Friday, August 28, 2015

@RutgersNJAES @birdsblooms @Garden4Wildlife @pollinators Cumberland County SJ #gardenchat #GardenCuizine

Stay tuned for photos and video featuring wildlife gardens by Master Gardeners living in Cumberland County. Our tour guide will be NJ native plant expert, naturalist, birder and book author - Pat Sutton. According to Pat's blog, many of the private home gardens were planted with wildlife in mind, designed to attract butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and other birds, as well as insect pollinators. And, to enjoy wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains we need important pollinators!

Hummingbirds pollinate wildflowers as they move flower to flower. Late August into September is peak hummingbird migration time. We'll be pointing our cameras towards the birds and blooms and promise to zoom in on ruby-throated hummers as they visit their favorite nectar plants.

This South Jersey Cumberland County Wildlife tour was planned by Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River (CU)
Related Links
Pat and Clay Sutton 
Hummingbird Garden Nectar Plants by Patricia Sutton
Rutgers Master Gardeners Program
Photo and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Today in Our Garden @birdsblooms #NJ #gardenchat Growing food teaches us not to waste food or water

Today in Our Garden
Use it or lose it!
Food Appreciation
Our gardens exhaust us during August. Now is about the time every season when we slack off in the fight against fast growing weeds and make time to enjoy the birds and blooms. We also start collecting seeds for next years plantings and are busy canning and preserving in the kitchen.


As we think about all there is to do... food is ripening at a rapid rate. Use it or lose it!
  • Picking and preparing fresh, organic, homegrown foods gives us a total appreciation for our food and our environment.
Vegetable gardening also makes me wonder: Would people eat less if they grew and prepared their own food? We know scientific studies show that people do eat more fruits and veggies when they garden, but would they eat less overall?
Tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes are ripening faster than we can pick them! Favorites include Chocolate Cherry tomatoes (shown). Harry cooked our first homegrown San Marzano tomatoes and made 5 quarts of pasta sauce so far with more tomatoes cooking down now. We freeze the quarts.

As gardening cooks, we want to savor and not waste what we plant and harvest. Cooking down a stockpot full of homegrown, ripe, plum tomatoes (with added basil, garlic and onion) made us realize that it sure takes a lot of tomatoes to make just one quart of sauce.
Onions
Garden space needed for growing onions has made us appreciate the abundance of onions always available at the market. We picked our first Ailsa Craig onions yesterday. Most green tops died back and the onions easily pulled up from the soil.

We probably should have picked the onions sooner. And, we weren't sure what to do about the dirt on them? We rinsed the dirt off. The onions are now air drying on a table outside. As you can see, their shape is teardrop and not large and round. 

The fun of gardening includes learning from other gardeners. Stay tuned for updates on how to grow bigger and better onions. If you already know - please share.
Grapes
One of our best years! Mom even helped pick the grapes off the stems. We picked 13.5 lbs. from one, established red grapevine, which made 12 pints of organic grape jelly.

Cow Peas
Cool beans: Fagiolo Nano Dolico -dall'occho: Italian black-eyed peas climbed up into our tomato vines this year - another garden first for us. I didn't realize they climbed. The pods hang like green beans and can be eaten green or left on the plants to brown. I've been picking them as they turn brown and plan to make Hoppin John with homegrown black-eyed peas for good luck in the New Year. 

To release the peas, rub your finger along the pod edge. If the bean is dry enough, the edge will split like a zipper and the beans can easily be dumped out.


Acorn Squash
Look what I found this morning! We have acorn squash growing from rotten squash rejects that were tossed in the beds last Fall.

Happy and Healthy Gardening! 

Related Links
Backyard Gardening, Grow Your Own Food, Improve Your Health
 
GardenCuizine Recipe Baked Nutty Acorn Squash

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August is Kids Eat Right Month™ #KidsEatRightMonth #GardenCuizine #KERMonth

August is Kids Eat Right Month™
Shop Smart
Cook Healthy
Eat Right
Keep your kids healthy by focusing on healthy eating, smart shopping and fun physical activity. Be a positive role model. Limit candy, sugary foods and drinks; avoid excess fats and calories to prevent and reduce obesity.
Related Links

Monday, August 3, 2015

Adirondack Mountain Hiking @ADKmtnclub #ADK #Adirondacks @LetsMove

Adirondack Mountain Hiking
New York's Adirondack Mountain hikes will reward you with one of the best cardio workouts you'll ever experience! This year we met friends for a warm up on Mt. Jo, which was a great family hike. Elevation: 2,876 feet; 700 foot ascent; 1.3 miles. We enjoyed the beautiful view of Heart Lake and Algonquin and Wright peaks. 

Driving to get to the ADK Loj we passed beautiful wild flower meadows with milkweed.
On the way back to our car we stopped by a small garden plot to learn more about native wildlife and plants in the Adirondack region.
The next day we decided to climb Noonmark Mountain. Elevation: 3,556 feet; ascent 2,575 feet; 2.5 miles each way. It happened to be one of the hottest days of the summer in the Adirondacks. We packed a lunch and plenty of water to stay hydrated. 
The short distance gave us the impression that Noonmark would be a fairly easy hike. WRONG! It was a steep, challenging climb. We had a few vistas that we hoped were the summit, only to find out we had more to go to get to the top. Several people passed us that didn't make it to the summit, but we kept on hiking. After a few scrambles over rocks we finally made it. No one else was at the top but us. We had a fabulous 360 deg. view of the Adirondack Great Range. 
Related Links
Hiking Mt. Jo 
Noonmark Mountain
My unedited iphone Video of Noonmark 360 view from summit
Photo and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling #GardenCuizine #EatCherries

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
My family and I prefer cherry pie filling less gooey than store-bought canned fruit fillings, but not as dry as pure cherries tossed with sugar and lemon juice. Heating sugar with liquid and adding a thickening agent first makes the best cherry pie.

It takes about 4 to 6 cups of fresh pitted cherries to make a homemade cherry pie. I just took a cherry pie out of the oven made with organic tapioca starch. For the liquid I used lemonade, but you could also use cranberry juice cocktail.

Other thickening agents include cornstarch or arrowroot. Tapioca comes from the root of the tropical cassava plant and is used the same as you would cornstarch.

Ingredients

Heaping 4 cups fresh pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons tapioca starch 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup lemonade
  • Rinse fresh cherries; pit cherries (I use a handheld cherry pitter) and set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix tapioca starch and cinnamon with a little lemonade to make a paste/slurry - it should be smooth, set aside. 
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemonade.
  • When sugar is dissolved, stir in the cherries.
  • Stir in the tapioca slurry to desired consistency; heat until the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Add water to thin if necessary - try not to stir too much. 
  • Let sit while preparing your favorite pie dough or use as a topping on your favorite danish or dessert recipes.
Enjoy!
Related Links
Science of Food Thickening Agents
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Growing Sunflowers and Sunflower Seed Nutrition #GardenCuizine

Sunflower Seed Nutrition
Sunflower Seeds come from the center of Sunflowers. When you look closely at the center of a sunflower, you'll notice many tiny buds. Each little yellow bud will bloom and then go to seed. As the plant produces seeds, the seeds extend into view for birds to nibble out - almost like a Pez dispenser for birds! 

In addition to birds, people of all ages enjoy sunflower seeds, which provide a good source of protein and other important nutrients. Try roasted sunflower seeds on a garden salad or as a healthy snack.

Sunflower Butter
Ground, roasted sunflower seeds make sunflower butter that has a texture similar to peanut butter. Sunflower butter provides a healthy alternative to tree nut butter for those with peanut allergies.


Growing Sunflowers
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) come in all varieties for growing in the garden; but we rarely plant them ourselves; birds and chipmunks plant them for us. This year we have the most ever sunflowers in our gardens.
 
Sunflower Seed Nutrition: Dry roasted without salt
Excellent Source: Vitamin E and heart healthy unsaturated fats
Good Source: dietary Fiber, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Zinc


1 ounce (28g) = 163 calories, dietary Fiber 3g (12% DV), Protein 5g, Vitamin E 7.3mg (37% DV), Niacin 2 mg (10% DV), Vitamin B6 0.2 mg (11% DV), Folate 66.4 mcg (17% DV), Zinc 1.5 mg (10% DV), total fat 13.9g (21% DV)- polyunsaturated fat 9.2g, monounsaturated fat 2.7g, saturated fat 1.5g 
Blog post and photo Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rutgers Master Gardeners of Cumberland County Butterfly House #familysuccess @monarchwatch

No more worrying about the group of orange and black monarch butterflies that came home with me from Rutgers Master Gardeners of Cumberland County butterfly tent exhibit that was held at the Family Success of Vineland. The monarchs were released into gardens full of native NJ flowering plants.

Driving home with a box of butterflies on the passenger seat felt so strange. I felt a sense of responsibility to care for them properly and get them into an environment with nectar plants asap. 

I had no idea there were butterfly farms that shipped butterflies for events like this. Each butterfly was carefully packed into it's own special envelope that came from Florida. At the end of the Family Success event, some butterflies went home with a few of the master gardeners and eleven went home with me! 

Our butterflies were safely packed for travel. As I drove home, the weather report was getting worse. A severe thunder storm with heavy winds and rain was on the way in less than one hour from the time I was going to release the butterflies. 

How could I release tired, weak butterflies just before a bad storm? It just didn't seem right. So when I got home I put an ice pack in the box to keep the temperature cool to keep the butterflies calm and somewhat dormant. The box was a special one from the butterfly farm; the ice pack did not touch the butterflies; no worries, they didn't get hurt or frozen.

When the storm passed, I took the butterfly box outside and released them, one-at-a-time, onto a weedy plant next to our front porch. It was too dark to take them to the milkweed patch. They were all alive, but looked tired as they crawled out of their envelopes. One panicked and went flying towards the porch light. Another fluttered onto the concrete porch. We quickly turned off the light. They calmed down and rested.
First thing in the morning, I rushed outside to look for them. I noticed four butterflies were still on the plant where I put them. They appeared weak. I carefully picked them up and moved them to their favorite, fragrant milkweed. The blooms and leaves were still wet from the rain the night before; the sky overhead was clear and blue. A beautiful butterfly day.

Master Gardeners: Patti Sheppard, Pam Burton, and Jan LoBiondo will be pleased to know that all the monarchs survived and are soaring in our sunny gardens. We've been watching them all day visit their favorite nectar sources, especially the native, common milkweed and echinacea. Every home owner should consider planting a milkweed patch just for the monarchs, especially since milkweed is the only plant they lay eggs on.
The milkweed swayed from side to side from the warm breeze - occasionally a butterfly lost their grip and fell to the grassy ground, but don't worry. Each time they fell off the blooms, we repeatedly picked them up and put  back. They slurped the nectar and started moving their wings back and forth. You could see their energy improving from the sweet nectar.
As the morning sun warmed their wings and their bodies got nourishment from the nectar they flew up towards the sky and into the nearby Tulip tree. Some soared over the pivot hedge and glided past groups of colorful daylilies and yellow rudbeckias to land on the bright pink echinacea. 

Thanks Family Success of Vineland for hosting such a fun and interesting exhibit. Families who visited the butterfly tent learned how to tell a male from a female and about a butterfly's life cycle - from laying eggs that hatch into larva (caterpillars) through their transition to a pale green capsule called a chrysalis. And, about how butterflies emerge from the chrysalis when they are ready to fly. Truly a fascinating and beautiful insect.

Did you know monarchs are diminishing each year? For incredible coverage of monarch's 2,000 mile migration that takes several butterfly generations to make to their destination in Mexico, check out an amazing video by PBS called The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies.


Sadly, the amount of monarchs we see are decreasing due to loss of habitat in the US and Mexico because individuals and businesses want money from chopping down the trees in Mexico where the monarchs huddle. Other major reasons include the use of insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (bt)* used on genetically modified corn (butterflies fly over corn fields and the pollen can kill them when they get close). Also, there are less and less common Milkweed plants in the US and elsewhere due to construction and housing. Monarchs need milkweed to survive. 
If you plan on making a spot in your yard for a butterfly garden, don't forget to plant milkweed. And remember, when the milkweed dies at the end of the season, leave it there - it may have butterfly eggs on it!

*Commercial Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) insecticides are classified as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the EPA, and are approved for most organic certification programs. However, they are controversial; they kill caterpillars: Different strains (about 600 are known) of Bacillus thuringiensis produce different forms of delta endotoxins – many are toxic to caterpillars (e.g., European corn borer), while others are toxic to flies (e.g., mosquitoes) or beetles (e.g., corn rootworm).(1)References
(1) http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00707.html

Related Links
Family Success Vineland
The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies
Milkweed for Monarchs by Pat Sutton
MonarchWatch.orghttp://monarchwatch.org/
GM Corn Harms Monarch Butterflies
 Photos, Videos and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

@Moorestown4th of July Parade 2015 ★ Independence Day Family Fun! @MoorestownPatch



Thank you for visiting GardenCuizine

and Thanks to the Moorestown 4th of July Committee!
Related Links

More Moorestown Fourth of July Parade photos
Photographs Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Holiday weekend Today in Our Garden #GardenCuizine #July4th

4th of July 
Today in Our Garden
Bursts of Cleome and red Bee Balm blooms get my vote as the best garden flower fireworks. Blooms are everywhere, thanks to frequent rains that have kept our new rain barrel filled to the brim. I've been using Mother Nature's free water for watering potted plants. 

