Herbs and spices

My cooking habits shift in the fall from “go out into the garden and see what’s ready,” to fall comfort food like scalloped potatoes and ham or split pea soup or banana bread. (I know, too many calorie dense foods.)

It is also the time of year I begin to use more dried herbs and spices and this month my favorite grocery store is having 20% off bulk dried herbs and spices. I have been purchasing them this way since the mid 1970’s. My feeling is ” if I only need a teaspoon of xyz herb or spice, why should I spend $6.00 for a bottle that will sit and get stale?”

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If you look closely, you will notice my vintage 1980’s Tupperware container that is still in use. I don’t recall the suggested use this container was sold for, but it has always been my spice container that I store in the frig.

Storing butternut squash

So much of what I do feels like trial and error. I harvested the last of my butternut squash and hope I prepared it well for storage. After cutting from the vine I washed them and let them dry overnight. Hesitantly I made a weak bleach and water solution and I dipped them in briefly and dried the off. I wanted to kill any remaining mold or fungus spores but I was concerned about food safety since these were grown organically. As I write this I realized that vinegar might have been a better choice. I made shelf space available for a few months storage. The shelves will allow air flow and the squash are not touching one another. I hope this is successful šŸ™‚

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Using what you grow

I’m almost starting to feel like a food blogger, but just realized that the last part of being a veggie gardener is the harvest šŸ™‚ My butternut squash plants were purchased from the garden club plant sale. Thanks Mary Ann! The little $1.00 plant has given me 8 good-sized squash. Some will be stored for later use, but I am roasting one today. Simple, recipe with my comments below.

400* F oven roast for 30 to 45 minutes turning cubes every 15 minutes

1 butternut squash, cut in half, seeded and peeled and cut in one inch cubes. The potato peeler worked well, being only slightly more difficult than peeling a potato.

I put the cubes in a bowl sprinkled on some olive oil, salt and pepper and massaged the squash before putting it on the foil lined tray.

You can see that I got tired of peeling and chopping when I got to the bowl part of the squash so I massaged open squash with olive oil and the sprinkled a bit of cinnamon for a different taste.

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What did you do with your harvested squash?

What’s up with artichokes?

January 2012 I started these plants from seeds on a whim. I thought it would be cool to grow something really different for me. Last year, their first year, I just watched them and did not harvest any. That made me realize I needed to know how to tell when they are ripe and what to do when they are ready for harvest. Many cooking recipes suggest you cook the artichoke whole, however I prefer a method I found in Sunset magazine where you cut it in quarters and scoop out the fuzzy choke before cooking. That speeded up cooking and made eating easier.

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This last photo was taken in 2011 when I just let the plant flower.

As seen on Pinterest

I have a folder on Pinterest that I call “I could do this”. Many of the items in the folder are container gardens and especially sedums in containers. Finding the right container is key to pulling off the planted crafty project: Wire basket was a Goodwill find for $2.99.

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The dried moss in the bag is a local, sustainable product at a hefty price of $14.99 but the bag will make many more for gifts. The few plants I purchased were $2.50 each. I am fortunate that the previous gardener planted many different sedum plants that I snipped for the project.

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I don’t have a potting bench but use a plastic bin to contain the mess when potting or seeding.

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I started with moss, then added the coffee filter and a bit of potting mix.

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Then I started planting and tucking in more moss.

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Like a lot of newly planted pots, this one needs to settle in a bit and grow but for my first project, I am pleased with the results.

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Superfood Kale!

Do you have burning questions about this superfood? I enjoy growing and cooking kale so this post will share some resources you may not have found on kale.

Kale saladis a staple at our house. It took a while for my husband to like kale and even now I mix a mild buttercrunch lettuce with kale when I make salad for him.

Massaged kale is an interesting technique that I have seen demonstrated then tasted the salad. Literally massaging the kale takes some of the toughness out of mature kale leaves. The big problem with this was the demonstrator’s hands turned green! Be forewarned and wear gloves to do this.

EatingWell Magazine is my main “go to source” for kale recipe ideas. I have tried their soups and have been very pleased.

Real Simple is my other favorite website for recipes. I love the magazine but I am not brave enough to to add kale to my smoothies.
To me smoothies are strawberries, peaches and yogurt, not green!

This photo shows my kale growing with swiss chard and broccoli. I took off the Remay fabric insect barrier to show the plants clearly.

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