Friday, September 30, 2011

Veggies for breakfast

Through a new friend, I've found a new resourse -- Kitchen Stewardship. I'll probably pull and share more of her advice in the future, but for today, here are some recipes that bring veggies to breakfast!

Happy day.

Squash Pancakes
1 c. cooked, pureed squash*
4-5 eggs**
¼ c. coconut flour OR whole wheat flour OR 1/3 c. sourdough starterOR brown rice flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1-2 Tbs. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Separate eggs. In one bowl, whip egg whites a few minutes until frothy/foamy.
In a separate bowl, combine yolks with squash, flour, sweetener, vanilla and spices. Fold in egg whites.
Fry slowly in lots of fat in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat OR on a griddle with a bit of butter at about 300-350F. Watch for the bottoms to begin browning when the edges look dry and flip once. If you find the pancakes are very thin and breaking apart, add a bit more flour or sourdough starter to the batter.
The lazy way: Instead of separating the eggs, just mix everything together willy nilly in one bowl. The pancakes might not have as much height or fluff, but they’re still perfectly fine, especially for a weekday morning! I often use my stick blender to whiz it all together, especially if I have un-pureed squash or sweet potato.
Makes about 20 small pancakes. (I almost always double it!)

One-Bowl Pumpkin Muffins, Healthy Recipe Remake
3/4 cup honey                                    ½ t. cinnamon
2 eggs                                                   ½ t. nutmeg
¼ t. baking powder                          1 2/3 c. whole wheat flour*
1 t. baking soda                                  ½ c. melted butter or coconut oil**
¾ t. salt                                               1/4 c. cold water
½ t. cloves                                          1 c. pumpkin (about half a 15 oz can)
1 Tbs molasses
Baking Change: Only bake muffins for 30 minutes – honey browns faster!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Got some bright ideas?

Hey folks, sorry I've been lollygagging on the posts here at Harvest of Hope. I overdid it with running plus my own family gardening during the weekend and I'm still catching up!

I've been planning for a few weeks to share with you a community garden my sister and brother-in-law told me about in D.C. I think this is it: Common Good City Farm. They (sis and bro-in-law) took a training session to become volunteers there. I haven't spent a lot of time clicking around the website, but when I saw them a couple of weeks ago my brother-in-law said that this group has the garden and what it provides, but also has a catering company staffed by people who use the garden. Wouldn't that be cool if we could do it in Kingsport?

That makes me think of a program that used to exist near my hometown -- kids in the special education program made cinnamon rolls that they sold every Sunday to raise money to support their extracurricular activities.

I know Kingsport has a lot of great stuff going on -- more than I know about since I've so often got my head in the parenting sand. But new ideas are fun to toss around, eh?

How about this place: Pie Lab? I forget where I read about it, but go check it out. Wouldn't something like this be lovely in Kingsport?

Send me your ideas -- neat things you've read about -- stuff we can mull over. I'm always looking for things to share here. If I get enough people responding, I might offer a prize next time. Bring it on!

Your picture, by the way -- this is Mr. Phil, who spoke to our garden group one rainy Monday night a month or two ago -- he was at The Exchange Place garden last weekend during the Fall Festival there. Here he's helping my two favorite boys dig up some baby carrots to take home.

Happy day!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall = soup weather

Since today's the autumnal equinox, I offer you a couple of soup ideas.

One was sent to me by my friend Amber. It's Pinto Bean, Tomato and Butternut Squash soup. I haven't made it yet, but I plan to this weekend. Amber says she added Swiss Chard from her garden.

While I'm at it, here's our family's favorite chicken noodle soup. I make the stock homemade, too, which means that I probably make this soup about three times a year, but we're gearing up to make a batch this weekend since we'll be smoking a beer-can bird and I will use his/her carcass to make the stock (which you can link to from the soup page). It's the best chicken noodle we've ever had. The kiddos request it sometimes. I end up freezing about half the stock to make a second batch later, too, so you don't have to do the stock every time. I've also frozen the soup, noodles and all, and it works out well.

Finally, last night I made some Tuscan Minestrone soup from a mix I'd almost forgotten I had. It was great, and no salt added (which is a biggie for me, b/c too much salt tends to give me a hangover in the morning!). The company that makes it is Bountiful Pantry. One bag of mix is about $8, which isn't bad when you consider it'll feed a family of five and there will be leftovers. I went online and ordered some more, plus a few new kinds to try. You can add vegs or whatever else you want -- last night I added a can of beans and some ground turkey I needed to use up. Next time we'll leave off the meat, though.

