The skin is very dark, almost black. black Kabuli GarbonzosDecided to simmer it three minutes like we often do with any bean. Set it aside and tasted a bean that was nearly cooked, gave it another round of three minutes at a steady simmer and repeated. So all in all pretty impressed and it has a fine flavor.

So back to the salad, add some quinoa to the kale, some chopped apple and an orange. Add a bit of olive oil, lightly salt, sprinkle on a little chipotle pepper, some rice vinegar, You see it’s turning into a delicious melange that can’t ever be totally repeated but that’s what is nice about salads…we just make them. Take this mix and lay on a plate covered with arugula or lettuce leaves top with a good handful of Black kabuli chickpeas/garbanzos and crumble some feta over the top. Little of this and a little of that makes a good salad this time of year. Hope you are enjoying your garden as days grow just a little longer.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Squash Muffins

SquashKatysSweetMeatKaty's squash muffin

 

These muffins are for Nichols Plant Day, Saturday, May 16th, 2015.

Katy’s Sweet, Sweet Meat type winter squash, upper left, has a smooth, rich flavor and is also one of the sweetest winter squash varieties. It stores well for the winter pantry. The squash run 7-12pounds, I split them open, remove seeds, turn flesh onto the pan and cook slowly at 325 fahrenheit. Pierce the rind and when it gently gives and you start to see some juice running the squash is cooked. There usually more than than can be eaten at one sitting so I often freeze extra in a one quart container and sometimes when a friend comes by I’ll ask if they would like a piece of cooked winter squash. Almost always, the reply is “Cooked?, Why yes.”  Let me add this squash turns sweeter after picking. we harvest in October before frost and always enjoy it at Thanksgiving on through March.

A local gardener who loves this squash has developed his own Katy’s Sweet Squash muffin recipe. He generously comes by with these at least once and sometimes twice a year.

Katy’s Sugar Meat Muffin Recipe

2 eggs
1 cup cooked Katy Stoke’s Sweet Meat Squash
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup milk
1½ cup sugar (we adjust to ¾ cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt (may reduce or omit)
1 ¼ cup unbleached flour
½ cup wholewheat flour (or simply use 1 ¾ cup unbleached)
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup milk chocolate chips…the milk chocolate melds better with the squash than standard semi-sweet. Chocolate chips are optional but very good.

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.

Place eggs , oil, cooled squash, and milk into a bowl or mixer and whip. Sift sugar, soda,baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, salt and flour. (I double sift)

With a large spoon mix ingredients until lightly moistened. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Fill muffin or cupcake pans 2/3 full. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. If using mini muffin trays bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
Fill muffin cups with paper liners or mist cups with a 50% oil/50% water emulsion from a small sprayer. Yield is 12 regular size muffins or 24 mini muffins.

Katy Stokes began selecting this variety in 2,000. One plant produced superb squash, she carefully selected her seed for planting the following year and did this for eight years. Every year she only planted seed from squash with the quality she sought. And now she supplies us with planting stock each year from only the very best and has developed a fine variety that is an ideal size for most household.

Katy Stokes began selecting this variety in 2,000. One plant produced superb squash, she carefully selected her seed for planting the following year and did this for eight years. Every year she only planted seed from squash with the quality she sought. And now she supplies us with planting stock each year from only the very best and has developed a fine variety that is an ideal size for most households.

 

Chiffon Cake -gluten free- with Magic Manna Flour Corn

Friends with celiac disease or otherwise unable to eat any gluten products will enjoy a delicious cake now and then. IMG_2836copyFor some keeping track of all ingredients is a paramount health concern. Carol Deppe, artisan corn breeder has introduced us to her versatile and flavorful Magic Manna flour corn. Wise in the ways of cooking for celiac disease she has developed the finest and most flavorful flour corn we’ve used baking.

Manna Flour CornChiffon cake made with Magic Manna Flour Corn flour is an authentic, no fussing cake with a simple substitution of this delectible corn flour for wheat flour. Baked in an angel food tin it produces a light  cake with a delightful aroma and flavor from the Magic Manna corn flour. Bob’s Red Mill also offers Corn flour for baking. It is widely available and can be found throughout the west and through the mail.

