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Posts Tagged ‘food’

herbsWe all know that herbs, especially fresh herbs picked right out of your garden or from your window box, can transform a simple meal into a flavorful feast. But herbs are so much more than deliciousness. They’re an essential part of the ancient and wondrous healing arts as well as a fragrant and decorative addition to your home.

Mint

Mint

Want a delightfully refreshing greeting when you come home from work? Plant mint in your walkway. This plant actually loves to be stepped on and every step you take will make your nose happy. Mint is an excellent remedy after a hard day of the stress you’ve been building up at the office. A few drops of essential mint oil on a cotton ball can help relieve migraines, improve your mood and all while making the room smell wonderful.

Basil

Basil

One of my favorite herbs is basil. I love cooking with it and I had heard that if you’re feeling tired, smelling basil will reduce your fatigue. What I didn’t know is that some basil is also excellent for better memory and clearer thinking. Added to bath salts or essential oils, many herbs have the power to balance our minds and transform our moods. At the end of this article I have a simple method for making your own essential oils and some awesome bath salt recipes.

Dill

Dill

The medicinal use of herbs can be found in almost all cultures and they are the base component of many modern medicines. But there is a certain comfort in knowing you have the ingredients for dealing with simple ailments growing in your backyard. For an upset tummy, try some mint, dill, basil, rosemary, fennel, or turmeric from your garden. For a memory boost, you could also try sage, turmeric or, what do you know, rosemary. You want antioxidants? We’ve got them in oregano, basil and that rosemary that keeps turning up.

Rosemary

Rosemary

Herbs can keep your garden healthy, as well. Our edibles expert, Kip Litehiser says, “There are a lot of herbs that are great for controlling pests in your garden and herbs are so easy to grow.” Rosemary is a robust plant that helps ward off cabbage moths, bean beetles, carrot flies and root knot nematodes. If you’re barbecuing in the summer, you can also put some of it on the grill to scare away mosquitoes. No one likes slugs feasting on their spring garden, but the sweet smell of lavender keeps the slimy pests at bay. It also looks beautiful in any garden and can attract friendly butterflies while deterring pesky moths and fleas.

And mint’s strong smell is exceptionally unattractive to a number of critters, including ants, aphids, rodents, cabbage worms and cabbage moths. I’m already thinking about how to make a garden border of mint and lavender. Herbs are naturally beautiful and with their wonderful fragrances they’re ideal for creative fencing and borders. I know our landscape expert, Ryan Sanders, has some charming ideas for your yard or garden.

Lavender

Lavender

On Sunday, March 24 at 1:00 pm, we’re excited to have Patrick Matthews of Blooming host Herb Gardens: Beyond Spice, a free seminar at The Plant Farm. The Plant Farm staff can set you up with a great combination of herbs to put in your garden this spring. You’ll not only have the ingredients for spicing up your kitchen and table, but the means to bring harmony and health to your family and friends.

Essential Oils

There is a quick and easy method of making your own essential oils that’s as easy as preparing mint julep: In a glass container, place you herbs. Gently crush or bruise the herbs, which will begin releasing the oil. Fill the container with a mild vegetable oil, such as canola, and seal the container. In two to three weeks, strain the herbs from the oil and bottle the oil.

Seize the Day bath salts
Ingredients:
● 4 cups Epsom salts
● 1 cup Sea Salt (a coarse grind)
● 10 drops rosemary essential oil
● 10 drops lemon essential oil
● 3 Tablespoons dried rosemary leaves

Seize the Sleep Bath Salts
Ingredients:
● 4 cups Epsom salts
● 1 cup Sea Salt (a coarse grind)
● ¼ cup lavender essential oil
● 3 Tablespoons dried lavender blossoms

For each recipe:
Combine the salts, essential oil and dried herbs into a large mixing bowl (I prefer to use a ceramic bowl) and mix until the oils and herbs are thoroughly distributed in the salt. If you don’t like the mess of the dried herbs you can skip them or make a tub tea-bag by putting the herbs into a cheesecloth and tying off the top.

It’s best to store your bath salts in a glass, air-tight jar. At bath time, add ½-1 cup of the salts while filling your tub. Give the water a swish, lower yourself in and exalt.

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Onions, ginger, potatoes and carrots

Onions, ginger, potatoes and carrots

It’s time to dig into a fascinating subterranean subject: root vegetables. According to the boring dictionary definition, root vegetables are edible plant roots or modified stems that have evolved or been bred to act as energy storage organs for the plant as a way of storing up sugars, starches, other carbohydrates and nutrients.

