National Kale Day – October 2nd

Dear Readers,

TheGardenLady was amiss in not telling you in advance about the newest holiday. I just did not know that October 2 was proclaimed National Kale Day. Of course, in my defense, National Kale Day is not quite a holiday yet. But you can make it a reality if you vote for it here.

Though I wish a healthy food would be more to my taste, say like coffee ice cream. I can’t wait for a National Coffee Ice Cream Day touting the benefits of my current favorite ice cream. But alas, that might not happen in my life time.

However, since Kale is now considered one of the most nutritious foods around, perhaps you would want to add it to your garden.

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Toast in the New Year with Egg-Free Eggnog

eggnog (gluten free and vegan)by elana’s pantry

To all my readers- all my long time readers of  TheGardenLady blog and new readers, young of heart and old of spirit readers, TheGardenLady wishes you all a happy, healthy New Year with wonderful, successful gardening in 2013.

May I offer a toast to all with my favorite nonfattening, nonalcoholic, egg-free eggnog.
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Native American Foods for Thanksgiving

Cherokee White Eagle Corn Cobs by unhappybrthday

This is the time of year to start thinking of recipes for Thanksgiving. There are those who like to make the traditional foods- whatever the traditions are in your family- because with a big feast, your family doesn’t want surprises; they want the comfort foods they have grown used to.

Then there are people like TheGardenLady who likes to include new or unusual foods into the menu. I belong to the ‘variety is the spice of life’ group and want surprises on the table.

One of the surprises I have been considering this year is to try to make Native American foods for the table. TheGardenLady read somewhere that the Pilgrims probably didn’t have too many sweets at their feast because they didn’t have much sugar. But surely they must have been taught to tap sugar maple trees for maple syrup. Unless whatever date at the end of November they really celebrated was too early for the tapping of the trees.  Continue reading “Native American Foods for Thanksgiving”

How to get your pumpkin ready for pie and seeds

Pumpkin by UmmAbdrahmaan..

The easiest way to make pumpkin ready to make the pie is to cut it horizontally through the middle to get two “halves.” Try to cut so those are real halves to cook evenly.  I scoop out all the seeds and save them. I then take a grapefruit serrated  spoon and scrape out as much of the strings that are in the pumpkin cavities. You don’t want those strings. Then I take the largest jelly roll type tin* I have- you need sides on the tin- and put the cut edges of the pumpkin cut side down on the sheet- the skin side and stem are facing upward. (see here)  Some people put a little grease on the bottom of the sheet and put a little water in the bottom of the sheet. Those who do this say it keeps the pumpkin moist. You can do this if you want.   TheGardenLady doesn’t bother doing these two things because I find that the pumpkin sends out so much water that it is unnecessary. I find that I may have to take a turkey baster to remove a lot of the liquid given off in the baking of the pumpkin so that it doesn’t overflow the pan and dirty the oven. Then I put the oven temperature up to about 450 degrees Farenheit (230 degrees Celsius). I check on the pumpkin in about 45 minutes- depending on the size will determine how long it remains in the oven. I leave it baking until it is soft. When you press on the skin it will feel soft or sort of cave into itself. Some say a fork will pierce the skin.

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The Jazz Apple is A Delicious Apple!

Baby Jazz Apples by The Marmot

TheGardenLady has discovered what seems to be the best apple on the market: The Jazz Apple!

I first discovered the apple in a package at Trader Joe’s. I had never seen this apple before and the apples in this bag were small, the size I like to eat out of hand. I figured that since I feel that I have to have my “apple a day to keep the doctor away” I might as well get it over with, with small apples anyway. So many apples sold in markets taste like a treatment, not a treat.

I couldn’t believe that first bite- crisp and sweet tart. Not like a lot of apples that are just sweet or not crisp. This apples was unbelievably delicious. Would it last? Would the apples hold up in the refrigerator? I was amazed that the entire bag remained crisp and tart- till the very last apple. I couldn’t believe that there was finally an apple worth eating again.

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Squash for Thanksgiving: Appreciation of a Native Vegetable

Thanksgiving Decoration by alasam

Thanksgiving is coming soon and if you are like TheGardenLady, you are planning your festive meal. In contemplating what to serve, it struck me that there is one vegetable that is so tied up with the holiday, a vegetable that one could use as a basis for almost every course in the menu, that we should truly give thanks to the Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims about it. The vegetable I am writing about is the squash, in the genus Cucurbita which includes the pumpkin. So this year I am planning to be a little more creative with my Thanksgiving menu- making the theme of the menu based on squashes. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or a carnivore, this might be something for you to consider this Thanksgiving.

