Spice for the Impatient Gardener

My gardener’s heart knows that to every seed there is a season before it fruits.
But there are times when I crave a fresh dose of greens and can’t want to wait for a harvest from the garden.
Sprouts  are fresh spice for any time of year. They are low in fat, filled with vitamins, minerals, protein and are ready to eat in about a week.
I grab a big pinch of them and eat them as a snack. You can also toss them in scrambled eggs, use in place of lettuce on sandwiches, add to salads and wraps, and garnish the top of hot soup just before serving.
 sproutsSprouting seeds-
Alfalfa is the most common, but there are many that add unique flavors and textures. 
Broccoli: a nice radish-like bite of flavor.
Chia: a bit of a tang, but much like alfalfa sprouts in texture and flavor.
Clover: similar in flavor to alfalfa sprouts.
Fenugreek: a mild curry-like flavor, exotic flavor,
yummy in chicken wraps.
Lentils: a bit of peppery flavor
Mung Bean: the texture is nice a crispy. Pea-like flavor.
Radish: much like the flavor of the vegetable, it will spice up any dish.
Sunflower: a nutty flavor, yummy on a hot cup of tomato soup! 
 
How-to:
Use a clean glass canning jar with a sprout screen as the lid.
Clean, and rinse jar to clean well.
Add  about 1 1/2 teaspoons of seeds to the jar
sproutjoyPlace a fine mesh screen on top of jar and tighten metal ring to hold in place.
Partially fill the jar with warm (not hot) water and swirl around to clean seeds; pour out water. Refill with warm water and soak overnight.
After overnight soak, pour out water and place jar at a slight angle (a counter top dish drainer works well for this) to allow remaining water to run out.  Turn jar to spread seed over the inside of the jar. Rinse sprouts daily, up to 2 or 3 times, with cool fresh water-allowing the jar to rest tilted to drain out excess water. Turn jar to spread seeds on the inside of the jar.  As they get larger,  thicken and green up, place sprouts  in indirect light. Repeat  rinsing until the sprouts are lush and ready to eat,  rinse well and drain before placing in the refrigerator. Keep finished sprouts refrigerated and use within a week.
Remember:
-Rinse often
-Don’t over seed, give them room to breathe.
-Keep moist,-not wet.
-Sprout at room temperature- keep fresh ready-to-eat ones  in the fridge.
-Sprout with joy!
 
Resources for seeds and supplies:
http://www.mountainroseherbs.com
www.sproutpeople.org
http://www.botanicalinterests.com

 

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.