web analytics

Archive | Home and Garden

Lawn care tips for Fall

AWE-Lawn-care

(Family Features) Taking time in the fall to prepare your lawn for the colder months ahead will pay dividends come spring and allow you to enjoy lusher, greener grass when temperatures rise again.

Fertilizing

Providing nutrients to your lawn before cold weather strikes is good for strengthening roots and increasing the nutrients stored for an earlier spring green. While the top growth of grass stops, grass plants are storing nutrients and energy for the following season.

To determine the best ratio of fertilizer for the soil in your yard, you should utilize a soil test. Otherwise, look for fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphate-potassium (NPK) ratio of 3:1:2 or 4:1:2.

When applying the fertilizer, make sure that you follow the application instructions and rate information on the package and use a calibrated spreader to apply the correct amount. It is also a good rule to apply the fertilizer in the fall about 2-3 weeks before the ground freezes so the plant can start to take up some of the nutrients.

Instead of pacing the yard with a push spreader, consider a tow-behind spreader attached to your riding lawn mower or garden tractor. An attachment, such as a pull-type spin spreader from John Deere, can quickly distribute fertilizer evenly across your yard.

Aerating

Aerating, the process of removing plugs of soil and thatch from the lawn, is ideal in cooler months. It encourages deep rooting, improves water and nutrient penetration, and promotes growth of beneficial soil microorganisms. There are a variety of techniques you can use to penetrate the soil such as spiked shoes or spray-on liquids, but to most effectively aerate soil, attach a dethatcher, or a plug aerator behind a riding mower or tractor to remove plugs of soil from two to three inches deep.

Mulching

If you prefer not to rake or bag grass or leaves, mulching with a mower is an ideal alternative. Be sure to mulch leaves only when they are dry to avoid damp and wet leaves clumping or building up under mower decks.

Remember that grass needs sunlight in the fall to help store food for winter, so don’t wait until your lawn is completely matted down with leaves to mulch. A thin layer of mulched leaves is ideal and helps add nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for fertilizer.

Selecting the right mower with mulching attachments or features can save a great deal of time and help ensure a consistent layer of mulch across the yard. For example, John Deere 100-Series lawn tractors have three-in-one mowing decks, which allow you to choose to mulch, bag or allow side-discharge.

Composting

Creating a compost pile allows you to turn organic material into rich soil. The fall season is a good time to create a compost pile with decaying yard matter, such as vegetables, grass clippings and leaves, which can provide nutrient-rich soil for spring planting. For best results, alternate layers of “brown,” or high carbon materials, with grass clippings.

Using a rear bagger with your lawn mower or tractor will help make collecting grass clippings a breeze, and adding to your compost pile is as simple as backing up to the spot and unloading. Another optional mower attachment, the lawn sweeper, brushes leaves into a hamper, much like a broom and dustpan.

 

Taking these steps will prepare your lawn for the winter and help it come back strong, healthy and beautiful in the spring. Learn more about the tools you need to care for your lawn at JohnDeere.com/Residential.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off

Fresh Market: Horseradish

 

By Vicky Babcock

 

AWE-horseradishWelcome to the American Bottoms, a Mississippi River basin carved out by glaciers during the ice age.  The soil here is rich in potash, a nutrient on which horseradish thrives. According to promoters, it is here where 60 percent of the world’s supply of horseradish is grown. It is home to the International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, Illinois. Celebrated the first weekend in June each year, events include root tossing, recipe contests and horseradish eating contests. Please see more information at www.horseradishfestival.com. Yet horseradish is not native to the U.S. and was probably introduced to the Americas during European colonization. Horseradish is happy where winters are cold and has a wide range from zones 2 to 9.

Horseradish is not for horses. In fact, both the leaves and roots are toxic to livestock, including horses. It does, however belong to the Brassicaceae family, which includes mustard, broccoli, cabbage and yes, radish. The name, “horse” likely stems from its archaic form, meaning strong, coarse or large.

Horseradish is not for everyone. It is most often used as a condiment with beef and is closely related to wasabi. However, it gives a lovely bite to a jar of pickles and Blue Diamond™ makes a wonderful Wasabi Almond, one of my favorites. The leaves can be used in salads and have the same—though much less—bite as the root. It is often used as one of the bitter herbs eaten in observance of Passover.

