Category Archives: Recipes

Seasonings from the Garden

No68AIMG_0663cPerk up salads, make your own meat rubs and sweeten up your Iced tea with herbs from your garden. These recipes from my seminar at the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show are perfect to make now while there is an abundance of herbs in the garden to harvest and preserve.

seasonings gardenHerbed Lime Rub
This is one of my favorites. I love a kick of lemon and lime on many things and this has just enough zip to it that it can be used as an all-purpose sprinkle on salads. Use as a dry rub to flavor meat as you are prepping them for the grill. Just the right zest for chicken and salmon.
1/3 cup Sea salt (coarse, grind)
1 teaspoon lime zest (add more to taste)
1 teaspoon dried Garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian flat leaf parsley
Mix all ingredients well. Keep the blend chunky for meat rubs. You can grind this blend down (in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle) to a finer mix for use as a seasoning salt.

Rosemary Smoked Salt
Aromatic salts make this the perfect mix for beef and heavy sauces using tomatoes. Nice strong herbal mix for use to season meats while grilling.
1 cup coarse smoked salt
1/4 cup dried rosemary leaves (whole)
1 tablespoon dried garlic granules
Mix all ingredients together. Crushed the mix slightly with a mortar and pestle to release the essence of the rosemary and garlic into the mix. Store in a glass spice shaker.

Lavender sel et poivre (salt and pepper)
An elegant salad seasoning. This lighter tasting mix can be used on chicken and pork to season.
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
3 tablespoons coarse French grey sea salt
Ground peppercorns to taste (approximately a 1/2 teaspoon).
Mix all ingredients together. Grind down if you want the mix to be finer and able to sprinkle through a shaker top. Store in a glass spice shaker.

For your Sweet Tooth

Rose-Lavender-Lemon Sugar
Perfect for iced tea to add sweetness and flavor. Use in baking and to dust the tops of warm sugar cookies fresh from the oven.
1/2 cup coarse raw sugar
2 tablespoons dried rose petals
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
1 tablespoon lemon powder
Grind all ingredients in a coffee bean grinder to mix well and create a fine textured blend. Store in a glass jar.

Mint Sugar
Use to sweeten tea or rim a cocktail glass
Mint sugar: Ratio: ground 1/3 dried mint leaves, 2/3 coarse grind sugar. Blend ingredients together in a coffee bean grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Store in a glass jar.

herb seasoning bundle editCreate your own Signature Blends
Store these dried herb mixes in tiny tins and label. Easy savory seasonings from the garden, perfectly gift-able too!

Tie small bundles of herbs together and allow them to dry. Once they are dry strip the leaves from the stems, mix in something that tingles the taste buds like salt, pepper or a citrus zest. Slightly crush together so that the essential oils from the herbs blend together in the mix.
Package the mix in small metal tins and label.

For chicken: Herbs-Lemon thyme and French tarragon. Add dried lime peel.
Pork: Sage, rosemary and French thyme. Add cracked black pepper
Beef: Oregano and Basil. Add dried garlic granules.
Seafood: Dried bronze fennel and lemon verbena. Add dried lemon peel.

Resource for bulk smoked and sea salts, peppercorns, garlic granules and jars www.mountainroseherbs.com 

Tins, bottles and packaging www.specialtybottle.com

 

 

 

 


Cool Remedies from the Garden

IMG_2854 editCool Down with these simple remedies from the garden.

Lavender Cooling Mist
This is a simple recipe using lavender flowers. Infuse the flowers in water to release all their essential oil and goodness. Add a few drops of essential oil and place the mix in a spray bottle. The light water mist touches the skin and begins to cool off the surface while the lavender essence heals and soothes. Studies show that lavender is not only calming to your mind but helps to cool down skin temperature and lower blood pressure.
Recipe:
Bring 4 ounces of purified water to boil. Remove from heat and add a generous ½ cup measure of organically grown lavender flowers to the water. Allow to cool. Pour the water through a cheesecloth to remove all the flowers. Pour lavender water into a sterilized glass mister bottle. Add 5 to 10 drops of lavender essential oil and shake well.
Shake well before each use.
• Mist on sunburned or irritated skin to bring relief and promote healing. For added benefit, refrigerate and use the mist chilled for fast cooling relief.
• Cool down bed sheets by spraying the mist onto linens to refresh them just before retiring for the night.

