Tag Archives: homemade

A Garden Dinner

Over the last week we have been so busy with digging and storing garlic to dry that some of the things we would normally do fell by the wayside. Two of those things include planning and preparing a good dinner and tending the garden. We finished up the garlic tasks yesterday morning and decided it was time to play catch up. My husband worked in the garden – weeding, harvesting, and thinning rows. He brought home a nice size bag of fresh veggies that we decided to incorporate into our dinner. I cleaned the veggies and prepared them for our meal. This is what was on the menu. All of the vegetables and herbs were home grown.

Salad – Three types of lettuce, radish, cucumber

Salad Dressing – Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, garlic, onion powder, sea salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar

Garlic mashed potatoes – I minced several cloves of garlic, mixed the minced garlic with 1/2 stick of butter, then mixed it into the mashed potatoes.

Baby beets with beet greens – The beets in the garden needed to be thinned so even though the beets were only about 1 inch my husband brought them home. After cleaning them I trimmed the long roots off the cut the leaves off leaving a couple inches of the stem attached to the beet. I put the greens and the beets in the steamer and cooked until the beets were tender.

Grilled pork chops – Since we don’t raise our own pork (yet) the pork chops were not something we produced, but they were seasoned with minced garlic and fresh dill. They complimented our garden dinner nicely.

My husband and I MMM’ed and wowed as we ate our dinner and even after dinner we continued to rave about how much we enjoyed the meal. We could truly taste the nutrition in the foods we were eating. Honestly, my favorite fresh garden vegetable is probably potatoes. They have flavor and texture that I have never found in store bought potatoes and are definitely worth the work it takes to grow them.

If you are growing a garden this year I hope that you too are enjoying the fruits or vegetables of your labor.

Tonight’s menu will include potato salad, sautéed swiss chard with garlic and grilled Italian sausage.

A Year In Growing Garlic Part (VIII) Garlic Scapes

It’s time to start cutting the scapes. The music garlic has formed scapes and we want to cut them while they are still young and tender.

What are garlic scapes???

They are the seed heads produced by hardneck garlic varieties. They appear in the spring, and if left to grow they will flower and produce dozens of tiny garlic bubils (seeds). Most growers cut the scape off the garlic plant in order to allow the garlic to put more energy into growing a bigger bulb. If cut early the scapes are tender and delicious. They are said to have the same nutritional value as garlic bulbs, and although they possess a milder flavor when cooked, they are a culinary delight. They are great roasted, grilled, stir fried or used raw in dips, salads and pesto. To discover great garlic scape recipes simply do an internet search for garlic scape recipes or try the pesto recipe at the bottom of the page. They are only available for a short time in the spring but can be preserved by freezing or pickling.

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The above is a photo of a garlic scape forming. If allowed to grow it will probably form a second curl before straightening up and forming a seed head on top.

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This photo is some of the scapes I cut last year.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup garlic scapes (8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into 14-inch slices
13 cup walnuts
34cup olive oil
14to 12 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper

Method:

1. Place the scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and blend until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil and process until integrated.

2. With a rubber spatula, scoop the pesto out of the bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Keeps for up to one week in the refrigerator. Also freezes well; the cheese can be added to the pesto after it has thawed.

Makes about 34 cup.

Garlic scapes are only available for a few short weeks in the spring. If you are looking for scapes sent me an email at ruth20012001@yahoo.com.

 

Two New Soap Recipes

I am really excited about the two new soap recipes I made this week. The soap I made on Monday was inspired by the dandelions that are popping up everywhere screaming “spring is here.” I decided that those yellow beauties might just make a nice soap.

Usually before I try something new with a soap recipe I do an internet search to see if others have done similar. Artisan soap makers are a creative bunch and it seems there is not much they haven’t tried and wrote about. I did indeed find several sites with dandelion soap recipes, stories, and for sale. I do not use other peoples recipes but I like to get an idea of how others have used particular ingredients, what the results were and if there is anything major that might go wrong.

By this time I have learned that when adding botanicals to cold process soaps you will very rarely capture any fragrance and I have no way of testing to see if any potential therapeutic benefits from them survive the process. The most I could hope for is to capture some of the cheery yellow color. Hoping to double up on any benefits I infused both the water and the oils with dandelion flowers. I decided to add honey as well.

