Tag Archives: How to

Herbs add flavor to any food dish

Reworked, updated first posted 2015.

Herbs Make Common Foods Taste Special

Most herbs will do well in containers, window boxes and planted directly in your garden soil.
If herbs are conventionally located to you and your kitchen you are more willing and more likely to use them when cooking and serving meals.

Sage is a herb that does well if properly cared for. It requires a lot of pinching and cutting to keep it from becoming woody. As a rule, sage will need to be replanted about every 3 years since it will become woody with few leaves no matter what, so keeping it in a pot makes this change that much easier. Sage dries very well and if you pinch the leaves throughout the growing season, put a rubber band on them and keep them dry and in a dark place after drying. You will have wonderful sage all winter to give your family and guest a special treat.

Rosemary is always a kitchen favorite. It dries perfectly, holds its strong taste all winter, comes indoors and keeps growing in a sunny window and is rarely bothered by insects.
Use rosemary for many herb standards or topiaries. The woody stem is perfect for crafting. The stem also seconds as skewers so each harvest yields two separate herb crops. 1)leaves and 2)stems.
Keep the stems in a freezer bag and use them for grilling skewers. Rosemary doesn’t like to sit in water it likes to dry out between watering’s. Being in its own container makes the herb grow that much hardier, since it can receive special care.

Basil is one of the most rewarding herbs to grow in a container. It really lends itself well to the other popular container plants like the tomato. Basil likes to have plenty of water to keep its fleshy stems and tender leaves plump, but is susceptible to mildew. In a container, you must be sure the plant gets plenty of airflow.

Thyme is an undervalued herb. Many times it gets planted and never used. Thyme deserves a higher standing on our list of culinary herbs!
It will thrive in a container environment, needing only minimal watering. Some varieties grow into small shrub like plants that enhance an entrance to your home. It’s tiny purple flowers are lovely. Being such a low maintenance herb, thyme will fit in your container garden.

Mint is notorious for getting away from gardeners. You plant one and soon twenty will follow. Planting a bottomless pot into your garden is one way of controlling mint, but keeping it out of the garden completely, by using a separate container, is a better idea. Mint is also so tasty, it will be used more often if it is handy.

Chives Leaves/Flowers Use in fresh or frozen soups, salads, salad dressings, eggs, dips, vegetables, chicken, soft cheese spreads, butters, white sauces, and fish.

English Thyme Use leaves flowers with fresh or dried wild game, beef, soft cheeses, fish, chowders, pâté, vegetables, and tomato sauce.

Tarragon French or Spanish Use leaves fresh or dried with chicken, fish, eggs, tomato juice, butters especially nice on steak, vinegars, salads, mustards, sauces hollandaise, béarnaise and tartar, soups, chicken, fish, mushroom and tomato and marinades for fish, lamb or pork.

Greek Oregano Use leaves fresh or dried
in white and tomato sauces, stews, soups, fish, lamb, pork, vegetables, butters, and vinegars.

Rosemary Use leaves fresh or dried
with beef, lamb, fish, poultry, stuffings, soups, stews, fruit cups, soups chicken, pea, and spinach, vegetables, and marinades.

Sage Use leaves flowers fresh or dried
with stuffings for fish, poultry, and meat, pâté, eggs, poultry, pork, beef, lamb, pasta, cheeses cheddar, cream, and cottage, sauces brown and meat, soups cream and chowder, beef stews, and vegetables.

Hint of the Day: Use fresh herbs blended with ‘real’ butter or sour cream for that special taste. Herb’s go well with fresh baked potato’s, snack dips and fresh garden salads.

Flowering Bulb Planting for Spring Flowers

Way back in 2011 I posted a short post with a suggested bulb Planting Chart.
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I hope you find this chart useful when planting spring flowering bulbs.

Hardy, Tasty – Fall and Winter Soups and Stews

Cooler and colder weather will soon be upon us all in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to think about homemade Soups, Stews and Sauces.

