From your table décor to your favorite dishes, here are some tips and ideas for celebrating National Garden Month!
Oh, how your garden grows!
Ready, set, grow! Spring is blooming just in time for National Garden Month this April. Bring spring into your life (and your home) with these DIY ideas, all using the classic Ball canning jar.
Herb Garden Jar
You don’t need a full garden to grow some of your own herbs. All that is required is a pint jar, glass gems, potting soil, and seeds of your choice. Try using a jar from the Heritage Collection for a pop of color! Once they’ve bloomed, you can even store your fresh herbs in the Ball Fresh Herb Keeper so they last longer.
Source: Camera Happy Mom
Chive Blossom Vinegar
Another way to celebrate National Garden Month is by making the most out of everything in your garden. While you may not have an immediate need for all of your crops, fresh preserving allows you to savor these seasonal flavors without having to waste. If you’re growing chive blossoms, try creating your own infused chive blossom vinegar. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a salad and can even be used as a marinade.
Source: Sweet Si Ben
As the weather warms up and the flowers begin to bloom, you can easily create your own gorgeous arrangements. Whether you’re using flowers from your garden or the local farmers market, these bouquets are perfect as gifts, displayed on your front porch, or even as centerpieces for a spring wedding! All you need is some ribbon and a wide mouth pint jar.
Succulents Jar Photo
For those who feel like they just don’t have a green thumb, mini succulents are an easy plant to tend to. Using four-ounce Ball jars and metallic gold spray paint, you can make your very own tiny potted plants that are as beautiful to look at as they are easy to take care of.
Source: Contemporary Domestics
For more inspirational ideas, visit www.Pinterest.com/BallCanning and the In The Garden board.
How to Fill a Raised Garden Bed: Build the Perfect Organic Soil
First things first, let’s set the record straight: “Dirt” is not soil! Soil is rich, full of nutrients, and is biologically active! In contrast, dirt is usually devoid of all these things. Soil improves with time and age, as the soil food web blossoms. It is a living, breathing, dynamic ecosystem of its own. Therefore, our goal here is not to simply fill our raised beds with soil, but to create an optimum living organic raised bed soil that plants love!
The Soil Food Web. Image Courtesy of Heidelberg Farms via Pinterest
I hate to say it… but no matter how much love, energy, or money you invest into your garden, if you have crummy soil, the result will be crummy plants. If you have gone through the effort to build or buy yourself some awesome raised garden beds, let’s get them filled up with the right stuff! However, the answer isn’t as simple as “go grab X brand of soil”. In my experience, not one soil, be it in bulk or bagged, is going to be perfect for growing vegetables on its own straight out of the bag.
Another thing I hate to say is the word “perfect”. I typically avoid using it because of the impossible expectations it implies. I’m going with it for this post, but know that the ideal soil can vary in its origins and composition, and yours may differ from ours! Think of creating the perfect soil as an art. There are many personal touches you can put on it. With that in mind, I am simply sharing the way we prefer to craft and build our organic living soil.
If you already have filled your raised garden beds with less-than-ideal soil, don’t fret! There are ways to amend and improve it. We’ll discuss that too.
How to Cook with Extremely Hot Peppers
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should first discuss the proper way to handle superhot peppers and chiles. The most dangerous part is the seeds, so it's important to wear protective gloves when working with them. You should avoid touching any part of your body, especially your face, and always wash your hands after handling, since the oils can stay on your skin and cause irritation.
Prior to incorporating hot peppers into a recipe, it's essential to understand their heat level. For example, a cayenne pepper measures between 30,000 and 50,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) compared to a jalapeño, which is only 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. A little goes a long way, so it's better to under-spice a dish until you know just exactly how much heat your pepper is packing.
2. Apply Heat
The application of direct heat to the foliage of weeds will cause the plants to immediately wilt, and repeated applications will kill any leaves that may resprout from the roots. A flame-weeder tool is available from home and garden stores, which allows you to apply flame and heat directly to the weeds without catching the whole neighborhood on fire.
Dried weeds and grasses can easily catch fire during flame weeding. Do not use this method during dry spells, and check with your local fire department to confirm that the practice is legal in your area.
3. Green borders
Planting your own trees will help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, while also providing private shaded spots.
Not sure which ones to choose? The Greenhouse People advise: 'Choose hedges over walls for your perimeters. Not only can they climb higher as they mature, they have sound absorbing qualities to block out nosy neighbours and make ideal nesting sites for birds. Try growing nectar-rich plants like ivy and buddleia to attract insects too.'