Super Skin Healer, Aloe Vera
Aloe vera, treated as a houseplant in most climates this relative of the Cacti family is a magical healer for skin. The clear gel inside the blades soothes and heal irritated skin.
Fresh and easy use:
Slice the Aloe Vera leaf and scrape out the clear gel. Apply to skin.No69aloesap

Cucumber Poultice
Excerpt from page 144 of The Herb Lover’s Spa Book.
The common vegetable cucumber is a super skin healer. Combined with Aloe vera it becomes an amazing treatment. Use on sunburned and irritated skin to bring cooling relief.
1 fresh Aloe vera leaf
1 cucumber, organically grown
Peel skin off cucumber, split lengthwise and remove seeds. Crush or blend until it becomes become thick and pulpy. Split the leaf of an Aloe vera and scrape the clear sap out with a spoon. Add the sap to the cucumber mush. Apply to skin and allow to remain for up to 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. This be used repeatedly until burning and irritation subsides.


Make Time!

sugarsLovely thoughts flutter through your mind to hand craft  all of your gifts this year. Just imagine it, Christmas music playing in the background, an area set aside for all your crafting gear (and not having to clear the dining room table for a meal!) …yes, it is nice to dream. Then there is the calendar flipping its days so fast it could make your head spin.  Time is the rare commodity as holiday activities run away with it all. 

Here are a few links to DIY gifts that look like you worked on for days but will take only  a matter of hours from start to wrapping.

Give joy!

 

http://www.pinterest.com/gardenersue/make-joy/

https://creativegardener.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/last-minute-gift-ideas-herbal-scented-sugars/

https://creativegardener.wordpress.com/category/recipes/

 


Freezing? Keep Calm and Garden on!

webterrariumclass 

 Now scheduling Fall and Winter Workshops at UGC University 

for groups of 12 or less (minimum of 5)

Get together at the University of UGC (Urban Garden Company) – Let’s schedule it! Call for available dates and times.

Designing with Bulbs 
Get your hands dirty and learn about using bulbs to create a colorful garden. Tips and techniques for planning and planting in the landscape and containers, then create your own bulb container to take home. Instructor Sue Goetz will take you through the process of creating a bulb  lasagna container. All of the supplies needed for the container will be provided, however you may want to bring your own pair of gardening gloves.
Per Person $25, all supplies included.

Terrarium Workshop
MaKe-It, TaKe It- fun workshop with all supplies included, we’ll get a little dirty and create small glass gardens perfect for indoor tabletop décor.
Per person: $30, includes all supplies.

Collage Seed Boxes
Fun project! This is a box that will hold seed packets or can be used as a lovely garden themed storage box. We will decorate a plain box with pressed botanicals, paper ephemera, vintage book pages and more. This is a hand-on class with all supplies included. You can bring paper scraps and pressed flowers (and many will be supplied)  to personalize your work of art. Learning the mixed collage technique will give you many great ideas for Holiday gifting!
Per Person: $35 includes blank box to collage and all supplies.

Garden Décor for the Holidays, from fragrance to living plants.
Cinnamon, pine, cloves….the fragrances of the holidays captured into crafting and decorating inside the home for the holiday season.  Creative ideas woven with the legends and traditions of use.  Fresh greens, herbs, dried spices and fruits, potpourri blends, pomanders, bulb forcing, and wreaths for housewarming decor or gifts. Plus tabletop living topiary workshop for an elegant easy way to bring the garden indoors! Instructions how to spiral a mini evergreen and make-it-take-it living ivy wreath.
Per person: $30. Includes all supplies, class fees and instruction to make a tabletop topiary ivy wreath, plus  fragrant samples and recipes to take home.
Other topics and sessions available, please inquire!

