I’ve spent the last 10 years writing feature articles for Acres USA magazine and this year, I focused my pen on profiling some of the most influential women in regenerative eco-ag. My June 2021 female-farmer profile features Mimi Hillenbrand of the 777 Bison Ranch in northwest South Dakota. Here in the dry short-grass prairie, Mimi and the Hillenbrand family have been raising genetically-pure American Bison for over 30-years using an impressive array of holistic, humane, and sustainable practices in what Mimi calls “a partnership with nature”. My article made the cover of the print edition, but you can read it for free at Acres Eco-Farming Daily online.
In Persimmon Pickin’ Time Part One, I talked about how to identify and harvest wild persimmons and how to process this delectable wild fruit. Today, we’ll take on the sticky-sweet pulp of persimmon in the kitchen with a couple of my favorite persimmon recipes to get you started. Continue reading →
The Ozarks are filled with wonderful edibles, like sweet and sticky wild persimmons. And now that the scorching heat of summer and its itchy bug bites are a thing of the past finding and harvesting these little gems is as easy as pie!
Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
As a gardener, backwoods herbalist and foodie, I absolutely love my home-grown herbs. They are so easy to care for and even easier to put away for the long run. I freeze a few herbs like cilantro and basil pesto, but honestly, drying is the very best way to preserve the flavor and medicinal qualities of culinary herbs for the long run. Plus, if the electricity goes out – or you need to bug out – dried herbs are not only lightweight and take up little room, but they won’t spoil, either. And while there is a lot of information out there on drying homegrown herbs, the truth is it isn’t hard or time consuming. Anyone can do it. And the best part is, you don’t need to buy or build a fancy or expensive dehydrator to get the job done. In fact, when you dry herbs my way, it’s fast, easy, and absolutely free!
When I first saw Burger King’s advertisement for the Impossible Burger, my stomach did a triple somersault. This is because I have been following the development and deployment of this Franken-food with disgust for the last couple of years and the last place I expected it to ooze to the surface was at one of the world’s leading processed fast food chains. Burger King has gone above and beyond to make this genetically modified bacteria burger sound like a super-yummy healthy alternative to meat, but when you learn the truth, your stomach will lurch, too. Continue reading →
Gardening and processing the bounty is both rewarding and time-consuming. So, any time I find a way to make preserving the harvest easier, I’m all in! Today, I’d like to share my recipe for Super Simple Refrigerator Jalapeno Slices and my best tips for slicing and deseeding hot peppers without the burn! Continue reading →
This is the final installment of a three-part series on the history and use of teas around the world. In today’s final episode, we are celebrating America’s modern twist on “English High-Tea” with an entire menu of scrumptiously super easy recipes that will turn any tea time into the party of the season! Let’s go!
In part one of Tea Time, we learned a little about the history of classic black tea and how British “tea time” came to shape American culture. Today, we are going to delve into the types of teas available around the world and what makes them so wonderful. Let’s go!
Jill Henderson ~Show Me Oz
With a huge array of beverages available on the market today, it might come as a surprise to learn that common black tea is the most popular beverage in the world. In this 3-part series on tea that I first published in Llewellyn’s 2015 Herbal Almanac, I delve into the tantalizing world of tea.
Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz – I don’t really feel totally comfortable with the word clone. It’s a little too 2001 Space Odyssey kind of creepy for me, but if you have a seedling, transplant, or mature tomato plant break, you can turn a major-minor disaster into a gardening win-win by cloning it. I’ve saved more than my fair share of nearly-dead plants over the last 30-something years and it works almost every time. Continue reading →
Today, I thought I’d share some of the writing I do for Acres USA magazine. These articles all appeared in the print version of the magazine but are now being republished in their online magazine, Eco Farming Daily, which is a great way to read some of the best articles on sustainable and ecological agriculture anywhere. Enjoy!