This recipe is now out of the molds and has a deep yellow color. It still has to cure for about six weeks and doubtless the color will change as the soap cures. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Todays soap experiment is maple. When I did my internet search for maple soap I found that maple syrup is often used as an ingredient in handcrafted soap. My plan was a little different. When my husband was collecting sap to make syrup this spring I asked him to save me a couple of quarts so I could make a batch of soap with it. “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” he asked. I explained that I plan to use the sap in place of the water in my soap recipe. He graciously obliged my request and I have kept the sap in the freezer waiting to be turned into soap.

One morning when we were having our homemade syrup on our pancakes and I looked at the sugar sand that had collected at the bottom of the jar and wondered about using it in soap. Will the sand particles remain sand or will they dissolve during the processing. I remembered reading that it is mostly composed of calcium salts and malic acid. It is not harmful to eat and upon further research I learned that those ingredients can be beneficial for skin care. Again I can’t make any claims about my soap providing these therapeutic benefits because it is questionable whether they survive the soap making process. The sand in that jar was gone before I had a chance to tell my husband that I wanted to save some for making soap. We had a few more jars with sand at the bottom, so I opened one this morning, poured most of the syrup into an empty jar and put it in the refrigerator for future breakfast. The sand and a small portion of the syrup that was left in the bottom of the jar were added to my soap.

The maple soap, if it turns out well, will definitely be a seasonal soap and I expect the sweet dandelion soap will be as well. Although they won’t be ready for 6+ weeks you can contact me by email ( ruth20012001@yahoo.com) if you are interested in purchasing either of these soaps. 🙂

My Christmas Gift To You – Potato Stuff

When ever our family gets together we all bring a dish to pass, so all of the cooking doesn’t fall on whoever is hosting the party. Many years ago, I don’t remember how many but it’s probably going on twenty, for our Christmas brunch celebration I began making a potato dish, it became a hit, and I think I have made it every year since. I’m going to share the recipe with you.

Ruth’s Potato Stuff has become it’s name, because after years of referring to it as Ruth’s potato stuff, my sister told me that I had to give it a name. I said “you already did. It’s Ruth’s Potato Stuff because that is how everyone knows it.” (I know, I’m revealing my quirkiness)

Usually I make it on Christmas Eve so that we can have it when we all get together on Christmas morning, but this year we will be having our family Christmas brunch tomorrow, so I will make the potato stuff today, Christmas Day.

I start fairly early. It takes along time to make, since everything gets cooked separately before being put together. Remember this is a party recipe, so the proportions are large because it is meant to feed many.

I start by boiling about 8-10 lbs. of potatoes and hard boiling about a dozen eggs. I then let them cool. Later in the day I cut 2 lbs. of bacon. Into about 1 inch pieces and fry them up. While the bacon is cooking I peel the potatoes and slice them (around 1/2 inch thick), peel the eggs and cut them in small(crumble-like) pieces, and shred about 16 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese. When the bacon is crispy I drain it on paper towel. I pull my large electric frying pan out of the back of the cupboard, where it has been stored since the last time I used it (last Christmas). I melt  two sticks of butter in the frying pan and add the potatoes. I sprinkle them generously with Lawrly’s Seasoning Salt and turn them as the begin to get crispy. After I figure they have a decent amount of crispy and seasoning salt throughout, I turn the frying pan down and top the potatoes with the egg crumbles, the bacon pieces and lastly the shredded cheese. I leave the frying pan on low and cover just long enough to melt the cheese.

Fortunately this time of year the nights are cold, so I can (with the cover on it) store the whole pan in my vehicle overnight. (I would never be able to fit it in the fridge.) At this time I also take the plug for electric frying pan so I don’t forget it in the morning. The hardest part about this process is the drive to our brunch destination makes us really hungry because the potato stuff smells so good.

Once at our destination I take the frying pan in and plug it in. It will probably take at least 20 minutes for this to heat through and once people start digging into it, the ingredients get mixed together well.

This has never been a secret recipe, and I believe one of my sisters has made it before, but one of the reason I am sharing this is because it has become part of our family tradition, and I want my daughters to know how to make it. Even though they now have written instructions, I can’t imagine any one of my daughters making this. While they have varying degrees of cooking skills, they all seem to lack a love of cooking. What I can imagine is a future where their Christmas Eve is spent with the four of them together making potato stuff or perhaps their husbands making potato stuff.

Now I must say Merry Christmas and get back to making Potato Stuff.