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Grazing Thru The Edible Landscape

The July Master Gardener meeting was a tasty success – a wonderful, informative speaker on our favorite topic – food!   …Well, to be more precise, the topic was about how to incorporate food plants into our landscapes.  Cheryl Beesley, a master gardener, horticulturalist, and landscape designer with an emphasis on edible landscapes was gracious, entertaining and educational.
Before the meeting and her talk, we gathered to graze in Raincatcher’s own edible landscape. Culinary creations from our own fruits, vegetables and herbs were offered and gobbled up.

Our culinary team showing off our tasty treats!

Through the garden gate – a glimpse of the landscape.

Starla with a photo-retrospective of our journey from old playground to new edible landscape.

Our guests enjoying the tasting; that’s the hugelkultur in the foreground.

Three of our planting scenes: our southern border lined with okra, our ‘rock garden’ with herbs, and the transformed swingset, now home to peppers and cucumbers.

Abbe sharing the chilled tomato-basil soup served in mini-tomato cups. Recipes coming!

Lisa with glazed lemon zucchini bread.

Lavender shortbread cookies – yum!

Passion fruit and tarragon truffles by Ana made with plants from our edible landscape.

Annette and Starla’s friend, Marsha Adams, enjoying a seat in the shade.

Cynthia Jones with our speaker, Cheryl Beesley and her husband, James.

Written by: The Edible Garden Team and Lisa Centala

Pictures by Starla Willis

What’s happening at Raincatcher’s?

Lazy days of summer? Not this group! Having just finished our Grazing in the Garden event, next up are two more marvelous learn and eat opportunities. Careful now, the food tickets sell quickly. Lecture is free and no reservations required.  Details below.

Goodness, Gracious, Grape Balls of Fire!

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

Tuesday, July 24th-10am 

10:00am – 11:30am, Under the Shade Pavilion, North Garden

11001 Midway Road, Dallas

Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Growing grapes in Texas is easy to do. Learn the basic steps, and you’ll be ready to start your own grape orchard.

(Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit)

Following Jeff’s short presentation join us for a special treat.

Toney Davrados, of Yiayia’s will demonstrate the art of making dolmas. Dolmas are thought of as a culinary legacy from the Ottoman Empire. You’ll be transported back to the 1700’s with the savory, flavorful taste of these delightful delicacies.

$10 per person, Limited seating

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/goodness-gracious-grape-balls-of-fire-tickets-48106230029

(Paid reservations required by Friday, July20th)

Menu

Dolmas

(Filled with sirloin, onion, rice, parsley and Toney’s special seasonings)

Watermelon and Radish Salad

Peach and Blueberry Parfaits featuring Yiayia’s Homemade Greek Yogurt

Mint-Infused Iced Tea

 

Fig Fest, Celebrating a Seasonal Delicacy

Instructor: Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

With their sweet taste and luscious texture, figs can be used in a variety of culinary dishes. From growing to harvest, we’ll give you the information needed to become a fig expert. Join us!

Tuesday, August 7th – 10:00am*

Hosted by Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills * 11001 Midway Road

(Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit)

Immediately following Jeff’s presentation, you are invited to join us for lunch.

$15 per person

Seating is limited to 48 guests and is by paid reservation only: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/fig-fest-tickets-48093118813

Menu

Figgy Focaccia and Grilled Figs with Thyme Honey

Fig, Arugula and Walnut Salad with Fresh Citrus Vinaigrette

Rosemary Flank Steak with Fig Salsa

Lemony Rice Pudding with Figs and Saba

Fig and Strawberry Tart topped with Fresh Fig Ice Cream

Fig Flavored Tea and Water

*Public Invited to both events!

Questions? Call the help desk- 214 904 3053 or drop us a line in the comment section.

 

 

Peach Fever Luncheon and Lecture

Good news from our local peach growers. The 2018 peach crop  had the chilling hours needed and the peach harvest is booming!

Dallas County Horticultural Assistant, Jeff Raska, left us dreaming about summer peaches with his brilliant and motivating talk at Raincatcher’s Garden. 

Following a very informative and entertaining peach primer, we savored every morsel of a lip-smacking, flavorful menu filled with a wide range of sensual pleasures. We left having experienced a true moment of “peach fever”. Summer has arrived…the peaches have spoken!

Peach Bruschetta

Peach Bruschetta

Arugula Pesto

1 clove garlic

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups arugula

Salt and Freshly ground pepper

 

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the bread

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 baguette, sliced 3/8 inch thick

1 to 2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 soft small peaches, peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into wedges ¼ inch thick

Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Coarse Salt

To make the pesto:

Combine the garlic and walnuts in a small food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the oil and arugula and continue to pulse until the mixture is evenly moist and spreadable.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the bruschetta:

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and rosemary. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a medium-hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill.  When the fire is ready, paint each bread slice on both sides with oil. Arrange the bread on the grill rack and toast, turning once, for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

When the bread slices are ready, let them cool enough to handle, then rub the smashed garlic cloves on both sides of each slice. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the pesto on one side of each bread slice. Top each slice with some of the caramelized onion, 1 or 2 peach slices, a little Parmesan, and a sprinkle of salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Entree of Mustard-Peach Glazed Chicken served at the lunch.