Happy fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A dinner, and a few books

Last night we had a new recipe, and it was so good and easy I thought I'd share:

Italian Garden Frittata
from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking 2009 annual recipes (Thanks, Sarah.)

6 egg whites
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided (I used Parmesan-Reggiano and Asiago)
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage (I used dried, a few shakes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced
(I added 1 small yellow squash, sliced)
2 green onions, sliced (I used one small yellow onion, sliced)
1 tsp olive oil
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, eggs, 1/4 cup cheese, sage, salt and pepper; set aside.

2. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray (I used cast iron skillet and a drizzle of olive oil), saute zucchini and onions (and squash?) in oil for 2 minutes. Add egg mixture; cover and cook for 4-6 minutes or until eggs are nearly set.

3. Uncover; top with tomato slices and remaining cheese. Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are completely set. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.

We also had waffles and fruit -- gotta love the breakfast for dinner. But the frittata was the best part, I think.

Part II:
Some books -- I have heard or read of these lately and am intrigued -- maybe you will be, too. I haven't yet checked the Kingsport library, but maybe one or all of these is floating around in our system, available for checkout. If not, I'd be willing to ask for them, or to purchase and donate.

Forks over Knives. This is also a documentary, for you Netflix patrons. This book is by the same Dr. Colin Campbell who wrote The China Study. In both books he advocates a whole-foods, plant-based diet. I haven't read it yet, but I'm intrigued/would like to know more. 

The Okinawa Program -- this is a whole book about the longevity study done on the island of Okinawa (between Japan and Taiwan), where residents typically live active lives well into their 90s and 100s. Their rates of obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, memory loss and breast and colon and prostate cancer rank far below the rates for these illnesses in America and other industrialized countries. 

The book is said to reveal the "secrets," which are really things a lot of us know at least something about -- mostly plant-based, low-fat diet; exercise; stress management; strong social and family ties and spiritual connectedness. 

Finally, one I bought: Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. My family practice physician recommended this one, and I got it -- haven't read more than the first page yet -- must find a night when I can keep my eyes open by means other than toothpicks! But I'll share some of what I find. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Take a load off

I popped by the garden one morning last week since it'd been a while, and lo and behold, we have benches! I'd been hearing for a while about Eagle Scout Zach and the benches he and his crew were building for us, but I didn't know when they would show, so this was a happy surprise. They are sturdy and handsome, and have arrived at the best sitting weather one could ask for, just about. Come, have a seat! Thanks so much, Zach!

While I was there I snapped a few fall-garden pictures.

Also, another tidbit. I managed to read a magazine article last night before conking out -- it talked about the people of Okinawa, Japan, and their longevity and overall good health. I can't find the exact article online, but I did find this piece on that talks about their overall lifestyle. Fresh veggies and fruit are, as you might figure, part of the puzzle.

Happy day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bays Mountain Recycle

What to do with all your plastic grocery bags and/or used Ziplocs? Here's a
worthy cause!

Bays Mountain Park is excited to announce that we have contacted a company
that makes recycled outdoor furniture and we are going to be working in
conjunction with them to get free park benches! We need your help! It
takes 10,000 plastic shopping bags to make a park bench and we need you to
bring in as many as you can along with any of the other items listed below.
10 full 30-gallon yard bags makes a bench so start saving now!

You can leave the bags at the gatehouse or bring it up to the Nature Center
gift shop. If you're just dropping off bags, you shouldn't be charged

What Can be Recycled:

Plastic Grocery Bags
Plastic department store bags
Newspaper sleeves
Dry-cleaning bags
Plastic Bread bags
Plastic Produce bags

Toilet paper/Paper towel over-wrap
Stretch film (no household saran wrap)
Zip lock bags

(All material must be clean, dry and free of food residue.)

Here's a link to a news story about this effort. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Garden Builder

As I’m focusing on weaving together the profile of today’s garden superman, a line from a song I sing at church popped in my head and seems appropriate: “We are many parts, we are all one body.” What and whom we’ve needed in the garden, God has assembled there.

Larry is one strong example – an answer to a prayer and a garden “body part” without which the garden would not be whole.

Another song that comes to mind when I think of Larry is the Indigo Girls tune Hammer and a Nail – “Gotta get out of bed and get a hammer and a nail, learn how to use my hands … now I know a refuge never grows from a chin in a hand and a thoughtful pose, got to tend the earth if you want a rose …”

Early start

Larry is a master gardener, and he’s been the primary “hammer-and-a-nail” guy who has sweated and toiled and built and worked and gotten things done in the garden this summer.

Larry says he’s always been interested in gardening – the first house he lived in after college, in the country in western Pennsylvania, had a big garden. Since then he’s lived in nine different houses and in every one has had a garden.

