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Category: Eat. Drink. Preserve.

  • Tomato Paste Replaced

    September 18, 2015
    The concentrated rich flavor of tomato paste imparts an intense, hearty flavor to many dishes. But how often have you opened a can and only needed a tablespoon of paste from it?

    Homemade Tomato Paste

    Rich, thick, delicious tomato paste is easy to whip up into small, as-needed batches.

    Quit buying those cans. Skip cooking and canning a big batch of paste. Instead, whip up only as much as you need, one recipe at a time, from versatile dried tomatoes in your pantry – it’s fast, simple and really tasty!

    Dried tomatoes instead of paste

    Fill your pantry with dried tomatoes from your garden at the height of freshness!

    Once your pantry is stocked with dried tomatoes, whip up our tastier-than-tomato-paste puree to add to dishes like stroganoff, soups, marinara, gravy, curries, stews or any other dish that needs an injection of rich tomato flavor.
    Dried Tomato Paste PureePrint Print

    Ingredients:
    4-6 dried tomato halves*
    1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth (or water + 1/4 t sea salt)

    *If you are using unseasoned dried tomatoes, add 1/8 t dried thyme and 1/2 T olive oil

    Pour broth or water plus salt into a microwave safe measuring cup. Heat about 1-2 minutes or until the liquid boils.

    Dried tomatoes soaking in broth for tomato paste recipe

    Soak just a few dried tomatoes in broth or salted water to make up the perfect amount of tomato paste for your recipe every time. A little of this goes a long way!

    Add dried tomatoes to the hot broth, pressing down with a spoon and stirring until the tomatoes sink into the liquid. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the tomatoes to rehydrate; they won’t absorb all of the liquid.


    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)



    Once the tomatoes are soft, pour the tomatoes and liquid into a blender. (At this point the liquid should be cool, but if it isn’t take care when you turn on the blender, starting at the lowest setting to avoid any steamy, hot explosions of red goop everywhere.) Cap the blender pitcher tightly and begin pureeing the mixture, starting at a low setting and eventually working to a high setting. Within a few minutes you should have a nicely whipped, rich tomato blend. It may be a little runnier than the stuff you’re used to buying in the can, but it will be intensely flavored (and full of your own garden goodness!)

    Using a spoon or spatula, scoop the mixture from the blender and add to your recipe as you would tomato paste, adjusting the amount based on how much tomato-y flavor you want.

    (This makes about a 1/4 cup of paste. If you want less or more paste for your recipe, adjust the number of tomatoes and amount of broth relative to your needs.)

    If you accidentally make more than you need, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and drop your DIY paste in 1 T. globs onto the lined sheet. Place in freezer until solid. Then, drop your chunks into a freezer-safe container to store for next time.
  • Zucchini Chip Recipes

    August 21, 2015
    When the garden gives you zucchini overload, make our zucchini chip recipes!

    Don’t ignore your productive plants and hope those squash that magically appeared overnight will just go away when you turn your back on them. If you aren’t picking your zukes a day or so after each fruit flowers, that tender, little veggie morsel will rapidly turn into a tough, pithy, seedy giant nobody wants to eat.

    Zucchini harvest in Stumpdust wood bowl

    Pick your zucchini squash when they’re just a day or two old for tender, sweet eats!
    Beautiful wooden bowl created by our friend Andy at Stumpdust!

    In our garden, from a total of six plants, we harvest about a pound to three pounds each day. We eat many fresh, shred and freeze others for latkes, cube/blanch/freeze several for soups and stews come winter, and dehydrate them as noodles to store as well. But, we still seem to have a fridge drawer full of them all summer long.

    salt 'n pepper zucchini chip recipe image

    Simple salt ‘n pepper zucchini chips from our recipe are delicious, healthy & easy to make!

    So, I worked up a few tasty no-fry recipes for dehydrating several more of those tiny torpedoes into long-storage, tasty pantry snacks that replace greasy bags of store-bought chips. Check out just how easy it is to make garden-fresh Salt ‘n Pepper, Seaweed and Hot ‘n Smoky BBQ chips on your own with our recipes. And, if you need tools or ingredients, check our shopping links at the end!