The bite associated with horseradish occurs when the plant is oxidized by chopping the root. Chopping or grating the plant releases isothiocyanate, a volatile compound that when combined with oxygen, provides the heat. The plant itself uses this as protection from insects and animals and few critters are likely to taste it twice. It is nature’s own chemical warfare, but used for protection only. It is interesting to note that at least one U.S. facility uses gas masks in processing this bitter herb.

Once the root is chopped, it must be stabilized in vinegar to preserve the heat. Horseradish does not have a long shelf life, as it loses its heat rather quickly and can become bitter.  Store bought sauces are likely to be more mild than you will get if you make your own.

Fresh horseradish has antibacterial properties and it is high in vitamin C. Both its leaves and root were used medicinally in ancient times and were considered useful for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, fluid retention, cough, bronchitis, achy joints, gallbladder disorders, gout and colic.  I do not advise self-medicating, however. As always, check with your doctor before using in any sense other than culinary.

According to Greek mythology, the Delphi Oracle informed Apollo that horseradish was worth its weight in gold. It was prized in Egypt as early as 1500 BCE.

Horseradish is harvested in the spring and fall and will last for up to six weeks if properly processed, although some sources claim success up to one year. You might want to try freezing small quantities for later use. Enjoy!

To process your own horseradish, wash and peel an eight to ten inch root. Chop into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor.* Add one to two tablespoons water and pulse until desired consistency. Add a pinch of salt and one tablespoon white vinegar.  Or try our cream sauce. Recipe follows:

Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup grated or finely chopped fresh horseradish

1 T. Dijon style mustard

1 tsp. white vinegar

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Whisk ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Refrigerate for at least four hours to allow flavors to blend. Store in an air-tight container for up to three weeks. Use as a condiment with roast beef. Try with a red wine to balance the flavor.

*Always use care when cutting or handling fresh horseradish. While the intact root has little odor, cutting the root releases a potent compound that can irritate the eyes and nose. Use in a well ventilated area and avoid touching your eyes.

 

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.

 

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, RecipesComments Off

Michigan vintners prepare for short crop

AWE-Michigan-wine

Severe cold events from January through March resulted in damage to grapevines that reduced fruitfulness for many of the more cold-tender varieties used for wine production in Michigan. The state’s wine grape growers are looking to continued warm and dry weather to help ripen a smaller-than-average crop.

“We anticipate approximately 50 percent reduction in the size of the state wine grape crop compared to the record 7,600 tons reported in 2013,” said Gordon Wenk, chair of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council.

The impact varies widely around the state. Temperatures hovered below minus 5 for three days in early January in the southwest counties of Berrien and Van Buren, while Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties near Traverse City escaped damaging temperatures until late February. At that time, Lake Michigan was 90 percent frozen, eliminating the lake effect benefit that Michigan growers typically enjoy.

The extended, extreme cold during the winter of 2013-2014, referred to as the “Polar Vortex,” was the coldest in Michigan since 1993-1994. More than 40 varieties of grapes are used for wine production in Michigan. Some varieties, like Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, are more susceptible to damage from prolonged cold temperatures. Growers are preparing applications for USDA federal disaster assistance programs that will help mitigate some of their financial losses.

The cool, wet summer of 2014 delayed ripening of the smaller-than-average crop. Growing degree day data indicate that heat accumulation is behind the five-year average by approximately 15 percent in wine grape growing regions, as of September 29, making 2014 the coolest growing season in Michigan since 2009. Pest pressures also increased due to the weather. “This season was one of the coolest and wettest in the recent past, and this made management of diseases and insect pests very challenging for some growers,” said Keith Mason of Michigan State University Extension.

In 2015, consumers may face a reduced selection of styles and labels from Michigan’s 2014 vintage due to the damage to cold-tender varieties. However, wine inventories are in good shape at most wineries as a result of highly productive vintages in 2012 and 2013. “Many wineries restrict their sources of grapes to within the Great Lakes State as there is strong dedication to Michigan and its sub-appellations throughout the industry,” commented Wenk. Federal and state wine laws permit wineries to source fruit from outside the state, as long as the wine is labeled correctly.

