Category Archives: Recipes From The Garden

Holiday Entertaining: Recipe for Lasagna with Cabbage

My Italian born husband loves this lasagna and so do I.

Adapted from Crescent Dragonwagon‘s cookbook – The Passionate Vegetarian,Pumpkin and Bean Lasagna is rich, flavorful and, once you have the fillings assembled, easy to make.

Another plus is this lasagna is diabetic friendly!  I only use 15 (fifteen) lasagna noodles in a five pound casserole.  So my husband can enjoy exceptional flavor and not worry about his blood sugar.

Give it a try on a cool, rainy day and you may never go back to the old fashioned way of making lasagna again.

FYI – as I mentioned, this is a 5 pound lasagna — a BIG lasagna using a pan that is about 5 inches deep, 15 inches long and 12 inches wide.  After guests have had their fill, I cut whatever I have left into serving sizes and freeze it for another rainy day.

The ingredients are listed in order and, like most lasagnas, you assemble the fillings before you start to put the dish together.

Cabbage, Pumpkin & Bean Lasagna

Carmelized Garlic – 20 cloves of garlic, halved and pan fried until just golden.

Bean & Butternut Filling – 2 pounds of pumpkin (or butternut) cut into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces and pan fried under low heat until soft.  2 cups cooked kidney beans, drained. Mash the pumpkin or squash slightly and mix in the kidney beans

Cabbage – Cabbage sliced in ½ inch thick ribbons  NOTE:  I use the cabbage to take the place of most of the lasagna noodles.

Cheese Filling – 1 pound ricotta cheese, 3 raw eggs, 2 ounces cream cheese and 1 cup milk. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.

Spices – Nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste.

3 cups grated Mozzarella Cheese

Whole wheat lasagna noodles – uncooked.  If using cabbage in place of noodles you will only need about 15 noodles.

Tomato or Spaghetti Sauce – I use 2 quarts in my lasagna.

Once you have all the layers ready, start assembling your lasagna the way you always do.  Cover with aluminum foil then bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 20 to 30 minutes to let top brown a bit and release some moisture.

Let sit for about 15 minutes before you cut and serve it.

I like this dish because I can serve it and actually sit down to dinner with my guests.  Hope you like it, too.
Happy holidays to everyone!

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My Tips for Sustainable Living

I am loving Nathan Crane’s series on sustainable living.

I am learning a lot from the people in this series and gaining new insights and new ideas. I am also realizing that almost every change I have made in my life over the last 20+ years, including my focus on organic gardening, has brought

Community gardens are gifts.

Gardening is good for body and soul.

me one step closer to living more sustainably. That was not why I made the changes.

Being sustainable never entered into my choices. Watching, listening, seeing and, at some deep level, awakening, knowing and choosing to make changes in my life and my home that are ethically in tune with me began with a diagnosis of cancer.

Once started, the changes didn’t stop. Here are some simple things I did, you can do, to just start down the path of being kinder to yourself, your loved ones and your world.

Buy organic meat and poultry. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. Everything changed.  And this was one of the first changes I made.  I found neighbors who were farmers who were organic and we bought our first pasteur-raised, free-ranged food.  I am a vegetarian now but we still buy organic meats from our friends.

No paper towels.  Sounds silly, small, but it was the first choice I made.  I weaned the household (and my husband) off of them in a year.  We have not had paper towels in our home for 7 years.  I buy fabric napkins at thrift shops and use them and wash them and use them again.

Drying clothes on a line.  I live in a relatively affluent neighborhood where

Breezecatcher 4 arm dryer

My Breezecatcher dryer saves me $100’s every year.

there are no clothes lines.  My solution? Buy a “solar dryer” that I can put out in the morning and take down in the afternoon.  I save about $80 a month on electricity just by drying towels, sheets and heavy cloths outdoors, year round.

Lettuce is an easy crop to grow and so tasty.

Lattuga in any language is a great addition to your garden.

Growing My Own – organic gardening has moved from an idea to a full-blown love of mine and it all started with lettuce!  Twenty plus years later, I have never looked back.  I am cheap, pragmatic and able to raise almost every veggie or fruit we eat using nothing but time, sunshine, water and love.

