February 06, 2012
If you’re desperate to munch on homegrown greens in winter, sprouts may be the answer. Even in the dead of winter, it is easy to get a nutrient-rich, tasty crop of sprouts ready to eat within a week. Here’s how:
- Purchase seeds sold specifically for sprouts. Although other seeds will work, on occasion the wrong seed has the potential to get you sick – E. Coli and other nasty stuff. Most seed catalogers and nurseries will have what you need. (Some will recommend pre-treating seeds with a bleach solution as well.)
- Prepare a container for sprouting seeds. Either purchase a sprouts kit or try using a recycled mason jar with a punctured lid for allowing airflow.
- Find some window space for your container — even just a few hours of morning light should do the trick. (I use the window over my kitchen sink. This makes rinsing the seeds easy.)
- Sprinkle seeds in your sprouting container. Rinse with water, drain. Place in window.
- Rinse seeds with room temperatures water, drain and return to the window once or twice a day for about 5-7 days. Do not allow the sprouting seeds or sprouts to dry out.
- Harvest & eat!
Besides nutrient packed fresh greens to eat, another great thing about sprouts: Getting a visual education in the seed germination process.
Depending on the seed you grow, the sunlight and warmth in your location and other factors, your timeline may be a little different. But, assuming you have viable seeds and you don’t let them dry out as they grow, this is basically what will happen in time:
Day one: Hard little seeds get wet & begin to slowly swell.
Day two: Hard seed casings continue to swell and soften.
Day three: Seed casing split and begin to fall away as roots emerge.
Day four: Roots form tiny water-capturing hairs and begin to move downward. Tiny leaves emerge in tones of pale yellow and begin to move upward.
Day five: Roots and leaves continue to stretch out. Leaves darken with food forming chlorophyll as they mature.
Day six: Mix of seeds in all stages continue to grow. Harvesting may begin.
Day seven: If you haven’t eaten everything already, consider moving the sprouts into the fridge to slow down growth and reduce any rot that may become the next step in a sunny window. If your sprouts ever begin to smell or look “off”, toss them in the compost.
(Thanks to Botanical Interests for sending us a packet of their organic Radish China Rose sprout seeds to try for free! Although we got the seeds for free, we have received no compensation for this article.)
December 27, 2011
Following the gluttony of endless holiday partying, my body starts to respond in all sorts of frightening ways to the unusually large inputs of sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol. Sure, we tell ourselves all those “bad-for-you-foods” don’t count during the holidays, but right after the season-of-too-much-cheer, everything counts (including the stuff we said didn’t count as we stuffed our pie holes with that totally unnecessary third slice of pie — for breakfast — topped with both whipping cream & ice cream…and maybe a dollop of marscapone since it was in the fridge…and a handful of Chex Mix from the container next to the pie plate…oh, and perhaps a couple of sausages…and heck, why not an eggnog latte with lots of rum to wash it all down?).
Without fail, it begins the moment the fancy china has been washed and packed away. Flabby formation begin to build near the hips. Salty bloats threaten to dislodge rings. Sugary crashes bring on the blues. Caffeine withdrawals promise pounding noggins. And dehydrated skin leaves us wondering why we ever thought that third (or fourth or fifth) martini was a good idea. Let’s face it. This kind of eating can’t go on forever.
So, if you’re feeling bloated, coated in sugar, dipped and fat fresh from the fryer. And, if you’re ready to set aside the holiday junk, consider these simple recipes to lighten up your meals and refresh your body!
Oh, and for goodness sakes. Get out of those pajamas and go for a walk! You never know — that Lenten Rose or Yuletide Camellia might just be in bloom by now!
(The following article and recipes were originally published 12/3/2010) (more…)
October 01, 2011
One of the simplest fresh-from-the-garden salads is coleslaw. And right now the main ingredients to this tasty side are abundant in the garden. Until they’re hit with frost damage, cabbages stay lovely and tasty in the garden. And, carrots often taste even better once they’re kissed by chilly temperatures.
So, make it now while picnics are still in season, or make it later when you’re huddled inside on a chilly day. It’ll only take a minute to toss together!
- 1 small to medium head of purple cabbage, cored and shredded into fine pieces
- 4-6 orange carrots, grated with a medium blade
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 T. mayonnaise
- 3 T. cider vinegar
- 1 t. celery seed
- 2 T. prepared horseradish (or to taste)
- dash salt
In a large bowl toss the shredded vegetables until mixed. Set aside.
To make the dressing: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise & horseradish. When well mixed, whisk in vinegar. Stir in remaining ingredients to combine.
Pour dressing over shredded vegetables and toss to mix well.
If you can wait, this salad tastes better if given an hour or two for the flavors to mingle. But, its also great right from the start, so dig in!
July 12, 2011
Garlic scapes have been rearing their tasty heads in the garden for several weeks now. It’s important to snip them out before the flowers open; removing them encourages hard neck garlic to produce bigger, stronger bulbs. For every hard neck garlic plant, you should be able to harvest one scape (or unopened flower stalk). Garlic scapes come in around June-July, which is just about the time that garlic bulbs stored over winter begin to shrivel and turn brown.
