It’s Garden Time!

We did It!!

We did It!!

Now is the time to start planning and planting you summer and fall harvest and your medicine cabinet for the year.  Yep, that’s right, you can plant a lot of the medicinal foods that will help keep you healthy year round, how’s that for a health plan?!

Last weekend Dana and I recruited my sister Elise and her boyfriend Dan to help us prepare the garden for the growing season.  Jen and Jeff at Green Meads Farm in Richmond, MA have once again generously loaned us some of their prime farmland.  Last year we accidentally killed our whole garden by using contaminated mulch.  It was free mulch, so at least we didn’t pay to ruin our garden, but still, I really missed having a garden last year.  So I was really excited to get out in the sunshine last Saturday with the horses in the paddock and everyone in the garden, including three dogs and at least one field mouse!

We started by ripping up all the weeds, by the roots, there were quite a few burdock plants and a lot of invasive comfrey too.  Comfrey is an awesome medicinal plant so plant it in a pot or somewhere it can safely take over if you want to grow some.  Once the whole area was cleared, Jeff used his tractor to bring in manure which we raked out evenly from edge to edge.  Dana used the rototiller to turn over the top layer of soil and the rest of us broke down all the cardboard boxes we’d saved up.  Cardboard is a great ground cover to keep weeds at bay, it biodegrades after a year or so,  it’s free and minimally processed.  Make sure to remove any staples and tape from the cardboard, and don’t use anything with lots of printing on it.

We laid the cardboard out in one big layer and then covered it with a lot of hay.  Once that was done, we gave everything a good soak with the hose to make sure the cardboard would start to break down and the wet hay was heavy enough that it wasn’t going to blow away in the wind.  Then of course it was time to relax and enjoy the afternoon sunshine!

Dana and I will be back on Sunday to plant some starts, we’ll pick up a bunch from Jaeschke’s in Pittsfield.  For more exciting heirloom varieties we get seeds from Johnny’s Seeds in Maine.  Here’s the short list of what we are going to plant:

Cabbages: easy to grow, easy to care for and you can turn your harvest into sauerkraut, which you can enjoy all winter long!

Lettuce and spinach: nothing like picking salad greens straight from the garden!  Plant spinach again once the warmest months have passed and enjoy another harvest.

Winterbor Kale:  as the name suggests this kale will keep on producing long into the colder months and sometimes through the winter!  Fresh garden greens in November?  Sign me up!

Herbs:  fresh basil is so delicious but you can also turn it into pesto which freezes well so you can enjoy it, you guessed it, all winter long!  We usually grow a few varieties of basil including Tulsi or Holy Basil which can be dried and used for tea.  Tulsi is an adaptogen that supports digestion, respiratory health and is very soothing when you feel stressed out.  I also love to grow lots of parsley and rosemary.  Herbs grow easily in pots and are perfect for your sunny porch.

Flowers:  sunflowers are easy to grow in all sizes and colors and you can harvest the seeds to eat or hang the heads to dry for an instant bird feeder.  Grow what you love and encourage the bees to visit and pollinate your garden.

Happy planting everyone!

 

 

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Pesto Pizza

The barbed wire on the top really adds to the over all effect: Welcome to Greenpoint, kinda.

I took this photo on my last trip to NYC.  There is a block long wall topped with barbed wire that greets you as you leave the ferry dock and enter Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  This mural was my favorite piece of art along the wall.  My trips to NY are always filled with new experiences and plenty of new ideas for recipes based on the things I eat, the menus I read and the street food that seems to be on every corner.  This past trip I came back craving pizza and so, here’s my version, made with a thin, crispy flax crust and topped with fresh garden pesto, Kalamata olives, goat chevre and grated Romano.

For the Pizza Crust

Make up a batch of flax dough, from my previous recipe for flax crackers and flax bread.

Roll the flax dough out in an even, thin sheet, between two well greased pieces of parchment paper, the third method in the flax cracker post.  Make whatever shape you like, I tried to go with a round-ish shape.

Par-bake the crust, after piercing it all over with a fork, at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  The dough should be set up but not too crispy.

For the Toppings

For my pizza I chose a base of freshly made pesto, here are a few suggestions!

And added halved Kalamata olives, fresh, soft goat cheese and shaved Romano cheese.

Have fun and get creative, use whatever toppings and cheese you have on hand.

Bake the finished pizza in the oven at 350 for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Slice and serve with a big green salad.

Pesto pizza and garden salad, dinner is served!

Hard-Cooked Egg and Basil-Butter Sandwich

Here is another yummy serving suggestion for my flax bread recipe which I have just updated.  I have been making flax bread about twice a month and have worked some of the kinks out of the process.  Happy sandwiching!  This recipe takes about 20 minutes and makes 4 sandwiches.  I think they would store, well wrapped, over night, but I haven’t tried it so let me know!

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Fine sea salt, to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (or chives or parsley or pesto!)

1 small garlic clove, minced/pressed

8 slices flax bread

Pepper, to taste

Lettuce leaves, for serving.

If you are feeling like making more of a meal out of this sandwich, now is the time for a couple of slices of thick cut bacon and a ripe tomato from the garden!

1. Place the eggs in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Have a bowl of ice water ready. After 9 minutes, transfer the eggs to the ice water to cool completely. Peel and slice.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, lemon juice and a pinch salt. Stir in the basil and the garlic.