Larry grew up in western Pennsylvania, went to college there and lived there till his late 20s. He had a corporate career during which he and his family moved 13 times. They wound up in Kingsport in the late 80s/early 90s when Larry worked with Arcata Graphics. They moved away from the area but came back again in the early 2000s.

How Harvest of Hope?

Larry says he’s a member of the United Way of Greater Kingsport finance committee – one of the topics discussed by that group early in the year was funding available for the Harvest of Hope Garden and uncertainty of being able to execute the garden build – the United Way executive director asked Larry to get involved, and he answered the call.

“My approach is: do what has to be done,” Larry says.

Larry is a self-proclaimed builder and has plenty of practical, handy, hammer-and-nail skills, but he also has experience as a senior executive and a CPA, as a community supporter, a Christian, a master gardener and as an organizer and visionary.

As a broader coalition develops to foster more community gardening in Kingsport, Larry sees himself as a builder and a shaper – as one who will get new gardens going and fill gaps but not as the chief “tender” of the Harvest of Hope.

Gardeners needed

Paul, profiled earlier here, is one of the many who will be needed to maintain Harvest of Hope as other gardens grow from ideas to reality.

“We need to find a workgroup who wants to stay with and manage Harvest of Hope,” Larry says.

Of Paul, Larry says: “Paul’s a really neat guy. He’s got good common sense; innate intelligence. He just hasn’t has the same opportunities many others have had.”

Larry and Paul have spent a lot of time working together in the garden and have become friends. Larry sees the garden as a source of fulfillment for Paul, who is unemployed: “He’s able to provide value, maintain his self respect and associate with other people on a normal basis,” Larry says.

Fertile ground

The garden provides these same benefits to Larry, who is retired, and says he found himself initially “sitting in my basement” upon retiring from his job as a corporate executive.

This “challenge of retirement” is similar to but more of a problem for the unemployed like Paul, Larry says. The garden is an answer to that challenge – through the purpose and the connections it provides.

“Because of the diversity of the garden,” Larry says, “people from really wide backgrounds wind up interacting around a common interest. That is the core of friendship. Friendships don’t last and rarely develop without a common interest – that’s perhaps the key thing that will sustain the garden over time.

Soil sustenence

Not only is the garden a place for growing friendships, it’s a place where people can come together in the act of creation, says Larry, which he believes is key to the health of our society overall.

“There’s satisfaction in working with multiple senses to create something,” he says, “Be it a quilt, a woven cloth, a garden, a piece of furniture, literature, a poem …”

Working together in the garden, we create something of lasting value, Larry says.

Thanks to Larry for helping to create Harvest of Hope.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Carver Peace Gardens Event Coming Up

I'm just coming home from a great weekend away, so I'll be in catch-up mode for the next few days with (most likely) not a whole lot to say. I do have a quick newsy bit this morning, though. Sam Jones of the Johnson City Carver Peace Gardens wanted me to share with you that that garden, along with the Johnson City Tree Streets Garden, will be having a year-end potluck dinner on Wednesday, September 21. It'll be at 6 p.m. in the picnic pavilion at Carver Park near downtown JC. That's also International Day of Peace. If you'd like more info, please comment here and I'll get you connected to Sam. Happy day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Good eats

Another recipe -- this one is fabulous and might do well with the addition of some spinach while everything's still warm enough to wilt it slightly:

Butternut squash, spinach & feta, orzo and chicken sausage.

I used a chicken & apple-flavored sausage once, too, and that's good. Adds a touch of sweet.

Happy weekend!

p.s. Here's a great article by Anne Lamott. If you have five minutes, take the time to read it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another garden

A new garden came to be under the HoH purview on Saturday. Some dedicated parents and friends and one awesome administrator came together last weekend to plant a fall bed at a local school, with plans for expansion to raised beds in the spring.

I say it's the Harvest of Hope purview. I looked up the word this morning to make sure I'm not overstepping. It means: "the scope of the influence or concerns of something." I think that's accurate. Were it not for Harvest of Hope, the seeds of this little fall bed wound not have been planted just now.

Good stuff, this gardening business.

More good stuff to come, too. Yesterday I interviewed Larry so that I could post a profile of him here. I'll have to organize my thoughts, and that may take a few days, but watch for it in days to come. Larry's one of the many individuals who've come together to bless and inspire and build Harvest of Hope. I'm in awe of all the amazing people I've met as a result of this garden. We're a pretty cool bunch and we need you to join us!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Worth the trouble

So. Since I've come back to town from my grandmother's funeral trip, I've been battling the tomatoes. Joe vs. the Volcano? No. It's me vs. the tomatoes. Since before the trip there has been a spread of to-be-dealt-with tomatoes taking up half of our kitchen table. Going away for four days made it worse.

Don't get me wrong -- I love tomatoes. But there comes a time in the late-summer harvest season when one realizes that it would be ok if one did not see another tomato, ripening on the vine, for some time. Like till next year. I have reached that point.

However. I am not one to quit. I carry on. And Friday, I swung the battle back toward my camp. At least for now. I made sauce. I made minestrone. And I made this -- it's the greatest of the victories:

Roasted Roma Tomatoes
From the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
Yield: about 4 quarts -- for me it did 3 plus a 2-cup freezer container

12 pounds Roma tomatoes
4 bulbs garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
Bottled lemon juice

Roast tomatoes on grill or in broiler until skins begin to wrinkle and become lightly blackened in spots, turning to roast evenly on all sides. Remove from heat. Place roasted tomatoes in a paper bag and close tightly (I didn't do this. I just left them on the cookie sheets I'd roasted them on, set on the stovetop, while I went to do the school pickup). Cool tomatoes until they're easy to handle, about 15 minutes. Slip skins off tomatoes, cut in half and remove seeds (this I did only half-heartedly; I hope that won't mess up any canning juju -- read: create botulism). Cut into 1/2-inch chunks, set aside. Place garlic on aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil over garlic. Wrap foil around garlic, sealing edges tightly. Roast garlic at 350 F until tender, about 30 minutes. Cool garlic until it is easy to handle. Separate cloves of garlic and remove papery skins (messy, but my hands didn't smell like garlic in the morning so it's all good). Add garlic to tomatoes. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until hot throughout. Here's a little added step I usually do -- I pureed it all with an immersion blender before canning. My kiddos won't eat something they perceive to be an actual tomato unless it no longer resembles a solid. Not sure why it's like this, but I was the same way when I was a kid. Add 2 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice to each quart jar. Ladle hot tomatoes into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process quarts 1 hour and 25 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A garden guest

Last week as part of the AARP Drive to End Hunger, AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins visited Harvest of Hope. AARP has been one of the contributors to our garden efforts and we're so thankful for that organization's commitment to our success.

Here are Ms. Jenkins with our own celebrities, Margot and Larry. Below are a couple more pictures from Ms. Jenkins' visit.

In other news, we're starting to plan our harvest party/garden coalition kick-off. Remember to mark Oct. 22 in your calendar -- 10 to noon -- and please come to the garden! You'll be glad you did!

Happy day.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A garden getting ready for fall

Today I give you some pictures from yesterday morning. I stopped by to put up a poster promoting Prayer in the Garden -- see? -- and then snapped a few pics. I'm having a hard time with it being September already. Anyone else? I love the approach of crisp mornings, if only I had the time to sit down and enjoy them. We always appreciate things more when they're harder to get to, don't we?

I hope to call and set up interviews with at least two more gardeners this week, so be watching for those in days to come. It may take a few days, or it may take many, but I'll keep trying! One of the problems is that my own home garden is overwhelming me with abundance. Yesterday I canned salsa. Recipe below.

A fall bed:
The lushness of the garden:
Good morning, tomato!
And our finished storage bins -- thanks again to Larry and Paul!

Chunky Salsa from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine

5 lbs tomatoes
4 large green peppers, chopped
3 large onions, chopped
2 large sweet red peppers, chopped
2 habanero peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup white vinegar
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
3 tsp salt

 1. Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Score an "X" on the bottom of each tomato. Using a slotted spoon, place your tomatoes, one at a time, in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove tomatoes and immediately plunge in ice water. Discard peel; chop tomatoes.

 2. In a stockpot, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until desired thickness. See note below for tip from my friend Sam.

 3. Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot 1-pint jars (I used quarts b/c had no pints -- oops), leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 15 minutes (I did more like 30 b/c of the bigger jars) in a boiling-water canner.

  Note from Sam: In calling her (again) to ask if it was ok to add cilantro to the salsa, which I did -- but Sam says per her references that cilantro addition does better just prior to serving -- the taste is better captured there and may disappear somewhat during cooking/canning -- Sam told me that she tried a new trick to get thicker salsa. I didn't do this yesterday but the next batch will get this treatment. Yesterday I just ladeled out some of the excess liquid. Anyway: Sam's trick -- put your cooked salsa in a Crockpot overnight with the lid off, heat on low. The salsa will cook down and be thicker and I am sure, tasty-and-a-half. Thanks, Sam!

 Happy day, everyone. Tomorrow (or otherwise soon), watch for pictures from last week's visit to the garden by AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins!