Squash blossoms are one of the most beautiful signs of the promise of summer gardens. In late spring the vines put on a show of glorious big yellow flowers, but only the females will produce the fruit later on in the season. The male flowers are fair game then, for plucking and stuffing and enjoying for all their flavor and texture.
Peak of the Season
Native Americans kindly showed the settlers the concept of Three Sisters: corn, squash and beans planted together in the same hillock with a fish at the bottom for nutrients. The corn stalk would grow tall, giving the beans a place to climb. The beans would fix nitrogen into the soil. The squash planted around the base would shade the roots with their big leaves and help to retain moisture. This practice created a symbiotic arrangement that produced a healthy environment for all three plants to survive.
The now-defunct Embers Restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Michigan served a salad that I have never forgotten. Sweet and creamy, their Peas and Peanuts was made with Miracle Whip and Spanish peanuts. Taking advantage of fresh spring peas makes this salad worth revisiting with roasted, unsalted peanuts and a lighter vinaigrette. (Although it is still pretty great with a mayonnaise base as well!)
A food forest is a gardening technique made up of layers of edible trees, shrubs and groundcovers. It contains perennial, diverse and multilayered landscaping. An established food forest can have up to 9 active layers including roots, herbs, ground cover, understory, shrubs, vines, and canopy. It should provide sustainable features for healthy cities, diverse and healthy foods, and good public space. The food forest should be flexible, have varied spaces, be well-connected (such as bike paths), and be centrally located. There is an emphasis on long-term sustainability through perennials, along with annual plantings such as spaces for community garden plots.
Traditionally harvested in the Fall, apples are a staple at every Thanksgiving table. Bright red spiced apple rings were always a part of my mother’s relish plate for holidays, along with Waldorf Salad served on little cups of lettuce. Baked Apples provide an easy gluten-free alternative that everyone loves!
Now that we’ve covered several wonderful ways to incorporate herbs into your menus in Herbs in Cooking parts 1 and 2, I thought I would see what my favorites were.
I went to my spice shelves and took a quick inventory. Here’s what I found when surveyed my most-used (dried) seasonings. I have lots more, but these are the ones that I run out of and replace.
You are probably familiar with a nice cup of herb tea and using herbs in soups and stews, but how about using herbs in drinks, eggs, even desserts?