Sunday, September 17, 2017

Camembert Cranberry Puffed Pastry Appetizer #GardenCuizine #recipe

Camembert Cranberry Appetizer
This fun-to-prepare appetizer came from a Camembert Snowflake video recipe making the rounds on Facebook. Great timing for us, since I was looking for something special to make as an appetizer for company. Camembert cheese is an artisan cow's milk cheese made in Normandy France. The texture is soft and creamy, similar to Brie cheese. Camembert's mild flavor can be enjoyed fresh or baked. I made a few modifications to the online recipe.

The video recipe pinched two dough twists together to make a snowflake. That would make a large serving size. I thought the twists were perfect individual servings, so I decided not to pinch them together. 

The video recipe left the white rind on the top of the cheese. My Aunt Jane - a gourmet cook - suggested that we trim it off. I'm glad we did. 
Uncle Al, me, Mom, Aunt Jane
The video recipe also called for bacon. I made it with the bacon, but next time will omit the bacon or substitute chopped roasted walnuts. The bacon flavor overpowered the delicate cheese and tarragon.

For the whole cranberry jelly, I made it the same way as at Thanksgiving - from whole cranberries and a hint of orange. We happened to have some frozen cranberries that worked well. A thin layer is all you will need. The extra cranberry jelly can be served during your main course.

In our oven, the puffed pastry cooked to a nice golden brown at 20 minutes, but the bottom layer needed just a little more time: 25 minutes would be perfect. Keep an eye on it in your oven and use your judgement. The cheese gets gooey and melted; the rind will act like a wall and keep it from oozing out.

Allow to cool slightly before serving for best flavor. Serve with a small butter knife to spread the cheese. Our family gave it a thumbs up! We would make it again for company.

Ingredients
Camembert cheese round
2 sheets Puff Pastry dough
whole cranberry jelly

1-2 slices cooked bacon
dried tarragon leaves
olive oil
egg wash


Putting it all together

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil lightly sprayed with oil.
  • Make a batch of whole berry cranberry jelly. Allow to gel.
  • Allow frozen puff pastry dough to unthaw
  • Use a rolling pin and pin out the first layer of pastry dough to make it a little thinner. Place a glass pie dish upside down on the dough and using a small knife, cut out a circle. 
  • Use a round ring or biscuit cutter that is close to the size of your cheese and cut a smaller circle out of the dough center. Move to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with second layer of puff pastry.
  • Before placing the second layer of dough on the baking sheet, spread cranberry jelly on the first pastry dough. Place the second piece of dough over the jelly.
  • Cut even strips around the dough ring. Give each one one twist. pinch together the bottom and press with a fork on the end of each piece. 
  • Brush the pastry (not the cheese) with egg wash. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil atop the cheese.
  • Sprinkle everything with dried tarragon leaves.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes.
Enjoy!
Related Links
Camembert Snowflake video recipe  
What's the difference between Camembert and Brie cheese?
Photos and blog post Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved. Thanks Aunt Jo and Aunt Jane!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Can you ID this fig? Lattarula Fig? #GardenCuizine Late summer FIG harvest @EatRight_NJ

Lattarula Fig?
Ficus carica Italian Honey 
Can you help me identify this fig variety? Today, I picked a few small bowls of delicious, ripe figs off a healthy shrub in Woodbury, New Jersey. And, noticed so many more still to ripen! As you may remember from previous GardenCuizine postings, we have a few fig trees at our house. But, our little fig trees are not growing like the hearty shrub I saw today. 

Our struggling figs include a Chicago Fig. I'm not sure what variety the other fig tree is. Both fig trees we have are not producing, even after surviving several years in the ground outside with no pampering or winter cover. 

The figs I picked today are from a shrub-like fig tree that is thriving! It is growing in NJ and planted directly in the ground with no special attention. In fact, I was told it has been chopped to the ground from landscapers a few times in years past. It must be around 8 to10 foot high and wide.The leaves are not exactly the same as the fig trees we have.
The greenish figs are soft and a little bit yellow when fully ripe. I'm thinking it may be a Lattarula Fig. What do you think? I've never heard of or seen that variety for sale locally, have you? 

Whatever variety it is, I will try to propagate it from cuttings and let you know how it works. Or, I may try saving seeds like I do tomato seeds and see if they grow.

Happy Gardening!

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

Pasta Sauce Prep * Preserve your fresh Tomato harvest #GardenCuizine #HealthyCooking #PomodoroSauce

Pasta Sauce Prep
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
We make Pomodoro (tomato) Sauce from scratch most of the time. We do not always have fresh locally grown or homegrown Jersey tomatoes to use though, so we often use canned San Marzanos. At the end of the summer, when our homegrown tomatoes are plentiful, we make homemade sauce in batches as the tomatoes vine ripen. Once picked, if the tomatoes ripen too fast, we move them to the fridge until we are ready to cook them.