 This Chiffon cake has a fine texture and holds together perfectly when sliced. It is particularly convenient that home grown Magic Manna has soft kernels and can be ground in a coffee grinder, blender or a home style flour mill. Carol Deppe the breeder of this artisan flour corn recommends the “Whisper Mill”. After grinding freeze any extra corn flour in a well sealed heavy duty plastic bag to preserve quality and retain the savory aromatics.
The following recipe is an adaptation of the classic Williams-Sonoma Orange Chiffon Cake.
2 1/4 cups Corn Flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup seed or nut oil
6 whole eggs, separated,  plus 2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions
Position a rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 325 F.
Separate the eggs carefully as even a speck of yolk dropped in the whites will prevent them from fully expanding.
Mix Batter
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl. Into a large bowl whisk to combine the oil, 6 egg yolks, orange zest, and water until well blended. Add flour mixture and set aside.
Beat the Egg Whites
In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium high speed, beat the 8 egg whites and the cream of tarter until soft peaks form. With a silicone or rubber spatula gently fold one-half the egg whites into the batter until almost blended. Second step, gently fold in the remaining egg whites with your spatula just until combined. Pour batter into an ungreased 10- inch tube or angel food cake pan. Using your spatula create a flat surface.
Bake the Cake
Bake approximately 50 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted in the center to see it has no batter clinging to it when removed. If toothpick is dry, remove from oven and invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool for one hour. When cooled run a thin-bladed knife around all edges of the pan including the center tube ind invert onto a serving plate. Serve as is, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve. Leftover cake freezes well when wrapped in foil or plastic and will slice while still frozen.
Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma  Food Made Fast Series, by Lou Seibert Pappas.

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.

Welcome Earth Day 2013

Today is Earth Day and a time we think about our beautiful earth and what we can do to help and maintain it.  Of course as gardeners and readers, the simple act of sowing seeds or planting is a benefit. Because I’m preparing a talk for our local museum about the gardening and seed production heritage of Western Oregon,  I’ve been giving some thought about “knowing our place”.  Know your place is usually a negative disciplinary phrase.  But let’s reassess this and do what we can to better know the place where we live and how it relates to the food production, beauty, preservation and history of our earth.  By knowing the tremendous value of seed crops here in the Willamette Valley I’m very afraid of canola seed being planted on or near fields where it can cross-pollinate or the dropped seeds will contaminate the soil for future crops. The better we know our place the more able we are to understand and speak out the occasional big issue that does appear. I will continue to express this concern along with hundreds of farmers and gardeners and hope it will make a difference. Know your place!   ~ Rose Marie
For suggestions on food gardening and Earth Day click on the image below and read this Huffington Post piece to which I happily contributed.
R-KITCHEN-GARDEN-HOW-TO

Saving Seeds

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.

Sow Peas On Valentines Day

HEARTS4PeasPeas, 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.

Shishito Peppers Fresh Fried

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.

Methley Plums – The Taste of Summer Food

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, t tablespoon chipotle chili powder & one tablespoon 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.

Our helpful Predators – Cinnabar Moths

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.

Hop Shoots Picking & Preparing

Hop shoots are a gardeners’ treat in early spring. Here are photos of them growing by the entry arbor to our herb garden at Nichols Garden Nursery. I snapped off a small bundle of emerging shoots, selecting for short tender stems and tips. Much admired in Belgium and France, where they are known as Jets de Houblon. Mature hop vines are actually more productive of hop cones when some shoots are removed.
To prepare plunge your tender shoots into salted boiling water, cook for 2 minutes and then drain. The timing can vary a bit cook only until barely tender. While shoots drain, poach eggs in fresh water (to avoid discoloration) or gently fry. Reheat shoots in butter and sprinkle over freshly cooked eggs. Don’t miss dipping a few hop tips into egg yolks.
Where these shoots are abundant they are variously sauced with béchamel, used as an omelet filling, served as a vegetable and pickled. Pickling does sound like a lot of effort for an ephemera of springtime. I’d most surely be appreciative of another’s accomplishment.

Indigo Rose Tomato Salad

This is our favorite salad using Indigo Rose OP Tomato, our new introduction for 2012. We had it nearly every day last summer and eagerly look forward to enjoying it again. Other small salad tomatoes can also be used but to my mind none are as beautiful as Indigo Rose in this delicious combination of taste and color. The deep purple exterior is rich in anti-oxidant anthocyanins and the interior of these 2” fruits is a rich bright red. The flavor is bright, tart and pleasant.

It is important to mention, Indigo Rose, the world’s first high anthocyanin tomato is a result of traditional breeding and selection over many years and not a result of genetic engineering. Bred at Oregon State University by Dr. Jim Myers, it is the result of growing out the best selections over more than a decade selecting for performance, coloration, and flavor. it is open-pollinated.
We are pleased to introduce this fine and unusual selection in 2012. We start our tomatoes from April 1 to April 15th and transplant around Memorial Day weekend.

Ingredients:

10-12 Indigo Rose Tomatoes (weight about 1.5 to 2 lbs.
3 tablespoons diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon white balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 ounces feta cheese (not non fat)

Directions: Cut each tomato into quarters. Gently combine tomatoes, onion, vinegar, oil, salt and parsley. Place in bowl and sprinkle with coarsely crumbled feta cheese. This salad is also very good with one or two tablespoons of chopped basil. Serve, this can be easily doubled and serves 3 to 8 depending on whether this is a dinner salad, with bread, or simply salad.

