RSS Feed

Tag Archives: The Raincatcher’s Garden

Pesto Party Anyone?

Basil Bed Before Harvest

We had a party…a “Pesto Party” …and it was a chopping, blending and pulsing success. Our Edible Garden raised basil beds yielded some of the most beautiful plants we’ve ever seen. And, with a new drip irrigation system going in on Tuesday, all the plants had to be cut back rather severely. It was time to rally the troops and make good use of our harvest.

Two “favored” recipes, slightly adapted, served as the basis for our pesto making adventure. Each participant was encouraged to personalize their recipe. While some chose to stay with tradition, others brought an assortment of ingredients including everything from walnuts and pecans to a yeast substitute for the Parmesan cheese. Our garden, of course, provided the basil – three different varieties to be exact: Cardinal (cinnamon/clove flavor with hints of anise), Eleonora (somewhat spicier flavor than traditional pesto types) and Persian (a distinctive aroma, both lemony and spice like).

Once the food processors began their whirring magic, the next important decision was chunky or smooth. Those in favor of a smoother texture watched closely as more olive oil was slowly drizzled into the mix. If your twist happened to be chunky, only a few short pulses and it was done. More salt or lemon juice, each person had to make that call, as well.

Amidst all the chatter and finger licking swipes, it was hilariously entertaining to see each batch being scooped out of the processors. Varying shades of green, silky smooth texture or visibly chunky little pieces of spinach and nuts didn’t matter. Each jar was filled with a pesto that yielded its own distinct personality. And, our chefs were thrilled to take home over 30 jars of garden-fresh pesto for their personal enjoyment or to share with family and friends.

*If you have basil that’s ready for harvesting, try one of our favorite recipes included below.

Pesto After Basil Harvest

Spinach Basil Pesto

Ingredients

1 ½ cups baby spinach leaves

¾ cup fresh basil leaves

½ cup toasted pine nuts

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon zest

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Blend the spinach, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.  Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.

Yield:  24 servings

Classic Pesto

Ingredients:

3 large cloves garlic

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

½ cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place the basil leaves in a food processor and pulse until half-way chopped.  Add the pine nuts and garlic.  Continue pulsing.  Add the cheese, salt and pepper.  Through the pouring spout, with the processor on, drizzle the olive oil into the basil mixture.  Blend just until incorporated but not completely smooth.  A little texture is best.

Yield:  About 3 cups

Linda Alexander

 

 

 

The Fall Garden You Should Have Already Started

October 11, 2019

I’m late.  I should have been making space for fall vegetables in my 8x 10′ garden in August. My excuse is that the squash and basil were still producing and I had a fervent hope that my cucamelon vines would finally spring forth with those tiny cute cucamelons (alas, it did not).

My good friend, Sheila Kostelny, however, planted her garden in a timely manner. It’s the garden I’ve been dreaming about.

She has planted seeds of beets, carrots, spinach and 3 varieties of peas.

 

And already in the garden are transplants of Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Southern Giant Curled Mustard, Tiger Collards, and garlic.

Below are her Beauregard Sweet Potatoes which are arguably  the world’s most popular sweet potato. It’s popularity comes from producing high yields of uniform, reddish-purple potatoes with tasty, deep-orange flesh.

By the way, Sheila will be teaching how to grow sweet potatoes at our next Grow and Gaze event on October 22. Tickets for the lunch are sold out but the lecture is free and open to anyone who wants to attend.

For anyone else who is just now working on a fall garden, you can purchase transplants of broccoli, beets, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, swiss chard, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach and other cool season crops at your local garden center.

I’ll see you there!

Ann Lamb

 

Edible Landscaping, Here’s What You Plant!

The beautiful and edible Roselle Hibiscus planted in our Greenhouse beds. 

All plant material in the edible landscape is carefully selected for culinary purposes. Whether it be the leaves, flowers, fruit, roots or seeds, at least one part of the plant must be edible. Creating a visually attractive landscape design using only edible plants is the framework for our lovely garden. We hope you enjoy your visit to The Edible Landscape at Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.

