Tag Archives: salad

Tomato’s Seed to Table – Short Course

Don’t Crowd Seedlings.
Don’t Let Seedlings Grow Into Each Other. If you are starting tomatoes from seed, be sure to give the seedlings room to branch out. Close conditions inhibit their growth, so transplant them as soon as they get their first true leaves and move them into 4″ pots about 2 weeks after that.

Provide lots of light.
Tomato seedlings will need either strong, direct sunlight or 14-18 hours under grow lights. Place the young plants only a couple of inches from florescent grow lights. Plant your tomatoes outside in the sunniest part of your vegetable plot.

Put a fan on your seedlings.
Tomato plants need to move and sway in the breeze, to develop strong stems. Provide a breeze by turning a fan on them for 5-10 minutes twice a day.

Preheat the soil in your garden.
Using Black Plastic to Warm the Soil. Tomatoes love heat. Cover the planting area with black or red plastic a couple of weeks before you intend to plant. Those extra degrees of warmth will translate into earlier tomatoes. Tomato’s will germinate below 70 degrees, however best results are obtained when soil temperature is above 70 degrees and below 95 degrees.

Bury them deep.
Bury tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, all the way up to a few top leaves. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. You can either dig a deeper hole or simply dig a shallow tunnel and lay the plant sideways. It will straighten up and grow toward the sun. Be careful not to drive your pole or cage into the stem.

Mulch Later.
Straw Makes a Great Vegetable Garden Mulch. Mulch after the ground has had a chance to warm up. Mulching does conserve water and prevents the soil and soil born diseases from splashing up on the plants, but if you put it down too early it will also shade and therefore cool the soil. Try using plastic mulch for heat lovers like tomatoes and peppers. (See Tip #4)

Remove the Bottom Leaves.
Tomato Leaf Spot Diseases. Once the tomato plants are about 3′ tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1′ of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and soil born pathogens can be unintentionally splashed up onto them. Spraying weekly with compost tea also seems to be effective at warding off fungus diseases.

Pinch & Prune for More Tomatoes
Tomato Suckers in the Joint of Branches. Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. But go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.

Water the Tomato Plants Regularly.
Blossom End Rot. Water deeply and regularly while the plants are developing. Irregular watering, (missing a week and trying to make up for it), leads to blossom end rot and cracking. Once the fruit begins to ripen, lessening the water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars. Don’t withhold water so much that the plants wilt and become stressed or they will drop their blossoms and possibly their fruit.

Getting Them to Set Tomatoes.
Determinate type tomatoes tend to set and ripen their fruit all at about the same time, making a large quantity available when you’re ready to make sauce.
You can get indeterminate type tomatoes to set fruit earlier by pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer.

Iowa State University is for those of you that garden in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. University of Texas provides information that most often effect southern state tomato gardens.

No matter where you live both sites have a huge amount of useful information on Identifying and treating tomato diseases. Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by the sheer numbers of tomato diseases. I’m pretty sure you will not suffer from all of them this year. in fact, insect control very well maybe your biggest problem in a home garden.

Iowa State University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.

Texas A and M University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.

Insect control just like disease control starts with properly identifying the insect(s) that are causing your problems.
Colorado State University will help you identify and control some of the most common tomato insect pest.

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Salads and Pickles

bamboo cucumber trellis

Cucumber Bamboo Trellis

Cucumber is a tender, warm season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

Recommended Varieties

2017-02-03-18_40_03-ez-gardening-e-507_cucumbers-pdf
Long Green Slicing

Burpless (hybrid – 62 days to harvest; the original sweet, long, Chinese type hybrid; does well on a trellis).

Marketmore 76 (68 days; very uniform, dark green, straight fruit; multiple disease resistance).

Straight 8 (58 days; AAS winner a long time favorite; excellent flavor evenly dark green fruit).

cucumber wire trellis

Cucumber wire trellis

Long Green Slicing (compact plant)

Bush Crop (55 days to harvest; delicious; 6-8 inch fruit on dwarf, bushy plants)

Fanfare (hybrid – 63 days AAS winner; great taste; high yield; extended harvest; disease resistant).

