Saturday, February 28, 2009

Green Tomatillo Sauce

In this video recipe the tomatillo steps out of the shadow of the tomato and shows how delicious it can be. Be sure to subscribe to my Youtube Channel.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Time to Say Good Bye

Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Red Star' (above & below)
Pinus parviflora (above & below)
Pinus densiflora 'Golden Ghost' (above)

Now that the veil of winter is starting to lift, it's time to say so long to the conifers that didn't make it. Out of the hundred plus I've planted in the last 6-8 months only these three fell ill. Two of the three I knew had problems and one seems to have problems for everyone who plants it in 'Red Star'.
So with out a heavy heart I throw you three to the compost pile and thank you for visiting.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Red Curry Paste meet Black Beans

The newest video recipe featuring Thai red curry paste is a bit of a cliffhanger.

I don't reveal all the great ways you can use the curry paste. The above is a tease of what culinary magic can happen when curry paste meets black beans.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thai Red Curry Paste

Learn how to make delicious thai red curry paste at home.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flowers in the Kitchen

For some time I've been playing with the idea of using the above hibiscus flowers in a recipe. Well soon we shall see that recipe in action in a coming soon to a monitor near you video clip.

But I also wanted to comment on the general use of flowers in food. Many times I've seen edible flowers tossed in salads or used as a garnish. As pretty as this many seem it's overdone and serves very little purpose in a dish. It's IMO the culinary equivalent of curly parsley on a plate in the early 80s. If the flowers serve a functional flavor or purpose in the dish more power to you but if they're there just to be seen and not tasted I question there use.

Who had the soapbox next?

Video Garden Diary Two

This week's garden diary we check out where spring is at, take a look at some rough bark, and can this conifer do well any where?

Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm Blind, the horror

I blogged about this event last month and now culinary karma has hit Paula Deen. The sad part is we are the real victims of this incident.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big Hunk of Meat

In this video see how braising will change your life.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Video Conifer Garden Tour 3

After watching this third conifer garden tour sign up to be a subscriber on my Youtube Channel for instant updates, and coming soon exclusive content.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Do You Polenta?

Oh polenta, how I love you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chimichurri meet Gremolata...Gremolata meet Chimichurri

Few condiments equal the greatness of a chimichurri or a gremolata.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Video Garden Diary

This week in the Garden Years.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

$15 Steak Dinner

Learn how to cook a restaurant quality steak dinner at home for less than $15.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The $4 Pizza

Put down the phone, don't order that pizza.

It's time to see how easy and cheap making a great pizza at home can be.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One Minute Tomato Sauce

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a one minute tomato sauce.

In this brand new recipe clip see how to make a fantastic tomato sauce in less then a minute.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Behind the Scenes

I'm about to start recording an extensive series of cooking clips for the blog and I decided to share some images of the behind the scenes. The above photo is the overall set up. As you can see it takes quite a bit of light to make food look good on camera.

Here's my perspective when shooting the clips.

Here's what you see as the final perspective.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Click Here - the Garden Years Podcast 3

(right click the title above to save)

Herbs, herbs and more herbs. If you like to eat, if you like to grow stuff, or if you do both this is the podcast for you.

In this new podcast format I interview Karen Langan from Mullberry Creek Herb Farm, which is a fantastic grower of hundreds of culinary herbs.

Also we stop in on conifer corner and the vegetable garden. Plus, I'll answer the question is this stuff a good organic product or a gimmick?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conifer Garden Tour Part 2...the Dragon Eye

In this conifer garden tour we go eye-to-eye with the dragon eye pine. For those wondering what I'm talking about check out the clip.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Price of Rice

What's with the price of rice? Even these little grains of goodness have not been immune to the rate of inflation. I've seen rice priced as high as $4 per pound for some organic varieties and don't get me started on the price of arborrio rice for risotto.

So here's the tip, I prefer jasmine rice as my long grain rice of choice. If you seek out an international market in your area, which typically also sell wholesale, you can find large bags of jasmine rice for less then $1 per pound. In these economic times creativity and resourcefulness reign supreme.

How Many Peppers did Peter Pick?

Recently I was asked what was my favorite hot pepper to grow? To answer that question I have to decide what is my favorite hot pepper to eat?

There are thousands of pepper varieties to choose from with flavors from citrus to smokey. My favorite combines both heat, sweet, and citrus all in a nice little package called limon chile.

Limon chile has a medium heat and is accented even further by a citrus tone and a smokey finish. This is another great example of taking advantage of a fresh grown product that adds culinary depths of flavor by simply adding it to a dish.

If you have a favorite pepper leave a comment below.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Garden Expansion Project - Post 100

It's fitting that this is post number 100. One of the reasons I started this blog was to document my new garden expansion project. I'm updating the project's progress in this clip.

List of plants to be added to the garden.

Happy 100.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spring Frost

Hopefully we won't have to deal with a spring frost that threatens the new growths on plants, but if it does here's some tips on how to best prepare and deal with that kind of problem.

This Week on the Garden Years

New Gardening Videos this Week

- How to start an herb garden

- Part two of the conifer garden tour

- The large expansion garden project
- Will the fruit trees make it?

New Cooking Videos this Week

- How to make the $4 pizza

- The $15 steak dinner

Also New this Week

- the third garden years podast

- random garden thoughts

- lots of food and cooking pix

- and random goodness

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Culinary Herb Garden

The very first thing that made me want to start gardening were herbs. I had been reading through some recipe books and came across a reference to lemon basil and the thought of a
lemon flavored basil sounded fantastic. Now, I'm very aware of what's available food wise in my area and knew of no place that would have had lemon basil. The only option was simple, I'd have to grow it myself.
Three years later I've grown dozens of basil varieties and each has a different flavor. That makes looking at herb catalogs like going through a recipe book. Each different flavored herb can provide such complex flavors and they come ready to use. No combining lemon zest and fresh basil, just fresh lemon basil. The options are endless when you combine cooking and gardening.
Next week I'll be doing an entire video series on culinary herbs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Conifer Garden Tour Part 1

I've been wanting to conduct some guided video tours of my gardens and this is the time. If you're new to conifers hopefully these tours will get you to think about adding some to your garden. Also, this first tour will preview some upcoming events.

There will be several of the guided tours and I'll eventually cover every plant on my property in these tours. This tour covers some larger specimens that I feel reflect some of the diversity of conifers and some interesting gardening points.

For all of you conifer fans notice how I combined Pinus koraiensis, which was next to the camera, and Pinus virginiana.

For more info on some of the conifers covered in this tour check out these link from the American Conifer Society.

Pinus virginiana 'Wate's Golden'

Pinus bungeana 'Silver Ghost'

Pinus parviflora 'Tempelhof'

When the Beans Go Dry

I love beans, but recently I've been considering which are better dry or canned beans?

In the past I've always felt dry beans were better because you can flavor them more directly. The advantage to canned beans is of course convenience. I'm beginning to turn more to canned beans and here's why.

How long have those dry beans been on the shelf? The whole point to dry beans is they're picked fresh and cured till dry and stored for latter use. The problem being when were they dried? There are some examples out there that these dry beans were dried decades ago and that's a bit of a disturbing fact. I'm sure the world dry bean association will tell me that it's fine for beans to sit for that length but I'm not buying.

Until I can investigate this issue further I will be using canned beans. More importantly though, I'll be growing my own fresh beans this year in the garden.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Click Here for the Garden Years Podcast

Spring is around the corner and so are the gorgeous colors of Japanese maples. For this podcast I wanted to make sure we spoke with an expert who could help us get a handle on all kinds of issues with maples.

Lucile Whtiman from Whitman Farms joins me to discuss maples in detail. From what to do when you receive a new tree in the mail to what a root control bag is, we cover a variety of issues in this extensive interview.

(Right click the title link to save)

Hurray Four Cheese

I really wish more cheese makers and shops would do this sampler idea.

There are so many cheeses being made that to ask people to buy just one is crazy talk. This small sampler of Spanish cheeses allows you to try 4 different textured and flavored cheeses for under $5. These Spanish cheese are all great table cheeses, allow them to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes and serve with bread, a good olive oil, and a cured meat and you have an appetizer of champions.

So as a public service to get more people to try new and different cheeses, I asked for all and any cheese shops and makers to offer these sampler packages.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A New Condiment Sweeps the Nation

This is not going to be a revolutionary condiment idea but move over mayo here comes avocado cream.
The avocado is a remarkable food and gets under used or is mistakenly called guacamole. I would love to see this simple combination above become a staple food when you need a condiment for a sandwich or just want a vibrant bite on what you're eating.
To make avocado cream put the above ingredients, and a not picture 1/2 tbs of cumin powder and salt to taste, in a food processor and pure until smooth. That's it, not reinventing the culinary wheel but it would make a wheel taste better.

In Case You Missed It

I usually post 2-4 times per day, so occasionally some video clips get lost in the shuffle. Remember you can subscribe to my Youtube Channel and take note of the video player to the right.

