Holiday Cookies 2

This year I discovered a new (to me) easy recipe with the help of my friend Margie. She gave me some mini tart pans and a wooden stamp for making these mini pecan or jam tarts. I can't wait to try...thinking I can put the jams I made throughout the summer to good use. What a perfect gift! Thanks Margie!

Here's the result of my first attempt:

For crust I used:
1 (6 oz.) cream cheese
1 c. soft butter
2 c. flour

For pecan tart filling: (one should cut this recipe in 1/2. I had way more than I needed, but just went ahead made more pecan tarts!)
1 Cup White Corn Syrup
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Melted Butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3 Eggs
2 Cups Pecans for topping the tart

For jam tart filling:
Strawberry Lemon Zest Jam,
Concord Grape with Blackberry Jam, and
Blue-Blackberry Jam.

First place all ingredients for crust in a food processor, process until a ball has formed and Stop. Remove the dough from the food processor. Divide dough into small balls about 1" in diameter, place them in individual tart pan cup. Place the tart pan in the fridge for about 20 minutes. After taking them out of the fridge, use the wooden stamp to push the balls into a cup shape. Fill the crusts with the various filling. For the pecan tarts, fill the crust half way and top with pecans. For the jam tarts, fill the crusts 2/3 full. Bake at a preheated 325F oven for 30 minutes, or until the crust turn lightly golden. Cool and serve. They look a lot harder to make than they really are.

Post cooking notes: This crust recipe is a really simple one, it would work well on pies too. It is flaky and delicious and super easy to work with....

Tasty Kohlrabies in December!

Kohlrabi is a above the ground vegetable from the cabbage family that resembles a turnip. Many people do not know about them here in America. They are easy to grow and versicle in cooking. If you plant them in May you can start harvesting them as early as July (see earlier post: The beauty about it is, they grow well in hot and cold climate. I am just harvesting the rest of mine before the hard frost suppose to hit this weekend (December 12). And the frost hardened kohlrabies tasted extra crunchy and sweet!
I like to slice the kohlrabi and put them in salad, or slice them really thin, add vinegar, salt and tiny amount of sesame seeds oil. They are pretty tasty in soup as well.
All of the Germans I met gave me the same recipe:
Peal and slice kohlrabi into 1/4" pieces, cook in salted water until tender to the bite. Make a white cream sauce, and pour over the cooked kohlrabi. You may flavor your sauce with blue or Gorgonzola cheese. Anyway you eat them, they taste great and are good for ya! :)

Holiday Cookies

Three of my favorite holiday cookies are: Molasses Cookies, Lime Icebox Cookies and Double Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies.
The reasons I like them are they are easy to make, delicious and keep good.

Lime Icebox Cookies:
· 1-1/2 Sticks of Butter
· 1-1/3 C. Powdered sugar
· (Cream the above together)
· 1 T. Vanilla Extract
· 2 t. Lime Zest
· 2 t. Lime Juice
· 1-3/4 c. flour
· 2 T. Cornstarch
· 1/4 t. salt
· Powdered sugar to cover cookies after baking.

Mix all the ingredients together, then shape the dough into half inch logs with wax paper. Chill dough. Cut into think wafers and place on parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 12-15 minutes (no convection bake). Transfer cookies to a cooling rack, when completely cool, roll cookies in powered sugar.
(Originally from: Martha Stewards show)

Molasses Cookies

· 2/3 c. vegitable oil
· 1 c. sugar
· 1 egg
· 1/3 c. molasses
· 2-2 1/4 c. flour
· 2 tsp. baking soda
· 1 tsp. cinnamon
· 1 tsp. ground cloves
· 1 tsp. ginger
· sugar for coating cookie dough
Mix all the ingredients in order, then shape the dough into balls and roll them in the extra sugar. Place thm on a cookie sheet on parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, they’ll be golden brown and cracked on top.
Originally from: thecookfulyouth This recipe is for Crazy Aunt Robyn.)

Double Batch Chocolate Cookies
· 5 Sticks of Butter
· 1-1/2 C. Dark Brown sugar
· 1 C. sugar
· (Cream the above together)
· 2 eggs
· 1 T. Vanilla Extract
· 3-1/2 c. flour
· 2 t. Baking Soda
· 1 t. Salt
· 6-7 c. oats
· 2 c. Chocolate Chips

Mix all the ingredients together. Bake at a preheated oven at 375F for 10-11 minutes.
(Originally from: Our friends Kohl)

Esay Homemade Cheese Cake: Not for the faint of heart! super easy and delicious!