Edible Plants in Our Garden and Some of Their Culinary Uses:

South Sidewalk Raised Beds (Left Side)

Garlic Chives – leaves and blossoms; salads, egg dishes and sauces

Spearmint – leaves; mint syrups, fruit salads, garnish for beverages, use with beef, lamb, English peas, cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon

Basil – leaves and blossoms; beverages, desserts, egg dishes, pesto and salads

South Sidewalk Raised Bed (Right Side)

Sweet Fennel – leaves; salads, sauces and grilled meats, – seeds; teas and sausage

Okra – pods for sautéing, roasting, frying and sliced raw in salads; leaves for frying

Strawberries – fruit; beverages, desserts, jams, jellies and soups

Trellis

Luffa – young vegetable and flowers; young vegetable can substitute for squash, zucchini or eggplant, flowers can be dipped in batter and sautéed

Clay Pot Bed

Sweet Myrtle – leaves, berries and blossoms; leaves in stews, roast meats, stuffing, salads and meat ragouts, berries as a substitute for black pepper

Dwarf Fig Tree – fruit; preserves, salads, grilled and baked

Stonescape

Mexican Mint Marigold – leaves; fish and poultry cookery, ice creams and teas

Curry Plant – leaves; mix with cream cheese for sandwiches, egg and chicken salads

Society Garlic – leaves; herb butters, egg and cheese dishes, starchy vegetables

Cutting Celery – leaves; dressings, salads and soups

Summer Savory – leaves; vegetable cookery, especially beans 

Italian Parsley – leaves; white sauce, scrambled eggs, baked corn or potatoes, poultry, dressing, biscuits and butter

Swing Set Frame Raised Beds

Pelargoniums (Scented Geraniums) – leaves; desserts, jellies, sugars and teas

West End of Swing Set Frame

Lamb’s Quarters – young, tender leaves for salads

Wire Frame North Side of Swing Set Frame

Anise Hyssop – dried leaves used for teas and seasonings

Lovage – leaves; salads, soups and stews – seeds; crushed or whole can be used like leaves – stems; blanched and eaten like celery

Scarlet Emperor Bean – leaves, blossoms, fruit; leaves cooked or raw, blossoms in salads, fruit (bean) young like green beans, or mature, used like dried beans

Statuary Bed  

Onion Chives – leaves and blossoms; breads, egg dishes, sauces and salads

Pumpkins – pulp and seeds; breads, pancakes, puddings, soups and toasted seeds

Square Raised Bed

Bay Laurel – leaves; seasoning for soups, stews, vegetables and sauces

Peppers – fruit; grilling, jellies, roasting, sauces and stuffing

Crescent Beds

Pineapple Sage; beverages

Sweet Marjoram ‘compacta’; breads, soups, sauces and pasta dishes

Stone Walkway, East Side

Salad Burnet – fresh young leaves in salads and dips

Hügelkultur

Winter Savory – leaves; vegetable cookery, especially beans

Italian Oregano – leaves and flowers; breads, spaghetti sauce, basting meats while grilling, pasta dishes

Artichokes – choke; steamed and sautéed

Strawberries – fruit; beverages, desserts, jams and jellies, soups

Swiss Chard – leaves; frittatas, savory tarts and soups

Wave Wall

French Sorrel – leaves; salads, sauces and soups

Greenhouse Beds

Monarda (Bee Balm) – leaves and blossoms; teas and salads

Lemon Balm – leaves; use as a garnish for summer drinks and salads, teas

German Chamomile – flowers; tea

Roselle Hibiscus– calyx, leaves, seeds; calyx for tea and jam, leaves in salads/stir fry, seeds ground into flour

Cinder Block Front of Greenhouse

Roselle Hibiscus – same as above 

French Tarragon planted in the half moon bed.

