Category: In the Kitchen (page 1 of 3)

Garden Tour: Cache Soil to Table

This past weekend I went on a Garden Tour hosted by the Cache Soil to Table group in conjunction with the Bridgerland Audubon Society. The Cache Soil to Table community is a group of garden enthusiasts, that among other interests is also dedicated to creating beautiful, edible, drought tolerant and pollinator friendly landscapes. For the tour, six gardens were showcased that exemplified one or more of these characteristics. At each of the gardens, the homeowners and other volunteers were on hand to answer any questions. Continue reading

#EarthDay Special: evolution from bud to blossom

apple bud

apple buds expanding

apple bud petals 1

apple bud petals 2

open apple blossom

apple blossoms

Cookie-Sheet Apple Pie

I think I’ve mentioned before how I’m not a food blogger, and I don’t really aspire to be; this space is mainly about gardening. Gardening, however, often leads me to the kitchen and cooking and baking are generally a big part of my life; a lot of my favorite family memories involve food in some way or another. So when fall rolls around the food-blogging world seems to go crazy with pumpkin-spice-everything, for me, when fall rolls around I think about apples. Apples in the form of cider and pie to be specific.

“It’s easy for any of us to claim no time for cooking; harder to look at what we’re doing instead, and why every bit of it is presumed more worthy. Some people really do work double shifts with overtime and pursue no recreational activities, ever, or they are homeless or otherwise without access to a stove and refrigerator. But most are lucky enough to do some things for fun, or for self-improvement or family entertainment. Cooking can be one of those things.” – Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Not any old apple pie will do. Sure, there is a place for the deep dish varieties, or the Dutch versions. Or the picture perfect lattice-topped classic. But the version I dream about is this apple pie. It’s not fancy, and it definitely won’t be winning any beauty contests. But it is delicious; that I can promise. Also, you don’t have to worry about any sort of fussy lattice work, or carefully transferring the crust into a pie dish since it can be rolled out directly in the pan (at least the bottom crust), which is a bonus in my world. And, best of all, it makes a superb breakfast the next day. If you have any left over, that is.

apple pie on a cookie sheet

Since there are only two of us, I usually make only a half-cookie sheet sized pie. But I make the whole crust recipe and freeze half of it until I want to make another pie.

There are all sorts of opinions about which apples make the best baking apples, and McIntosh usually don’t make that list. They are soft and cook down to basically mush, which makes them excellent for sauce, but not for something where you want the apples to remain looking like apples. That being said, McIntosh are my favorite, and I really love them in this pie; I kind of like the uniform mash of apples. So what I’m saying is, you can choose whichever kind of apple suits your fancy.

I know you’re probably not looking for another apple pie recipe, but give this one a try sometime and let me know what you think.

Cookie Sheet Apple Pie

Crust

  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 Tb sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (I use Crisco)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • milk
  • cornflakes or saltine crackers

Filling

  • 20 raw apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Cut in the shortening. Place the egg yolk in a measuring cup, beat slightly, then add enough milk to bring it to 2/3 cup. Add to flour mixture and stir with a fork to make dough workable. Divide dough on half and roll it out to fit your cookie sheet. I like to get it started on the counter, and then finish tolling it out on the sheet itself. Sprinkle with a couple handfuls of corn flakes or saltine crackers.

In a large bowl toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Place the apples evenly on the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining dough to fit the cookie sheet, and place on top of the apples. Crimp the edges, and add crust vents in the top. Beat the egg white and brush over the top.

Bake at 400 F for 1 hour, or until golden. When cooled, drizzle with a powder sugar glaze. (Powder sugar, a bit of lemon juice or vanilla extract, and enough milk to get it to the consistency you want).

Eating Local All Year Long

Each year in September is Utah Eat Local Week which is meant to highlight all the great local agricultural (and other) products and inspire people to eat locally grown and produced foods. This year, when Eat Local Week rolled around, I had just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles a year where her family tried to eat as local as possible. I don’t know that I’ll ever be quite that ambitious (or have enough land to grow that much food on), but I do like the idea of growing your own food.

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My Summer of Growing Both a Garden and a Baby

During these last few weeks of waiting for my baby to arrive I’ve been thinking about how things (babies, in particular) grow. I really think it’s quite a miraculous process. And maybe we can blame it on all of the BabyCenter weekly updates comparing my growing baby to a random piece of produce, but I got thinking about other miraculous growth processes – like my garden, for example – and how they are kind of the same.

Growing a baby and growing a garden. I mean, sure, they are both living things, but at first glance that seems to be the only similarity. One happens on the inside, one on the outside. One you can eat or put in a vase when ready, the other you probably shouldn’t. But as I’ve been doing both this summer – growing a baby and a garden – I’ve realized that there are some things that are true for both.

First, let’s talk about water.

I’ve written specifically about watering your lawn or garden a couple of times this year, and in every house plants post I mention something about watering, and really, I could probably spend more time talking about it (and most likely will at some point). It really is that important for growing healthy plants.

sprinkler, beans, garden, watering

Keeping that garden, and that baby-growing body, properly watered can sometimes be a delicate balance.

Well, it seems that proper hydration is the answer to a lot of pregnancy complaints too. Have a headache? Try drinking more water. Feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions? You’re probably dehydrated, so drink more water. Swelling up? Here’s a glass of water.

The problem with drinking all this water is that, like when you over-water your house plants and it starts to leak out the catch trays, over-watering yourself may also lead to unfortunate leaks. Or at least increasingly frequent trips to the restroom…

A word on nutrition.

Earlier this month I gave an update on my bucket garden and mentioned how much better my tomatoes were doing this year because I had actually fertilized them. I’ve also discussed the nutritional benefits of compost over at the Longbourn Farm blog, and given a brief explanation of what that sometimes-confusing fertilizer label means here. Though plants technically make their own “food” through the wonderful process of photosynthesis, having the proper nutrients available benefits growth and increases yield. Both good things for that garden you are growing.

lettuce, spinach

I mixed in some extra fertilizer to the potting soil when I planted my lettuce and spinach this year, and got some early, healthy crops.

While I don’t make my own food in quite the same way plants do, eating well is important for both me and my growing baby. And it seems to me that my prenatal vitamins are doing the same kind of thing as the fertilizer – supplementing what is already there (through what I eat) to grow a healthy baby.

s'mores, campfire, mountains

So maybe making s’mores isn’t the best nutritional choice, but it’s summer time, so s’mores must be eaten.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Oh time. Sometimes it seems to fly by and sometimes it drags on and on and on. Especially when you’re waiting for those tomatoes to ripen or that baby to make her appearance. When growing either plants or babies there are general timelines for reaching “ripeness”; but for both they are really just guidelines. Sometimes it takes longer than the 75 days it says on the label before you can pick that juicy tomato. And sometimes babies show up earlier (or later) than that magical 40 week deadline. Gardens and babies both seem to have their own timetables.

flowers, bucket garden, patio garden, pink zinnia

Though all the zinnias were planted at the same time, you can see there were a couple early-birds among the bunch.

Excitement about “milestones” helps that time to pass more swiftly.

From the moment a seed germinates or starts to sprout through the soil I get excited and love to follow its progress. I often come in to the house reporting to my husband things like “ooh, you should see how much the lettuce is growing!” or “my zinnias have buds!” or “the tomatoes are almost ready to eat!” Whether or not he really cares is a mystery because he always responds encouragingly.

He does get more excited about the “milestones” of growing a baby, though. Maybe not exactly about my monthly (and then weekly) doctors visit updates: “the baby’s heart rate was ___” or “my blood pressure was ___”,  but definitely about the big things (which have been the best parts) like actually seeing the progress – the ultrasounds, watching my belly expand, feeling the kicks, etc.

Comparing our growing bellies with my sister-in-law.

Comparing our growing bellies with my sister-in-law.

The ultimate milestone for gardening is picking that perfectly ripe fruit or enjoying that perfectly beautiful blossom.

This sunflower was a welcome volunteer from last year's flower garden.

This sunflower was a welcome volunteer from last year’s flower garden.

By the time you are reading this, I hope we’ve also reached that ultimate milestone of growing a baby: meeting her for the first time.

Houseplants: Aloe (Aloe vera)

There’s a good chance you know the plant being highlighted today (and you probably even know it’s scientific name, you smarty-pants): Aloe vera. In the past it has also gone by the name Aloe barbadensis, but the most recent information I could find has grouped Aloe vera and Aloe barbadensis back together under the Aloe vera name.

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Hardening Off Plants

A common complaint among novice gardeners is that they buy a beautiful looking tomato (or pepper or what-have-you) plant from the garden center, they bring it home to their own garden, and it seems to suffer. The plant, not necessarily the gardener. It gets brown leaves, maybe. Or doesn’t seem to grow. Or a myriad of other problems, and the gardener concludes they just don’t have a “green thumb”. Continue reading

Houseplants: African violet (Saintpaulia sp.)

Chances are you or someone you know (your grandma, maybe?) owns or has owned an African violet. They’re the standbys and workhorses of every garden center – and perhaps the most well-known of all the houseplants. But, they’re lovely, so it’s a well-earned place. And there are so many varieties and hybrids available that you could amass quite a collection of them – and then join the African Violet Society of America (or a local chapter) so you can show them off and collect more! Continue reading

How-To: Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Over the years, a question I often get is “can I make these bulbs bloom indoors?” In the past, I’ve given an answer along the lines of, “Yeah, I think you should be able to. I mean, I know it can be done.” But because I had never done it myself, and didn’t really know the specifics, that was about as helpful as I could be. Sure, I had read that it could be done…but reading and doing are two quite different things. Especially when it comes to gardening.

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Houseplants: Zz plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

Ok guys, I’m really excited to introduce you to this next houseplant. My favorite houseplant. Maybe you think I say that about all my houseplants – and, there are definitely a lot on the list of “one of my favorites” – but, for real, this is one great plant. And if you’re looking for a plant that will really help your brown thumb get a little greener, then this is the plant for you. Continue reading

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