311 Puyallup Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 253-265-2209, info@thecreativegardener.com


Steal inspiration!

TacomaHomeGardenShow2013

 

 


Last Minute Gift Ideas: Herbal Scented Sugars

For the sweet tooth on your list, create a mini selection of herb-infused sugars.

Wrap up in a gift box and include a recipe book or cards sharing how to use them!

Use peppermint or spearmint leaves, rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium),  lavender buds,  rose petals, lemon verbena leaves, vanilla beans or ginger. All the following recipes become more flavorful as the fragrance infuses into the sugar. Use decorative glass jars that seal tight.

Herb leaf or flower petal sugar

Alternate a layer of sugar and the chosen herb until the jar is full. Allow to sit a few days before use to allow the flavor to infuse through the sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

3 cups sugar and 2 vanilla beans

Directions: Place sugar in a bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut vanilla beans in half,  lengthwise. Scrape seeds from the pod into the sugar. Mix vanilla seeds and sugar to evenly distribute the seeds throughout the sugar. Strain sugar mixture through a fine mesh or cheesecloth into an airtight container. Halve vanilla pods crosswise, and submerge them in sugar.

 Lemon Sugar

3 or 4 small lemons and 2 cups sugar

Directions: Use the zest (the skin) from the lemons. Scrape as much of the white, bitter pith off as possible. Add zest to a food processor and grind with 1 cup of sugar until thoroughly mixed.

Transfer the mix to a medium bowl. Add remaining cup sugar, and toss until evenly mixed. Allow to dry before placing in a glass jar, by spreading the sugar mix on a cookie sheet at room temperature for about an hour or until dry.

Ginger Sugar

In a food processor, whirl together one cup of sugar with a few chunks of candied/crystallized ginger.

Ideas for use:

-Rim the glass of a cocktail with lemon-infused sugar by running a fresh-cut lemon slice around the rim and dipping it in the sugar mix.

-Rose geranium sugar and other herbal sugars are perfect to sweeten tea or to sprinkle on the top of shortbread or scones.

-Use peppermint infused sugar in coffee, tea or hot toddy’s

-Sprinkle vanilla and ginger infused sugar on warm gingersnaps,  fresh from the oven (see my favorite gingersnap recipe)


Last minute gift Idea: Wrap up Tea Time

Wrap up Tea Time


Purchase pre-packaged or make your own blends if you have dried herbs harvested from the summer garden.

Create a unique card to hold tea bags. Try this easy one sheet (scrapbook paper 12 x 12) folded accordion card,

how-to’s are here:

http://scrapbooking.about.com/od/3dembellishments/ss/onesheetminibook.htm

Gift Package with a tea cup, shortbread cookies, a jar of honey, and a personal sentiment,  plus inspirations that slow the pace and relax with a cup of tea,  like a good book.

 

 

 

 

Create unique blends to give

Herbal Tea Recipe Blends:
Experiment with flavors you like, try not to add more than three ingredients at a time.
Sweet, Minty and Soothing
1 cup dried lavender buds
1 cup dried spearmint
½ cup dried German chamomile blossoms
A Tangy Touch Of Citrus
1 cup dried pineapple sage
1 cup rosehips, lightly crushed
½ cup dried lemon balm 
A Floral Blend
½ cup rose petals
½ cup lavender buds
1 cup lemon verbena

Herbs Mixed With Indian or China Teas:

Create flavorful blends from purchased bulk teas. Mix a single herb with bulk tea such as Darjeeling, green or Earl Gray to create unique blends.  The homegrown herb will enhance the tea with flavor and fragrance. Begin by mixing the tea 4 parts to 1 part of dried herb.


Combinations to try:

English lavender buds with Earl Gray

Spearmint with green tea

Bee balm with Darjeeling

Package hand-blended loose teas in small glassine bags.Seal and label with the flavor and instructions on how to brew.To use: 1 teaspoon of loose herbs per cup of hot water.

Copy this tea label or make your own. This beautiful frame was found at http://www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com


Last minute gift idea: Christmas Quinoa

The last stretch before Christmas–do we mob the mall for those last minute things or pay overnight shipping  OR do we get creative.                                                   I love homemade gifts.

As we head into the final days before Christmas, I will be posting projects that can be made in about an hour (once you gather all the materials!)  Give joy in a thoughtful way!

One of my favorite food discoveries this past year was Quinoa. I season it with fresh herbs (love what cilantro or basil do to quinoa’s nutty flavor!) , drizzled with garlic infused olive oil, fresh grape tomatoes and sliced black olives. I make a big batch, toss in the herbs, refrigerate it and have it as a quick lunch or dinner. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is a plant (Chenopodium quinoa) native to the Andes Mountains. It is popular for its high protein and nutrient value.  To learn all you really want to know about this plant go to http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/quinoa.html

Cook quinoa like you cook rice.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

2 cups water          1 cup quinoa

Place quinoa and water in a 1-½ quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). You will know that the quinoa is done when all the grains have turned  transparent, and the  germ has separated. Quinoa is really easy to do in a rice cooker. Follow directions for the rice cooker using the same information as rice.  Makes 3 cups.

Bottom jar: quinoa, middle jar:pecans and a layer of dried cherries, top jar: brown sugar cinnamon topping

Inspired by the book Mary Jane’s Outpost by Mary Jane Butters.(ISBN 978-0-307-34580-6), I found the idea for topping quinoa just like a morning bowl of oatmeal. Tried it, love it, thinking this could be packaged up for gifting.

Christmas Quinoa                                Give a gift basket with a mini rice cooker and this quinoa collage of jars with the directions for a college student to take home  or stack the tower of jars with the directions in a gift bag for a favorite foodie.

Package in small wide mouth canning jars or other decorative jars that stack well:

1st jar- 1 cup Quinoa

2nd jar- a layer of pecans and a layer of dried cherries (or try dried cranberries or blueberries)

3rd jar: 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon powder (mix well)

Give the cooking and serving directions: Cook the quinoa according to the basic directions.

While steaming hot serve,  topped with pecans and dried fruits then sprinkle with the brown/cinnamon sugar mix (to taste) .


More…pondering of Squash

A recent trip to the grocery store brings about the inspiration for this story. As I was in line to pay, the customer in front of me was purchasing acorn squash. This time of year, they are piled high in produce bins alongside the multicolored gourds, ornamental corn, and mini pumpkins. The teenager bagging the groceries held up one of the acorn squash, surveying it, and asked, “What do you do with these?” The purchaser replied she was going to make baked stuffed squash to which the perplexed teen replied I thought these were only for Halloween decorations. Hmmm, so what do we really do with squash and what the heck are gourds anyway?

Cucurbitaceae is a genus of annual plants that crawl around taking up space with their languishing vines and produce fruits at the base of the blossoms. A plant family with a broad range of over 700 species that includes cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and squash.

Summer Squash

These are the earliest picked of the group and include cucumbers, zucchini, and crookneck. They are harvested when the seeds are immature inside and the flesh is still tender and edible. The vines are more bush-like and do not take up as much space in the garden. These can be harvested anytime they are showing their full color and size.

Gourds

These are hard-shelled with little flesh inside, they dry and preserve well. In history, they have been used as musical instruments, spoons, bowls, and as a sponge (the luffa gourd). Ornamental gourds are grown most often for decoration and have many types of usual colors, shapes, and warty texture making them prized for fall decorations. Gourds are ready to harvest from the garden when the stems dry out and turn brown. Leave a few inches of stem attached to prevent rotting.

