Friday, February 26, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My need for dried and fresh herbs will increase dramatically with the opening of our new Bed and Breakfast, Casa Bella. I relied heavily on my kitchen garden the first time around and look forward to planning and planting another garden in a few weeks.

I dried quite a few seeds over the late summer, fall and winter; hoping to grow them this season in my own garden, My hope is that everything will taste as good as the original store-bought version. How often can you even say that anymore? Too often the fruit and veggies have no flavor and mealy textures. So, we'll see.

One of my big goals for the year is to create raised beds on our empty lot behind the cottage and share it with a few neighbors and friends in the hopes of creating a "co-op" garden filled with herbs, vegetables, melons, fruit bushes and trees. I love our Newnan Market Days and am thinking about selling my herb and spice blends that I dry and blend from leftovers of episodes of Home At Last!

Which finally leads me to the picture of the Nesco Dehydrator that I bought this week. It was time to step it up and dry everything a little faster. Tonight I am drying jalepenos to add to my chile mixture for a Mexican spice blend that we enjoy. Looks like it going to be a fun spring and summer!

Here's one of my favorite blends that is always at hand for Tuscan meals. I dried leftover basil, sage, and added a small amount of bay leaf.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

$12 Peppers

I mentioned in an earlier post that I once paid dearly for a small box of dried green chiles that I believe were jalepenos or possibly poblanos. It's been so long since I have been able to find them that I finally decided to dry them myself. If you scroll down you can see the fresh poblanos that I bought for my experiment.
What I love about drying the chiles myself is that there is absolutely no waste. The final product is pictured in the upper right corner and closely matches the volume sold for $12. I used two poblanos to fill my jar. The cost was under $3.
The method I chose couldn't have been easier. I sat the cleaned and dried chiles on paper towels and turned them every day for a week. After that I simply strung them with kitchen twine and hung them in my pantry for another two weeks. The results were excellent; I not only have the flesh of the pablanos to add to my Mexican dishes but I have the seeds-which I hope to sprout and plant in the spring.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spinach Pie

This is one of those dishes that really isn't a recipe as much as it is a collection of ingredients. I must have been needing the vitamins out of the spinach. This big, pretty box of baby spinach was just sitting there look all delicious.

I wanted something a little more special that sauteed or creamed spinach-although I love both of those dishes, too. So, this was the very satisfying dish that I created rather effortlessly. A spinach pie with a little freshly grated nutmeg and white wine. Nothing too over the top but wonderfully satisfying.

I used ricotta, Parmesan and a baby Swiss cheese with 3 eggs, a little chopped ham, freshly dried basil, a grating of nutmeg and a small 1/8 cup of white wine along with about 4 cups of baby spinach. The mixture was seasoned with a scant pinch of Tandoori spice, 2 tsp of garlic olive oil and about a half cup of milk.

The Tandoori spices were a nice compliment to the fresh nutmeg and enhanced the nutty sweetness developed with the addition of the baby Swiss cheese.

It baked at about 375 degrees for about 50 minutes.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

It's A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

Not expected to last beyond the morning we decided to head out with the camera and capture Coweta County enjoying the day!
Zena has seen snow since leaving her homestate of Texas but the scene today captured her imagination and she seemed content to study the snowflakes after her stroll around the block.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Never Get Tired

of hearing "I love you!"

My husband works very hard at remembering holidays and anniversaries. I appreciate all his efforts.
Today had to be one of his most imaginative! He surprised me with what he thought was two dozen white roses and spelled out "I Love You" in Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. Not bad.
He led me to our dining table where he had laid it all out-admitting he had been a little confused by the white plastic thing at the bottom of the flowers. He said he thought it might suck up water to the roses.
The roses turned out to be silk. . . and there was no lying about what I thought; on the way to the table he had casually asked me what I thought about silk roses. oops!

It's the thought that matters, right? and he did give me a great laugh!  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Heart Smart Foods

Ok, ladies, this one's for you. Many of you already know that the leading cause of death for women is heart disease. AND, you know you should be eating a balanced diet-RICH with heart-smart foods.

Some foods work "double-duty", supplying large abouts of fiber and valuable nutrients to build a healthy, strong heart.

Here's a quick sandwich that I try to eat at least once a week- along with whole grain cereals like oatmeal and flax.
It's a multi-grain bread with flax and sardines. Now, for those of you who gag at the very idea-try to imagine it like a chunky tuna salad.
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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Creamy Corn Soup

I had a few tired, leftover ears of corn that had been purchased for an upcoming episode of Home At Last. The episode features easy Mexican dishes that are perfect for a short budget. Ron and I have enjoyed some excellent fresh Mexican food in our time, but in our area, the chefs pretty much turn out dishes smothered in white cheese.
Because of this, I tend to make our favorites at home, saving a lot of money and producing food with more imagination and flavor and way less cheese!

This creamy corn soup was a perfect example of turning veggies on the "edge" into a satisfying meal that warmed us on a bitterly cold night. Three fresh ears of corn where shucked and browned in about one tablespoon of Olivio and a tablespoon of garlic olive oil. If it had been warmer I would have placed the ears of corn on a hot infrared grill to develop a roasted flavor.
Once the corn was browned nicely in my soup pot, I deglazed the pan with about a half cup of Amber Bock beer. (It adds a deep flavor that compliments the rest of the ingredients.) I added about a teaspoon of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 2 cups of water and a cup of 2 % milk. Finally, I added a package of Maggi Creamed Corn "soup" mix to thicken and a couple of teaspoons of freshly-chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of dried chives and added beer as needed to achieve the desired thickness.

This is one of those starters that could easily be dressed up for a dinner party. Toasted rounds of sourdough bread could be topped with a scant bit of Mexican cheese blend-put under the broiler for a minute to toast the cheese and you have a soup course that looks like you spent all day rather than minutes.
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Monday, February 1, 2010

Raspberry Tonic

When I started my television show fourteen years ago, I suffered from terrible allergies. My eyes were puffy and swollen at 6 am and I hated the close-ups on live TV. I heard that models used Preparation H to relieve the puffiness and I remembered being embarrased to go to the store for tubes of the hemorrhoid medication.

Instead, I studied the active ingredients and set out to concoct my own natural tonic that might offer relief. Fourteen years later, this is the one product that I cannot live without. This, and my Lemon Chiffon Cream made of organic Shea butter, aloe and other oils-great for skin and hair.

The tonic is made of organic witch hazel and two types of tea, one of raspberry-scented tea and the other from the leaves of the raspberry plant. There is a little vitamin C and E to tighten the skin and aloe juice to heal and refresh.
I use it under make-up and to set my make-up. It perks up the skin and adds a glow when applied through-out the day.

As more young women fall victim to lethal cancers the responsibility to investigate ingredients found in our food, cosmetics and environmental cleaning products falls upon each of us. Understand and investigate what you are putting on your face and hair as well as what you ingest.
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Trees by Candy Carter

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.Posted by Picasa

"Trees" By Alfred Joyce Kilmer by 1913