For Crust:
1.5 C. Gram cracker crumbs (comes in a box)
3-4 T. Butter, room temperature
Mix the gram cracker crumbs and butter together, shape in a spring formed pan. Bake at a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

1.5 lb. cream cheese (bought from a local restaurant supply store, $3.86 for a 3 lb. block, which makes two l0" cheese cake);
4 whole eggs, and two egg yorks, room temperature;
1.5 C. Sugar;
2 t. vanilla abstract;
a pinch of freshly grounded nutmeg;
a pinch of lemon zest.
In a food processor, blend together cream cheese and sugar until smooth (2-3 minutes), add eggs/egg yokes one at a time while keeping the food processor running, add vanilla, nutmeg and lemon zest.

Pour the filling in the baked pie crust. Lower oven temperature to 325 degree (make sure do not use convection baking, use regular baking instead). Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Run knife around the cake pan, and place the cake pan on a cooling rack. Here's comes the hardest part: Wait until completely cool before serving. Top with cherry pie filling if you prefer. (My friend swears by it)


Thanks giving is here. I've done my share of cooking. Enchilada is my main dish and I have done a few other easy dishes. Here are the dishes and tips that might be helpful to you...

Pumpkin pie: I used the winter squash I grew from my own garden. The key ingredient (besides the squash) is Condensed milk. This will give the pumpkin pie the right consistency. I also used freshly ground nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon for my spices. Bake the pie at 425 degree for 15 minutes, and reduce to 325 degree and bake for another 45 minutes.
Cheese Cake: I put cream cheese, sugar in my Cuisinart food processor, process until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time while continuing blending, add flour for thickening add a dash of freshly grounded nutmeg and vanilla. Keep blending until the mixture is very smooth. Pour all in a preformed pie crust. Bake at 325 degree oven for 1 hr. or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
To make a smooth top, blend together sour cream, powdered sugar and a little cream cheese, make a thick slurry, pour on top of the cheese cake and bake for another 15 minutes.
Enchilada: This is not a traditional Thanksgiving dish, but it's my contribution to a family get together. I first cooked up 3 lb. beef (cheap cuts) with: California chili powder, New Mexico chili powder, a dash of dried mustered, onion powder, garlic powder, a cube of tomato flavored chicken bouillon, a few (4-5) whole cloves, some chopped onions and tomatoes and 1/2 C. of vegetable oil. Cover dish with foil, bake at 325 degrees for 2.5 hours or until meat is tender. Cool the meat.
#Prepare tortillas. I use corn tortillas. Cook tortillas on a frying pan with a little oil until they become soft and pliable. Fill each corn tortilla with beef roll it up and place in a baking dish.
#Making the enchilada sauce: Pour 1 T oil in a frying pan, add chopped jalapeno pepper, chopped tomato and garlic. Cook until they turn soft. Add water, Mexican oregano, cumin and salt to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil. Use a submersible blender, blend the sauce until smooth.
Pour sauce over the prepared tortilla. Cover it with cheese (I use a blend of cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
What's next...oh
Brown rice salad: This is a really fast and easy recipe and everyone loves it! Cook the brown rice in a rice cooker. (Put in 1.5 times as much water as you would white rice, the rice cooker will know when to stop cooking). After the rice is done, add olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped onion, chopped green onion, chopped parsley, chopped garlic and finely chopped almonds, salt and pepper to taste. You may add other fillers to the salad.
Cheesy Bread Sticks: I always make these delicious cheesy bread sticks and serve them with my Basil Tomato Butter (see below).In a cup, add 1 C. water, 1 t. dry yeast, 1/2 C. flour. Stir to blend. Let it stand overnight. Day 2: in the mixture, add 1 T. dry yeast, 1 C. warm water, 1 t. salt and a dash of sugar, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Let the dough stand until doubled. Roll the dough on a floured board. Brush the flattened dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with a generous amount of shredded Parmesan cheese. Cut it into strips with a pizza cutter. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly brown.
Tomato Basil Butter:
2 C. fresh basil, 1 can of 6-oz. tomato paste, 1 stick of butter (room temperature), 4 cloves of garlic, salt to taste. Finely chop basil, garlic, and salt. In a bowl, mix tomato paste, butter and finely chopped garlic and basil mixture. Blend with a rubber spatula until smooth. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Great for fresh baked bread, sandwiches. Especially good for making leftover turkey sandwich.

