Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Thyme, mint, and Basil OH MY! ….. (but mostly Basil)

 

 

 

We survived hurricane Irene without a hitch. It was the first time our area had been threatened since Max was born and truth be told I was very anxious. We prepared as good as we knew how and hunkered down. I am so thankful that we had no real damage, nor did we lose electricity. We were truly blessed.

What was left of my garden fared nearly as well, the peppers are still standing and promising to give me a few more before calling it quits for the season. I had grown basil between my tomato plants and when the tomatoes were finished and removed, the basil took over. It was waist high and resembled a shrubbery rather than an herb. It did not weather the high winds quite as well as the rest of us. Upon going out and assessing the damage I found the basil laying on its side. I had meant to harvest it for some time so now was as good as any.

Have some basil....

Preserving herbs is very easy and very rewarding during those winter months when everything outside is brown and dry. The more hardy herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano) do well tied into bunches and hung to dry. Once all the moisture is gone seal them in an airtight container and they will keep for up to a year. The more delicate herbs (basil, mint, tarragon) do best frozen. You can place whole or chopped leaves in a ice cube tray, cover with a little water and freeze. Once frozen pop out of the tray and place in freezer bag, thaw as you need.

My favorite way to preserve Basil is homemade pesto. I love being able to add that summertime freshness to meals in the dead of winter.

All the measurements are approximate. This recipe should really be adapted to you personal taste. Remember, I was working with an ungodly amount of basil, so you may have to adjust the portions according to however much you have.

Homemade Pesto

yummy

8 cups washed basil leaves, stems removed. (makes about 2 cups chopped basil)

1/2  cup pine nuts

1/2 cup Olive oil

1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

4  medium cloves Garlic

salt to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulse basil and olive oil in food processor until coarsely chopped.

Add Pine nuts, Parmesan, Garlic, and Salt.

Process until desired consistency.  If it seems dry, add more oil.

At this point TASTE, TASTE, TASTE. Make needed adjustments, I always end up adding more salt and cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoon into ice cube tray and freeze.  When frozen, remove and place in freezer safe bag.

Now you have homemade pesto in convenient portions that will be approximately 1 oz. each.  Ready to used to season chicken, accompany pasta, or spruce up sauces.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bet you’re wondering what I did with all the left over basil (yes, there was left over basil). Turns out it makes a very fragrant, if not colorful centerpiece!

Thanks for reading:)

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My little Garden

Thanks to my father-in-law, who drove down from WV to help me get my plot ready, I was able to start my garden around April 25’th this year. Because it seems to have a high clay content I amended my soil with some local compost, I would have added peat and Vermiculite but at the time cost was an issue. So with fingers crossed I planted away.
This year, I made the plot a few feet wider and longer because last year sometime around mid July it went from tidy little garden to untamed jungle. My cucumbers kept trying to eat the tomatoes, I lost half a row of romaine to some savage zucchini that didn’t know when to stop growing, and don’t get me started on the wildlife!

This year was going to be different! I will not get carried away! I will stick to my garden plan! I will…….. I will…….. *sigh* I will recognize that I have absolutely no self-control. After all, the more space I have the more I can cram more into it right? Besides what’s so bad about having a bit of suburban jungle in the backyard anyways.
So this years lineup includes tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet bell peppers, banana peppers, cauliflower, radishes, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and lettuce. I do my herbs in pots so that they’re close to the house when I need to grab a handful. Of them I plant the usual suspects, basil, parsley, chives, dill, tarragon, and thyme (you can never have enough “thyme” in the garden. hehehe).
So far so good, I have only had two casualties. The romaine never sprouted and one of my tomato plants needs put out of its misery (I just don’t have the heart to do what must be done). Not to bad considering the dog dug up one of my squash plants, and I clotheslined another with the garden hose (the later is still under observation). I’ve sown some red leaf lettuce in place of the no-show romaine and have already had a small harvest of radishes. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Thanks for reading:)

Eating fresh vs. the Magic Spatula

I really wanted to eat healthier, no, not diet, the “D” word is not allowed in my house. Just healthy, REAL food. However, like many I fell into a cycle of unhealthy habits. First, I loooove food, I love to cook it, I love to eat it, I love to look at pictures of it, I pretty much love everything about it. Second, my darling Hubby only eats a total of 5 vegetables, and that’s if you count potatoes and corn as veggies. That doesn’t sound so bad you say, if I love food so much I could just wave my magic spatula in the air and

*poof*

*poof* there will appear an endless supply of meal ideas consisting of a protein of some sort (meat, fish, occasionally the unfortunate chicken) and a combination of one or more of the 5 allowed vegetables. For the most part you would be right. With the Internet at my fingertips and the guts to attempt almost any dish, we ate like kings! Food was rich, swimming in butter and cream topped with cheese and washed down with gravy. Nightly dinners were bacon wrapped and smothered in béarnaise (as proven by our waistlines).

Then I got pregnant (reality check) then I lost my job (reality punch in the face). Suddenly it was super important that I eat fresh and healthy, super important that I become one with the produce aisle………… $2.50 for a single green pepper!!?!!! Holy smokes!! It seems that sometime during my years of ignorant bliss ( and disposable income) the price of food skyrocketed! Now that both of those things are gone (well, the ignorance still reappears now and again) I find myself in shock of what the cost of fresh food is. How is a family to eat healthy with out having to auction off their kidneys?

Time to get creative.

Turns out there are several options when it comes to produce that not only are better for your wallet, but also our bodies, and the planet!

Find a local Farmers Market (or road side stand if you’re in a rural area). Many urban areas will have them at least once a week, and some run daily. Find out what’s in season in your area and try to purchase those items. If vendors have had items shipped in, find out from where, and when the produce was harvested. Remember, buying local produce means it hasn’t spent days or weeks getting to you, and therefore more of its nutrients are alive when it reaches your table. The reduced travel also means less greenhouse gasses into the ozone (it’s a win-win:)

Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I have only recently become aware of this option and while I haven’t tried it out myself yet I can’t wait to give it a go. A CSA is a group put together by one or more farms from whom you buy a “share” of their harvest. Meaning once a week you go pick up a box of whatever produce they are growing right then, a lot of times the items were just harvested that morning! I first learned about them from this blog. Each group will vary greatly so take some time picking the right one for you and your family. Some you will pay for monthly others a lump sum for the whole season. Others have work requirements, most (in my area) do not. To find out what’s available in your neck of the woods check out localharvest.org, along with a list of participating farms they also have tips on finding one that will suit your needs.

Last Summers Garden Heart<3"

Grow your own!!!!! I LOVE this!! Before you blow this idea off as taking too much work, time, space, ect. ect. Trust me, as a former apartment tenant and someone who currently rents her home, it’s not as daunting as it appears. Many vegetables and herbs thrive in containers or small spaces with minimal upkeep. Need more motivation? Remember that green pepper that was $2.50 at the local grocery store? Well, I was able to get three plants for $1.97! Not to mention it is deeply satisfying to eat foods that you have grown yourself.

So, we’re trying to eat healthier. I still Looooove food, in fact I love it more. While Hubby still only eats 5 veggies I no longer let that stop me from preparing others for myself and the children. I am understanding food better, I don’t need to drown it in sauce to make it delicious. Its time to let the fresh flavors of meals shine on their own,  to do that you have to start with fresh ingredients. It May take a little effort but I promise it will be well worth it!
Thanks for reading:)

Wordless Wednesday

Mommy’s lil’ gardener

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