Comfort Food From the Garden

With the recent cold dips in temperature, I’m reminded of what comfort food is all about. Easy, especially when you have a husband who constantly reminds you. “I don’t eat fish when it’s cold outside. Fish is a summer food.”

Hmph. Has the man never tasted a wonderfully warm and succulent bourbon-glazed salmon? I mean, seriously. That’s what I call some comforting food. But I’m not the only one sitting at the dinner table so one must take others into consideration. In light of this fact, I’ve managed to whip up some wonderfully comforting foods that will please even those from the north (who expect their bellies to react to changing temperatures).

French Onion soup

First on the list is Savory French Onion Soup. This is one of my all time favorites and with the recent addition of sweet onions to my garden, a must-eat on the fall grocery list. It’s easy to make though it tends to take a bit of time. And what good soup doesn’t? My daughter is a HUGE fan of this soup and she’s pretty fussy. (Gets it from her momma.) Worth a try for your family.

While we’re on the topic of onions, how about Onions Au Gratin? This one is a spinoff of the French Onion Soup and worth every ounce of effort.

 onion gratin

Last post I mentioned Baked Sweet Onions but have you ever thought to combine them with cabbage? Sautéed Cabbage and Onions is a real treat, one my husband particularly enjoys.

comfort in cabbage and onions

For a tropical flair on comfort, how about Chicken and Yellow Rice with Black Beans?

chicken and yellow rice

It’s not at all difficult to prepare and the taste is out of this world. Talk about filling with comfort, this is one meal I will stuff myself to the seams and enjoy every minute. But then again, I’m from Miami and LOVE all things Spanish. Ever heard of Ottmar Liebert? Great flamenco guitarist.

And to top it off with a sweet, comforting dessert, try these Butterscotch Cookies. Found this recipe while perusing some of my cooking magazines and had to share.

butterscotch-cookies

The butterscotch flavor screams fall and comfort and the soft melt-in-your mouth goodness backs it up. But watch yourself–not only do these taste divine but your belly will fall madly in love and you might find yourself overstuffing!

Now what are you waiting for? Make those promises of comfort to YOUR family and get to the supermarket! You’ll be drifting on a cloud of accolades come bedtime.

 

Time to Plant Those Sw-eeeeet Onions!

Sweet onions are delicious when purchased from the store, but they are butter creamy delightful when pulled from your garden. You can eat them raw without the “bitter” taste, or sauté with to a sugary caramel glaze. How about baked onions? This recipe is easy and really brings out the flavor.

Baked Sweet Onions

Hmmm good! Best of all? They’re easy to grow. EASY. But they take time. Six months’ worth. But take it from me, these gems are worth the wait.

However, now is the time to plant. Contact your local seed store and see if they have the seed “sets” in stock. If not, maybe they can order some for you. The kids and I planted this row over the weekend. One hundred and twenty-four sweet baby onions! YUM! More

Pitchin’ Pumpkins

Wish I could say my pumpkin patch did great this year. Wish I was carving pumpkins for Halloween, smack dab in the garden. But I can’t and I won’t be. The bugs in my neighborhood are celebrating, instead. I swear I’m gonna start using screen in my garden. Living against a beautiful backdrop of nature does not ensure a flourishing garden—quite the opposite. It provides cover for the bugs that are stalking and munching your plants.

pumpkin bloom

If only pumpkins weren’t so tasty, with beautiful blooms and wide, flat, yummy leaves. But they are. Now, if you’ve got pumpkins in your garden, I know exactly what to do with them. Make pumpkin pie!

Me? I’ll be using the store-bought pumpkins from you’re my porch step. Don’t bother tossing them into the compost pile. Instead, cook them! Roast the seeds, bake the flesh and okay, I guess you can compost the skin. More

Tired of Weeding?

My kids are, most definitely. Me, too. With a garden 40 ft. X 100 ft. the weeds can get a bit crazy. I’ve instituted the use of heavy black paper to cover by beds between plantings, which cuts down on the time spent pulling those rascally weeds, but what about the beds where I’m actively growing?

