Last year I made the most amazing plant discovery ever. Seriously. This plant is a medicinal powerhouse. Chew it or chop it up and apply it for immediate relief from bug bites, bee stings, nettle stings, and rashes. Apply it to a deep sliver and it will actually pull it out of the skin. It cures infections, stops bleeding, and, oh yeah, you can eat it too.
As you are probably imagining, this is a rare rainforest plant only recently discovered and this is why the general public doesn’t know about it yet. It is sold at such high prices that only the elite have access to it. Um, not quite.
This plant is actually a “weed” that grows prolifically just about everywhere. Even city dwellers can probably find it sprouting between side walk stones. But somehow, in the ease of plunking down our money at the nearest drug store, it’s medicinal use has been long forgotten.
This amazing plant is the topic of my last instalment of the Forgotten Plants series over at Gnowfglins. I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this garden weed in the pages of my medicinal herb book and I can’t wait to make better use of it in my garden, and medicine cabinet, in the spring.
If you know of any other “forgotten plants” I’d love to hear about them!Read More
Those of you who have been around the blog for a while will know how much I love my Friday Night Pizza. The recipe has been a staple in our house for several years, and I almost always have a ball of it in the freezer, ready for a quick dinner any night of the week. It is a recipe that I rave about and often share with others.
So you can imagine that it pains me a little to say this…..but I found a better recipe.
Last night I made the “No-Work Mostly Whole Wheat Pizza Dough” from The Food Matters Cookbook (although I made mine all whole wheat because that’s just who I am.)
The recipe is so easy. Basically you combine all of the ingredients in the morning, leave them for the day, and you have a beautiful pizza dough by supper time. And no rolling or stretching either – i just pushed the dough with my fingers until it fit my pizza stone. It only took about 12 minutes to cook, and was the softest, most beautiful whole wheat pizza crust I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
Last night I topped it with homemade pesto (frozen in the fall after harvesting the basil from the garden), caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Hubby called it the best pizza I have ever made. He also declared it restaurant worthy!
The only changes I made to the dough was to use whole white flour instead of the all-purpose, and I used traditional yeast, dissolved in a little warm water, instead of the instant.
I’m so sorry Friday Night Pizza, but it looks like there is a new crust in town!
We have a whole shelf in our book-filled house dedicated to gardening. Last year I posted a list of my favourites, and since then I have a list a mile long of books I have read from the library, and those that I hope to read.
But of all the gardening books I have read so far, I now have a new favourite.
You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail.
This book is different from any gardening book I have read before, and I think that is why I love it so much.
To start with, Gayla keeps things simple. After reading stacks of gardening books with flawless photos and long lists of plants I can never seem to find, and a confusing amount of information on soil and ph and watering and garden design, it is refreshing to find a book that is, well, fun! Rather than getting bogged down by how much there is to be done, she makes gardening sound doable, reminds you that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and then gives you lots of great ideas for making your garden a success.
And it’s not that the book isn’t meaty, because it is. There is a wealth of information in there on starting a successful garden, no matter how small the space you have to grow (and even what to do if you are growing on a public space!) But there are also really fun crafty projects like making your own leaf-shaped concrete stepping stones (I so want to do this!), sewing yourself a garden apron, creating moss-covered pots and stones, making tea with your own home-grown herbs, and on and on. All told in a relaxed, you-can-do-this kind of way.
And as much as I love reading about gardening, I sometimes find the process a little stressful as the list of things I have to be doing and I should be doing and I need to be planting gets longer and longer. You Grow Girl comes without the panic. Instead there is the kind of enthusiasm you get when talking to your best friend about the thing you are passionate about. I finished reading the book inspired and excited about the gardening season ahead. (and I have yet another book I am going to keep out of the library as long as I can….) I am also adding “grow my own loofah sponge” to my list of gardening things to do. I had no idea this was something you could grow in your garden – how cool is that?!
Have you read any good books lately?Read More
I know I haven’t been writing here as much as usual. Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me through this busy time and still read my posts. You mean the world to me!
We have been extremely blessed this year with an abnormally mild fall. Usually by this time my garden is frost-bitten and gone, except for carrots, but this year we are still harvesting lettuce, spinach, herbs and celery. Oh the celery we grew this year! Seriously, if you live anywhere close by and you would like to have your own bunch of fresh-from-the-garden celery, please let me know! I am happy to share from our bounty. I’m also considering sending all my friends bouquets of parsley and dill - what do you think?
This extended warm spell has also given me lots of time to harvest most of the herbs I grew this year (other than the basil, which faints at the first sign of cold, but luckily I already had most of that made into pesto weeks ago.)
I am pretty simple when it comes to preserving my herbs.
I pick them.
I brush off any dirt that might be sticking to them.
I freeze them in glass jars. (We have a plethora of glass jars because they aren’t recyclable here, plastic bags would work too.)
I enjoy them all winter long.
I make pesto with basil, and this year I tried to make a parsley paste of parsley and oil, which I froze in small clumps as I do with the pesto.
I decided to try to do this with a mortar and pestle, because I heard that it is better for the colour of the herbs when you do it this way. Next year I will go back to using my food processor. The end result was not quite as “pasty” as I would have liked it, more like clumps of parsley suspended in oil. However, when I’m tasting that fresh parsley flavour in our winter cooking I won’t be worrying about consistency.
Anyone else out there enjoying a mild fall? How are you preserving your garden harvest?Read More
How are your gardens coming along? I am away from mine this week, but when I left the vegetable garden was coming along well (despite an attack of cabbage worms along with our cucumber beetles) and I had just finished getting all of the annuals into the flower gardens. When I return I hope to be greeted by lots of flowers (and hopefully not too many weeds!)
This will be my last post in the herb garden series. These final three are the last that I have grown for at least a year, although I have included a list at the end of what we are experimenting with this year. As always, if you have any herb tips to share, or if you grow an herb I haven’t included in this series, please let us know in the comments!
In the garden: I grew lovage for the first time last year in a pot on our sunny deck. This year I planted it directly into the vegetable garden, in a section that receives partial shade, as it prefers. Although it is a perennial, it will be grown as an annual in its current location as we like to rotate our veggie crops each year. I have not attempted to grow lovage indoors, and with its rather tall size, I probably won’t attempt it any time soon!
In the kitchen: lovage is similar to celery in taste and the leaves can be used anywhere you would use celery – salads, sauces, soups, stews, etc.
In the garden: This perennial has grown extremely well in my partial-shade garden. I am not sure which variety I grow, although it is a small variety (about 1 ft tall.) Although I have never brought mine indoors, I have read that these smaller varieties grow very well in pots with a little sun each day.
In the Kitchen: lavender isn’t often used for eating (although I have had lavender tea before) but the dried leaves and flowers make beautiful potpourri, sachets, or sleep pillows.
In the Garden: Mint is a vigorous perennial that will easily take over your whole garden! It grows very well in pots (which is how I grow mine) although I have read that you can also sink a pot down into the earth if you would like to grow it in your garden yet keep it confined. My plants also do well overwintering indoors, although they do tend to get “leggy” due to lack of light.
In the Kitchen: Mint makes a wonderful tea, and pairs brilliantly with fruit in a wide variety of dishes. My grandmother used to make her own mint jelly (most often served with lamb, although eaten with other dishes as well). I also like mint water, mint ice cream, and want to try my hand at making my own mint extract for baking.
New Herbs in the Garden
One of the things I enjoy most about gardening is trying out new plants. This year I have added sorrel, chervil, catnip, and borage to the herb garden.
What herbs are growing in your garden? Which ones do you want to try?Read More