Cilantro Dip or Green Sauce

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.

Ingredients:

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.

Oranges & Sweet Violets

Spring violets, Viola odorata, are edible flowers with a color and fragrance that compliments fresh naval oranges when both are at their peak. Peel or cut away the orange rind, leaving as little pith as possible. Cut into 1/3” inch slices. Allow one orange per person and place on individual serving dishes. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp. mild honey. Garnish with spring violets or candied violets. This light dessert is the perfect conclusion to a winter meal. A few drops of orange liquor can be sprinkled over the oranges.

Some gardeners dislike wild violets in their yards but we enjoy the fragrance and appeal of wild violets. Their scent seems to come and go because our scent receptors become exhausted and must have a few minutes to revive before we can again enjoy this definitive fragrance.

Talking about Herb Gardening @ awaytogardening.com

Join us atawaytogarden.com in an interview with  Margaret Roach at her blog/gardening magazine. Today Nichols Garden Nursery is featured. Keane is holding two fine specimens of Oregon Sweetmeat Squash Homestead. Notice the beautiful color and thick walls.  Grow it and you’ll also taste how sweet and tender it is. I am holding our very new Ruby-Gold Flint Corn and branches of true Mediterranean bay, Laurus nobilis, Rosemary Blue Gem, a Nichols introduction. Read her article, join the giveaway and learn a few herb gardening tips. Leave a comment on her blog and join the giveaway. Margaret is the former senior editor and Martha Stewart Living Magazine and author of the new and highly reviewed “and I shall find peace there” her latest book. Click the link to Margaret Roache’s article

http://awaytogarden.com/giveaway-rose-marie-nichols-mcgees-herb-qa#comments

Forcing Winter Branches Into Bloom

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.

Planting The Gardener’s Fall/Winter Pantry

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.

Bitter Greens

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.

Find Nichols Garden Nursery

I want all our  blog visitors to know we are now on facebook and you tube.

http://www.facebook.com/NicholsGardenNursery

This is where we comment on gardening and keep you informed about what is happening here at our nursery/seed company:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rf3GQcw_EOQ

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”.

http://www.NicholsGardenNursery.com

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.

Happy gardening,

Rose Marie

Sugar Meat Squash Muffins

Sugar Meat Squash Muffins
Some varieties capture our imagination and become ones we grow each year. Katy Stokes Sugar Meat is a solid,Sweet Meat type and has become a customer favorite. This 6-10# winter squash is versatile, nutritious and delicious.
One of our Albany customers brought in a batch of muffins with this delicious recipe.
Katy’s Sugar Meat Muffin Recipe

2 eggs
1 cup cooked Katy Stoke’s Sugar Meat Squash
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cups sugar (adjust to taste) I use ¾ cup
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt may reduce to ½ teaspoon
1 ¾ cups unbleached flour
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees:
Place eggs, oil, cooked, cooled squash and milk into a bowl and mix. Sift sugar, soda, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and flour. Mix until lightly moistened. Stir in walnuts. Fill muffin or cupcake pans 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Yields 12 regular muffins. Give these try these and we think you’ll find they become a standby.

Katy Stokes selected this variety from her annual Sweet Meat squash plantings. For more than ten years she saved the seed of her very best flavored and sweetest squash. Only these seeds were replanted. Over time this selection stabilized and now Katy Stoke’s Sugar Meat Squash represents a classic model of seed saving and selection. Squashes freely cross pollinate with the help of those busy bees in the garden. This variety was originally selected from a first spectacular squash “Cucurbita maxima” several years ago. A friend who was sharing some of the gardening space on her farm had planted various squash and it is possible this selection developed from an unexpected cross pollination. Now of course, our plants for seed are carefully protected from any possibility of future crosses and the field is checked for any plants that do not seem true to type. In my opinion, seed saving is an art and always requires the discerning eye and palette to maintain a great variety.

Black Friday

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.

Walla Walla Onion Sandwiches

Sweet, juicy and mild, Walla Walla Sweet onions came from Corsica to this Eastern Washington valley in 1905. Today this large, delicately flavored heirloom is considered by many to be the world’s sweetest onion. We sow these seeds in August and use the thinnings all through spring. We spring plant onion starts. In June, bulbs mature and we enjoy them through the summer. Gardeners grow this celebrated onion from Southern Missouri to British Columbia, though only those grown in The Walla Walla Valley may be sold as the true onion. Our Nichols Garden Nursery seeds and onion starts come from a Walla Walla Family that has been growing these onions for many generations.
James Beard, a native Oregonian, pioneered the movement to use and celebrate local foods. He created this simple sophisticated canape’, ideal with summer drinks.
This sandwich has only five ingredients and is a snap to put together. The key is locating the right bread. It needs to be thinly sliced and firm. If you can find Pepperidge Farm thin white sandwich bread that works well. A loaf of brioche and some baguettes will be quite satisfactory. Avoid a standard slice of white sandwich bread, these are delicate tidbits.