This year was a challenging tomato year for us. We got Tomato Blight really bad in our main garden. But, even so, we are surprised and thankful to be harvesting lots of fresh tomatoes.

Yesterday, Harry started preparing our first batch of sauce. We plan to save it for Christmas lasagna dinner. We all enjoy a taste of our garden in December. 

The first step to making homemade pasta sauce is to prepare the tomatoes. Sort through and pick out tomatoes that would make the best sauce. Meaty tomatoes such as San Marzano Plum and Goldman's heirloom make the best pasta sauce, or "gravy" as some Italians call it. We often add and cook down other heirloom tomatoes too; otherwise, we could never eat them fast enough!

Sauce Prep (can be done day or week ahead of cooking)
Gather all the ripe tomatoes you plan on using for your first batch of sauce. You will need one large pot of boiling water and one large pot of water with ice.  
Note: you do NOT have to score the tomatoes with an X on the bottom before blanching! This is very time consuming and not necessary when you are working with a lot of tomatoes.

1) Boil water in a large pot. In batches, blanch the tomatoes for about one minute in the boiling water
3) Remove with a slotted spoon to ice bath. The water just has to be cold; if your ice melts, don't worry about it. Let tomatoes float in the cold water until the skins wrinkle.
4) Remove and core the tomatoes. Harry likes his new Hullster Tomato Corer from Gardener's Supply Co.

5) Peel tomato skins. For sauce, place whole peeled tomatoes in a bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to cook your Pomodoro sauce.

Besides high quality tomato sauce, peeled whole tomatoes can be frozen for later use in soup, stewed tomatoes, chili and other recipes.

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

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Surround your home with gardens that benefit #pollinators #nativeplants #Clematisvirginiana

Clematis virginiana
Virgin's Bower
 Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Over the past few years we've been transforming our yard and gardens to feature more native plants to feed and attract wildlife. This beautiful native plant just appeared in our yard and gardens a few years ago. At first I thought of it as just a non-wanted weed and always pulled it out. Last summer I spotted the plant for sale at Bowman's Hill - a native garden supplier. I thought to myself, "We have that!" Their sign identified it as Clematis virginiana - also called Virgin's Bower or Devil's Darning Needles. 

We decided to let our free native grow. It spread here and there around our yard. Why let it? Because pollinators desperately need more essential food and habitat in neighborhoods. Non-native plants, such as Sweet Autumn Clematis, have replaced many native plants in home gardens. 

Non-native Sweet Autumn Clematis is also called Virgin's Bower. We have that vine too. They are both beautiful, but now I am pulling out some Sweet Autumn and and letting more native clematis grow. They both are vigorous growers. You can tell them apart by the plant's leaves. Sweet Autumn Clematis has round leaves and Clematis virginiana has toothed or jagged edged leaves.

Twining Clematis virginiana has fragrant, white, feathery flowers. The blooms appear late summer into fall: August through October. Pollinating insects like bees and butterflies benefit from the nectar.

Clematis virginiana will climb and cascade over anything including other plants, arbors, trellises, or fences. The vine is delicate and easy to pull up if it grows where you decide you don't want it.

Photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Related Links
For more information see: Jersey Friendly Yards 
Why Native Plants Matter

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Simple Solar Eclipse Viewer made from a whole grain cereal box #GardenCuizine @Eatright @KidsEatRight

Make Your Own
Solar Eclipse Viewing Box

For the first time in about 40 years a total Solar Eclipse will be happening tomorrow August 21, 2017. Because of where we are on Earth, the Eclipse will be visible across America. Depending on where you live within the USA, only some will experience a total eclipse and others will see a partial eclipse. In NJ, we will see a partial eclipse as it tracks in a narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina.

After you make your viewing box, to avoid damage to the eyes, NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. Stand outside with your back to the sun. Hold your homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Box up to allow the sun to enter a hole that you made in the foil. As the moon passes in front of the sun, the solar eclipse will be projected onto your white paper "screen". 

Nasa posted a link with easy directions on how to make your own Eclipse Viewer simply and quickly out of a cereal box. As we get closer to the eclipse, the directions are showing up online just about everywhere. I just made mine! Click here for the directions.

I'll be working tomorrow and plan to take a short break at show time! I used a Cheerio's cereal box. I have another Cheerio's box for a label reading lesson just prior to the event.

Have fun!
 

Related Links
Eclipse Education
Next Total Eclipse across America 2024
 
Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Double Trouble in Our Jersey Garden #TomatoBlight #TomatoEndRot #TomatoTrouble

Double Trouble 
in Our Jersey Garden
Tomato Blossom End Rot
and Tomato Blight

Rainy weather was a garden blessing at first. Jersey Peaches were reported to be one of the best harvests in years. But, now our hopes of having a bumper crop of Jersey tomatoes from over 50 heirloom, homegrown plants is gone. We're having one of our worst years ever for tomatoes. Struggling Jersey tomatoes may be a result from all the heavy rains we've had this summer. 


This year Harry has been diligent about weeding beneath our tomatoes leaving uncovered dirt. Some gardeners use black weed covers beneath their plants. I bet that would have helped us. 

When rain falls hard, it splashes dirt and spreads fungal spores up from the soil onto plant leaves. Blight disease can travel fast and kill tomato plants. Frequent rain can cause it to spread like a forest fire... sigh.
Tomato Blight
I noticed a few wilted plants with some yellowing leaves on plants in a few raised beds. I wasn't overly concerned because we have had wilt issues in the past and still had a bountiful harvest.

Looking at our garden now you'll see yellow, spotted, wilted - brown and dying leaves hanging everywhere. Pretty much all our raised beds appear to be affected by this soil-borne fungal disease.

The environmental stress has caused some tomatoes to drop even before ripening. Some fruits appear stunted in growth. Some just didn't have a chance to develop before the plants died.

Tomato Blossom End Rot
And, as if Tomato Blight wasn't enough, we also noticed Tomato Blossom End Rot too. Luckily, End Rot is treatable. The good parts of the tomato are still edible.

Like people, tomatoes need calcium to develop. If the plant is calcium deficient the tomatoes will develop a black spot on the bottom end. Variable soil moisture of either too dry or too wet can trigger end rot. Soil that is too wet limits available oxygen to the plant. 

We have a soil test kit and plan to test our soil pH again and adjust accordingly before next season. According to BonniePlants.com, if you have tomato end rot the soil should be between pH of 6.5 and 6.8 to free up more calcium in the soil. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, on the other hand, recommends pH should be between 5.8 and 6.3. I think ours tested higher (7.0?) in the Spring. Any comments about pH recommendations?

What do you do? 
We know about spacing out the plants for air circulation and about crop rotation. We do try. Harry had them more spaced out this year. Maybe next year we will avoid planting tomatoes all together.

You can Google Tomato Blossom End Rot and Tomato Blight to find plenty of info that is out there on what to do when you have these situations. See below for a few links that I looked at that you may find helpful too.

Gardening always provides good times and bad. Each year we never know what will be great and what will be a bust. That is just how gardening goes. 

.... Linda, if you are out there and listening... you are the MASTER GARDENER! We just go through the motions and have fun along the way.

Garden On!

Related Links
Conquer Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot 
Diagnosing and Controlling Fungal Diseases
Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

Friday, July 28, 2017

@BranRiverMuseum Brandywine Conservancy Native Garden Tour recap #nativegardens #gardenchat


Brandywine Conservancy
Native Garden Tour

This post gives you a brief online tour of Brandywine Conservancy's Native Garden Tour to six diverse gardens. Only we never made it to all six! We made it to half.

The self-guided tours opened Noon to 5 pm, July 23, 2017. We drove our own car and used our GPS to follow a map that was provided to each location. We sure could have used more time as there was so much to see and enjoy.

Our first stop was to LeeAnn and Tim's garden in West Chester, PA. Upon arrival, we were given a map and plant list of their yard. Tall native shrubs, trees and flowering plants, such as: Phlox, Ecineacea and Rudbeckia lined curvy garden paths and beds. 

Along with compost bins and rain barrels, their small urban ecosystem sure beats the typical rectangle backyard with grass to mow. We saw many birds and butterflies.

Along their back fence, Cup-plant (Silphium) was in bloom. Now we know what to expect when ours blooms. The cheery, small, yellow sunflower-like blooms were clustered at the top of the tall plants vs.  single blooms seen in similarly tall Jerusalem Artichoke plants.
Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
USDA zones 3-8, grows 2-4', shade loving

Other plants that caught my attention included: Zigzag Goldenrod, Sweet Fern, Mountain Mint and Winterberry.
Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina)
Full sun to light shade. USDA zones 2 to 6
Leaves have a pleasant fragrance when crushed
Larval host for Grey Hairstreak butterfly

The second home we visited was also located in West Chester. We drove up a hillside and past a meadow of 300 acres of protected land. When we arrived at Nancy and Barney's home, Barney and his 2 friendly dogs walked down their driveway to meet us. 

A Brandywine greeter was sitting under an umbrella at the entrance. She provided us with some plant info and an impressive map that the home owners had created by landscape architects. 

The large property featured many native plantings along pathways and meadows. We parked in front of a courtyard meadow. We walked along a stone path in between native plants to their backyard.

Their beautiful home was built with a metal roof (how often do you see a metal roof?), large stone fireplace and lots of windows to view the scenery. Their stone patio with pergola (shown below) looked like a lovely spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Showy white blooms of Bottlebrush buckeye shrubs lined the woodland edge.
 Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
Part shade to full shade. USDA zones 4 to 8
As we walked around the house back to our car, we passed a grove of Redbuds loaded with hanging pods. The pods look like peas because the tree is a member of the pea family.


Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
pink blooms early Spring 
USDA zones 6a-7b, full sun to shade, grows 20-30'

Our next stop was a little bit south to Kennett Square to tour Margot's property certified by SITES (sustainable landscape design). Her 1.69 acre property is the only SITES-certified residential property on the East Coast.
She had lots of sculptures and artistic touches throughout her sustainable landscape that she created as a Landscape Architect. 
I loved the Ironwork by her friend, Eric Zandotti. Some of his work was for sale. We bought a small vase-like metal gazing globe holder for our garden. I think he also made the bottle trees that we saw (shown above).
Green roof Sustainable storm water capture and reuse
chain into fish pond

Needless to say, we ended up taking our time walking around the hillside vegetation checking out her water features, living roof, etc. We ran out of time to go see the other 3 properties! I'm sure they were just as interesting and beautiful.

By 4 o'clock we were ready to go indoors for a break. We made our way back to Brandywine River Museum and ended our great day with a walk through the Andrew Wyeth in Retrospect works.

Hope you enjoyed the tour recap
Happy Gardening!
Related Links
Kennett Square House for SITES

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

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July! #GardenCuizine #IndependenceDay #July4th #4thofJuly #loveforall

Happy July 4th!

Harry got his work out this morning pushing Mom in her wheelchair to Moorestown NJ's Fourth of July Parade. She wore my wide brim blueberry festival garden hat, which worked well to keep the bright sun off her eyes.


The warm breeze felt good as we walked along the uneven brick walkway. We left the car parked on the outskirts of Main Street and walked past Trinity Episcopal Church to the parade route. We admired a few lovely gardens along the way on Main Street.

We didn't see anyone else in a wheelchair, but saw lots of baby strollers and wagons to pull small children. Many families dressed up in red, white and blue! The Muslims for Peace group got warm rounds of applause as they marched by holding a banner "love for all - hatred for none."
For those of you reading this who are worried about Mom, she is doing well since her surprising breast cancer diagnosis at age 86. She can walk without a wheelchair, but we would still be walking if we didn't use it today!

We had a good time. Hope you are enjoying your Independence Day too. Click here for a link to view more photos. Check back - I will be adding to the collection all week.

Happy July 4th!

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

@sciencemarchPHL Philadelphia March for Science #marchforscience #sciencematters #ScienceMarch #noalternativefacts #factsmatter

Why March?
Philadelphia March for Science
Earth Day 2017

We woke up to a rainy, chilly morning. Attending the March for Science was a last minute decision for us. Social media played a part: it was encouraging to see the event supported by EatRightPro, Greenpeace, Harvard Public Health, Drexel, Rutgers and other respectable organizations


There were over 500 places to march; for us, Philadelphia was the closest. It was probably not the greatest idea to wait until the night before to log onto the website for information. The site was slow, but we were able to get the most important information: arrive at City Hall by 10:00 am. 

After breakfast, we took the Speedline (train) into town. I hadn't been to Philly for a while. Harry was there not too long ago.
Most of the people on the train were headed to the march. People sitting near us had homemade, creative signs. An older woman sitting opposite us was going with her children and grandchildren. Her sign read, "Without Science I Could Not Hear."

The Philadelphia March for Science began at City Hall promptly at 11:00 am, as planned. 
We slowly paraded down Market Street with a diverse group of people of all ages carrying signs that were interesting and informative to read. Some were serious, some were sassy, some were very creative; all had a personalized, Earth Day, scientific message to share. A few people wore lab coats. Pro-science fans lined the sides of the street displaying their signs too.

The rainy weather was not too bad until we made it to Penn's Landing; then it started to rain more steadily. The rain was tolerable and didn't deter the crowd, though. Thankfully, the March was peaceful, even when passing a lone individual proudly waving an extra large pro-Trump flag.

