Food Preservation, gardening

Drying Basil & Parsley

The Basil plants…..

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The leaves picked, washed and placed in dehydrator…

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After about 35 mins…..

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These were placed into a 500 ml Mason jar for use over the winter. We will continue to pick the leaves and do this process until the plants go to seed.

The parsley washed and spun dry in the lettuce spinner….

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The leaves picked off the stems….

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Placed spread out in the dehydrator…

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And approx 1 hr later…

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We will continue to do this until we have Mason Jars full of both for the winter. These herbs are great when making homemade pasta sauce, soups, stews, and chili.

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gardening

Zinnias & Petunias?

The Zinnias continue to grow upwards….

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A few of the bulbs are also beginning to open up….

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As for the Petunias….this is where we planted the Matthiola seed that did not come up. This bin was used for Petunias last year and the label gave no indication they were a perennial kind….

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They are even growing out the side of the container!

Disappointed that another flower seed package was a dud, we are very glad the Petunias took their place – what a pleasant surprise

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gardening, Sustainable Living

More Poor Success​: Flowers Update

Among the vegetable container bins, we used a few for flowers this year. Thanks to the following two packages that did not come up, we’ve reseeded that empty bin with more turnip seeds.

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On the side of Mom’s house, we also tried to plant the following package of flower seeds, but they did not come up either.

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The following pictures are of Benary’s Giant Zinnia’s flowers which are doing really well both in a bin at Mom’s and in a bed in front of Grandma’s house. Because they have not flowered yet, I’ve included a picture of what they should look like from the Seed Savers website where we purchased them.

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They are going to be gorgeous when they do flower!

Pansies:

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Two types of Clematis blooms ready to blossom as well as multiple buds ready to bloom as well….

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Johnny Jump Ups:

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Lilly:

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Matthiola:

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These were planted from seed too and we’re unsure as to how big they will get or what they will look like. We have lost the seed package and a google search shows them looking like this….

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I can’t say that our plants coming up look like this, but we will see.

Grandma’s Lavender:

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We’re calling the flower gardens a poorer success because only 50% of the flower seeds we planted are coming up.  The rest of the flowers that are doing so well, have been established for 2+ years now and belong either to Mom or Grandma and can’t really be counted as part of our successes.

Bring on the Bees!

 

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gardening, Sustainable Living

A Poor Success; The Vegetable Garden Update

What a poor year for the garden! With too much rain and below seasonal temperatures it is a wonder the gardens have even survived this year at all. In fact, we know friends whose gardens have flooded out completely.

In the beginning, it felt like failure for us too; the chives from seed did not come up, the parsley from seed has been VERY slow, something keeps digging into the winter onions, some type of bug has eaten most of the turnip tops, and the pepper seeds which were planted twice have not come up at all (and maybe not the tomato ones either….jury still out).

However, after all of these failures, disappointments, and complaints, once we walk around and see how well all the other plants are doing – we see success.  There is a plus to container gardening when there is too much rain; they drain better than the ground. I’m thinking that maybe in smaller amounts the soil in the container will be warmer than the soil in the ground as well which may help.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate the success we are having despite a poor start and poor weather co-operation….

The Multiplier Green Onions:

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The bin is only 1/2 full at the moment because we’ve been harvesting and eating! So fresh and full of water it feels like eating celery at first. They are sweet and mild enough to enjoy from end to end, eating them raw (dipped in a little salt of course).

Green Onion from Seed:

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From seed, these will be a little slower, but we will be able to enjoy them later in the season after the multipliers are done.

The Chives:

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They’ve grown a lot since last year. We haven’t touched them yet and plan to wait for ‘onion gap’ between the multiplier green onions and the from seed green onions before we do. We will use the chives in place of green onions in recipes for a similar flavour.

The Cucumbers & Zucchini:

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The Tomato and Basil:

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I realize that this does not at all look like a Tomato Plant hahaha. We planted four Mortgage Lifter tomato seeds and something came up in the exact location that we planted them. More than anything, it looks like a cucumber plant and we did try growing cucumber in this bin last year. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.

Here is a picture of the Tomato Seed package showing the fruit, but not the plant….

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The Basil plants were just picked over yesterday for first harvest this year and they smell great!

The Okra Plants:

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A little smaller than what they should be due to the cooler temperatures, they still look well and hopefully will continue to grow in the July heat that we’re expecting (and hoping to see).

