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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. Sprouting 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 Place 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
Nana: “We weeded the garden today”
Alexis: “No Nana, we un-weeded the garden today.”
I stand corrected! That is exactly what we did…pulled weeds. Once again, the joy of gardening through my 5-year-old granddaughters point of view.
Now for some other thoughts on un-weeding your garden! Read “In Defense of Weeds”,
After the click…Compost mulches and more…oh my!
Other weedy stuff:
Top dress planting beds 3 inches deep with this nourishing compost for happy soil and suppressed weeds. Sounds like good therapy to me!
Nothing fishy about this…just another great compost to try:
Dig into spring!
It is so very close to flower show time. The Pacific Northwest is buzzing as the calendar flips to February. The buzz in my head started many months ago. I received a phone call from Mark the Pond Guy (www.markthepondguy.com) and he said he was involved in putting together one of the big display gardens this year. Would I like to hear more? Hmmm, out of curiosity, I said sure I’ll come to a meeting. I usually skip a year between garden shows to catch my breath from the monumental task of building one of the gardens. So I sat in a planning meeting with Mark,his wife Cindy and friend, Joan Bogan. Their enthusiasm was infectious. I do love designing these gardens. So, I was caught up in a whirlwind of music notes, plants, stone, rocks, koi, water and a grand piano. Quite a combination don’t you think? So we converge on the convention center to build this whirlwind of ideas. Mark describes the feeling this week of preparation like a kid anticipating Christmas day. Me too! Along the way I have learned a few things as well. Like what andante is, how wonderful the sound of a piano is when played by someone so passionate about music, how rock can weigh tons or weigh nothing, how hard it is to have mileage and very busy schedules between team members. Yet there is this thing called passion that we all have, and it is to share a garden that you could envision yourself in. We are re-defining andante.
Redefining Andante’ ( ăn-dăn-‘tē)
Andante allows passage through music that changes the tempo. The listener can catch their breath.
How does andante feel in a garden?
The hectic race and crescendo of life is far beyond this space. Welcome to a small, tranquil garden that invites you to slow the pace and be inspired to compose and create. The sound and movement of water spills from a tumble of building ruins that weaves through a garden in harmony with foliage and color that relaxes and soothes. Original music inspired by this garden, written by one of the creators, will be performed throughout the show.
Put that visual in your head and then come to the show to see it full-scale. Grand piano and all…
Wrap up Tea Time
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:
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
1 cup dried spearmint
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
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.
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) .
Thankful…we hear that a lot this time of year. I think the spirit of thankfulness we feel now, should happen every other day of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for a day set aside to reflect on it all, but feel a bit swirled under by all the black Friday stuff. Thursday is just a speed bump to Friday. How did this happen? I remember as a kid when every store was closed and it was truly a holiday where time was spent with family (a bit Norman Rockwell-esque). Forgot the whipped cream? Too bad because the Winn Dixie was buttoned up tight and there wasn’t a store open…anywhere! I recently asked a cashier at a grocery store if she had plans for the holiday and she said she had to work. I told her what a bummer to have to work on a holiday and she brightened up and said she volunteered so she could have the time-and-a-half pay. Somehow, it still made me sad.
So if Thursday is just another day on the calendar that happens to be a big day for turkey farmers, then grateful should be a part of every day. Find a quiet time in each day to reflect, even for just a few minutes. There are many mornings when I am simply grateful that I can put my cold toes over a warm heater vent. Lord, I am grateful for: a warm house, a summer morning in the garden with the discovery of a bloom that wasn’t there yesterday. The range of brilliant colors of fall leaves. The first daffodil to brighten the grey skies in the spring, a phone call from a far-away friend, the giggle of a four-year old, all my girls home at the same time. The list could go on and on, but the message is to be grateful for the simple things and seek thanksgiving in every day.
Tis the season to start your paperwhites! Fragrant and easy to grow, Narcissus tazetta commonly known as “paperwhites” are bulbs that are native to warmer climates and grow easily without a chilling period. This classic indoor bulb is intensely fragrant with elegant star-shaped clusters of white flowers that are popular at holiday time. Once planted, watered and placed in a warm spot they will bloom within 4 to 6 weeks. I always plant mine the first week in November and then plant another group in a few weeks to stage a longer period of bloom and color all season long.
Paperwhites lend themselves to holiday decorating because they can be planted in unusual containers to fit a theme such as teacups and glass bowls. Cluster potted groupings on a mantle or mixed into centerpieces among greenery, berries and bows for a living and fragrant element to your holiday décor.
How to plant:
-4 to 6 inch round, 4 inch deep pot. Use terra-cotta or any decorative bowl; just make sure there is a drainage hole in the bottom.
-3 to 5 Paperwhite bulbs (the most common variety is sold as Paperwhite “Ziva”) Choose bulbs that are firm, with rich brown papery, outside layers. A bit of green stem showing is OK.
-White rock chips or try a touch of creativity by using beach glass, marbles. Use anything heavy enough to keep the bulbs upright.
In the bottom of the pot, place at least two inches of the base material (rock or glass, etc.). Depending on the size and style of the pot, you may need to go deeper.The bulbs top should set just below the rim of the pot. Set the bulbs firmly on top of the base; roots down and stem up. A 4 inch pot will hold 3 bulbs and a 6 inch pot holds 5 bulbs. Loosely fill the pot with remaining base material to the rim. About half of the bulb should be exposed. Water well and place in a warm spot, away from direct sunlight, until green shoots emerge to about 4 inches.
Bring the pot into a sunny spot and keep evenly watered. Do not over-water. The blooms will last longer if kept in a cooler area of the home.
Give them a holiday spirit!
Paperwhites tend to get tipsy. The problem is, the slender stems grow tall with all of the flower weight at the top, making the stems bend and fall over.
Researchers with the Flowerbulb Research Program at Cornell University have remedied a solution to this top-heavy blooms; alcohol. When paperwhite bulbs are grown in a diluted solution of alcohol, the plants reach a height of up to 1/2 their normal growth yet the flower size is not affected and they bloom just as long. The water/alcohol stress on the plants is just enough to stunt their growth, let’s just say it Continue reading