What's on My Food?

Find out what's on your food at: whatsonmyfood.org

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Herbal Pest Discourager

Here is a recipe to discourage pests from biting and annoying you while outside.

Herbal Pest Discourager

15 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
10 drops pennyroyal (or peppermint, but pennyroyal works best) essential oil
10 drops white thyme essential oil
10 drops lavender 40/42 essential oil
5 drops basil essential oil
3 drops tea tree essential oil

Combine essential oils in a glass or PET bottle with 3 oz. of jojoba oil, cap and shake or mix with 3 oz. distilled water and 1 TBLS of polysorbate 20.

Dispense water-based solution with fine mist sprayer.

I think this is from The Herb Companion. You can get these ingredients from a health food store.

Fun Shopping at Farmer's Market

Hi Boys and Girls!

Today is Saturday and I do not have a quilt guild meeting or Pilates! So I got to go to my local Farmer's Market! Yeah!

I only had hot tea in the morning before I left. I wanted to save my appetite for the warm blueberry scones that our local cheese store sells. ACKKKK!!! She was not there this morning! Oh well...I wandered around looking at the possibilities for dinner. Most FM's do not start selling before the appointed time. For me, that would be 9 am. I got there at 8:45. It is a good idea to get there early and check out the supplies and formulate your dinner menu in your mind. I was comparison shopping too. I was looking for the best deal.

Don't go to your FM with a set list in hand. Look to see what is being offered and make your dinner menu from that. Buying fruits and veggies in season is the healthiest way to eat! If you buy tomatoes in November you know they are from a warm climate country which sprays with insecticides. Same thing with grapes and strawberries. You cannot buy organic grapes or strawberries in December...wait until they are in season and you will buy really fresh and healthy products!

I found some beautiful squash at $2 a basket. Everyone else had them for $3 a basket. So of course, I bought some.

OK, now I had a plan. This same booth had gorgeous fresh carrots cheaper than other vendors. So I bought some carrots. My dinner is coming together! String beans! Yes! Mushrooms! Yes!

I have tomatoes on the vine ready to pick and fresh basil. OK. My dinner this evening was planned....Pasta Primavera. All I needed was there.

Fresh herbs ready to plant! I have most of these herbs but I asked for cilantro knowing it is too hot for it now. However, the farmer told me he has one but it is too late to plant. I told him I want it to "go to seed" or flower for the bees and butterflies. So he gave it to me free! I also bought a few herbs that I want for the flowers. If you let your herbs go to seed, they provide nector for hummingbirds and butterflies. Basil is an exception. I pinch off all the blooms that are forming. I am still using it on a daily basis and when it blooms the leaves may be bitter. I have 4 basil plants so I will probably let one plant flower.

How can one resist fresh flowers? Well, I did...this time. I was on a mission. As you can see, there is a vendor selling fruit cups next to the fresh flowers. Boy, my daughter would love that! As I went on, I purchased 4 loaves of homemade bread. Three of the loaves go in the freezer and one will be gone in 24 hours! I bought cranberry bread, rye bread, sourdough bread and chiabatta.

So, now I have everything for dinner...but wait, I see fresh blackberries! Oh my, I must have some for my blackberry cobbler.
This recipe is from Whole Foods and is so good and easy. So, I ask if I can order 4 containers of blackberries. I did not want to seem selfish and take from other customers. They had plenty so I got my 4 baskets.
My Farmer's Market also had fresh, organic tamales, organic brownies, fresh honey, goat cheese, organic meat, cabbage, kale, strawberries, smoothies, and lots of arts and crafts pertaining to birds and outdoor living. There is even live music.

Here are some tips to remember:
  • wear comfortable shoes
  • go early to check out choices
  • take cash
  • take shopping bags or totes...better yet, a small wagon or cart
  • don't take a list...plan your menu on the choices available.
Until next time, have fun! Be spontaneous and cook something you never thought you would!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Better Than Drugs

Hi Boys and Girls!

Two posts in as many days! Who would have thunk?? Well, I just have to share some of the joy of my garden wilderness with you.

This morning was a ho-hum awakening...I was thinking of all I had to do...and that really bummed me out. So, I made my tea (Zhi, of course...http://www.zhitea.com/) and stepped outside to enjoy the morning. The birds needed some sunflower seeds so I proceeded to do that little chore. While I was at one feeder, I noticed the fennel bush. It was loaded with caterpillars!
Well, seeing these little puppies perked me right up! I ran into the house and grabbed my wonderful new camera...Panasonic Lumix 12x http://amzn.com/B001QFZMCO
I just started shooting thinking one or two would come out. Here are a couple more.

This is the Black Swallowtail caterpillar.

Where is this guy going on the right? I think he wants to make his cacoon. Catterpillars feed on leaves of specific plants for their development. These fellas are on fennel. But they also love dill, carrot, parsnip and parsley.

This little guy above is forming his cacoon. He was still moving about and I was captivated with the activity. I must have watched him for a full 5 minutes! Tomorrow, he will be motionless and transforming himself into this.
I just missed him coming out. However, I watched as this Black Swallowtail slowly flapped his wings to warm up. Butterflies are cold-blooded and must warm their bodies before they can fly. They do this by basking in the sun and by beating their wings. This guy was drying off...he was just reborn.

Another fella wreaking havoc in the garden is the Gulf Fritillary http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1664
I don't mind. They are beautiful. Well, this guy isn't so cute yet. Just wait until he and 50 of his cousins eat my Passion Flower vine to thin stalks!