Pico de Gallo

This is a recipe I got from Chelz's boyfriend describing how his mom makes it back in Taxes. I used my kohlrabi which is in abundant supply this time of the year, and they are ever so tasty from the cool fall air and moisture.

1 medium red onion, chopped,
1 large kohlrabi, peeled and chopped,
10 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C. chopped cilantro,
juice from one lemon,
juice from one lime,
salt to taste.

Mix all ingredients together, let set for half an hour before serving. Serve with corn chips.

Simple pickles

I have had hard time making pickles for a long time. My pickles never seems turned out they way I expected them to be - until I experimented with this simple version of the cold packed pickles...It is simple, delicious. Here's the recipe:
soak 10 lb. of cucumbers (sliced lengthwise) in a salt solution with 16 C. water and 1.5 C. salt for 1 day. The next day, make the brine: bring to boil 4 C. white vinegar and 6 C. water, add 2 T. colored pepper corns, 1 T. mustard seeds, 10 cloves of crushed garlic, 2 t. red pepper flakes, horseradish (optional), whole hot peppers (optional). Pack cucumbers in hot jars (boiled in hot water for 5 minutes). Pour brine in jars. Cap jars. Store in the refrigerator. Pickles should be ready in 7 days. Keep up to 2 month.


Jambalaya is a southern rice dish with distinct flavor. I first had the real jambalaya when we vacationed in New Orleans. Walking on the street of New Orleans smelling the aromas came out of the numerous restaurants in the musky air is an unique experience. One dish I was determined to try while there was Jambalaya. Today I am trying to duplicate the taste and bring back some memories.

The foundation of Jambalaya is the a mixture of vegetables (celery, onions and peppers) and meats (I like to use smoked sausage, chicken and shrimp) cooked together with rice and the unique Louisiana seasoning (a real nice short cut). I use my rice cooker for this dish, makes it super easy.

Remove the skin from fresh shrimps, put the skin in a pot with 4 C. water, bring it to a boil. Turn off heat.
Saute the chopped vegetables in 2 T. oil, until onions become translucent, remove, place in the rice cooker. Saute the cutup meats in 2 T. oil until cooked, remove and place in the rice cooker. Cook 2 C. short grain rice in 2 T. oil until the rice turns white, sprinkle with Cajun spice. Pour stock made with shrimp water to the pan, add 10 oz. canned tomato. Bring it to a boil, add 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Place the content in the rice cooker. Stir well. Turn the rice cooker on. Cook until done. Leave the Jambalaya in the rice cooker for at least half an hour before serving. Serve with Louisiana hot sauce, boiled corns and fried breaded zucchini slices.

YUMEEEEEEEE! And watch Forest Gump on your DVD.


With all the fresh veggies come out of the garden, I decided to put something together that will utilize a few of them.... Moussaka came to mind. I have herd about this dish from Serge, an old Greek guy who sells tomatoes at the Portland Farmer's Market. I used to share my veggies with him at the end of the market day, and hearing him talking about all the wonderful Greek foods that made my mouth water....Today I am going to try one of the dishes he described to me, Moussaka, a dish that uses eggplant, potatoes, onions with meat and Béchamel sauce . I know the basic ingredients, now it's a matter of figuring out how to put them all together. I looked up on Youtube, and found a real simple version of it....

3 medium sized potatoes,sliced, 3-4 Black Dragon Eggplant,sliced, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 medium onion,diced, 1 lb. lean ground beef, 1/4 lb. Italian sausage. 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (16 oz.). Heat a heavy cast iron pan on high, add 2 T. olive oil brown potato slices on both sides, remove from pan. Add 2 more T. olive oil, cook eggplant slices until they turn soft. Remove from pan. Add Italian sausage to pan, cook until down; add ground beef, cook until done, add chopped garlic and onions, cook until onion turn translucent. Add the spaghetti sauce, stir until blended. Add some chopped herbs from your garden (I used parsley and oregano).

Spread a layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, arrange a layer of potato, a layer of eggplant, add meat sauce, add another layer of potato and eggplant. Pour the remaining meat sauce on top.

Make the white sauce: add 2 T. butter, stir in 2 T. white flour, stir until well blended and flour turning lightly brown, add 2 C. whole milk, salt and pepper, add 2 beaten eggs, cook until the sauce forms a nice consistency.