The Horseradish:

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So impatient for these to get started, we can see there’s no worry going forward about the kind of harvest we’ll have for this plant. I’ve even had a dream about grinding it up; it was so hot and spicy my eyes were burning & I woke up sweating!

The two kinds of Lettuce:

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We’ve harvested from both a week ago and had such an abundance that we did not get back to the ‘patch’ before the first plant got bitter. While it was cool in the morning yesterday, we cut it down and gave it a really good watering to encourage new growth. The second one, because of the speckles, was easy to pull off the longer, older, tougher, bitter pieces and again after a really good watering, will be ready for another harvest in a few days.

The Garlic:

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A little crowded on one side; probably because the bin is not 100% level and some of the garlic seeds got so wet, they rotted. We will leave them alone until next spring.

The Parsley:

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Slow to start, it looks like we won’t have a ‘dud’ crop after all and there will be lots of parsley to dry and enjoy for another whole year. We are almost finished last year’s crop that we dehydrated.

The Radishes:

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Harvested and replanted three times already and with lots of seed still left, we will be able to enjoy these crunchy snacks for the next month.

An Empty Bin:

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This is where we planted the pepper seed twice, both times unsuccessfully. Some things maybe really should be started indoors. Here is the picture of the pepper seed package….

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We’ve replanted the bin with Turnip seeds. The turnips at the side of Mom’s house have been eaten up by bugs. We have had to pull out all but a few that look ok to continue on. They have been sprayed with a sunlight soap and water solution to make them sticky and unenjoyable for the bugs.

Turnips:

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Hopefully, the ones in the bins fare better.

The Winter Onions:

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The winter onions are doing well on the side of Mom’s house despite being dug up a few times from some sort of animal. We heard a little tip: put a couple of moth balls around the bed. This is supposed to deter the animals and we’ve put two in to see if they work.

The Beets:

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The beets have done well here too with the winter onions. We thinned them yesterday, kept the ones we took out and washed them up ready to eat in a salad.

The Carrots:

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The carrots are doing poorly here, but we suspect a lot of their seed has washed away along with the parsnip seed that we can’t seem to find coming up.

Grandma’s Garden:

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From left to right; corn, spinach, carrots, with the last row a 1/4 row radish (that was harvested 2 days ago and reseeded) and a 3/4 row snow pea plants.  The carrots will need to be thinned out soon.  We’ve been waiting for a good weather day for Grandma – no rain and not too hot – we want to help, but not take over so she can remain active in the garden. Hoeing is therapeutic at any age! Despite all the rain, her garden has managed to drain well and she’s only lost a small section of the spinach row to flood.

Despite a few failures, some frustration and replanning, we do see success at every turn in the garden this year and hope to see more as the season continues.

 

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FOOD, My Story

Caper Crusader

Yes, you read that right ‘Caper’, not ‘Caped’

It was approx a year ago that I tried capers for the first time.

I like salmon, but I am not a big fan of eating it smoked so have never ordered it with it’s often paired garnish of capers.

If I’d seen them at the grocery store or on a buffet some time, I don’t remember. If it was mentioned I remember thinking that I didn’t really know what they were but they were probably some sort of sea creature (haha – I’ve since learned my Mom thought this too & where I had most likely picked the idea up from when I was a kid).

My sister-in-law Jen was eating them and going on & on about how yummy they were and how they are a powerful anti-inflammatory.

I asked her where they came from (to her amusement I did admit I thought they came from the sea) she told me they are a pickled rose bud of some sort.

I tasted them, they were good! But I didn’t really ‘get into them’ until approx 4 months ago. I don’t know why, but I just started eating them….all the time. A few with breakfast, a few at lunch, maybe a couple with a snack and a few alongside dinner.

The first jar I bought was quite large and it said to consume within 8 weeks of opening. I thought for sure they were going to go bad as I couldn’t possibly eat the whole jar in 2 months. To my utter amazement, I consumed that jar in 2 weeks!  And I’ve been going strong every since. I even bought 2 jars while visiting Jen last weekend and made it through 1/2 of 1 of them (the 2nd jar was purchased for her enjoyment as they are one of the better brands I’ve encountered).

And here is why I believe these Little Capers (pickled plant buds) are actually Big Crusaders on inflammation….

You may not remember that I started this blog and focusing on whole foods cooking, not only because I enjoy it, but because I have Multiple Sclerosis. It is my goal to do as much as I can to live better with a chronic condition.

And so, how have I been feeling? Less Tired!!

Now I go through phases of extreme exhaustion, but no matter what I am always tired; more tired than the average person my age (who is usually doing more than me; working or aspiring to a new career and often not, also raising a family). So when I notice an increase in mental clarity, less napping, an increase in the ability and want to do things (I’ve been able to do some volunteer work again!), I take notice.

So what have I been doing lately?

Yup eating Capers. I know things usually don’t end up being just one small thing, but I can’t think of anything else. I’ve been drinking too much coffee, eating out, eating on the fly, feeling stressed, and trying to keep adding in more things to do. I am always conscious of pacing my energy to avoid running into trouble (relapses) as this has been my experience in the past, and hopefully delay possible physical disabilities. Fatigue & Stress have been the two biggest factors impacting how I feel and how often & severe relapses occur.

So yeah, maybe it’s the Capers…but what the heck is in them to even warrant this type of thought?

Capers are a great source of two powerful anti-oxidants: Rutin and Quercetin. I am not going to go on about their properties or why they work on inflammation; you can google search or library browse with the best of them, but they are real and they really do work.

Jen had said they are pickled rosebuds which is really close to the truth. A caper bush is also known as a Flinders Rose. Before the flower bud can actually bloom, the buds are collected and either pickled in brine or stored in oil (I haven’t been able to find them in oil just yet).

As these plants are grown in hot climates, there is currently not one in the garden this year (haha) and thus I am unable to share a picture of my own plant, nor a picture of a jar of them at the moment because I finished my last jar at breakfast this morning!

I encourage everyone to try them and if you already have, please share some of your recipes with us as I have just been eating them on the side for now 🙂

 

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Breakfast

New Spin On Old Favourite

I love cereal in the morning! I should say I love attempting to eat very healthy cereal in the morning 😉

I’ve done this bowl with chia/hemp as the base, I’ve done it with spelt groats and wheat berries, but this time I did it with Sorghum.

After the other nights’ dinner, we had some cooked Sorghum left over and I decided to have it for cereal this morning.

3/4 cup cooked sorghum, shredded unsweetened coconut, cocoa nibs, blueberries, maple syrup and almond milk

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Alternately, you could add yogurt, blueberries and maple syrup like my Mom did this morning.

Either way, enjoy!

 

 

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Dinners

Glowing Inspiration

Recently I stopped by my friend Erin’s house and I saw a copy of “Oh She Glows Cookbook”

I took a scan through it and thought I HAVE to have this!!

Trying not to buy recipe books because I would have the whole house full of them, I just couldn’t stop myself from ordering it from Amazon (and one for my sister too!)

I read through the book several times and although there will be many recipes I will try from it, this time it just gave me inspiration for making something myself. I have become bored again with food lately as this happens on/off for me. I saw a lot of recipes with chickpeas and a few with sorghum. I have never cooked with Sorghum!

And that’s where I started, chickpeas and sorghum. I just added onto my recipe as I went.

I soaked the chickpeas for 3 days…

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If you look at the picture above you can see the chickpea had actually begun to ‘sprout’ and the skin of it peeled off.

Now there is a tonne of debate going on with whether or not to soak some legumes, just google search and you’ll find a lot of articles that say to do it and a lot that say not to do it.

I’m going to say this….cook 1 cup of dried legumes not soaking them and then try cooking 1 cup that has been soaked; can you digest one easier than the other (less gas)? Or is there no difference?

I’m also going to say this….I soak.

Remember, we’re not all alike, you are a unique individual and your needs may differ from popular opinion or belief. If you look at the science of something and it states 97% of people fall into one category, just remember you may be a part of the amazing 3% that is different!

1 cup of dried chickpeas soaked for 48-72 hrs, rinsed and cooked until tender, 1 package of button mushrooms, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of dried parsley, turmeric, smoked paprika, ghost pepper salt, 1/2 orange bell pepper cubed, 1 package of baby bok choy, 1 cup of sorghum rinsed and cooked until tender (in 3 cups of water)

Heat a frying pan, add 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add the garlic until fragrant and then add the chickpeas and button mushrooms. After a few mins, add the parsley and other spices (you decide how much!), bell pepper and lastly the bok chop until tender/crisp.

In a bowl or on a plate, dish some cooked sorghum and some of the chickpea dish along side. You can add a few pine nuts if you wish too for an added taste and/or sprinkle a little coconut aminos.

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