3. Spread the bread thickly with seasoned butter and/or pesto, all the way to the edges. Lay the egg slices on four of the bread slices and season with salt and pepper. Top with lettuce leaves and the remaining bread.

Variations:  Top the eggs with several anchovy fillets.  Substitute arugula or radicchio for lettuce.  Add bacon and tomato slices….!

Original recipe can be found HERE

A Twisted Classic: Angie’s Zucchini Pesto

My sister found this recipe on  Angie’s Recipes and we tweaked it just a little.  It’s pretty easy to make, really flavorful and kept well in the fridge for about 4 days.  It would probably have kept longer but we ate it all!  You could make this recipe substituting or supplementing the basil with parsley and or cilantro. If you and cheese are not on friendly terms you can leave it out or substitute with walnuts.  I liked this with flax crackers, I get the Foods Alive brand in cases of 6 from Amazon.com and every time I order them I think, I should be making my own.  So, coming soon, a recipe for homemade flax crackers, it’s about time.  This is the picture from Angie’s recipe, I forgot to take a picture of the pesto we made and then, like I said, it got all eaten up : – )

Zucchini Pesto from Angie's Recipes

Ingredients for delicious, nutritious Zucchini Pesto!
  • 2 medium Zucchini
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Ground almonds
  • one bunch fresh basil, stems removed
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 5 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tsp Lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the zucchini into half lengthways. Grease a baking pan with a little of olive oil, and place the zucchini, cut side down, in the pan. Brush the zucchini with half tablespoon of olive oil. Roast zucchini for 15 minutes.
  2. Let the zucchini cool, chop into smaller pieces.  They are going in the blender so no worries about uniform chopping.  Gently squeeze out some of the moisture and then put the zucchini into the blender or Cuisinart.
  3. Add the garlic cloves, almond, and basil. Pulse until the mixture is blended. Add in grated Parmesan and olive oil. Season the mixture with lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Serve with flax crackers.

Nutritive Paste, Not Your Grandma’s Marmite

The hardest thing about going through a Candida elimination is the apparent lack of food to eat.  And the need for that food to be optimally nutritious and easy to digest.  My husband has a thing for Marmite, that yeast based nutritive paste that was England’s answer to keeping the poor alive as cheaply and easily as possible.  Mmmmm, kinda tastes that way too.  Marmite, if you like the way the salt sucker punches your taste buds and then drops a days worth of  B vitamins on your palate via yeast concentrate, does do it’s job of adding vitamins to your breakfast toast.   If you are like me, products en general, especially those made with yeast, cause upset to my delicate digestive system.  I do however love the idea of making a concentrated super nutrient dense food that could be spread on flax crackers, eaten over a salad, with fresh crudités or as a flavoring agent in soups and meat dishes.  Really the possibilities are endless. And sometimes I just eat them with a spoon.

Pesto by the spoonful, yeah, I ate that.

I like to have food ready to go because I am chronically forgetting to eat until I’m just starving and in no mood to cook.  Having washed and prepped veggies plus one of several dressings or dips all ready to go makes things much easier.  I can put together a healthy snack or meal pretty quickly.

The following suggestions and recipes will keep well in your refrigerator for over a week and can also be frozen (I use an ice cube tray so I have single serve cubes).  Each one is about half leafy herbs, known for being packed with vitamins, minerals and lots of taste, way more fun than taking multi vitamins and, I would argue, better for you.  Leafy greens, herbs and vegetables, provide our bodies with essential nutrients including a connection to the sun, earth and our environment.  Buy local organic greens or grow your own, it’s almost that time of year again, that’s the rumor anyway.

The other half of each recipe is good for you fats, like nuts, oils and seeds.  They are called essential fatty acids because they are essential.   They help your brain to function optimally, your body to insulate and protect your organs, as well as keep down inflammation.  The omegas also lubricate your joints and digestive system, and keep your skin glowing and elastic.  Fat from plants and even properly raised and cared for animals has much to offer.

I have already posted a recipe for two kinds of Goddess dressing.  Both can be made thick and used as a dip, spread (if you eat bread, this makes a great sandwich addition) or salad dressing.  You can also try using it as a topping for cooked fish, meat or soy.

Pesto can be made and used the same way.  I like it with spaghetti squash or flax crackers and cheese!

Here’s basic pesto:

A big bunch of basil leaves, a handful of pine nuts, olive oil to the right consistency, a few cloves or more garlic and salt.  Blend using a quisinart type appliance or blender.

And a Few Variations:

Greek olives and/or sun-dried tomatoes

Use walnuts or pecans instead of the pine nuts.

Romano cheese (if you can eat cheese!)

Use half basil and half parsley for an extra vitamin c kick.

Walnut Miso with Parsley

Another variation on this theme uses the basic walnut miso recipe I posted earlier, then add a big bunch of parsley and a little olive or walnut oil to get the consistency correct.

Cilantro y Pepitas

If you like cilantro try a big bunch blended with pepitas, garlic, salt, neutral oil like sunflower, and maybe some lime and smokey pepper.

Or, make up your own, the formula is simple, lots of leafy green herbs, oil and nuts or seeds, salt, garlic (this helps it keep longer in the fridge) and maybe some spices, vinegar or citrus to round out the flavor.  Go on, add some serious nutrition and taste to your diet!