Onion, leeks, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic is the flavor base for a wide variety of Western dishes: stocks, soups, stews and sauces.
Most often leeks(white and tender green tops) are used to replace onions when making your flavor base mix. If you use both onion and leeks use 1 part onion and 1 part leek and leek green tops. Note: select only very tender leek greens to use in you flavor base mix.

A good starting mix of Onion/leek, celery, carrots, bell pepper(any color) and 1 to 6 garlic cloves. My recommended ratio is 2:1:1:1.
2:1:1:1 = 2 parts onion or leeks, 1 part celery, 1 part carrots, 1 part bell pepper and garlic to taste. Garlic cloves become milder in flavor when heated(cooked) in this starter flavor base mix.

Medium dice (1/4 to 3/8 inch size) vegetables (do not dice garlic cloves). Salt and white pepper to taste.

In a fry pan cook, diced vegetables and whole garlic, with butter, olive oil, or other fat, for a long time on a very low heat without browning your flavor base vegetables. Flavor base is not sautéed or otherwise hard cooked, the intention is to sweeten the vegetables rather than caramelize them.
Garlic clove(s) can be removed at this point if your not a big fan of sweet tasty garlic paste.

Use this flavor base mix and your favorite soup, stew or pasta sauce recipe for a meal your family is sure to enjoy.

If this flavor base mix is to be served with a pasta dish, add 2 tables tomato paste, 1 table spoon dry basil stir until well mixed continue cooking flavor base mix. Once flavor base vegetables become soft and tender add tomato sauce continue to cook flavor base pasta sauce until it is thick remove from heat add pasta and mix well. Taste, adjust salt and pepper if needed. Sprinkle with a grated cheese that you like and serve while pasta and flavor base mix are still warm.

Rain is (almost) always a good thing

Murphy(Murphy’s law) is working overtime.
Spent much of Monday mowing and weed whacking getting ready for the cooler/colder autumn weather.
Murphy had other ideas. Night time temperatures are falling near 50F(10C) degrees. Last night and this morning I have had more than 3 inches (77mm)(7.6cm) of rain. My weather forecaster said it will warm into the high 80’sF(31C) by the weekend.

That tells me I will ‘get’ to mow and and run the string trimmed removing weeds at least one more time before my first frost.

The rain is not good for unharvested cotton and soybean crops, but we have had very little strong winds and that is a good thing for cotton and soybean farmers.

However the good side of this rain is my pond is full, wheat farmers will be in good shape to drill-in winter wheat the 3rd or 4 week of September.
In the long run in the semi-desert southwest Oklahoma rain is always a good thing.

Frost on the pumpkin

Autumn/fall gardening task will soon come to an end as old man winter nears.

Winter squash and pumpkins should be harvested before night time temperatures fall below 32F(0C) degrees. Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale will tolerate frost and may even benefit being exposed to a few frosty nights.

It’s time buy, trade and dig bulbs to be planted for spring garden flowers. This includes planting garlic in your vegetable garden.

Flower beds need to be cleaned, soil dug to a depth of 6 to 8 inches in preparation to plant your bulbs. Bulbs planted in the autumn will spend the cool fall and cold winter months developing a good healthy root system that will support plant growth and allow your bulbs to produce many large flowers next spring.

It is not to late to mail order flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths are some of the most common and popular spring flowering bulbs.
Many lily varieties should be planted in the autumn as well.
However no matter what flowering bulb you favor now is the time to prepare for planting.

Autumn is in the air

Oklahoma summer has been kind to us this year. To date we have seen only 6 days that topped out at 100+F (38C) degrees.
Rain fall has been near normal average, but has fallen before trees became dry stressed. Tree watering has not been necessary during 2020’s summer months.

Hummingbird migration has begun. On the morning of August 30 the hummingbirds arrived earlier than usual at my feeders. After feeding they winged their way high in the sky ridding a stiff north wind that will carry them far south on their first leg of their Fall migration to South Texas, some will travel deep into central Mexico where they will feed and wait to return to North America to spend the summer feeding and raising the next generation of hummingbirds.