They still need weeding. The solution? Corn gluten. It’s all-natural and the perfect organic solution to weed prevention–prevention being the key word.

Corn gluten meal contains naturally occurring substances which inhibit the growth of the seed’s tiny feeder roots. This causes the weed seedlings to die before their roots ever have a chance to become established. Also, many products sold on the market contain nitrogen, which makes them a good fertilizer, too. Best of all, corn gluten is safe for children and pets.

corn gluten

The only downside is the solution doesn’t come cheap. A 25 lb. bag will run you around $35 and you must apply liberally to gain the full effect, as shown above. You could even stand to apply heavier than I’ve done, but you get the idea. Liberally means a lot. However, this stuff works.

So if you have established plants in your garden, weed the area well and then sprinkle corn gluten around them as a weed preventer. If they’re only seedlings, I’d wait a bit, continuing to pull weeds by hand until the plants are of decent size. I once had a batch of okra and although I didn’t apply the corn gluten very close to the babies, it still worked to prevent their growth. :(

Look forward to hearing about YOUR experience!

Ulcer-Healing Cabbage Juice

So I’ve been reading up on stomach acid and the accompanying problems associated with the same. Seems all these antacids we’re taking might not be the best route. As a woman who prefers natural healing over pharmaceutical, I thought I’d delve into the issue a bit more and search for a food remedy. If you’re a follower of my blog, you know there are ties between what we eat and health issues we encounter so for me it’s a no-brainer do the research. I discovered some startling facts. While it’s easy to understand the effects of fast food on a body, how about tomatoes?

tomatoes ready for drying

They look good, taste delicious, but did you know they can aggravate the condition commonly referred to as of GERD? Onions, too. Who knew?

Not me. Chocolate isn’t recommended for those suffering from the condition either. What a bummer. HUGE bummer. Alcohol exacerbates the condition, too. Bye-bye wine!

Anyoo, I began my research because I’ve been having stomach acid issues of late. While I’m not sure exactly what’s going on, I think I’ve narrowed it down to the onset–a three-week period of time when I took a daily NSAID for back pain. Doctor told me to take an antacid with it, but I didn’t listen. Remember, I don’t like to take meds, so unless I NEED it, I don’t take it. Apparently I NEEDED it to combat the effects of the NSAID on my stomach lining. Moral of the story: Ask more thorough questions. (My doctor’s gonna love that!) More

Food for Heart

As I age, I find I’m riddled with aches and pains. And I’m stumped. What the heck happened? I look like I’m in shape. I eat healthy. I exercise. What’s going on?

Blueberry & yogurt stock photo

My first impulse is to scream and whine and jump up and down, screeching “This isn’t fair! I’m too young for this!” While I might feel better afterward, my family would be peer at me quizzically whispering, “She’s done it. She’s finally gone over the edge.”

Hmph. So much for sympathy from the ones who love me.  On a positive note, it would behoove me to remember that aches and pains and old age beat the alternative. I’m alive. I’m having a good time. So what if I have to bend over and stretch every now again (careful–the lower back discs can’t take too much of it) or slowly ease my way out of bed in the morning (so I don’t pull something on the way out). Once I get warmed up, I’m good to go, ready to hit the ground running!

But with age, I feel I’m growing in wisdom. Granted this is a highly debatable subject among my inner circle but I’m going to ignore debate and share a little secret. Eating healthy is a mindset. It’s an attitude, one that seeps into your behavior and becomes your lifestyle. I never feel deprived, I never go without–eating the occasional danish helps, the surprise donut from hubby–but sometimes I find myself asking, “Can I do more?” More