    Zucchini Recipes: Chips in 3 FlavorsPrint Print

    Hot ‘n Smoky BBQ Flavor

    smoky bbq zucchini chip recipe visual

    Slice thin. Sprinkle with flavor. Insert into dehydrator. Eat or store in your pantry!


    Ingredients:
    1t chili powder
    1/2t fine sea salt
    1t smoked paprika
    1/4 t cayenne powder
    1t tomato seasoning salt

    2, 3/4-1 lb fresh, young zucchini

    Step 1: Mix chili powder, sea salt, smoked paprika, cayenne and tomato seasoning salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.

    Step 2: Using a sharp knife or mandoline, trim ends of zucchini and discard. Then, slice zucchini into thin rounds about 1/4″ thick.

    Step 3: Place sliced zucchini rounds in single layer onto as many dehydrator trays as needed to accommodate your slices.

    Step 4: Sprinkle about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of spice rub onto one side of each zucchini slice.

    Step 5: Insert trays into dehydrator. If your dehydrator has a heat setting, set it to 125F. Allow dehydrator to run until the slices are dry and crisp, like a chip! (These slices can dry quickly, within a couple of hours. But, times vary by location, humidity and temperature, so watch yours carefully.)

    Step 6: If you don’t eat all of your zucchini chips right away, place them into a dry vacuum seal container so they don’t go limp.

    Jars filled with our chip zucchini recipes

    Store your zucchini chips in vacuum sealed mason or other jars to keep them fresh & crisp like these Seaweed & Smoky BBQ flavor chips.


    Salt ‘n Pepper Flavor

    Ingredients:
    1 t fine sea salt
    1 T freshly ground black pepper, fine-to-medium grind if possible
    2, 3/4-1 lb fresh, young zucchini

    Beginning with step 2 in the BBQ flavor recipe, trim and slice zucchini. Line dehydrator trays as in step 3 in the BBQ recipe. Then, sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt and ground pepper. Next, refer to steps 5 & 6 in the BBQ recipe above to dry and store your chips.


    Seaweed Flavor

    Ingredients:
    1 t Celtic Sea Salt Gourmet Seaweed Seasoning
    2, 3/4-1 lb fresh, young zucchini

    Beginning with step 2 in the BBQ flavor recipe, trim and slice zucchini. Line dehydrator trays as in step 3 in the BBQ recipe. Then, sprinkle each slice with a bit of seaweed seasoning salt. Next, refer to steps 5 & 6 in the BBQ recipe above to dry and store your chips.


    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

  • How to Preserve Zucchini Noodles

    July 31, 2015

    This has been the year of the zucchini in our garden, which means we’re learning how to use and how to preserve zucchini in creative ways. In past years, we’ve shared our simple method for freezing zucchini and enjoying it in a grain-free, low carb latke. Because we’re harvesting a few pounds of these and other cucurbits everyday this summer, we’ll run out of freezer space if all we do is freeze’m. So, it’s time to fire up the dehydrator for zucchini noodles!

    Zucchini noodle tool

    This two-sided vegetable peeler will make angel hair & wide noodle zucchini in a snap.

    We‘re giving (gave away) one of these tools to a lucky mailing list subscriber!

    Want a chance at this freebie? (The entry period has now passed & the winner has been notified; but we encourage you to sign up in order to hear about future specials available only to our subscribers!

    Join our mailing list before midnight PDT on July 31, 2015. Then, check your email for our monthly newsletter on August 1st to get all the details and find out how to throw your hat in the ring.


    Zucchini noodles are a fantastic low carbohydrate alternative for anyone who loves pasta dishes but wants to keep their carb or grain intake low. Plus, they’re really simple to make. And, dried they’ll store well into winter without drawing power from your deep freeze.

    Trimmed Zucchini

    Harvest your zucchini each morning, selecting young fruits that weigh in under a pound. Larger ones get seedy & more difficult to work with. Young ones are ideal! After washing your zukes, trim off & discard the stem & flower end of the fruit.

    Trimmed zucchini

    Next, use the wide blade to shave a lengthwise, flat size into your zucchini. Lay the flat side down on your cutting board so the squash doesn’t roll as you cut your noodles.