With a score of recent legal victories against the makers of Round Up (glyphosate) herbicide for its role in causing cancer, there can be no more doubt about what activists and independent researchers have been saying for the last two decades: glyphosate is deadly! Not only is it the most-widely used herbicide in the world but one that is pervasive in our food, water, and air. Over 98% of people tested in the US had significant levels of glyphosate in their blood and urine – including pregnant women and their unborn babies. Despite both Monsanto and Bayer’s claims, glyphosate does not break down readily or quickly in the environment leaving untold millions exposed to this cancer causing herbicide. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can start to detox your environment and your body from this cancer-causing herbicide. Continue reading →
Another holiday season is upon us and no doubt there will be moments of both stress and joy, especially in the kitchen. But don’t let a simple thing like making a couple of homemade pies intimidate you so much that you feel obliged to turn to the premade, nutritionless dessert options in the frozen food section!
Food has the power to hurt or heal, depending on how it is grown and prepared. In this week’s article, I have a bit of “spicy” history and 10 fantastic naturally healthy spice blends that you can make at home and share with friends using common home-grown organic herbs and spices, which are not only super yummy but super healthy, too! Continue reading →
It’s early Monday morning and head brewer Amy Fischer is standing on a step ladder in the back room of Wages Brewing Company carefully stirring a steaming vat of barley and wheat mash that will soon be fermented into a tasty batch of Whatknot Ale. After years of practicing and perfecting the craft of small-batch brewing at home, owner and brewer Phil Wages and his wife, Amber, officially opened their brewery and taproom in the small rural community of West Plains, Missouri, in early 2017. With an official population of just below 12,000 people, the last business most residents expected to pop up in town was a brewery, but for Phil Wages, it was the perfect opportunity. PDF
If you have ever dreamed of keeping bees but found the process complicated, expensive, or the potential for losing your investment to disease and pests all too real, then you have never met Dr. Leo Sharashkin, a prominent wild bee enthusiast, educator, and apiarist who practices an ancient method of catching and keeping wild bees in specially-designed horizontal hives. If you have had the good fortune to meet Dr. Leo or to hear him speak to a room full of enthusiastic beekeepers or the crowd that inevitably gathers around his Horizontal Hive booth at grower’s conferences across the country, you already know that his encyclopedic knowledge of bees is boundless and the methods he uses to keep them, truly inspiring. Whether you are a budding beekeeper or an experience apiarist, you can keep happy and productive bees with less work and money than you ever imagined possible and do it in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. Read more…safe PDF opens automatically
If you are a lover of kitchen or healing herbs, you have most likely heard of or read about Sweet Cicely, but have never seen it in person or grown it yourself. The truth is that this lovely herb is rarely grown or used in America today, which is why I often refer to it as one of the “forgotten herbs”. That being said, I think it is high time that herbalists and culinary artisans turn their attention back to this delicate beauty and return it to a place of honor in both the culinary and ornamental gardens of today. (Feature image by Amanda Slater, Coventry, England – Sweet Cecily, CC BY-SA 2.0, edited, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4225926)
What do you call a remarkably ornamental plant that produces an obscure yet desirable international commodity plus a wide array of useful products like seed meal, cooking oil, coffee alternative, fruity beverage, natural food coloring agent, organic pectin, medicinal herbage, and strong hemp-like fibers? Most English speaking people call this plant Roselle, but around the world it is known by many names including Rosa de Jamaica, Florida Cranberry, Red Sorrell, Jelly Okra, Karkadé, and Bissap (bee sap), just to name a few. But if you are a producer living in an area with a long growing season, you might wind up calling roselle a money maker. For such a desirable crop, most people in Europe and North America know roselle only by taste. That’s because it is the singular ingredient that gives Celestial Seasonings popular Red Zinger Herbal Tea its infamous berry-like “zing”. Yet, for all of its flavor and versatility, this tropical beauty is rarely grown in the home garden or in the fields of American farmers. Read more…safe PDF opens automatically
In the heart of the Missouri Ozarks the little village of Peace Valley wakes to another beautiful sunrise, revealing the rolling hills and hardwood forests that Jim and JudyJo Protiva call home. It is here in this small, but tightly-knit community that a former Grand Canyon guide and a Rocky Mountain Ranger decided to settle down to raise a family and grow food in a way that honored God’s creation to the fullest. Over the next 21 years, the Protivas turned their passion for clean, healthy food into Peace Valley Poultry; perhaps the oldest pastured poultry operation in the state. Read the entire article in PDF
Real people growing real food. “It’s all about protecting the land and bringing it back to health. Not just taking what we can get from it, but giving back to the system to keep it fed.” Emily Towne, Full Plate Farm. Read more about Full Plate Farm in this article published in the January issue of Acres USA Magazine. Read the entire article here.