Beds of Burlap

As my pumpkins grow, I want them to be comfortable. Cozy. I want them to stretch out without encumbrance. The easy solution is to keep adjacent rows clear and “open” with my handy-dandy black paper. This prevents the vines from running into other plants. Easy enough, but I’m afraid it might overheat my sweet baby pumpkins. As an alternative, I’ve planted my pumpkins in the end rows next to the grass borders, giving them plenty of room to spread. Grass is nice and comfy, right?

burlap over grass

But my grass is filled with weeds, weeds that grow tall and fast. From experience, I’ve learned the two (pumpkin vines and weeds) are incompatible because as your vines grow and the grass grows, your pumpkin leaves get overwhelmed by the mess growing up from below. You can’t mow under them. You can’t clip the weeds free. Last year at the school garden, the kids and I placed lattice beneath them which seemed to help, but I don’t have enough of the stuff for my home garden. Remember, we’re talking 100 ft. X 4o ft. That’s a lot of lattice! More

Back to School and Into the Garden!

School is back in session and it’s time to get our youngsters out of the cafeteria and into the garden–their very own school garden.

From aphids to zinnias, beets to watermelon, children can gain a wealth of valuable knowledge from participating in a garden, but they need guidance.  And who better to guide them than you?

ladybug in action!

“Me? But I don’t have time for a garden.”

Of course you do—you simply don’t realize it yet!  Gardens don’t have to be time-consuming.  Nor do they have to be stressful.  I mean, where in the garden manual does it say you must sacrifice every ounce of your free time and sanity for the sake of growing vegetables? More

Match Made in Heaven

The fall gardening season is upon us in Florida and that means I’m ready to tackle tomatoes, figuratively speaking of course. You want to be gentle with these babies, careful. Unless you’re using one of those upside down bag “thingys” and then—all bets are off. From what I understand, you can’t kill the things when growing them in those contraptions!

But I’m an in-ground gardener, doing things the old-fashioned way. Now that it’s time to start my tomato sprouts it’s time to share a little secret, the secret to beautiful, healthy, blossom-end rot free tomatoes.  Epsom salts and eggshells.  Yep, just mix some crumbled eggshells together and Epsom salts into your potting mix and you’re good to go!

secrets to our tomatoes

This disease is the result of a lack of calcium.  Calcium’s most important function during the crop fruiting stage is its role in cell wall/cell membrane stability.  If Ca is deficient in developing fruits, an irreversible condition known as blossom-end rot will develop. Blossom-end rot occurs when cell wall calcium “concrete” is deficient during early fruit development, and results in cell wall membrane collapse and the appearance of dark, sunken pits at the blossom end of fruit so this blend does wonders to give your plants a head start.  The magnesium helps plants grow bigger, heartier tomatoes but go easy.  Too much Mg can cause trouble, too. More

Summer Gardening is Hot!

And I don’t mean as in “trends” (because gardening is ALWAYS in style :)) but temperature. I mean, it’s seriously hot out there, dehydration worthy heat stroke-inducing hot.  Gardening in Florida during July and August is not for the meek, the weak or those otherwise interested in vacation. Now this isn’t to say there aren’t plants that will tolerate it because there are–plenty!  Okra, peanuts and peppers love the heat. Sweet potatoes and sunflowers soak up the sun like candy, but me?

summer sunflower

Not so much. I have to admit, summer is not my favorite time in the garden. I still plant and grow, but it’s the weeds that really have me singing the blues. They’re everywhere. It rains, they cheer. It doesn’t rain, they hold tight until it does, and here in Florida, they won’t have long to wait. It’s a cycle. Reliable, predictable and important to note. Why?

It’s essential to know your limitations. I for one have decided to dial back on my summer garden. I hate to do it. It feels like I’m quitting–and I’m no quitter–but at some point you have to accept reality. Same as the aches and pains I’ve come to accept as part of the aging process, the temperature outdoors this time of year is plain too hot for me to enjoy the process. Sure I could wake up and head out early to beat the heat, but that would interfere with my coffee time. Course I could always wait until dusk, but the kids tend to get hungry around then and I’m on dinner duty. More