    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)



    Zucchini being sliced into noodles

    Decide if you prefer stringy or wider noodles. We make some of both. The angel hair size is great for spaghetti, and the wide shape is ideal as an egg noodle replacement. Then, use the wide or narrow cutting blade, pulling lengthwise down the fruit multiple times to shave off your noodles. The last thin bit may require slicing with a knife or chop it into dinner!

    (more…)

  • Easy Soap Recipes with Garden Flowers

    March 13, 2015

    Working with caustic lye has never appealed to me, so I set out to develop easy soap recipes that don’t require a respirator, special equipment or very much time. Now that I’ve got it figured out, every month or so, I spend a few minutes in the kitchen whipping up a supply of fragrant, homemade soap that lasts for weeks.

    Easy soap recipe homemade bar

    These easy soap recipes take about 5 minutes of work & are inexpensive. Pair them with our herbal aromatherapy humidifier sachets for gifts!

    Not only are my DIY soap recipes easy to prepare, but they cost much less per bar* than the $4+/bar I had been paying for organically based bars of soap at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Plus, I can decorate my easy soap recipes with a number of homegrown flowers and herbs from my garden. We use these soaps daily in our shower, and I’ve always got a few bars on hand for gifts.

    Peppermint Seahawk fan easy soap recipe bar

    My easy soap recipe for peppermint pucks is a great green & blue gift
    for your favorite Seattle Seahawks fans!

    Following are a just a few of my botanically rich and easy soap recipes — peppermint, rose and citrus. Plus, I’ve put together a shopping widget to make it easy for you to buy all the ingredients you’ll need to grow your own flowers and make your own soaps at home. And, for you knitters, we’ve got a link for instructions to DIY exfoliating soap sleeves. (more…)

  • Basil Rosemary Pesto Recipe

    October 17, 2014
    Before the last of your basil goes kaput under autumn’s chill and waning light, harvest the last of your crop to make a preservable batch of our favorite dairy-free basil rosemary pesto.

    Basil Rosemary Pesto Ingredients

    All you need to whip up a tasty batch of dairy-free basil-rosemary pesto

    This rich, herbal paste is simple to whip up — and a little goes a long way to add flavor to roasted chicken or vegetables like cauliflower and tomatoes. If you love traditional basil-only pesto, try this one for the added depth of flavor — almost a smoky richness — that the rosemary imparts. It’s rich and creamy – no cheese required!

    Dairy-free Basil Rosemary PestoPrint Print

    Makes about 2, 1 cup servings

    Basil-Rosemary Pesto

    Finished Basil Rosemary Pesto – Let’s eat!

    Ingredients:

    3 cups packed, washed fresh basil leaves, stems removed

    2 T. washed rosemary leaves, stems removed

    3 large garlic cloves, peeled & ends trimmed

    1 cup toasted pine nuts, cooled to room temperature (warm nuts may turn basil — and your pesto — black, so let’m cool!)

    1/2-3/4 cup olive oil

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    few grinds fresh pepper

    Add garlic, rosemary, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cooled pine nuts to food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. More chopping = a finer, creamier pesto

    Basil Rosemary Pesto Ingredients in Food Processor

    Freshly harvested basil rosemary pesto ingredients in food processor bowl ready to pulverize.

    With processor running, add oil in a steady stream, stopping processor & scraping down sides as needed. Add only enough oil to create your preferred consistency — less oil for a thicker paste, more oil for a runnier sauce. Taste occasionally before adding more oil, which can dilute the herbal-garlicky flavor.

    Add a few grinds of fresh, black pepper. Stir. Adjust salt to taste.


    Your tasty pesto is ready to use immediately in recipes like the rich, delicious vegan pasta dish shown here. Believe it or not, that’s a completely grain-free pasta noodle. You know you want it….

    Vegan Grain-free Pesto Pasta

    Want the recipe for making this rich, vegan, grain-free pasta dinner?
    Let us know in the comments below!

    Want the recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll work on sharing it with you soon.  Or, try our tips for storing your pesto to use later. (more…)

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(You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors but don’t cost you anything extra. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)