Friday, September 19, 2014

Thank You @davesgardenteam members! #GardenCuizine

Contest picture by wind 
Thank You
Dave's Garden members!
Proud to be among photography winners in several categories at Dave's Gardens County Fair 2014! Winning two first places this year, which is a first for me. I've never won with my photo entries before.The voters liked our kitty - sweet Snoops - snoozing atop a tapestry pillow 'home sweet home' as first place "Domesticated Pet" 

Another first was for favorite "Arts and Crafts" for my Mosaic Watering Can, which by the way, is still in the works. I really need to finish that project.
Harry's annual Birthday Cherry Pie won second place for favorite "Homemade Sweet Treats" The charm must have been the edible garnish of shiso perilla, mint and anise hyssop.

Pictures from our bountiful harvest of organic grapes for grape jelly won second and third places for "Favorite Fresh Fruit" 

Runner up mentions were in favorite "Fresh Vegetables" for some heirloom tomato shots  And, we truly did have a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes this year and they still are still producing. 

Growing your own fruits and vegetables is truly a rewarding and fun experience. I encourage you to give it a try.
Happy and Healthy Gardening! 
Stay tuned for more GardenCuizine recipes, photos and videos

Monday, September 1, 2014

Today's Labor Day Harvest: Heirloom Veggies Galore! #GardenCuizine

Heirloom Veggies Galore
Today's Labor Day Harvest

Labor Day weekend is a good time to preserve fresh vegetables. Today in our garden we have dahlias almost ready to bloom, basil going to seed (already froze lots of pesto), more potatoes waiting to be dug, and kale and herbs for picking. Today's harvest included a few colanders full of Turkish eggplant, garlic chives, hot peppers, and lots of juicy, Jersey, organically grown, heirloom tomatoes. We have to use the tomatoes up asap since they spoil fairly quickly and fruit flies are hanging out. Any ideas?

So far we've enjoyed tomatoes on sandwiches, salads, in omelets and combined with chopped peaches in salsa that tastes great with grilled chicken, fish or pork. If you're like us, when you grow your own veggies, especially tomatoes, you may find that you can't eat them fast enough! Canning and preserving recipes come in handy.

Rather than pasta sauce, salsa, or preserving tomatoes whole or chopped, I'm thinking of making soup. Homemade cream of tomato soup should be delicious and freeze well. And, it will be nice to have a nutritious taste of the garden during the fall and winter.

Happy Labor Day!
Blog post Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tarahumara Popping Sorghum * Make half your grains - Whole Grains! #GardenCuizine

Popping Sorghum is blooming!
So far I'm really enjoying growing this interesting whole grain in our garden. Sorghum stalks grow tall like corn. The leaves have a distinct white stripe down the center. The plants bloom a tassle-like top, which reminds me of wheat, but it's wheat-free. 

Sorghum's white seeds can be harvested, dried and ground into gluten-free sorghum flour or popped like popcorn. Sorghum flour as an ingredient works well combined with other grains; it's especially good in recipes for pancakes or bread.
Photo Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Today in Our Garden: huge yellow heirloom tomatoes! #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Today in Our Jersey Garden
Well, I took my eye off our ripening huge heirloom tomatoes for a day and two whoppers got over ripe. Harry sliced into our biggest one before I had a chance to weight it. It may have been 2 pounds! The other shown in the photo above, weighed 1 lb. 8 oz. - wow! This breaks our record of 1.2 lbs. from last year. 

Needless to say we've been enjoying tomatoes on everything you can think of. For lunch today, we ate tomato sandwiches while watching hummingbirds visit Coronado Hyssop* and their feeders. This morning, we enjoyed Harry's heirloom tomato and cheese omelets for breakfast. Last night, we had tomatoes in salad at dinner. Tonight, I'm sure we'll add tomatoes to something, perhaps a simple tomato basil salad or tomato peach salsa. 

Try growing your own organic fruits and veggies for quality nutrition and fresh food, all which make gardening such a worthwhile adventure. We grow all our tomatoes from collected seeds from the largest tomatoes. The huge yellow heirloom shown in the above photo is most likely Yellow Brandywine.

Photos Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Processing Grapes * Making Grape Juice for Grape Jelly #nowinediamonds #GardenCuizine

Homemade 100% Pure
Grape Juice 
for making Grape Jelly

Yesterday we harvested 5 pounds, 10 ounces of organically grown grapes for jelly. We've learned from experience that to make the best homemade grape jelly, it's best to allow two days: one day to crush and blend the grapes into grape juice and a second day to make the jelly.  

Letting grape juice rest overnight in the refrigerator allows 'wine diamonds', otherwise known as potassium bitartrate crystals, to precipitate out. The crystals are easily removed by filtering the fresh juice through cheesecloth.

Potassium bitartrate crystals 
Potassium bitartrate crystals are GRAS approved by the FDA (Generally Recognized As Safe). The first time we made our own grape juice for jelly, we didn't know about potassium bitartrate crystals and some crystals did form in our finished product. I noticed them while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The harmless crunchy texture in our homemade jelly was undesirable because the crystals resembled bits of glass. 

If your homemade grape jelly is planned for company or intended as a gift, it would be a good idea to plan ahead and allow two days to prepare it. It's worth the extra day.
Putting it all together
Homemade Grape Juice Recipe
1) pick grapes (ours are organically grown)
2) pull grapes off stems (discard stems in compost)
3) weigh grapes
4) rinse grapes to wash - then strain
5) place washed grapes in stock pot
6) mash grapes directly in stock pot using clean hands or potato masher. (note: acid in grapes can make hands itch - some wear plastic gloves)
6) add water: for 3 to 4.5 lbs. of grapes add 1/2 cup water. We had 5 lbs., 10 oz. so we added about 2/3 cup water. You only have to add a little water.
7) bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 10 minutes. Mash again with potato masher to release juices.
8) collect juice by straining contents into a cheesecloth-lined pot or china cap (tip: wet and squeeze dry cheesecloth first so it doesn't absorb and waste juice).
9) squeeze out as much juice as you can as the pulp cools, then discard the used cheesecloth and pulp (pulp can be composted).
10) transfer the strained grape juice to a bowl or container, cover and refrigerate overnight. This allows natural crystals to develop and precipitate out.  

The next day, you should notice small wine diamonds about the size of silver glitter floating on the surface (see photo above). Strain the juice a final time in a double layer of cheesecloth to remove any crystals.

Enjoy your pure and natural antioxidant-rich juice. Homemade grape juice can be used in homemade wine, jam or jelly recipes.

Food science note: Potassium bitartrate crystals are a byproduct of the wine industry and are gathered from the sediment in the barrels. They are ground to make Cream of Tartar for the baking industry.

Related Links
Homemade Reduced Sugar Grape Jelly
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Today in Our Garden * Grape Jelly time! #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Today in Our Garden
South Jersey
USDA Zone 7a (formerly zone 6b)
August 9, 2014
Harry picked a colander full of organic red grapes this morning. We plan on making grape jelly. Also, we finally spotted a few more swallowtail butterflies this morning. This year we haven't seen as many butterflies as we usually see - have you?

Hummingbirds are more active at the feeders now, and flowers are blooming all over the place, except for dahlias and goldenrod. We noticed meadows of yellow goldenrod blooming now in the Adirondacks, which is further north. Here at home, even Mom pulled out her cell phone camera to snap a few flower photos this morning.

Some of our NJ blooms include:
  • Buddleia (the few we have left after die back from last winter)
  • Sunflowers (from bird seed)
  • Limelight hydrangea (shown next to Harry in top photo)
  • Green-Headed Coneflower, Rudbeckia laciniata (yellow blooms shown)
  • Coronado hyssop (my new hummingbird favorite! check out my Dave's Garden article Hummingbird favorite: Coronado Hyssop
greeter at the garden gate

  • Four o'clocks, Zinnias, red Cannas, Cosmos
  • Hostas, Hibiscus
  • Apple mint, Phlox, Black-eyed Susans
  • Salvias (including lady in red, Yvonne's, black and blue)
yesterday's harvest
The veggie garden is full of heirloom tomatoes, basil, potatoes, chia and both sweet and hot peppers. 

We have the BIGGEST TOMATO that I've ever grown or seen ripening on the vine now. It's a gigantic yellow heirloom tomato. An award winner for sure. All our tomatoes were grown from saved seeds from the largest tomatoes of the previous year. Guess it works!

We're looking forward to seeing the actual weight of our largest heirloom tomato ever along with large, dinner plate dahlia blooms - all coming soon.

Hope you are having a happy and healthy summer

Related Links
Homemade Reduced Sugar Grape Jelly
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Photos and blog post Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hiking with Harry in the Adirondacks #ADK #Keenevalley #wildblueberries

Blueberry Mountain
4.8 miles round trip day hike
Hiking Adirondack mountains will surely get you back in shape within a few days, assuming that you start off somewhat prepared to hike by eating right and keeping yourself as fit as possible during the year. This year I planned to be better prepared than last year and worked out weekly at a gym. It did help. You don't think of it when you're young, but can't help but notice that as you get older - the climbs get tougher!

Most trail books accurately describe Blueberry Mtn. as an easy short hike with a beautiful view of Keene Valley. Harry and I left from Marcy Airfield to Blueberry Mountain, 2.4 miles: 4.8 miles round trip. The trail also lead to the summit of Porter Mountain, but we only wanted to climb Blueberry: 2,890 feet, which was enough for us for the first hike this trip. 

The August weather was comfortable and cool; not unseasonably hot like summer of 2013. And, yes, there were lots of blueberries and shrubs on Blueberry Mtn. Wild blueberries are noticeably smaller than commercial blueberries. 

RIP Pat Quinn who passed away May 2012. Her family closed the Bed and Breakfast 'Mountain Meadows' located in Keene Valley. She always gave us advise on good hikes and was an inspiration. I loved her cottage gardening style. Harry says it was like "going home,"  which it was. We miss her and the hospitality of her family. I think of her on mornings that I refill our hummingbird feeders and especially when we visit Keene Valley.
Trail-head located center of Keene Valley
Harry taking a photo of wild blueberries
Photos and blog post (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Cherry Pie #GardenCuizine

Cherry Pie

Homemade cherry pie tastes better than anything you can buy. Cherry pie makes a great alternative to birthday "cake" too. Cherry pie is Harry's birthday favorite. In fact, today I'm decorating a pie that I made last night for his milestone birthday celebration. Happy 70th, Harry!

Why do you think store-bought fruit pies are so inexpensive? Because the fruit is stretched with lots of sugar and cheap filling goop! More like a science project than something worth eating.

In the future we hope to harvest our own cherries. We planted two new trees this spring; one appears to have died. So who knows if we'll ever get to grow our own cherries. In the meantime, I bought some at our local farmers market.

Preheat oven to 400 F
Pie dough
use your favorite pie dough recipe
Filling Ingredients
6 cups sweet cherries - pitted

3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons (T) instant tapioca
1 T tapioca starch
1 T key lime juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup water
egg wash: 1 egg whisked with splash water
Putting it all together
  • When pitting cherries be sure to account for each and every pit so your guests don't get a pit
  • Combine all ingredients except the water and egg wash and toss in large bowl. Stir and after 15 minutes if the cherries do not seem juicy add the 1/4 cup water. Let sit while you roll out the pie dough.
  • Roll out pie dough in two 11-inch circles for 9-inch pie plate. Fit one for bottom crust into lightly sprayed pie plate
  • Fill with cherry mixture
  • Use a fluted cutter and cut strips of dough out of the remaining circle for lattice top crust. Press and crimp edges using fingers
  • Egg wash
  • Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake until golden brown and you see the cherry filling bubble - about 1 hour total. You may have to put foil around the edges during baking to prevent getting too dark
  • Allow to fully cool before decorating if serving as birthday 'cake'!
Edible decorations shown in photo: red shiso perilla, chocolate mint, anise hyssop, pansy

GardenCuizine Nutrition data Sweet Cherries:
Good Source: dietary Fiber, Potassium and Vitamin C
1 cup pitted Sweet Cherries: 3g (13% DV) dietary Fiber, 342mg (10% DV) Potassium, 11mg (18% DV) Vitamin C

Photos and recipe Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Traveling to New Hope or #Lambertville? Thumbs up to Caffe Galleria #GardenCuizine

When traveling to New Hope, PA or Lambertville, NJ be sure to experience the excellent food, service and live music at Caffe Galleria located on the Jersey side: 23 North Union Street, Lambertville, NJ 08530. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

For Harry's birthday dinner we both had their Cedar Plank Fish du Jour, which was Corvina cooked to perfection in their brick oven served with a generous portion of veggies. Their salads are large enough to share. We shared a Pomodoro Salad with fresh mozzarella, basil and balsamic reduction. The photo shows my half salad portion!

They don't have a liquor license but if you would like to order a bottle of wine with dinner they have an arrangement with a nearby liquor store that offers free delivery within minutes without any service charge. 

Desserts are made in-house (an attention getter for me) and featured a full line of gelato and sorbets. We enjoyed a scoop of gelato in espresso on the recommendation of our server that was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal. 

Whole wheat crust option for pizza, vegan and vegetarian foods (seitan, tofu, brown rice) and locally sourced foods including free-range eggs, pasture-raised meats were other menu features that caught my eye. 

Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Grow your own potatoes! #GardenCuizine

Growing Your Own Potatoes
~kitchen garden update~
Our organic russet Butte potatoes are now blooming away. As first discussed, seed potatoes were cut into pieces leaving an 'eye' on each piece and planted in trenches (June 9th). As the plants grew (June 27th), about 3 weeks later, the dirt was filled in; a process called 'hilling'.
The goal was to 'hill' the potatoes so more potatoes would grow. We planted ours in a raised bed, which made it difficult to hill the soil higher than the sides of the raised beds. The soil doesn't appear mounded, but since the seed potatoes were started low, in a trench, filling in the trench served as 'hilling'. We opted not to go any higher to avoid the soil rolling out of the raised bed. If the potatoes were planted at ground level we could have continued to mound up the soil. 

The top photo shows Butte potatoes in bloom. We're also growing 'King Harry' and my other favorite, 'Yukon Gold'.  When you grow your own - you can select from many different varieties. When you buy in a store - you are limited to whatever is available.

The potatoes will be ready to be dug up for cooking after the plants die. Check back for follow-up blog posts.
GardenCuizine Nutrition Data: Baked Russet Potato: 
Excellent Source: Potassium and Vitamin B6
Good Source: dietary Fiber and Vitamin C

1 small potato (138g): 4g Protein; 3g dietary Fiber (13% DV); 759mg Potassium (22% DV); 12mg Vitamin C (19% DV); 0.5 mg Vitamin B6 (24% DV)

Happy and Healthy Gardening!
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Today in Our Garden #GardenCuizine #gardenchat #hops

Today in Our Garden
Hops (Humulus lupulus) twine above a wren's bird house. Hops vines add charm to any garden. The green blooms can be boiled to add characteristic flavor to beer. Hops extract also acts as a preservative. According to Mother Earth News, "It's not the flowers themselves, but the resin glands (called lupulin) at the base of the petals that give hops their distinctive properties. The resin itself contains acids that produce bitterness; the volatile oils in the glands yield aroma."

And, no, we've never tried to make our own beer. Why do that with Iron Hill Brewery right up the street!
Blogpost and photo Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Is Your BMI above 30? Do You Skip Breakfast and/or Lunch? #GardenCuizine @eatright

Eating "...takes my time away"
"I'm not hungry during the day"
I hear these quotes on a daily basis from obese adults. Out of over one thousand obese individuals that I've counseled to date, I can attest that the majority do not eat breakfast and/OR lunch. Why is that? 

I'm noticing the same trend with obese adolescents. In fact, studies have associated weight gain with increased fast food intake and skipping breakfast in adolescents as they transition into adulthood.

To make up for the calories missed, those who skip breakfast and lunch eventually eat and often end up over compensating and overeating even greater calories than a healthy breakfast and lunch would have provided.

Eating about every four hours fuels the body. Participating in physical activity increases lean muscle and boosts metabolism to burn more calories. Eating a portion controlled breakfast, lunch and dinner provides nutrition and energy for work, play and daily activities.

For meal planning and weight management support consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. If you're struggling with binge-eating be sure to discuss it with your doctor. 

Make time to eat right
  • Food is important
  • Food is Fuel
  • THINK Food Groups
  • Plan ahead
  • Avoid Fast Foods
  • Portion Control
  • Select Quality Foods for Better Health
Related Links
Weight Loss and Nutrition Myths 
Know Your BMI
Healthy Breakfast Ideas 
More Breakfast Ideas 
Meal Frequency and Weight Loss 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sold out! Blueberry Salads with Blueberry Vinaigrette Dressing #GardenCuizine #recipe

Blueberry Salads
with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Sold out! Blueberry salads with Diana's blueberry vinaigrette salad dressing sold out at Trinity Church's Blueberry Festival last night. Special thanks to the Healthy Garden in Moorestown, NJ for providing the tossed salads. A fun time was had by all who stopped by.
GardenCuizine Homemade Blueberry Vinaigrette recipe: click here
Related Links
Jersey Blues and Blueberry Nutrition

Photos and blog post Copyright (C)2014 Wind. All rights reserved.