August 22, 2014
Growing strawberries or have a bag in your freezer from an earlier harvest?
Wondering what to do with the leaves from your stevia plant?
Want an easy-to-make freezer pop recipe that’s diary-free and requires no added refined sugar^ or honey?
Us too! That’s how we came to develop this recipe for tasty, frozen Strawberry Chocolate Rockets, which you could make in any kind of freezer pop mold, but the rockets are darned cute!
Since so many of you have asked on social media, we’ve added a link to buy rocket molds – and other molds – following the recipe.Strawberry Chocolate Rocket Freezer Pops Print
(makes about 6-8 treats, depending on the size of your mold.)
1 bar Theo’s 85% dark chocolate (we like this specific chocolate because it is local in Seattle & because it has just a few ingredients, which are organic and fair trade: cocoa beans, sugar & ground vanilla bean. That’s it. Plus, it offers very low sugar to carb ratios. The nutrition facts on the wrapper indicates each bar equals two servings, each with 17g carb and 7g sugar, which means much of the carbohydrate doesn’t come from refined sugar! We’ve added a link below to buy, if you’re interested)
1 can full fat, unsweetened coconut milk
2-4 pitted dates (2 if they’re big; 4 if they’re small or you have a real sweet tooth)
1 vanilla bean (or 1.5 T. vanilla extract)
6-8 fresh stevia leaves (or more to taste, but remember that a little stevia goes a very long way.)
1/2 cup fresh or defrosted strawberries (yes, we’ve made them with raspberries too, and the raspberry-chocolate lovers liked them best!)
Break up chocolate into squares. Add to high powered blender along with coconut milk, pitted dates, entire vanilla bean & stevia leaves. Begin blending on low, increasing power to high. Blend until smooth; about 2-4 minutes. Be patient & get the mixture as creamy as possible. As needed, turn blender off and scrape down sides so everything fully blends and you don’t end up with clumps of coconut milk.
While chocolate mixture is blending, roughly chop strawberries.
Pour a few tablespoons of the chocolate mixture into your freezer pop mold. Drop in about 2-3 T of chopped strawberries into the mold & stir berries and chocolate together with a knife or something thin and long. Top off with more chocolate mixture to the recommended fill point on your pop mold. (It isn’t likely, but your mixture might expand while freezing, so be sure to leave some head room so it can do what it needs to do.) Stir again briefly so berries are dotted throughout the pop and there are no air gaps along the sides of your mold. Insert sticks with lids.**
Place into tray. Set into freezer. Allow at least 2-3 hours for the pops to set up.
If you have extra of the chocolate mixture, put it in a sealed container in the fridge. You may discover you like the mousse that sets up better than the frozen version. Or, just use the extra mixture to refill emptied pop holders another day.
When you remove your pops from the freezer, you may want to have a measuring cup filled with hot water handy. Dip the frozen mold into the hot water for couple of moments (not minutes). This will help it melt a bit on the outside, making it easier to remove the pop whole from the mold.
Enjoy…just not too fast. You don’t want this freezer pop recipe to turn into an ice cream headache maker.
**If you are using homemade freezer pop molds, you may need to fill your molds part way, stick them in the freezer until the mixture is partially frozen. Then, remove from freezer, insert your pop sticks, fill the molds the rest of the way with yumminess, and then complete the final freezing of your complete pops.
Want rocket molds, Theo’s chocolate, or another style of fun freezer pop mold? Get’m here!
August 15, 2014
One of the most common questions I get from grow-your-own foodies who want to cut back on high carb sweets is “Can you tell me how to grow stevia and use it in my kitchen?” I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten this question every time I’ve given a Gardening Against Diabetes seminar or interview. So, here goes…
My response to these questions: Yes I can tell you how to grow it, and I’ve been developing a number of recipes (see links at the end) that use fresh stevia rather than the processed drops or powders that are readily available at most grocery stores today. I do use the powder and the drops on occasion, but as you’d expect, I’d rather grow my own and teach you how to do the same.
Many of you already know that this simple plant offers a sweetness about a bazillion times sweeter than sugar or honey, and stevia’s sweetness is known to barely (if at all) affect blood sugar. (Okay, so “bazillion” isn’t perfect math, but you get the picture. Lots of sweet, from a plant leaf you can grow, and the sweetness isn’t likely to mess with your blood sugar.) And those benefits are just a few reasons you’d want this little plant in your garden.
How to grow stevia in your garden… (more…)
August 08, 2014
Ready to whip up a strawberry vodka cocktail for happy hour?
If you answered yes! then you’ve got to try our Strasilberry Fizz: a tasty, sugar-free basil & strawberry vodka cocktail — posted especially for everyone who who tried our tips for making berry infused vodka. (And again, kids, if you’re not over 21, go away. You’re not invited to belly up to this bar.)
Okay, now that all the kids are gone, let’s be clear, you can probably buy some strawberry vodka somewhere. But, no way is it going to be as great as the stuff the rest of us made at home with berries from our garden! And, for those of you who are accustomed to drinking simple-syrup or other sugar-infused cocktails, get ready for something lighter and more subtle but still rich in berry flavor. If you’ve already gotten off the sugar-crack, your taste buds are going to zing when hit with these flavors. If you’re still hooked on the white stuff, we wish you well breaking the habit.
Alrighty everyone, get out your shakers, haul out your muddlers & get ready to taste your homemade berry booze infusions in one of our favorite summer herbal strawberry vodka cocktails!
Strasilberry Fizz Print
(makes two drinks)
- 4 shots strawberry vodka
- 4-6 fresh stevia leaves (or 1/16 t. powdered stevia – too much will ruin things, so go easy on the stevia!)
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, plus a few pretty ones for garnish (optional)
- club soda
- fresh strawberries for garnish (optional)
Fill two Collins glasses about 1/3 full with ice. Set aside.
Roughly tear stevia and basil leaves. Place in cocktail shaker with several ice cubes. Smash together with muddler until leaves are tiny flecks.(If you want to infuse your drink with even more strawberry flavor or sweetness, smash a few fresh berries when you muddle the herbs.)
Pour in vodka. Cover shaker & shake vigorously.
Divide liquid between the two Collins glasses. Top with soda. Stir. Garnish with strawberry and basil.
The green herbs may dilute the deep pink of your strawberry infusion, but it’ll still taste great. Be sure to inhale the aroma before you sip to truly appreciate how beautifully your homegrown strawberries infused the vodka and how wonderfully it pairs with the basil.
August 01, 2014
After picking a few pints of green coriander pods to freeze for winter, we were motivated to try something new with our generous, fresh green coriander crop.
That day, the garden was full of fresh onion, eggplant, tomato, and zucchini — all ready to harvest. With this bounty in mind, we put together this tasty marinade that is simply fantastic on Mahi-Mahi, and it went terrific with garden-fresh vegetable kabobs (augmented by a few grilled mushrooms and peaches from the market.)
Green Coriander Marinade Print
- 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 lime
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 jalapeno
- 1/4 t. sea salt
- 1 T. coconut aminos
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 T. green coriander (fresh or frozen)
- generous grind of black pepper
Squeeze the juice of lemon and lime into a small bowl.
Peel and coarsely chop garlic. Remove stem and seeds from jalapeno; coarsely chop. Place garlic and jalapeno into mortar. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grind together with pestle into a paste. Scrape the mash into the lemon-lime juice. Set aside.
Place coriander into mortar and slightly crush with pestle. Add to lemon-lime mixture. Stir in coconut aminos, olive oil, and a few grinds of black pepper.
This should make enough marinade for a pound or two of fish. Green coriander’s spicy-citrus flavor is strong, so a little goes a long way!
If using with fish, pour marinade over fish and allow to rest about 15 minutes before cooking.
If using with chicken, you may wish to infuse the meat at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
July 25, 2014
Making berry infused vodka is incredibly simple…especially when your garden is abundant with ripe delicious strawberries, raspberries, or any other delicious, ripe berry. If you’re under drinking age, you are not invited to read on; just go eat a bunch of berries instead!
For you adult garden booze hounds, there’s no way you don’t want to preserve the sweet flavor of summer with this incredibly simple method to make berry infused vodka. While many will suggest using sugar is critical to extracting the fruit’s essence into booze, we’ve found there’s really no need to pile on the sweeteners to make a tasty berry infused vodka. Freshly harvested homegrown fruit should offer plenty of flavor all on its own.