First, to decorate the table, I think an assortment of squashes can look very festive as a centerpiece. It is a centerpiece that will hold up and last and can be used over the winter. Unlike cut flowers, winter squashes last and do not have to be refrigerated and can be used for months. (The thinner skinned, summer squashes like zucchini will have to be put in the refrigerator after a few days.) I thought I might put the squashes on a base of yellow fall leaves, if I can still find leaves by Thanksgiving and add some curlicued streamers. But one person’s blog went one step further and carved the squashes to resemble flowers.  See here.  I don’t know if I am so ambitious as to cook a full meal for the family and have time to carve my decorations.

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Herb Information: Check Out Jekka’s Herb Cookbook

Besides gardening, reading is one of my passions. My reading preference is non-fiction which includes cookbook reading. Reading cookbooks is my relaxation reading; I often do it while watching TV. Even though I rarely cook these days, I still enjoy reading recipes. I have a huge bookcase filled with cookbooks. I also have saved all my Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines. In spite of all the cookbooks and recipes I own, and in spite of all the recipes that are online, I cannot resist going to the cookbook section in our local library and checking out all the new cookbooks.

Today I found what looks to be a interesting and fun cookbook to read because it not only has recipes using herbs, it also has herb information. It is called “Jekka’s Herb Cookbook” by Jekka McVicar, a Firefly book publication that came out this year, 2011.

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The Jewish Holiday of Tu B’Shevat – The New Year for Trees

Today is “Tu Be Shvat” The New Year for Tree in the Jewish Calendar by Ari Hahn

Today is a holiday that is celebrated by Jewish people around the world and especially in Israel. The holiday is The New Year for Trees, called Tu B’ Shevat.

The Dan Nature Preserve in December by Dara

Date Palm Phoenix dactylifera by Dara

The name Tu B’ Shevat tells people that this New Year of the Trees is celebrated on the 15th (Tu) day of the Hebrew month called Shevat. It comes on different dates in the Western calendar but always around Jan. or Feb. when spring starts in Israel. The holiday is very old, the oldest description of the celebration was said to be written in the 16th century.

Pomegranite Punica granatum by Dara

Some people plant trees on this day.

Cactus with prickly pear fruit or sabra fruit Opuntia ficus-Indica by Dara

Another custom is to eat a new fruit on this day: a fruit which one has not eaten that entire season. Some people eat fruits from the Seven Species of plants described in the Bible as being abundant in the land of Israel. The Seven Species are: wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey) (Deut. 8:8) Because Tu in Hebrew means 15, some people say one should eat 15 fruits that day. Other fruits some have added to the list of fruits to be eaten include citrons, apples, pears, carobs, almonds and walnuts.

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Christmas Tree Candles and Zimsterne Cookies

Christmas Tree Candles 2009 by steveluscher

One of the most wonderful Christmas trees that I have ever had the good fortune to see, I saw when I was first married. I won’t tell you how many years ago. My husband had recently finished graduate school and I had two small children. We lived in an apartment complex where an international community of graduate students lived. One of the couples was from Switzerland who lived near us had two little children. When Christmas time came the wife told me that she was getting all the decorations from Switzerland. But most important, she had asked her parents in Switzerland to send her all the handmade Christmas decorations and the special candle holders and candles that were used to decorate a Christmas tree in Switzerland. And she told me that when the tree was decorated she would invite me and my family to see her tree.

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Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon): How to Make Cranberry Sauce

Tytebærblom/ Cranberries Flower by haraldna

Thanksgiving is over and after all the cooking, that generally means leftovers. I have never been a fan of leftovers, except for one; and that one is my homemade cranberry sauce. I used to buy it in cans until I learned how easy it is to make whole cranberry sauce from scratch. I buy the cranberries when they are on sale. I toss the bag into the freezer. When I am ready to use them, I rinse and cook the cranberries to serve with any type of fowl. In fact, my family thinks cranberry sauce is a necessity whenever I roast a chicken or a turkey -the cranberry sauce and chicken or turkey are a culinary marriage made in a heavenly kitchen. So for me, cranberry sauce is not just for Thanksgiving.

cranberry sauce by ~ Dave McCaskill ~

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