Why did we March for Science? 
We marched for us and for America's future. My entire family will depend on science to guide us in upcoming health decisions. We don't want to lose sight of the big picture either: our National Parks, our environment, our oceans and waters - Mother Earth; our hospitals, labs, science, research, food, health, nutrition, gardens and wildlife. Climate change is real.
Protecting what many people take for granted depends on strong US leadership and enforcement of protective healthcare and environmental policies and funding.  We Marched for Science to help send that message. 

We could not be silent. The March for Science continues for all. We are proud to have participated in chants of, "This is what Democracy Looks Like," which was heard across America.

Every Day is Earth Day!
Related Links
Signs from Other Cities 

Scientists take to streets to defend research

Blog post and photos Copyright(C)Wind. All rights reserved. Happy Anniversary Linda and Russell xo

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Seed starting for Summer harvest #GardenCuizine #NNM #NationalNutritionMonth #CSOWM

Veggie and Flower
Seed Starting 
for Summer Blooms 
and Harvest

National Nutrition Month, every March, is a great time to start growing veggies, herbs and flowers. Yesterday, we got some seeds started indoors, under grow lights, for our summer garden here in NJ USDA zone 7a. I'll post the germination time next to each plant as they germinate. It is not too late to start veggie, flower and herb seeds indoors for your garden too.

Typically I start seeds on St. Patty's Day, but this year I was side-tracked from the late season ice storm 'Stella' and studying for an exam to become a Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management (CSOWM). 

I am proud to be among the first healthcare professionals in the US to qualify to test for the new Academy of Nutrition interdisciplinary credential. I took the 3-hour exam Friday and won't know the results for 6 to 8 long weeks. 

In the meantime, I'm happy to fit in some gardening and much needed yard clean up. Last weekend, we hauled a lot of tree limbs to the curb. Harry had a chance to use a newly purchased chain saw. We still have a fallen pine to deal with. Planting seeds was good therapy in dealing with the sadness of so much storm damage.

Around Mother's Day, after danger of frost, we will plant seedlings that were started inside, outside. Some of our seedlings will be added to our veggie garden; some will go in flower beds, some will be traded with garden friends and some will go into pots on our porch. Here is what we have started indoors under grow lights:
  1. Black Krim heirloom tomatoes - germinated ?
  2. Goldberg's heirloom tomatoes - germinated 4/3
  3. large yellow heirloom tomatoes (not sure of ID) - germinated 4/3
  4. Leslie's French Petit Moineau heirloom tomatoes - germinated 4/3
  5. Zebra heirloom tomatoes - germinated 4/2
  6. large red cherry - germinated 4/2
  7. Pomodoro San Marzano (seeds from Italy) - germinated 4/2
  8. Chianti Rose heirloom tomatoes- germinated 4/4
  9. Chocolate Cherry heirloom tomatoes (love these!) - ? plant again
  10. large red heirloom tomatoes (not sure of ID) - germinated 4/3
  11. Jamaican Hot Chocolate peppers
  12. Chiltepin peppers (they are super HOT, 100,000 Scoville, pea-shaped) 
  13. Coronado hyssop (love the smell; hummingbird favorite!) - germinated 4/4
  14. Salvia viridis 'Marble Arch Rose' - germinated 4/1
  15. 'Fragrant Cloud' Nicotiana
  16.  Hollyhock single pink
  17. Cardinal flower vine - germinated 4/7
  18. Capers (another try from seeds from a special visit to Cape Cod in 2013)
  19. Salvia fariosasa 'blue salvia'
  20. 'Lady in Red' salvia (must have for hummers!)- poor germination, try again!
  21. Coral Nymph salvia - germinated 4/1
  22. large white salvia
  23. Nepeta tall pink (seeds from a Dave's Garden swap in 2010)
  24. Amsterdam Seasoning Celery
  25. Italian basil - poor germination 4/6
  26. Black poppy 2012 - germinated 4/2
Seeds started indoors 4/1/17
  1.  Korean Hyssop - germinated 4/14
  2. Mina Lobata Spanish Flag - germinated 4/18
Seeds started indoors 4/9/17 
  1. Chocolate Cherry heirloom - germinated ?
 More started indoors 4/14/17
  1. Leslie's French Currant Tomatoes Petit Moineau- germinated 4/20
  2. Lavendar Breadseed Poppies
  3. Purple Majesty Millet
  4. Mexican Sunflower - germinated 4/19
... replanted 4/16
  1. Lady in Red - germinated 4/20
Seeds direct sown in veggie garden 4/9/17
  1. Arugula! Rucola seeds from Italy 
Happy Gardening! Stop back for updates!
Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. National Nutrition Month® is a federally registered service mark of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.Used on GardenCuizine with permission.