Here’s how to infuse your booze with the tasty flavor of berries from your garden. This elixir is the key ingredient for homegrown adults-only refreshment on a hot summer day — or later in winter when you’re desperate for summer’s return.
Tools & ingredients you’ll need to infuse your booze:
- 1, 1 quart mason jar, clean with lid
- 1-2 pints freshly picked, washed & hulled berries
- 1 quart of vodka…(the better the vodka, the better your berry infused vodka will be)
Add fruit to your clean mason jar. Bruise the fruity bits a little by slicing or slightly smashing them to help release the juices. Pour vodka over the berries (you’ll probably have a bit of vodka leftover). Screw on the lid. Place in fridge and resist the urge to start drinking right away.
Allow flavors to meld together for at least two weeks; we found 21 days perfect.
Tools for straining your infused booze:
- Large, non-reactive bowl fitted with a mesh strainer lined with overlapping cheese cloth
- Pretty bottle for storing your infused booze
Once you’ve finished steeping your berry infused vodka,
check back in a couple of weeks fortry whipping up our delicious sugar-free strawberry-basil vodka fizz recipe: Strasilberry Fizz. We’ll be posting it on Friday, August 8, 2014. Until then, start infusing!
July 18, 2014
Need help learning how to prune rhododendrons & azaleas? We’ve got you covered! Fortunately, you can fine-prune these beautiful plants just about any time of year as long as you take care not to cut off all the flower buds.
Need pruning tools? Courtesy of our friends at Fiskars, we’ll be giving away a pair of bypass pruners and a folding handsaw to one lucky reader. Read on for details…(this giveaway is now closed.)
The reality is, sometimes you get to pruning when you have the time. Not every plant can be pruned successfully at the same time as every other plant, but rhodies are quite forgiving on timing.
Simple rules to follow: don’t prune them if they are flowering or about to flower or if it is frozen outside. And, if pruning in spring, summer or autumn, be sure to check for hornet nests. They love to build their summer homes in rhodies and other medium-sized shrubs — especially when they’re dense with dead wood! But remember: rules are made to be broken, and your garden and plants may require a bit of rule bending.
In all honestly, we knew how to prune rhododendrons, but we just hadn’t gotten to cleaning this one up in a couple of years. Trees and shrubs grow just fine without us cutting, shaping and coiffing them all the time. But, the messy interior of this rhodie was an eye-sore we could no longer ignore. So, on a day that eventually topped 90F, we spent a couple of hours beautifying this blooming beauty. We got done well before temperatures soared. No sunburns here and by far the plant is in better shape than before.
All we needed for the job: a pair of bypass pruners, a folding handsaw, and a tarp.
Did you know that all azaleas are rhododendrons? Yep, Rhododendron is actually a genus of plants into which the azaleas are also classified! So, of course it makes sense that knowing how to prune rhododendrons would set you up for success in pruning your azaleas as well. Generally speaking, azaleas are twiggier, so you’ll just be in for making a lot more small cuts than you would on bigger rhodies.
Fine pruning is not shearing off the outside to “shape” a plant. Often the sign of a good pruner is you can hardly tell they’ve cut anything from your plants. Still, when we were done with interior cuts, sunlight & air could flow through the plant. This helps reduce pest and disease issues in many garden situations.
Because the plant hides a foundation & utility area, we chose not to lift all the lower limbs, which would expose the ugly part of the house from a nearby patio. Eventually, we may decide to plant something under this rhodie at which time, we will limb it up. But no way was planting going to happen during a heatwave in July!
Ready to dive in but still need the right tools for the job? In the comment section for this post, tell us about the most beautiful rhodie or azalea in your garden. Is it colorful, fragrant, filled with pollinators, or what makes it a plant you’d love to get cleaned up.
One person will be chosen via random.org on Monday, July 28, 2014 to win a pair of Large Bypass Pruners and a 7″ PowerTooth Folding Handsaw to be shipped to them from our friends at Fiskars. Comment period to enter closes at midnight PDT on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (This giveaway is now closed.)
(More details on our relationship as paid writer with Fiskars at the end of this post, but to be clear we have received no compensation for this post or tool giveaway. And, learn more about using random.org at the end of this article.)
Next up: a Visual step-by-step guide to deadheading your rhododendrons.