How to roast butternut squash halves
My personal favorite way to cook butternut squash is to cut the bulbous end away from the long end, then split the two pieces in half through the root/stem ends. Scoop out and discard the seeds, then oil and salt each piece. Roast these four pieces, cut side down, in an oven set to 400°F for about 40 to 60 minutes: again, until a paring knife (or even better, a cake tester) slides easily in and out of the long end. The benefits are, in my opinion, minimal prep for maximum reward: The flesh in contact with the roasting pan will caramelize, concentrating the squash’s natural sugars, which really is the point of roasting as a cooking method.
You don’t need to split the two ends apart, though. If you’d like to roast intact halves as in this Rhoda Boone recipe, you can turn butternut squash into a holiday-worthy centerpiece inspired by twice-baked potatoes. Ditto this recipe by Anne Redding and Matt Danzer, wherein the squash is partially roasted in halves and then sliced in the style of a Hasselback potato and roasted again while basting to finish cooking.
Twice-Baked Butternut Squash With Parmesan Cream and Candied Bacon
Hasselback Butternut Squash With Bay Leaves
- ▢ 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- ▢ 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ▢ 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ▢ 1 teaspoon driedthymeleaves or 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- ▢ olive oil
- ▢ ground black pepper and sea salt
- ▢ driedthymeleaves
|Calories 200 (83% from fat)|
|Total Fat 19g||29%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||9%|
|Net Carb 4g|
|Total Carb 7.5g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 3.5g||14%|
NOTES & TIPS
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julia is a recipe developer and the founder of Savory Tooth. Since 2015, she has been sharing simple recipes for tasty dishes, mostly low carb and gluten free. Learn more.
Been so long I had to look up for cook time. Just a quick tip save that water that has so much nutrients and water your plants once it’s cooled down. Waste not want not!
I used this recipe to make artichokes for the first time ever. I was intimidated, but this recipe made it easy. The artichokes were cooked perfectly and the sauce was amazing. My husband is still talking about it. Five stars!
A few things about which I’d like to ask/comment:
In preparation, I do all you’ve described but also peel the stem it always results in a tender stem which is delicious. It removes the woody outside. I trim as little as possible off the end so that we can enjoy an extension of the delicious heart. I’m interested in trying to trim the leaves individually instead of topping it and will try that next time. (They’re already prepared and ready to go in the pot!)
I always use the boil method and find it works every time, although sometimes I mistakenly overcook them so I’m glad to have your timing to try. I drop them into already boiling water but your recipe seems to indicate putting them in the cold water and letting them come up to boiled with the water. Can you expound on that. I don’t put a lid on but drape a dish towel over them and into the pot of boiling water around them all which seems to gather more steam and cook them faster. Full disclosure, I’ve never used the lid method though I’ll try that this time as well.
I use a lot of lemon juice in well salted boiling water. I use a whole lemon preparing the artichokes, rubbing the lemon on each cut to discourage browning. I quarter the lemon, squeeze as much of the juice into the pot and then drop the lemon pieces in the boiling water with the artichokes and let the whole lemon add yummy flavor.
I always serve them with a balsamic based vinaigrette which my whole family loves. I’m intrigued to try your dip but am inclined to add more balsamic which goes so well with artichokes and adds a lot of zing.
Sorry for the long post but I love artichokes so much and am always looking for improvements to one of my families favorite vegetables. We often serve them as the entire meal with a nice fresh crusty bread and seasoned olive oil for dipping. Thanks for any comments you can make on the above.
Hi Rachel! I like your idea of peeling the stem since its exterior is sometimes too woody to eat. As for boiling, I have tried both (a) adding artichokes to boiling water and (b) adding artichokes to cold water, and I don’t see much of a difference in the final result. The reason that the recipe states to add them to cold water is because I find it easier to judge how much water to add if the artichokes are already in the pot. However, the downside is that it may be harder to get the timing right. I love the idea of adding lemon juice to the water, which brightens up the artichoke flavor. I haven’t noticed any browning issues, so I don’t bother with rubbing lemon on each cut. And I agree on adding more balsamic — I find that the dip’s proportions are very forgiving, and it never hurts to add more balsamic flavor to it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I peel the stems cut them in small pieces and add them to my interior stuffing of parm, bread or cracker crumbs, olive oil and garlic. Yum
Minimising The Mess
Obviously, with a mud kitchen the fun is in the filth, so you’re never going to have spotless kids after a session (when are kids ever spotless anyway?) However, there are a few ways to minimize the mess and make the clean-up operation run a lot smoother.
A garden hose is handy for washing down your mud kitchen unit after a productive cooking session. The old-fashioned method of throwing buckets of water over it will also suffice. Your children will be more than happy to help too!
Protective clothing. It’s not going to keep all the dirt at bay but it will go a long way to ensuring you don’t have to scrape your kids clothes off before putting them in the washing machine. Plastic aprons are a good option, but for the ultimate protection, a puddlesuit will do a brilliant job. These have the added benefit of being weatherproof so your little one can go baking even when it’s pouring rain out. They can also be hosed down gently for easy cleaning. Don’t forget the wellies!
What temperature should steak be cooked to?
Whether you like your steak practically raw on the plate, or dry as a bone, this steak doneness chart should help you out. The chef’s standard level of doneness is medium-rare. At this point it will be tender, juicy, and if you do it just right the steak will melt in your mouth. With practice you can tell how cooked a steak is just by feel alone. Every steak has a different cooking time due to varying thicknesses of the cuts. Be wary following anything that tells you a cooking time rather than a temperature. Use an instant read meat thermometer for the most accurate results.
These 6 steps will walk you through the super easy process of cleaning the grease from your range hood.
1. Remove the filter from the range hood
Most filters can easily slide or pop out from under your range hood. Once your stove has cooled down and you are ready to clean your range hood, remove the filter (usually, there is a metal loop that allows you to pull the filter out). Because the filters most likely carry the most amount of grease, they need to be cleaned really carefully.
Tip: Most filters are dishwasher safe, so in order to clean them properly you can place them in a dishwasher along with other stainless steel/aluminium cookware, and wash it off on the hottest cycle.
2. Fill a sink or big basin with boiling water
(Steps 2 to 4 involve manual cleaning of your filters. If you manage to clean them in the dishwasher, skip to step 5!)
If you have a basin or a big sink, you’ll need to fill this with hot, hot water (the hotter, the better, but you have to be careful not to burn yourself).
Add a teaspoon of some anti-grease liquid dishwashing soap and about 1/4 cup baking soda and mix these all together in the hot water.
Submerge the greasy filters for about 15-20 minutes so that it can work on those stubborn stains and get rid of most of the grease. Make sure they are completely under water so the filters get all the cleaning they can get!
3. Soak and scrub your greasy filters
After you’ve soaked your filters for a few minutes, now is the time to take a scrubbing brush to help you thoroughly clean the filter with firm, brushing strokes. Make sure that the brush you have is non-abrasive (such as this one from MG Chemicals).
While you do want your filters to be clean, you don’t want to do anything that will scratch them or damage them. Don’t apply too much pressure, but don’t be afraid to be vigorous either.
If you feel like the water has become too greasy, drain the sink or empty the basin and refill it with new soapy water as often as you need to.
4. Rinse and dry your range hood filters
Once you’re satisfied with all the scrubbing you’ve done to your range hood filters, you can rinse them off in hot water and then dry it thoroughly with a clean cloth.
You may want to place them somewhere to air dry, before you insert them into your range hood.
5. Wipe the exterior of the range hood
Sometimes, while you’re cooking, grease can land outside of the range hood. While the filters get most of the grease, you must not forget to clean the exterior of your range hood as well! You may also have grease on your walls, so make sure you clean your walls properly without damaging the paint.
Get some anti-grease liquid dishwashing soap and mix it with a bit of warm water. Get some thick paper towels or rags and dip them into a basin full of this mixture. The bigger the hood and the more thorough you plan to be, the more mixture you will need.
With the rags and the warm-water-and-dishwashing-soap solution, give the exterior of your range hood a very thorough wipe-down. Sometimes, you might have to wipe down the whole range hood twice, just to make sure it gets a thorough cleaning.
Special note: If you’re going to get a special cleaner that’s specially designed for removing grease or any other household chemical, make sure to test it first on a small corner of your range hood. Some chemicals are so powerful, they can also harm the finish or surface appearance of your range hood.
6. Clean the stains under the hood
While your filters are soaking or drying up, it’s time to clean the underside of the hood, where the vent is installed. If you don’t clean your hood regularly, chances are, this area might be a mess of soot and grease.
It’s a good idea then to grab a scrubbing brush (such as these mDesign Bamboo Scrubber Brushes) to help you tackle any large spots of grease or ash deposits.
You can also create a mixture of warm water and dishwashing liquid or even laundry powder to help you scrub the under of the grease hood more thoroughly.
If the build up of ash and grease is really bad, you might want to create a paste type of mixture made of warm water, dish or laundry soap, and baking powder and apply it under the hood and let it sit for an hour or so.
After some time, the soda should have been able to break apart some of the bonds holding the grease and it will now be easier for you to wash and wipe it clean.
Once the underside of the hood is clean and the filter is dry, you can install the filter under the range hood again and whip up something to eat!
If cleaning grease from your range hood seems like a daunting task, you have absolutely nothing to fear.
It is quick and easy to do and you can do it with regular household items. So that you don’t have to spend so much time cleaning the range hood because so much grease is stuck on it, try to set some time once a month to clean your range hood. Your kitchen will be much more sanitary and you’ll enjoy prepping your food more.