Missouri Rice

Giveaways from Missouri Governor's 2016 Agriculture conference at Lake Ozarks.

Giveaways from Missouri Governor's 2016 Agriculture conference at Lake Ozarks.

Missouri Rice

We grew up eating a lot of recipes with rice in South America but I didn’t expect rice to be an important Missouri crop.

According to Missouri’s 2016 Agriculture Economic Impact Report, rice is the 6th largest Missouri grown agricultural crop, almost as much of an accident as how rice came to North America.

it began in 1885, when a storm-battered ship, sailing from Madagascar, limped into the Charles Towne, South Carolina harbor. Town citizens helped to repair the ship. To repay their kindness, the ship’s captain made a gift of a small quantity of “Golden Seed Rice.”

That’s the story Missouri’s Rice Council likes to tell. The council is a lobbying group for Missouri rice farmers and a charter member of the U S Rice Producers Association, an association representing rice farmers in Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, California and Louisiana.

Long grain rice has been grown in Missouri for almost a hundred years. The first rice field in was located west of Dexter. In 2015, 212,000 acres of rice was grown in the southeast Missouri counties. This part of Missouri provides more than 780 million pounds of rice valued at $160 million dollars. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri is ranked 4th in rice acres harvested among the top ten states.

Missouri’s Crop Resource Guide notes rice yields have increased over 62 pounds per acre per year. At the same time, the pounds of fertilizer used to produce that rice has decreased.

“This double efficiency of increasing yields and decreasing input simultaneously sustains profits and environmental quality.”

I still think the Missouri Rice Council's slogan is very funny. Don't you?

Charlotte

 

Popcorn Snacks

Yellow popcorn popped on stove top in oil, bagged for later snacking.

Yellow popcorn popped on stove top in oil, bagged for later snacking.

Popcorn Snacks

I tend to joke when I am going to watch something that I should pack the popcorn. Now that I am watching my calories to loose weight, I was curious about how many calories one cup of popped popcorn in vegetable oil has.

The answer is 60 calories. To burn these calories off, I would need to walk for 14 minutes. No point in looking at jogging, only 5 minutes to burn these off but bad knees put running out of the question. Walking is the best, sustainable for a lifetime so I will stick to taking my breaks wandering through my garden after I have my little popcorn snack.

If this were air-popped, the one cup would be 35 calories.

I don't add anything to my popped popcorn - no butter, caramel or other additives. I do sprinkle a shake of salt, then toss thoroughly.

What I like about bagging the popcorn for later is that I can measure out the popcorn and make my own snack bags. If sealed, the popped popcorn will last for several days and come in handy when I need a little something savory without having to make something elaborate or browse for a recipe that hits the spot.

Which reminds me, I have been wanting to read this 1966 Weight Watchers book by the founder of the weight loss program. Wonder if popcorn was part of their original treats.

I used to toss out my extra popcorn for my birds, only the next morning, almost before sunrise, it would all be gone so I'm not quite sure who exactly was eating it. This way, I can make some snacks and not encourage wildlife to be comfortable hanging around my front door.

Yes, it's the simple things in life. Pass the popcorn, please.

Charlotte

 

 

 

Parsley Power

I enjoy adding fresh parsley to my dishes, this is what remains from my little fresh parsley.

I enjoy adding fresh parsley to my dishes, this is what remains from my little fresh parsley.

Parsley Power

Whenever I can, I include fresh parsley in my herb garden, among my potted plants and in my hanging baskets inside.

Parsley may be considered a nuisance, or purely decorative, by some but it's actually full of antioxidants, nutrients and is practical, it is a natural breath freshener. Have you ever munched on a sprig?

The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. 

Parsley is referred to as the most popular herb in the world. 

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food.

Ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to not only adorn victors of athletic contests, but also for decorating the tombs of the deceased.

The practice of using parsley as a garnish actually has a long history that can be traced back to ancient Romans.

If I have to pick only one herb to have, I start with parsley. Who honestly would only have one fresh herb??

Charlotte

 

Purslane Power

Volunteer purslane growing in one of my deck pots in my potted vegetable garden.

Volunteer purslane growing in one of my deck pots in my potted vegetable garden.

Purslane Power

Poor purslane, relegated to a "weed" and other names in a derogatory expression. No one could have missed the mark more!

Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid i than any other leafy vegetable plant. Although considered a weed in the US, it is much more appreciated in other parts of the world. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible.

Purslane in a fresh summer salad with tomatoes from my garden.

Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. The sour taste is due to oxalic and malic acid, the latter of which is produced through the crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) pathway that is seen in many plants living in dry conditions. Best time to harvest is early morning.

Greeks use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano and olive oil. They add it in salads, boil it, or add it to casseroled chicken.

In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach. 

Good Companion Plant

As a companion plant, purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilizing ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will follow purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own.

When in bloom, I sometimes find butterflies visiting their tiny flowers.

It is considered a weed but a beneficial one where its not specifically grown for a crop. In my potted garden, purslane volunteers on its own so I just watch for the telltale signs of their fleshy leaves.

Pass the purslane, please!

Charlotte

Orange Strawberry Heirloom Tomatoes

Orange strawberry heirloom tomatoes from Meusch Farms, Rolla Farmer's Market.

Orange strawberry heirloom tomatoes from Meusch Farms, Rolla Farmer's Market.

Orange Strawberry Heirloom Tomatoes

I found these at our local farmer's market, heirloom tomatoes that are orange when ripe shaped like strawberries.

Our family likes - well, anything strawberry so finding a favorite vegetable with a strawberry hint was bound to end up in my shopping bag.

This tomato reminded me of some of the less common recipe ingredients one sometimes finds in old recipe books. 

Eric Meusch, Meusch Farms, said this was an heirloom variety from Baker Seeds. He grew them because they have a lot less seeds and an interesting flavor, which they do. Eating one is more like eating a peach than a tomato.

I was going to use these in salads but they never made it to the bowl, so much easier to eat them like an apple.

Have you tried an orange strawberry heirloom tomato?

Charlotte

Delicious Daylilies

Orange daylilies in bloom June 2016 along one of the Bluebird Gardens paths. 

Orange daylilies in bloom June 2016 along one of the Bluebird Gardens paths. 

Missouri's Orange "Ditch" Lilies

Missouri’s orange "ditch" daylilies were once a staple of European gardens, every part of the plant edible.  I was intrigued to find that our European North American settlers carefully packed these lilies in their first shipments to their new world home, along with bee hives, in 1622.

Not having been raised to disdain these flowers, I have gladly welcomed discards over the past decades. I now have orange day lilies lining rock-filled garden paths, popping up behind shrubs and adding spots of color in mixed borders.

When my house was first built in 1982, I used these lilies for soil control and color where nothing else would grow. Today leaf drop decomposition has created soil and now every year I have new surprising spots of orange day lilies. A bit backwards, I agree, but then I had daffodils planted in my garden before we broke ground on the house.

All Plant Parts Edible

Orange day lilies are completely edible from root to flower. Flowers are rich in protein and can be eaten in bud or full flower.

Hemerocollis fulva are native to Asia.  Chinese cooking uses them in such dishes as moo shu pork and hot and sour soup.

They grow well in both sun and part shade USDA hardiness zones 5-10.

Although the flowers only bloom for a day, they are prodigious bud developers and will bloom continuously for several weeks. No riding lawn mowers, either. A friend’s husband inadvertently mowed over one of her orange day lily flower beds last year and they came back looking totally unscathed. I suppose that could be a bit scary.

Charlotte

Eastern redbud Delicious Garnish

Eastern redbud tree flowers are edible and make a lovely garden garnish.

Eastern redbud tree flowers are edible and make a lovely garden garnish.

Eastern redbud Tree Flowers Edible

When people think of growing plants in a garden for cooking, most people think herbs, or at least that is what a garden visitor told me during a recent visit. 

Besides herbs, I pointed out these lovely Missouri native trees that I carefully prune to grow in my garden. Eastern redbud trees have been grown as ornamental trees since the 1600s although some may not realize their buds are edible. Native Americans have used the flowers in dishes for centuries.

How to Use Eastern redbud Tree Flowers

Pick the flowers early in the morning. Make sure you are not picking from an area that has been treated with chemicals.

Wash gently with cold water. Let drip dry.

Store in refrigerator until you plan to use. Sprinkle on salads or other dishes for garnish.

The flowers will last in a storage container for a couple of days.

Charlotte