Michigan ranks in the top 10 states in wine grape production in the United States, usually landing in the fifth to eighth position in ranking.

The Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council is a 12-member panel that supports the growth of the grape and wine industry in Michigan. It is housed in the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, which is the official state agency charged with serving, promoting and protecting the food, agriculture and agricultural economic interests of the people of the state of Michigan.

Posted in Awesome AutumnComments Off

Checklist for Fall Garden and Landscape Care

AWE-Checklist-fall-gardening

by Melinda Myers

You can see and feel the change of seasons. Fall color is starting to appear, pansies, mums and asters are in the garden center and your thoughts are turning to preparing your landscape for winter.

Those in warm climates are switching to winter annuals, while those in colder regions are fortifying their landscapes for the cold winter ahead. No matter where you live, invest some time in preparing your landscape for the change in seasons. Dedicating some time now will pay off with healthier more beautiful plants next spring.

  • Continue to mow the lawn high as long as it continues to grow. There’s no need to cut it short unless that is the look you prefer.
  • Fertilize the grass with a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite. Fall fertilization provides the greatest benefit to your lawn and gives you the best value for the time and money invested.
  • Those in cooler regions growing bluegrass, fescue and perennial ryegrass should fertilize around Labor Day when temperatures start to cool. Then make a final application between Halloween and Thanksgiving before the ground freezes.
  • Those in warmer climates growing centipede, Bermuda and zoysia should also fertilize around Labor Day.
  • However, be sure to make the last fall application at least one month prior to the average first killing frost.
  • Shred leaves as they fall. Leave some on the lawn to add organic matter and nutrients to the soil. As long as you can see the grass blades through the shredded leaves your lawn will be fine.
  • Use the rest of the shredded leaves in your compost pile, as mulch on top of the soil or as a soil amendment. Just dig a two to three inch layer into the top 12 inches of annual or new planting beds. These leaves will break down and add organic matter. By spring the leaves will decompose and the garden bed will be ready to cultivate and plant.
  • Plant a few bulbs now for a colorful early spring display. Incorporate compost, aged manure or other organic matter into the planting area. Add a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer at the time of planting. In general, plant bulbs two to three times their vertical diameter deep. Follow specific planting and spacing directions on the package or tag.
  • Select animal-resistant bulbs to avoid squirrels digging up the bulbs and deer and rabbits eating the blooms. Daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths and squills are a few to consider. Little Tommies (Crocus tommasinianus) tend to be more squirrel resistant than other crocus varieties.
  • Those gardening in mild climates need low chill bulbs that will thrive and flower after a mild winter. Or purchase precooled bulbs for winter planting and spring flowering.
  • Allow disease- and insect-free perennials to stand for winter. This will increase their winter hardiness and your enjoyment. The dried leaves, stems and seedheads provide beauty for you to enjoy, seeds for the birds and overwintering homes for many butterflies and beneficial insects.
  • Plant trees, shrubs and perennials. The soil is warm and the air is cool – perfect conditions for planting and establishing trees, shrubs and perennials. And for those lucky enough to garden in warm climates, add a few winter annuals.
  • Continue to water the landscape as needed throughout the fall. Be sure to water evergreens and new plantings thoroughly before the ground freezes.

No matter where you live or the size of your garden, get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of fall. And be sure to invest a bit of energy now to insure your landscape is ready for the season ahead.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. Myers’ web site, (http://www.melindamyers.com/) offers gardening videos and tips.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off

Fresh Market: Why Market?

AWE-Fresh-market-applesBy Vicky Babcock

 

Anyone who’s ever had a garden—even a small one—knows how much more flavorful fresh produce is. There is something about a fresh picked tomato warmed by the sun that satisfies the senses. The flavor, the texture, the scent—fresh picked produce is simply better all-around. Longer shelf-life; less spoilage; better flavor; more nutrition—all good reasons to try out your local farmers market.

Farm fresh eggs—often from free-range hens—provide better nutrition, taste better and are more humane than factory eggs produced by caged hens.

