Category Archives: Recipes

Peppermint Leaves and Apricots

One of the benefits of belonging to a group of gardeners that freely share is a motherload of excess produce occationally.  This week I went apricot picking with some friends.  It didn’t take too long so we went over to Handy Dan’s house and came home with some extra stuff.  First I made apricot habenero jam.   What a yummy treat!  I’m surprised at how many of my friends are disappointed I didn’t just make regular apricot jam.  One of my favorite suppers to make is chicken breasts slow cooked with jam and onion soup mix.  The habenero gives it the right kick to take it to the next level.


Jam and onion soup mix chicken

  • 1 half pint jam
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 chicken breasts

Mix all ingredients and cook in skillet over low heat until chicken is done.  Serve over rice.

This is an easy peasy week night solution to dinner.  So simple to make any jam can be used.  Most often I use mango chutney or apricot jam to complete this recipe.


The extras I came home from Handy Dan’s house with were a bushel of peppermint leaves and a large bundle of wild garlic.  The first night I filled my food dehydrator with peppermint leaves and came out with a half gallon jar stuffed with dried peppermint.  It didn’t even make a dent in the bushel.  I’m going to root about a dozen stems and plant them in the garden, but what to do with the rest?  Should I continue to dry them or make something better.  I know he has another two bushels of mint I could pick up so I’m searching for other ways to use them.  Here are some ideas:

Mint Candy Recipe

Fresh Mint Truffles

Candied Mint Leaves

Cilantro Mint Chutney

Lemon and Mint Salad Dressing

Mint wine

Mint pesto

Mint lollipops

Pea and Mint soup

This should use up the mint pretty satisfactorily!

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Now the wild garlic, what to do, what to do:

Pickled Garlic (the first thing to do with the bublets that I don’t replant)

Wild Garlic Recipe Collection

Garlic Jelly


Plant of the Month – Mustard

Anxiously awaiting for the cold to break drives me crazy every January.  The cabin fever resulting from being indoors gives me a chance to plan and plot for the coming year’s garden.  It also makes me horribly anxious to get planting.  So anxious, I felt it wouldn’t hurt to get a jump start on some herbs.  Things I can grow in pots on my windowsill.  The herbs have sprouted and with them my hopes for the garden.


This is the month to plant cole crops if you want to push the season, but the best plant in my opinion is Mustard.  Mustard is an amazing plant to me.  I get giant leaves and after it goes to seed, I find mustard growing in every nook and cranny around the yard by fall.  I have some in a pot on my porch that have survived the cold of winter.  I noticed one yesterday in the cracks in my brick sidewalk.  So easy to grow and excellent for cold weather.  Tasty too.


Mustard can be harvested young for salad greens, or for sauteing or stewing.  Large leaves should be cooked in a good stock or with a ham bone.  Flowers can be used as edible garnish.  The seed can be ground to make your own homemade mustard.


Plant mustard in flats or in rows 1/8th inch deep.  Mustard will last quite a while before bolting in cold weather.  In warm weather, it can bolt in as little as 30 days.


This is by no means a complete list, but it should be enough to send your imagination soaring.  I tried not to include hybrids, please forgive me if I did.  Kitazawa Seed Company seems to have the biggest selection of greens out there.

If you want to try something different, make your own mustard.  There are many recipes out there for mustard sauce.  I have had a lot of luck with this one that I redacted several years ago for a food festival.  Amounts of everything are really flexible.  If you want to start with the ground mustard seed and experiment with the amounts of other ingredients you will probably find interesting combinations that suit your pallet more than this one.

Medieval Mustard

  • 1/2 C Mustard Seed
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1/4 C red wine
  • 1/4 C vinegar
  • more wine as desired

Toast mustard seed in a dry cast iron skillet until it begins to pop.  Grind it in a mortar.  Add honey, wine and vinegar to make a thick paste.  Thin as desired with more wine.  If you prefer a sweeter mustard, add more honey.  Substitute vinegar and wine as desired to alter flavor.