This weeks videos

Braising with Black Vinegar

Can you ever run out of good braising liquid recipes? The answer is a resounding no. This combination is fantastic and I highly recommend you give it a try.
1 can diced tomatoes (18oz.)
1 medium onion diced
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened black vinegar
2 ancho chilis
1tsp Chinese Five spice powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
Both sweetened black vinegar and 5 spice powder should be available at most international markets. The black vinegar is a tough flavor to describe, it reminds me of a cola flavor. I'll be adding this recipe as part of a video clip series on braising.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Food Review: Apple Pie

My earlier post about cookies made me think about the cost of other desserts. The other classic heavy butter and flour dessert is of course pie. Who doesn't love apple pie it's as American as, I can't remember what?

I stopped by Trader Joe's and despite my typical hate for store bought pie decided to give it a try. When you consider one cookie is now almost $2, a whole pie for $6.99 is a bargain.

Trader Joe's Apple Pie $6.99

Crust Grade: B-
Pie really has two separate crust qualities the bottom crust and the top layer. I like to par bake my pie shell bottoms so the crust has some body. The bottom of this pie is a little soft for my taste but not a Mr. Soggy Bottom pie that store pies are prone to being. The top crust is interesting, it's very heavy handed with cinnamon sugar. If you're a cinnamon fan this is a great element if you're not then you're SOL. I love cinnamon sugar so I thought it was a great addition. The crust texture isn't flaky but it's not realistic to expect a flaky crust unless it's from a fresh baked pie.

Fruit Filling Grade: A-
IMO, this is where most store bought pies fall apart. I do not want fruit filling that resembles jelly or cling peaches from a can. I should bite into the fruit and know that at one time it was fresh and vibrant. You can almost tell from the pix above this pie gets very high marks for the filling. It is remarkably not gelatinous and the fruit still has some bite. If you like fresh apples this pie is for you, if you like apple pie filling in a can then stop reading and go buy a fresh apple to remember what they should taste like.

Overall Grade: B
There is no substitute for a home made pie. With that out of the way, this is one of the better store bought pies I've ever eaten. The pie weighs almost 2 pounds and cost only $6.99, so it's a good value. The crust of the pie is highlighted by the cinnamon sugar dusting, and the texture well not flaky, is not overly soggy and is tasty. The filling stole the show for me with this pie. I expected soft jelly apples and actually felt giddy when the apple still had some bite. I recommend this as a buy when you're short on time to bake a pie and want some fruit pie goodness.

That's an Expensive Cookie

Yesterday, I was at a grocery store that may or may not start with W and end in HOLE FOODS. Looking at the bakery area I saw the cookie case, I can't help myself I love cookies, and noticed the chocolate chip cookies were $1.19 each. There is another local store here that charges $2.25 per cookie and they're pretty small.

Where is the ceiling on this cookie cost crisis? Are we far from seeing a standard chocolate chunk cookie being $4 each? What's causing this dramatic rise in cookie cost?

I'm sure many will point to the increased cost of butter and flour, which is true, but are we now living in a time where a dozen cookies could cost $24 or more. I know I can make several dozen of this cookie still for less then $24.

I'd like to hear from you what's the most expensive cookie price you've seen in your area during this C.C.C (Cookie Cost Crisis) ?

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Pork that Keeps on Giving

This is what's great about large cuts of braised meats.

I blogged last week about my love for hunks of meat and then that became a great dish served with toasted bread. Now, in it's final curtain call the braised pork shoulder was tossed with some penne rigate.

For less then $15 this pork shoulder made at least 4 meals. In a time when many people talk about trying to save money, I can't think of a better cooking technique then braising.

Pot O'Gold at the End of the Conifer Rainbow

Conifers fans hang in there spring is right around the corner. For now here's some video of Pinus mugo 'Pot O'Gold' and Picea abies 'Prostrata Aurea'.

Picea abies 'Prostrata Aurea' is a bit of a mystery because the American Conifer Society does not list a plant with this name. I'm sure there is a answer to the mystery but I'm content to know that it's a cool plant that has dreadlocks and golden hue on the needles.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Start a new Garden

Starting a new garden can seem a little tough and even scary at first, but it's easier than you think.

In this video clip, I'll show you how you don't need to even use a shovel to start a new garden. And no matter if you have a huge area or small square to garden on, you can grow anything you want.

Waiting on Two Fronts

On February 1st I can officially say I'm bored and tired of winter.

I'm an extremely impatient person and it's been hard to wait for early spring to start getting new plants delivered and finish my ongoing arboretum. Not to mention that it's tough to wait for all the exciting new growth to start pushing on all the plants I currently have on my property.

Now the chef hat has spoken, I'm bored at cooking the same veggies. I try not to purchase things that are out of season but when you get in to the month of February it's hard not to start thing about spring and summer vegetables. Soon there will be squash, peppers, tomatoes, new potatoes, spring onions and the list can go on for a while.

For now I'll have to know that spring will be here soon enough and to take the Cardinals outright and the over.