Delicious Recipes with Sicilian Serpent Squash – Soup or Curry

Fresh Sicilian Serpentine SquashMaybe you have seen this amazing vegetable at a Farmer’s Market or maybe you even grow it yourself in your garden?  It has many different names such as serpent zucchini, italian squash, serpent of Sicily, zucchetta, calabash, and other names. They can be usedSelf-Healed end of a sicilian serpent squash like zucchini or summer squash, taste great, stay fresh for 2 weeks without refrigeration, and their most amazing feature is that they self-heal.   Just cut off as much as you want to use and leave the remaining portion out on your kitchen counter.  In no time, the end will dry and seal in the moisture and freshness of the left-over portion. when ready to use more, cut off another piece and discard the dried end.

So don’t hesitate, grab one and take it home.  Here’s my favorite EASY recipe that’s a hit at our table every time.  Add a different liquid and spice to make it either a soup or a curry (great over rice and pasta).

Serves 4
1 tablespoon of olive oil, heat
2 onions, chopped, add and cook until soft
1/2 of a serpent squash, peeled and cut into bite size pieces, add and stir
1 large package sliced button mushrooms, add and stir

For soup: add 2 chicken or vegetable flavor cubes and 2-3 cups water.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Freezes and reheats well.
For curry: add 3 tablespoons curry powder and 2-3 cups milk. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over pasta or with rice.  Freezes and reheats well.

Thin Bearded Iris Easily in 3 Steps

How to thin an iris clumpYou know it’s time to divide and thin your iris when the clumps are crowded and the blooms are declining in numbers. There are many opinions on the best time of year for tackling this task and this mostly depends on where you live.  As long as there are a good 4 weeks before the first freeze and you are able to provide adequate moisture, the iris will thank you with prolific blooms next spring.  So go ahead and get started.

1. Lift the iris out of the ground.  I prefer to use a garden fork, lift the whole clump, shake of the soil, and transfer the clumps to a wheelbarrow, one variety at a time.

2. Sort and trim. Toss all ‘mothers’ and tiny rhizomes. Keep only healthy looking plants and cut back  foliage and roots.

3. Replant.  If desired or needed, amend the soil for good drainage, then plant and water the iris in well. I recommend planting with the rhizome set into the ground and covered. If you live in a hot and wet climate, you may want to plant them a bit more shallow for better drainage.

Homemade Satsuma Citrus Orange Marmalade Recipe

Homemade Satsuma Marmalade

Just as the taste of a homegrown tomato cannot compare to the grocery store version, so too is it with homemade marmalade where the flavor pops on your tongue.

Satsuma Marmalade

Satsuma Marmalade

This recipe is simple, delicious and a great recipe for beginning canners. 100% deliciousness in a jar that goes perfectly on toast, saltines, chicken, pork, with coconut shrimp, and, and, and…
Tie a pretty ribbon around the top and it makes a great gift at any time.

Ingredients:

  • 12 Satsumas (about 2.5 pounds, can substitute Mandarin or Clementine oranges),  quartered and thinly sliced, discard any seeds.
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice, discard any seeds
  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 pounds of sugarTools: jelly jars, candy thermometer, funnel.

Equipment:

  • Saucepan
  • Candy Thermometer
  • Jelly Jars, Lids, and Rings
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Funnel

1. Wash the fruit with warm water and scrub with a brush to remove any dirt, grime or sprays that may have been used on the fruit beforeSimmering sliced Satsumas harvest.

2. Quarter and cut the satsumas into thin slices.

3.  In a heavy saucepan add water, all the fruit and lemon (zest and juice). Bring to boil and then simmer for 35-45 minutes until peel is tender.

4. Prepare your jars.

5. Remove pot from heat and add the sugar. NOTE: the rinds will stop softening once the sugar has been added, be sure it is to you desired tenderness before adding sugar.2016-12-06-09-41-30-small

6. Over medium heat, bring the fruit/sugar mixture up to boiling – stirring constantly. Cook to the jellying point (222 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Once the temperature starts rising over 212 degrees, it will take an additional 30-45 minutes to get to this point.  Do not rush here as your marmalade will not set if you are impatient.

7. Ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in a waterbath canner.

8. Check seals when cool and label. ENJOY!

Satsuma Marmalade going...going...gone

Satsuma Marmalade going…going…gone

Chestnuts – Fresh from the Garden

Fresh Chestnuts
The chestnuts are looking great this year!  They feel solid and I have been picking them them this morning.  Picking chestnuts is a prickly affair, one best wears heavy shoes and gloves. If you are fortunate to have a chestnut tree in your garden, it’s well worth the effort!

chestnuts

 

Once harvested, the nuts are  washed and then soaked in hot water (120-125F) for 30 minutes. Any nuts that float to the top are considered ‘not good’ and are discarded. They are then cooled, dried and stored at 35-40F in cloth bags. They will keep for weeks until ready to roast.




