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Fun Fancy Finger Food

Making fancy appetizers can be a fun and beautiful way of highlighting delicious local harvest.  The best part is that beauty often comes with simplicity when highlighting fresh vegetables and fruits.  Here are a few recipes I’ve tried recently:

caprise-skewers

Caprese Skewers: Halve cherry tomatoes and small mozzarella balls.  Skewer a basil leaf between piece of tomato and a piece of mozzarella.  Ta da!

cantelope-ap

Cantaloupe and Parmesan: The easiest of the bunch – this is more of a pairing than a recipe.  Lay out bite size pieces of cantaloupe and place thin slices of a hard cheese like parmesan on top. Skewer with a toothpick if desired.

cucumber-bites

home-made-icing-piping-bagCucumber Bites: Mix equal parts chèvre and sour cream, and mix in a dash of garlic powder, salt, and enough dried dill weed to speckle the mixture with green throughout.  Let sit in the refrigerator for at least half an hour before mixing again and tasting.  Adjust garlic, salt, and dill to taste.  Splash in a bit of lemon juice and/or add lemon zest if desired.  Spoon entire mixture into a icing piping bag (or one corner of a ziplock, twist tie shut, then cut off tip).  Slice cucumber into rounds.  Pipe dip on top of each cucumber slice.  Garnish with fresh parsley or dill.

 

melon-aps

Mint, Feta, Watermelon Cubes: Cube watermelon, slice solid feta into thin square pieces, and separate fresh mint leaves from stalk.  Arrange watermelon cubes on your serving platter, place a piece of feta and mint leaf on top of both, and skewer each tower with a tooth pick.  A beautiful flavor-packed end-of-summer treat!

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Recipes Uncategorized

Fresh-from-the-Garden Spring Rolls

Sometimes you just don’t have the time to dive into a multi-step recipe.  Summer days are often quite full of activity.  But summer is also the time when beautiful fresh ingredients abound.   Spring rolls to the rescue!  All you need to do ahead of time is keep a package of thin rice-paper spring roll wrappers on hand.  Follow the directions on the package, adding whatever fresh herbs and veggies are in season to make a beautiful but easy meal.  It can be fun to lay out the different ingredient choices and have each person make their own.  After ingredients are prepped, it only takes a minute or two for assembly.

spring-roll-ingredients

Delicious ingredient options:

-Any fresh herbs on hand: I love thai basil, regular basil, cilantro, mint, scallions, and parsley.

-Edible flower petals: It never hurts to add extra color inside and out!

-Thinly sliced veggies: really this can be any veggie you like eating raw.  Be conservative in your amounts – it is easy to be tempted to over-stuff your rolls.

-Protein and fat: A great way to use leftovers!  Sliced avocados, already cooked fish, pulled or ground meat, tofu (see below), toasted sesame seeds, strips of omelet, or bits or sausage or bacon turn your spring rolls into a satisfying and complete meal.

-Pickles: I prefer the garlicy gingery spark of kimchi in my spring rolls, but really any freshly fermented veggie will do.

-Leftovers: Do you have small amounts of cooked veggies, meat, or beans left over from a previous meal?  Include them in your ingredient offerings.

-Sauce: Dipping sauce is what really makes spring rolls so yummy.  The simplest option is a mixture of whatever of the following items you like and have on hand: soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic, hot sauce, miso, olive oil and/or sesame oil.  Be sure to include at least one salty ingredient, something sour, and an oil.  I like to mix in a generous dollop of peanut butter for a wonderful peanut dipping sauce.

Thinking ahead?  Marinate some tofu. This is great to do in the morning before going to work.  Drain tofu and put into a container with soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated ginger, grated garlic, and sesame oil and shake gently.  Smear with a thin layer of miso paste and leave to marinate during the day. You can also give the same treatment to shredded carrots or sliced cucumbers for some yummy quick pickles.

spring-rolls

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Home Gardens Personal Sustainability: How-To School Gardens

Tea Time

fresh-herbs

May in Vermont is truly beautiful.  Bright blue skies and the vivid greens of fields and forests are such a contrast from the greys and browns of early spring.  Song birds and flower blooms add spots of color to the landscape.  Asparagus and fiddlehead shoots have emerged, giving us our first bountiful harvests of the year.  And early spring greens are loving the warm sun, rain showers, and cool nights.  This is the time of year when young herbs are tender and flavorful.  After a winter of dried herbal teas, it’s exciting to be able to harvest fresh leaves for refreshing drinks.  Try making sun tea with your kids – simply leave a jar out in a sunny spot for the day!  We enjoy herbal tea hot or cooled; plain, sweetened with honey or syrup, or soured with a twist of lemon or lime.

mint-lemon-balm-harvest

brewing-tea

The photos above are of lemon balm, mint, and anise hyssop leaves.  Most of the plants in the mint family come up in early spring, and are now tall enough to harvest leaves without hurting the plants.  For tips on harvesting herbs, check out this post.  To learn about drying and preserving herbs and flowers from your garden, click here.  Cheers to spring!