Pour the white sauce over the potato and eggplants. Bake at 350 F oven for 1 hour.

It was truly exquisite!

Grow your own herbs, gourmet dining at home

Growing your own herbs is an easy and inexpensive way to spice up your meals. Perennials like Oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary are easy to grow looks beautiful in your flower gardens/borders. You can get starts from garden centers or your friends. For annuals like basil, dill, cilantro and parsley, you can start from seeds or buy starts from garden centers in the spring.

Preserving throught out the season

One thing I've learned after years of gardening is preserving should be done throughout gardening season. Preserve the veggies or fruit at the peak of their producing cycle, instead of putting them off, putting them to the freezer to deal with them later. That way you won't feel overwhelmed at the end of gardening season, when there are so much other things to do. (Believe that's what I used to do}

with the good veggies if not the best you have on hand. So far I've made pickled beans, zucchini jar bread, blue berry jam

What to do with all that peppers???

This year is a bit strange. Spring was really cool, the weather didn't heat up until later June, no wonder a local weatherman called it Junurary. But finally, tomatoes are turninig and peppers are ripening and gardens are filled with all sorts of vegetables. After I did all I can with the peppers-eating, selling and giving away, time to thinking about canning them. After talking to a lot of people in our local Farmer's Market, here are a few recipes I am going to try:

Pickled jalapeno peppers
Veggies: Jalapeno peppers, carrots (I grew them too :) ) and onions. Brine: 2 C. white vinegar, 2 C. water, 1/2 C. kosher salt, 2 T. sugar and 2 T. vegetable oil, add a pinch of dried Mexican oregano ( not the same a...s regular oregano, you can buy them at the Mexican spice rack). Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Pack veggies in cleaned canning jars, and pour hot liquid in jars. Seal and let cool. Place in refrigerator. Keep for up to a month. You can also seal it with water bath like you would with regular pickled.


Wash peppers and drain. Pack peppers tightly in jars for every cup of vinegar used: 1/4 c. olive oil 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. pickling spice

Heat mixture to boiling. Pour over peppers so they are well covered. Seal jars and process 10 minutes in hot water bath. Note: It takes about 2 cups of mixture per quart.

More from the garden

Everything is producing like mad. Many varieties of peppers, all tomatoes are maturing, still a lot of zucchinis, and lots of Asparagus beans, and of course, all the kohlrabi you can eat!

The battle of the Pepperfield:
Old Timer TomatoAsparagus BeansSummer Squashes

Chile Rejeno and Chile En Rajos

Chile Rejeno
Once again, I made Chile Rejeno. It was very popular in our house, everyone loves it. This week I got a recipe from an old couple who frequently travel to Mexico. They told me this is a simple but good way to prepare chile without going through all the trouble of making Chile Rejeno...

Chile En Rajos
15 Chiles
1 onion
1 cube butter
1 tsb chicken bullion
1 can medoa crema
1 can corn
1 lb. chihuahua selecgo cheese (mexican cheese)
Slice onions, cut cheese in small cubes; roast chiles on stove over burners until skin is dark. put in a bowl, cover. peel off the skin when chiles are cooled and slice.
Put butter in pan and fry onions until transparent. Add chiles, corn, chicken bullion, media crema and cheese. stir 15 minutes on medium heat.

Dutch Apple Pie

All the apples this year! We have a bumper crop, on every tree! Chelsea came by yesterday made a dutch apple pie. Since it tasted so good it was gone in no time. So I am making another one today. Here's her recipe:

Crust: 3 C. flour, 2 C. shortening; cold water
Syrup: 1/2 C. butter, 3 T. flour, 1/2 C. sugar, 1/2 C. brown sugar, 1/4 C. water
Filling: 6-8 apples, peeled and cored, sliced, cinnamon, nutmeg. Egg white for brushing.
Prepare pastry dough-halve. Line pie dish. Roll out remaining dough to 1/4" thickness. Fill pie dish with apples. Mound slightly in the middle. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour to form a paste. Add sugar, water. Reduce temperature. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over apples. Top pie with lattice crust. Brush with egg white. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and continue baking for 45 minutes. Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream. YUM!

09-07 Intensive Gardening Brings Beneficial Critters

Since I planted my garden a lot denser this year (even more so than I usually do), I am seeing a lot of the little frogs that have been missing from my garden for a long time. Bumble bees and honey bees are buzzing around collecting pollens from the veggie flowers. I also see quite a few lady beetles. And pests such as cucumber beetles, flea beetles are reduced significantly.
Earlier in the season, I had a flee beetle infestation, causing me to remove all my Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli) prematurely. I have always been a proponent of intensive gardening. What happened in my garden this time around made me a even firmer believer. I think planting every thing closer together not only choked out the weeds, it also brought back the frogs, lady beetles and the bees as well. The returning of the beneficial insects are a big help. I hope they will stay for next season.

09-07 Matured Garden

It is fall already. My gardens are filled with vegetables. Tomatoes are turning red, peppers, cucumbers and eggplants are all in full production and Asparagus beans are just producing enough to keep up with demands. Not to mention the big hit in the Farmers market-Chinese Kohlrabi! I am very proud to have turned so many people on this tough yet delicate vegetables. The Germans don't need much convincing, they have a tradition of using kohlrabi. In fact, it is not hard to find Germans giving me recipes on how to cook them. But as for the rest of the crowd, it only takes a little sample taste, and they are sold! I have people come back every week ask for it now....

I made enchilada sauce today using fresh tomatoes, roasted peppers and fresh onions. Added a little lime juice, garlic, vinegar, cumin, coriander and Mexican oregano (it has a sweeter taste than the regular ones) as spices. I added a dash of cayenne pepper, just to give it a little kick and adjusted salt to taste. I heat it up to a boil and let it cool on the stove. The sauce turned out really good. I am going to make a enchilada dish tonight. I can see making more of it and canning it for the winter.

Helpful Tools for the Garden

Vegetable gardening can be intensive. Helpful tools in the garden can make a huge difference. After years of practice, I have discovered some of the tools that set my mind at ease going into every gardening season. Here is the list of my favs:
(1) The Minihooper: This is a neat little device that will allow you to plant your garden earlier in the spring and extend it later in the fall. The minihoop house (by New Dimension Seed) sets up directly in your vegetable garden, protect your vegetable starts from frost. How many times have you guessed when the last spring frost is??? and that is not an easy task!
(2) A "D" ring hoe. This is by far the best hoe I have ever purchased (and believe me I have purchased a LOT!). I like this hoe from a mechanical engineer's perspective: it allows you to use the least amount of force to archive the best result. Buy one that is well constructed so the screws don't fall out on you. I carry it with me whenever I go into the garden, especially when the veggies are still small. Kilis the weeds before they take over.
(3) A Garden Seeder (from Midwest Products, available from This is is a device no serious gardener should go without. If you plant a large garden like I do, this can give your garden a professional look and draw admirers from miles away... The seeder comes with different disks for sowing different seeds. You will get perfect spaced straight rows that not only is good looking, but produce tons of veggies. It is ideal for market gardeners!
Zucchini Pineapple Bread(from the Taste of Oregon cookbook): Cooked in Jars

3 eggs
1 C. oil
2 C. sugar
2 C shredded zucchini
1 can (8.5 oz.) crushed pineapple
3 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1-1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. nutmeg
1 C chopped nuts or currants
Mix all wet ingredients together, mix all dry ingredients together, be sure to sift the flour, it makes a big difference. Fill quart canning jars half full. Use a canning funnel so you don't leave batter on edges. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes. Leave ample space between jars so they cook evenly. Remove jars one at a time, cover with canning lid, screw band on tight. Leave jars in a cool non-draft place until sealed. Can keep up to 6 month. Great for the cold winters!

To make jar-bread

8-25-08 The Garden is in Full Production

Tomatoes are turning red, tons of zucchinis, lots of peppers, giant green onions, even eggplants are producing like mad, and don't forget the delicious Stallion White Cucumbers (from New Dimension Seed)! My watermelons are about 8" across, should be ready in about a week or two. I can't wait. I harvested all my Yukon Gold potatoes. The lettuce is gone, but I picked the leaves and stuff them in a ziplog bag and through them in the fridge, they will last a while. Corns are almost filled, but still on the young side, since I like mine chewy sweet.

Summer is finally here, So many choices of fresh vegetables to use. Here are some ideas of how to use these wonderful vegetables:
Tomato soup made with leftover steak and fresh tomatoes;
Egg Flower Soup with fresh tomatoes;
Fresh salsa with tomatoes, peppers and BASIL! It was delicious.
Zucchini Pineapple bread;
Zucchini pancakes;
Chilli Releno with Estella Pepper;
Cucumber salad
Hot German Potato Salad;

On the fruit side, pears are ready, Akeen Apple, my sure producer is loaded with apples and they are turning bright red. It's a very good fresh eating and cooking apple, tart and sweet. The Italian prune tree didn't do well this year, I guess non of the plum and prunes did good.