How to roast
chestnuts
chestnunts on baking sheetslitting chestnut
1. preheat the oven to 425F  
2. cut a Y slit into each nut

3. line cookie sheet with foil and spread out the nuts in a single layer
4. fold up the foil, leaving opening on the sides, then add 1/2 cup waterPeeled Chestnuts
5. roast for ~20 minutes
6. take out of oven, peel and enjoy

Roasted nuts can be shelled and frozen for later use.  Shelling is much easier when the nuts are hot. I leave the pan in the oven and get 2-3 nuts out at a time, then pack them in ziplock bags and put in the freezer.

Odenwälder Kochkäse – German Cooked Cheese – Recipe

One of our favorite foods when visiting Germany is Kochkäse, a creamy, semi-liquid cheese that is served on bread, on top of Schnitzel, or it can be eaten like a dip with crackers.  There is no shortage of recipes, most of them use ingredients impossible to find in the US, take weeks to prepare, or are complete fails in the flavor department.
For the last 20 years I have tried to make this delicacy here in Chattanooga. For the first time…..SUCCESS…Here’s my recipe using Greek Yogurt.

Koch Käse with crackers

Koch Käse with crackers

Ingredients:
1 Large (35.3 ounce) container 2% Fage Greek Yogurt
2 1/2 teaspoons Natron (Baking Soda)
2 teaspoons Salt
2 tablespoons Butter
2 teaspoons caraways seeds (if desired)

Yogurt with Natron and Salt

Yogurt with Natron and Salt

Instructions:
1. Strain the yogurt in the fridge overnight.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth (a kitchen towel, coffee filter or clean handkerchief will do too). Set the strainer over a bowl and pour the yogurt into the lined strainer.
2. Pour the thick yogurt into a bowl and mix well with the Natron and Salt, using a wooden spoon.  Cover the bowl and let sit out on the counter at room temperature.  Stir every few hours until the mixture is translucent. This process will take about 24 hours.
3. Pour the mixture into a pot, add 2 tablespoons Butter. Stir constantly and slowly warm on VERY LOW setting until it has the consistency of vanilla pudding.  DO NOT let this mixture get hot or it will curdle.  If desired, add caraway seeds.
4. Pour into containers and store covered in fridge, will keep 2 weeks.

Finished Kochkäse

Finished Kochkäse

Bite Back at Henbit

Come visit and take a look in our gardens, you’d surely soon guess my favorite color in plants. From light lavender to a deep, nearly black – purple – it’s present in every bed and during every season.

But not every purple flowering plant is a keeper. Henbit – OH NO! I have no idea where it came from but it’s everywhere in our garden. Lamium amplexicaule officially is a member of the mint family, flowers during cool weather and is present throughout the US.

Henbit plant

Henbit – GO AWAY!

Mulching

My favorite method, so I’ll mention it first. Spread newspapers, flattened cardboard boxes and junk mail around the plants and cover with a thick layer of compost or mulch. Instantly, the beds look great and cared for and weeds stay suppressed all season. You may be tempted to go for weed fabric or plastic – resist and use biodegradable paper. It’s better for the environment and there will be no need to wrestle with bits and pieces of material a year or two down the road.
Don’t give weeds a chance to get started!

Hand Weeding

What other activity can you think of that is so destructive and rewarding at the same time?
While not having to hand weed would be the best option at all, no amount of mulching and using groundcovers will eliminate weeds completely. Henbit seems to only need a single ray of sunshine and a speck of dirt to grow into a fine specimen plant!
Try to disturb the ground as little as possible and avoid disbursing weed seeds (don’t shake off the plant) before tossing it. Use a hand weeder or a pair of clippers to cut off at the base. repeat as needed and sooner or later, the roots will be exhausted and incapable of sending up new growth.

Paint Class

So I have been thinking about painting some of the —eeewww brown— furniture in our house for some time.  I am not someone to whom design and matching colors comes naturally so ii have been following Pinterest boards and paint groups on facebook for some time.
Finally, I was ready to take the plunge and try out some painting techniques on an olf board.  I started -per the info I learned from the paint groups- by going to some ACE hardware stores and buying sample paints (on sale 1.99) in the colors I liked, plaster of paris powder, sandpaper, wipe on finish coat, and java gel.

