Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Grow an Easy Indoor Herb Garden for Spicier Fireside Suppers

Wouldn’t it be nice to pick your way through a sunshiny garden, feeling the afternoon sun on your neck as you filled one of those big, shallow baskets full of long stemmed veggies, rosemary and other sprigs of verdant life? Well, an indoor herb garden is the perfect prologue to this Farmer Brown story, and if you plant now, within 45 days or so you should be seeing a lot of green, just in time to transplant outdoors when the weather gets nicer.

Winter Herb Roll Call!

Cool indoor gardening kits allow you to grow your own fresh cooking herbs 365 days a year; the one referenced here has a tray, dome, peat pellets and separate packages of the best culinary herbs, which are: parsley, thyme, cilantro, lemon basil, dill, oregano, sweet marjoram, chives, mustard and sage. You’ll notice I bolded 3 of the names on the list.

These are hardy, winter-loving herbs that can sit up on your cold windowsill and thrive—they also give you a (really!!) fun kitchen directive next time your grandkids are over. When you’re cooking, ask them to go and pick a little cilantro for your Layered Chopped Veggie Salad, a bit of chive for your Sweet Corn Chowder, or some parsley to make what I’m willing to bet is the healthiest “spaghetti” (you’ll understand the quote marks later) they’ve had all year.

Idealize that Fireside Chat With a Sweet n’ Spicy Chowder

My Sweet Corn Chowder with Kielbasa, Peppers and Chives is a favorite for people with limited access to fresh veggies, meaning canned corn works best in this belly-warmer of a recipe. The kielbasa—Polish sausage—is also best in this dish if you go ahead and buy it pre-smoked and pre-packaged at the grocery store. It’s easy and it’s GOOD!

How Does Your Enchanted Garden Grow?

If you plant now, you’ll have pretty decent green shoots by Valentine’s Day, which means weeks ahead of Easter, you and Grandpa—maybe the grandkids—can get out and transplant your potted indoor herbs OUTDOORS. Inspired by the upcoming movie Gnomeo and Juliet, I went looking for enchanted garden accessories I knew my grandkids would enjoy. While I found a lot of English grandeur suggestions—the kind that reminded me of The Secret Garden—the magical look of a fairy garden was offered lots of places too—buy up a fairy, gnome-y wonderland by clicking here!

Oh, The Things You Can Do With Winter Squash!

If you’re cutting calories, substituting spaghetti squash for pasta works like a charm and I’ve done it in Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Garlic Butter and Parsley. Winter squash has a tough outer skin, so be careful when you cut it (I like to make ventilation holes in it with a fork and throw it in the microwave a few minutes so it softens up). The variations on a spaghetti squash dish are endless. Want to skip the butter? No problem! Just combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar with 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon coriander and 1 to 2 minced garlic cloves. Stir in ¼ cup olive oil and sprinkle the complete mixture over the squash.

You can also go spicy by making an easy Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca. Simmer together 2 minced garlic cloves, 12 sliced black olives, a (2-ounce) tin of anchovy fillets packed in oil, and 2 teaspoons rinsed capers, with 2 cups marinara sauce. Toss this sauce with the cooked, shredded squash. Season with fresh, chopped basil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

So what are you waiting for? Send Grandpa to the Home Depot to pick up an herb kit and add that zing to Pasta Night that everyone’s been waiting for!

Happy Pickin’,

1 comment:

clevashop said...

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