Mustard-Peach Glazed Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken breast halves, without skin

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

⅔ cup peach preserves

1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard (or Creole mustard)

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)

Pinch dried thyme

 

Directions

Heat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or spray with cooking spray.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Put chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound gently just to even out the thickness.

Place the chicken in the prepared baking pan. Brush chicken with a little melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients; stir to blend well.

Coat chicken thoroughly with the glaze; bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until golden brown and cooked through. If chicken breasts are quite thick, they might take a little longer. The juices should run clear when pricked with a fork.

Yield: 4 servings

Peach gazpacho garnished with almonds and parsley

Peach Gazpacho

Ingredients
6 soft peaches (about 2 ½ pounds), peeled, pitted and quartered
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon champagne or golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ to ¾ cup water
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Sliced almonds (for garnish, optional)

Directions
In a food processor, combine peaches, cucumber, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and ½ cup
water and pulse until coarsely pureed. Thin with remaining ¼ cup water if needed for a good
consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in cilantro or parsley. Ladle into bowls,
drizzle each serving with olive oil, and garnish with sliced almonds.

Yield: Make about 6 cups

Linda Alexander

Pictures by Linda and Starla

Previous peach lessons from Jeff

More peach recipes can be found on our garden recipes page.

 

 

Chrysalis Butterfly

A lovely friend and fellow Master Gardener has left us. Carolyn Bush died Friday, June 15, 2018.

From the beginning, Carolyn  supported our garden in many ways.  She brought her chickens when we had children visiting the garden on field trips. She also taught our visiting kids a  wonderful little class on cotton.  She brought a loom and let the kids weave. She taught them about growing cotton as well as it’s social aspects.

Carolyn Bush teaching children about cotton in 2014.

When we built our first rain garden in 2009 on Joe Field Road, Carolyn created posters explaining the whys and hows of rain gardens. She could be poetic as well as scientific in her explanation of things.

After our move to Midway Hills Christian Church in 2014, Carolyn began writing for Dallas Garden Buzz. Whenever she submitted an article, she always let me know we didn’t have to publish it  and reminded me to check for typos and errors. Of course, there never were any and we loved reading her point of view on everything from rose rosette, to unusual vegetable crops and then her last article written in February about cabbage white butterflies.  She didn’t like them as you can see from the title of the post: THOSE @#$%&BUTTERFLIES. Her gentleness had some limits!

Carolyn, the fund raiser, contributed to our craft sales with her handmade paper art and she was the instigator of our brick sales campaign.

Other gardens benefited from Carolyn’s knowledge and commitment including Hope Community Garden, Texas Discovery Garden and the chicken coop tour,” A Peep at the Coops.” She was also the capable layout and design editor of Helping Hands, the Dallas County Master Gardener monthly newsletter.

Chrysalis butterfly was Carolyn’s email address. A butterfly emerging from a cocoon is beautiful and a good representation of our friend.

Oh Carolyn, I wish I had known you were leaving us. I would like to tell you how much you were loved and that I admired your courage in the face of handicaps.  How wonderful it would be to see you pull up to our garden one more time in your trusty Subaru.

Goodbye dear Carolyn. We miss you,

Ann Lamb

Blog posts by the multi talented and productive Carolyn Bush:

Year of the Pulse

Malabar Spinach

A Musical Squash for the Edible Garden

Hanging out at the Mall

When Words Fail

Pretty Peas Please

Christmas in July

Made for the Shade

Cotton from Plant to Fabric

A Gardener’s Fright

It’s that Time of Year

Compost vs. Mulch, What’s the Difference?

Want to Try a Different Vegetable?

A Bright Spot in the Early Spring Garden

Vegetable Lambs

From Wheat to Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Summertime!

Color wheel at The Raincatcher’s Garden

Bog sage

Annette, Gail, Kathy and others have turned the color wheel into a spectacular sight. If you haven’t taken time to enjoy the wonder of the north garden, take a walk through it and check out the color wheel (love the bog sage in the blues!), the tomatoes in our tomato trial, and the beautiful flowers in the pollinator garden.

Did you know we harvested 17 pounds of red potatoes and  35 pounds of potatoes June 5th?

Our orchard looks wonderful this year with Champanel grapes in abundance and thriving fruit trees, and those daylilies in the mixed border are blooming like crazy.

Champanel grapes,one of our peaches and harvested potatoes!

Lisa Centala

Pictures by Starla Willis

Bye-bye Parsley, Thanks for the Greens!

