Crab Salad - with watermelon rind!
To go along with last week's post on cutting a watermelon, here's something to take it a little farther!
Most everyone has seen recipes for watermelon rind pickles- but is the rind edible for anything else?
YES! And since it can make up 25-45% of the total melon weight, eating it makes your money go further.
You can even eat the green part, though it's tough. I prefer removing it. If you use it, at least make sure it's been washed. It is, after all, the part that was sitting on the ground and then handled by everyone else.
The lighter green part can be eaten fresh, or cooked. It has a high water content, a good fiber content, and a little Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6. It also has a compound that converts to the amino acid arginine, and current research indicates it may help relax blood vessels
. When fresh, it's somewhat like a really firm cucumber. You can use it in place of cucumbers, chopped apples, fresh zucchini, or celery. It doesn't have as much flavor, so if that matters, you might want to increase any flavorings or spices in the recipe. For instant, if you use watermelon rind in place of celery, it would be tasty to add a little celery seed or celery salt. If you use it in place of apple, you might want to add a little honey and lemon juice.
When it's cooked, it resembles (cooked) zucchini or apples. There's a recipe for a watermelon rind stir-fry
at Allrecipes. Or maybe try Watermelon Boats on the Grill
(substitute a slab of rind for a half zucchini.) What else could you use it in? Think about all the recipes you use zucchini or yellow summer squash, apples, celery, cucumber, or other bland vegetables. There is actually an entire website devoted to watermelon rind recipes! It's -what else?- WatermelonRind.com A friend of mine made the Watermelon Rind KimChee and loved it. (seehere for a follow-up post on it.)
Meanwhile, here's something from my house the other day- I didn't have celery for my pasta salad, so instead threw in some diced watermelon rind! I weighed the melon and its parts: out of a 16-lb watermelon, 4.5 lbs of its weight was rind. Just so you know.Crab/Krab Salad
1 lb. seashell pasta
2-3 Tbsp. pickle juice or cider vinegar2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I prefer olive oil or coconut oil)
1 lb. crab or imitation, flaked
1/2 onion, chopped or pureed (for kids!)
1-2 c. grapes
1-2 c. chopped watermelon rind (OR use cucumbers or celery)
3/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
Cook and drain the pasta. Add pickle juice or vinegar, along with the oil, to the hot pasta (it soaks in better, resulting in better flavor.) Add crab, onion, grapes, watermelon rind, and salt. Stir well, add pepper to taste, and add more salt if you want it.Cover and chill.
If you have a forsythia bush in your yard, you’ll need to prune it each year to keep it from turning into an overgrown tangle. The best time to do this is right after it blooms. You can prune it any time of year, but you’ll get fewer blossoms this way. Blossoms form on ‘old’ wood, which is what gardeners call what was there during the previous summer and fall.
If your bush is terribly overgrown already, you can cut the entire bush nearly to the ground. About four inches is a good amount to leave behind; it will grow new, flexible branches during the summer and fall, and by the next year, it will be looking good again. If the bush doesn’t need that much help, just cut the oldest branches off as close to the ground as you can. Also cut out any broken or damaged branches, as well as any that cross and rub each other. Ideally, you’ll remove about ¼ to 1/3 of the branches each year.
Lilacs can be treated the same way; these flowers also bloom on one-year-old wood. Cutting an old one nearly to the ground works to rejuvenate it in a hurry. If you don’t much mind waiting a little longer, start by cutting out any branches thicker than 2”. The ideal is to have 8-12 branches of different ages; you’ll get the most blooms that way. This also means you don’t need to prune much during its first few years. Almost any shrub that blooms in spring, bloom on ‘old wood’. Other shrubs that bloom on old wood, and so do best if pruned right after blooming, include big-leaf hydrangea, English holly, flowering quince, some clematis, some roses (old varieties), and most climbing roses.
