I’m Getting a Greenhouse!
I have met many new gardening friends since we moved to the country, and I visited some very nice greenhouses. I am thrilled to report that I am getting my own!
After doing quite a bit of research, I decided on the Monticello kit from Riverstone Industries. First we put in the foundation.
Next we put stones inside the foundation, then attached the base and started erecting the walls.
With college students from Sam Houston State University helping us, the work has gone quickly. We’ve got three sides up!
Until next time,
Lisa (aka Veggie Gal)
We put in two large vegetable gardens this year. I had no idea how much fun it would be to go out and pick dinner. Very cool. Our okra plants have been very prolific, as have our pepper plants. Tomatoes have been good as well, but those are nearing the end. We had a good crop of sweet potatoes and onions too.
With the okra bounty, my husband asked me to make up a recipe for Vegetarian Gumbo. I did and it is awesome. We had it fried many times as well. We have used the jalapenos in homemade Salsa, which is so good and fresh that you may never go back to salsa in a jar. The tomatoes were fabulous. My mother-in-law has been eating those for dessert!
The sweet potatoes have gone in to Sweet Potato Stew and Baked Sweet Potato Slices. We had yellow squash earlier, which we cooked a variety of ways, from frying to Skillet Squash and Onions to Squash Casserole.
We are getting new things now. Pumpkins are ripening, plus watermelons are amazing. I can’t wait to see what we come up with for these!
Lisa, aka Veggie Gal
My sister-in-law bought a cookbook at the Airing of the Quilts in Huntsville, Texas. It was put out by the Texas Thyme Unit of the Herb Society of America. As I thumbed through it, I noticed the TTU met on the fourth Wednesday of every month at the Wynne Home in Huntsville. I was finally in town and made it for the meeting this past month and was delighted to meet a terrific group of women who are dedicated to herbs—and more. Most of them are Master Gardeners!
The Herb Society of America (HSA) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that focuses on educating its members and the public on the cultivation of herbs and the study of their history and uses, both past and present.
The HSA is subdivided into districts and units. I happened to hook up with the Texas Thyme Unit just as the District Gathering is about to be held right here in Huntsville. Very exciting!
Membership is open to anyone interested in herbs or any business concerned with growing, processing or selling herbs and herb-related products. Individuals may join as a member at large or may choose to become active in a local unit. If you are interested, go to this link to get more information or find a Unit near you.
My mother married my stepdad when I was seven, merging their lives and children—her four and his two. We had a full house. (We have much more than a full house now when we all get together, with our spouses, children and grandchildren!) Mother died twenty years ago and my dad died last year. Since Parents’ Day is July 28, I found myself thinking about them more than usual the past couple of weeks. This blog and menu are dedicated to them.
Lamar’s (my dad’s) evening job was delivering and/or picking up children, attending football practices, baseball practices, etc. Mother’s evening job was cooking. She had six children, a large husband and herself to feed, not to mention the rotating assortment of neighborhood kids—everyone was always welcome at our house. I was grown and gone before I realized that cooking wasn’t something she particularly enjoyed. It certainly wasn’t a passion. In reality, my mother cooked primarily because she had to. And she still did it with love.
One of the best things she made was Chicken and Dumplings. This was a half-day affair. First she boiled the chicken, making a rich, tasty broth. Then the chicken had to cool before she could debone it. After cutting up the chicken meat and putting it back in the broth, she made chewy, stick-to-your-rib dumplings that were my favorite part.
Mother died before I thought to get any of her favorite recipes and shortly before I went vegetarian. I eventually came up with a vegan version of this comfort food, Seitan and Dumplings. I combine it in this Heritage and Heirlooms menu with Heirloom Tomato and Herb Salad and Cherry or Pineapple Icebox Pie, which is a pie Mother made at Thanksgiving. I hope you will make it and think of some precious heritage or heirloom you have in your life.
Seitan and Dumplings (V)Heirloom Tomato and Herb Salad (V or LV)Cherry or Pineapple Icebox Pie (LV)
Make the pie the night before or first thing in the morning, as it will need to chill for at least two hours.
Then start on the main event. The first problem to tackle when making Chicken and Dumplings for a vegetarian is, well, the chicken. Since there are basically two main ingredients in this dish, this is a fairly significant issue. Not to be deterred, I experimented with seitan, tofu and tempeh. I settled on seitan, which is a protein source made primarily from vital wheat gluten. Seitan is precooked. For this recipe, I brown it up front, then add it to the broth at the end.
Seitan comes in chunks or strips. Break it apart, then cut any large ones into bite-size pieces.
Brown it and set aside. Sauté the onions, then add water and a bouillon cube or vegetable broth.
Then make the dumplings.
Add them to the Dutch oven. After they have simmered for about 20 minutes, add the seitan and simmer for 10 to 20 more minutes until heated through.
Meanwhile, make the salad. Heirloom tomatoes are often available in orange and yellow as well as red. Different colors make a lovely presentation.
Serve the Seitan and Dumplings in individual bowls, with Heirloom Tomato and Herb Salad on separate salad plates. Follow it up with Cherry or Pineapple Icebox Pie and coffee, while you reminisce about a simpler time.
I was completely befuddled the first time I saw anyone peel a tomato. I saw no need for it, as the peels are not very tough. I then started noticing how tomato peels behave in recipes. They can become chewy or hard, particularly if the recipe is one that is eaten the next day. I came to the realization that there are some cases where peeling them is a very good idea.
The easiest way to peel a tomato is to blanch it first. To do this, put enough water in a sauce pan to cover a tomato, but no higher than 1-½ inches from the top. Bring the water to a boil. I blanch one tomato at a time, particularly if the tomatoes are cold because putting several in the water drops the temperature. You can put up to three in a pan if you extend their time in the boiling water.
Using a slotted spoon, put one tomato into the pan. Leave it in the boiling water for 12 seconds. If the water doesn’t cover the tomato completely, then roll it around during the 12 seconds. If you leave it in too long, the tomato starts cooking and you will get a pretty good layer of flesh off with the skin.
Remove the tomato from the boiling water with the slotted spoon. Immediately dunk it into cold water to stop its cooking.
Then, using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the skin and peel the tomato by catching the skin between your thumb and the knife. The skin should come off very easily.
Put the peeled tomato aside and blanch and peel the rest of them. You can slice or dice them all at once.
Sunflower Café320 Eastern Shore Shopping CenterFairhope, AL 36532Tel: 251-929-0055
Serving LunchMonday - Saturday10:30 - 4:00
Serving BrunchSunday10:30 - 2:00
I recently visited a dear friend who has moved to Daphne, AL, near Gulf Shores on the Emerald Coast. It is lovely there. Not only are the beaches and water beautiful, the landscape is green and lush. Also nearby is the delightful town of Fairhope. With an amazing number of boutiques, art studios and restaurants, Fairhope is a great place to visit. And a gem even in Fairhope is the Sunflower Café. Nestled next door to Fairhope Health Foods, the varied menu offers vegetarian, vegan, lactose free, gluten free and wheat free options. And for the omnivores in the group, they offer poultry and seafood items as well.
The food was so good that we dined there twice in the four days I was in town. For lunch I had their Portobello Sandwich and my friend had one of their free-range turkey items. We shared a couple of their vegan desserts—Orange Cranberry Pound Cake and Carrot Cake. For brunch, I had the Biscuits and Gravy with vegetarian sausage. Everything was just terrific.
So if you are cruising along the Emerald Coast and want some very good, healthy food, check out the Sunflower Café in Fairhope. You will be glad you stopped in.
I love summer. Everything is green and blooming. We see a large variety of birds and butterflies, all attracted by our flowerbed and surrounding berry patches. This special occasion menu celebrates the beginning of summer.
The first day of summer falls on a Friday this year, so you may need to honor this event a day or two later. This picnic menu will help you launch the glorious days of summer and will work in your backyard or at your favorite park.
Wraps (O, V or LV)Black Bean and Corn Salad (V)Chips (O, V or LV)Chocolate Scotchies (LV)Ice cold watermelon (V)Your favorite beverages
First decide what stuffings you want for the Wraps. If you are going to purchase them at the store, then just add them to your list. If you are going to make some of them, then decide which ones you can make the night before. Garlicky Hummus, Salsa and Tahini Sauce are all good night-before recipes.
Make the Black Bean and Corn Salad the night before. Not only will this save you time on picnic day, it will give the flavors time to blend. The Chocolate Scotchies are also a good night-before recipe. This leaves just Herbed Tofu Scramble and sautéing tempeh and vegetables for picnic day.
The Wraps are a great choice for a picnic. Not only are they easy to transport, each person can customize his Wrap with exactly what he wants. Make them at home, put the assembled wraps in foil or plastic bags and put names on them.
Be sure to pack a large knife to cut the watermelon (yes, this is the voice of experience). Also carry lots of napkins and water. Find a shady spot with enough room nearby for T-ball, baseball, croquet or your favorite outdoor game, then just enjoy!
I needed an appetizer to take to a pool party that would appeal to children, plus was gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free and dairy-free. Whew! I came up with these Pumpkin Mini Scones. They were one of the first things to go. If you don’t have to worry about gluten, try them with King Arthur unbleached white flour.
My first four tries tasted good, but weren’t quite there. The dough was very sticky, so I added flour to it. The result was that the mini scones ended up between dry and chalky. Not very appealing. For the fifth try, I chilled the dough. Made all the difference in the world.
Here is how to make them. For a shorter version and for nutrition information, go to the recipe page.
In a small mixing bowl, put 2-¼ cups gluten-free baking mix, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp cloves, ½ tsp nutmeg and ¼ tsp salt. Toss lightly with a fork to mix well. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, put ¾ cup pumpkin puree, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 2 Tbsp canola oil, 3 Tbsp molasses and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Stir together until blended. In a separate cup, put ½ tsp baking soda and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. Stir to ensure it all reacts. Add this to the medium bowl. Stir to mix well. Add the flour mixture, ½ at a time, and stir to mix well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and put into the refrigerator. Chill for at least one hour.
Thirty minutes before you are ready to bake the scones, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Here is the trick for the nice, triangular shapes. Lay out a rectangle of parchment paper on the counter. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Press it into a square or rectangle about ½ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter (works MUCH better than a knife), cut a line down the middle. Then cut two more lines parallel to this on each side so you have four rows.
Then cut lines perpendicular to those lines so you have squares or rectangles.
Then cut diagonal lines going one way only, intersecting the corners of the squares or rectangles.
You now have mini triangular scones. Using a table knife, nudge up the corner of each scone and put it on a cookie sheet. You should be able to get all of these on two sheets. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until just done. Remove from the oven, then remove the scones to racks to cool completely.
For the icing, put 1 cup powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add 1 Tbsp soy milk. Mix thoroughly with a spoon until it is smooth. It will be fairly thick. Spoon the icing into a plastic zipper bag. I use freezer bags since they are sturdy. Lay the bag on the counter and push the icing into one corner. Snip a small piece off the corner of the bag.
To minimize mess, lay parchment paper on the counter (you can likely use the parchment paper from the cookie sheets). Put the cooling racks loaded with scones onto the parchment paper. Squeeze the icing onto each scone.
Serve and watch these get snapped up.
I recently got to babysit my two grandsons, solo, at dinner and bedtime. For dinner, we went to the 5-year-old’s favorite place: Denny’s. I loved it.
We were put into a half-moon shaped booth, so had plenty of room. Miles ordered his favorite Baseball Pancake. This is a very large pancake with raspberry syrup drizzled on it to resemble the stitching on a baseball. It also comes with bacon and sausage, and he was quick to tell our server he wanted both of them. I ordered an Inside Out Grilled Cheese Sandwich for Spencer and a veggie burger for me.
Our food came and Miles proceeded to eat every bite on his plate. He is an eating machine! Spencer sat in his booster seat and ate a quarter of the sandwich. He grinned and jabbered the entire time. He is a social animal! I finally gave up getting him to eat any more. I moved it to the curve of the table.
He got up to walk to the end of the bench and back, doing his 2-year-old daredevil routine on the end. And an amazing thing happened. Every time he walked by his sandwich, he picked it up and took another big bite. He ended up eating almost the entire thing. No small feat for a little guy!
And it was an epiphany for me. He was hungry. He wanted to eat. He just didn’t want to sit there. Once I stopped trying to make him sit in place, he naturally took care of both needs. While I am crystal clear this won’t work every time, it did work at that one meal and it gave me another getting-a-child-to-eat tool for my toolbelt. I was thrilled.
We had a very nice time. Miles may pick another restaurant next time Spencer and I are along though. He most especially likes to go to Denny’s when his dad takes him—it is a restaurant for big guys.
This Whole HouseTearoom - Antiques - Gifts106 East Doty AvenueSummerville, SC 29483(843) 851-8030
Lunch Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays)Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Best Day for Afternoon TeasSunday Brunch Buffet 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
My sister, two cousins and I took a trip to Charleston, SC. We decided to visit a couple of plantations and stop in Historic Downtown Summerville for lunch. We inadvertently missed the turn, so we made the block. And what a wonderful miss that turned out to be! As we turned the last corner, we spotted a sign for This Whole House (twh), an 1875 home that owner Judy Thomas and her husband refurbished and made into a combination restaurant and antique/gift shop.
We happened to do this on Sunday. We timed it perfectly and were seated immediately at an adorable table with different dishes and silverware at each place setting. A scrumptious brunch buffet was laid out, yet they more than accommodated my request for no cheese or eggs by making a couple of dishes just for me. My traveling companions raved about the Broccoli with Parmesan and the French Toast Casserole. And their grits. Even in South Carolina (the home of grits), these were exceptional. Stone ground, yet creamy.
After brunch we went upstairs to look at the antiques. My sister found an antique tea set, while I went home with hand-made, antique Christmas ornaments.
The only way this could have gotten better would be if we met a local celebrity. And we did! Bruce Orr, author of several books about local ghosts and legends, was there when we checked out. Look for his books at www.lostinlegend.com.
If you are in the Charleston/Summerville area, don’t miss This Whole House. This family run restaurant and antique shop is definitely worth the drive.
Sign Up to receive our newsletter!
*We promise to never share, sell or distribute your information
Each month we will bring you breakfast, dinner and special occasion menus starring the foods you are already cooking, and featuring tantalizing new vegetarian dishes to appeal to everyone.