Making my own laundry detergent.  I decided to do this because I live in well country – and there are a lot of families downstream from my septic system and tile field.  Commercial laundry detergents are pretty harsh so I found a recipe (on the internet) using washing soda, laundry soap – Fels Naptha – and water. I add a few drops of Thieves oil for scent and make 3 gallons at a time for pennies on the dollar.  And I get the peace of mind of knowing that I am not poisoning my neighbors’ wells.

Making kombucha and sauerkraut.  This is my newest venture and I LOVE it. Fermented foods are so easy to make and so inexpensive to prepare.  You can pay $6.50 for a pint of sauerkraut or make a gallon – 8 pints – for $2.00.  Same with Kombucha — fermented black tea.  Pay $5.00 a bottle or about 15 cents a bottle.  It’s easy to make, delicious to drink and again, so very good for you.  Save money, feed your family and save resources.

Don’t listen to me.  Listen to yourself.  Take a step that works for you. Grow something. Save something. Make something. Don’t wait for someone else; make the change you want to see.

Let’s go back to Edward Abbey’s America.

“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others.”                                                                                           Edward Abbey

Veggie Recipes for End of Summer

I promised to share two zucchini recipes – one for chips – delicious – and one for zucchini fritters.  The chips recipe is below — a tasty way to use up the zucchini you have on your kitchen counter.

Zuke fritters will be posted this week but I wanted to share some ideas for using eggplant, as well since I am experiencing an abundance of beautiful white and purple globes.

Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes

End of summer eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

I went looking for recipes for using even more eggplant (having already made eggplant parmigian, roasted baby eggplant and baba ghanouj) and found some truly wonderful and healthy recipes from the New York Times Cooking team.

I am going to try Israeli Couscous, Eggplant and Tomato Gratin (using quinoa instead of couscous) today.  Oh, and I will be making my own mayonnaise, going forward. Now for the promised Zuke Chips recipe!

Zucchini Chips
Zucchini, sliced in thin rounds, make chips that taste better than any you can buy and are good for you.  And, the recipe is simple!

Zucchini chips baked

Zuke chips are crispy, salty and tasty!

Preheat the oven to 235 degrees (that’s not a typo).

Slice 2 zucchini into super thin rounds using a mandolin or food processor.

Put parchment paper or silicone mats on cookie sheets.

Put a single layer of zucchini rounds on each cookie sheet then, using a basting

Use a basting brush to spread the oil.

Basting is better than drizzling for even spread of oil.

brush, brush each chip lightly with olive oil.

Sprinkle the chips with salt or, as I do, you can use a mixture of brewer’s yeast and salt.

Put the cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 2 to 3 hours, checking them during the last hour as some chips will finish faster than others. Combine the fully baked chips on 1 sheet, remove them from the oven & let the other chips crisp up.

Dehydrated zuke chips

Zuke chips from the dehydrator are not as good.

FYI – I tried making these in my dehydrator and was not too impressed with the taste or the crispness.

The chips looked a bit prettier but they were also chewy, not crispy. And the flavor was nowhere near as buttery or rich as the chips I baked in the oven.

Later this week week, I promise I will post my zucchini fritters and avocado/lemon dipping sauce.

Enjoy your end of summer bounty and please, share your recipes, too!

Healthy Mushroom Burger You Will Love

Organic Italian produce

Zucchetta, peppers and onions from my garden.

End of summer and I still have tons of healthy, tasty Sicilian zucchetta, sweet Italian red peppers and my sweet Italian red onions -detect a theme?  Italian is what happens when you marry one and cook for him for 30+ years!

Mushroom burger

Healthy, tasty mushroom burgers served with avocado dip.

So I am in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.  Here are my two of my favorite recipes – tasty and healthy – for this end of season bounty Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Mushroom Burgers
I live in mushroom country – near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania so I have easy access to all kinds of mushrooms at very reasonable prices.  My husband’s a diabetic with serious insulin issues that made us change everything about the way we eat.

This recipe is one of results and it’s one of his favorites and one of mine.  The base was from a 2010 Bon Appetit recipe but I made some changes in ingredients and cooking method.

INGREDIENTS:
2 T butter or ghee
2 T olive oil
1½ lb sliced cremini mushrooms
2 sliced Portabellas
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small red onion diced
2 eggs – beaten
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
2 T chopped basil
2 T chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 c almond flour
½ tsp freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Melt butter or ghee with olive oil in deep pan over medium-high heat.
Add all mushrooms and sauté until crisp – about 14 minutes.  Stir often.
While mushrooms cook, preheat the griddle to medium heat.
Add garlic to mushrooms, stir for 1 minute.  Transfer mix to food processor.
Add eggs, parmesan, herbs, almond flour, salt and pepper to processor and pulse until mushrooms are chopped – medium coarse.
Put English muffin rings on griddle and do a quick spray with olive or coconut oil.
Scoop mushroom mix up with your hands and place inside each ring, filling each ring and patting mix down to level the mix off.
Grill for 7 or 8 minutes on one side, flip with the rings and cook for 7 to 8 minutes on the other side.  If the centers of the burgers still seem a little soft, flip again and cook for another 5 minutes.

If you want to have a melted cheese center, put half the mix in the English muffin ring, place shredded cheese on top then put the rest of the mushroom mix over top of the cheese and pat to level inside the ring.

I’ve already posted a recipe for Zucchini Crusted Pizza that is DELICIOUS!  Next time, I will share my recipes for Zucchini Fritters and Zucchini Chips – delicious!

How to Grow Figs, with Lee Reich from A Way To Garden

Two of my favorite gardening resources got together to discuss how to grow figs and the outcome is an information-packed  article coupled with a podcast!

Lee Reich, whose books include Grow Fruit Naturally: A Hands-On Guide to Luscious, Homegrown Fruit, The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated and Weedless Gardening, shares his secrets for growing figs with Margaret Roach — a gardening expert in her own right.

FYI – in case you’re thinking it’s too cold where you live to grow figs, read on.  Both of these gardeners live in Zone 5 and still grow figs.  And the topic of growing figs is one of my favorite.

I have two fig trees in my Southeastern PA zone 6 – one is the Celeste the other was a cutting from a tree brought to America in 1910(?) by a friend’s great grandfather.

Both did beautifully for years, providing so many figs that I gave them away, diced and froze them and made fig jam!

But in the last 2 years, the very cold winters have really hurt them. I am back to just getting stems with leaves growing up from the roots in the ground that survived.   I hope to get figs again next year or the year after because this is a superb fruit.

One of my favorite ways to eat them is right off the tree! But if I manage to get a few in the house, I chill them, cut them in half, place a small round of goat cheese on each half and drizzle balsamic vinegar mixed with honey on each half. Heaven!

I hope you enjoy Margaret Roach’s interview with Lee Reich and give figs a try!

Avoid GMO Food – GROW YOUR OWN!

Lettuce, spinach and onions growing in raised truck bed.

Cool weather and cool raised bed of a 55 Chevy truck making for happy lettuce, spinach and onions.

Organic gardening is the easiest, best way to avoid all the GMO foods currently on the market – estimated to be 80% of US food chain.

I know – I wrote the book on just how easy it is to get going and get growing.  And I share tips and tricks on how to raise just about every possible vegetable and fruit you can find in the store (well, no kiwi, avocado or olives – too cold here).

Now, another doctor adds his voice to the growing chorus of educated, intelligent people who just don’t want to eat “frankenfood” that is definitely affecting our health and our children’s health.

Grow lettuce. Try blueberries – in pots or the yard.  20110628_0377

Heirloom tomatoes growing up happy with just sunshine and epsom salts!

Heirloom tomatoes on the vine in my backyard just weeks away from picking!

Add tomatoes and peppers.  And start being sure where your food has been and who it’s been hanging out with.

Share your ideas, your recipes and your success stories with other gardeners – just step out onto your patio or into your yard and start down the path to healthy food, health eating and healthy lives.  It is…oh so easy!

Growing Organic Blueberries is EASY!

Want to raise your own organic fruit?  Why not start with the easiest and one of the tastiest fruits first?

Blueberries win that contest hands down.  Long before edible landscaping was popular, I began exploring ways to raise fruit like blueberries, one of the more expensive products you’ll find in any store.

Organic blueberries on the bush

My organic blueberry plants yield 40 to 60 quarts every summer and take little or no work.

I put in 12 plants – 4 different varieties and I’ve been harvesting blueberries ever since – 4o to 60 quarts a summer!

That translates to a savings of $500.00 every year and that’s a conservative estimate.  That’s $7500 in my pocket for an initial investment of less than $100.00!

You’re probably thinking, “Oh, I don’t have enough space.” or “I can’t grow anything.”  Or my favorite, “I don’t know how.” I am here to tell you blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow…period.  And I’m going to tell you how to do it.

Pick the spot where you will plant them
Even if you are putting them in pots.  Why?  Two reasons. Blueberries need sunlight and lots of it so pick the sunny side of your house, a sunny spot in your yard or a sunny patch on the deck to plant them.  Blueberries also need good

Organic blueberries growing in my back yard.

Organic blueberries don’t need much to produce – sun, water, mulch and time.

drainage so don’t pick the soggy spot in your yard where nothing ever grows.

Pick the bushes you want to buy
I got mine at Miller’s Nursery (now Stark Brothers) 15 years ago and had to figure it out on my own.  But Miller’s has made it even easier to choose, now.  They tell you about each plant including how hardy they are, how tall they’ll grow and when they fruit.  They even have collections! So whether you’re potting your plants or using them to landscape around your house, it will be easy to get the right ones.

Make sure your dirt is good for their roots.  Blueberries like acidic soil – a ph of 4 to 5.  Any nursery can help you buy the right dirt if you’re potting.  And your local Ag Extension office can test the soil in your yard to see what you have to add.  NOTE:  I didn’t test; I just planted and all of my bushes survived and grew.

Plant them the right way.  For plants, take the plastic pot off, lightly roughen up the outside surface of the root ball. Set the top soil line of the plant about 1-2 inches higher than the existing ground and firm around root ball. Mound soil up along sides of exposed root mass. Water well.   For bare root plants, spread roots out wide and shallow, cover with 1/2″ of soil. Firm soil around roots and water well.

MULCH!
This is one of the best ways to ensure your blueberries will “live well and prosper” at your place.  Blueberries are shallow rooted.  If you don’t mulch, anything from frost, to extreme heat to rabbits can find and damage the roots.  But don’t think you have to buy expensive mulch!  Use my trick – newspaper and straw.  That’s right – Scott and Helen Nearing’s method.  It’s cheap, it provides fertilizer because the materials are acid and do break down and it makes my blueberry patch…weed free.

Sit back and watch them settle in and grow!
In an average year, I harvest up to 60 quarts of blueberries.  That’s 120 pints and 240 1/2 pints of organic, good for you and good tasting blueberries.  I eat them, make low sugar jam (using Pomona Pectin) out of them, freeze them and enjoy them even in the dead of winter!

If you grow your own blueberries, you don’t just save cash, you get all the health benefits that these tiny, blue jewels bring to your table.   Blueberries are one of the superstars on the healthy foods list. Only 80 calories per cup and virtually no fat, packed with vitamin C, a ready source of fiber and near the top of the list when it comes to antioxidant activity per serving.  How could you resist them?

 Bob’s Blueberry Buckle
¾ c sugar
¼ c butter
1 egg
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 c blueberries

Topping:
½ tsp cinnamon
½ c brown sugar
1/3 c flour
¼ c butter

DIRECTIONS:
Toss blueberries in a little flour.
Make topping.
Mix all ingredients for cake together.
Stir in blueberries.

NOTE:  This is a very, very thick batter.  Don’t worry about it.  Just pat the cake batter into a 9 inch square baking pan.  Sprinkle with topping and bake at 375 for 40 to 45 minutes.  While it’s baking, soften the butter and stand back.  When it comes out of the oven, there is nothing better than warm blueberry buckle, buried in butter.