Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today's Harvest: Beets

Today's Harvest is beets! May 22, 2012

The beets that I thinned awhile back are ready for harvesting. The thinnings that I planted are still a ways off. So, now I get to decide what to do with these beets. I guess I could bottle them, or slice them with my mandolin, and bake them for beet chips. I've been cleaning and organizing today, and saw Rachael Ray make a salad with some sliced beets. Think I'll do some googling and see what else I can come up with! When I've decided, I'll be back with the results!

Beets (right) growing in one of my large pots

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pug in the Garden

Today pug got his summer haircut. About 3 times a year we have Pug shaved. It is good for him during the summer because it keeps him cool. Pugs overheat fairly easily. We love to hold him and snuggle with him after he is shaved because he is so smooth and soft! I also love that there is a whole lot less hair in the house.

Here is Luigi greeting Pug after his grooming session with the Dog Mobile!

One of my cherry tomato plants in really getting big.

Close up of some of the tomatoes on the plant.

The yellow pear tomatoes are really coming on and getting big.

And finally, the celebrity tomatoes.

Tomorrow, I'll try to get a chance to load some of the pictures I took of the the herbs and other plants.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How to Make the Perfect Green Smoothie

General Guidelines for Making Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are a great way to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet.  Experiment with ingredients to find your favorite smoothie!

·         STEP ONE:  cover the blades of your Vitamix or blender with liquid. This can be water or juice. It will help the blending process.

·         STEP TWO: Add fruit. Green grapes, pears, apples/applesauce or juice of any of these are sweeteners. Bananas, pumpkin, peaches, etc. can be used as thickeners. This is a good time to add yogurt if you are including it.

·         STEP THREE: Add any supplements, like chia, while blender is on and mixing, and before you add the greens. It seems to get incorporated into the mix better this way.

·         STEP FOUR: Add greens. Spinach is mildest, followed by Napa cabbage, bok choy and young Swiss Chard. Full grown Swiss Chard and Kale have a more noticeable taste as does celery.

·         ADD ICE: Ice gives your smoothie a nice texture after blending, and is very refreshing. You can add frozen fruit at the end instead of ice for the same effect. I like adding frozen strawberries or blueberries.

Vegetable Class at Dixie State College

Tonight is my first class of teaching vegetable cooking/preparation through Dixie State College Community Education.  You can find the brochure for summer classes here.  I'm looking forward to the class. I'm be covering all of the various ways of including vegetables in the diet, from smoothies to salads and sandwiches to cooked vegetables. Loading up my car for the class is going to take some effort. My refrigerator is chuck full of vegetables right now. I'm almost afraid to open it! I'll take some pictures during the class and post them this week.

The picture of the red pepper is a tribute to the Red Pepper Soup Recipe that I'll be making tonight. You can find my original post on that recipe here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today's Harvest: Lettuce

I've been enjoying lettuce (Simpson Black Seeded Leaf Lettuce), Swiss chard and beet greens from my garden over the last several weeks. Above, I cut enough to fill a heaping amount that came way over the top of my large Tupperware mixing bowl.

Leaf lettuces are considered greens. They are a good source of vitamin A and C, calcium and fiber as well as essential minerals such as potassium. Here I am chopping up some washed lettuce for a salad. I also will add some of the Simpson Black Seeded Leaf Lettuce to smoothies. It has a sweet taste.

After washing the lettuce, I like to use the lettuce spinner to remove any extra moisture before cutting it up for a salad.

After washing and spinning the lettuce leaves, I store whatever I'm not using in a dish towel, and then placed in a air tight plastic container. The leaves are then ready to go when ever I am ready to chop them up for a salad, or put them into a smoothie. They will stay good for 10-14 days this way.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Note: This is a guest post by www.sproutshop.net on how to grow microgreens.

  Picture courtesy of Sunset Magazine

Microgreens are a relatively recent addition to the produce aisle. These tiny seedlings are harvested when the first true leaves appear (after the cotyledon or seed leaf stage). They are a specialty crop which many chefs like to use to garnish their dishes or add to salads. Microgreens add color, flavor and texture to any dish. In addition, they are a nutrient dense food, meaning that they provide a significant amount of nutrients compared to the calories in the food. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Sprouts, microgreens and baby greens are simply greens harvested and consumed in an immature state.

·         Sprouts the youngest/smallest, are germinated seed which is sprouted, and are consumed whole. Are ready to eat in 2-6 days after soaking.

·         Microgreens slightly older/larger (about 2-3” tall). Are ready to eat within a week of planting. Some varieties take longer. They are cut at the soil level at harvest.

·         Baby Greens or Petite Greens the oldest/largest (3-4” tall). Are usually ready to eat in 1-2 weeks. They are cut at the soil level at harvest.

Baby lettuce greens grown by  www.sproutshop.net 

Growing microgreens or baby greens can be grown in a garden, or on a kitchen counter or covered patio table (weather permitting). This is a great way to have a year round garden!

Here’s what you’ll need to grow microgreens:

·         Seedling Trays, recycled plastic trays or short pots

Seedling trays are best, but there is nothing wrong with using plastic trays that used to contain some sort of produce you bought. These don’t need to have holes in the bottom, as long as you don’t over water.

·         Organic potting mix, vermiculite and worm castings

Using organic potting mix is best. It doesn’t hurt to add some vermiculite to the mix, as it makes for better soil drainage. Some growers swear by adding worm castings to the mix. You can purchase these from garden centers.

·         Spray Water Bottle or water bottle with small pull up spout

Spray your seeds to keep moist until they sprout, and keep emerging plants from drying out while growing.

How to start your microgreens:

1.    Fill seed tray with good quality, nutrient rich potting soil. Lightly compact soil (using a tamping device or the back of a spoon) to create an even surface. Do not  compact the soil or you will not get good growing results

2.    TIP: Be sure not to overfill the soil or you will have a mess on your hands when you water. Leave ½” space from the soil line to the top of your container.

Microgreens kit with radish seed – www.sproutshop.net

3.    Add seeds. Sprinkle high quality seeds over your soil, evenly. You can plant densely, or sparsely, depending on your preference.

4.    Press the seeds lightly into the soil without pressing them under the soil. Use a tamping tool or the back of a spoon. This will help the seeds to set roots.

5.    Cover the seeds with soil or paper towel. Soil is best for large seeds. Sprinkle soil over the seeds to keep them covered and moist after watering. For small seeds, use the paper towel by gently placing towel over the entire surface.

6.    Water. Use plenty of water but apply it in a gentle way to not disrupt the seeds. The seeds should not be in standing water, but should be moist.

7.    Cover Tray using the clear plastic dome that comes with your tray. It will keep your seeds warm and moist; kind of like a mini greenhouse!

8.    Germinate seeds by keeping soil/paper towel covering seeds moist. Seeds will push up the towel or soil. You can remove the paper towel once the seeds begin to push up the towel.  Consider using a spray bottle to mist the seeds/soil at this point, or a water bottle with a pop-up drinking cap to gently squeeze water onto germinated seeds. TIP: small seeds may have fuzz, which can look like mold, but is normal for many seed varieties.

Sunflower seeds beginning to grow in seedling tray
9.    Put in a location with indirect sunlight or under a grow light once growth is established. You can remove the cover at this point as well. Do not put your microgreens in the sun with the cover on or they will overheat die.

10. Harvest and Eat!

You can decide at what point you want to cut your microgreens and eat them. Cut a few once they are a couple of inches high and see how you like the taste. Sunflower greens should be cut before they reach the true leaf stage (before another set of leaves appears in the center of the first leaves) or they might taste bitter. Use clean, sharp kitchen scissors to harvest your microgreens. After harvesting, your greens will keep for 7-10 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Sunflower microgreens, cut and washed

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quinoa, Red Lentil and Chia Pilaf

I found this recipe over at Original Fast Foods, and decided to give it a try. It makes a delicious side dish for fish. I had some (leftover) for lunch with some sliced tomatoes. I tripled the recipe so that I could put some in the freezer. I found this to be a one of those recipes that will be used often!

Quinoa, Red Lentil and Chia Pilaf
from http://originalfastfoods.com
1/3 c. quinoa (I use Bob's Red Mill as it is pre-rinsed)
1/3 c. red lentils
2 TBSP chia seed
1/3 c. shallots or onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. broth
1 large red or green sweet pepper, chopped (I used yellow since it was in the fridge)
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 tsp thyme

If your quinoa isn't rinsed, so this first. Pick through the lentils for stems, rocks, etc and rinse these as well. Add all ingredients into a pot except for the pepper and the carrot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until quinoa and red lentils are tender.