For the most part, we use garlic scapes in the same way that we would a chopped garlic clove. Scapes can be mild or spicy. Generally, the measurement of one scape equals one clove (not bulb) is appropriate, but experiment to your taste! Just mince them up — discarding the toughest ends of the stalk and flower casing — and enjoy them in salad dressings, sautes, infused oils and more.
Or, keep them whole and create a very fancy-looking but very easy-to-prepare side dish or appetizer like this one I whipped up earlier this spring when asparagus was at its peak and garlic scapes were just beginning to emerge. Lucky for us, both are still available. The asparagus at the farmer’s market; the scapes in the garden. Hopefully, in just a couple more years our sad, new asparagus patch will become productive making this dish a regular spring diet favorite!
Scape Wrapped Asparagus with Prosciutto
- 6-8 thin slices prosciutto
- 6-8 fresh garlic scapes
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
- fresh ground pepper
- olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheet with foil & oil the foil. Wash & trim tough ends off of asparagus. Divide asparagus into 6-8 bundles. Wrap each bundle with a slice of prosciutto. Wash and trim tough end off garlic scape; scape should be about 8″ long when trimmed. Gently, wrap one scape around the prosciutto wrapped asparagus bundle and tie once to hold bundle intact. (see photo) It does not need to be tight; take care not to break the scape as you tie. Lay each wrapped bundle on oiled foil-lined sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and a grind of pepper.
Roast bundles in preheated oven for about 14 minutes or to taste.Prosciutto should be crispy-chewy, not crumbly. Asparagus should be warm but crisp to the bite.
Serve with a side of melon or papaya and lots of crunchy veggies like seasonally available radish and sugar snap peas for a fantastic summery meal.
- 6-8 thin slices prosciutto
June 17, 2011
Finally, our garden is starting to yield more than just lettuce. Too, the chickens at Ballard Bee Company headquarters sent a few eggs our way recently. And our herbs are tender with fresh new growth, but they aren’t blooming. This is a a peak moment to enjoy them. And, our basil in the greenhouse was ready to be pinched to encourage it to become more bushy. So, last night I pulled together this tasty frittata to celebrate the arrival of our beautiful Neon Lights Chard from Renee’s Garden Seed, which I planted earlier this season.
Served with warm polenta & a fruit salad, it made for a delicious breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal.
(hint: serve this anytime of day)
- 1 bunch chard, leaves washed and torn, stems composted
- 2 spring onions chopped
- olive oil
- 1 garlic clove (or scape)
- 1 T. fresh thyme
- 1 T. fresh basil
- 3 T. fresh parsley
- fresh ground pepper
- coarse salt (kosher is ideal)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 4-6 T. chevre cut into 1/2 teaspoon bits
- 8 large eggs
Add about 1 T. olive oil to omelet pan. Heat over medium and then saute chopped onion until soft. Add in chard in batches, adding more as each addition wilts. Cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Season with salt & pepper, emove from pan and set aside. (Wash out pan to use again.)
Crush garlic with a pinch of coarse salt. Add in torn herb leaves and continue to crush. (Parsley may require a brief chopping before crushing.)
Whisk eggs to break up. Then stir in herb/garlic combo, chard/onion saute and cheeses, reserving about 1-2 T. of Parmesan.
Add about 1 T. olive oil to omelet pan. Heat until pan is very hot. Pour in eggs and shake briefly to distribute egg mixture across the pan. Let sizzle on medium-hot 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to very low. Run a spatula around the edge of the frittata at this point to be sure it isn’t sticking. Then cover and let cook on low for about 15-20 minutes, checking frequently.
When the eggs are cooked through but the top is still moist, sprinkle reserved Parmesan over top. Insert pan under broiler and watch carefully. Broil to brown the top. Usually this takes about 2-5 minutes. Again, watch carefully so you don’t burn it!
Shout out to cooking goddess Deborah Madison for all of her great frittata recipes, which inspired this modified version of one of hers! If you don’t have a copy of Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I suggest you pick it up. Regardless of what your garden produces this season, she’ll have a recipe to get you started cooking anything from asparagus to rutabagas!
Note: Seed from Renee’s was provided to Garden Mentors for free; however, no compensation has been provided for this article.
October 07, 2010
It has and continues to be an insane tomato crop year in my garden. I didn’t manage to produce much else with a lot of success — unless you count powdery mildew crops on squash in your production numbers — but the tomatoes are kind of making up for the other lackluster veggie performances. I harvested another fifteen pounds over the weekend followed by another ten yesterday. Today or tomorrow there should be another ten or so ready to bring in. The crock pot is running full-time to create paste and the dehydrator is pumping out tray after tray of dried tomatoes daily. It’s going to be a spaghetti-filled winter for us – yay!
Over the past weeks and months, I’ve shared quite a bit of information about why I think the tomatoes have produced so well. One reason: my plants were grown from seed. All but two plants in my garden came from plants I started myself. But those other two? Well, they produced what are simply the cutest tomatoes ever – Principe de Borghese. (more…)