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Archive | Home and Garden

Fresh Market

BLOOM-BeansBeans, one of the Three Sisters

(part two of a three part series)
by Vicki Babcock

Native Americans speak of the “Three Sisters,” referring to corn, beans, and squash that were grown together.  The following is another legend about the sisters.
Long ago there were three sisters who lived together in a field. Each sister was very different from the others, both in looks and temperament. Each had their own interests. They were bound by love for each other and they always stayed together. But a crow came one day and talked to the horses and the other animals. The sisters watched this behavior and, shortly after, the youngest sister disappeared. This left the two remaining sisters very sad. The crow returned to gather reeds at the water’s edge and the sisters watched. That night, the second sister disappeared. This left the eldest sister all alone to grieve. When the crow saw her sadness, he brought the sisters together again and they continue to be together to this day. The eldest stands tall as she always did watching out for the crow. They find strength together and each sustains the other. These three spirit sisters are represented in the crops themselves.
Native Americans used this form of “companion planting” for their three major crops, which they believe were gifts from the Creator. The corn provided a pole for the beans, which, in turn, nourished the soil. The squash provided cover to keep the soil moist and to deter weeds. Eaten together, the three crops provided a balanced diet.
Beans are one of the oldest known cultivated plants, dating back thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians left the beans with their dead to sustain them through their journey and mention was made of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor in the Iliad, written in the late 8th century BCE.  According to Wikipedia, the oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.
Beans from the New World include lima beans and common beans such as Navy or Pea Bean, Red Kidney, Pinto, Great Northern, Marrow, and Yellow Eye. Also included are our string beans (now stringless) and snap beans. Varieties you might find at farmers markets today include such interesting names as Dragon’s Tongue and Trail of Tears.*
Beans were an important source of protein for Native Americans. They are comparable to meat when it comes to calories. Unlike meat, however, they have a high fiber and water content which helps you to feel fuller faster. Adding beans to your diet will help you cut calories without feeling deprived. One cup of cooked beans provides about 12 grams of fiber, nearly half of the RDA recommended for women and about one-third for men. Fiber means that beans are digested slower, helping stave off hunger longer. In addition, beans are low in sugar, which prevents insulin in the bloodstream from spiking and causing hunger (Beans, Protein-rich Superfoods By Jenny Stamos Kovacs WebMD, the Magazine).
Beans are high in antioxidants, which help to control cell damaging free radicals in the body. According to Kovacs, free radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and aging to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
In a study by the U.S Department of Agriculture of the antioxidant content of over one-hundred common foods, three types of beans made the top four: small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans.
Nuff said? If you haven’t done so already, do your body a favor and add these powerhouses to your diet. You’ll be glad you did.
*Dragon’s tongue and Trail of Tears can be found at Solon Market when in season.  Please check for availability.

O-Beans! Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Beans in cookies? You bet! Try these for a healthy choice!
Makes 3 dozen
Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
½  tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup Great Northern beans, drained, liquid reserved
3 tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. pkg. semi sweet chocolate  chips
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Process beans and 2 tbsp reserved liquid in a blender until smooth. Combine bean puree, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl and beat well. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets. Bake 15 to 17 minutes until centers are firm and edges are lightly browned. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Unlike most cookies which are best fresh from the oven, these are better the second day.  Best served at room temperature.
Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Preserve the Harvest for Winter Meals and Holiday Gifts


by Melinda Myers

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique making a comeback. Photo from Gardener’s Supply Company.

Fermentation is an ancient food preservation technique making a comeback. Photo from Gardener’s Supply Company.

The cucumbers have filled the vegetable drawer, you’ve run out of cabbage recipes and your family is refusing to eat one more BLT. Or maybe you just couldn’t resist that special deal on a bushel of tomatoes, potatoes or apples at the farmer’s market. So what is a gardener or shopper to do with all that produce?

Since properly stored vegetables will hold their flavor and nutritional value longer than those left in a plastic bag or set on the sunny kitchen counter, consider preserving some for the long winter ahead using one of several methods.

