Thank you for visiting Potomac Heights Organic Garden Blog. I hope you are checking in every week or so to see what’s cooking in the garden, and by cooking, I actually mean it! This week’s blog is all about using the Potomac Heights Organic Garden’s produce to make delicious, healthy foods and useful remedies.
That’s right, keep reading and you will learn how to make tasty meals, snacks and tonics.
You can do this yourself! And us gardeners at Potomac Heights want you to try it for yourself, so badly, in fact, that we will be holding a contest to encourage bringing organic produce into your kitchen. The winner will receive a basket full of our campus grown, organic produce and herbs.
THE GMU GREEN MACHINE CHALLENGE
To participate, you will need to find a source of fresh, organic veggies and/or herbs. If you live in the local area, you can come check out the Potomac Heights Organic Garden during the work hours (posted at the end) and Doni, our summer intern will show you around and assist you with harvesting the ingredients you need. Additionally, you can visit http://www.buylocalvirginia.org/ to find a list of local farmer’s markets and/or sign up for Mason’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at http://www.bullrunfarm.com/.
Next, take your ingredients to the kitchen and get cooking! Be sure to take photos to document your progress as you go through the steps of your recipe.
Finally, post your photos and a few sentences explaining the details of your recipe and the source of your ingredients as a comment on Facebook or include the link to an outside blog page, if that’s easier. Post it as a public comment on GOGA’s (GMU Organic Garden Association) Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/gmugarden.
All posts must be entered before August 10th 2013. The contest begins when the first comment with a working URL is posted. Then, posts will be reviewed and “liked” by the public. The post with the most “likes” will win. This means, the sooner you get your post in, the better chance you will have by more people seeing your post and liking it. Feel free to send GOGA’s page URL to all your friends so that they can like our page and also like your comment with your photos or URL.
The Green Machine Challenge is named after the muskmelons we are growing this summer, obtained from our trusted seed source, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange(http://www.southernexposure.com/ice-cream-green-machine-muskmelon-2-g-p-231.html). It’s called Ice Cream Green Machine for its easy scooping ability and the large amount of green fruits it produces.
The winner of this challenge will receive a basket of fresh produce and herbs including many of our ripe muskmelons. Last year, we grew yellow-fleshed, “Moon and Stars” watermelon that grew to be 9 pounds! Wait till you sink your teeth into these sweet, organic, locally grown melons! If you win the contest you can get several of them for free!
To get you inspired, we have posted a few examples. In her kitchen, Doni and some friends harvested a bag of greens and got cooking. For the challenge, we encourage you to be creative. The possibilities of foods and medicines that can be made out of fresh veggies and herbs are endless!
To start, here is a photo of the produce laid out on the kitchen counter:
In the blue bowl is broccoli and kale leaves –
In the bottom left corner are two trays of baked kale chips –
On the cutting board is a young garlic clove and its leaves –
In the center are the herbs – rosemary at top, mint, sage and oregano on the right,
cheekweed on the bottom left, chives and thyme –
The small pile of white and yellow flowers is chamomile –
Under the blue bowl, by the mint are the dark fennel leaves –
Also near the mint are three sprigs of asparagus –
Imagine all the possible recipes that can be tried using these fresh, organic plants.
FIRST RECIPE = KALE CHIPS
I used chopped herbs (rosemary, oregano and sage) as well as ingredients from the grocery, like olive oil, sea salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes to season the kale chips.
First, cut the leaves into smaller bit size strips. Spread out the kale and broccoli leaves on the baking sheet, add the oil and seasoning and mix it all up. It’s best if most of the leaf surface is covered with oil, to prevent them from burning.
These chips are a quick easy way to make leafy, bitter greens into a tasty, crunchy snack that takes only a few minutes.
SECOND RECIPE = HERBAL TEA
Sleepy Time tea – made from chamomile and mint. Can be done with fresh or dried herbs.
Traditionally it is called sleepy time tea because the chamomile has a relaxing effect on the mind and the mint is a tonic, meaning it has overall healing abilities, by easing any minor pain caused by stomach upset, headache, and other common ailments that may make it hard to fall asleep. Plus, it’s a great flavor combination!
Custom Blend Tea – made from fresh fennel and sage. The fennel has a flavor similar to licorice. It is sweet and mellow. The sage balances the taste of the tea with a flowery, earthy flavor.
THIRD RECIPE = SALAD
Lettuce, even when picked fresh and brought home right away has a tendency to wilt very fast! So, to make salad, I recommend soaking the leaves in cold water for an hour or more.
This makes sure the lettuce is crisp and juicy when you’re ready to eat it. Also, it cleans the lettuce by removing any dirt or bugs, since we do not use any chemicals in the garden, you don’t have to worry too much about cleaning the produce. It’s good to use a spinning lettuce drier to remove any remaining water.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. My favorite dressing is made from a combination of fresh herbs from the garden and other ingredients from the grocery.
I like to use almond oil because it is very light and works great in salads, but olive oil works fine too. Also, sesame seed oil is so flavorful, especially when combined with toasted sesame seeds. Then add the vinegar. Classic French style salad dressing. Try all kinds of vinegars, like apple cider vinegar, red/white wine vinegar etc. but I think balsamic vinegar is best for its flavor. Chop up your herbs real fine. Add these ingredients to the dressing.
