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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In the Kitchen

I've been rather busy in the garden and we've been away on and off so there hasn't been a lot of cooking going on. Last night I made a pasta casserole that came out tasty. It came close to the taste of lasagne without all the work. That doesn't mean the kitchen has been idle.

Strawberries are in season here. I have June bearing strawberries that I've been picking since June 8. I was averaging 2 qts per day from the patch but now it has dwindled down to 1 quart. I suspect within a day or two they will be finished.


I made stawberry and strawberry/rhubarb jams as well as froze some. We've eaten strawberries daily since they started. I'm going to dry a couple of quarts as well using the smaller berries.

The herbs have really sprouted with the abnormal heat. Some of the herbs needed trimming and there was no point wasting the trimmings so I dried and froze them. As always my chives do quite nicely. I prefer to freeze chives.
Bon App├ętit!  

Garden Gnome


The only prep for freezing chives is to wash, dry and chop into the desired sized pieces. I freeze in a zip loc container that makes it easy to use as needed. In the winter chives are a welcomed addition to baked potatoes! Chives can be dried as well and I always do up jar of dried chives. In my experience, the taste of frozen chives comes closer to that of fresh than dried but dried chives are handy for soups and stews.

I grow three varieties of oregano. The golden oregano needed a good trimming. I prefer fresh oregano for my tomato sauces but still freeze and dry some for the winter months when I don't have a large supply of fresh. Oregano is a must have herb for several of my sauces. Even though I can a lot of tomato sauces I still make fresh tomato sauce during the winter. I like knowing my oregano hasn't been sitting on the shelf somewhere for who knows how long.

Golden Oregano

Golden oregano as with most herbs dries nicely. As with most herbs I prefer fresh and use it that way as much as possible. The dried result is like most dried herbs but the flavour is excellent.

Golden Oregano Dried

I ended up with about 2 cups of dried oregano so that wasn't bad for the first trimming. I also dried lemon balm. I use fresh lemon balm for cooking, teas and iced teas. It is especially good with fish or chicken either grilled or coated. I love the little zip it gives especially when coupled with fresh lemons or limes. Dried lemon balm can be used in much the same way. It is an almost must have dried herb for coated chicken! I've been experimenting a lot with lemon balm. I think it would make a lovely lemony herbed jelly so am going to try a small batch the next time I clip it back.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family so it is especially nice paired with mint in iced teas. However you have to be careful where you plant lemon balm as it is very invasive! I planted mine in the main herb bed. Now I'm picking out a lot of little plants so have decided to move it to another spot at some point soon. The weather has been unseasonably warm so now is not a good time to move it.

With the hot weather most of my lettuces have bolted with the exception of the romain that is threatening to bolt and the red lettuce. We are still eating Chinese mustard even though it has bolted. I like the sharp, peppery flavour and it doesn't seem to get bitter like some lettuces do after they bolt. I'd love to be able to preserve lettuce but haven't found and adequate way.

Romain Lettuce

I cut one head of romaine this morning so we'll have a nice salad with dinner. I also cut a bit of red lettuce and some Chinese mustard. My favourite way of storing lettuce is not in the fridge. I plant a lot of lettuce so have a lot. I like cutting, washing then put the cut end in water and leave on the counter. This way the lettuce is "in your face" so to speak encouraging everyone to eat more of it. Leaf lettuce will keep a couple of days or more this way with the larger lettuces lasting longer. Lettuce is a normal part of our daily diet often several times a day.

My peas have started producing. Today I harvested enough edible snow peas for two good sized stir fries. At the rate they are going I'll be able to freeze some for winter.


The other peas are progressing nicely as well. I've picked about a handful of pods with nice large peas numbering around 6 per pod. Peas are so sweet eaten raw. Of the 48 pea plants most of the pickings will be eaten fresh or froze although I may try one small batch of canned peas.

2 food lovers commented:

Ellen said...

Found your blog via the FoodSaverPlus list. Quite nice!

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Ellen!