Crazy days and a cool veg

I do believe spring has finally arrived and it has ushered in a faster pace of life and a whole new level of craziness around here. The last snowman has been made…hopefully!


Yard cleanup has commenced. Oh yes, my heroes!


A new generation of gardener is in training…okay, maybe we’ll give this one another year or two!


The greenhouse is full of beautiful little plants holding the promise of beauty and deliciousness.

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And daily, more tiny starts are moved from the depths of our basement up to the bright light of the greenhouse where they pause for a few days before being tucked into their final homes in the garden.

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Every year I eagerly await the first tasty morsels from our gardens and this year one of the first things that will be available is kale, which is the “cool” vegetable of the year. If you ever peruse recipes via blogs, magazines, or Pinterest, you may have noticed that kale is EVERYWHERE. We Americans like to latch onto trendy foods and it appears that this is the year for kale. I can’t think of a more deserving vegetable! It’s easy to grow, good for you and can be used in so many different ways. If you’ve every wondered what in the world to do with kale here’s a recipe to get you started. It’s main ingredient is quinoa, another cool food right now, so serving this dish should really elevate you in the culinary ranks.



Quinoa and Kale Patties

1 c. quinoa rinsed, cooked with 2 c water and cooled to room temperature (2 1/2 c. cooked)

4 eggs whisked

1/3 c Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

3 spring onions, sliced thin

3 cloves garlic minced

1/2 t salt

1 c. steamed kale, drained and chopped

1 c bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients and let sit for a few minutes to absorb the moisture.

Heat 1 t olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form small patties out of the mixture and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Serve with any of the following:


-lemon juice


-sea salt


Any leftovers can easily be reheated on the stove top.






Master tonic…mastered!!

With all the talk about “master tonic” going around on the internet and among my friends I decided to give it a try this summer. After all, we were growing all the ingredients so I figured I had  nothing to lose. Here’s my little patch of horseradish, which looks amazingly like dock. I’ve inadvertently tried to chop it out twice! I can say it’s very hardy stuff and has withstood the onslaught of my hoe quite nicely.

In case you’ve never heard of “master tonic”, it’s a mixture of horseradish, chili peppers, onions, garlic and ginger which is fermented, strained and then drank as a tonic to cure just about anything that ails you, or so they say! I’ve been thinking that with that combination it may kill me before it cures me but I’m always willing to try something once. You’ll find the recipe at the end of this post but here it is in pictures first.

First ingredient: horseradish

Having no experience with horseradish, I really had no idea what to expect when I went out to harvest it. My husband informed me that it grows down and would be difficult to dig but I figured I didn’t need a great quantity so I could handle it. To make a long story short, hubby dug it.  After having the driest summer on record, it was a bit like digging something out of cement. So, here is what I got with the piece on the left being one that I’ve peeled already. I took seriously the warnings that any processing of horseradish should be done outside.

Here is my food processor with chunks ready to be blended. I did the blending in the greenhouse where there was good airflow at the time. Make sure you keep your face away from the processor when you take the lid off after blending…whew…strong stuff!

This is what it looked like after a good whirl in the processor. Looks a bit like wood pulp…mmm can’t wait to try it.

After the horseradish all the other ingredients seemed quite simple to process. I did of course wear gloves to chop the ends off the hot peppers. I didn’t have enough chili peppers so used some jalapenos. The recipe said to use equal amounts of all the ingredients but I didn’t get real obsessive about measuring them. The ginger was freshly dug out of our hoop house and of course we always have plenty of onions around here so I was ready to do some serious blending.

This is my pepper mixture…

isn’t it beautiful?

Ahhh, lots of fresh garlic.

Everything being combined in a large bowl.

The final mixture in the jars. Now it just needs raw apple cider vinegar and some time to ferment.

Timothy decided to try the ground mixture before I started the fermentation process.

And his response!!!

After fermenting for several weeks this is the finished, bottled product. Bring on winter…I’m armed and ready!! Now if someone could just give me some tips on how to get this down. I was told you should put it in your mouth and swish it around but after trying a couple tablespoons of it, I can tell you this is not for the faint of heart! It’s a bit like drinking hot sauce right out of the bottle. I also wouldn’t recommend drinking it before going out in public or on a first date. It really doesn’t do much for your breath!


Master Tonic Recipe

Equal amounts of garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, hot peppers

Organic, raw, unfiltered, apple cider vinegar

All ingredients must be fresh and preferably organic.

Different recipes call for different ways of processing each of the ingredients but I ran each of them through my food processor and then combined them all in a large bowl.

Fill glass jars about 3/4 full with the raw ingredients. You can use a large gallon jar or smaller ones. Just make sure you have a good lid for them.

Fill the jars to the top with the raw apple cider vinegar. Close the jars and shake to mix well.

Store the jars in a dark place and be sure to shake them once a day for at least 2 weeks. I’ve heard of some people letting them ferment for 2 months or more.

When you’re ready to strain it you can use a colander with a cheese cloth liner or you can do like I did and run it through a colander first and then through a cotton towel. The solids can be put in a cotton towel and squeezed to get out as much of the liquid as possible. I’ve been told the solids can be saved and frozen to use at a later date as a zippy seasoning in your cooking. I haven’t tried this yet but I’ve got it in the freezer.

The liquid should be  bottled in amber bottles or kept in a dark cupboard. No need to refrigerate.

For daily immune boosting, drink 1-2 ounces, two or more times each day. Put it in your mouth, swish around, gargle and swallow. Don’t dilute it with water or the effect won’t be as powerful.

If you’re fighting an infection, take the tonic 5-6 times per day. It can be used during pregnancy and it’s safe for children although I’m not sure how to get it down them!

You can make a huge batch each time since it doesn’t need refrigeration and it will keep indefinitely without any special storage conditions.

Here’s to your health!!

Herb and Scallion Rice

We ran across this lovely and simple, recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine. We love it and thought you might also!

Isn’t it beautiful?

It is so simple. Get your blender out and blend the following until smooth:

1 2/3 c water

1/2 c packed fresh cilantro

1/4 c packed fresh mint

2 scallions

1 garlic clove

Heat 1 T olive oil in a saucepan. Add 1 cup Jasmine rice and stir to coat. Cook until slightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add  the herb mixture and 1 t salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

That’s all there is to it!

We always double the recipe now when we make this. It’s such a nice side dish with many things and it’s fantastic added to tomato soup. I’m thinking some chopped, dried tomatoes added to it would be wonderful also.


Since I’ve found myself with an abundance of mint right now I decided to make a few batches of the puree and put them in the freezer. I can’t wait to pull this out some cold winter day and have it with a steaming bowl of roasted tomato soup…ahh the taste of summer will return!!

Cherry Tomato Soup

When life gives you an overabundance of cherry tomatoes…make tomato soup!

I’ve never made soup with cherry tomatoes  but since I found myself with a mass quantity of them this week I thought I’d give it a try. First, I put them in the oven with a large chopped onion and then drizzled olive oil over all. Garlic would be great in the mix also. I did discover that these little babies turn into little exploding grenades after they’ve been roasted for a while! Use caution when stirring.

I roasted them until lightly browned, like this. Aren’t they beautiful!

After removing from the oven let them cool slightly. Depending on how thick you want your soup you can drain off some of the liquid at this point. If you drain it all you’ll have something more like sauce. Add some butter if you’d like (I used 4 T for 5 cups soup)  and salt to taste. I also put a generous drizzle of honey in mine. This is where you need a really good blender. With all those little peels in there you’ve got to have a blender that will blend them up thoroughly. I have a Bosch and it worked perfectly.

After a few minutes of blending this is what it looked like. Give it a taste and see if you need to add additional salt or honey. Basil blended in now would be great also.

The finished product!

And now, if you walk around the house bragging about how wonderful this tastes, you will find yourself with nothing left to put in the freezer! Oh well, I’ve got several more flats of cherry tomatoes to go!




Dried Tomato, Basil and Orzo Salad

Here’s a super quick and easy salad that captures the best of summer flavors…tomato and basil. It’s quickly become a favorite around here this summer. Give it a try, I think you’ll like it!


2 cups uncooked orzo pasta

1/2 c chopped fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup chopped, dried tomatoes

2 T olive oil

1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground black pepper

First of all, the original recipe called for oil packed dried tomatoes but I just use our dried tomatoes, crushed, and with a little oil poured over them.

Cook the orzo in a large pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place basil and tomatoes in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times until blended.

This is what our basil-tomato mixture looks like.

In a large bowl, toss together the orzo, basil-tomato mixture, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.