Tall tomato plants, gladiolus and bronze fennel surround free standing sunflowers that were planted by birds and chipmunks. I noticed our first sunny bloom today. Overall, the gardens are lush - and so are the weeds! A gardener's work is never done.

Speaking of fireworks and holiday weekend festivities, we took mom to the Moorestown NJ 4th of July parade yesterday. She loved it almost as much as the key-lime pie she had for dessert at Curtain's Marina the day before.
The spitting rain didn't damper our fun day. Hope you had a fun-filled July 4th too. 
Below are a few more blooms today in our Jersey garden. It's wonderful to see our cobalt blue hydrangea blooming again. The severe winter of 2013 left it alive, but unable to produce blooms last year. We bought the hydrangea flag last year as pretend blooms. No pretending needed this year!
And, now is the time to take notice of beautiful day lilies. Even if you don't grow them, take time to appreciate them in other yards and gardens. It's hard to believe each bloom only lasts one day.
Happy Gardening! 
Blog post and photographs Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grilling Pineapple - Is it as simple as it sounds? #GardenCuizine @Fruits_Veggies #healthycooking

Grilled Pineapple
high in Vitamin C
Grilled pineapple adds sweet flavor to just about anything from entrees to desserts. Yes, grilling pineapple is as simple as it sounds. Simply rinse whole fruit, cut off ends and skin, rub with olive oil and grill. Pineapple is naturally sweet; so no added sugar is necessary. Savor the natural flavor of pineapple.

First select a pineapple from your local market. Very few of us are lucky enough to grow our own, but if you do - all the better! I'm envious. Pineapple plants are interesting and beautiful too. I've seen them growing when on display at the Philadelphia Flower Show.
 

To prepare pineapple for the grill first rinse the whole pineapple to remove any contaminants before you cut into it. A knife could press bacteria into the fruit.
Cut and remove both ends. Save the green part if using for decorating food displays. Slice the outer peel off then slice the pineapple into rings. I usually leave in the core during cooking to give the rings more stability when flipping them on the grill.
Lightly rub olive oil on the rings. Set aside on a plate until ready to grill.
Grill, then using a pineapple core gadget remove the circular hard core centers.
Enjoy!

GardenCuizine Nutrition data Pineapple

Excellent Source Vitamin C and Manganese
Good Source Dietary Fiber, Thiamin and Vitamin B6
1 cup: 165g pineapple chunks: 82 calories; total fat: zero 0g; total Carbohydrate 22g; Dietary Fiber 2g (9% DV); Vitamin C: 79mg (131% DV Wow!!); Thiamin 0.1mg (9% DV); Vitamin B6: 0.2mg (9% DV); Folate: 29.7 mcg (7% DV); Manganese 1.5mg (76% DV); plus other nutrients

Related Links
How to Select a Fresh Pineapple
More about Manganese

Blog post and photos Copyright (C)2015 Wind. All rights reserved. Pineapple shown was Dole Ananas Tropical Gold® Pineapple.

Light Summer Dessert: Lemon Rice Chiffon Cake #glutenfree #jbfrecipes by @AliceMedrich

Lemon Rice Chiffon Cake
~gluten free~

recipe by Alice Medrich 
James Beard Foundation 
baking contest entry

Have you noticed that gluten free foods have been trending more and more popular even among those who do not have a medical need to avoid gluten? Last night our family enjoyed a light and flavorful gluten free Lemon Rice Chiffon Cake made with rice flour rather than wheat flour. The recipe is by Alice Medrich from her book Flavor Flours, which won James Beard's best book of the year in desserts. Visit James Beards' website for the recipe and information about the baking contest

I first heard of award-winning author Alice Medrich when my pastry chef friend Laura gave me one of her books - BitterSweet. Laura worked for Alice many years ago when she lived in Berkeley California. I worked with Laura long ago at Tavistock Country club here in Jersey. My how fast the years fly by! 