08-02-08 Little Apples Big Taste

One of the unspoken pleasure of having apple trees is the apple dessert made with the small, not quite mature apples. These small apples are drop offs, or thinned out ones that are often thrown away, but they make a delicious apple dessert. They are tart like granny smith, but with flavors of their own. I always enjoyed these in the early summer days. Add some ice cream and you'll get a perfect a la mode!
Here's the recipe:
3 C. cutup peeled, cored small apples,
1/2 C. sugar,
1 T. butter,
lime juice from half lime,
2 T. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon,
dash of slat,
A few blackberries (Optional)
For the dessert topping:
1/2 C. instant oat meal,
1/2 C. brown sugar,
2 T. flour
3 T. butter
Heat the butter in a frying pan until melt, add the apple pieces, add lime juice, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Please in a baking dish. Place blackberries on top of the apples. Blend the topping ingredients together, place it on top of the fruit. Bake at 350 F preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Cool, serve with vanilla ice cream and whip cream. Yum!

07-31-08 Picklishious

The snap beans are in full production. These are the Xupar No String Snap Beans from New Dimension Seed. I picked 12 pounds today! Prepared some for fresh eating, I pickled the rest. They are absolutely delicious. The Xupar Snap Beans do not have strings, so it is perfect for pickling. Here's the dilly bean resipe:

Easy Dilly Beans:
8 lb. snap beans
4 C. cider vinegar
4 C. water
1/2 C. salt
Spices of your choice, I used fresh dill, dried mustard seeds, whole peppercorns, garlic, dried red pepper. Bring the water vinegar and salt to a boil. Pack trimmed beans in sterilized hot jars, pour hot liquid in jars. Cap jars. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars, let cool. I am certain these won't last long, so I just bought another gallon of vinegar and I will make more...

07-28-08 Tomato Care

It is the end of July, tomatoes are still all green. Several factors to consider when growing tomatoes (1) selecting early varieties to grow. And plant several different varieties. Most tomatoes don't mature until August. One exception is the Dwarf Red Bell Cherry Tomato (From NewDimensionSeed)
which can be harvested in later June. It grows 12" tall and loaded with tomatoes. (2) Start them the right time (3)If there are too many side branches, bury the extras in the ground so that they can generate additional root structures to support the plant. (4) remove the bottom leaves to promote good air circulations, preventing disease from forming. Then wait patiently for the tomatoes to turn red...

07-25-08 Sushi Night

Last night I made sushi for dinner. The fresh cucumbers are just ready to eat. The soybeans are nice and plump. I used one package of frozen yellow fin tuna.One thing I love is the sushi mold. It is a two piece fixture and makes perfect rice cubes. Make the presentation real nice. I will explain how to assemble the sushi in another time, for now I will just talk about how I made the side dishes:
1. Seaweed Salad: I made the seaweed salad with dried shredded seaweed (available in Asian stores, very cheap). Soak the dried seaweed in hot water for 15 minutes, add minced garlic, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds, all to taste. You don't need to add any salt because the seaweed's salty already.
2. Cucumber Marinade: Slice the fresh picked cucumbers into thin slices, add flavored sushi rice vinegar, let set for 15 minutes.
3. Boiled Soybeans: Boil fresh or frozen soybeans for about 12 minutes in salted water. Serve cooled.

07-23-08 A sample from the garden

Here's a sample from the garden. The garden is certainly putting out a lot of salads. Lettuce is at it's prime. I've been getting tomatoes since the end of June. The variety is Dwarf Redbell Cherry Tomato From New Dimension Seed ( It only grow 12" tall, produce a lot of tomatoes early in the season. Although the flavors can't compete with its larger cousins, but the earliness is what makes it shine. I am getting a load of fava beans. Don't know what to do with it until I saw it in a blog. I boiled it and put some herb butter in it. It was delicious.

7-23-08 More Zucchinis!

The tidal wave of zucchini is upon us. I am picking 20ish very day now. I got up early this morning, picked my zucchinis and made a carrot cake-substituting one egg for one finely grated zucchini. It turned out surprisingly good! It's very moist. I am going to make a cream cheese icing to go on top of it...That might just erase all the health benefit by substituting the egg, oh well, it tastes good.