Pumpkins

They get a class all their own by the very nature of their popularity. As noted by my previous post, they also get a post all their own! This bright orange harbinger of autumn are typically thought of for decorating but the smaller sugar pumpkins are flavorful when the pulp is baked to the consistency of pudding and used in soups, cakes, breads and pies. Harvest pumpkins when the color is deep and rich and the outside is hard. Leave 3 to 4 inches of stem attached to prevent premature rotting at the stem end.

Winter squash

These fruits have harder skins that need a longer growing period. Hubbard, butternut, and acorn are a few familiar ones. Winter squash are warm-season plants. They differ from summer squash because they are harvested in the mature fruit stage; picked when the seeds inside are fully mature and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Most varieties can be stored for use throughout the winter. Typically, they are cut open and baked to soften the insides with spices or meats to season them. Most have a nutty flavor and tend to pick up other flavors easily.

So really, what do you do with acorn squash?

Baked Acorn Squash

This is a recipe from childhood. I remember the warmth of the kitchen and the aroma of maple syrup as my mom would bake up acorn squash as a side dish for dinner.

One acorn squash, cut in 1/2

 2 tablespoons butter, softened

 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of the squash halves and discard. Lightly score the inside halves with a knife. Combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup in a small mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Rub and coat the cleaned inside cavities of the squash with the butter mixture. Place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake for about 1 hour or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.

 

 


Pumpkins from garden to table

pile-o-pumpkins

I love this time of year and all the piles  of pumpkins in stores and the u-pick farms.

It’s time for fall harvests and pumpkins are everywhere.  In the garden, nothing delights kids more than to see bright orange fruits peeking out from under a vine.  Growing pumpkins is not for every garden. The sprawling vines take over, under and all around a garden space. In my small Potager, (kitchen garden) in the midst of everything else I want to grow, I always make room for a pumpkin plant or two. This year, I had one vine dangle over the top of the fence with a small pumpkin hanging on for dear life!

grow where I may

 

 

Even though it is out of season to talk about growing them, here are some tips to consider when planning your next growing season.  To help reign in the long pumpkin vines here are a few tricks I use to conserve space. As soon as I see a softball sized fruits forming, I cut off any new growth beyond that fruit. This allows it to grow bigger and ripen, rather than have the plant continue to put energy into forming more. I also gently move the vines as they are growing and start to form a large spiral (without breaking them) rather than allow the vines to take off in all directions. Turn growing pumpkins occasionally to avoid them being lopsided. Leave them on the vine as long as possible if they are still green to promote ripening. Harvest pumpkins when the vine begins to die out and the pumpkin is showing its full, rich color.

Pumpkin varieties vary from good carving to the sweet varieties for eating. Carving pumpkins are typically grown for size and not for baking. Carvers to grow include “Howden”, “Racer” and “Connecticut Field”. For baking choose, the Cinderella pumpkin “Rouge VIF D’Etampes”, “Small Sugar” and “SnackJack”. Unique novelties to grow are “Lumina” (white skinned, yellow flesh), “Baby Boo”, “Jack-B-Little” and “Jarrahdale”

Harvest and enjoy!

Recipes to try:

Pumpkin Mush

Pick the sweet varieties for baking. The pulp can be used in pies, soups, cakes and cookies.

Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and fibers. Place the cut halves on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 to 60 minutes (depending on the size). The pumpkin is done when the skin is brown and you can easily push a fork through it. Allow to cool and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Puree or mash it. It should have a consistency of pudding. To preserve, pack into freezer bags in 2 cup quantities. Two cups of mash will equal about a 16 ounce can. Use in pies, soups, and cookies.

Pumpkin Soup

This brings back memories when I was little girl in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We once had a Thanksgiving dinner at the Old Salem Inn. As a kid the thought of pumpkin soup sounded weird, but the taste was good!

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin

3 cups half and half milk

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

½ teaspoon pepper

1/8th teaspoon powdered allspice

1/8th teaspoon ginger

Salt to taste

In a saucepan, melt the butter, and then add the pumpkin. Stir well and add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls or mugs. If desired,  top with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, croutons, a dollop of sour cream,  fresh parsley or small snips of chives.


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