DIY Christmas Gifts

spiced pecansA lot of people have been asking me for recipe and gift-giving ideas this week, so I figured a round-up post was in order. Avoid the last-minute shoppers this weekend and spend time in your kitchen instead. These gifts can be elegant, feel special and are delicious. Make sure to package them simply – channel your inner Martha Stewart.

Preserved Lemons – Preserved lemons are a staple of Moroccan cuisine but can be used in Continue reading

How To :: Homemade Herb Vinegar

Oregano vinegarFresh herbs can get expensive if you’re buying them at the store, so I like to grow my own. I always make sure to use every last sprig. If you have leftover herbs, or a prolific plant that needs cutting back, you can dry herbs for your spice cupboard (see the sidebar “Spice Cupboard” in chapter 6, “Nuts”) or use them to flavor vinegar. Herb vinegars are made of two simple ingredients—vinegar and fresh herbs—and can be made in minutes. Subtle in flavor, herb vinegars impart an undertone of herb along with the tang of vinegar. They can be used in salads and vinaigrettes.

Homemade Fruit Leathers :: How To Dehydrate Fruit

_MG_3639Dehydrating fruit is a simple and easy task of little effort, though it does take some inactive time. One of my garden clients has an old and poorly pruned apple tree, resulting in knobby fruit that is not pleasant for eating fresh. Cooked down, however, it made a lovely base for cinnamon & nutmeg scented fruit leathers. I am using a food dehydrator, but you can easily do this project in the oven, finishing to dry at room temp should any moist spots on the leather remain. Here is a photo essay of the process, taken quickly as I was cooking the other day. Six pounds of fruit made about 70 four inch square fruit leathers – perfect for a kids snack or pre-dinner sweet. I split the batch with my friends Ronny & Catherine and their 4-year old daughter, Emerson, LOVED them.

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HOW TO :: Tomato DIY – Pruning & Trellises

Pruned tomato vineCome summertime, when the air is hot and the sun is high, everyone comes down with a little case of tomato fever. I’m not sure how this plant grew to such epochal proportions as to measure the success of a home gardener, but it has. Today we present tomato tips and tricks, from pruning for maximum yield to easy DIY trellises.

Pruning Those Suckers
Tomato suckers are the small sets of leaves that grow between the main stem and a leafy branch of a tomato plant. These suckers, if left to grow, become additional flowering and fruiting stems for the plant. That’s good, right? Not quite. If allowed to bloom and fruit, these additional tomatoes will Continue reading

TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Spring Amaro

SpringAmaro_BlogI’ve been on a Manhattan kick lately. Any after-hours drink made with whiskey and something bitter has been my go-to for weeks. (I miss you Dry Sapphire Martini!) I’m a huge fan of a dry punch in these cocktails – an extra shake of bitters, a splash of Fernet, Campari or a herbaceous amaro. The bitter quality acts as a digestive, and I like the bracing quality they add as a counterpoint to the sweeter bourbon. Hell, let’s be honest….. I’m happy to sip any bitter liqueur simply, over ice.

It was such a pleasure then, to recently stumble upon a recipe for homemade Amaro from Beth Evans-Ramos on her blog Mama Knows Her Cocktails. Beth is a prolific speaker and travels the country hosting seminars and classes on gardening – her current focus is creating garden cocktails! Not a bad gig. Continue reading

How To :: Building Potato Cages

Potatoes, diggin upPotatoes are one of the most often requested vegetables when I first meet with clients, and they’re a great crop to grow if you have limited space. Potatoes are a ‘tuber’, an underground, fleshy stem bearing buds that eventually turn into the potato. (Jerusalem artichokes aka sunchokes are tubers, too.) Dahlias are also tubers, but those roots are simply food-storing roots for the plant.

Once the potato seed is planted (check out this detailed post with pics for details), the seed (which is a small cut piece of a potato with a sprouted ‘eye’) will put on top growth – a leafy part of the plant that develops in about 4 weeks after planting. This leafy bit produces leaves and flowers. As the plant stem grows, they produce too much energy for the plant and this energy is then stored in the ‘tubers’, which we call potatoes. Get it? Good. Continue reading

Grow With Us Project :: Swanson’s Nursery

GWU_heroimageAs you know, I’ve started working with Swanson’s Nursery to help highlight their offerings and remind people to get out in their yards and grow something this year. The beautiful thing about Swanson’s, outside the gorgeous grounds and their many plant offerings, is the resource their staff offers – they all have wisdom and ideas about how best to plant damn near anything.

This year, they’re trying something new and recently launched the “Grow With Us” project – an innovative new way to connect with customers and offer advice and ideas. Continue reading

Weekend DIY :: Boozy Blood Orange Marmalade Recipe

jams_UrbanPanty. copySundays are a perfect day for a longer kitchen project. We have settled into the ease of a weekend pace, have a bit more time for errands and tend to wind down early in the afternoon in preparation for the week ahead. For that, I introduce Weekend DIY a new article highlighting a small and awesome food project that is easy to tackle on the weekend.

This week, take advantage of winter citrus before they disappear. This recipe will keep your pantry stocked for the year.

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TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Fir-Tip Syrup Recipe

Spruce TipsI spent Easter weekend out in Skykomish and marveled at the many shades of green on the drive up. Evergreen trees stood dark and pine-y against emerald colored leaves and lime-y new growth. It is truly a magical time in the tree canopy – just look around! On a recent walk in Discovery Park, I reached up and pulled a pale chartreuse bit from a fir trees outstretched limbs and chewed whilst strolling. Good stuff. It reminded me now is the PERFECT time to used this Fir-tip Syrup recipe! Continue reading

Materials for Vegetable Beds – Is Treated Wood a No-No????

Spring has sprung and it seems like everyone is ready to hit the dirt, literally. This is the time of year when my garden business, GoGo Green Garden, really heats up (despite morning frosts) and everyone wants a garden RIGHT. NOW.

DIY Timber Raised Beds

Today, I consulted with a new client who has bed materials ready to go, but isn’t sure about their safety. She has a gorgeous stack of thick, old fir beams that were treated way back when when arsenic and other chemicals were freely used. In 2003, the EPA banned the sale of treated lumber, which contained CCA  (chromated copper arsenate), but today that aged wood is often found at construction sites and can be somewhat easily salvaged. Continue reading