Brick Half Moon Bed, North Front of Greenhouse

Lemon Verbena – leaves; beverages, breads, desserts, jam and jellies and salad dressings

Mediterranean Swoop Bed

Pomegranate – flesh and seeds; jellies, salads and sauces 

French Tarragon – leaves; eggs, cheese dishes, sauces for fish, chicken tarragon and a classic in bearnaise sauce 

Thyme – leaves and flowers; stews, leafy vegetables, beef, fish, lamb, pork and poultry cookery, also used to cook with legumes

Culinary Sages (Garden, Purple and TriColor) – leaves and flowers; breads, poultry and pork cookery, thanksgiving stuffing 

Mexican Oregano – leaves and flowers; same as other oreganos

Raised Bed on Concrete Pad

Sweet Potato (Beauregard) – baking, roasting and sautéing for vegetable dishes and desserts

Plant Guild

Hardy Satsuma (Orange Frost) – fruit

Sweet Marjoram – breads, soups, sauces and pasta dishes

Cedar Fence

Sweet Olive (Osmanthus Fragans)- blossoms; dried and used in cakes and sweets 

Ginger – root, leaves; sauces, pickled, baked goods, leaves can be infused to provide a mild ginger flavor (compared to the root)

Linda Alexander

 

Dallas County Master Gardeners and Japanese Maples

Everyone loves Japanese Maples! Dallas County Master Gardeners were able to learn about them from expert, Scott Hubble, at our September meeting last week.

Scott works at Metro Maples in Fort Worth  and shared a wealth of information about these trees which come in all shapes, sizes and many colors.

Our Texas sun is the most important factor to consider when picking a location for a Japanese Maple. Morning sun with shade in the afternoon is generally perfect.

Japanese Maples are well situated when they are under the canopy of larger trees receiving dappled light throughout the day.

Remember they do not like soggy roots so plant them in areas with drainage.

No more words, let’s gaze at these beauties.

Look carefully inside this Japanese Maple to see homeowner’s mailbox. This  25-30 year old tree grew around the mailbox.

Thank you Metro Maples for the presentation and pictures.

Ann Lamb

All Master Gardener meetings are  held the 4th Thursday of the month at varying locations are open to the public.

Tool Time and education for all Thursday, October 3rd at 10am at The Raincatcher’s Garden. Click here for details.

Don’t forget to visit the Red Maple Rill at the Dallas Arboretum with over 80 varieties of signature Red Maples.

 

Dragonfly obelisk

Upended by the weather?

Dragonflies regulate body temperature in bright sunlight by doing a handstand. Entomologists refer to this upright dragonfly pose as the obelisk posture.

Thank you to the blog Portraits of Wildflowers.

Ann Lamb

Reminder that tickets went on sale this morning for the Pumpkins on Parade, Sweet Potatoes for Adornment event on October 22nd. Click here.

Picture by Steven Schwartzman of Portraits of Wildflowers.

Grow and Graze-Pumpkins on Parade, Sweet Potatoes for Adornment

“Pumpkins on Parade, Sweet Potatoes for Adornment”

If you click the eventbrite link below, you can ask for a reminder one hour before tickets go on sale!

Join us for an in-depth look into these harvest-season jewels that have become an intrinsic part of classic autumn fare.

Tuesday, October 22nd

A ‘Grow and Graze’ Event Hosted by the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

10:00 – 11:00am * 11001 Midway Road * Church Sanctuary

Free Program by Raincatcher’s Vegetable Experts

Immediately following the program, please join us in the Community Hall for Lunch

11:00 – 12:30

$15 per person, Reserved seating for 60, Ticket Sales Begin September 24th

Deadline Tuesday, October 8th

For Lunch Tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pumpkins-on-parade-sweet-potatoes-for-adornment-tickets-72885583743

 (Master Gardeners earn two CEU’s if attending both events)

Menu

Curried Pumpkin Hummus with Toasted Pita Chips

Autumn Bisque

Harvest Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato and Black-eyed Pea Salad with Rosemary-Honey Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Maple Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Chai Pots de Crème Garnished with Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Orange-Scented Water and Hazelnut Coffee

Linda Alexander

Facts About Growing Okra and Recipes from our Latest Grow and Graze Event

 

Botanically speaking, okra is a member of the mallow family. Looking deeper into the Malvaceaes, we learn that it shares family ties with cotton, cocoa, balsa wood, hibiscus and durian fruit. Ancient cultivation of okra can be traced back to East Africa, West Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Its arrival in America is documented as one of Africa’s major crops that were brought to the United States on slave ships. Okra probably landed in the US through the ports of Charleston and New Orleans in the 1700s.