7-22-08 Zucchinis' Here!

The Speedy Silver zucchini (from New Dimension Seed, started to produce nice crunchy fruit a couple of weeks ago. Today I picked some fresh ones from the garden and made Zucchini New Potato Pancakes, they are delicious!
Here's the recipe:
Two 5" long zucchini, grated,
One medium new potato, grated
(in this case, I used the Yukon Gold I grew)
1/2 C. tempura batter
One large egg
Dash of garlic powder, dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste, and oil for cooking.
Mix all ingredients together and let set for 15 minutes. Cook on stove top same way you cook pancakes. Serve with Tabasco sauce.

07-18-08 Blueberry-A Must Have for Any Garden!

Blueberry is the best plant to have in a garden. They do take a few years to get up to producing, but they are so rewarding. Blueberry is easy to grow. The best time to transplant them is in the spring. Blueberry likes a slightly acidic soil, so pile some saw dust around the bast is good for it. My blueberries are ready to pick, I added some 0-0-50 to boost the fruit bearing power. We are enjoying the fresh berries and I am freezing any extras. I am planning to make some Blue and Black jam (Blueberry+Blackberry)later in the season.
I bought some apricots from a local fruit stand and made the Apricot Blueberry Tart, it was delicious...made even better served with vanilla ice cream....yummmmm!

07-16-08 Cucumbers

Due to the cold spring this year, many gardeners experienced problems with their vegetable gardening. Seeds are programed to germinate and grow under a set of pre-programed conditions. For cucumbers, that means a temperature range of between 65-90 F. At this range the photosynthesis is most effective. Cucumbers roots are especially sensitive to ground temperature, they stop develop completely at below 54 F. The cold and wet spring this year certainly didn't help cucumbers. Raising the soil temperature is an effective way of overcoming the the cold condition and get your vegetables an early start. I grew my cucumbers under my Minihooper (, which is a minihoop house from New Dimension Seed. My cucumbers are just now starting to bear fruit. ( A few days ago, I planted another two rows of cucumbers (without any cover), kept the planting site moist and they shot up instantly because of the hot weather we are having.
To all gardeners: A key to good gardening is to meet the needs of your seeds, they will return the favor ten folds. Good luck and happy gardening!

07-16-08 Fresh Green Beans At Last!

This spring is exceptional wet and cold. Thank goodness I had my minihooper to hurry things along. I planted my beans under the cover of the minihooper, that really made a difference. Now I am harvesting fresh green beans! It is the Xupar No String Beans from New Dimension Seed. This is easily the most productive variety I have ever grown. I picked 14 lb. of fresh beans on July 22...Going to make some picked green beans.

07-14-08 More on Gai Lan

Gai Lan is also called Chinese Broccoli, is easy to grow and can be harvested continuously for a long period of time. I made my version of spinakotpita. It is good.
4 large eggs
2 lb. Gai lan, par boiled and chopped
1 package of Cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 package of feta cheese (10 oz)
1 C. chopped sweet onions
½ C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. freshly chopped dill weeds
1 T. freshly chopped parsley
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 package of fillo dough
Mix all ingredients together except the butter and fillo dough. Thaw the fillo dough and bring to room temperature. Spread the fillo dough, brush the fillo dough with softened butter. Use 3 sheets on each spannakopita roll. Place the filling on the fillo sheets, roll up, place the seam side down. Bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cool, slice and serve.

I par boiled the extras and froze them for later use...

07-14-08 Nice Day on the Water and Sauerkraut

Yesterday was a hot day, so we decided to go for a boat ride on the water. It was fun. We saw different birds, a bald eagle, a group of people catching a sturgeon from the bank. It was a welcome relaxing afternoon.
I've got about 8 heads of cabbage, time for sauerkraut again. The recipe can't be easier. Shred the cabbage, use 3 Table spoons of pickling salt for every 5 lb. of cabbage. Because the cabbages are fresh, they will produce their own brine. Keep in a cool place, the sauerkraut should be ready to eat in 7-10 days. I will can the extras and save them for the winter...

07-11-08 Blackberry Soomthie!

I found some nice blackberries in the garden and made this smoothies with my new kitchen gadget, the Oster Milkshake Blade. It works super nice!

You might say "Oh why do you grow blackberries in your yard?" That's how I felt when we first planted it, but I grew to love it. The thing about growing blackberries is you need to aggressively manager it. I must admit, I am still working on it.
These are not ordinary blackberries, they are the Oregon Marion Berries. They are big and juicy, very flavorful. I'll be making blackberries jams when I get more of them...Meanwhile, I will enjoy the fresh ones in smoothies, pies or on ice creams.

07-10-08 New Potatoes_Yokon Gold!

Nothing will give boost to a new gardener's confidence than growing potatoes. It is easy to grow, all you have to do is to bury the tubers in the spring and watch them grow. It is worth it to invest some seed potatoes. You can find all kinds of varieties in your local garden centers or feed stores. I have Yukon Gold and the red potatoes in my garden. Piling dirt around the base of the potato plants will yield more potatoes. The nice thing about growing potatoes is, once you get them started, you will have them for ever (well, unless you really try to get rid of them). The potatoes are ready to be harvested once the green top start to turn brown. But you can "steal" little potatoes before that happens. New potatoes are delicious. I boiled mine in crab boil, a trick I picked up visiting New Orleans. The potatoes pick up the spicy flavor from the water and so tasty! If you unsuccessful at grow potatoes, there's still hope, try horseradish.

07-08-08 Chicken Salad with Garden Vegetables

It's lunch time, I went out to the garden and look for some fresh ideas. hmmm...the lettuce looks good, and I still have radishes, and the kohlrabi's ready. Gathered the veggies, I returned to my kitchen, and made the delicious chicken salad. Here's how I did it: wash the vegetables, make a salad and place in a large plate. Slice the chicken breast on a slant. Sprinkle salt,large dash of pepper and Mrs. Dash on the chicken. Coat the chicken pieces with tempera powder, then dip them in milk, and then cover them with panko bread crumbs. Deep fry until golden brown. Cut the chicken breast and place the cut pieces on top of the fresh garden salad. YUM!

07-07-08 Giant Kohlrabi

I've got a giant kohlrabi out of the garden today! This one weighs 3.15 lb. It's the White Globe Kohlrabi from New Dimension Seed ( It grows big without getting pithy. As an experiment, I sowed them in early march, and then transplanted them under the cover of the Minihooper while it was still cold outside in later April. They did so well. In the same patch, I also sowed cabbages, fava beans and beets. All are doing well. I have been eating the cabbages for quite a while. I think my first head was harvested in June 15. This proofs that provide covering for vegetables can really accelerate the garden. I will have to do this every year from now on...

Razor Clams!

We went to the beach for the 4th of July weekend and went clam digging. It was fun, the clams made the trip especially good for the cook... To find clams you need to go on low tide, looking for breathing holes the clams left on the sand. As soon as you find one, dig as fast as you can, the key is to catch the clam before it scurries away. You can also use the "clam gun", a metal tube with a hole on the top. We are going to enjoy our hard work and have clam chowder today...

07-07-08 More Shelling Peas

The Shelling Peas I grew in the garden are ready to eat. I picked some fresh peas and made a simple egg and pea salad. It can be served as a side dish, or making tea sandwiches...

Simple Pea and Egg Salad:

4 eggs, hard boiled, chopped
1 cooked fresh peas, boiled for 5 minutes, drained
¼ C. each finely chopped onion and chopped celery
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. light mayo
Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all ingredients together, serve.

07-05-08 Grandma's One Egg Cake

Here's grandma's One Egg Cake, it goes great with fresh berries from the garden and ice cream....
2/3 C. Sugar
1 egg
1/4 C. Shortening
1-1/2 C. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 C. milk
1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking powder
Cream shortening and sugar. In a bow beat together egg, milk, flavoring and baking powder. Add to creamed shortening and sugar. Mix flour and baking powder. Add to liquid, mix well. Pour into well oiled loaf pan. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes.

07-05-08 Lemon Balm Tea, delicious!

I discovered lemon balm tea this year. I got a start by accident from my friend as he was giving me some flowers last year, one little lemon balm was amongst them. I planted it in my back yard and didn't think much about it. It grew and grew, becoming a big bush. A friend of mine told me lemon balm make really good tea. So I plucked some fresh leaves, and steep them in pitcher. Wow, the flavor was incredible. I made a pitcher for the kids by adding a packet of lemondade flavored Coolaid and some sugar, it was an instant hit. Now I brew a pitcher for myself everyday...