Related posts:Will Frost Damage Wipe Out My Tree Fruit? How to Prune and Fertilize Fruit Trees, shrubs, and landscape trees
Selecting and Using Inorganic Fertilizers Fertilizing Fruit Trees
Understanding Fertilizer, Knowing Your Backyard Weeds, and free cooking e-books
Apparently this was a popular cake for April Fools' Day back in the 1960's. It tastes nothing like sauerkraut, and any bits you find in the cake resemble coconut. (The white bits you see in this photo are hazelnuts I threw in.) The sauerkraut gives moisture to the cake, just like adding shredded carrots or zucchini would. My mom is already planning to make this with just plain shredded cooked cabbage.
I haven't tried the frosting recipe that comes with it; I was out of mayonnaise, and made a whipped ganache instead (8 oz. chocolate melted into 8 oz. whipping cream, cool to room temperature and whip it). I imagine the mayo version tastes quite a lot like the chocolate-sour cream frosting I've had before- a little tangy and really delicious, only this recipe also calls for coconut and pecans.... mmm.
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9" cake pans. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix half of this into the sugar mixture. Add 3/4 c. of the water, beat in, then beat in the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined. Fold in the sauerkraut and pecans, using a spoon or spatula. Bake about 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a rack.
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted (one 11-12 oz. bag)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
Whisk together the melted chocolate and the mayonnaise. Set aside 2 cups of this. Add 1/3 cup each of coconut and pecans to the remaining frosting to make the filling.
Spread half of the filling on one cake layer, top with another cake layer, spread with the other half of filling, and put the last layer on top. Frost the whole cake with the reserved 2 cups of frosting. Press the last 1/3 cup each of coconut and pecans into the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until time to serve.
See here for another way to decorate and serve this cake!
Branches of some plants can be ‘forced’, or made to bloom indoors before they’d bloom outdoors. Good ones for this include forsythia (pictured), pussy willow, quince, spirea, flowering crab apple, flowering cherry, lilac and dogwood.
-Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle to improve the stem’s ability to uptake water. To help this even more, make some vertical splits on the bottom 1” of the stem; smashing that part with a hammer will do the same thing.
-Put the stems in a vase of water right away, trimming off any buds that would be below water level; they make the water spoil faster.
-Keep it out of direct sunlight, and change the water every 2-3 days so it doesn’t grow bacteria. You could also use flower preservative (still changing the water at least once a week); a homemade version is below.
The flowers should bloom in about three weeks, depending on how close to blooming they were when cut. If you cut them about a week before normal bloom time, they’ll only take 2-3 days to bloom inside.
To learn when to prune a forsythia (or other spring bloomers), see the post from 04/09/12, Pruning Forsythia or Lilac Bushes
Do you have summer squash and tomatoes coming out your ears? This is a delicious way to use quite a bit of that summertime produce- zucchini and yellow squash baked with caramelized onions and sweet roasted tomatoes. You can use 2 lbs of any summer squash, but the green and yellow here are pretty together.
Normally a dish like this would be soupy, since these high-water-content vegetables lose moisture as they cook. These are salted while raw; the salt draws out water. This makes a big difference.
Two 6-8" long zucchini equal about one pound.
1 lb. zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb. yellow summer squash, sliced 1/4" thick
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (3-4 large ones), sliced 1/4" thick
2 medium onions, halved then sliced thin pole to pole
3/4 tsp. black pepper
5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp. dried)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
Toss zucchini with 1 tsp. of the salt; put them in a colander over a bowl. Let stand 45 minutes or until at least 3 Tbsp. liquid drains off. Put the tomato slices on paper towels or a dish towel, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt; let stand for 30 minutes. Put another towel or paper towels on top of the tomatoes to press them dry. Pat squash dry with a dish towel or paper towel. While the vegetables are all draining, brush a 9x13 pan with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, set aside. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring once in a while, until onions are caramelized: soft and dark golden, 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine garlic, the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and thyme. When the zucchini is drained and patted dry, toss the squash with half of the oil mixture. Spread the squash along the bottom of the 9x13 pan. Arrange onions on top, then put tomatoes on in a single layer, overlapping if needed. Drizzle the rest of the garlic oil on top. Bake about 40-45 minutes, until tomatoes start to brown on the edges. Increase oven to 450 degrees. Make the topping, below, and bake 10 minutes or until topping is lightly browned. Sprinkle with basil and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 slice white bread, shredded or crumbled (food processor or blender works well)
2 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (1 cup)
2 shallots, minced (1/4 c.- or use a mild onion)
Cherry Tomato Salad
4 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1-3 Tbsp. balsamic or other vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 Tbsp. chopped or torn fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 c. shredded Asiago or Parmesan (or use a cubed mild cheese, up to 8 oz)
2 slices good-quality bread, cubed (optional to use, and best if stale)
1/2 c. halved olives
Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and put them in a colander or on some paper towels. Let sit 30 minutes to drain juices. Pour them off (great added to salad dressing, soup, or cornbread batter). Toss all ingredients together, add salt and pepper to taste.
To meld flavors and soften the bread, it's best if it sits a couple hours in the fridge; or serve immediately.
Yesterday as I dug carrots and enjoyed the slightly spicy aroma of the roots and greens, I started wondering if carrot tops are edible. They smell so nice… not that scent is an indication of edibility. Still, carrots are in the same family as parsley, dill, and fennel, and we eat those leaves. On the other hand, a couple of other plants in the Apiaceae family are poisonous; Poison Hemlockand Water Hemlock are two that come to mind, though the whole plant is deadly with both, not just the leaves or root. So what’s the case with carrot tops?
According to what I found from several sources online, the tops are edible. I guess we don’t eat them much because we store carrots without their leaves, which are much more perishable. As with almost any other food, keep in mind that you may personally be allergic to them; this may show up as photodermatitis (skin becomes red or irritated when exposed to light). If you grow them yourself, you probably don’t have any pesticides to worry about eating; wash store-bought tops thoroughly.
One carrot farmer says he thinks the flavor and bitterness of the tops nicely balance the sweetness of the roots.
They’re said to be high in Vitamin K, as well as chlorophyll (obviously, since they’re green)
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin (you need to eat fat at the same meal- or with it- to access the vitamin) and is important in blood coagulation (forming scabs and avoiding hemorrhaging, including heavy menstrual bleeding) and bone growth and maintenance, as well as other helpful actions.
Chlorophyll appears to fight the growth of tumors, as well being as a good cleanser for lymph nodes, adrenal glands, and for purifying blood.
One article I found says a tea made of carrot tops is good for getting rid of intestinal worms or parasites, and juiced tops are antiseptic, good for mouthwash. Mashed tops, or the carrots themselves, can be mixed with honey and applied to festering wounds.
To eat carrot tops, try them:
- as a substitute for parsley in any recipe
-added to a green salad
-chopped and cooked with other vegetables or rice dishes
-added to a ‘green drink’ or smoothie- though go easy on this
-as the base for a pesto (add some honey to balance the bitterness), or sautéed with bacon and garlic
Extra tidbits about carrots (the roots):
-The Dutch grew carrots specifically to feed to their dairy cows. The country became famous for having the richest yellow butter as a result.
-Carrots have only been well-known in the USA since about the time of WWI.
-Carrots have the second-highest natural sugars of any vegetable, at 7% sugar. Beets score #1.
-Carrots were included in puddings and cakes in the 1600-1800’s to sweeten them.
-Carrot tops were a fashionable hat decoration in the 1600’s, used as feathers were. I love carrot greens and carrot flowers in arrangements in a vase, too.
-Many of the carrot’s minerals and nutrients are found in or just under the skin. In other words, they’re more nutritious if you don’t peel them.
And that bit you’ve heard about the Vitamin A in carrots improving your eyesight? My husband munches on carrots at work every day. Last time he went to the optometrist, he discovered his eyesight had gone from 20/30 to 20/20. Like everything else, though, don’t overdo it. Too much of anything can cause problems.
So, eat those carrots. The tops, too!
For more information, see carrotmuseum.com, http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/carrotops.html, wikipedia, http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch412.html
To read more about alkaloids and toxins in 'normal' foods:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkaloid Natural Food ToxinsNatural Toxins in Raw Food and How Cooking Affects Them
Simple, quick, and a nice size to use almost anywhere.
An old gardening neighbor, years ago, told me, "Make sure you have a place to sit on every side of your house, to enjoy your yard and nature." This is a cheap and quick way to help with that.
Last week there was a baby shower at my house. In addition to my kitchen-table chairs, I have about four folding chairs, which clearly wasn't going to cut it for the 43 who were invited. What to do?
About a week before the party, I happened to be flipping through the January/February 2011 issue of Fine Gardening magazine. (Reviews here, cheapest here.) The magazine had instructions and photos for a “one hour bench”. It looked very simple, and I have a big pile of old boards sitting around, so I decided to build three. We didn't have exactly the right size boards, but made do. For instance, the top is supposed to be made of two 2x8's. I had 2x4's and 2x10's, so I used one of each. It was time my 13-y-o learned how to build something. He pulled out the table saw, then measured and cut with me. (In hindsight, a chopsaw or circular saw would have been simpler.) I put the first one together while he watched, then he built the other two. Afterwards, he and a younger son painted on some stain/sealer. The only thing I had to buy for the project was the screws. Very nice.
So does the bench really only take one hour? Well, that depends. The magazine gave a list of what wood you needed, cut to which lengths. If you went to Lowe’s, and had them cut it for you (which they will), and your wood was already cut, then YES, even a newbie could have this together in under an hour. You might even get the stain on in that time. So how did having the benches work out? Well, they look great, are sturdy, and have been sat on a couple times, by my kids. The weather didn’t allow for us to be outside last-minute. I borrowed chairs from a neighbor to use indoors. Oh well.
Upside-down, so you can see how it's assembled. The 2x2's are the white boards here, sitting flush inside against the legs. Use two screws to connect the 2x2's to the legs. Then use four screws to go through the bottom of the 2x2's into the seat boards.
This way, you have no screws showing on top.
The 1x6's are connected to the bench by screwing them to the sides of the legs, 2 screws each side of a leg. This makes a huge difference in the stability of the bench.
For a similar bench, see here
. If this isn't what you want, try 'the mega-guide to free garden bench plans'
. Some of the links don't work anymore, but it still has a lot to offer.
1x6 boards, 2 each 4 feet long, ends cut at 45 degrees, for the side reinforcement
2x12’s, 2 each 16 inches long, for the legs
2x2’s, 2 each 11 ¼ inches long, for inside reinforcement
2x8’s, 2 each 4 feet long, for the seat
12 2 1/2 –inch galvanized decking screws, to go in the 2x2's
8 1 ¾ -inch galvanized decking screws, to go in the 1x6's
Stain or sealer, if you want.
Have you found good deals on strawberries? Or are your plants starting to produce them? We love to make and eat strawberry leather, though I often mix strawberry puree with applesauce or any other mashed fruit, to make the strawberries go farther. For a simple way to make fruit leather, see http://www.theprovidenthomemaker.com/1/post/2010/11/what-to-do-now-in-the-garden-fruit-leather.html___________________________ If you’re in the Salt Lake valley, I just learned about a lady who puts together group orders every month; she lives just a mile down the road from me. The prices are great, and the food is good quality. It comes from a Utah/Idaho farmers’ co-op; most of the items are even organic. Her website is http://www.organicemily.com ____________________________The following excerpts from an article are from Ezra Taft Benson, published in the Ensign magazine, January 1974, entitled “Prepare Ye”. He repeats D&C 38:30 three times in it (“if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”), and this talk has been extensively quoted. It contains at least 12 segments I’ve quoted or heard quoted. Read through the talk, and see how many pieces of it you’ve heard before.Here are some excerpts:“In Matthew, chapter 24, we learn of “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes. …” (Matt. 24:7.) The Lord declared that these and other calamities shall occur. These particular prophecies seem not to be conditional. The Lord, with his foreknowledge, knows that they will happen. Some will come about through man’s manipulations; others through the forces of nature and nature’s God, but that they will come seems certain. Prophecy is but history in reverse—a divine disclosure of future events.Yet, through all of this, the Lord Jesus Christ has said: “… if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30.)…At the April 1937 general conference of the Church [of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints], President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency, asked: “What may we as a people and as individuals do for ourselves to prepare to meet this oncoming disaster, which God in his wisdom may not turn aside from us?” President Clark then set forth these inspired basic principles of the Church welfare program:“First, and above and beyond everything else, let us live righteously. … Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then tomorrow. Let us straitly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little.“Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead. You of small means put your money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds; you of large means will think you know how to care for yourselves, but I may venture to suggest that you do not speculate. Let every head of every household aim to own his own home, free from mortgage. Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, farm it.” (Conference Report, April 1937, p. 26.)…There are blessings in being close to the soil, in raising your own food, even if it is only a garden in your yard and/or a fruit tree or two. Man’s material wealth basically springs from the land and other natural resources. Combined with his human energy and multiplied by his tools, this wealth is assured and expanded through freedom and righteousness. Those families will be fortunate who, in the last days, have an adequate supply of each of these particulars.”… “Healthful foods, proper rest, adequate exercise, and a clean conscience can prepare us to tackle the trials that lie ahead.”
What is this weed?
Learn from a free, full-color weed guidebook online.
Photo courtesy USU Extension
One of the secrets to good gardening is knowing what you're dealing with
. This applies to pests, soil, weeds, fertilizers, plants, growing seasons, and more. This week I found two great resources to help you with a couple of these. I'm especially excited about a guidebook, Common Weeds of the Yard and Garden, from the USU Extension office. It's a FREE, 220-page guide with photos, plant descriptions, information on how to manage the weed, and any historical uses it has had, whether medicinal or edible. If you want a hard copy, either print it out yourself, or contact the USU Extension Office. Their information is included in the guidebook.
In case the link above deoesn't work, you can get it at http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/Horticulture_Weeds_2011-02pr.pdfUnderstanding Fertilizer is a quick-to-read, one-page article about the basics of fertilizers.
And just for good measure, here is a list of 50+ free cooking/baking e-books from
The Prepared Pantry http://www.preparedpantry.com/Free-cooking-baking-recipe-e-books.htm
Did you know the plant in the photo above? It's Common Mallow. My kids call the little round seeds "cheesies" and love to eat them. Every part of this plant is edible, and the 'cheesies' can even be used to make meringue and marshmallows
. (There are recipes for these in Edible Wild Plants
, by John Kallas. He also has a website, http://www.wildfoodadventures.com
Have a happy day!
photo credit: USU Extension
At this stage of bloom, 28 degrees will kill about 10% of your blossoms, 25 degrees will destroy about 90%. Apples can still produce a full crop with only 10-15 % of the buds surviving. Find out more, including how to protect your future fruit, below.
Do you have fruit trees in your yard? Apple, pear, peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, or cherry?
Did you know that freezing temperatures won't necessarily knock out all possibility of getting a crop?
And 32 degrees is not the death-knoll for apple blossoms.
The damaging temperature is different, too, if your trees are almost ready to bloom versus being in full bloom.
The Utah State University Extension office recently published a chart with full-color photos of different bloom stages. It tells what temperatures to watch out for. It can be found here.
So what can you do to protect your crop? Farmers sometimes put out big propane heaters, but most homeowners don't have these on hand.
Two simpler suggestions: cover, or water.
They work on the same principle; to give some insulation to the blossoms.
Way #1: If your tree is small, throw a sheet or blanket over it. This should keep your tree maybe 5-10 degrees warmer than the surrounding air.
Way #2: - what my parents have always done- turn on a sprinkler, set it so the water is hitting your tree. Leave it on overnight. The water will freeze, forming a layer over the blossoms. The ice stays at 32 degrees, which means your blossoms stay at 32 degrees. Niceice blanket. No bloom kill. Go easy on the water, though; you don't want to add so much (ice) weight that the branches start to break.
You can use this to extend your growing season in fall, too; protect your garden from an early freeze.
If you haven't planted your trees yet, consider putting them on a north slope. The soil and air are cooler there, so the trees will bloom later. When it's safer.
Just make sure they will get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. That's required for good fruit production.