Below, you'll find my series of photos taken during preparation for the contest. The recipe by Alice is very straight forward and easy-to-follow.
Step 1 gather your ingredients
Step 2 Separate room temperature eggs
 Step 3 Combine the sugar, egg yolks, water, oil (I used canola), rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill), baking powder and salt. Whisk together. It will make a light batter. Grate lemon zest on top of the batter. Follow the recipe.
Step 4 Beat egg whites and cream of tarter to soft peaks. Add remaining sugar and beat a little more to stiff but not dry peaks
Step 5 Fold whites into yolk batter and pour into 10-inch tube pan
Step 5 Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until golden and tests done with a cake tester. 
Follow Alice's directions to carefully slide a thin knife around the edge to free the sides. Cake will settle at least 1-inch just like she says. Let cake cool in the pan.
Step 6 remove cake from pan and transfer to serving plate. 

Decorate as desired. I sliced and grilled fresh pineapple to use as a garnish alongside whipped cream rosettes. The top of the pineapple was reserved. I cut the base to fit into the center hole of the cake.

Herbs shown: parsley flowers, thyme, red shiso perilla
Step 7 Stroll through your garden and select a few sprigs of fresh herbs and edible blooms. Rinse, air dry and position into the pineapple top to decorate.

Enjoy!
GardenCuizine Nutrition Data Lemon Rice Chiffon Cake:  
consider this a dessert treat and enjoy 
1/12 of recipe: each slice approximately: 242 calories, 11g total fat: 1g saturated fat (compared to 6-12g saturated fat in a donut!), 31g carbohydrates (2 carb servings), 5g protein, Vitamin E 1.8mg (9% DV), Riboflavin 0.1mg (8% DV), 

Related Links
Recipe Lemon Rice Chiffon Cake
Flavor Flours 
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Today's Gorgeous Garden Photo: Blue Phlox. Mother Nature's Artwork. #gardenchat

Gorgeous Garden Photo:
Blue Phlox

Leave it to mother nature to paint us the most beautiful pictures and landscapes with eye-pleasing colors and textures. The lavender swirling buds of Phlox paniculata 'Blue Paradise' present soft serve cones for the butterflies! Drought tolerant once established. Definately a unique color among garden phlox. USDA Hardiness: zones 4 to 8.
click on photo to enlarge
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

General Tsao Tofu Stir-fry with Broccoli Rabe and brown rice #GardenCuizine

General Tsao Tofu Stir-fry
with Broccoli Rabe 
served over Brown Rice

Ingredients
1 bunch Broccoli Rabe

1 pkg Nasoya extra firm tofu (tofuplus has added vitamins)
Garlic - generous portion minced
Vegetable oil (we use sesame oil or peanut oil)
General Tsao's bottled Stir-fry Sauce (a blend of soy sauce, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, onion, garlic, spices; select whatever brand you prefer; available in most supermarkets; we select bottled sauces with natural ingredients) 

Prepare Broccoli Rabe
Rinse broccoli rabe; cut off thick ends; chop bunch into thirds; set aside in colander. Bring pot of water to boil. Add broccoli rabe and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and save the cooking liquid for other recipes (can use greens liquid when making quinoa, rice or soup). Set aside greens.
Stir Fry Tofu
Open package extra firm tofu, drain liquid. Line a pie plate with a clean dish towel and place the tofu in the center. Cover with the towel and place a few small cast iron skillets or other heavy weights on top as a press. Let excess water drain into towel for at least 30-minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a large wok, on high heat, add a few tablespoons sesame oil. When hot, add tofu. Stir-fry until slightly brown. Remove and set aside cooked tofu.

Stir Fry Broccoli Rabe
Add a little more oil to wok if needed. On high heat, stir-fry prepared broccoli rabe. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until broccoli rabe is tender. Push greens up the side of wok, away from direct heat. Add chopped garlic to the center for 1 minute and then stir together with the greens.

Add the cooked tofu back in and add a small amount of General Tsao's stir-fry sauce. (Read the label; bottled sauces are usually high in sodium, so use sparingly.) Serve over brown rice. Enjoy!

Brown Rice:
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water

2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon minced hot pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch salt and black pepper

Cook rice in a rice cooker or on stovetop in a pot with a lid (we use 4-inch deep Corning-ware) saute onion in olive oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, stir. Stir in brown rice. Add water and pinch salt and pepper - bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, simmer until all water is evaporated. 

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