Tag Archives | homegrown

Earthy delights

chiveflowers

I’m not sure what I enjoy more, growing my own food or having generous friends who grow and share food with me. These chive flowers and salad greens were a gift from a bestie. Grown in his Bristol, RI vegetable garden. It’s lunchtime and I’m feeling pretty darn fortunate.

chiveflowersalad

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Green tomatoes

I returned home to find my garden looking pretty shabby after a couple chilly nights moved through Providence while I was in Canada. I spent some time this week putting it to bed for the winter. I collected all the remaining ripe and unripe fruit from my browning tomato plants and then pulled them, clipped them up, and added them to my compost.

I’ve read that green tomatoes can be ripened on a windowsill or in a brown paper bag. I plan to try both. I may also dig up some recipes for green tomatoes. I was thinking that sautéing them in oil or even roasting them in the oven would soften both the flavor and texture a bit. Does anyone have any good green tomato tips?

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Air travel

Yesterday I took a trip on a plane. Trash-free air travel takes a bit of planning, but it’s very manageable. To tote toiletries, I fill small glass jars and bottles that I use specifically for traveling with my essentials (baking soda, shampoo, and grape seed oil) and pack them in a small nylon zip pouch.

Airlines make a ton of trash through food service and I find bringing my own sustenance is easy and far more agreeable than anything I could get from and airport cafe or on the plane. An airplane cabin is a pretty dehydrating environment, so I make sure to drink plenty of water the day before and the day of before going through security. I bring my stainless steel canteen and fill it at the water fountain on the other side of the checkpoint. Yesterday I packed my stainless steel lunchbox with a small meal made with ingredients from my garden—stir fried eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and basil. I also brought an apple… ‘tis the season after all. I brought a small bamboo utensil that I think I received as a stocking stuffer many years ago. It’s perfect for travel—practically weightless and compact. The meal was light and delicious and held me over until I reached my destination (Canada). My neighbor in the seat next to me expressed his jealously of my spread.

I sometimes get cold during flights so I like to bring a large scarf/wrap that I can use as a blanket rather than having to ask for plastic wrapped one from a crew member.

At the end of the day, the only piece of trash I made was my boarding pass, which feels good especially when I’m electing a mode of transportation that uses so much fuel.

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Love everlasting

Can’t seem to get enough heirloom tomatoes.

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Homegrown Fennel Seeds

These are so flavorful!

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Eggplant in the garden

My first ever homegrown eggplant! A strange beauty.

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An autumn offering

autumnofferingA garden harvest… tomatos, peppers, and gherkin cucumbers. Happy fall equinox!

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Stevia

I harvested some stevia (stevia rebaudiana) from my garden today. This is my third summer growing it and I’ve been meaning to share my experience with this amazing plant. I first learned about stevia many years ago while visiting Logee’s. An employee was growing some in one of the back greenhouses and brought a few sampling leaves up to the woman working the register. I was offered a taste, and having never heard of the plant before, I was completely surprised and delighted by the explosion of sweetness that hit my tongue. At that time stevia seeds or starter plants were still very difficult to find, because it wasn’t until december 2008 that the Food and Drug Administration gave stevia the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) approval. Today it’s not uncommon to find it among other herbs at greenhouse nurseries in the early spring. It’s sometimes labeled “sweet leaf”.

Stevia is a small perennial shrub that belongs to the Chrysanthemum family and is native to Paraguay. The leaves contain two “glycoside” molecules, steioside and Rebiana (rebaudioside A), which can be up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar (it varies from plant to plant). Stevia is virtually non-caloric and has a zero glycemic index, which means it has no effect on blood sugar levels. The leaves can be used whole or in ground form in food and beverages. I sometimes add fresh leaves to my tea. Otherwise I cut and dry the stocks, then pick and grind the leaves into a powder to use for baking projects in place of sugar. Many stevia recipes can now be found online. Because it is so sweet, I only use very small amounts at a time. The stevia I grow in a small pot in my container garden over one summer will yield enough powder to last me more than a year. In this project, less is always more.

Powdered stevia from last year’s harvest. A little bit goes such a long way!

Hearty Jumble Cookies made with only 1.5 teaspoons of homegrown stevia powder. These gooey treats are gluten-free, dairy-free, and of course trash-free. All the ingredients were obtained without packaging. As with most of the recipes I post, this one is very simple and pretty loose. There’s plenty of room for experimentation and substitution…

2 cups rolled oats
1 large apple, finely-diced
1 cup of raisins or currants
1 cup of nut butter (your choice) 
1 cup pecans (or any nut)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup carob chips or chocolate chips
2 whole eggs
1 cup water
2.5 tsp stevia powder

Combine rolled oats, eggs, water and oil in a mixing bowl. Stir in nut butter and remaining ingredients. Form into balls and place onto an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy them warm out of the oven, room temperature, or fridge chilled.

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Carrot soup

carrotgingersoup

For lunch. Homemade carrot/ginger soup with basil from the garden.

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Joy

A tomato from the garden.

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Good morning

Morning Yerba maté, brewed for myself and visiting friends from the leaves grown on the plant in my windowsill. The tea smells earthy and sweet.

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Green beauty

jalepeno

The jalapeño peppers I planted in the spring are bearing fruit!

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Breakfast love

breakfastlove

Visiting friends in NYC. Rooftop breakfast. CSA produce, nuts, granola, cheese, and the most delicious blackberry jam I have ever tasted—made by my friend Caitlin with berries grown by her parents.

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Flax

I’m excited about this one. Flax seed pods from the garden. The precious few. I don’t have the space to grow enough to cook with, but it’s been edifying to see how this little seed that I purchase and consume in large quantities grows. I’d love to see it farmed… some research to do.

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Container garden

I arrived home to find my container garden happy and healthy, thanks to my friends who watered it while I was away. Lot’s of good food in the works…

Oh my gherkins!

 

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Market goods

At the farmer’s market yesterday I picked up some chard from Dave of Schartner Farms. It was a little wilted by the time I got it home but the leaves perked up in some water in the fridge.

I also picked up my stainless steel container from guys at The Local Catch. This week they filled it with fresh scallops from Block Island. I’m so grateful that they have agreed to tote my container to and from the market every week.

I couldn’t resist picking up some herbs from another stand I passed. Lemon balm and mint. The woman helping me said that they would gladly take back the plastic containers to be reused if I return them after repotting.

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Chicago hardy

March is here and my Chicago Hardy fig tree that has been wintering over in my studio is starting to wake up. Largely because they are not a local fruit, I cannot find figs without packaging. Because they are my favorite fruit, I have been growing my own in my container garden for the past several years. The fruit grows and ripens throughout the summer months. In the fall the tree drops all it’s leaves and I take it inside where it can go dormant for the winter. I always love seeing the tiny fig leaves shoot out in the spring.

Welcome back, old friend!

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