The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food, including the oh-so-delectable black walnut. Each fall, the huge green fruits come crashing down into parks, yards, and a multitude of public spaces, making them easy game for any wild or urban forager. Indeed, why pay $5 for a 4 ounce bag of nutmeats when you’ve got black walnut trees around? That’s just nuts! The problem most people face isn’t acquiring enough nuts to make it worth their while, it’s the cleaning, cracking and picking that really gets them. So, if you’ve never done it before because you’ve heard how hard they are to deal with, I hope this post will make the cleaning, cracking and picking of black walnuts just a little bit easier.
The summer harvest is never truly complete until I have at least a few bottles of garlic chili oil tucked away in the pantry and a handful of spicy golden vinegars gracing the windowsill. These flavorful and versatile condiments are super easy to make and add layers of flavor to your favorite dishes.
Summer and fall are all about harvesting and storing vegetables and fruits. Our early summer fruit favorites are the bramble fruits, which grow wild and abundantly in our neck of the woods. Needless to say, I have spent my fair share of hot summer days hovering over boiling kettles and canners in the effort to put gallons and gallons of fresh berries away for the long term, but not anymore. If age is any indication of wisdom, I’ve definitely gotten smarter – at least about some things. Now, I freeze all of our berries in quart-sized freezer bags. Then, when I need a jar of jam or sweet fruity filling or topping for cakes or pastries, I just whip up exactly what I need in 15 minutes for a super scrumptious and versatile treat!
I love being a writer because I get to meet and learn from extraordinary people like Erin and Josh Blegen. This young couple grow, raise, hunt, and wildcraft a huge percentage of their own food on their small farmstead in the small village of Grand Marais, Minnesota. One way the Blegens make the most of the very short growing season found around the shores of Lake Superior, is by employing the hügelkultur method of gardening.
Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Horseradish is one of those herbs that everyone knows about, but few actually grow. Perhaps that’s because it isn’t used much in today’s cooking, or perhaps because it’s hard to process. And like mint, horseradish has a nasty reputation for overstepping its boundaries in the garden. Yet, for its flaws, horseradish is a pretty perennial that is tough as nails and easy to grow. And not only is horseradish full on flavor, but it is totally jam-packed with health benefits that include fighting cancer, improving cardiovascular health, and even reducing plaque on teeth!
Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
Whether you like it seeded, juiced, sliced, cubed, or just straight off the rind, there’s almost nothing better on a hot summer day than a big ‘ol chunk of juicy-crisp, sweet-ripe, just-from-the-garden watermelon. M-mmm. Of course, if you grew that melon in your own garden, the level of satisfaction rises even higher. But if you really want to reach gardening nirvana, try harvesting a watermelon that you not only grew, but grew from seed you saved yourself. And the best part? Saving your own watermelon seed is soooo dang easy!
Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
Parsley: That ambiguous and often frilly herb that many gardeners grow, but few actually use. If you haven’t grown parsley yourself, you’ve surely bought it at least once or twice in your life to use as a garnish for dressing up platters or plates. Or, perhaps you’ve gone so far as to sprinkle it sparingly atop mashed potatoes or added a pinch here in there when making soup or stuffing. And while many recipes call for at least a bit of fresh parsley, most people don’t go to the trouble – or worse yet, they use bland dried parsley from the grocery store. (Egad!) If this sounds like you, I’m about to rock your kitchen and your herbal medicine chest by showing you that parsley is much more than a pretty garnish: it’s a virtual powerhouse of flavor and a game-changer for your health. And best of all – it’s super easy to grow and use.
