Friday, June 15, 2012

Peas please -- time for peas!

Finally, it's time to harvest some produce!  This is when my gardening efforts become really exciting.  I can finally see, and feel, the fruits of my no-till labor.

First on the list were peas. My peas were so prolific that they created a screen on my trellis!  I'd put picking them off for a bit too long because I was so busy with professional commitments.  But at last,  the peas are picked and a recipe hunt ensued.

I wanted something that would use these beautiful peas to their full freshness -- something to really accentuate their pea flavor.  I have a recipe of my own in mind and have saved a portion of peas for just such an experiment -- the results of which I will post, with photos, as soon as possible. But being the impatient type, I wanted to eat so I began the hunt through my favorite food blogs and  ran across a recipe called Linguine with Pea Pesto from The Smitten Kitchen. It's a keeper.

I'm taking the liberty of posting it again here, with a few changes in technique. There are some great photos of the finished dish on the the Smitten Kitchen website... I didn't take any because we were in too much of a hurry to eat!

If you have peas to pick in your no till garden or traditional garden, give this recipe a try and --  Enjoy!

Linguine with Pea Pesto

1 1/2 cups (from approximately 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) fresh pea or a 10­ounce package frozen peas, defrosted 
1 small garlic clove, minced 
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1/2 cup (1 1/8 ounces) finely grated parmesan cheese 
1/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more for pasta water 
1/3 cup olive oil 
12 ounces dried linguine
6-8 leaves of fresh basil leaves torn or sliced into chiffonade.

If using fresh peas, prepare a large bowl filled with ice water. Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes (this leaves them with a bit of structure). Drain peas then add them to the ice bath (if using) and drain again. If you haven’t used an ice bath, let your peas cool to lukewarm before making the pesto.

If using frozen peas, rinse the peas under hot running water until just thawed. Drain well.

Set aside 1/2 cup of your cooked/thawed peas. Whirl the remaining cup of peas in the work bowl of a food processor with garlic, pine nuts, 1/3 cup parmesan and salt until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil. 

Cook linguine until al dente. Reserve about two cups pasta cooking water (yes, this is a lot, the pea pesto will be surprisingly thick) then drain linguine and return it to pot. Over moderate heat, toss pasta with pesto, reserved peas and as much reserved pasta water as needed to smooth and distribute pesto; let cook for one minute so that the pesto adheres. Adjust salt to taste, add freshly ground black pepper if desired. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs, if using, and remaining parmesan for passing.

Now, get out there and get your hands dirty! All Content ©2011-2012 by The No Till Gardener and Equimage Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lunch from the Garden: Irene's Egg Salad...

Lunch from the Garden:  Irene's Egg Salad...

One of the joys of having a garden is knowing that right outside is the freshest, most organic produce there is.  And, it's lunchtime.  I have radishes in the garden.  I also have some beautiful early arugula.  I have a few hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.  And, it's time for lunch. I think it's time for some of my mother Irene's Egg Salad!

My mother Irene was a fantastic cook!  Ask anyone who knew her. She was a woman of very strong opinions, unchangeable convictions with a passionate and sometimes volatile temper. But she showed her love through cooking and she was one heck of a cook!

A wonder in the kitchen, my mother could whip up a damn near wonderful meal  (a term my father coined for the delicious meals my mother would whip up from just a few inexpensive ingredients -- or as he said, ... from damn-near nothing) in nothing flat.  Soups, stews, baked goods, potato pasta little dumplings like gnocchi that would melt in your mouth. The mixture of little potato dumplings, crisp bacon, browned onion and golden sauteed cabbage is sublime! This perennial family favorite that we called halushki, was always served in the winter when it was cold outside. (I'll post this recipe after the first frost, when the chill is in the air.)

Another quick fixer upper was her egg salad.  A simple mixture of chopped hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced celery, good quality mayonnaise, and Laury's Seasoned Salt (had to be Laury's Seasoned Salt to make the flavor just right).  I grew up on this lemony yellow concoction.  Usually it was slathered onto good old white bread before anyone knew the value of whole grain,  or plopped onto a ripe, juicy cored tomato that was sliced almost through and topped with a little more Laury's Seasoned Salt for good measure.

Some people put dill, capers, grated onion, or sweet pickle relish in their egg salad.  Not my mom and generally not me.  I like to be able to taste the egg.  I love the savoriness of the celery as it crunches in my mouth. Nope, my mom's egg salad stands on it's own two (l)eggs.  And, that's the way I like it!

Around here, if you simply must add something, try using the egg salad is as a topping for fresh arugula from the garden, or on sprouted grain bread with a few chopped radishes thrown in.  Any way you eat it, it's delicious.

To some, this recipe may not be blog worthy, but to me, it's just one more piece in the puzzle of my childhood.

Irene's Egg Salad

Serves 1-2 

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
one rib of celery, washed and thinly sliced crosswise 
1 Tbs good quality mayonnaise (like Dukes or Hellman's. It's actually quite good with Trader Joe's reduced fat vegan mayo -- go figure)
Laury's seasoned salt - to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, until well blended. Add a sprinkling of seasoning salt, mixing, tasting, and adding a little more until seasoning preference is reached.

Serve on bread, toast, salad greens, or wedged ripe tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little more salt if desired. Enjoy.

Now, get out there and get your hands dirty! All Content ©2011-2012 by The No Till Gardener and Equimage Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One Of My Favorite Places -- Marvin's Organic Gardens

I love a good garden store!  The more organically oriented, and bigger, the better!  It's unusual to find everything in one place, but that's exactly what Marvin's Organic Gardens is -- your one-stop shop for all things garden and organic. If you need it for your garden and it's organic, it's a good bet Marvin's  has it.

Marvin's in-house wetlands

Started in 1999 by Marvin Duren on 67 acres outside Lebanon Ohio, Marvin's Organic Gardens is a full-service organic gardening center.  Mr. Duren became interested in the impact chemicals have on the environment after seeing first hand the devastation wrought by Agent Orange (aka Round-Up) in Vietnam.  He determined that supporting a healthy eco-system was vitally important. Marvin and his son Wes,  continue to operate under that same philosophy by using eco-friendly practices in their landscape services and supplying organic products to commercial and hobby gardeners throughout the region.
Wes Duren 
From heirloom plants to organic compost, garden ornaments to gorgeous cedar raised garden bed frames, Marvins offers the lot.  They even have an on-site wetlands, loaded with frogs and red-winged blackbirds -- natures harbingers of eco-health!

Offering a complete line of organic landscaping services and wholesaling, Marvin's Organic Gardens also has a beautifully laid out, fully organic gardening shop with a great selection of seeds, tools, organic gardening sprays and supplies, plus a nice collection of lovely garden furniture and ornaments for sale.

Marvin's retail store

The greenhouses are enormous -- stocked to the gills with heirloom and hybrid organic plants, water barrels, and a line of organic lawn care products that won't make you feel guilty about having a lawn as lush and green as your neighbors. 

Blackbirds, landscape plants, and lawn care -- the Marvin's Organic way

Compost is something that is dear to the Durens.  Years ago, Marvin began collecting coffee grounds for composting from all of his Waffle House Restaurants.  His son Wes Duren carries on the family tradition of collecting grounds from the restaurants, even after the chain of eateries was sold.  Now, to augment their supply of compost, the Durens create their own buy-the-scoop organic composted horse manure in house by turning literally tons of horse manure -- collected from a nearby racetrack -- into gardening gold. 

Horse manure on it's way to being house-made Eco Gold -- by the scoop
Marvin's Organic Gardens
2055 U.S. Route 42 South
Lebanon, OH 45036
Phone: 513.932.3319
Fax: 513.696.4263

Store Hours: Mon-Sat 9-6, Sunday 12-5

*Disclaimer: I was given absolutely nothing for writing this review.  I wish I had... ;) ~ Nan The No-Till Gardener

Now, get out there and get your hands dirty! 
 All Content ©2011-2012 by The No-Till Gardener and Equimage Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 30, 2012

Building a California No-till Garden

Recently, I was in sunny California, visiting my niece.  Had to combine a bit of work with a whole bunch of pleasure -- specifically visiting my niece and her family!  They were the pleasure part.  The work part comes in several forms.  One part horses -- part of my daily professional life as a media/marketing consultant, and one part gardening -- the no-till kind.

Helpers who had trouble with the smell of the composted cow manure were prevalent!