Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Growing Herbs

May 11th 2010

onionchives Growing HerbsI love cooking with herbs. I like opening my kitchen door and picking fresh ones as the need arises. Plus you can dry or freeze the extra herbs to get you through winter or bring a whole plant inside in a pot.

Not only are herbs super cheap to grow at home, most start easily from seeds. All you need is some potting soil, a pot, a few seeds, and a little bit of research. You can go to a website like herbcompanion.com to get info on some unusual herbs, planting suggestions, and recipes to use with your bounty. You can also take a close look at your seeds packet.

You can buy seeds online, at a garden store, or even at your local Whole Foods store. The trick is to really read the seed packet. It gives you a ton of information. When to plant, if it is a cool weather herb like cilantro or if it needs the heat of summer like basil does. You can also find out if it’s better to start inside before the last frost or if you can sow it straight into a pot. It tells you how many days it will be before the seeds should emerge after you plant them.

The packet is also where you can tell if it’s an annual or perennial. An annual only lives one season then goes to seed and dies. Basil and cilantro are annuals. Perennials come back year after year. Thyme, mint, sage, and rosemary are all perennials. You may think perennials are the way to go, but while they come back every year they are not totally maintenance free. You’ll need to divide them and put them into larger pots as they outgrow the one from last year. The bonus about dividing them is you have another plant to trade or give to a friend.

There are reasons to grow annuals and perennials. The reason to select an herb is grow what you like to eat!

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Garden | 3 Comments »

The Elegant Salad

April 25th 2010

nasturtiums small The Elegant SaladThere is nothing more refreshing than the first salads of the season. After being pent up inside the house with warm stews and possibly more Swiss chard than one can or should consume, new veggies are definitely a requirement.

Salad becomes my default meal in the summer once it’s too hot to bear turning on the stove. In spring it seems more like a privilege to have a salad for my main course. Especially when I’m harvesting the lettuce from my own home garden. I have several varieties such as iceburg, Romain, deer tongue, red oak leaf, red romaine, mesclun mix, and spicy baby Asian green mix. If you don’t have any space to grow your own, a quick trip to your local farmers market will give you even more choices. Try as many heirloom varieties as you can. You won’t find them in your supermarket because they don’t ship well and some are only available for a short time in the spring and fall.

One way to dress up your salad is to serve it on Noritake colorwave plates. My favorites are the accent plates. Make sure to garnish the salad with a few surprises such as fresh strawberries and goat cheese, or toasted nuts and dried berries.

My favorite way to elevate a salad is by adding edible flowers. Make sure you are buying culinary grade or eating ones you grow yourself. If they were not grown as food, they may be sprayed with chemicals that you do not want to ingest. I grow nasturtiums which is a beautiful vining plant with edible leaves and flowers. The leaves add a peppery taste to the salad and the petals add so much color that you can even make a side salad out of just lettuce and nasturtiums.

Don’t underestimate what you can add to a salad. Use leftover steak, chicken, even steamed asparagus to make it a heartier meal. A salad doesn’t have to always be dainty. You can serve black beans, pulled chicken, avocado and salsa on top of a crunchy lettuce and even the biggest working man can fill up on it!

One thing I love to do is serve a salad that I toss in a dressing, rather than serve the dressing on the side. I find you can use so much less dressing that way and it allows the flavors to meld in a magical way when each lettuce leaf is perfectly coated. It’s great for dieters too, since you can easily triple the amount of calories with extra dressing.

Posted by Myriam under Garden & Hostessing & Party Food & Spring Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | 5 Comments »

Grow a White Garden

April 16th 2010

moonflower Grow a White Garden

This year plan ahead for your outside parties and add in some easy drama to your yard. A white garden is simply different white flowers that are grouped together. While it sounds uneventful, it will catch the attention of all your guests once a little moonlight hits it.

You see, the beauty of a solid white section in your garden is that once night falls it almost appears to glow. It’s simply that white reflects the moonlight more than darker colors, but you don’t have to tell any of your guests that.

If you have a small patch of garden to spare try planting a few of these (in white varieties, of course):

  • alyssum
  • baby’s breath
  • bachelor button
  • petunia
  • yarrow
  • zinnia
  • inpatients

If you don’t have space in your yard (or a yard at all) buy a container and plant a mixture of the above list for your patio or balcony. My very favorite white flower is a vine called moon flower. You can easily start it from seed. Just make sure you have a trellis or tee pee shaped bunch of bamboo for it to climb up. They get about 15 feet tall, but you can have a shorter trellis and wind the tendrils to get it where you want it as it grows.

It will take a few weeks for it to get going, but once it does you’ll have beautiful blooms every evening, all summer long. Moon flowers are about 4 – 6 inches big and last only for one evening. Keep an eye out because a flower can open in a matter of minutes if the weather is just right.

The vine gets covered with buds, so you will get a few each evening once it starts blooming. It’s a relative of the morning glory, which only opens in the morning. It is an annual so it only lasts one season. But it is easy to harvest its seeds in the fall. Just let the vine dry out and bring in any seed pods you find on it inside. You’ll have a few handfuls to plant next year.

Posted by Myriam under All About the Home & Garden & Summer Entertaining | 3 Comments »