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.