Gulf Fritillary larva eating the Passion vine.
This is a good thing. This plant is the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary. These babies will eat every leaf off this plant but they will not kill it. When they become butterflies, they eat the nectar of the passion flower. So, the Passion Flower does double duty. Photo courtesy of http://www.thegardenhelper.com/

So, you must know by now that I plant things for the butterflies, humming birds and any other little creature that will visit my garden. We have mostly Texas Natives. After spending about 30 minutes watching all the life in my Texas Wildscape, I decided I better get back to mine. But, as I was walking back towards the house, I captured this little guy getting his minute-by-minute nourishment.

Do you want to see life in action? Do you need a few minutes each day to let your worries fade away? This is how you do it. Buy one plant that is a host plant for a butterfly. Here are some choices: Blue Mist flower; Lantana; Passion Flower; Mexican mint marigold; Butterfly bush. Plant in a pot twice the size of the plant and use good soil such as Lady Bug Potting Soil http://www.ladybugbrand.com/soils.htm.  You can find this at nursuries or feed stores.Place your plant in a sunny spot on your porch or patio. Do not spray with pesticides. Don't overwater. If you stick your finger in the pot and the soil is moist, the plant does not need water. You will attract hummingbirds to the blooms. You will have butterflies too. Check out more information by reading A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas by Raymond W. Neck. http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Butterflies-Moths-Introduction-Familiar/dp/1583553681/ref=pd_cp_b_1

Good luck! Give yourself a real treat and plant a host plant for butterflies...even if you plant basil and let it go to seed, it will flower and attract butterflies! Give it a try...what have you got to lose but stress?
Until next time...happy planting!

Grilled Brussel Sprouts Revisited but with Califlower

Good Morning, Boys and Girls!

Remember the story about Brussel Sprouts? Maybe, if you are like me, you skipped it because of your ultimate distaste of this little veggie. Well, I do hope some of you tried my recipe. It made a believer out of me! Remember, it will probably taste better if you use organic sprouts and fresh garlic. Also, use good quality olive oil. If any of you tried another oil, let me know. I have been told grapeseed oil is good for cooking.

OK, now here is another first for me. I tried the same procedure with califlower! Yes, the dreaded veggie that I could smell cooking a mile away! The minute I walked into my house from school, I knew what Mom had prepared for dinner. Oh gosh! The horror stories about trying to get me to eat this...and the agonizing stand-off at the dinner table until I finally ate one bite!

Well, have no fear. I tried this and I am a califlower convert!

One head of califlower, washed and divided into flowerettes...pat dry
olive oil
fresh garlic or garlic spray

Pat dry the flowerettes and place in a shallow dish.
Pour olive oil and garlic over them. Stir to lighly coat each piece.
Place califlower flowerettes on broiler pan lined with foil or a cookie sheet with sides.

Place in broiler. I set the broiler about 4" from heat so I could watch it and prevent burning.
Broil turning flowerettes often and pouring leftover olive oil as needed.
When the califlower has a nice color they are probably done.


Let me know how you like this. Believe me, I thought I was never going to eat califlower again! But, this is just too good to avoid! Now bring on a good steak or pork roast, a nice Riesling and enjoy!

Until next time...be daring...try a food you absolutely hate. Grill instead of boiling or steaming and taste the sweetness!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Hi Boys and Girls!

OK, this is the third time eating at the Cool Mint Cafe so I guess it is a "keeper."
http://www.coolmintcafe.com/  The menu was awesome today, being Mother's Day...All foods are organic and made fresh. The breads and pastries are homemade also.

First, we get started with mimosas...except Shannon who is very much pregnant. Babe is due in September.
If you want these at home for any fun breakfast or brunch, just use flute glasses or pretty slender glasses, add half-full with orange juice, and top with champagne...cheap kind will do...some like a cherry popped in but I don't like the food coloring. For a "pretend" mimosa, add sparkling tonic or ginger ale to the orange juice.

Next came the First Course: Platter of freshly baked breads & scones. I tried the lavender cream scones with icing. It was pretty good...I have had better...or butter. They did not taste like butter but it was still good.

The Second Course was a buffet. Really a lot of choices...
Spinach beet salad (yellow beets)...so good!
Tejas Toss...greens with jicama http://www.ochef.com/266.htm, grapefruit & avocado.
Southwestern Pasta...smoked poblanos & prosciutto with pasta.
Smoked poblano & carmelized onion & cheddar scalloped potatoes...the best!
Santa Fe Frittata...so good with spinach, roasted peppers and scallions...
Santa Fe Chicken Sausage Frittata...this had a crispy tortilla crust.
Wild Coho Salmon Hash...never tasted it...
Oak Smoked ham...passed this up too...
French toast...so cool. It was stuffed with vanilla marscarpone...wow! This was good.

Third Course was dessert. We were stuffed but the dessert was hard to pass up.
Banana-nut bread pudding with butterscotch sauce...passed on this one.
Mexican chocolate mousse...Shannon's choice.
Fresh fruit compote & oatmeal cookie...Roberto's choice.
Lemon Semifreddo...Aaron and my choice...Heaven! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Meyer-Lemon-Semifreddo-with-Summer-Berries-242511
I know, I know...lots of cream...but I only ate half of mine. This recipe can be worked to have less calories.

We dined outside on a lovely day. Not too hot and not too cold...but we were (me mostly) annoyed by the flies. What do restaurants do about that? What do you do when you eat outside to control the flies? I really would like to know.

Shannon and Aaron gave me a huge red geranium plant. Beautiful! So, is my daughter!

I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with good memories, phone calls to mom, or better yet, a nice dinner.

Shannon and Mom

Roberto, Shannon, Aaron and Mom

Until next time, try a new recipe or try Cool Mint Cafe in San Marcos, Texas!