Monday, September 18, 2006

What's Growin' On: 9/18/06

Realization Of The Day:
My glorious garden mint is being seriously underutilized in the kitchen. Any suggestions?

Weather, Please Make Up Your Mind!
Saturday we had a record breaking 88 degrees F, and yet tonight and tomorrow night it's supposed to dip down to 40F. These between-season fluctuations always discobulate the heck out of me. I can only wonder what the plants think.

I've harvested most of the basil except for the half dozen plants in the greenhouse, and I'll cover the giant bushes outside that are going to seed as best I can. I was thrilled by all the volunteer basil I ended up with this year--I'd hate to have an early cold snap kill off the plants before the seeds had a chance to mature. I'll be making another big batch of pesto tonight using my new recipe. I plan to put it up in its own little post, but for now you can find it here--it's the same pesto I used in my popular Savory Tomato Pesto Pie.

I took the large shade tarp off the greenhouse last week, so now the scraggly herbs on the north side that were painfully stretching toward what little sun they could reach are getting much more light. They should be upright and smiling soon.

Outside I still need to pick a bunch of Aconcagua sweet peppers that are earmarked for the freezer. There are still various tomatoes are here and there, but pickings are getting slim. I know I complained a bit about a tomato glut a while back, but that was because the majority of slicing/salad tomatoes, like the VFNs and the Arkansas Travelers (as opposed to the plum tomatoes I freeze for use during the winter and spring), all seemed to ripen at once. I picked my first tomato way back on July 9th (and a lovely birthday present it was), but suddenly it seems like this year's tomato season only lasted a couple of weeks.

I'll also be tossing old sheets over the squash plants and of course the late planting of Straight 'N' Narrow beans that are finally putting on some bounty--neither of them will like these cold temps. Whatever sheets are left will go over the tomato plants that are still producing, along with anything else that is a cold weather wimp. All the new fall green seedlings should be just fine. Some, like the Nero di Toscana Cat Cabbage, taste even better after a frost (not that I'm hoping for a frost anytime soon--not yet, please!)

Gee, it sounds like I need to get my tail out to the garden and get busy.

Out Of My Inbox:
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Their latest Bite is called "Apples Of Our Eye" and offers everything from interesting apple facts (I had no idea that apples give off a gas that ripens fruits and harms leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables) to a link to a free downloadable cookbook by Chef/Owner Scott Carsberg of Lampreia Restaurant ("for those who want simple, seasonal cuisine") in Seattle, Washington.

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  1. I don't have the recipe with me but I'll do my best from memory. My mom made this fruit salad and it was really good (I don't even like melon & I liked it).

    Use a tiny ice cream scoop and ball equal amounts of cantalope & watermelon. For the dressing, use one big fresh lemon, a bunch of mint (to taste) and corn syrup (to taste and some amaretto. I think heat the juice & syrup in a sauce pan then blend it with the mint. Then pour over the melon balls. If you want to make it fancy put them in the empty water melon shell.

    Sorry for the lack of detail. Have fun!

  2. I love mints. We asian, like to make mint egg soup. Boil some chicken stock. While the stock is simmering crack an egg, turn of the heat, stir the egg Gently. Add the fresh mint. The soup is ready

  3. I've heard that mint and lamb go well together. Although I wouldn't recommend that since I am a vegetarian and I just can't bear the though of someone eating your dearest lambs.

    I also don't even like mint toothpaste so I'm fresh out of ideas.

    Speaking about eating lambs I've been talking about your blogs non-stop to my boyfriend ever since I came across them on the weekend. I've read somewhere in your archives about your stance on eating meat (which I can respect...but won't participate) but I keep telling my boyfriend that I'm too afraid to ask if you eat your own sheep...especially after reading all about Cary. There I I've got to deal with the answer.
    Best, Jane

  4. make a mint facial toner, by chopping mint and steeping in hot water, then straining.

  5. Mint tea.

    A good handful or so of leaves, in a pyrex measuring cup (2-cup, at least). Fill with boiling water. Pour into teacup very soon -- to me it tastes like straw if it steeps for very long at all.

    -- Vicki in Michigan

  6. Time to make a big batch of mojitos!

  7. One thing is that you could freeze springs of mint into icecubes and use them as flavorings for iced tea or throw them in hot tea to cool it off. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the shelf life!

    I've been enjoying your blog for a while now and wanted to say thanks for keeping it! I'm a first-time gardener in the Kansas City area and felt so much better knowing someone else had an attack of those awful squash bugs. They decimated my beautiful zucchini. Here's to hoping that they stay away from my spaghetti squash this fall! (I've sacrified a rotisseri chicken for the cause!)

  8. mint = tabbouleh for me! i love it.


  9. over the summer i discovered that mint has a natural affinity for tuna, especially in a tuna pasta salad
    it sounds unconvential, and it may be, but it's also DELICIOUS
    another fabulous pairing is mint and beets... beet risotto or beet pasta with a healthy chiffonade of mint and lots of parmesan cheese is extraodrinarily fantastic!

  10. Mint tea, mint facial masks, mint rice, mint jelly -- oh dear - we are starting to sound like a take off on Forrest Gump's famous shrimp soliloquy! The mojitos sound best!
    RE: eating one's livestock - we raise goats, almost all the little males get banded for neutering so they can stay with their mamas until they go to market. It is part of the real world of living in the country - we don't get to pick and choose the easy parts but we are responsible to keep our livestock in the best possible conditions.
    That's my 50 cents worth - IMHO with inflation included!

  11. Along the lines of the Mojitos, Mint Juleps!

    Also have you seen if the cats like mint? One of my cats likes mint almost more than catnip! He is particularly fond of the Menthol in muscle rubs (which he loves to lick off of me!!), but mint will do too! :)

    Oh, OR you could make a batch of dog biscuits (I know there are recipes all over the net) and mix in mint...doggie breath freshener! :)

  12. Hi I love mint lemonade, it's so very easy, pull whole mint branches, slice lemons, mash around in gallon container with ice, sweetener [maple syrup or sugar tastes best], and water. Yummy, good for parties.

  13. I freeze mint in ice cubes. Then serve with ice tea--which is especially wonderful in the middle of winter. Beth

  14. I would suggest arabic mint tea, just boil the leaves with some gunpoweder tea leaves and add heaps of sugar!

  15. Mint pesto--I make it just like basil pesto but with mint leaves and either walnuts or pecans instead of pignoli nuts. Serve with lamb or on tilapia or just mixed with couscous and diced veggies (okra, eggplant, red pepper).

  16. infuse melted butter and then use it in baking...esp. brownies and other chocolatey goodies... melt the butter til almost boiling, stuff in the mint, shove it under the butter, cover and let sit for half an hour... strain, smooshing the butter out of the mint w/ a spatula...

    add it to salads... try potato salad w/kalamata olives and mint...

    let the lambs graze on it so they are infused from the inside... LOL

  17. Hi Everyone,
    Thank you all so much for taking the time to share your favorite ways to use mint. I really appreciate it and am thrilled with the variety of your suggestions. Now I'm just wondering if I have enough mint in the garden. : )

    Hi Crystal,
    That sounds wonderfully refreshing. Thanks!

    Hi IML,
    I love the simplicity of what I call "egg drop soup," but I certainly never thought to add mint to it. I will definitely have to try that.

    Hi I. Jane,
    So glad you're enjoying my blogs. Okay, regarding eating lamb. Yes, we do eat some of the lambs we raise here on the farm. BUT, nobody is EVER going to eat Cary. In fact, so far we have kept all of the female lambs (or sold them as replacement ewes).

    I plan to write a post on Farmgirl Fare that addresses the questions so many people have been asking me about eating meat, eating animals I've raised, etc. etc..

    In the meantime, I invite you to click here and scroll down through the comments section until you reach my reply to Happy Laney. I go into some of the details about the meat I eat and raise.

    Hi Peri,
    That is a fantastic idea!

    I Need Orange,
    Yum on the tea. Not so much on the tabouleh--though I am welcome to give it another try if someone has a really good recipe they would care to share. : )

    Hi Anonymous,
    I keep reading about those. I guess it's about time I found out what they are. I mean, I know they're some kind of drink, and that they seem to be very popular. Beyond that, I'm clueless. I'm so out of the loop!

    Hi Belinda,
    Mint ice cubes are a great idea. Thanks.

    Oh, I feel for you about the squash bugs, you know I do. I'm STILL seeing them in the garden, despite the fact that it's the end of September and we've had mornings as cool as 39F. I'm crossing my fingers that your spaghetti squash survives. I love that stuff.

    LOL, I've never heard of a sacrificial rotisserie chicken. We, um, well, don't sacrifice chickens around here. Actually I'm slightly frightened of my chickens. Well, not all four of them. Just Lindy (the super chicken) & Whitey.

    Hi Lauri,
    Okay, another tabbouleh fan. Recipe? : )

    Hi Ann,
    Tuna & mint--interesting. And beets & mint, hmmmm. If I can ever get beyond my caramelized beets with garlic, I just might have to try that.

    Hi Linda Sue,
    Mint jelly--of course! Mint facial mask? That sounds different than a toner. Any idea how I make one? And thanks for your 50 cents worth. : )

    Hi Ty,
    Can you believe I've never ever had a mint julep? I know. I obviously live a very deprived life (in certain aspects at least).

    I haven't noticed any of the cats eating mint--or the sheep either for that matter. I was hoping they would munch on some to freshen their breaths. But the idea of adding mint to homemade dog biscuits is fantastic. I used to make them all the time (never with mint, though) because even my picky eater Robin the beagle loves them. I've been meaning to make a batch for ages. Thanks for the tip--and the reminder.

    Hi Petunia Honeysuckle,
    Oh my, that sounds just delightful. I could go for a glass right now. Mmmmm.

    Hi Beth,
    Another vote for mint ice cubes. I have to try this. What a great way to preserve a little piece of summer green.

    Hi Koffiekitten,
    Okay, I'm definitely out of the loop here. Gunpowder tea? That sounds, well, explosive. But I trust you. Really. : )

    Hi Pattie,
    Mint pesto--very intriguing. Thanks for all the serving suggestions, too.

    Hi KM,
    "Smooshing the butter out of the mint with a spatula. . ." You have way too much fun in the kitchen.

    I like the idea of adding mint to potato salad with kalamata olives (love them).

    No comment on the inside out infusing! ;)

  18. Love all the mint ideas. I guess my two favorite things to put mint in are tabbouli (lots of mint and parsley, like the real middle eastern kind) and Middle Eastern tomato salad with finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, chopped mint, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice. I learned to make both of these from a friend who is Persian.

  19. Hey back at you FarmGirl - great photos this week - thought I'd share the only formulation I found that sounded reasonable for a mint facial mask. Found by googling and ended up at

    At the very least - one would smell luscious!

    10 large peppermint leaves
    1/3 cup water
    1 tablespoon white cosmetic clay

    1. Add the peppermint leaves and water to a blender and mix until green and frothy. Strain.

    2. In a small bowl, add mint liquid to the clay and stir until a spreadable paste forms.

    3. Spread onto a clean face and throat and let dry. Rinse.
    Helpful Hints:
    You can find cosmetic clay online, or at your local herb or health food store.

  20. I was going to say mint pesto but I see that Pattie is way ahead of me. Mint pesto is fantastic with seafood or chicken. But our mint pesto is quite similar to Patties - using pecans rather than pine nuts. Also, we don't add cheese to ours - it's basically mint, lemon verbena, lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and toasted pecans.

    We do NOT have enough mint in our garden because we love mint pesto so much.


  21. My favorite way to use mint is in salads. I mix spinach, basil, mint, chives, and other herbs depending on what is in season then toss it with lime juice, tamari, and sunflower seeds. Simple and very tasty.

  22. hey! if you can't have fun in the kitchen, what's the point?


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

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I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

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