Posts filed under ‘Garden Recipes




Why Chives Are a Garden Favorite

One of the many things I love about gardening is the plant names. Although I sometimes wonder why we have to deal with a scientific and a common name for each plant, I still find many of the plant names fascinating. Chives, also known as allium, are amongst those plants with beautiful and unusual names.

You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what chives look like. So, when friends come to call or neighbors stop by and ask, “What’s the name of that plant with the pretty purple flowers?” I often answer, “Allium” instaed of chives, just to watch their reaction.

Then I pick a leaf or two and ask them what they think of the taste. They usually look at me a bit askance, but most of them take a bite. When they realize it tastes like onions, and say so, I explain that allium is the scientific name for chives–and, yes, these are the chives you put in your salads, soups, and even main courses.

I like to pick chives when their flowers are still buds and put them in our salads. The closed flower buds are a bit of a delicacy.

Another favorite thing about chives: they die back in winter and regrow in spring. So, once planted, you’re usually good for many years to come. In fact, a one gallon chive plant from 4 years ago has reproduced so much that it (along with its descendants) now measure 1.5 feet by 4.5 feet in my garden. Quite impressive when those flowers all bloom!

To Your Gardening Abundance!

Cara

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Add comment September 18, 2008

First Big Harvest of the Fall–Grapes

I began to pick our grapes today in large quantities. We have five grapevines and four different varieties of grapes. Being impatient, I couldn’t pick just one. I had to sample all four. I found our red seedless Lakemont grapes ripening faster than the Concords. No surprise really because every year they ripen before the Concords.

The surprise came when I approached the champagne grapes and discovered that they are all almost fully ripe. Why was I surprised? Because they are usually the last to ripen. So, much to my delight, I picked the majority of them today. I’ll pick the rest tomorrow and leave a few bunches on the vine for nibbling.

Along with the grapes, I also picked endive, cherry tomatoes, oregano, and garlic chives for our dinner salad. For dessert, we had grapes (of course), white raspberries, and strawberries.

Looks like we’ll have an abundance of grapes again this year. Too many to eat before they over ripen. So what to do with so many grapes? Well, here’s what we’re going to do this year. We’ll make juice every morning until the extra grapes run out using our TRISTAR PRODUCTS JLPJ Jack LaLanne Power Juicer – Juice Extractor. We’ll make grape juice and we’ll make grape juice mixed with other fruits and vegetables.

I’ll also freeze some of the juices on sticks as frozen ices. Some friends and I are planning to pool our grape crops and make jam and compotes. Maybe next year we’ll have enough grapes to make wine. Won’t that be fun!

What are you doing with your grape crop this year?

To Your Gardening Abundance,

Cara

Add comment September 16, 2008

Garlic Eggplant-Zucchini Ratatouille

Yesterday our garden produced a most abundant dinner for us. I love those days when I can reach my goal of serving a meal that is almost completely from our garden. Last night’s dinner was one of those.

Here’s what I picked from our garden: zucchini, eggplant, garlic, endive, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, basil, oregano, grapes, strawberries, white raspberries, and spearmint.

And here’s our dinner menu:

Garlic Eggplant-Zucchini Ratatouille
This is my version of ratatouille without the tomatoes because we only had enough cherry tomatoes for our salad.

1. Chop the eggplant and zucchini into cubes.

2. Prepare 2 to 4 cups of white or brown long-grain rice in a saucepan. The amount of rice you prepare depends on the number of people you plan to feed. I usually estimate 1 cup of rice per adult and one-half cup per child.

3. Heat 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgen olive oil in a large skillet. You may need to use more as the amount of oil and size of the skillet depends on the amount of vegetable you are preparing.

4. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and zucchini. You may need to add more olive oil if the eggplant soaks up too much.

5. Cover and let cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant and zucchini are soft.

6. When the eggplant and zucchini are almost fully cooked, add chopped garlic to taste.

7. Cover and cook until the garlic pieces are soft enough to stick a fork into them.

8. Serve over rice.

Endive & Tomato Salad
1. To prepare this salad, I rinsed and drained the endive, tomatoes, basil, and oregano, then mixed them in a bowl and added olive oil and lemon juice for dressing. You can add salt, pepper, and other spices for added flavor.

Dessert
You can select from one of three different options for this fruit combination for dessert: grapes, strawberries, white raspberries.

1. Serve grapes, strawberries, and white raspberries in a bowl and let everyone nibble on them using their fingers.

2. Place the fruit in individual serving bowls and top with heavy whipped cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

3. Mix the grapes, strawberries, and white raspberries in a bowl with plain, vanilla, raspberry, or strawberry yogurt. Serve in individual serving bowls. Garnish with a sprig of mint. This is my favorite because it reminds of me of ice cream without the added fat!

How I love it when I can serve a garden-fresh meal!

Would you like to share some of your garden-fresh meals with us? I’d love to hear about them.

To Your Gardening Abundance!

Cara

Add comment September 10, 2008

A Garden’s Labor of Love

Today is Labor Day and most Americans are celebrating the social and economic achievements of U.S. Labor by taking a day off.

Not so for gardeners. We are a hardy lot. Like good parents, we know that we must tend to our gardens daily to reap their bounty. So I was in the garden early this morning, weeding and watering, in anticipation of tonight’s early cold snap.

The fruits and vegetables look healthy in spite of the fact that the last two nights the temperatures have been dropping 20 to 30 degrees. Tonight the weather person predicts it will get into the 30s and recommends covering frost-sensitive plants. Three days ago, it was almost 100 degrees and it’s only September 1st. Isn’t weather amazing?

In spite of, or perhaps because of, our temperature extremes, I picked the makings of a great and very large salad for our afternoon picnic with some friends. It contained endive, romaine lettuce, Mexican squash, yellow straight neck squash, celery, Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, green, red, and orange peppers, onion, garlic, both onion and garlic chives, basil, oregano, and savory.

I mixed olive oil and lemon juice for a dressing. Another dressing that adds zest to salads is Steel’s Gourmet Salad Dressings, which are available in Honey Mustard and Sweet Ginger Lime at CarbSmart.

One of the goals I set for myself each summer is to reach a point where the majority of the food on our table is from our garden. For today’s salad, everything except the dressing was from my garden.

How wonderful that felt!

To Your Gardening Abundance,

Cara

4 comments September 2, 2008

Fresh, Healthy Garden Produce Delivered to Our Table

I just love it when I can say that everything on our table is organic and from our garden. Today was one of those days.

Most mornings I take a walk around our yard to determine what’s ripe and ready to be picked that day. Then I decide on our meal menus. This morning I filled my basket with an apple, pear, 2 very large carrots, broccoli, and watermelon, as well as green beans, tomatoes, an onion, and garlic. What a great selection!

The apple, pear, carrots, broccoli and watermelon immediately landed in our <a href=”TRISTAR PRODUCTS JLPJ Jack LaLanne Power Juicer – Juice Extractor“>. I put the green beans, tomatoes, onion, and garlic aside for our dinner.

Tonight, I made my now infamous

Green Beans and Tomatos

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups trimmed green beans
1-2 large Beefmaster tomatoes cut into cubes
1-2 cloves garlic

Directions
1. Snip off the tips of the green beans, then cut or break each bean in half.
2. Use the olive oil to coat the pan.
3. Slowly heat the olive oil, then add the green beans.
4. Quickly stir fry the beans to get them started cooking.
5. Add the chopped onions and stir for 2 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
6. Add the cubed tomatoes.
7. Stir in the garlic and continue to sautee until the tomatoes soften and you can pierce the garlic with a fork.

Serve hot as a side dish. Make it a main dish by adding brown or basmatic rice.

To Your Gardening Abundance!

Cara

Add comment August 29, 2008

Garlic Eggplant Delight (for Garlic Lovers Everywhere)

Eggplant is one of the most misunderstood and often disliked vegetables in the summer garden. I’ve come to the conclusion that oftentimes people dislike eggplant because the dishes they’ve tasted have not been prepared properly.

Some restaurants where I’ve ordered cooked eggplant have actually served it only partly cooked so that, in essence, it has a bitter, raw taste and a chewy texture. Not at all appealing, even to an eggplant aficionado such as myself.

Raw eggplant is an acquired taste. Okay, I admit that cooked eggplant may be an acquired taste, too. However, add some garlic, cook ’til tender, and you have an eggplant dish that any garlic-lover can enjoy. I’ve converted many friends into eggplant eaters with this recipe.

I modeled this recipe after a dish I had many years ago in a Chinese restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. After many failed attempts, I finally achieved eggplant nirvana, so to speak because it tasted like the dish at the restaurant. Over time, I’ve modified this dish to reflect my own taste buds.

Pick eggplants when they are full size and their skin is firm, yet gives a little when you press it.

Garlic Eggplant Delight
1 medium Black Beauty eggplant or 4 to 5 Japanese eggplants
5 to 6 large cloves garlic (or more to taste)
1 small Onion (optional)
1/2 can drained, pitted black olives (optional)
Oregano (to taste)
3/4 cups virgen olive oil
Salt
Pepper

    1. Cut off the eggplant stem and its skirt.
    2. Slice the eggplant one quarter inch thick. Then cut the slices into 1-inch-wide strips.
    3. Layer the strips of eggplant in a glass bowl, salting each layer lightly.
    4. Let the eggplant strips stand for at least 30 minutes. The salt drains the bitterness from the eggplant in the form of a brown liquid and allows you to cook it using less olive oil.
    5. If you include the onion, slice it into strips.
    6. Dice the garlic into small or large chunks depending on your preference.
    7. Drain the liquid from the eggplant and rinse it. Drain it or pat it with a paper towel to remove the excess water.
    8. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.
    9. Add the drained and rinsed eggplant strips to the oil, turning them to lightly coat with olive oil.
    10. Cook the eggplant strips until they begin to soften.
    11. Add the onion strips (optional) and continue to saute until they are translucent.
    12. Add the garlic and drained olives when the eggplant is completely soft and saute until the garlic is translucent and soft enough for a fork to pierce it. Adding the garlic last and cooking only until just done provides a more intensely garlicky flavor to this dish.
    13. Stir periodically to prevent the eggplant from burning or sticking.
    14. Remove from the heat.
    15. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve alone or over rice as a main dish or with crackers as an appetizer. Serves 2 as a main course. Serves 4 as a side dish. Truly delightful.

Many Europeans enjoy bread with each meal. You can serve Garlic Eggplant Delight with French or homemade bread. One of the best web sites I’ve found for healthy low-carb bread and crackers is Carbsmart. Their Dixie Carb Counters Easy No-Knead Bread Mix comes with directions for both traditional oven-baked bread and bread machine-baked bread. The oven-baked bread recipe is on their web site. If you prefer crackers with this dish, Carbsmart also sells several delicious low-carb crackers and chips, including R.W. Garcia Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips, so you can serve Garlic Eggplant Delight like a dip. Just put it in your food processor.

However you decide to serve Garlic Eggplant Delight, enjoy.

To Your Gardening Abundance!

Cara

Add comment August 20, 2008

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