But that’s like describing vintage champagne as grape juice that’s a bit fizzy. The fact is, root veggies aren’t bland at all. If all you’ve ever experienced is ground ginger off the spice rack or horseradish out a jar, then you’ve never tasted them. Fresh ginger has a symphony of tastes that can make Asian dishes soar and when you have a bit of fresh-grated horseradish with your roast beef, your eyes will water… with pleasure!

Fresh Horseradish

Fresh Horseradish

These are what we mean by staple foods. Root vegetables are among the most versatile, diverse and nutritious things that can come out of your garden. A properly mixed crop of root vegetables can not only give a beautiful harvest of fresh, colourful bulbs and tubers, but can set your table with dishes packed with vitamins and other nutrients.

A lot of what we call “root” vegetables are actually modified plant stems, but taproots are the real deal. A taproot is an enlarged root that’s broad at the top, fleshy and tapers off at the bottom. From this, little fibrous roots spread. Some tasty varieties of tap roots include beets, radishes, turnips and…

Did you know carrots aren't always orange?

Did you know carrots aren’t always orange?

…Carrots! They are such a sweet, crunchy and low calorie treat that even my dog tries to sneak them off my daughter’s plate. Did you know that carrots aren’t always orange? It’s true. They can come in any color from white to purple. It wasn’t until Dutch plant breeders in the 17th century got going that we had the long, orangey treats we have today. At the store, we have several seed packs of heirloom carrots in a rainbow of colors.

Okay, here’s one you might not know. A bulb is a root vegetable, but not a root. That’s right. It’s a fleshy, globe-like stem that lets plants like tulips and dahlias survive the winter. It also gives leeks, garlic and elephant garlic (no, it’s not the same) their crisp, pungent goodness.

Copra Onions

Copra Onions

Ah, the onion! People have been eating onions for at least 5,000 years. The Egyptians had a prayer, “Lord, give me bread and onions” and the builders of the pyramids were fed them. And ancient Greek athletes used to eat huge quantities of onions while training.

There are gorgeous varieties of onions: Walla Wallas, Copras and Red Zeppelins as well as the more familiar yellow, white and reds. All parts of the onion are edible and you can eat them on their own or as an ingredient in salads or soups; boiled, fried, or roasted, the list is endless!You want to talk onion nutrition? Onions are packed with antioxidants and have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant properties. Onion extract may even reduce scars.

Walla Walla Onions

Walla Walla Onions

If you want to have a go at growing onions, remember that they’re a cool-weather plant and if it’s too hot they grow and flower too fast. This means it’s best to start them indoors to give them a headstart on their four-month growth cycle. Plant them as soon as the ground is workable and you can harvest in early summer.

The root vegetable most of us are familiar with is tubers. They are another modified stem, but instead of bulbs, they come out as a starchy growth for both storing food and reproduction. They include yams, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, groundnuts and one of my favorite comfort foods, potatoes.

Austrian Crescent Potatoes

Austrian Crescent Potatoes

Potatoes are bursting with goodness. They’re the egg of the root world and a person can live healthily on potatoes with just some milk or butter to make up the vitamins A and D that potatoes lack, so pass the mashed potatoes!You can even be adventurous with your garden-grown spuds. Branch out from the comfortable Russets and Reds and you’ll find the delicious and cool new varieties we have at The Plant Farm. Austrian Crescents are rich, firm fingerling potatoes prized by chefs. Viking Purples are vibrant, deep-purple mid-season potatoes. They adapt well to many types of potato dishes, but I think they’d make an awesome mash.

Viking Purple Potatoes

Viking Purple Potatoes

With potatoes, carrots and onions growing in your garden, you have the foundation for hundreds of delicious dishes to feed your loved ones. To get the best seeds and starts, and skilled advice from our knowledgeable staff, come down to The Plant Farm. We can get you set up to grow a successful root vegetable garden. Here’s a delicious tuber-and-bulb-based recipe to tempt your taste buds:


Sweet Onion and Potato Bake

6 potatoes (or 12-15 Austrian Crescent Fingerlings), do not peel
2 large sweet onions, such as Walla Walla onions
1 stick butter (or 1/2 cup of oil for lighter option)
1 tsp. salt (or salt substitute like Mrs. Dash)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic
optional: for added kick add 2 tsps. of mustard or play with other spices you enjoy.

Slice onions and potatoes about 1/4″ thick. Create alternate rows of potato and onion in casserole dish. Melt butter and add seasonings. Pour over potatoes and onions. Bake in a 400 degree oven, covered for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

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