|Second year asparagus plants.|
This spring I caught part of a Dr. Oz show where the doctor said that everyone should eat sweet potato every day because it's sooo good for you. My experience with sweet potatoes had been canned stuff drenched in butter and brown sugar and baked for Thanksgiving. Yes, it was good, but eat it every day? There had to be other ways to fix it, so I went looking on the internet, chose some recipes, purchased some sweet potatoes at an organic market, and experimented. I was surprised at the goodness of oven-baked sweet potato fries. So, okay, I need to grow sweet potatoes. I discovered I could grow them here in Michigan if I start them early in the spring in the house (see post of sweet potatoes for details). Unlike asparagus, which is best really fresh, sweet potato flavor improves with curing. I haven't even dug up my sweet potatoes yet to see what sort of crop I have, and when I do dig them, I'll have to wait weeks before I can savor their flavor.
I've always liked the idea of soup more than the actuality; that is, soup sounds great, but I rarely actually ate it. That's changed. Last year's bumper tomato crop demanded more options for using the bounty. I tried a soup recipe I got through the Ingham County Extension office. I no longer buy the canned stuff. In addition, I was inspired to look for other freezable homemade soups. I made sweet carrot soup and split pea soup. These are wonderful side dishes during a cold winter day. The split pea soup is a meal all by itself.
|Homemade with Homegrown Wheat|
In my search for new ways to use my produce, I've tried a variety of jam and salsa recipes. Last fall I made tomato jam. My thought was that the jam would substitute for the tomato in BLT's when fresh was no longer available. I learned that nothing substitutes for that juicy, tart, fresh tomato in a BLT, but the jam makes a tasty substitute for Miracle Whip in some sandwiches. This year I have an abundance of carrots so I tried a carrot cake jam. Oh, this is good! Also a carrot pepper salsa. I've never been a salsa fan, but I could devour a half pint of this for lunch. I made peach salsa too, after canning half a bushel of this fruit.
Half a bushel may not be enough. Nothing beats canned peaches for good eating. Last year's peach crop was rotten at the core. The ones I bought this year are perfect. My husband wants me to put up more. I love them with vanilla yogurt, or in a salad with cottage cheese. For salads, I've been buying French dressing, but I want to get away from the high fructose corn syrup and artificial food colorings, so I've canned a tomato soup base for a homemade recipe I found on line, except that that recipe's first ingredient was store-bought canned soup. Not around here; not anymore.
I've grown a few herbs for years, but haven't really gotten into the habit of using them. Oh, sure, I've added oregano and parsley to my homemade pizza sauce, but what to do with some of my other herbs? I've just discovered basil butter, a mix of 3 cups chopped basil, half a cup of butter, and two teaspoons lemon juice. The other night I poured some olive oil into a frying pan, added a chunk of frozen basil butter, then some diced garlic. I cooked this gently for a few minutes, then added spaghetti and served with popcorn shrimp. That was a total of fifteen minutes prep time. My husband and I both thought this was a great combination. I think it will be even better with unbreaded shrimp sauteed with the basil butter. It seems to me that this basil butter is a great base for all sorts of pesto dishes. I'd never served spaghetti with anything besides a traditional tomato-based sauce so this was a terrific discovery.