Saturday, August 31, 2013

Weekend recipe - Garlic & Dill Salad Dressing

The summer season is not yet over, but this recipe can carry you into the fall and let you relive the summer's flavors!

Garlic & Dill Salad Dressing

½ cup olive oil (or canola oil)
2 ½ Tbls. tarragon vinegar
2 Tbls. snipped fresh dill (or ½ tsp. dried)
1 ½ Tbls. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white or black pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar with tight-fitting lid; cover and shake.  Let stand at least 30 minutes.  Shake again before serving.

This dressing is quick and easy to make even in the winter.  Dill always provides a bright summery flavor that will lift your spirits in the gloomy weather of the fall rainy season.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Art in the Herb Garden

Some days I go to the garden intent on photographing something I or my plants are doing.  Other days I am documenting the garden as it moves through seasons or a plant thought its life cycle.  And sometimes I just take pictures for the sake of taking pictures.  I do not have the most presition camera.  I am working onit, but darn if I spend my earnings on somthing to read or something to grow and neverhave enough left to upgrade my camera.

However, sometimes my camera surprises me and gives me a great image.  Today was one of those days.  I was documenting seeds for an upcoming blog on seed gathering.  While I was doing this I realized the zinnias and the black eyed susan's were still blooming so I snapped a few images.

I thought you might like to see them....

Coneflower with unique red kissed petals

End of season Nasturtiums still have it!


Purple Zinnia

Dew on the leaves
This coneflower even has a cucumber beetle. 
 Back to business tomorrow maybe!  Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Herbed Zucchini - Weekend recipe

Still have a zucchini surplus?  Does your famer’s market have a deal on them?  Try this recipe!

Herbed Zucchini

2 small zucchini
1 sweet red pepper sliced
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 Tbls. butter (optional)
1 Tbls. fresh minced herbs (basil, oregano, savory, sage, thyme, or any mixture of fresh herbs that you have on hand)
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash zucchini cut off both ends. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, cut each half in half lengthwise. Keep cutting zucchini in half lengthwise, until you have what looks like long match sticks. Now cut the zucchini strips so it measures about 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches long. Heat olive oil and butter in pan, toss in shallot and garlic. Sauté until tender. Add zucchini and sweet red pepper, sauté until just tender. Just before removing from pan, toss in fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.  Serves 6 to 8

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Stuffed Tomatoes in Tomato Season

This past week while driving someone was talking about cars at the Volo Auto Museum and explained that they had Disney characters from the movie Cars including Tow Mater.  Now I have seen the move Cars and love the characters in it, but for some reason without the visual, my brain went somewhere else entirely, like how clever it was to take a word kids would know and a color they love and make it a character they can like and learn from… Get the picture?  I think this time of year I have tomatoes on the brain.  The vines are brimming with fruit, the farmer’ Market is selling tomatoes at a lower price so more of them move out, and even the grocery store fruit is of a better quality.

Got an over abundance of tomatoes?!? Looking for a cool, light and refreshing side…or even a main dish dinner?!? Well, stuffed tomatoes are THE way to go!

Stuffed Tomatoes with Avocado Salad
   4 large tomatoes
   1 avocado, diced
   About 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
   1 jalapeno, finely chopped
   2 garlic cloves, crushed
   1/2 tsp ground cumin
   1 tsp lemon juice
   Salt and pepper to taste

Cut a cone around the stem bud, cutting out the center portion of the tomato. Scoop out the seeds. (So it won't be so "runny" when you fork into it.) In a mixing bowl, toss together the avocado, onion, jalapeno, crushed garlic, ground cumin and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper.  Stuff the Avocado Salad into the Tomatoes.

Grilled Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

  4 orange tomatoes (or you can use any cool heirloom tomato you find)
   1 15 oz. can sliced black olives
   1/2 cup goat cheese blended with 2 tsp. of Herbs de Provence Seasoning

Cut a cone around the stem bud, cutting out the center portion of the tomato. Scoop out the seeds. In a mixing bowl, fork the Herbs De Prevence into the goat cheese until well incorporated,  then toss the black olive slices with the goat cheese and stuff into the awaiting tomatoes. Place the stuffed tomatoes on a hot grill and grill for about 5-8 minutes, or until goat cheese gets oozy…and the tomato skin begins to wrinkle.

If these two recipes don’t make you hungry, try any of these suggestions for a stuffing materials:
Tuna Salad
Rosemary Chicken Salad
Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Calendula Salve - How Tuesday

A friend sent me an email with a simple calendula salve recipe .  Her instructions were:

“Macerate your whole flower tops in good quality EVOO. Just stuff a jar with flowers and then fill will oil to cover you plant material. Place for 6-8 weeks in a sunny window. Strain out your plant material and add some beeswax about 1-4 Tbls. to your strained oil. Gently heat to melt the beeswax and pour into containers. Easy simple calendula salve. Good for wrinkles too!
Thistledown Farm”

Now I know this is not the kind of detail I give on the blog so I worked out the details for you.

I made my calendula oil by harvesting the flower heads of my plants a few at a time. I started with about 5 of 6 flowers and poured 8 ounces of almond oil over top in a mason jar.  

As weeks passed I added more flowers.  I chose those of the best quality that were at the peak of pretty.

 I harvested them in the morning before the oils were evaporated from the petals.  

Some were yellow and some were orange as you can see it gives the oil a rusty color.

Once I was happy with the quality of the oil (about 8 to 10 weeks, I think.) 

I strained it and placed it in the top of my double boiler.

I then grated about 6 ounces of bees wax.  Well I should be honest I cut up about 3 ounces and grated about 3 ounces, because I knew I would need at least 3 ounces to make the salve.  

Then I could add the grated wax a bit at a time to get the perfect consistency.  Once the beeswax was melted I let the mixture cool to see if it would create the solid that I wanted.  

I found it to be the hardness i wanted without being a brick, so I remelted it, added just a bit more wax and poured it into containers.

I use this salve for myself.  It is great for my rosacea and for my Zodiac Box for Leo.

Here is the final recipe:

Dozens of fresh calendula flowers free of bugs and blemishes

8 oz. almond or olive oil

4 ounces beeswax

Steep the flowers (all at once or over time) in the oil for 4 to 8 weeks.  Once the oil is well infused with the flowers, strain it to remove the flower particulates.  Grate the beeswax.  Place the oil in the top of a double boiler and simmer (do not boil) of the heated water adding the grated beeswax and stirring until it is melted.  Use about 4 to 6 ounces of beeswax per 8 ounces of oil.  Once the wax is all melted remove the boiler top form the water and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.  check the mixture for consistency and texture.  Be aware salves are subject to humidity and other environmental conditions so you will need to adjust the amount of beeswax accordingly.  If you are satisfied with the texture return the double boiler to the water and allow it to remelt, then while warm pour into containers. All to cool completely before putting a cover on the containers.
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