Why I Share Recipes

Ice storm January 14, 2017 is beautiful at Bluebird Gardens.

"...just saw your post for your Ice Storm Chicken Veggies Rosemary Stew. Who do you model yourself after? Recipe looks simple enough....." -- Mary

Why I Share Recipes

Hi Mary, this is a post to remind us that cooler weather is just around the corner.

The ice storm was beautiful but I am glad I could stay safely at home, looks like we got at least half an inch of ice on everything, a typical Missouri ice storm.

The challenge with ice storms is that roads are dangerous to drive on unless one has chains on tires and utility lines break from the weight of the ice, leaving people without electricity, sometimes for days.

My focus is on making a healthier life for myself, and that starts in the kitchen. Besides loosing weight, I want delicious meals I can make with good, locally-grown produce, some of which I grow myself. This particular dish was inspired by a pot of fresh rosemary growing quite well in one of my windows and I thought it was about time I use a few sprigs.

My brothers know I like to "play" with my food. In my world, that means trying out new dishes with what I have in my crisper. My brothers and I used to do that on Friday nights when we grew up and we came up with some amazing dishes. My brother David still has the record for the worst dish ever with his fried lettuce casserole. Man, was that foul...we tried it, just to make sure it really was that bad.

I love cooking shows, knowing something will pop up later when I'm in the kitchen but I don't think cooking has to be difficult or complicated. Well, at least I don't want to make it that hard, healthy eating should be simple if you start with good fresh ingredients.

Let me know what you think of the Ice Storm Chicken Veggie Rosemary Stew recipe and if you make any alterations. I like having it the second day, it's better than the first!

Charlotte

Getting Ready for Ice Storm

Getting Ready for Ice Storm

"...so what are you doing to get ready for the incoming ice storm? Made your bread and milk run yet? I'm going to make chili...." -- Amy

Hi Amy, chili sounds like a good option, especially on a cold, icy Missouri winter day. We like to joke about the run on bread and milk when the forecast calls for a storm but there is something to be said to getting in the necessary staples. Everywhere I stopped, people were talking about staying home tomorrow and hoping it wouldn't be as bad as the winter storm of 2007. A lot of power went out that winter because of the ice on power lines. Bet there is a run on renting generators, just in case.

I have made my ice storm run for our necessities here:

Must haves for a Missouri ice storm include fresh herbs, cat treats, hot chocolate and books.

Must haves for a Missouri ice storm include fresh herbs, cat treats, hot chocolate and books.

I'm already stocked up on chili and soup-making ingredients but I was short on treats. Cat treats for the cats - they love Temptations Treats - and my low calorie hot chocolate mix from Swiss Miss, just in case I run out of milk for hot chocolate before the ice melts. One must have hot cocoa on a warm winter day!

While at the grocery store, I couldn't pass up the fresh potted herbs on sale, $2 each. I picked up basil, cilantro and oregano to join my rosemary, sage and parsley growing inside in pots in my windows. Now I have several choices of herbs to add to soups.

And who can go into a winter storm without a pile of books and magazines to read? A quick stop at Rolla Public Library and I’m stocked up with magazines, books and there's a CD in there somewhere in the pile. It will be a great weekend to cook, read and what my cats love to do, nap.

Hope you can stay off ice roads until this passes. Stay safe and warm!

Charlotte

 

 

 

Too Much Mint

Spearmint garnish to make cold water even more refreshing at Bluebird Gardens.

Spearmint garnish to make cold water even more refreshing at Bluebird Gardens.

"...my mint has taken over my garden. What on earth do I do with it all?" -- Ellen

Hi Helen, lucky you, I can't imagine summers without fresh mint from my garden.

Mint, like many herbs, can easily take over if it's not somehow contained. Herbs also tend to like poor soil and will grow aggressively if they have better growing conditions so use herbs in areas where not much else will grow.

I personally like having healthy herbs. I plant them so that I brush against them when I walk through my garden paths.

Blooming herbs are also an excellent source of nectar for my bees, both honey bees and native bees.

A patch of blooming spearmint in my garden. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

A patch of blooming spearmint in my garden. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Blooming herbs make nice cut flowers to enjoy inside when summer days are too hot to be outside. They also are easy and safe to use as garnish.

Blooming spearmint near one of my small ponds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Blooming spearmint near one of my small ponds. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

If you still want to remove some of your overgrown herbs, wait for a day after a good rain and pull the extra herbs you don't want. Don't worry, you won't get all of the roots. The pruning process will slow down their creeping progress.

You want to cut spearmint before it flowers, which is when its flavor is strongest. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

You want to cut spearmint before it flowers, which is when its flavor is strongest. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Don't toss those volunteers, you can cut off the tops and use them in salads, in water or drinks that need a little umph, as a garnish on deserts and ice creams.

If you keep the cut mint in a flower vase in refrigerator, it will last for a couple of weeks and you can easily add them to your cooking.

 Charlotte

 

From a Reader: Another Garnish

Orange daylilies make a pretty garnish and are entirely edible.   

Orange daylilies make a pretty garnish and are entirely edible.

 

From a Reader

"Dear Ms Wiggins;

Your articles are always enjoyable (in El Dorado Springs Sun...my hometown news).  I was especially interested in the day lily article since I have several in my yard.

I have used pansy blossoms as the finale on individual salads for years, since they are not only pretty, but tasty.  I was also aware that both roses and nasturtiums are edible, so I am happy to add day lilies to the list.

Cordially,

Fawn"

Charlotte: Thanks, Fawn, I am also a fan of pansy and nasturtium blossoms in my salads. I haven't had the heart to eat my roses yet but I have garnished guest dishes with them, much to their surprise, by the way.

Glad you now have a new way to embelish your food.  Enjoy!

 

What Did You Say?

Two of the furry residents watching lizards on Bluebird Gardens deck. 

Two of the furry residents watching lizards on Bluebird Gardens deck. 

What Did You Say?

Do you talk to your pets? I only ask because I do and I didn't realize how unusual some people think it is until a visiting relative went home and taught his cats to talk to him.

Maybe it's unusual but I can't imagine not engaging my cats, they see the world from a very different perspective. So when I ask "what's out there" my cats let me know if there is something interesting to watch; a bird, maybe a lizard or "cousin george," the generic term I use  for any number of raccoons that amble by.

Although this is a question and answer forum, I hope it's also a place to exchange ideas and information. I used to get paid to ask questions so I tend to ask myself as well. It's all a part of the learning process, something I love to do. Even if it's something I am experienced doing, I will wonder if there is a better, or different, way. 

So don't be surprised if I also ask you a question, or two. After all, we are all in this deliciously together!

Charlotte