Storage orchard racks and slatted crates placed in a cool dark location have long been used to store squash, onions and potatoes. The stackable nature or drawers provide ample storage space, so fruits and vegetables do not touch. Keeping stored fruit separated prevents rot from spreading from one fruit to the next. Plus, the slatted sides allow airflow to extend storage longevity.

Those in colder climates can store their carrots and parsnips right in the garden. Once the soil gets a bit crunchy, cover them with straw or evergreen boughs for easier digging in winter. Then dig as needed or harvest during the first winter thaw. If this isn’t possible or not your style, try out a root vegetable storage bin. The root crops are layered in sand or sawdust and placed in a cool dark location. Just remove and use as needed. No snow shoveling needed.

Drying is one of the oldest food preservation techniques. Most of us have grabbed a few bundles of herbs to hang and dry. Expand your drying endeavors to include fruits and vegetables. The goal is to quickly remove moisture without cooking the food. You can make your own dehydrator or purchase one. Research has shown that blanching vegetables and fruit before drying helps destroy harmful bacteria. Blanching involves a steam or boiling water bath followed by a cold-water bath. Timing varies with the fruit or vegetable you are preparing.

Another ancient food preservation technique, fermentation, is experiencing a comeback. Cultures around the world have fermented fruits and vegetables for thousands of years. Unique flavors, storage options and health benefits have many gardeners revisiting this tradition. Fermenting cucumbers into pickles, cabbage into sauerkraut, and berries into preserves are just a few options. The ingredients can be as simple as water, salt, and spices. All you need is a vessel, vegetables and fermenting culture. You can jump-start your efforts with a fermentation crock kit (gardeners.com) that includes the crock, cover and weights to make sure your veggies stay safely submerged in water.

Or quickly lock in the flavor and nutrition of your fruits and vegetables with freezing. You’ll need airtight containers or bags that are durable, don’t leak and won’t become brittle in cold temperatures. Some produce does not freeze well and others may need to be blanched before they are packed in the freezer bag or container. But frozen items can easily be retrieved from the freezer and included in your winter meals.

Canning is a bit more involved, but can be lots of fun. This process preserves the food and keeps it safe by preventing the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeast and mold. The sealed jars keep the flavor in and bad microorganisms out. So gather your produce, jars, pressure cooker, canner and friends to create tomato sauce, salsa, jams and jellies to enjoy or give as gifts.

Whatever method you choose, do a bit of research before you start. You’ll have greater success and a lot more fun. The National Center for Home Food Preservation website, http://nchfp.uga.edu, provides all the basic information for storage and food preservation.
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

 

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Fresh Market: Corn, one of the Three Sisters 

(part one of a three part series)

by Vicki Babcock

 

BLOOM-cornThere are many legends associated with the “Three Sisters,” a method of crop farming created by our Native Americans. Their basic food sources, corn, beans and squash—the sustainers of life—were planted in a hill together. The corn stalk provided a pole for the beans to climb, and the squash or pumpkin provided cover for the ground, preventing weed growth and helping to hold moisture in the soil. They were seen as three loving sisters, each sustaining the other in their growth. The Indians believed the plants should be grown together, eaten together and celebrated together.

One such legend holds that a medicine woman could no longer tolerate the friction between her three daughters and so called on the Creator to help her find a way to end the fighting. That night she had a dream. In her dream, each daughter was a different seed. The medicine woman planted the seeds in one mound, as they would have lived at home and told each that they must be different but dependent upon each other if they were to grow and thrive. They would need to perceive that each had their own special qualities that set them apart and yet, together provided qualities that benefited each other.

The next morning she cooked each of them an egg, one scrambled, one hard-boiled and one over easy. She told her daughters of her dream and explained that they were like the eggs, each different with different textures and flavors and yet, they were still eggs. She told them that they each had a special place in her heart and in the world. The young women began to cry and the hugged each other. Now they knew they would celebrate their differences and love one another more because of them. And so the practice of planting the crops together began, each representing one of the three sisters, helping and caring for each other.

Corn or maize, one of the three sisters, has its origins in South America and Mexico and has been harvested by the Mayan Indians for millennia. Most historians believe maize was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico and quickly spread (possibly as early as 2500 BC) throughout the Americas. Sweet corn, a mutation of field corn, is eaten in the immature stage and was grown by several Native American tribes. The first recorded sweet corn was given to European settlers, by the Iroquois, in 1779.

Modern Americans look forward to summer celebrations with corn on the cob and, although we’re all familiar with the adage ”knee high by the Fourth of July,” many of us are looking for the popular crop for our Independence Day celebrations. The United States grows about 40 percent of the world’s production, about 332 million metric tons annually. Of that, approximately 40 percent is used to produce bio-fuels.

Corn has surprisingly many health benefits. They include controlling diabetes, prevention of heart ailments and lowering hypertension as well as aiding in the prevention of digestive ailments such as constipation, hemorrhoid and colorectal cancer.   It is high in fiber and a rich source of vitamins A, B and E. Corn is a rich source of antioxidants which have been known to be an aid against cancer.  Corn, unlike most other vegetables, actually increases the amount of usable antioxidants by cooking.

So belly up to the corn bar but remember—everything in moderation.

Corn Salsa

Ingredients

1 cup fresh corn kernels, cooked until tender

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

2 tablespoons chopped onion

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Stir together corn, jalapeno, cilantro, and onion. Add olive oil, lime, sugar and salt. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend. Frozen corn can be used in place of fresh.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Fresh Market—Sage

 

Bloom-FreshSageBy Vicky Babcock

 

Sage, considered a panacea among herbalists, has been prized as such for thousands of years. This is reflected in its official name, Salivia officinalis, which derives from the Latin salvere, “to be saved.”

Native to the Mediterranean, this super-herb has been used for everything from improving memory to controlling night sweats. Its list of medicinal uses is long and varied, earning it—along with its culinary uses—the title, “Herb of the Year,” from the International Herb Association in 2001. Ancients believed the herb would ward off evil and 14th century Europeans used it as a protection against witchcraft. Arab physicians in the 10th century believed it could promote immortality. Sage was used to treat typhoid and is one of the herbs contained in “Four Thieves Vinegar,” which is said to be a concoction derived to ward off the plague.

Studies have had some success in treating mild cases of Alzheimer’s with sage; it is well documented in its use to reduce menopausal sweats and was used as a treatment for night sweats in TB patients as well. It has been used to aid patients with type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that the presence of volatile oil in this herb is largely responsible for most of its therapeutic properties, especially its anti-septic, astringent and relaxing properties. Sage is used internally in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It has been used externally to treat insect bites, skin, throat, mouth and gum infections. It was thought to promote strength and longevity and believed to cure warts.  American Indians used it as a toothbrush.

And let’s not forget its culinary uses: although in the States sage is mostly associated with turkey and stuffing, its possibilities are endless. Try using sage in soups and sauces, especially tomato-based. Use it in omelets, as a flavoring for chicken or fish or add it to homemade breads or biscuits. Or try a brew of sage tea. As with all herbs, it is best to add towards the end of your baking, as excessive cooking reduces the flavor.

If you choose only one herb for your garden, choose sage.  Add it to your diet; your body will thank you.

Scarborough Potato Bread

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…

Makes: 2 small loaves

Ingredients

1 medium potato, cooked and mashed, 1 cup liquid reserved

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons lukewarm water

1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Drizzle mashed potato with oil. If cold, heat potato and liquid to lukewarm.

Dissolve sugar in water in a large bowl. Stir in yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add potato and 1 cup reserved cooking liquid. Gradually beat in whole-wheat flour. Beat for 1 minute. Stir in parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage and salt. Gradually beat in enough white flour until the dough is stiff. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding just enough flour to prevent sticking,. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Punch the dough down. Turn out onto work surface and knead several times. Divide dough in half and shape each piece into a ball. Place loaves several inches apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Half an hour before baking, place a baking stone or inverted baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Place a small baking pan on the rack below. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Pour 1 cup water into the baking pan in the oven. Place the baking sheet on the baking stone (or inverted baking sheet) and bake the loaves for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and bake until the loaves are golden and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before slicing.

Try these toasted with butter and honey!

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Getting the most out of farmers markets and seasonal produce

BLOOM-Getting-most-out-of-farmers-market

(BPT) – Warm weather months bring an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, and for those who enjoy buying local, farmers markets are popular destinations. Produce choices available at farmers markets are now reaching their peak. So how can you make the most of this seasonal bounty?

Chef Daniel Reyes, culinary faculty member at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, a campus of Argosy University, believes that it’s important to know the difference between buzz words common at markets.

“If you have questions about how farmers do something, they are more than happy to talk to you and educate you about sustainable and organic farming,” he says.

Reyes explains that while some produce may look unfamiliar, a good market salesperson will provide tips on how to use the items. Farmers markets are not just great places to buy, they’re also great places to learn new culinary techniques and food pairings.

Another tip? Shop early—that’s when chefs at are the markets. “Chefs are usually there early in the morning. See what they are buying,” says Reyes. And remember to bring bags to carry your items home—cooler bags are especially helpful when you’re buying delicate goods such as locally made cheeses, eggs or meats.

A sense of community

Farmers markets allow people to gather in a common place to meet neighbors and make friends who share a passion for locally grown food. The markets build a sense of community, according to Reyes, that contributes to a stronger local economy and smaller environmental footprint.

“Get to know your purveyors. See where they come from,” Reyes advocates.

This sentiment is shared by Chef Elizabeth Thompson, culinary arts faculty member at The Art Institute of California—Inland Empire. Thompson recommends asking farmers what’s best to buy right now.

“They grow whatever they sell, which makes them experts. Ask to put be put on their email list. They may send out information about what is in season and what to do with it,” she adds.

Thompson makes it a point to try something new each time she visits a farmers market. “Sample everything! That is how the farmers sell their products, and you will know what you like.”

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture

In addition to visiting the farmers market, many people are choosing to become CSA shareholders, paying in advance for weekly boxes of produce.

CSAs create a direct relationship between farmer and consumer, according to Thompson. CSAs allow busy people to pick up their share boxes at a convenient location, and teach them how to use what’s inside.

For those interested in supporting local farmers, CSAs provide a critical influx of cash to farmers during the off season, helping them to better prepare for the planting season ahead.

Whether shopping weekly at the farmers market or picking up a CSA box of fresh produce, buying local allows consumers to taste fruit and vegetables at their peak flavor. From striped heirloom tomatoes to strawberries picked fresh just hours before, farm fresh foods provide a burst of flavor and a connection to the community that cannot be found within a large supermarket.

 

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, a campus of Argosy University, is one of The Art Institutes, a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. 

 

 

 

 

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Veggies galore? Make the most of your garden goodies

BLOOM-Veggies-galore

(BPT) – You’ve spent the summer tending and nurturing vegetables that have flourished, and now you have such an abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and leafy greens, your home is starting to resemble the produce section of a grocery store.

Some people think harvest season is when the work stops for growing fresh fruits and vegetables in the backyard. If you want to be able to enjoy your hard work all year long and incorporate your vegetables into meals throughout the winter, though, there’s still some work to be done.

Here are some ways to preserve and share the bounty you’ve grown in your backyard:

* Host a canning party – Canning is making a comeback, even for urban families who grow their vegetables in container gardens. If you have tomatoes, peppers, berries, beans, carrots and even peas, canning and freezing are two ways to preserve these items for use throughout the winter months. Both options preserve the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables, and most canning and freezing processes don’t require any additional ingredients to be added to the product. If you’re looking for a way to add more variety to your pantry, chop tomatoes, peppers and onions into a salsa mixture to be canned.

If you have friends in the same situation with an abundance of food, host a canning party. Ask everyone to bring extra pots, hot pads, stirring utensils, knives and cutting boards so you have enough equipment to keep all hands busy.

* Pickle your veggies – All pickling recipes are different, and it’s fun to experiment with different seasonings and techniques. To get started, try this basic pickling spice recipe from Frontier Co-op. It features a balance of flavor that blends several different responsibly sourced seasonings:

 

Balanced Basic Pickle Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon turmeric root powder

 

For other recipes for preserving your vegetables and incorporating them into delicious dishes all year long, visit www.frontiercoop.com.

* Gift your garden goodies – Ask your coworkers, neighbors and friends if anyone would be interested in some of your fresh produce. Or, better yet, can some of the produce in smaller batches to hand out as gifts. Everyone loves a batch of raspberry jam or a jar of homemade salsa in their holiday stocking or as a thank-you gift. To make the gift look nice, decorate the jar with ribbons or wrap it in a pretty gift bag.

* Make fun drinks – If you grow herbs in your yard, you can either freeze or dry the leaves to preserve their flavors for future use. Or try making herbal soda, which is usually a mixture of lemons, herbs, soda water and simple syrup stirred together for a refreshing summery drink on ice. Invite guests over for a relaxing afternoon on the patio and impress them with your simple, tasty drinks. Your family will also love them for a way to cool down after having fun in the sun.

* Share your harvest – Families that are food insecure appreciate the fresh produce found at harvest season. Contact your local food pantry to ask how you can share your harvest with others. They may require specific kinds of produce, or need vegetables to be harvested in a specific way.

You can use your vegetables and fruits in meals all year long, and these tips also provide you with great ideas for sharing what you’ve grown with friends and family. As you reap the benefits of summer’s growing season and the care you provided your garden, consider these ways of making the most of your crop.

 

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Fresh Market—Saskatoons

 

BLOOM-Fresh-market-Saskatoon-berries

By Vicky Babcock

 

Saska—what?  If you’ve never heard of the Saskatoon berry you’re in good company.  Few of us have.  Yet the berry—also known as the Juneberry or Serviceberry—is native to North America and has been harvested by Native Americans and, later, settlers for hundreds of years.  Similar in appearance to the blueberry, Saskatoons are more closely related to the apple tree; both belong to the rose family.  The berry was prized for its nutritional value as well as it heartiness—Saskatoons are resistant to low temperatures and drought and they grow in a wide range of soil types.  The berries are sweet and tasty, but try to pin down the flavor and you get, “nutty”, “somewhere between a blueberry and a cherry”, “a hint of apple”.  The fact is, each berry packs its own unique mix of flavors and berries from the same plant may not taste exactly the same.  One person even described the taste as, “similar to a peach,” a unique opinion.

Saskatoons are high in antioxidants and an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper and carotene.  Per pound higher in vitamin C, potassium and iron than most other berries, Saskatoons should easily qualify as a super fruit.

Due to recent cultivation of the bushes in Northern Michigan, the berry is starting to find its way into area farmers’ markets and groceries.  But the berries’ demand continues to exceed supply, even in Canada where it’s been cultivated for about thirty years.

Saskatoons, or Juneberries played an important role in survival for victims of drought and depression in the 1930’s.  For more on the berries or to purchase the bushes, check out Saskatoon Michigan online.

Fresh Berry Cups 

Shortbread cookies (about 6-8)

2 cups fresh berries

Crumble cookies and divide between 6 to 8 ramekins.  Divide berries equally between ramekins.

For filling:

2 T. cornstarch

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 cups fresh berries

Jello™

Whipped topping

Bring to a boil water, sugar and cornstarch—stir in 1 sm. box blueberry Jello™ .  Gently stir in 2 cups fresh berries and pour hot filling over the top of each ramekin.  Cool.  Top with Cool Whip™ or other whipped topping.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Fresh Market: Zucchini

 

BLOOM-ZucchiniBy Vicky Babcock

 

Save your grocery bags.  Practice your stealth.  It’s nearly upon us!  August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbors porch day”.   Non-growing neighbors are likely to appreciate the shared largess—-that first time.  Okay, maybe the second.  Wait!  They’re locking the car and leaving the light on.  And they’ve just acquired a big dog.

All kidding aside, this prolific grower is a tasty and nutritious treat.   One medium fruit provides about 58% of your daily requirements of Vitamin C and about 14% of potassium.

Small, tender squash are best and can be consumed uncooked in salads and cut into sticks for dips.  Or skip the dip—it’s not needed.  And one medium fruit contains only 33 calories, a dieter’s dream!  Leave the skin intact for a healthy snack—much of the nutrition is concentrated within the peel.  It can be sliced and stir-fried for a tasty side.  (I use salt, pepper and garlic)  But pick often.  Larger fruit are only good shredded for breads, cakes and soups, as the skin becomes tough and the fruit seedy.

Zucchini fruit is more versatile than most people realize.  It can be fried, baked, broiled or consumed raw.  Try zucchini fries or quiche, cookies or pancakes.  Zucchini fritters are another way to use up the squash.  For some tasty zucchini recipes, check out www.MomOnTimeout (Google zucchini recipes)

Zucchini is Native American and was cultivated by the Indians long before Columbus set sail on his monumental voyage.  Much lore abounds with its medicinal value.  Toothache suffers could chew on a piece to find relief and it was said that a paste of the boiled fruit could sooth the sting of running eyes.  Consumption of great quantities, it was said, would prevent the deadly consequences of snakebite.  To remove a troublesome wart, touch the affliction with the cut end of a zucchini by the light of a full moon and bury the squash in a field that faces north.  While we can’t guarantee the results, you’re likely to get a good crop of zucchini!  Linda Jean Morris— The Times Weds. 9-2-1987.

That excess of squash can be shredded and frozen for later use.  Or maybe its time to start a new tradition.  How about, “bring some zucchini to work, day.”

Easy Garden Lasagna

1 lb. Italian bulk sausage

3 1/2 cups chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped carrot

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups skim milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 or 9- no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. In a large skillet, cook bulk sausage until browned through.  Pour off excess grease—remove sausage and set aside.  Add zucchini, onion, and carrot to the pan; sauté over med-high heat about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in reserved sausage, corn, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. In a large saucepan, combine flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan and nutmeg.

4. Spread 1/3 of the sausage mixture in the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking pan.  Layer half the noodles, 1/3 sausage, ½ white sauce, remaining noodles, remaining sausage and remaining white sauce.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Bringing life back into your yard and garden

BLOOM-Bring-life-back-to-garden

Return of the green: Get your grass and garden growing again

 

(BPT) – Spring season is a time of regeneration and renewal as you prepare to bring life back to your lawn and garden. Taking the proper steps after seasonal changes or severe weather conditions can prove to be the difference between creating a breathtaking landscape or an outdoor space with unsightly mishaps. By following a few simple steps, you can take pride in your backyard year after year.

Inspect and replace your tools of the trade

The first step to creating an outdoor masterpiece begins with the proper equipment. You can’t very well dig, rake or mow with broken or dull materials, so now is the time to inspect each of your tools. Check your lawnmower and other garden essentials for signs of damage or rust. Making sure that your garden tools are in good condition at the start of the season will help establish the right foundation for a successful planting and growing season. “The right tools can make all the difference in creating a lawn that leaves a lasting impression,” says Alan Luxmore, host of A&E’s hit television show Fix This Yard. “Arm yourself with tools that are not only durable, but easy to use. Complete watering systems such as LeakFree by Nelson, offer a turn-key watering experience from start to finish, allowing gardeners more time to revel in their landscaping successes.”

Bring new life into the garden

Once your soil is permeable, it should be prepped for the upcoming planting season by removing dead leaves and plants that may have been left over from the previous season. Use a rotary tiller to break up and aerate hard soil. Once the old material has been removed from the work area and your soil is ready, begin planting your new plants, flowers, vegetables and grass. You can also help your trees, bushes and even certain plants have a more robust look by trimming them back to encourage new bud growth.

Establish a regular watering regimen

One of the most important steps to maintaining a healthy lawn and garden is providing it with the proper nutrients. Using a hose for daily irrigation seems simple but without the proper watering set up, your efforts could be futile. A proper watering guide and the following tips from the watering experts at Nelson can increase efficiency and bring you one step closer to creating a yard with envious curb appeal.

* Give your greens a thorough soaking once in a while to produce extended and robust roots.

* The best time to water is in the morning, when the air is cool and moist. The warmth of the sun and the rising temperature gently dries the grass and the leaves on the plants. And since morning air is damp, you don’t waste water through evaporation.

* Follow a regular watering schedule to discourage bugs by providing them with an inhospitable environment. Insects, with the possible exception of the water bug, aren’t terribly fond of water.

* To be certain your lawn is hydrated adequately when it has failed to rain, the standard rule of thumb is to sprinkle one inch of water per week.

* Use a complete guaranteed leak-free system such as LeakFree by Nelson in order to conserve water in drought conditions, save money and stay dry.

For additional watering and gardening tips, and to learn more about LeakFree technology, visit www.facebook.com/NelsonWateringAndGardening.

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Fresh Market: The Peach

 

By Vicky Babcock

 

BLOOM-fresh-market-peachesWho can resist the lure of a ripe peach on a summer afternoon? Not I, and certainly not my three-year-old grandson, who gorged himself on peaches while helping me pick and suffered not a whit. The sight of a peach still brings to mind that perfect summer day—Bryce’s face with bulging cheeks, the fragrant juice dripping slowly down his chin. He must have thought he was in candy heaven! He’s not alone—peaches are prized throughout the world.

Alexander the Great is credited with bringing the fruit to Europe after conquering Persia. Although peaches get their name from ancient Persia, they almost certainly originated in China, where they are highly prized. Peaches were brought to America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, although they were not commercially grown until the 19th century.

The Chinese held the peach tree in awe. It was considered a ward against evil spirits and an aid to immortality.

In Korea, the peach is seen as the fruit of happiness, riches, honors and longevity. The rare peach with double seeds is seen as a favorable omen of a mild winter. It is one in ten of the immortal plants and animals. (Wikipedia)

In Vietnam, where it is recognized as a sign of spring, it plays a part in their celebration of Tet.

Peaches are a low calorie choice, providing about 30 calories per medium fruit. A medium peach provides eight percent of RDA for vitamin c and about 140 mg. of potassium. If you can tolerate the fuzz, leave these lovely treats with the skin intact, as much of the nutritional value is contained in the peel.

All parts of the peach have their place in American folklore and folk medicine. It was thought that a baby that refuses to be birthed could be brought at once if the mother drinks tea made from bark scraped downward from a young peach tree. Peach tree bark scraped upwards is said to be a cure for vomiting and/or diarrhea.

A magical cure for warts involved cutting as many notches in a peach tree branch as one has warts. Peach tree wood is a favorite of many for making dowsing rods.

Kentucky lore holds that rubbing warts with peach leaves, then burying the leaves, will remove the warts.  Peach leaves were also used in Colonial times as a cure for worms and Hohman recommends the flowers for the same. According to lore, eating a peach that has been pecked by a bird can lead to poisoning. Peach pits were used as a cure for “gravel” (kidney stones), to stimulate hair growth and as a remedy for drunkenness. Charms can be made from the carved stones as well.

Note:  I include the folklore for color only. Consumption of peach pits strikes me as highly risky as peach pits, like many of the rose family seeds, contain traces of cyanide.   If you plan to plant your own trees, you might want to consider this bit of folk wisdom shared by Vance Randolph. “In planting peach trees, it is always well to bury old shoes or boots near the roots.” He goes on to state that not far from Little Rock, Arkansas, he has known farmers to drive into town to search refuse piles for old shoes to bury in their orchards.

Okay, I’m hooked. Does anyone have an old boot?

Peach & sweet onion salad

6 ripe peaches peeled and sliced
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut across the center and sliced thinly
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups mixed baby salad greens, rinsed and crisped
2 cups fresh arugula, tough stems removed, rinsed and crisped

In a large bowl, gently combine the peach and onion slices.  In a small cup, whisk together the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper.  Pour over the peach mixture and toss lightly to coat evenly.   Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.When ready to serve, combine the baby greens and arugula.  Divide among 6 salad plates and top each portion with the peach and onion slices.  Drizzle with some of the juices from the bowl and serve at once.  Makes 6 Servings.

Per Serving:  66 Cal; 0.0 g Total Fat; 16 g Carb; 0.0 mg Cholesterol; 17 mg Sodium; 449 mg Potassium; 4 g Dietary Fiber; 2 g Protein.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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