For this one I used chives, rosemary, oregano (so tasty when used fresh in salads), thyme and sage.
Using lettuce, kale, spinach, and other green leaves, many unique salad blends can be made. You can use any green produce really. Get creative. Soon we will be adding nasturtium flowers to the salads. Wait till you see them, they are beautiful and also edible! And up until last week, we had arugula growing all winter.
FOURTH RECIPE = GARLIC OIL
We all know how delicious and crucial garlic is for cooking, but you might not know how medicinal it is. Garlic has very strong antiseptic properties. This means that it kills the infectious bacteria on or in the body without causing any damage to the recipient. In this case, the recipients were two of my friends who had gone swimming and were feeling pressure building up in their ears. They were worried that it might progress into swimmer’s ear which is a kind of painful ear infection.
For swimmer’s ear, a physician will prescribe ear drops. The chemicals they give you surely work, but in order to avoid an expensive doctor’s visit and pharmacy charge, try using drops of garlic oil in your ears instead.
Garlic Oil has been used by our ancestors to treat ear infections for centuries. Do not put whole garlic cloves or bits of garlic directly into the ear, because it could get lodged and cause complications. By soaking garlic cloves in oil, the medicine is extracted from the plant and the oil can be safely dropped into the ear.
Organic garlic is safest for this recipe, only because when making medicine, you do not want any contamination from pesticides and herbicides, like Round Up, which studies have shown can lead to cancer.
To begin the recipe, crush the garlic cloves, or in this case, garlic bulb, since the garlic was too young to form cloves yet. It was only planted last fall, in October 2012. Crush the garlic first to help release the natural oils and goodness. Leave the crushed garlic to sit for a few minutes. This also allows for the healing alkaloids in the plant to strengthen and escape from its cells. Then, chop up the garlic into smaller pieces. The pieces do not need to be small, actually, chunks are better because then you won’t have to strain the garlic from the oil in order to use it.
Next, you will need a sanitary jar to make and store the oil. To do this, bring some water to a full boil and pour it into a bowl. Obtain a jar, by cleaning and reusing an old one. Place the jar and its cap into the bowl with the hot water. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Carefully, without burning your hands, fish the jar and lid out of the water. If you have time, let them dry, but this is not necessary.
Finally, put the garlic into the jar, and pour some olive oil into the jar until it covers the garlic chunks.
To speed up the process, place the jar standing up, with the lid closed, in the bowl of very warm water. This will make sure the garlic oil stays warm. As long as the water is not boiling hot, the high temperature will make the molecules in the jar speed up and help the garlic alkaloids to infuse with the oil.
After an hour or so, it is ready to use. Take a clean Q-tip, or dropper and place into the ear. Make sure not to go very far into the ear, because this can cause complications, and may worsen the infection. Place the oil drenched Q-tip or drops of oil into the outer edge of the hole in the ear. The fumes and medicine of the garlic oil will drip into the middle ear where the infection is, and will prevent it from worsening. By slowly increasing the amount of times per day you use the garlic oil, the infection can be cured. You can use it as often as you see fit. For a bad ear infection, use up to 5 or 8 times a day.
FIFTH RECIPE = GREENS AND CHEESE TURNOVERS
So, after harvesting bunches of kale and spinach, I wanted a creative recipe to make them into something yummy and fun to make. What I found was a turnover recipe, here http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spinach-kale-turnovers-10000001571423/
For this side dish, you will need dough. I bought from the grocery Pillsbury biscuit rolls int he cylinder container. The dough is already cut and rounded. All you have to do is roll it out.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut up kale and spinach. Chop garlic and onion. I chopped up some mushrooms too.
Sautee onion and garlic in a pan with olive oil until caramelized.
Add greens and mushrooms until cooked soft.
Take rounded dough and flatten with a roller. Be sure to use lots of flour or else the dough sticks to everything.
Put a spoonful of the sautéed veggie and cheese medley close to the middle of your dough circle.
Pinch the edges closed using a bit of water added with your fingers.
Then fold the edges over the previous fold. Double folding will help them stay together.
Do not forget to poke holes in the top, like I did. Put them in the oven for 18 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy! What a fun and delicious way to use a bunch of free, fresh, organic kale and spinach.
Organic Herbs and Veggies make healthy, scrumptious food and healing medicine. Try it for yourself. You can easily grow them in your backyard! Or you can volunteer at the garden and receive them for free.
Don’t forget to take photos while you make your recipe, post it to any blog site, and then comment on Facebook.com/gmugarden with the URL.
The comment with the most “likes” wins the best picks of our late summer fruit and produce.
To come volunteer, learn about gardening, and bring home fresh veggies, greens and herbs, we encourage you to visit the Potomac Heights Organic Garden during Doni’s work hours:
I hope I have inspired you to do some research and experimentation.
If you have any questions about THE GMU GREEN MACHINE CHALLENGE you can send a message to GOGA’s Facebook page. Doni will answer your question as soon as she can.
Thanks again for reading!