I think it was my good luck to see the ad for the painting class at Redbriar Antiques when i was out shopping.  ‘bring a piece of furniture and leave with it finished’. I signed on the dotted line!

So rather then trying out painting on a scrap board, I jumped in head first and painted this gossip bench.

gossip bench

before

gossip bench

getting ready to paint

gossip bench

painting!

gossip bench

java gel top, purple and cream paint

gossip bench

home again – all finished

Jeff’s Favorite Cake – Recipe

Time: 20 minutes prep, 25 minutes bake, 10 minutes finish
Difficulty: Easy2014-11-27 09.17.44 (Small)Step 1:

100 g butter
100 g sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
4 Egg yolk (large)
200 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Mix butter, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla sugar and beat till fluffy, add in flour and baking powder and stir till smooth.  Spread across TWO springform bottoms, this is a very thin base!

Step 2:

4 egg whites
200 g sugar
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
Make meringue and
spread onto both dough bases.80 g sliced almonds – sprinkle on top of meringue then bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let cool.

Step 3:

1 pint whipping cream
2014-11-27 09.11.08 (Small) 2 packages whip-it
 1-2 package vanilla sugar
Mix together and whip cream until stiff peaks form, fold in fruit (mandarin oranges, gooseberries, currants, blueberries, etc) and spread on bottom layer of the cake.  Cut the second layer into desired number of slices and put on top. Use a sharp knife and cut the cake all the way through.
 

 

 

My Firefox is Sluggish and Crashes Fix

Are you about ready to throw your Firefox browser in the garbage and go back to MSIE?  It’s slow, it uses up all your memory and then – to add insult to injury – the #$%@#$ plug-in container crashes.

There’s two things that are responsible for your woes.

1. Flashplayer.  nearly every webpage nowadays  has some ad on the page which uses flashplayer.
2. plug-in container.  It came along in the early (think single digit) version of FF and really isn’t needed in the newer versions (24+)

This is a 2 part fix and will work on machines running Win7 and Win8.1, i can’t speak about any other OS. You have nothing to loose if you run other versions of Windows and have googled for a fix, tried all the other ones you found and none worked. I certainly have spent hours looking for help and have tried most every suggestion I have come across.  This solution below is the ‘magic combination’ that  works for the computers I have encountered with this problem.
The images shown were taken from my Win7 system.  For Win8.1 use the search to find system properties.

open add onsStep #1.oen option  turn off autoplay for flashplayer.
open FF >>
Go to options >> click on add-ons >> set flashplayer to ‘ask to activate’

ask to activateStep #2. turn off plug-in container

propertiessys set
>> rightclick ‘computer’ and select ‘properties’

>> click on ‘Advanced system settings’

 

>> click the ‘Environment Variables’ buttonenvironment

variabl

>> click ‘New…’
in the user section if you want to set this separate for each account or in the system section if you want to set for all users on this machine

edi var
>> type: MOZ_DISABLE_OOP_PLUGINS in the ‘Variable Name’ box and set value to 1
>> click OK. OK. OK. to exit.  Restart Firefox.

Growing Daylilies from Seeds

Are the pods ripe? If it’s been about 7-8 weeks since fertilization and the pods are beginning to turn brown or open up at the tips, the seeds are ready to be harvested.

Collect the seeds and soak them in warm water overnight. The next day, put them in a zip-lock type bag and place the bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.  Daylily seeds require a minimum of 4 weeks cold stratification before they will sprout.  Important: Label your bag prominently so your harvest won’t accidentally end up on your dinner plate.

daylily seeds

daylily seeds

When you are ready to plant the seeds, remove the bag from cold storage.  Check first.  Have the seeds already started to sprout?  If yes, you can go ahead and plant them.  if no, add some water to the bag and leave out in a dark and warm location. For the next week, check daily to see if seeds are starting to germinate.  If there are no white feet popping out, put the bag back into the crisper for a week as the cold period needs to be extended a bit more.

It’s time to plant, what to do?
Plop seeds into pots filled with potting mix and place in a warm and sunny location.  How deep to plant?  Some sources recommend covering with about an inch of potting mix, others suggest they will do fine gently pushed on top of the mix as long as they are kept moist.  I either bury them or cover the pot loosely with piece of plastic kitchen wrap because I tend to forget to mist them as frequently as they like.
Watch for green leaves and once the plants are about 5-6 inches tall they can be planted out in your garden. Soon, you’ll have completely new daylily varieties – that may or may not look anything like their parents – growing in your garden.