Show Me Oz – I have been growing my own sweet potatoes for years, but I always do it the same old way and with varied results. The most common method of starting sweet potato slips is to root a whole sweet potato in a jar of water. The sprouted shoots are then pulled off the mother tuber and rooted in potting soil before being set in the garden. (see Start Your Own Sweet Slips). Yet, I always seem to have trouble getting the tuber to root and send up enough shoots during the cold winter months to have the slips ready by planting time. And I never seem to get enough slips. So, this year I tried a new and very simple method of producing an abundance of sweet potato slips with a lot less fuss and muss.
Show Me Oz – As a gardener, cook and herbal enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting plants. Because my garden is relatively small, every single plant that makes it through the front gate either has to look fantastic, taste great or have useful healing properties. One plant that fits all of my criteria is Nigella sativa – also known as the Blessed Seed.
Of all the holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving is by far and away my favorite. And anyone who knows me, also knows that I love me some dessert. In fact, pies are a particular weakness of mine. I mean, who doesn’t love a sweet, crunchy, savory plate of unimaginable yumminess wrapped in a simple, flaky crust and slathered with a delectable topping? Of course, if you are the one tasked with bringing the pies and aren’t feeling up to the task you might just be in stress-mode. But don’t sweat it. In this week’s Show Me Oz, I’ll show you how to make a simply delicious pie (and crust!) that you can be proud of!
In my kitchen, garlic reigns supreme. I use it for so many dishes that I like to joke that I put garlic in everything but dessert! Because we use so much fresh garlic, we always grow enough to last us all year. The only problem with growing a ton of garlic is storing it in a way that saves space, preserves quality, and allows for quick and easy removal of bulbs that develop bad spots, bruises, or those that have begun to sprout. To solve these problems I began braiding our garlic. With garlic braids, not only can I easily choose which bulbs need to be used first, but the long strands can be hung virtually anywhere and take up absolutely zero storage space on my shelves. Of course, garlic braids look great and they make wonderful gifts, too. So get your garlic on and let’s braid it in 10 easy steps!
Growing up in the heart of Cajun and Creole country, I learned early on that no dish is truly complete unless it begins with a mess of sweet and savory onions. Of course, when I began to garden it was only natural to want to grow my own. But I soon found out that good cooking onions aren’t necessarily easy to grow. They come with very specific needs, including the perfect conditions for long-term storage, that I just couldn’t seem to provide. For years I limited myself to the growing of onion chives and leeks to satisfy my need for easy-to-grow oniony flavor. And then I found Egyptian walking onions.
Have you ever perused a seed catalog looking for the perfect tomato and been a little confused by the size descriptions? I have. And as someone who recently has had to learn a whole lot about writing short variety descriptions, I appreciate what information I do get from seed packets and catalogs. But I also don’t have time to sift through all the varied ways that tomatoes are described in terms of size. What I needed a way to compare tomato sizes at a glance: Is tomato A bigger or smaller than tomato B? So, I set out to make some sense of all the numbers, weights, measurements and obscure descriptives for comparing various sizes of tomatoes.
Every summer, Dean and I spend a measurable amount of time harvesting, cleaning, curing, and braiding the organic garlic we produce in our garden. We use garlic in almost every dish we prepare at home and often utilize its amazing curative powers, as well. I like garlic braids because they are beautiful to look at and compact enough to hang in the kitchen pantry without cluttering things up. But no matter how and in what conditions you store your garlic, there comes a time when the living bulbs begin to sprout and slowly rot. But you can salvage the wonderful flavor and medicinal properties of garlic before it’s too late…
No matter how hard the bitter winds blow or how deep the snow gets, the avid gardener can still enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of fresh home-grown herbs all winter long. All you need is a few pots, some potting soil, and one or two relatively warm and sunny windowsills on which to perch them. And while an indoor herb garden will likely produce less than those summer-grown herbs from the garden, they are still useful, flavorful and oh, so beautiful to look at. In this week’s Show Me Oz we’ll talk about indoor herb gardens and how to grow your own, including special cultivars bred specifically to perform well in pots.
It’s mid-November and an arctic blast is about to make its way all the way to the Gulf Coast. But even though it is really beginning to feel like winter, gardening season isn’t over just yet! Here in Zone 7 – where we’ve already had several hard freezes – the chives and their oniony relatives are still churning out a plethora of tasty leaves and succulent stems for the kitchen. If you’ve never grown winter onions, you might be surprised how long “stinking rose” family members last in the winter months. And believe it or not, early winter is a great time to plant a few seeds of your favorite onion wanna-be!
After several years of extreme summer heat and drought, this year we decided to give the cucumbers the most fertile spot in the garden and trained them to climb a 10 foot tall trellis. Before they ever reached the top (and crawled on to the roof of the house!), they were producing an abundance of fruits. Needless to say, we have had to come up with quite a few novel ways to prepare cucumbers, but nothing beats a classic crunchy dill pickle for long-term satisfaction. In this week’s Show Me Oz, I’ll share a few pickling tips and tricks and the easiest, most laid back pickle recipe ever!
Now that the weather has finally warmed to normal summer temperatures many of the late-flowering herbs in the garden have exploded into a tangle of arching stems and resinous leaves ready to be harvested for drying and storage. But before I begin cutting, I want to make sure that they are relatively free of dirt and debris. But should herbs harvested for drying be washed at all, and if so, how and when does one go about washing them?
Harvest and storage methods are critical components of utilizing herbs or other plant material for culinary or medicinal purposes. Gathering, drying and storing herbs correctly a big difference in the quality and quantity of essential oils in the leaves. This not only affects the flavor of dried herbs, but increases their shelf-life and medicinal potential, as well. Of course, it is possible to gather herbs at just about any point in their growth cycle and still obtain a decent product, but for flavor that will knock your socks off, consider the following tips for harvesting the best culinary herbs ever.
I love cooking with fresh herbs, which is why when we moved here, the herb garden wound up being planted two steps from the front door. I wanted to be able to step out and get a quick pinch of this herb or that between stirring the pot. But even with my laid back life of no work (ha ha), it’s not always that simple or convenient to run outside when it’s raining, for example. So, I have learned to keep plenty of fresh herbs at hand in the kitchen where no shoes or umbrellas are necessary. But for an herb-fiend like me, that means finding a way to keep them at their just-picked best.
Wild blackberries are among the most productive and versatile fruiting plants in the wild. The most difficult thing about gathering blackberries is deciding what to do with all those dark luscious fruits once you get them home. Luckily, blackberries lend themselves to all kinds of luscious concoctions, not all of which have to be jams and pies. In fact, once the main harvest is neatly tucked into the freezer, the last pick is always reserved for makin’ Wild Blackberry Wine! Continue reading →
I just found this great World War I poster at the USDA’s National Agriculture Library urging people to give more thought to the food they eat. Published by the Pennsylvania Committee for Public Safety, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Funny how some things never change…
It’s been a wonderfully long and cool spring, but the temps have been climbing steadily into the more June-like 90’s. With the heat has come the ripening of the wild black raspberries followed quickly by wild blackberries and giant boysenberries. My husband Dean has already been out gathering the earliest of the sweet-tart fruits. Historically, I have left the berry pickin’ to Dean. But this year, I have set myself to pick with him every single time and I know it’ll be an adventure. Continue reading →
It’s that time of year again and the pokeweed is already knee-high – just right for the picking. Although poke has been eaten as a vegetable for hundreds – if not thousands – of years, authorities now say that pokeweed should never be consumed because of its potentially toxic compounds. Yet, over the years I have received multitudes of emails from older folks who say they’ve eaten it their whole lives with no ill effect. What do you thing? Should pokeweed go in the pot, or not?