(Based on recipe in “The Forme of Cury”  ca. 1390 Lumbard Mustard)

Better Quiche Florentine Style

A lot of these recipes so far have been quiche.  I like quiche, and I have a lot of eggs.  This week we received some spinach in our CSA box.  We have been hit hard by the economy so we are also on WIC.  I went into the WIC office to discover that in order to keep the program afloat, my son no longer will be receiving cheese or condensed milk.  I find this to be really low that politicians are willing to take cheese from babies, but this isn’t a political blog.  I did vent on Facebook and someone asked me what the heck you do with condensed milk.  (As an aside, I am going to provide links to things that may not be widely available.  I do get a kickback if you order from these links.)  So, eggs plus spinach plus condensed milk equals….

Better quiche Florentine Style

Fry the bacon until crispy, drain, and set aside.  Meanwhile in a saucepan steam washed spinach until it wilts.  Drain and set aside.

In bowl beat eggs.  Then add condensed milk and regular milk.  (This ends up being 16 oz so if your can of condensed milk is larger or smaller just make up the difference with regular milk.)  Whisk in the cheese, onions, sriracha sauce, mural of flavor and salt.  When well mixed add in bacon and spinach.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes.

These are all inexpensive ingredients I can find locally.  This quiche is also very light and fluffy with a good texture in my opinion, but I cook for myself.  My kids hate food and my husband likes anything made out of food.  Your tastes may differ.

Those of you who are familiar with “cock sauce” (called after the rooster on the label) or Sriracha may wonder if that makes this a spicy hot quiche, but it doesn’t.  The condensed milk and cheese balance out the flavor really well in my opinion at this dosage of hot sauce.   My husband says he couldn’t taste it in the quiche.  I thought it was just right.  If you haven’t tasted it, click on the bottle below and order some.  There is a kind of underground cooking culture that adores this sauce.  I live near a lot of Vietnamese restaurants and can’t wait to put it on my food there.  I take it for granted here in this part of the city.  Try it and good luck!

King Oyster Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche

One of my favorite mushrooms to get at the store is the King Oyster Mushroom.  They are all sorts of wonderful and I use them in everything.  I like them in omelets especially.  So today with my abundance of eggs and some beautiful Asparagus I found I decided to whip up another variation on quiche.

When we get back on our feet again, I hope to order this kit and try growing these myself, but they are ridiculously cheap here in my neighborhood.  It would probably be more expensive for me to grow them myself and I’m not sure it will alter the taste that much like with veggies.  Currently, I have some regular oyster mushrooms going in the kitchen and they are pretty good, but the pink oyster mushrooms are my favorite of all the oysters.  Sadly, this year the place I order from was sold out.

I’ve added in sun dried tomatoes to this.  It’s killing me watching my little tomatoes and knowing it’s going to be a while yet before I get any fresh ones.  Last year I had a moment and ran out of canning jars so I dried all my Roma tomatoes instead of canning them like I usually do.  I have literally a TON of dried tomatoes and it isn’t something I think to put in recipes so I’m working on getting that into my regular cooking repertoire.  The thing that hangs me up is keeping the oil in the fridge stocked with dried tomatoes I’ve softened in a equal parts boiling water vinegar solution.

King Oyster Mushroom and Asparagus Quiche

  • 1 King Oyster Mushroom (they are huge!), chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C Sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Peel
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 C crumbled Feta
  • 1/2 C shredded Muenster Cheese
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Pie Crust

Turn oven to broil.  Wash and clean Asparagus and lay out on lined pan.  Drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with white pepper and lemon peel.  Broil for 3 minutes.  Chop and set aside.

In skillet, pour oil off asparagus and add crushed garlic and mushrooms.   Saute until mushrooms are soft.

In bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cheeses.  Add remaining ingredients, vegetables, and mushrooms.  Pour into pie crust and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Radish Salad

It’s transplant time and my hands are full trying to keep up with the flats!  I’m busy pricking out the tiny seedlings and putting them into paper pots to get some size to them before they go to the garden.  I don’t trust the weather so I’m keeping them in a protected area as long as possible.

Yesterday, I picked some radishes out of my family’s garden.  They planted a mix of varieties and I have to say I like that plan.  There were icicle, purple, and a couple kinds of red.  All yummy.  I had a beautiful picture that I took on my cell phone and emailed to myself so I could post it here on the blog.  Then I made a delicious salad and sent that picture too.  Unfortunately, my phone has developed an attitude and the emails came with no attachments.  After I emailed them, my phone decided it was going to pretend to loose all my contacts and send off lots and lots of warning beeps about whatever it could think of.  I erased anything extra on the phone, cleared cache and rebooted it only to still not have any contacts.  So I asked a girlfriend to text me as a last resort and what do you know?  All my contacts were suddenly back.  Much more annoying than a few days ago when it decided to send me the same three texts from a friend in New York over and over and over again every five minutes all day, but the lovely pics were gone.  On the plus side, we are switching providers soon and will get new phones and mine will not be the same kind again.

So, on to the delicious salad we had with supper.  I was all over Illinois yesterday taking my 92 year old Grandmother shopping and having a really great day.  I stopped by my brother and my parents houses on the way home and ended up with some yummy fresh radishes.  On the way back to St. Louis, I saw the little middle of nowhere vegetable truck sitting where it has sat for probably 30 years.  I’ve been all over the woods the last few weeks trying to get morels and lo and behold, she had two bags for sale.  I have had a horrible craving for them and haven’t had any for years so instead of the beautiful asparagus she was really selling, I took the bag of morels.  We fried them up in a fairly simple rice flour batter and decided they needed something so we smothered them in Cajun seasoning before frying the rest.  Oh so good!  I think morels must have some kind of chemical that makes the little brain in your stomach high.  They were delicious.  We added more flour to the remaining batter and made up some onion rings too and they were fantastic.  So to balance out all the fried food I set to work to make a decent salad with the radishes.  It was more than decent.  I love it when we have a great meal.

Radish Salad

  • 1 bunch radishes sliced thinly
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 very small red onion, chopped (why aren’t they called purple onions?)
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas, sliced
  • 2 cucumbers cubed
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pensey’s Mural of Flavor
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all vegetables in a large bowl.  Mix remaining ingredients in jar and shake well.  Pour over vegetables and toss.  Serve.

I have never been to Pensey’s I’m embarrassed to say, but I drive by it a lot and fantasize about what I see in the windows.  For Christmas, I received a little gift box from there that had the Mural of Flavor in it.  I’m pretty impressed with this spice mix.  It’s probably the best I’ve had that wasn’t home made.  I really like Cavender’s and Old Bay as well, but this one is really good.  I think the closest I’ve tasted to it is probably the Old Bay, but this one is so much better.

Sunchoke, Guiness and Cheese Soup

I first made this over the winter, but it is so delicious and a great way to use your Sunchokes.  The grocery had some beautiful sunchokes today so this is what we are having for dinner.  I’m serving it with some wheat bread I made today topped with some of our home-made apple butter.  Tastes amazing.

Sunchoke, Guinness, and Cheese Soup

  • 1.5 lbs Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 1/2 C chicken broth, more if needed
  • 1 C Guinness or dark beer of your choice
  • 3 TBS flour
  • 1 1/2 C Smoked Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 C Buttermilk
  • salt
  • Chili Powder
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Place sunchokes in broth until ready to use.  In saucepan, saute onion and celery in 1 TBS butter until soft.  Add sunchokes and broth, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until soft.  Puree with immersion blender.

In another saucepan, melt 3 TBS butter, add flour, and cook for a minute or two.  Remove from heat and whisk in 1 C beer, then cook for a few minutes.  Add cheese and mustard and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted.  Stir in Sunchoke puree and buttermilk, and cook until soup is heated through.  Season with salt, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce.

Don’t have sunchokes?  They are a pretty awesome tuber to grow in the garden.  Extremely easy.  I picked some up at the grocery store one year and stuck them in the ground.  If you are worried about local laws, check with your local extension office to make sure they are not listed as a noxious weed in your area.  I grow them in a raised bed so they theoretically don’t spread everywhere.  It does make it really easy to pop out the ones that go out of bounds.  The picture is last year’s patch in June.  I start harvesting them after the first frost in fall and harvest all winter when the ground isn’t frozen.  My chickens love to sit in the patch in the shade.  There are pictures out there of blooms that look like sunflowers, but I have never had them bloom.  I think I would cut the flowers off before they go to seed since they can be spread so easily.


Grateful Veggie Sandwich

My favorite lunch is a veggie sandwich and a piece of fruit.  It’s an easy way to get raw veggies and stock pile on vitamins and minerals.

Start with a bagel, a bagel thin, or a sandwich thin.  My favorite is the bagel thin with everything.  Hopefully I can learn how to make them sometime soon so I can stop buying them.

Next spread on some hummus or lentil spread.  It’s really good if you do hummus on one side and lentil spread on the other.  Today I only have hummus, I need to thaw some lentil spread out from the freezer.

Next I put on some cilantro and kale.  I’ve used tons of other greens for this, raw collards are really good too.  Parsley is a good addition and it is also a good choice for nutrition.

Next I put on sprouts and whatever else I can find in the stores to round it out.  I prefer mixed sprouts or onion sprouts, but broccoli, alfalfa, and clover are all good.  The sprout mix I use has fenugreek sprouts in it and I really love the extra flavor.  On the left you see today I put on cauliflower from the gallon jar of Giardiniera I keep on hand.  I prefer the peppers out of it, but I ate them all. 

Put the halves together and you have a great sandwich.  I like it best with grapefruit, but any fruit is good. 

I keep sprouts, hummus, and curry dip on hand in the house.  I mix buying sprouts at the store and making them.  Sometimes I’m just not going to be home enough to keep the seeds rinsed and I get them from the store.  The last couple of years have made me more active on sprouting my own.  The contamination recalls on sprouts have made them difficult to get at times.  I picked up a really nice seed mix from a local store last year too.  It is really tasty.  Johnny’s seeds seem to have the best online ordering for sprouting that I have found, I’m always looking for more sources and hopefully can incorporate growing the seeds into my garden.  I’d love to hear about any local sources to St. Louis if you know of any.  I’ve had a hard time finding good places to buy them, it also doesn’t help that once you buy a bag you don’t need to again for a long while.

Elk Curry Stroganoff

Last weekend we also had door knock dinner at my Mom’s house.   She lives next door to my brother so we went over there for lunch.  I’ve been having issues with gout and told her ahead of time I really wasn’t interested in eating ham or lunch meat which are her default company foods.  Stupid genetics.  Anyway, she had some elk in the freezer she had gotten from my Godfather and I’m not going to turn down elk if I have a chance to eat it.  It’s too delicious.  Mom isn’t feeling great right now and wanted to make stew.  I could tell she wasn’t really feeling up to cooking so I decided to help out.  This is what we came up with.

Elk Curry Stroganoff

  • 3 TBS vegetable oil
  • 1 lb elk stew meat
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 Carrots chopped
  • 3 stalks celery sliced
  • 1 Qt apple juice
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 3 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 C dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 8 oz cream cheese cut up
  • 1 package Kluski noodles

Season elk with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.  In hot oil, brown elk with garlic powder.  Push to side of pan and add onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute until soft.  Add 2 TBS flour and mix elk and vegetables together.  Gradually add apple juice and deglaze pan.  Add potatoes, mushrooms, curry powder, turmeric, and thyme and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer to thicken apx. 20 min.  Meanwhile, in separate pan boil water for noodles.  Cook noodles according to package direction.  When elk mixture has thickened and potatoes are soft, add cut up cream cheese to melt.  Remove from heat, but keep warm while noodles finish up.  Salt and pepper to taste. Drain the noodles.  Serve elk in sauce over noodles.

*One word of warning:  Some of my Mom’s spices are over 30 years old, so if using fresh spices you might want to take it easy on them since they will have retained more of their flavor!*

We fed 12 people with this, but I could have eaten a lot more.  Even the kids willing ate this for the most part.  My nephew went back for seconds.  It is fairly sweet just to be warned.  My first thought was to put sour cream instead of the cream cheese, but Mom didn’t have any so I thought this was a perfectly good substitute.  My folks live to far from any grocery stores to run out for ingredients like that.  I loved this dish and so did my Mom.  She’s a pretty picky eater so I was doubly happy with the way it turned out.

Sorry about the back log of posts today.  I needed to get caught up with what I had put together this week.  It’s getting to be the busy time of the year for gardening and I don’t want to have to leave stuff out in the coming weeks.

Mexican Quiche or what to do with a surplus of eggs

Once in a while we get behind on egg eating.  It’s a wonderful problem to have.  This was our solution last night, I can’t wait to eat all the leftovers!

Mexican Quiche

  • 8 slices bacon, browned and chopped
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 12 eggs
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese shredded
  • 4 oz feta
  • 4 oz can green chili sauce
  • 1 lb chopped greens such as spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz broccoli chopped
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 pie crusts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Prepare two pie pans with prepared crusts.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, chili powder, and cumin in bowl.
  3. In seperate bowl, beat the eggs until smooth.  Whisk in the flour mixture until smooth.  Add the cheddar and feta, green chili sauce, and chopped greens until mixed thoroughly.
  4. In skillet, saute broccoli in bacon grease, After one minute add garlic powder and stick of butter.  When broccoli brightens, add mixture to eggs and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour into prepared pie crusts.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees then reduce heat to 350 degrees.  Continue baking until lightly browned about 35 to 40 minutes.

Taiwan Spinach

This week at the international grocery store they had Taiwan spinach.  I love this green!  I lack the vocabulary to describe why it meshes so well with my taste buds.  I was first introduced to it at a Sunday morning dim sum located in University City.  Oh, Lu Lu, how I love your food.  Lu Lu Seafood Restaurant makes some killer dim sum.  (And they are one of the few places with bubble tea in town.)  The ladies come around with the carts instead of a weird buffet thing like many of the restaurants here in the St. Louis area.  You never know what is going to come around and be available which is half the fun.  The particular dish that introduced me to this green involved steaming the spinach and dressing it with a soy sauce/ sesame oil mixture.  Fantastic!

Amaranthus gangeticus (Chinese spinach or taiwan spinach)

This edible amaranth grows about 14 inches high, but can be higher when flowering.  The seeds and greens are edible, but the flowers are not.  This is a warm weather crop.  Seeds should be germinated in the dark (with a row cover) at about 50 degrees fahrenheit.  These plants will not stand frost or freezing.  This green likes loose, sandy, and fertile soil.  It can’t stand compacted soil so a good cover of straw or frequent hoeing will help it’s growth.

3 Ways to Harvest (about 6-8 weeks):

  1.  Pinch tips and let regrow.
  2. Pull out whole plant when it reaches about 10 inches.
  3. Cut plant back to about an inch an a half above the ground to regrow.

This plant can put out a pretty hefty harvest apparently with proper thinning or cutting back.

I like this variety of edible amaranth probably best of all I have tried.  It has a really satisfying and hearty taste.  It also lacks the bitterness of some of the red tinged cultivars.  So here is what we ate tonight (I had no idea what call it):

Chinese Spinach and Mushroom Grits Bake

  • 1 1/2 Cups Grits
  • 5 TBS oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • one large king oyster mushroom (half pound)
  • 2 TBS dry sherry
  • 1 lb Chinese spinach, washed and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 lb firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 2 TBS Pinoy Curat Spiced Coconut Vinegar
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce (cock sauce)
  • 1 TBS Chinese 5 Spice
  • 2 TBS Dark soy sauce with mushroom flavor
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook Grits according to directions and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 TBS oil in large pan.
  4. Add the onions, leeks, and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are caramelized. Set aside.
  5. De glaze the pan with the sherry, add the salt and cook until dry.
  6. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  7. In a separate skillet, heat remaining oil.
  8. Add the garlic and basil.  Simmer until garlic is golden brown.
  9. In food processor, add contents of skillet, tofu, lemon juice, Pinoy Curat, sriracha, Chinese 5 spice, and soy sauce.  Blend until smooth.
  10. Add tofu mixture to vegetable mixture.
  11. In large casserole, layer half of the grits on the bottom.  Gently smooth vegetable mixture on top of grits.  Top with remaining grits as completely as possible.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  13. When baking is complete, turn off oven, crack open and let rest in oven to cool for 10 minutes.  Serve.

Now that gardening season is creeping ever closer, consider giving this vegetable a try.  So good.  Why not make a spot in your garden for some new and unusual greens this summer?

Seed Sources:

Evergreen Seeds

Kitazawa Seed Co.

and my favorite local seed company:  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds