Saturday, April 23, 2016

NJ #nativegardens "Bringing Nature Home" author Dr. Tallamy @WheatonArts @NWF #gardenchat

Wheaton Arts ECO Fair
Keynote Speaker
Dr. Doug Tallamy

Saturday, May 7th, 2016
at 1:30 pm
The presentation will be followed
by his book signing: Bringing Nature Home

Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center
1000 Village Dr, Millville, NJ

CU Maurice River invites anyone who gardens, would like to garden, and/or who would like to support local biodiversity to attend Dr Tallamy's presentation.

Wheaton's ECO Fair will be open 10 am to 5 pm and will also feature local NJ Artists, Nature Walks and a Rain Barrel Workshop!
photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

How-to-Build Your Own Garden Raised Beds #GardenCuizine #gardenchat #doityourself

How-to-Build Your Own 
Garden Raised Beds

Yesterday, Harry made another raised bed to replace the rotted ones that we ordered online. They are quick and easy to make; he is making more today. We could have saved money if we made our own in the first place. Well, we did make our first two, or I should say - Mom made them! She built two, really sturdy raised beds years ago and then as our garden grew we added several more raised beds that we ordered online. 

We decided to keep the design simple and low cost using just one, single-panel on all sides. If you wanted your raised beds deeper, just increase the height of your corner pieces to allow for as many additional slats of wood desired.  

Also, you could increase the thickness of the panels from 1x6 to 2x6 and use 4x4 corners; but beware, that increases the cost and the weight! You can make your raised beds any size you want. Here's how we built our 5-ft x 6-ft, single-panel raised beds:

Supplies Needed to build one raised bed
4, 1x6, 8-ft treated wood panels (cost: we paid $5.57 ea at Home Depot)
1, 2x4,- 8 ft treated wood for the corners (we paid $4.17)
16, 2-inch galvanized deck screws

Equipment Needed
Wood saw
Electric screwdriver
Drill and drill bit
Clamps (optional- a handy tool if you want to build it alone)

Putting it all together

Saw the wood: 7-inches long for four corners; two, 5-ft long and two 6-ft long panels
Drill 2 holes per panel on each corner
Add screws to hold together
Move to desired location and fill with soil

Happy Gardening!
Blog post and photos Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

English Ivy dermatitis. Looks like Poison Ivy! #gardenchat #allergicreaction

English Ivy Dermatitis
Well, it looks like I'm headed to the doctor tomorrow to get a professional look at my severe reaction to English Ivy. Too awful to post a photo of it on a food blog. Trust me, it's terrible! It started out as a few raised bumps on my skin and then it erupted into an awful mess. Now my skin is red, raw and oozing. It turns out that some people react to English Ivy the same way as they do to Poison Ivy. Lucky me! The moral of the story...wear gloves while pulling out English Ivy.

Update: 5/2/16 - well, now I'm not 100% sure it was English Ivy Dermatitis after all. I have noticed that we do indeed have poison ivy popping up in the area with the English ivy... in any case, in all my life of avid gardening I've never had poison ivy. I had no idea it was so bad.

Related Links
English Ivy Dermatitis

Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Can't Afford to Eat Healthy? @EatRight #eatright #GardenCuizine

Can't Afford to Eat Healthy?

Yes, you can! Look at your receipts from fast food establishments - it's not that cheap. A McDonald's burger, fries and soda may cost more than $6.00 per person. For just $2.00 a meal, people age 12 and older can eat a thrifty, nutritious meal prepared at home from the MyPlate recommended food groups. (The cost is even less for children under age 12) And, for less than $3.00 an even more liberal meal can be enjoyed. Evidence shows that a healthy home cooked meal can be made for less than half of the cost of a typical fast food meal.

The USDA estimates thrifty to liberal meal costs based on the recommended dietary guidelines. Figure out a budget for yourself that works for you and your family. Focus on the quality of your food choices:

  • Plan
  • Get the best price
  • Stock up in season
  • Cook more at home
  • Limit eating out
No excuses - you can eat healthy on a budget!

Coupons posted daily online and in local supermarkets help to reduce the cost of eating healthy even more. And, additional assistance is available for those who qualify from
NJ SNAP (formerly Food Stamps), New Jersey's supplemental nutritional assistance program that can help low-income families buy the groceries they need to eat healthy.

Happy and Healthy Shopping and Cooking!
Related Links
USDA Low Cost Food Plans
Eating Better on a Budget
Eating Better on a Budget - Spanish

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

Grow More Native Plants, but why? #gardenchat #gardenforwildlife #NJ

Grow Native Plants,
but Why?

This year we hope to add more native plants to our yard and landscape. Like many people, our yard has a mix of invasive, non-native and natives. Harry recently asked me with regard to plants, "What does native mean?" And, why do native plants matter?

Does native mean grown in the state? Or, native to the United States? Or in our case, native to the East Coast? What a good question. It would seem "native" regions would vary depending on water, soil and weather needs for the plant to thrive. 

For those in South Jersey with interest in learning more The book "Bringing Nature Home"  - will be the topic at the Millville Public Library on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 6 pm. There will be a reading circle hosted by the group CU Maurice River and led by CU member and Rutgers Master Gardener Suzy Merighi.

A good reason for growing more native plants is to sustain biodiversity and provide food for wildlife. Do you enjoy nature and getting outdoors and watching backyard birds, hummingbirds, squirrels, ladybugs and butterflies? Then plant shrubs and blooms that sustain these critters. Clearing trees for housing developments and planting non-native plants deprives local wildlife of habitat and sustenance

The more I learn, the more I cringe, because we are GUILTY of growing invasive, alien, non-native plants. As many of you know, if you read my last post, I mentioned that I relocated a few butterfly bushes; they are a big NO-NO in native gardens. We have too many non-native plants like Burning bushes, Mugwort, English Ivy and Periwinkle.

The good news is that we are trying to grow more natives! Mother Nature will thank us and will thank you too if you do the same. I'm looking forward to planting more Mountain Laurel and may try Highbush Blueberry and Beach Plums. Any other recommendations?

Happy Gardening!

Related Links
Citizens United 2016 Calendar of Events

8th Annual Native Plant SWAP
Galloway, NJ: Saturday, May 7, 2016 (9 am - 2 pm) -- rain or shine!

Pat Sutton's Source List for Native Plants 2016 
Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens by Pat Sutton

Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Today in Our Garden #NJ #gardenchat #GardenCuizine

Today in Our Garden
South Jersey
USDA Zone 7a (formerly zone 6b)

Yesterday, the hot 79 degree Jersey weather coached more leaves, buds, herbs, veggies and blooms to emerge in our yard and gardens! An asparagus spear surprised me this morning. Nothing beats snacking on a thin, tender spear of raw asparagus snapped at the base fresh from your garden.

Cold air is on the way though that will slow growth down over the next few days. Most hyacinths and daffodils have had plenty of show time already and surely won't mind a little more cold air. In fact, greens like lettuce and arugula prefer cooler temperatures.
Bleeding hearts are pink and pretty. I forgot to look to see if our white bleeding hearts are coming up. Harry's favorite vinca vine is still blooming carpets of purple and makes for a great ground cover wherever planted. Purple money plants are blooming too. 
PJM rhododendron was in full bloom in time to be trimmed for Easter flower arrangements made at church. PJM stems are firm and sturdy; the leaves are a nice chocolate (burgundy tinged) color that work great in arrangements
Our veggie garden has a few straggly arugula that taste good and spicy. We need to get more seed sown outside as soon as I clear away some weeds. Bronze fennel has naturalized and taken over a raised bed all to itself. On the edge of the fennel bed a butterfly bush decided to grow there. Butterfly bushes have shallow roots and can easily be yanked up and disposed of, shared, or moved. I relocated a few yesterday.
The wood in all our raised beds is showing signs of wear and tear and collapsing from rot. I guess I'll have to see about remaking a few myself. We have 6 raised beds that were ordered from a catalog company; they aren't lasting nearly as long as the 2 sturdy mom-made raised beds we have! I'm not very good at building things and mom may be too old now to participate. I'll blog how to build one if I figure out how to. How hard can it be?

Meanwhile indoors, we have coleus cuttings from last summer under grow lights and heirloom seeds sprouting. Just like a watched pot never boils, a watched seed tray seems to take forever to grow. However, seedlings that include dill, tomatoes and basil are growing slowly but surely.

Now is not too late for you to start some seeds indoors too. All you need are seeds (can get some online or at a Garden Center including Home Depot), a pot of dirt, water and a grow light or sunny windowsill!

Happy and Healthy Gardening!
Photos and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My first Fruit and Veggie Layer Cake! #SavortheFlavor #NNM #Easter #GardenCuizine

Fruit and Veggie Layer Cake!

Healthy food never tasted so good! In case you missed the Tweet I posted yesterday featuring pastel colored Salad Cakes, here are a few photos of my first Fruit and Veggie Layer Cake creation. What do you think? We enjoyed the festive cakes for Easter dinner.

This is one of my freestyle recipes. Sorry, I didn't have time to measure any of the ingredients to post an exact recipe. I can tell you that rather than serving the veggies raw, I decided to cook them tossed with a little egg whites as a binder. I seasoned the veggies with a little salt, herbs and spices before adding them to individual round baking dishes that were lightly coated with nonstick spray. 
The first layer was spiralized zucchini.
The Easter bunny suggested carrots as the next layer. The third layer consisted of thinly sliced red cabbage to add the Easter color purple. Cinnamon bread served as the base of each Veggie Cake.

Each cake was frosted with a blend of blueberries, extra firm tofu, low fat cream cheese and just a little stevia. The cakes were garnished with marinated radish and raw zucchini spirals.
Happy Easter!
Photos and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Celebrate Cabbage Today! #GardenCuizine #NationalNutritionMonth #StPatricksDay

Celebrate Cabbage Today
No matter how you eat cabbage, raw or cooked, it is low in calories and a good source beneficial plant sterols, dietary Fiber and an excellent source of Vitamin C! 
Happy St. Patty’s Day! 
Eat something green today. Cabbage anyone?
… and many more! What’s your favorite recipe with cabbage?
GardenCuizine Nutrition Data Cabbage  

Raw: 100g (almost 1cup) = 25 calories, 0g total fat, Vitamin C 37mg (61% DV WOW!), Dietary Fiber 3g (10% DV), Folate 43 mcg (11% DV), Plant Sterols 11mg

Cooked, boiled: 100g = 23 calories, 0g total fat, Vitamin C 37.5 mg (62% DV WOW!), Dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), Plant Sterols 10mg

Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 14, 2016

#NationalNutritionMonth Savor the Flavor of Heirlooms! #GardenCuizine #gardenchat @Eatright
Celebrate National Nutrition Month by Planting Seeds!
Savor the Flavor of Heirlooms

National Nutrition Month kicks off the gardening season as well as reminds us to exercise and feed our bodies nutritious food all year long. Seeds can be collected and saved each year from heirloom plants. Inexpensive seed packets can be ordered online, or found at your local garden market or Home Depot.

Today, I planted a few flats of annual veggies, herb and flower seeds a week earlier than I usually do (St. Patty's Day) thanks to the warming trend with our NJ weather. As you can see in my list below, there are a lot of heirlooms! 

Heirloom veggies provide fantastic flavor and best of all you can collect the seeds and grow your favorites year after year.

Seeds I started under grow lights 3/14/16: (as they germinate, I will edit and add the number of days to germination)
  • Capers (just for the fun of it - a memory from a special Cape Cod visit)
  • Cayenne peppers, long slim (17 days)
  • Purple Majesty Millet (hopefully the cats don't eat all the seedlings! (7 days; most are not germinating as of 3/31/16... maybe the seeds were too old... will have to look at the date)
  • Leslie's French Mini heirloom Tomatoes (8 days)
  • Pistou Basil (Cooks Garden) (9 days?)
  • Chocolate Nicotiana (6 days)
  • Red Rubin Basil
  • American Flag heirloom Leeks (never grew leeks before) (8 days)
  • large Yellow Heirloom tomatoes (6 days)
  • Fish Peppers (decorative Chesapeake Bay heirloom)
  • Chocolate Cherry heirloom tomatoes (6 days)
  • Critter's Black Pearl ornamental peppers
  • Lady in Red Salvia*(1st to germinate 4 days!)
  • Hot Thai peppers (for spice jar; dried) (13 days)
  • Coral Nymph Salvia*(5 days)
  • Chervil
  • Amsterdam Seasoning Celery (17 days)
  • Italian Parsley (17 days)
  • Black Krim Tomatoes (juicy large heirloom from Russia) (9 days)
  • Large Italian Basil (Meadowbrook Farm seeds; 5 days)
  • Large red cherry tomatoes (5 days)
  • Coronado Hyssop* (6 days)
  • Goldman's heirloom Tomatoes (pasta sauce; 7 days)
  • Hungarian Wax Peppers (Parks; 15 days)
 More Seeds started 3/20/16
  • Forest Fire Salvia coccinea* (7 days)
  • Tomatillos
  • test trial of our own LFT - Last Forever Cherry Tomatoes (no lie, these 1/2-inch red Jersey heirlooms strangely last forever without refrigeration from end of summer harvest into the New Year!! And, maintain juiciness and flavor)
  • Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes (9 days)
* Hummingbird favorites

Get Growing!
Happy National Nutrition Month and Happy Gardening!

Related Links
Heirlooms vs Hybrids
Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.
NNM logo used with permission.

Cocoa-Balsamic Reduction #fatfree #sauce #NNM flavorful sauce for entrees and desserts

Cocoa-Balsamic Reduction
Why buy reduced balsamic at a gourmet store when you can make it so easily at home? Reduced balsamic vinegar adds amazing, velvety, fat-free flavor to salads, chicken, steak, fish, cheese, veggies and fruit such as strawberries or peaches.

Depending on what you're serving, balsamic can be reduced with other added flavors such as garlic cloves, rosemary, peppercorns, cinnamon, blueberries or orange. I used cocoa to make a tasty sauce to drizzle over Peaches Cannoli - a healthy dessert featured at a recent National Nutrition Month cooking class held at Inspira Health Network.

For best flavor, start with a good quality Italian balsamic vinegar made from grape must and aged in oak barrels.

2 cups Balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Putting it all together
In a stainless steel pot slowly simmer the balsamic vinegar. Whisk in the cocoa powder and reduce (40 minutes or so) until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir often and be careful not to let burn!

Remove from heat, cool and transfer to an airtight storage container or small plastic squeeze bottle. Store in refrigerator. Serve room temperature.

Enjoy! Savor the Flavor
Related Links

Everything You Need to Know about Balsamic Vinegar
Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Grilled Peaches and Cannoli Ricotta #NNM #healthy #dessert @Fruits_Veggies

Grilled Peaches and Cannoli Ricotta
with Cocoa-Balsamic drizzle
Serves 5


5 peach halves (fresh peaches in season or canned peaches in juice)
1 cup part skim Ricotta
1 Tablespoon (Tblsp) powdered sugar
1 Tblsp Vanilla Soy Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
mini chocolate chips garnish - optional

Putting it all together

Wash, pit and cut fresh peaches in half. If using canned peach halves: drain and save juice to store extra grilled peaches.

To grill: spray the cut side with cooking spray. Place cut side down on hot grill and cook until grill marks are imprinted into the peach. Remove and let cool on plate or in reserved juice.

In mixing bowl mix the ricotta, sugar, soy milk and vanilla ext. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Make Cocoa-Balsamic Reduction and transfer to a small squeeze bottle when cool.

Serve one peach halve topped with 1 oz. scoop cannoli ricotta and drizzle with reduced cocoa-balsamic. Garnish with a few chocolate chips and/or mint leaf.  

Enjoy and Savor the Flavor!
Good source Vitamin A and Calcium
Recipe and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fiber, What About It? #GardenCuizine #NNM TY @serenagwolf Apple Pie Oatmeal is the best!

Fiber, What About It?
I'm testing out recipes for a National Nutrition Month cooking class. Thanks to Serena Wolf's recipe inspiration, my family woke up to slow cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal made with steel cut oats, apples and ground flax, topped with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, walnuts and pure maple syrup. Harry said it was the best oatmeal he ever ate! We sat around the breakfast table savoring the flavors of our oatmeal and the topic of fiber came up.

Dietary fiber passes through our GI tract and supports digestion; but, fiber itself isn’t digested. Why do we need it then? For many reasons. 1) Fiber helps us feel full, keeping hunger in check. 2) Fiber helps regulate sugar in our body. 3) Fiber keeps our BMs regular. 4) Fiber helps lower bad cholesterol. 5) Fiber helps prevent some diseases. 

Scientific research shows that high total dietary fiber intake is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. Fiber benefits are also linked to helping breast cancer, IBS and diverticulosis.