Grocery chains do a phenomenal job these days and the focus is more on buying local, but even so, the time between harvested crops to grocery shelves is much greater than what you will find from local (farm) markets. “Local” to a grocery chain usually encompasses the entire state in which the store resides whereas farm markets cater to the surrounding area.

AWE-Fresh-market-peppersMany local markets offer events for the community, providing entertainment as well as educational opportunities—some markets may charge a small fee—others provide these at no charge.

Buying local strengthens the community. It provides jobs to farmers and farm laborers as well as local mills and farm supply stores. Locals tend to spend locally, so the money stays in the community working for the community. Farmers markets provide a venue for the community to meet and visit with their friends and neighbors as well as a healthy open-air feel. Prices are often competitive as markets tend to be cheaper for the local farmer and there is no middleman to satisfy.  With the relatively new cottage laws, small business start-ups are able to provide fresh home-baked breads, baked goods and jams, as well as a host of other products at low cost because overhead is kept to a minimum.

Browse the markets and you can often find a variety of mouthwatering delights, especially in well-established markets where vendor participation is high as competition for Market space boosts creativity. You may even find craft beers and wines at select markets as new laws apply. You’ll find potted perennials and even a few crafts. Or you might just find the following herbed breads. See you at Market!

 

Herbed Sourdough English Muffin Loaves

Makes 2 loaves

5-1/2 to 6 cups flour

2 pkgs Active Dry Yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups sour milk*

1/2 cup water

1-2 T. fresh herbs**

Cornmeal

 

Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt, soda and fresh herbs.  Heat liquids until very warm (120ºF.-130ºF.).  Add to dry mixture; beat well.  Stir in enough more flour to make a stiff batter. Spoon into two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm place for 45 min. Bake at 400ºF. for 25 min. Remove from pans immediately and cool.

These are best sliced and toasted and served warm. They’re wonderful with cream cheese, butter, specialty jams or flavored butters. Use your imagination!

*Sour milk can be made by adding a teaspoon of vinegar to each cup of milk.  Or use fresh milk for a slightly different flavor

**I usually use rosemary, as it is a favorite of mine. I’ve also had luck with sage. Basil is another favorite, but use your imagination. The possibilities are endless—you can also combine compatible herbs for a savory loaf. Bon appétit!

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.

 

Posted in Awesome AutumnComments Off

Fresh Market: Beets

AWE-Beets

By Vicky Babcock

 

Favored by Aphrodite, these miniature powerhouses deserve a second look. Beets are older than dirt, a pre-historic root vegetable that grew wild along the African coastline and the coastlines of Europe and Asia as well, although at this time only the beet greens were consumed. It is commonly believed that ancient Romans began the practice of eating the root. What we refer to as beets are actually beetroot and both parts of the plant are edible.  The goddess was said to have consumed beetroots to retain her beauty and women used beetroot to color their cheeks. Beetroot was considered an aphrodisiac and was a popular offering to Apollo, god of the sun. The Oracle of Delphi proclaimed beets to be worth their weight in silver and second only to horseradish in mystic potency. Folklore holds that if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.

The natural components of beetroot offer a multitude of health benefits. Beets can help improve blood flow, increasing oxygen (and thus, stamina) and lowering blood pressure. Components provide anti-inflammatory properties and studies show a likely use to help ward off cancers. Beets are high in vitamin C, an immune booster, and fiber, potassium (heart, nerve and muscle) and manganese (bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas).  Beets contain the B vitamin folate, which can help reduce the risk of birth defects.  They have been used in detoxification programs and to help purify the blood and liver.

It has been used to color foods such as tomato paste and sauces as well as ice cream, jams, jellies and cereals; as fodder for animals; as a substitute for cane sugar (sugar beets); and to enhance the effectiveness of road salt. Both the greens and the root have medicinal value and were used as such by the ancients and by holistic practitioners today.

Beet greens are excellent sources of vitamins A, K and C, 220%, 821% and 60% RDA per 1 cup serving respectively. They are a very good source of potassium and manganese and a good source of magnesium and calcium. Per volume, beet greens are as high—if not higher—in iron than spinach and can be used in cooking much the same way.

Yet, like Rodney (Dangerfield) beets get no respect. Aside from the Russians, who love their borsht (beet soup) few people have a liking for the flavor of beets. Some describe it as earthy. Most red beets find their way into jars and cans as pickled beets.

Beet sugar from the sugar beet became popular after sugar cane was restricted by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon decreed the beet be used as the primary source of sugar.  It was around this time that the beets were first introduced to the New World. By 1837, France had become the largest sugar beet producer in the world, a position it held until 2011 when it was eclipsed by Russia.  he U.S. ranks third in the world in sugar beet production.

Michigan’s beet sugar production centers around the Bay City thumb area. Michigan Sugar Company is the third leading producer of beet sugar in the United States, selling under the names Pioneer Sugar® and Big Chief®.

Beets can be baked, steamed or boiled—or they can be shredded and consumed raw in salads. Cooking greatly diminishes the nutritional value of beetroots so cook lightly—15 minutes or less to sauté and less than an hour of baking. Cooking times can be reduced by cutting beets into quarters. Wash gently before cooking and leave the “tail” and  a bit of the green end.  Remove the skin after the cooking process by rubbing with a paper towel. Gloves can be worn to prevent stained hands or use a little lemon juice to remove stains from hands. Salt will dull a beet’s color so only add salt at the end of the cooking process.

A few more interesting facts you may not know about beets:

•In England, mangel-wurzel (a beetroot used for animal fodder) hurling has become a team sport.

•Beetroot can be used as a measure of acidity.  When added to an acidic solution it will turn pink, whereas if it is added to an alkali solution, it will turn yellow.

•Beetroot contains “betaine” which is used in other forms to help treat depression and “tryptophan,” the feel-good chemical in chocolate.

•Beet juice is being used today to replace brine in loading tractor tires. It does not corrode like brine and does not freeze. However, if you get a flat tire, you will have to fight the wasps for control of the tractor.

 

Mama (In-Law)’s Harvard Beets

¾ cup sugar

4 cups cooked beets*

2 tsp. cornstarch

3 T. butter

1/3 cup vinegar

¼ tsp. salt

1/3 cup water

1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Add vinegar and water; bring to boil and cook 5 minutes. Add cooked beets and simmer ½ hour.  Add butter, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

*Remember—the less cooking the better to retain nutritional value.  For this reason we recommend steaming the beets prior to making the Harvard Beets

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.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, RecipesComments Off

Tree Pruning with a Purpose

 

Fall is a great time to be outside in our landscapes and gardens. We take stock of which plants are looking good and which plants seem to need a little help. It is natural to want to “do” something to help a tree – prune it, fertilize it, polish it – we can’t help wanting to touch it in some way.

Pruning is an oft needed maintenance treatment for good tree health, and to keep your tree and yard safe and looking good, but pruning without a good reason is not good tree care practice. Pruning just because your neighbor is doing it may not be beneficial for the tree, and could result in too much live tree tissue being removed. This can cause the tree to become stressed, and perhaps decline.

In fact, industry tree pruning standards (ANSI A300) say no more than 25 percent of a tree’s foliage should be removed in a single season, and if the tree cannot tolerate a lot of pruning, even less should be removed. When determining how much pruning your tree can tolerate, an arborist may consider if the tree:

• is healthy

• is still growing rapidly or has matured and slowed its growth

• had its roots severed or damaged recently or in the past

• suffers from disease

• is a species tolerant of heavy pruning

“All that said, fall is a good time to prune to meet certain tree growth goals,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. A good arborist will work with you to set an objective for the pruning job (i.e., what you want accomplished when the work is done). Pruning objectives usually include one or more of the following:

• reduce risk of damage to people or property

• manage tree health and direction of growth

• provide clearance for vehicles or roadways

• improve tree structure

• increase or improve aesthetics

• restore shape

“Once tree pruning objectives are established, the arborist can provide specific details on how your trees could be pruned to get the desired result,” says Andersen.

The pruning process can be overwhelming to those not familiar with shade and ornamental tree pruning. A qualified tree care expert trained in tree and woody plant health care can answer your questions, as well as help you with your tree pruning goals. Make sure to ask for tree pruning to be done according to ANSI A300 standards, the generally accepted industry standards for tree care practices.

Find a professional

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees and shrubs to plant for your existing landscape. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. It has more than 2,200 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance.

TCIA has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on: adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies” program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

 

Posted in Awesome AutumnComments Off

Fresh Market: Plums

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

By Vicky Babcock

Plums may have been one of the first fruits cultivated by humans. It appears to have several origins and varieties. Prunus domestica has been traced to East European and Caucasian mountains, while Prunus salicina and Prunus simonii originated in Asia. The remnants of plums were discovered in archaeological digs dating to the Neolihic age (Wikipedia).

A relative to peaches, nectarines and almonds, the plum is a member of the rose family. It is considered a drupe—a fruit with a stone pit surrounding their seeds. Plum trees blossom in the spring and a healthy tree will produce an abundant crop in late summer to early fall. Asian varieties can be harvested much earlier, sometimes as early as May.  China is the leading producer of plums, with the U.S. lagging a distant sixth. Of the 50 states, California leads in plum production.

The plum tree is featured significantly in Chinese mythology. It is associated with wisdom and longevity, and blossoms from the plum tree are frequently carved in jade to symbolize resurrection. It is often represented in Asian art and is included among “the three friends of winter” and “the four gentlemen,” traditional groupings of plants which often appear in artworks. The three friends—pine, bamboo and plum—are associated with strength and endurance during the cold winter months, while the four gentlemen—plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum—represent the seasons, as well as noble virtues.

Plum varieties range from sweet to tart and the skin can be somewhat tart. They are featured heavily in much Asian cuisine, while Americans are more likely to consume them in their natural state. Plums are a good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, copper, fiber and potassium. With about 30 calories per fruit, plums are an excellent choice to round out your diet.

On a cautionary note, plums contain measurable amounts of oxalates. In heavy concentrations, these can crystallize and create health problems. Individuals with kidney or gallbladder conditions probably should avoid eating plums. If you have any concerns, please speak with your doctor.

Nana’s Plum Bread

1 to 1 ½ cups pitted, chopped plums

1 T. flour1 ½ cups flour

½ cup butter, softened½ tsp. salt

¾ cup sugar½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla extract¼ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. orange extract2 T. sour cream

2 large eggs2 T. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and dust with about 1 tablespoon of white sugar. In a small bowl, sprinkle plums with 1 tablespoon flour. Toss lightly to coat; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, ¾ cup sugar and extracts. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients except for brown sugar. Add to egg mixture, stirring until mixture is smooth and dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in sour cream. Fold plums into batter, then pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 50-55 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Baking times are approximate.

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.

 

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, Featured, RecipesComments Off

Extend the harvest this season


By gardening expert Melinda Myers

 

AWE-Extend-the-harvest-seasonDidn’t get enough gardening in this season? Don’t worry there is still time to grow garden-fresh vegetables and herbs this fall and winter.

Purchase transplants and seeds that will grow and flourish in the cooler fall and winter temperatures. Lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, root vegetables, edible pansies and calendula as well as cole crops, like broccoli, are a few to consider.

Those gardening in colder regions need to select short season crops like lettuce, spinach and radishes that will mature before extremely cold winter temperatures set in. Extend the fall garden season into winter with the help of floating row covers, coldframes and portable greenhouses. Many of the elevated garden systems now have built in cold frames or row cover attachments to make extending the season much easier.

Try container and elevated gardens like the VegTrug™ (www.gardeners.com) to extend the growing season and increase your enjoyment. These contained gardens allow you to plant herbs, vegetables and flowers anywhere. Place a few right outside the front door or on the balcony for fun and convenience. Plus, contained gardens can easily be moved to a sheltered location or covered and protected from frost.

Or move your garden indoors. Select vegetables and herbs that can tolerate the less-than-ideal indoor growing conditions. Greens, onions and root crops, like radishes and short carrots, will grow in a sunny window. Expand your selection with the help of artificial lights.