Salad Bush (hybrid – 57 days; AAS winner; uniform 8 inch fruit on compact plants; tolerant to a wide variety of diseases

Pickling

Bush Pickle (48 days to harvest; compact plant; good for container growing)

Carolina (Hybrid – 49 days; straight, blocky fruits with white spines; medium-sized plant with good vigor; disease resistant)

When to Plant

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

row-planted-cucumbers Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.

Care

Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with NPK 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 balanced fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.

wood container cucumber trellis

Cucumber container grown on wood trellis

Harvesting

Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Questions & Answers

Q. Some of my small cucumbers are badly misshapen. Will they develop into normal cucumbers?

A. No. They should be removed from the vines. Misshapen cucumbers may result from poor pollination or low fertility. Side-dressing with a complete fertilizer may help later cucumbers to develop normally.

Q. Why do some of my plants suddenly wilt and die? Dead or dying plants are scattered all over my cucumber patch. One plant in a hill may be healthy, while another dies.

A. These are typical symptoms of the bacterial wilt disease. This disease is spread by cucumber beetles early in the season. The beetles must be controlled immediately when the plants are small.

Q. Is there really a “burpless” cucumber?

A. Yes. Burpless cucumbers are no longer considered novelties and are offered in most garden catalogs. They are mild, sweet and crisp when fresh. The skin is tender and free of bitterness, although many people peel it off. Most varieties are long (10 to 12 inches) and curved, unless grown on a trellis. These varieties are better eaten fresh, using conventional varieties for most picklng uses.

Q. What cucumber variety should I buy for gherkins?

A. Buy the West Indian gherkin. It is a close relative of the garden cucumber used for pickling. The fruits are generally oval, 1 to 3 inches long and more spiny than cucumbers. They are also called “burr cucumbers” but are usually listed in catalogs as West Indian gherkin. They are grown in the same way as cucumbers. Small-fruited, prickly varieties of cucumber are sometimes sold as “gherkins.” If small, tender cucumbers are what you want to pickle and call “gherkins,” then these misnamed cucumber varieties serve the purpose well.

Q. Why do my cucumbers fail to set fruit and yield properly?

A. The first yellow flowers appearing on the plants are male flowers that provide pollen. These flowers normally drop off after blooming. The small cucumber is evident at the base of the female flower (even before it opens) and should develop into an edible fruit if properly pollinated. Anything that interferes with pollination of the female flowers reduces fruit set and yield, including cold temperatures and rainy weather that hamper bee activity or improper use of insecticides that kill bees.

Q. What are gynoecious hybrids?

A. Gynoecious (“female-flowering”) hybrids are special hybrids of slicing and pickling cucumbers that are advertised in many garden catalogs. Because they have all female flowers, they may be earlier and higher yielding than other varieties. Usually, the seed company mixes in a small proportion of seed of a standard cucumber as a pollinator.

Q. How far away from melons should I plant my cucumbers? I am concerned about cross pollination.

A. Contrary to popular opinion, cucumbers do not cross-pollinate with muskmelons or watermelons and cause them to become bitter, tasteless or off-flavor. Because cucumbers and melons require considerable space in the garden, however, plant the rows far enough apart for proper vine growth without overlapping.

Q. What causes my cucumber plants to be stunted? The leaves are a mottled yellow, and the fruits are blotchy and taste bitter.

A. This condition is caused by the cucumber mosaic virus. Grow mosaic-resistant varieties.

Q. What causes the white mold growth on the upper surfaces of my cucumber leaves?

A. This condition is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is most severe during late summer and fall plantings. Grow resistant varieties.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Cucumbers add a crisp snap to salads and sandwiches, however they are not a very good source of nutrients. The most abundant nutrient in cucumbers is water. A small amount of beta carotene is found in the green peel, but once peeled the level drops to nearly zero.

Nutrition Facts (6 large or 8 small raw cucumber slices with peel)

Calories 5
Protein trace
Dietary fiber 1 gram
Carbohydrates 1 gram
Calcium 7 mg
Vitamin A 70 IU
Vitamin C 3 mg
Iron trace

Preparation & Serving

Cucumbers are often soaked in salt water to remove some of the naturally high water content. Cucumbers will otherwise give up water and dilute the salad dressing. Unpeeled cucumbers are higher in nutritional value as fiber and vitamin A are lost by peeling.

Home Preservation

Aside from pickling, there is no practical way to preserve cucumbers. There are many ways to make a pickle. They can be fermented or quick packed in a vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath and kept on the shelf for up to a year. There is no great challenge to making pickles. Pickles can be made by the quart or by the five-gallon crock. For those who do not know how to can, pickles can be made in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Pickling cucumbers are best to use because the skin is less bitter than slicing cucumbers and they have smaller and fewer seeds. However, you can successful substitute slicing cucumbers.

Make pickles without canning.

Refrigerator Dill Chips

Pickled cucumbers add spice and texture to sandwiches and meals. For highest quality pickles, use cucumbers that are no more the 24 hours from the vine. Use “pure” or pickling salt in this recipe. Table salt contains additives that make a cloudy brine and off color pickles.

  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 springs fresh dill, about 6 inches long or 1 tablespoon dry dill seed or 1 head of fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Prepare the jar, lid and screwband. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and drain. Combine the sliced cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the pickling salt. Toss well. Cover with cold water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

In a clean, hot, 1 pint jar, put the dill, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon pickling salt. Add the cucumbers slices leaving 1/2 inch head space. Push slices down and firmly pack. Combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers.

Use a plastic knife or spatula to release air bubbles. Insert knife down the side of the jar and gently push cucumber slices toward the center so that the vinegar solution gets between the slices. Pour on more hot vinegar solution if necessary. Leave 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents). Wipe the rim. Put the lid and screwband in place. Refrigerate one to six weeks before eating. (Best flavor after 4 weeks).

Recipes

Cucumber Yogurt Salad Dressing

This is a delicious, heart healthy, low calorie salad dressing which can be used as a dip for steamed or raw vegetables or as a topping for baked potatoes or steamed carrots. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until creamy and smooth. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 pickling or slicing cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 10 whole cilanto leaves
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, julienne (about 1 inch long)

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt and heat in a small sauce pan until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes) do not boil. Set saucepan in cold water to cool the vinegar mixture. When cool, pour over cucumbers and garnish with red peppers. Serves four.

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Don’t Poison Your Family And Holiday Guest – Avoid Bagged Salad Greens

The holiday season is here. Don’t sicken your family or guest with food poisoning.

Bagged salad can fuel the growth of food poisoning bugs like Salmonella and make them more dangerous.

Scientists said the moist environment combined with nutrients leaching out of chopped leaves created the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

If you must buy bagged greens scientist advised people to eat bagged salad on the day they bought it.

Fresh green leaves and salad foods are often involved in food poisoning.

Studies have shown that salad can carry bacteria, but the research team showed the bag made things much worse.
The study showed sugars, proteins and minerals escaped from the cut leaves into the water in the bag.
Researcher Dr Primrose Freestone said “That’s a reasonable amount of nutrients if you’re a bacterium.”

The studies showed that Salmonella did especially well in bags containing spinach, while E. coli loved rocket(Arugula) leaves. Dr Freestone said “Juices that naturally leach from the leaves have the potential to increase the growth of any pathogen that might be present and establish them so strongly that washing wouldn’t be enough to eradicate them.”

“Buy the bag with the best sell-by date, avoid lots of mushed leaves and if it’s(the bag) is inflated don’t use it.”

A genetic analysis of the Salmonella showed they had gained the mutations that would help them to infect people. Dr Freestone said “We did see bacteria whose behavior had turned more to virulence.

Dr Jeri Barak, from the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said: “It would be fair to conclude that if Salmonella is present in salads (and) it might grow to infectious doses.”
“Consumers should treat bagged salads as temperature sensitive food products, like milk and ice cream. keeping these foods in the refrigerator is important.”

Happy Holidays.

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Greek Style Summer Garden Salad

Tomato’s, Red Onions, Cucumbers garnish with cheese, I favor Feta cheese.

Use only very fresh home grown herbs, leafy greens and vegetables. It simply does not taste as good when made from market vegetables that were picked green in Mexico or Chile, shipped thousands of miles.

Garden Fresh – Greek Style Farmers {horiatiki} Salad
*3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*1½ tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice [in a pinch use white wine vinegar]
*1 clove minced garlic {optional}
*1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
*¼ teaspoon salt {optional}
*¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and extra for garnish {Optional} use sparingly
*3 tomatoes cut into wedges
*¼ red onion thin sliced into rings
*1 cucumber sliced into thick half moons de-seed if cucumbers are large
*½ green and or red sweet pepper—julienne {optional}
*4 oz (120g) feta cheese cut into small cubes [Use a cheese that you like]

Note: Add what ever garden fresh greens or herbs you have to this salad.

Put olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and or or basel in a small jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to combine.
Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl, add cheese on top.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine just before serving.

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Carrots – Underused and Abused

Late summer / early fall planting do well in milder climates. Carrots can be planted every 2 to 3 weeks until about 12 weeks before the date of the average first autumn frost. Where winters are mild grow carrots in autumn and winter. Carrots require from 50 to 80 days to reach maturity. Small so called baby carrots can be harvested in about 30 days.

Carrots are hardy biennials grown as annuals. Depending on variety, carrots can be tapered and cylindrical, short and fat, round, or finger sized. Some carrots grow to 10 inches long while others are much shorter. Carrots are usually orange, but colors can vary from red to yellow to purple. Shorter varieties are a good choice for heavy soil clay soils. Long types require loose, loamy soil.

Grow carrots in full sun. Carrots will grow more slowly in partial shade. Plant carrots in loose, well worked soil. Dig soil to 12 inches before planting and add aged compost to the planting beds. Remove clods, rocks, and roots from planting beds. Carrots will split, fork, and become malformed if they grow into obstructions. Carrots prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8.

Carrots are a cool weather crop best grown in spring, early summer, and autumn. Sow carrots in the garden 2 to 3 weeks before the last average frost date in spring.
Succession crops can be planted every 2 to 3 weeks until about 12 weeks before the date of the average first frost in autumn. Where winters are mild grow carrots in autumn and winter. Carrots require a soil temperature of about 40°F to germinate. Germination will be slow in cold soil.

Sow carrot seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep about 1 – 1 1/2 inch apart, thin carrots to about 4 inches apart in wide beds and about 2 inches apart in rows. Space rows 12 to 24 inches apart. Wide row planting of carrots gives a good yield form a small area. In warm, dry weather sow carrot seed deeper than 1/2 inch. When all else fails read the planting instruction on your seed package.

Keep carrots evenly moist to ensure quick growth. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Reduce watering as roots approach maturity, too much moisture at the end of the growing season will cause roots to crack. Add aged compost at planting time before sowing and again as a side dressing at mid season. carrots are heavy feeders of potassium needed for good root growth.

Companion plants for carrots are chives, onions, leeks, tomatoes, peas, rosemary. Carrots and dill do not play well together.

Carrots can be left in the ground until ready to use as long as the ground does not freeze. Hint: Before your first freeze cover your carrot crop with a thick layer of straw or other light weight mulch.
Carrots will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 months. Blanched carrots will keep in the freezer for up to 6+ months.

‘Purple Haze’
Purple with orange flesh

‘Atomic Red’
Red skin with orange/red flesh.

‘Mercurio’
An orange fast-growing Nantes hybrid, ideal for very early sowings.

‘Yellowstone’
A very sweet carrot with uniform yellow roots.

‘Paris Market’
Round with great flavor (below). Very fast to mature and grows well in shallow or stony soil. But don’t let them get too big or they will split.

‘Amsterdam Forcing 2’
Orange with small cylindrical roots.

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Ricotta Cheese – Do It Yourself

Ricotta cheese is a fresh, young mild cheese. It’s easy to make at home.
Here are a few Ricotta cheese dishes for you to consider.

* Put it in a bowl, drizzle it with your best olive oil, add a pinch of salt, pepper serve with crackers, bakery or oven fresh hard crust bread or maybe with garlic toast.

* Mix it with some cooked frozen spinach, Parmesan, and a little mayonnaise to make a dip.
Microwave 1 (10-oz.) package frozen, chopped spinach according to package directions. Squeeze excess water out and mix with 1 cup each ricotta and Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with tortilla or potato chips. Makes about 3 cups.

* Ricotta takes soft scrambled eggs to the next level.
Beat 2 large eggs with a salt and pepper in a small bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil
in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, turn the heat down to low.
Add the eggs and stir constantly for 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes. When the pan is mostly little clumps of eggs and just a little eggy liquid left, remove the pan from the heat and stir until the eggs are just cooked, about 30 seconds longer.
Scoop the eggs onto a plate and dollop with 1/4 cup of ricotta. Serve with buttered toast garnish with some chopped chives. Serves 1.

* Mix it with Ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla to make Cannoli Dip.
Whisk 1 cup each ricotta and cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Fold in 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Serve with broken up waffle cones. Makes about 4 cups.

* Ricotta cheese with grilled fruit, crunchy granola, and honey for a snack or dessert.
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush 4 halved peaches with a little bit of mild-flavored oil (like vegetable or canola) and then grill until charred and tender, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with 1 cup ricotta and 1/2 cup granola and a generous drizzle of honey.

* Ricotta on toast and then top it with almost anything for an easy meal.
Try it with corn and scallions, or pesto and tomatoes, or a fried egg. You can also eat it for dessert: top with strawberries and honey or banana.

225g (about 7-8 ounces) Ricotta cheese
Ingredients needed
1.5 liters (quarts) whole milk
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Put the milk into a large pan, (don’t use aluminum) and heat to just before boiling point. Add Vinegar and salt, remove from the heat and let stand for about 15 minutes. The milk will curdle, and the curds and whey will begin to separate.

Place a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer set over a large bowl, pour the milk mixture into the strainer and let the liquid drain, leaving behind the ricotta. Drain for 20-30 minutes for soft ricotta, longer if you like a firmer consistency.

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Greek Salads – Today’s Menu

eggplant I first posted this back in September 2013, but after 3 years I think it is good to re-post. These recipes are natural foods that are both good tasting and good for you and your family.

Greek Style Eggplant Salad {Dip}
* 4 to 6 or so small to medium size round aubergines {eggplants}
* garlic (3 cloves)Chopped or crushed
* 1/4 cup finely diced {sweet white sweet onion}
* 1/4 red onion sliced garnish
* olive oil 1/4 cup
* juice of 1-lemon (optional 1-lime juiced)
* salt {to taste}
* pepper {to taste} {fresh ground}
* 1/4 cup parsley finely chopped
* 3 tablespoons fresh oregano (optional) 1 tablespoon dried oregano
** Regional variations:
** 2 ounces feta cheese blended in to eggplant pulp
** parsley replaces fresh oregano or added with oregano
** Garnish with tomato wedges or course chopped tomato’s
** Garnish with thin slices of red onion
** Garnish with crumbled feta cheese
** Garnish with kalamata olives

Prick the aubergines/eggplants with a fork and bake them in 350 degree oven Optional, cut eggplants in half length wise, cook on a hot bbq grill. Wood smoke adds another level of flavor.
When they are well done and very soft, cool and peel.
Chop the aubergines/eggplants and put them in a blender, gradually add olive oil, onion, garlic, parsley and lemon juice into the blender and continue working with the mixture until the pulp becomes soft and well blended.
Garnish with whole or stuffed olives and red onion slices.
Serve cold or room temperature with fresh hard crust bread.
Hint Make it extra special, crumble a small amount of Greek Feta Cheese on top as a garnish.
* Have a bit of olive oil on the side to dip your bread in.

Greek Style Farmers Salad {horiatiki}
*3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
*1 clove garlic finely minced {optional}
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
*Pinch of salt {optional}
*Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
*3 tomatoes cut into wedges
*1/4 red onion sliced
*1/2 to 1 cucumber — sliced into thick half-moons de-seed if cucumbers are large
*Optional 1/2 green and or red sweet pepper, julienne
*4 oz (120g) feta cheese cut into small cubes
*16 kalamata olives

Put olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano in a small jar with a screw top lid and shake to combine.
Put the salad ingredients (except onion slices) in a large bowl.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine just before serving.
Garnish your Greek salad with sliced red onion and feta cheese.

Pita Bread Greek Style
1 packet yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil

*Makes About 4 to 6 servings
Pour the packet of yeast in the warm water and stir until dissolved, roughly two minutes. Allow the yeast to activate, setting it aside for three to five minutes. Then, mix the flour and sugar together in a separate bowl.

Alternate pouring the yeast mixture and oil into the flour mixture. Stir slowly until the dough forms.

Place dough onto a flat, floured surface. Separate the dough into four to six separate pieces, depending upon how many pieces of pita bread and the size of the bread you prefer.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball and allow it to sit out in the open at room temperature air to rise slightly for 15 to 20 minutes. While dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Knead each piece of bread thoroughly and then roll out each piece into a flat, circular form.

Put each piece of rolled dough onto a baking stone or sheet. Bake the bread for five to seven minutes or until very lightly browned.

Allow bread to slightly cool prior to serving or using it as an ingredient for a tasty sandwich or gourmet pizza.

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Where Did The Sun And Warm Weather Go?

Words of wisdom: Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.
Harry S Truman

Son-n-law and grandson took time out of their other activities and tilled my garden plot several days ago. Since then we have had 2 or maybe 3 light rains making the garden to wet to plant this years corn crop.

After a few of rain less days, temperatures in the lower 70’s and a bit of wind by yesterday afternoon tiny garden soil was dry enough to plant, but, guess what… my weatherman said we have a cold front moving in and morning temperatures are going to be in the low 30’s, about 34 degrees … grin or maybe lower.
So, corn planting has been pushed into next week when daytime temperatures are forecast to be in the low 80’s.

I’m still lagging behind in filling my 2 new porch containers with soil and planting a small crop of lettuce, beets, turnips(for greens) and radishes. I don’t know where son-n-law got these containers, but they are about 12 inches wide, 4 feet long and about 9 inches deep. They contain a number of drainage holes making an idea porch container for shallow rooted crops.

Not good. It’s middle of the afternoon and a cold North wind has been pounding me all day. Sooo, I will resort to the last thing on my to-do list. Sweep and mop floors.. YUK.

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Think Green – Green Salads Is On The Menu

Soil temperatures are creeping up. Many places soils are at or near 60 degrees. That is your signal to plant your salad garden.

leaf lettuce

leaf lettuce

Source University of Illinois Extension Lettuce is a cool weather vegetable that thrives when the average daily temperature is between 60 and 70°F. Plant in early spring. Many gardeners will need to select types and varieties of lettuce that withstand heat. Some are much more heat tolerant than other varieties.

Leaf lettuce, the most widely adapted of all the Lettuce types, produces crisp leaves loosely arranged on the stalk. Romaine types form a upright, elongated head. Butterhead varieties are generally small, loose heading types that have tender, soft leaves with a delicate flavor.

Green Leaf
Black-seeded Simpson (early to harvest)
Grand Rapids (frilly edges; good for coldframes, greenhouse, garden)
Oak Leaf (resistant to tipburn; good for hot weather)
Red Leaf
Red Fire (ruffles with red edge – slow to bolt)
Red Sails (slowest bolting red leaf lettuce)
Ruby (darkest red of all – resistant to tipburn)
Romaine
Cimmaron (unique, dark red leaf)
Green Towers (early – dark green, large leaves)
Paris Island (long – standing)

Leaf lettuce may be cut whenever it is large enough to use. Cutting every other plant at ground level gives the remaining plants more space. Leaf lettuce reaches maximum size (6 to 12 ounces) in 50 to 60 days. Butterhead varieties form small, loose heads that weigh 4 to 8 ounces at harvest (60 to 70 days).

Harvesting and Storage Harvest leaf varaties at any size. Store lettuce, wash, drip dry and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Plant your lettuce carefully following the seed package instructions.
* What went wrong? Failure of seeds to germinate is almost always caused by insufficient moisture. Take extra care to keep the seedbed moist, but not soggy, until the seedlings emerge.

growing-swiss-chard Planting Swiss Chard
Plant chard seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date. Before planting, mix 1 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer into the soil for every 20 feet of row.
Water the plants evenly, water often during dry spells.

Harvest/Storage of Swiss Chard Start harvesting when the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. Cut off the outer leaves 1-1/2 inches above the ground.
The leaves can be eaten fresh(raw) as greens or you can cook them like spinach.
Store chard in the refrigerator in ventilated plastic bags.

Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around and ranks second only to spinach following our analysis of the total nutrients.

Beet and turnip greens should be considered. Adding fresh, young, tender, flavorful beet and turnip greens to your salads adds another level of flavor and texture to your salads.

Another – Mediterranean style dressing.
1 medium clove Chopped Garlic
1 table spoon fresh lemon or lime juice
3 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
Optional:
6 or more kalamata (packed in oil) olives
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tea spoon soy sauce
1 tea spoon dry oregano

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Peppers – Sweet And Mild Types

While I’m on a rant about Chili and Chili peppers, I have collected a selection of sweet and mild peppers for your consideration.

I must pass this invaluable comment on to you. A discussion about Chili and Chili peppers should be undertaken with great caution, some people, and I’m one of those people have strong opinions about peppers.
My friend Eric at Awakening To Awareness said “we in New Mexico don’t give a hoot about what Texans consider authoritative chili. Unless chili has Hatch green or red chile in it, it’s both tasteless and useless. :-)”
Big Smile…. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Red-Peppers I have not included Bell type peppers or the ‘Cherry’ types. They have a different flavor and texture than the types listed below.

A more detailed and a wider selection of peppers can be found at Tomato Growers website. They of course have a large selection of tomato seed and a nice selection of egg plant seed as well.
Disclaimer: I am not associated with Tomato Growers company. I have purchased seed from them and found them to reliable, fast and polite service and products I have received were as advertised.

Peppers listed in my opinion are sweet and mild, meaning there is little or no hot pepper ‘bite’. These peppers are a good addition to any fresh salad, roasted or used in stir fried meals.

BISCAYNE HYBRID: Biscayne Hybrid strains. Light yellow-green peppers are 6-1/2 inches long and 2-1/2 inches wide with a blunt end. Wonderful for frying. Plants are medium to large, well branched, and prolific. 65 days.

BOUNTY HYBRID: Bounty Hybrid, this hybrid version of a Sweet Banana type lives up to its name in that it puts out an incredible harvest of huge banana peppers that measure nearly a foot long. Peppers are typically 9 to 10 inches long and 2 inches across, and turn from light yellow to orange and finally red. Sweet flavor for eating fresh or cooked. 65 days.

CARMEN HYBRID: 2006 ALL-AMERICA SELECTIONS WINNER. Sweet peppers in the Italian bull’s horn style mature at least a week earlier than comparative types, making them easier for shorter-season gardeners to grow. Beautiful fruit have the traditional horn shape and grow to 6 in. long and 2 1/2 in. wide, with wide shoulders tapering to a point. While they may be picked green, they become very sweet when ripened to red, when their medium-thick flesh is delicious fresh, cooked, or roasted. 75 days.

CORNO DI TORO (RED): Italian ‘bull’s horn’ colorful sweet peppers are 8 to 10 inches long and curved like a bull’s horn. Ripen to deep red or bright yellow and are delicious fresh in salads, but more often are sautéed or grilled. Prolific tall plants. 68 days.

CORNO VERDE HYBRID: Is a long, fleshy pepper shaped like a bull’s horn, and very similar to Corno di Toro Red. Smooth, thick-walled fruit is 6 to 8 inches long and about 2 inches wide at the shoulder, then tapering to a blunt point. The peppers are sweet when still green, or can be left to ripen fully red. They are popular for roasting or grilling, but are equally good eaten fresh in salads. This hybrid offers increased yields, better uniformity and resistance to tobacco mosaic virus. 76 days.

CUBANELLE PS: A yellow-green, frying type pepper. Six inch long fruits have thin walls and waxy flesh. Excellent split and fried in olive oil. They are also great fresh in salads with their mild flavor and crunchy texture. 65 days.

FLEXUM HYBRID: A terrific pepper. Beautiful, 4 oz. cone-shaped peppers start out ivory then mature to yellow, orange, and finally red. They become about 6 in. long and are thick-walled and very sweet. Abundant fruit sets upright on the compact plants, making peppers easy to pick. 65 days.

GIANT ACONCAGUA: A pepper with flavor as sweet as apples. Oblong fruit grows up to a huge 12 inches long and is produced in great abundance. Delicious in salads, stuffed, stir-fried or roasted and peeled. Can be enjoyed at the light green stage, but is sweetest when fully ripened to red. 70 days.

GIANT MARCONI HYBRID: ALL AMERICA SELECTIONS WINNER. Awarded for its earliness, yield, size, and flavor, this is one of the biggest Italian-type, sweet peppers that you’ll find anywhere. Peppers turn from green to red, and at 8 inches long with a lobed tip, they resemble a cross between a Marconi and a Lamuyo-type pepper. They are sweetest when red and are good for salads, but really are outstanding when grilled and roasted, methods that bring out the best of their great flavor. 30-inch tall plants bear heavily despite cold, wet, or dry conditions, and are resistant to potato virus and tobacco mosaic virus. 63 days.

JIMMY NARDELLO: Technically a frying pepper, this is one of the sweetest non-bell peppers you’ll ever taste. Bright red, 6 to 7 inch long peppers are only about 1 in. wide, and taper from the shoulder to tip, with a curving, somewhat wrinkled appearance. They are great for adding to salads or cooking into stir-fries. Expect large yields. 80 days.

KEY WEST X3R HYBRID: Sweet cubanelle peppers are 6 to 7 inches long and excellent for frying or eating fresh in salads. Light green, 3-lobed peppers are most often eaten in the green stage, but when they turn red, they become even sweeter and more nutritious. Vigorous plants are resistant to three races of bacterial spot. 70 days.

MAMA MIA GIALLO HYBRID: ALL AMERICA SELECTIONS WINNER. Bright yellow-gold Italian type sweet peppers are 7 to 9 inches long with a tapered tip. These peppers are richly flavored, juicy, and meaty, making them wonderful for eating fresh, grilling, or roasting. If you’ve never tasted a perfectly ripe, roasted golden pepper, you are in for a special treat. This variety can be compared to Golden Marconi, but has the advantage of earlier maturity for gardeners who live in shorter-season areas. 80 days.

SWEET CAYENNE: (Not the supper hot type Cayenne pepper) Amazingly long, sweet, cayenne shaped peppers grow to 1 foot long and turn crimson red when ripe. Productive plants bear loads of these crinkly, thin walled fruit that are perfect for use in stir fries or whenever a frying pepper is needed. 75 days.

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