Varieties:

The USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) yields 1,099 accessions, most unnamed.

The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in New Delhi claims over 4,000 accessions. 

Okra comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes: fat and thin pods, long and short pods and all sorts of variations in between. Colors vary from Burgundy, Red River, Louisiana Green Velvet, Emerald, Silver Queen, White Velvet and Jing Orange to Hill Country Red.

Tips:

Okra prefers a pH of around 6.5 and performs well in soils that are rich with organic matter.  Full sun is required. For best results, soak seeds for a few hours up to overnight. Plant okra seed 3” to 4” apart, thinning to 12”. For summer crops sow seeds in April and May. For a fall harvest, plant in late July to early August.

After the first harvest, remove the lower leaves to help speed up production. 

When shopping for okra, look for small bright green or red pods with no browning or discoloration, especially at the tips. Okra should be firm to the touch with no signs of limpness. Plan to use within a day or two or it will lose its texture and may even turn moldy. 

Interesting facts:

Okra will produce large flowers about two months after planting. The okra pods will be ready to pick three-to-four days later.

India is the largest producer of okra in the world. 

Okra leaves are incredibly nutritious. However, they need to be cooked as you would spinach or collard greens. Young leaves can be fried.

Okra plants are stunning and can be grown for their landscaping aesthetics alone, especially the red-stemmed varieties. We are currently growing both red and green varieties in the edible landscape at Raincatcher’s for this purpose. It’s something we hope to continue in 2020.

Following the program, guests were treated to a corn and okra flavor-filled lunch menu. Enjoy the photos and recipes from this delicious experience hosted by the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills. 

Our final ‘Grow and Graze’ event of 2019…Pumpkins on Parade and Sweet Potatoes for Adornment will be October 22nd.

Sign up will begin on September 24th. Ticket sales for our last event sold out in a few hours so mark your calendars now….

 

Warm Okra and Red Onion Salad with Pine Nuts

Ingredients

½ cup pine nuts

1 ½ tablespoons coconut oil (divided use)

½ red onion, thinly sliced

¾ pound okra, halved lengthwise

½ teaspoon kosher salt (divided use)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

Directions

Toast pine nuts: Heat oven to 400˚F. Place the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, shaking every 2 minutes. Remove from the oven when golden. 

Place ½ tablespoon of coconut oil into a large cast iron or nonstick pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside. 

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and increase temperature to medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add half of the okra and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Sauté for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove the okra and add to the onions. 

Add the second batch of okra to the pan (add a bit more coconut oil if the pan is dry). Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and okra back into the pan. Stir to combine. 

Add the Worcestershire and vinegar to the pan. Cook on medium-high until the liquid is reduced by half. 

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, basil, mint and toasted pine nuts. Stir well to combine. Salt to taste and serve immediately. 

Yield: Makes 6 servings.

Fried Okra with Pickle Aioli

Ingredients

Pickle Aioli

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles, plus 2 tablespoons pickle juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Okra

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

Kosher salt

1 pound okra, halved lengthwise

Directions

To make the pickle aioli: In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, pickles, pickle juice, dill and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To make the okra: In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 inches of the oil to 350˚F over medium-high heat. Alternatively, heat the oil to 350˚F in a deep fryer following the manufacturer’s directions. Line a large plate with paper towels. 

While the oil is heating, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, Old Bay and 1 tablespoon salt. 

Add the okra to the buttermilk mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to the flour mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. 

When the oil is hot, remove the okra from the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, and fry the okra in two batches until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the prepared plate and season lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining okra. 

Serve hot with the pickle aioli.

Yield: Serves 4

Fresh Okra Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups self-rising cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon hot sauce

2 cups thinly sliced fresh okra (about ½ pound)

¼ cup chopped onion

Directions

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; make a well in center of mixture.  Combine milk and next 4 ingredients; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Fold in okra and onion.

Grease muffin pans, and place in a 400˚F oven for 5 minutes.  Quickly spoon batter into prepared pans, filling two-thirds full; bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans immediately.

Yield:  1 ½ dozen.

Linda Alexander

%d bloggers like this: