Monday, September 19, 2011

Dry your own herbs.

There is nothing like fresh herbs. If you've ever grown your own herbs, you know that the plants produce more than you can use in your kitchen. Drying herbs is a great way to preserve them for the cold months when you don't have such fresh ones available. I've documented how I dry Basil, but you can use it for other herbs as well.

Here we go!

(Snip... snip, snip, snip... snip... snip, snip...)
(1)  Using kitchen or garden shears, harvest some good sized sprigs from your plant.

(2)  Remove any icky leaves.

(3)  Rinse the leaves and stems you intend to dry also making sure there are no caterpillars or insects.

(4)  Tie a loop in a ribbon, lay the stems on that loop and then use the free ends of the ribbon to tie all the stems together. The leaves should hang upside down.  Use the loop to hang the herbs on a hook or nail in a cool, dark place for a few days.  You may need to tighten the knot occasionally as the stems shrink due to loss of water.

(After I get the stems secured together, I tie the ends into a bow. Because it's cute.)

(5) When it's crispy, it's ready. You can break off the leaves and store in an airtight jar.

These also make lovely gifts. People like being presented with a bunch of useful herbs that you took the time to plant, nurture, harvest and preserve.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Peach Crisp -- Formerly, Apple Crisp.

This recipe is great because it comes together quickly, then bakes for 30 minutes making it convenient to have in the oven while you're eating dinner. Then you get to pull a delicious hot dessert from the oven at the perfect time.

Here's MY version of the recipe:


 2 cans    sliced peaches
3/4 cup   brown sugar
1/3 cup   coconut oil (or butter)
1/2 cup   old fashioned oats
1/4 cup   flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup   wheat germ
1 tsp.      ground cinnamon

The first thing I do is open the peaches and start them draining. They need to be drained REALLY well so I let them sit like this as I prepare the topping.
Add all the other ingredients to a bowl and combine until you have a crumbly mixture.
 Grease an 8X8 baking dish OR use an oven bag (like I do). Learn about it here.

Place drained peaches in pan in an even-ish layer. Then sprinkle the topping over the peaches--try to cover everything.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 375° oven. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: I use half flour and half wheat germ just to make it "healthier". The original recipe called for 1/2 cup flour. 

**This is a good recipe to use if you're using your food storage. Canned fruit works beautifully as well as dehydrated apples.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Natural (and organic) Pest Control -- Pepper Spray For Your Garden.

This year, my husband and I rented a plot in our community garden. It was a seal of a deal at $15/year so we went for it. This garden is particularly strict about it's organic-ness and so we had to get creative about dealing with bugs and rodents. One thing we tried was a basic pepper spray and it worked wonderfully.
Here's how you do it:

(Left: habaƱero chile.  Right: "worlds hottest" or so it claims.)
(1) Get some hot peppers of your choice--and when I say hot, I mean HOT. You can find these at the grocery store.
**Using gloves to handle these is recommended. You do not want to learn that the hard way, trust me.

(2) Blend the living daylights out of them. I put about a cup of water in the blender along with both of these peppers. I've had people tell me they add garlic to make it that much more offensive to the little buggars.
WARNING: This is VERY potent. I coughed like crazy just from opening the blender after I pureed these. You might want to try doing it outdoors.

(3) Strain it to remove any solid pieces and pour into the spray bottle.

(4) Coat all surfaces of the plant with the spray during a time when the sun is not out--the sun shining on the droplets of water can burn spots on the leaves. I usually spray the garden around sunset.

My plants never reacted badly to the spray. I was able to spray them down every 3 days and it didn't phase them. I doubt it would need to be done that often, but I always try to do it the day after a rainstorm.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dill Vegetable Dip

This recipe is the result of a picky eater wanting a specific "taste" in a dip. The picky eater is me and I searched through several dozen recipes, took my favorite ingredients and tweaked them until I was satisfied. The dip has been a smash-hit at gatherings so far, if-I-do-say-so. Here is the easy recipe:

1 C.  Sour Cream
1 C.  Mayonnaise
2 t.   Parsley Flakes
1 t.   Dill Weed
1 t.   Seasoning Salt
        Onion Powder (to taste)
        Black Pepper (for looks)

Add all ingredients to a bowl.

(Dump, dump, dump... mix, mix, mix...)

Serve on a pretty plate with cut vegetables! Some of our favorites to eat it with are carrots, broccoli, celery, olives (yes), mushrooms and bell peppers.

(I garnish it with parsley flakes or black pepper--makes it tasty to the eyes.)

This recipe is a convenient make-ahead and very portable for a pot-luck.