We pulled up our beautiful, gorgeous, healthy, vibrant parsley today.  Why would we do this to our stunning, laugh-at-freeze-and-drought plant?  Because we are creating a landscape, not just a garden, and one of the tenants of landscape design is repetition.  A standard front-yard landscape may have only three different types of plants, but they may be used over and over in different areas of the yard.  With an edible landscape, we usually want to eat more than three different types of plants, so we find ways to modify the rules of landscape design.

 In this case, our parsley was living in a low wooden bed underneath the old swingset. Along the length of the swingset are four other low wooden beds, and for this season, they’ve been planted with peppers – five peppers per bed.  Four beds of peppers with one bed half full of parsley looks, well, odd. So we removed the parsley, added five more peppers, and created repetition – and cohesion – under the swingset.

Don’t cry too much for the parsley, though.  Big, green, vibrant and fragrant, it went home with our volunteers to be made into tasty morsels.  Do you have some parsley in your yard or garden? (Or local grocery?) Consider using some to make:

  • pesto – substitute it for the basil
  • tabbouleh – a wonderful summertime salad made with bulgur
  • chimichurri with it – an  Argentinian sauce for grilled foods
  • fry up sprigs – your choice if you want to dip them in a light batter first
  • ravioli – chop it up, mix with some ricotta and egg, salt and pepper, and fill ravioli with it
  • toss it into your next omelet or frittata
  • vinaigrette (or make a green goddess dressing)
  • how about a cream of parsley soup?  or in a falafel?
  • add it in to your regular salad, potato salad, meatballs, you can stick some practically anywhere you want a little – or a lot – of green

One last note:  There are three cultivars of parsley – curly, flat-leaf, and root.  All are biennials in our temperate climate, and this was the second year for this parsley plant.  The cultivar we were growing was the curly variety. The root variety will create a nice, edible taproot you can eat raw like a carrot, or cook like a turnip.  Look to central and eastern European dishes to see it featured. Flat-leaf is more commonly listed in today’s Western recipes, but curly and flat leaf can be used interchangeably.  Middle Eastern recipes are more likely to use the curly variety. Most people think flat-leaf is more flavorful, but if you grow your own, you’ll see that there’s plenty of flavor in the curly variety as well.

So, bye-bye parsley, and bon appetit stomach!

Lisa Centala and Edible Landscape team

Save these dates June 26 and 28th. 

The Peach Fever lunch on June 26 is sold out but class is open!

 

Wonders of the Garden

Is it true that sometimes good things come in small packages? In this case, yes, except for me it was a box. Waiting on my doorstep was the package clearly marked ‘Please protect from freeze and extreme heat’. With the thermometer quickly climbing to the 100+ mark, heat was the main concern of this precious piece of cargo. Why all the fuss?

In March of this year our Raincatcher’s edible landscape team had just started to install the first green material for our newly redesigned garden. Converting the church’s abandoned children’s playground into a place of tranquility and sensual delight was a challenging task.

It had already been determined that one specific area, a 12’ square to be exact, would be anchored by a stately bay laurel. Surrounding it in grand Victorian style, would be those aromatic jewels of the garden, the fragrantly pleasurable scented geraniums.

Numerous trips to our local garden centers yielded a disappointingly small number, 4 chocolate scented and 8 nutmeg. Call, after call resulted in the same answer; “No”, we don’t have any old-fashioned rose scented geraniums this year. Finally, after one month of searching, the answer we had hoped for came from an internet supplier. “Yes”, we only have 8 left and this is the last of the crop. “I’ll take them”, was my immediate answer!

Carefully opening the box and sifting through layers of slightly dampened newspapers, my eye caught the tip of a jagged little leaf peaking through. And then, there they were in all their Victorian glory, 8 beautiful…happy and ready to be planted in our garden…’Old-Fashioned Rose’ Scented Geraniums. After a moment of delicately crushing and bruising the leaves, my head was filled with their heavenly scent. Yes, of course, it was worth the wait. And, we promise next month to share photos of their progress along with a few recipes using the leaves in some of our favorite baked goodies.  

Scented geraniums to be planted in the edible landscape at The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Note: If you happen to notice more than 8 plants, SURPRISE, I couldn’t resist the temptation when the lady from Georgia taking my order said that she also had 4 peach scented geraniums available. Rubbing their fuzzy little leaves in between my fingers, I caught the gentle scent of a fresh Texas peach. For me, it was a moment of pure summer bliss.

After a night at my house, our precious cargo will go to its new home; the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills. Please visit us at 11001 Midway Road. We’re in the garden every Tuesday from 9:00 – 12:00noon tending to our babies.

Linda Alexander

Two events coming up at Raincatcher’s:

Peach Fever-June 26

Edible Landscaping Lecture and nibbles from the edible  garden-June 28

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