Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Celery: How to Use it All

Uses for celery
Using all of the celery
Sometimes we throw food away without thinking. Consider celery. Most of us cut off the ends and the leaves and just use the fleshy stalks. And, if you have allowed celery to bolt in your garden, that thick center stalk usually hits the compost pile as well. It happens to be very tender and flavorful, and tastes just like celery! Huh, go figure. There is a lot of food waste going on with celery. It's all edible. So eat it, freeze it, dry it, use it. Just don't waste it!

Celery Root Ends

Often times celery will root and regrow from the root end of a bunch. Cut the root end about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, place it in a shallow dish of water and see what happens. Sometimes a whole new bunch will grow, other times it will just sprout some tender young stalks and leaves. If you are harvesting celery from your garden, don't pull out the plant to harvest. Rather, cut the stalks off just above the soil level and let the celery continue to grow.

Dried celery leaves are an excellent way
to add flavor to soups and salad dressings.

Celery Leaves

Celery leaves pack just as much flavor as the stalks. Use them in soups and salad dressings. If you happen to have a good amount, lay them out to dry, then store them in a mason jar. I use celery leaves in my homemade ranch dressing. I think they amp up the ranchy flavor.

Celery Stalks

I'm sure you are clear on what to do with these. But you may still be throwing away usable food. If you cut off the ends, toss them in a freezer bag and save for making stocks and broths. I have Add-To Bags in my freezer with onion peels, celery ends, carrot peelings and other vegetable and herb trimmings that get used for a variety of flavorful purposes. My add-to bags are a time and money saver. If I want to make a stock, I usually have all the vegetables I need for flavor ready to use in the freezer. Read more about the add-to bags here:  Don't Compost That...Yet!

Celery Seed

Edible, delicious and, of course, great for planting you own crop of celery. One plant will produce hundreds of seeds.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pickles! Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickle Recipe

Crisp Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickle Recipe
Crisp Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickle Recipe
Hooray for pickles!

We love our pickles, and this is the best refrigerator pickle recipe ever!

All pickles are not created equally. This one is just better. Probably because it is crisp and never cooked. Just pickled in a salty, garlicky, peppery, dilly brine. Not sour, not sweet. Just perfect.


2 cups water
2 cups distilled white vinegar
4 tablespoons Kosher or pickling salt (adjust salt to taste)

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, divided.
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
8 to 10 sprigs fresh dill
Pickling cucumbers, quartered. Enough to firmly pack (2) one-quart, wide-mouthed canning jars. (6 to 8 cucumbers depending on size.)


Combine water, vinegar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and let stand.

Add one tablespoon peppercorns, 2 cloves garlic and half of the fresh dill sprigs to the bottom of each jar.

Fill the jars with the quartered cucumbers. Pack in as many as you can, this will prevent them from floating in the brine.

Cover the cucumbers with the vinegar solution.

Seal jars.

Refrigerate for 10 to 14 days before serving.

Keep refrigerated.

Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for three to four months. If they last that long. They won't.

Enjoy and happy gardening,


Monday, June 16, 2014

Straw Bale Gardening Update

spaghetti squash growing in the straw bale garden
Spaghetti squash growing in the straw bale garden.
Several weeks ago we planted our first ever straw bale gardens. I am very pleased with them. It is a great way to create raised beds without a huge amount of work and expense.

We started with three bales at a cost of $8 each. The manure and soil cost less than $5. For under $30 we built a 24 square foot, raised bed garden.

Thoroughly soak straw bales before planting.
Thoroughly soak straw bales before planting. 

The bales were thoroughly soaked with water. Then we added a cubic foot of manure to the top of each bale and watered it in well.

Spaghetti squash blossom in the straw bale garden.
Spaghetti squash blossom. Stuff that baby and fry it!

To plant, we created wells in the straw to hold soil and the plants. We planted seven spaghetti squash. Five survived the early heat wave and are doing wonderfully. Two succumbed to the burning sun and withered away. :(

We watered as needed with MooPoo Tea fortified water and an occasional dose of diluted, non-fat milk for calcium.

straw bale gardens
Spaghetti squash growing in the straw bale garden.

And they've grown. Squash blossoms and the fruit are coming in and we are pretty excited about it. It doesn't get much easier than this.

And no weeds!

Happy gardening,


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