The shorting daylight length has triggered Cottonwood trees in my area to begin leaf color changes from dark green to light yellow and a few leafs are falling.

Autumnal equinox also called the September equinox or Fall equinox arrives September 22. Fall/Autumn begins in the Northern Hemisphere and spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere.

The word “equinox” comes from Latin aequus, meaning “equal,” and nox, “night.” On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal in length.
After the autumnal equinox, the Sun begins to rise later and nightfall comes sooner. This will end with the December 21, solstice, when days start to grow longer and nights are shorter.

Autumn/Fall foliage color change isn’t due to weather conditions. Leaves change color because of the amount of daylight and photosynthesis.

Q: Is the September Equinox Really the First Day of Fall/Autumn?

A: Based on the astronomical definition of seasons, yes, the autumnal equinox does mark the first day of Fall/Autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere). However, according to the meteorological definition of seasons, which is based on temperature cycles and the Gregorian calendar, the first day of fall is September 1.

Plants and trees are slowing down, as sunlight decreases, getting ready for the colder season ahead. In the garden, asters and chrysanthemums are blooming. Fall harvesting of winter squash and pumpkins is fast approaching. Keep a close eye on Fall and winter crops and harvest them at their peak quality.

Okra – Boiled – No Slime Trick

I wish I had book marked this blog, but I didn’t so of course I don’t know who to credit with this easy to cook No Slime boiled okra.

I wish someone had taught me this No Slime Boiled Okra trick 50 years ago.

Pick smallish tender okra. Pick enough to feed you and your family.

Wash Okra. Leave Okra whole.
Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil.
You may need more water if your cooking a lot of Okra.
Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to your boiling salted water.
Put Okra in the boiling water.
Return to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 8 to 13 minutes until tender.
Plate Okra, serve and enjoy your No Slime Boiled Okra.

Happy Gardening

Eat your daylilies moma said

I have heard of eating daylilies many time in the past but have never actually eaten one.
After reading this bloggers post I am going to collect some blooms from a friend that has a large daylily garden.

I send my thanks to mortaltree.blog for this interesting blog posting.

2020 National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June.

The original doughnut wasn’t at sweet as we have it today, and it wasn’t glazed.

** 1918 Doughnut Recipe

Ingredients:

5 cups flour

2 cups sugar

5 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt (a.k.a 1 “saltspoon”)

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups milk

1 tub lard

Directions:

Combine all ingredients (except for lard) to make dough.
Thoroughly knead dough, roll smooth, and cut into rings that are less than 1/4-inch thick.

Drop the rings into the hot lard, making sure the fat is hot enough to brown the doughnuts gradually. Turn the doughnuts slowly several times.

When browned, remove doughnuts and allow excess fat to drop off.
Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy.

Grin … if you don’t have a ‘tub of lard’ feel free to use shorting or oil to fry your doughnuts.

*When finding items to cut out doughnut circles, be creative. 1918 Salvation Army Doughnut Girls used whatever they could find, from baking powder cans to coffee percolator tubes.

BBQ – Are you using your BBQ grill wrong

For many lock-down has been lifted.
Memorial day is often the first big BBQ outing of the year.

Hints and tips on using your BBQ grill

* Check for any damage before using the grill for the first time each year, and check the entire grill regularly.
* If cooking using propane, check hoses and check for leaks by applying soapy water to hoses and connections. Leaks will cause your soapy water to bubble.
* Using old grill brush for years is a bad idea. Get a new brush every year or every 2 years.
* A grill (charcoal or gas) needs to preheat for about 15 minutes or more until the temperature reaches around 500 degrees before cleaning and applying fresh cooking oil to it’s cooking grates.
* Keep your grill a safe distance from your home, wood fencing, decks and over hanging low tree limbs.

December 2019 post
USDA recommended safe cooking temperatures
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USDA Meats, Poultry and Water Fowl cooking Charts

Have a happy and safe Memorial day weekend.