Ingredients:
Thin sliced white bread cut into rounds with crusts removed. Rounds may range in size from 1″ to 3″. You will need two slices for each sandwich.
Unsalted butter at room temperature
Thinly sliced Walla Walla or other sweet mild onion. If you can successfully cut and remove a slice the diameter of your bread that works. If not, cut into quarters and make a small dainty pile on the bread.
Salt, sea or kosher
Mayonnaise…the real stuff is best
A pile of minced curly parsley,previously washed and removed from stems.
Preparation:
Lightly butter bread rounds, cover with onion, sprinkle with a touch of salt. Gently press on sandwich so pieces adhere. Cover the edges with a light coat of mayonnaise. Now roll the edges in parsley. You want a generous coating of parsley to get that herbal flavor balanced against the onion.
When I made these for our staff, Helen and I added a few nasturtiums for the photo. I came by a few minutes later to see only a few wilting nasturtiums remaining on the plate. Nasturtiums, I find are a good addition to these sandwiches when layered in with the onion but I wanted to give you the true James Beard onion sandwich.

Basil-Tomato Salsa

Salsa recipes are versatile and this is one that says Summer! Serve the “Basic Recipe” with chips or crackers.
The goat cheese log shown resting on a nest of wild arugula is summer fare. Make the full “Basic Recipe” and use half for this smokey paprika version. Add 1/4th tsp. Nichols triple smoked paprika and 1 tsp. olive oil and serve with goat cheese. Adding a spoonful of chopped capers to the “Basic Recipe” portion gives a lovely Tuscan quality. Pile onto toasted bread slices for bruschetta. These salsas are good with fish. If your palate wants more heat, acid or garlic adjust accordingly. You are the cook and summer abundance invites improvisation.

Basic Recipe
6 medium Roma Tomatoes (3 cups diced)
1 large mild onion (Walla Wallas if available)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4-6 Jalapeno peppers –deseeded
1 cup basil leaves, finely slivered and tightly packed
juice of 2 lemons or ¼ cup red wine vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste, a touch of sugar if needed

With a well sharpened knife trim and finely dice the tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Deseeding peppers improves texture of the salsa and produces a milder flavor. The basil leaves need to have stems trimmed away before chopping. Adjust seasonings to your taste. If you prefer to use slicing tomatoes, chop, let sit for a few minutes, and drain off excess juices.
I’ve used wild arugula which holds up in summer heat better than our standard arugula. Both will be delicious, Spread your cracker or toast with goat cheese “Chevre”, add a few sprigs of arugula and top with salsa.

Gardeners tip: beginning July 1 soils in the continental US are warm enough to direct sow basil seeds. Sow seeds about 1/2 inch apart in a sunny spot, keep damp as seeds germinate and plants develop. Thin to allow 3-4″ between developed plants. Start harvesting when 4″ tall. This is always my main crop for pesto. All this clipping doesn’t make for beautiful plants but the flavor and production is great.

Gardening On The Edge 2010

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.

Oregon Coast Gardening Expo

Newport Garden Show June 26th, 2010
We’ve been exhibiting and occasionally speaking at this annual Newport show for several years. I always come home loaded with great plants, garden art, and pleasant memories. We’ll bring plants, seeds, Yacon plants, tools and are there to answer your questions
This is a benefit for Samaritan House Family Homeless Shelter in Newport where they serve an array of families and children in need, help them get on their feet and resituated. Here are the details.
The last big plant sale and show of the season happens at Oregon’s premiere coastal resort of Newport from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. On Saturday, June 26th The third annual Oregon Coast Gardening & Landscaping Expo features over fifty Northwest plant sellers offering a wide variety of great plants, trees and shrubs including the unusual and rare. Plus the extremely popular gardening and landscaping seminars return with top guest speakers including the legendary Ed Hume, Kym Pokorny of The Oregonian, famed landscape designer Lucy Hardiman, Frances Hopkins, founder & owner of Stepables ground covers and many more! The Lincoln County Master Gardeners again be operating their Master Gardener Help Center featuring soil testing and readily available to answer your questions. Lunch is available and will again feature Mo’s Famous Clam Chowder. The Garden Expo will again be held at Newport Intermediate School, 825 NE 7th Street in Newport. Admission is only $5.00 and includes the seminars! This will be an terrific time to visit the ocean beach and attend one of the top Northwest gardening shows of the season. Special Garden Expo hotel rates of $79.95 for traditional room and $89.95 for deluxe room are available at the Newport Shilo Inn Oceanfront. Call 541-265-7701 and ask for the Oregon Coast Garden Expo rate. For updated information visit our website at http://www.oregoncoastgardeningexpo.com.