Last week, I talked about the various types of edible sorrel that can be grown in the garden or wild foraged. The two most commonly cultivated species are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus), followed by their wild counterparts, Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and Red-veined Sorrel or Bloody Dock (Rumex sanguineus). Of these, French sorrel is the most popular for cooking and fresh eating. This week, we’ll take a closer look at how to use French and Garden Sorrel in the kitchen and then delve into the medicinal aspect of these overlooked herbs.
Spring had barely arrived before we were filling our salads and sandwiches with the crisp, lemony leaves of sorrel; one of our favorite perennial vegetables. Once used extensively in North America as a flavorful green and medicinal herb, sorrel is rarely found in herb or vegetable gardens today. If rare in the herb and vegetable garden, sorrel is almost entirely overlooked as an ornamental, where it easily adds visual zip and vertical structure to perennial flower gardens with its verdant green leaves and small but lovely reddish-brown flowers. If you’ve never grown sorrel, or worse yet, have never eaten sorrel, then you are truly in for a mouth-watering treat.
Spinach is one of the very earliest crops planted and harvested from the garden in spring. As a member of the Amaranth family (formerly classified as the Chenopodia family), spinach is naturally packed with fiber, protein, and high levels of essential vitamins and minerals. If you’ve never grown your own spinach or had freshly prepared spinach, you are in for a real treat! And if you already love spinach and grow it in your garden every year, then why not try saving your own seed? You’ll not only be rewarded with oodles of eating pleasure, but you’ll save a ton of money, too!
Some of my earliest desires to live sustainably on the land were fueled in my early 20’s by reading Mother Earth Magazine and books by Gene Logsdon, Masanobu Fukuoka, and others. These readings planted a desire in me to live the country life in a different way than I had been raised. Continue reading →
Fall is a great time to gather the wild foods that grow abundantly here in the Ozarks. Black walnuts, hickory nuts, persimmons, mushrooms, rosehips and wild grapes are all native to the Ozarks and many of the Southern and Midwest states. Our latest foray resulted in a basket full of luscious wild grapes.
It’s been a busy year here on Turtle Ridge. And just when we thought all our sowing and harvesting were done, fall arrived with its bounty of wild food just begging to be gathered. So like all creatures preparing for the Great Sleep, Dean and I have been busy squirreling away delicious and nutritious fruits, nuts, and mushrooms for our winter cache. Continue reading →
Now that I’ve got you thinking about persimmons – those gooey globes of goodness – let’s talk more about what to do with them once you manage to pick them, clean them and process the pulp (Missed that part? Then check out, Wild Walk: Persimmons). Today, we’ll take on that sticky-sweet pulp in the kitchen and find something awesome to do with it!
Fall is a great time for getting outside and wandering around in the woods. The heat of summer is over and most of the creepy crawlies are busy doing whatever they do when the weather turns chilly, which makes fall the perfect hunting season for a rich array of wild edible and medicinal plants including mushrooms, walnuts, and the incredible, edible wild persimmon!
It’s been a long summer here on Turtle Ridge, but we are more than thankful for the bounty of the garden and of the wild plants and trees in our forest and meadows. And with the recent rain and cool fall temperatures signaling the arrival of fall, wild foragers like myself can’t wait to hit the woods in search of delectable wild fungi. After posting a few pictures of my own ‘ground scores’ last year, many readers wanted to know more about how to identify and use the fabulous fungi in the Ozarks. This is for all you budding mycologists out there!
In the Ozarks we are blessed with an abundance of trees, among them the stately and ever-useful Black Walnut (Juglans nigra). These trees are not only beautiful to look at and make wonderful shade trees when they are allowed to grow to their full size, but they also provide valuable timber and edible nuts. Continue reading →
With three weeks of constant rain comes many woes in the garden. The tomatoes in particular struggled with blister beetles, slugs, box turtles, rot and cracking. We were able to save many by bringing them in at first blush and letting them ripen, but many are too dinged up to make it that far. Yet, I can’t just throw them away – in a year like this, every tomato counts! So it was that I found myself facing a counter of green tomatoes and sizing them up for their eating potential. What to do with all the wonky ones, I wondered. Suddenly it hit me. I said to Dean, “I’m going to make you a nice apple pie!” He turned to see the crazy look in my eye and a counter full of green tomatoes and with an incredulous tone to his voice, “No way.” Oh, yes-way” – A Green Love-Apple Pie!
If you grow herbs in your garden for seasoning food, then you already know how easy and rewarding they can be. After all, herbs season and preserve food and can be used for medicinal purposes, as well. But did you know that many common herbs also produce spice in the form of fruits or seeds? These seeds are not only flavorful and medicinal, but they can also be used to start more herbs in the spring, as well.
If you are one of the millions of people who began gardening for the first time, or have returned to gardening within the last six years, then you already know that growing your own food saves money, increases self-sufficiency, and leads to a healthier lifestyle. Yet, among those who grow a wide variety of edible plants, many have not yet tuned into the fun and simplicity of growing their own herbs and spices. So if you have been thinking about growing your own, but just haven’t gotten around to it, then this article is for you.
This has been the best year for gardening in a long (long) time. The heat and drought of the last four all but strangled either my desire to garden or the garden itself. Good thing gardening is in my DNA – I couldn’t leave it if I wanted to. And this year, Dean and I were doubly rewarded for our efforts to take a slab of hard red clay and rock and turn it into a garden. To celebrate the most beautiful cabbage we have grown in 20 years of gardening, I decided to make a little homemade sauerkraut.
Your life is completely packed with crazy schedules and pressing deadlines and that new-fangled cell phone that you bought to help you keep up with it all is driving you absolutely crazy. Some days you just want to shut it all off and hide from the world – even if just for a moment. What you need is a soothing place to catch your breath, have a few moments of stillness and something beautiful to take your mind off it all. But what?
Of all the vegetables, herbs and spices used to season food and heal the body, the unassuming onion is rarely given its proper dues. Every day, billions of onions are sliced, diced, shredded, minced, fried, baked, dried, juiced and sautéed for our culinary pleasures, yet seldom do we sing its praises. For a plant that serves so many needs and desires in our kitchens, gardens and herbal pantries, the savory, spicy-sweet goodness of onions in all their forms should be elevated to something nearing Nirvana. Continue reading →
Gardeners can enjoy the sight, smell and taste of culinary herbs long after summer’s end. By providing adequate light, warmth and moisture, culinary herbs will grow well enough indoors to provide the discriminating chef with plenty of savory flavors for the pot all winter long.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an ancient herb from the Legume family of plants, Fabaceae. It is sometimes called Foenugreek, bird’s foot, Greek hayseed or goat’s horn. Not often seen in modern gardens, fenugreek is herb, spice, vegetable and medicinal all rolled into one tidy little plant. Grown primarily as an arid-land crop in countries such as India, Nepal, Argentina, France and Spain, fenugreek does well in xeriscape gardens. Because of its diverse uses, this herb deserves a much stronger presence in the kitchen, the medicine chest and the garden. Continue reading →
Summer’s harvest is never complete until a few bottles of garlic chili oil are tucked away in the pantry and a handful of spicy golden vinegars grace the windowsill. Both oils and vinegars add a lot of flavor to almost any dish and are ready when you need them as dressings and marinades. Herbed oil is great stir-frying, sautéing or braising meats, tofu and vegetables. Some herbed oils are best made with dry ingredients, while others require the crispness found only in freshly-picked ingredients. So, while the height of summer is still a way off, now is the best time to begin gathering materials and deciding which blends will work best for your style of cooking.