Basil, oregano, thyme, sage, parsley, chives and of course mint are a few favorite herbs to grow on your kitchen or other sunny windowsill. Increase your harvest with the help of artificial lights or try an indoor tiered grow light stand to save on space.

Take cuttings from healthy herbs growing in the garden, purchase new transplants or start herb and vegetable plants from seeds.

Take four inch cuttings from healthy herbs. Remove the lowest set of leaves and place the cut end in a well-drained potting mix. Once rooted, plant the herbs in individual containers or mixed with other herbs in a windowsill planter.

Start the seeds in a flat, in individual pots or directly in a planter. Keep the rooting mix warm and moist until the seeds sprout. Move to a sunny location or under artificial lights as soon as the seedlings break through the soil. Wait until the seedlings develop two sets of leaves and then transplant them into their permanent planter if needed.

So get busy planting and soon you will be enjoying the tasty benefits of fall and winter gardening.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips. 

 

Posted in Awesome AutumnComments Off

Fresh Market

AWE-Fresh-market-winter-squash

Winter squash, one of the Three Sisters 

(part three of a three part series)

by Vicky Babcock

 

Long before the Earth was populated by people, there were the Sky People. This particular tale, of the Three Sisters, speaks of Sky Woman, who, because of her curiosity, fell through a hole in the sky while peering through to the world below, a world of endless sea. The creatures of this world saw her fall and swiftly scooping soil from the sea bottom, they placed it onto the back of a giant turtle, that she would have a safe place to land. This “turtle island” remains today and is what we now refer to as North America.

Now Sky Woman was pregnant at the time of her fall and, when her time came, she gave birth to a daughter, who grew up and in turn gave birth to twin boys by the West Wind. She died in childbirth and Sky Woman (or the woman’s children by some accounts) buried her in the new earth. Three sacred plants sprang up from where she laid—a gift from the Creator. These gifts were corn, beans and squash, the sustainers of life. They became known as the three sisters and were the three major crops raised and held sacred by Native Americans. They were grown together as three sisters, each sustaining the others.

The third sister, squash, provides ground cover for her siblings, crowding out weeds and helping to retain moisture in the soil. It was an important ingredient to a balanced diet, providing nutrition and fiber as well as caloric content. Native Americans consumed the seeds as well as the flesh of this prized fruit.

Winter squash is harvested and eaten when it is mature, as opposed to summer squash, which is eaten in the immature stage. In its mature stage, winter squash can be stored for longer periods. Winter squashes are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and provide significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 as well as dietary fiber.  While about 90 percent of winter squash’s total calories come from carbohydrates, a number of studies suggest that certain starch related components in squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.  A cup of winter squash, cooked, provides about 80 calories, comparable to a single medium apple.

Winter squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years. However, one of the most popular winter squashes, the butternut, is a relative newcomer to the plate. Charles Leggett has been credited with the development of this squash in the mid 1940’s. With its buttery flavor, its relatively thin skin and plentiful flesh, the butternut has quickly won the hearts of most squash lovers. Other varieties include, acorn, buttercup, hubbard, Lakota, pumpkin and spaghetti. There are over 40 varieties of squash available in the United States and countless subspecies.

Look for winter squashes in mid to late September and in early to late October. These tasty treats are a great way to round out your diet!

Butternut Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup butternut squash, cooked and pureed*

3 tablespoons milk

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze 

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons milk

For the spiced glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or cut a clean brown bag to fit and butter lightly.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add cold butter, working into mixture using a pastry cutter or two knifes until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In another bowl, whisk together squash puree, milk, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Roll the dough out into a 10- by 7-inch rectangle. Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut into 4 even pieces crosswise, making eight rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles, making 16 scones.

Place scones onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk as needed; set aside. For spiced glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and milk. Whisk until smooth; set aside.

Cool  baked scones for 10 minutes and spoon on glaze before drizzling with spiced glaze.

Allow glazes to set before serving.

*Butternut squash can be washed and baked whole in a 400ºF oven. Remove the skin while still warm and scoop out the seeds. Leftover squash from this recipe can be mashed and served with a little salt and butter or frozen for later use. Yum!

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.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, FeaturedComments Off