How much Fiber do I need?  

Adults and kids need between 20 and 35 grams of fiber every day. According to the National Institute of Health, most Americans are not meeting the recommendations and average 10-15 grams of fiber per day.

Aren’t there 2 kinds of Fiber?

Yes. Soluble and Insoluble

What’s the difference? 

“What is an example of each?”

Soluble fiber attracts water like an absorbent paper towel. The more water it soaks, the moister it becomes – like a gel. Soluble fiber helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol. 

Examples of foods containing soluble fiber include: oatmeal, barley, beans, nuts, seeds and fruit and veggies such as blueberries, prunes, citrus fruits, onions, avocado, Brussels sprouts, beets, broccoli and Jerusalem artichokes. Since soluble fiber absorbs water, adequate water intake is recommended as fiber intake increases.

Insoluble fiber keeps your BMs moving, helping to prevent constipation. You’ll find it in vegetables and whole grain foods like popcorn, wheat bran, wheat germ, Fiber One, whole wheat bread and brown rice.

Fiber comes from plants - many of which provide both types of fiber. Whole, natural foods are your best sources for dietary fiber.

  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
Related Links
Easy Ways to Boost Fiber in Your Daily Diet
Fiber in Whole Grains 

What is a Whole Grain   
¿Que es un Grano Entero?   
Top 5 Foods that can Lower LDL Cholesterol 
Photo and Blog post Copyright(C) Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Whole wheat Pizza Calzones anytime healthy #recipe not just for the Super Bowl

Whole Wheat 
Game Pizza Calzones

Homemade Pizza Calzones were a big hit for dinner during the game Super Bowl Sunday. Even Mom ate all of hers; she doesn't usually eat much bread. Her fingers could grip the soft whole grain meat pies filled with nutritious veggies and cheese. I had fun in the kitchen while our game watchers could keep their eyes on the game and eat - dipping their calzones into warm tomato basil pasta sauce.

I'd say making homemade pizza dough may be a little advanced for a beginner, but you should still give it a try. Making and working with dough is so much fun! Allow yourself preparation time. Dough is best when not rushed and allowed to rest and rise before baking. 

For years I avoided recipes that required making yeast risen dough until I learned how easy it was to make.
I spotted the recipe online and made just a few changes. We cooked lean, organically raised ground beef, but you could substitute other fillings. Also, our local Shoprite didn't have the Hodgson Mills brand called for in the recipe, so I substituted King Arthur.

I sauteed the beef and veggies separately and then combined.
We have a freezer full of sweet red garden peppers, so I chopped up and used one of them in with the mushrooms and onions. I used baby portobello mushrooms and added 1 teaspoon dried thyme.
Unlike the recipe I folded the dough over the filling, lined up the edges and pressed and crimped together firmly using two fingers.

Rather than baking the calzones right away, I allowed them to rest and rise under a linen towel. They were ready to bake when the dough no longer sprang back when pressed with a finger.
Just before baking, I brushed the tops with egg wash rather than oil. 

Click here for the recipe

note: these freeze great and make an easy, quick lunch or dinner on a busy day! 

Buon Appetito!

Photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Crab Imperial cooked with #realbutter #GardenCuizine #recipe

Crab Imperial
 made with real Butter
Serves 6
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper (we used 2 thin sweet garden peppers from the freezer)
5 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon (tsp) salt

1 egg yolk, whisked
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 Tablespoon capers, drained
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried garden Parsley
3/4 cup lite mayonnaise
Paprika (we used Hungarian Hot Paprika, don't worry, a sprinkle won't make it hot!)
1 lb. premium lump crab meat, drained

Preheat oven to 375 deg F
Putting it all together
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter and sauté peppers. 
  2. Whisk in the flour. Add milk and salt. Stir until blended and beginning to thicken, about 10-minutes. Turn off heat. Allow to cool a little before adding egg.
  3. Stir in egg yolk, and remaining ingredients.
  4. Add crab meat last: gently stirring so not to break up lumps of crab meat.
  5. Spoon into ramekins (shallow individual baking dishes).
  6. Sprinkle with paprika and bake 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
For a balanced meal; serve with a starch and vegetable. We served ours with sweet potato oven baked fries and a side of sautéed Zucchini and Onions.

Buon Appetito!
Recipe and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.