By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
. . . . Last week we learned quite a bit about the history and uses of the deliciously edible and nutritiously dense sweet potato. With a surge in popularity among homesteaders and gourmet chefs alike, this homely root with the pumpkin-colored flesh is being grown in home gardens in quantities not seen for decades. And it’s no wonder; for sweet potatoes cover a lot of ground. They’re easy to grow, relatively care-free and beautiful to look at. The roots pack a nutritional punch, taste great, are low in fat, and will fill you up every time. Sweet potatoes are a dream to cook with partly because of their uncanny ability to be prepared in so many ways. They can be baked, boiled, steamed, mashed or fried and added to a myriad of dishes with flavors ranging from sweet to savory. No matter how you prepare this wonderful root, it always tastes good. In this week’s article I’ll cover everything you need to know so you can grow your own sweet potatoes from start to finish! Continue reading →
Sweet potatoes are an ancient food crop; a staple that has sustained and nourished mankind for thousands of years. Highly nutritious, sweet potatoes are the seventh most important food crop in the world. Throughout the ages these sweet, orange, red and sometimes golden roots were valued so highly by early man, that they were often used as a form currency and as a token of friendship between cultures. Today, this weirdly-shaped “potato” is making a comeback with home gardeners – and for good reason. Continue reading →
Fall is in full swing and November is just around the bend. Time to say goodbye to the fresh bounty of the summer garden and tuck everything in for the winter to come. After the particularly tough growing season we just had, you won’t want to waste a single edible thing from the garden – and that includes green tomatoes! With a little creativity, those crispy green orbs can be turned into an amazing array of sumptuous edibles.
Now that summer has come to an end and the cool sunny days of fall are upon us, it is time to think about preparing the garden for a long winter’s nap. It is the perfect time to divide and transplant perennial herbs. But while your at it, why not bring some of that summer sunshine indoors for the winter? Many herbs growing outdoors can be brought indoors for the winter, providing much needed freshness to both the windowsill and the cooking pot.
It’s that time of year to think about putting our summertime pleasures to bed. At our house, we just finished carpeting our entire front lawn with a deep mulch of spoiled hay. This is the first step to converting our lawn to food production. What do we need to do for the bees?
Harvesting quality herbs is not rocket science, but there are a few simple things you can do to ensure that the herbs that will season your food and go into your herbal remedies will be the best they can possibly be.
In the south central Ozarks lies the town of Alton, Missouri. With a population of around 600 souls, give or take a few depending on the year, Alton’s main attraction is a quaint but thriving downtown square that hems a modest county courthouse. As is often the case in the Ozarks, most of Oregon County’s rural residents are farmers and modern-day homesteaders. But for these folks, being rural doesn’t mean they are out of touch with modern ideas and progressive momentum – just the opposite is true. And with the help of a woman living in the nearby town of Couch, this sleepy little hamlet is about to witness what happens when sustainability and cultural heritage meet face to face.
Spring in the Ozarks wouldn’t be the same without gathering and preparing at least one pot of poke. At our house, this leafy perennial ranks right up there with other spring edibles such as asparagus. This week I was planning on writing an article on how to prepare poke for consumption, when a colleague pointed out an article written by Dr. Jean Weese, a Food Scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service entitled, Don’t Eat Poke Salad. As the title suggests, Dr. Weese attempts to dissuade people from eating poke in any form, noting that it contains “at least three different types of poison”. The controversy over whether poke’s is toxic or edible has been going on for a very long time, but who is right? Is poke poisonous or is it safe to eat? Fodder for this week’s Show Me Oz.
April does something me that no other month can, probably because I was born under her stars. The lengthening days and warm, stormy weather bring a rush of growth in my garden and throughout the woods and fields. And for those Ozarkers who like to eat on the wild side, the warmer weather is more than accommodating, as the wild greens of black mustard, dock, lambs quarters and poke are already up and at their peak of flavor. Pokeweed, better known as poke, is one of our favorite spring greens and when cooked properly, nothing beats it for a scrumptious pot herb. Continue reading →
At one time in the not so distant past, the central Ozark region was well-known for its rich and productive dairy farms. As few as ten years ago, you didn’t have to travel far before coming across rolling pastureland dotted with the distinctive black and white patches of Holstein heifers grazing the green, green grass of home. Continue reading →