Just One Tiny Seed…


Spring, opportunity, hope, I think these three words belong together. It all starts with one tiny seed, sown with hope, and if by magic, it becomes a towering sunflower, a a clambering vine of beans, a 40 pound pumpkin, or a sweet smelling sweet pea, isn’t that hard to believe?
garden peony

Yet, it happens; reminding us with hope, and determination anything is possible. Nurture your even the tiniest seed of a dream, and with work and perseverance it can be. I still have to pinch myself at times as I look around this Shoppe. It was a lot of work, and many, many hours of work; it still is, but, is worth it.
NYC bud
If a seed can burst into life in NYC, it can grown anywhere!

Following your dreams is not for the faint of heart, if your want it, really, really, want it. You must put in the work. Some folks, think if you dream hard enough, it will fall into your lap. Nope, that’s not how this works. [Well, I guess you can dream of winning the lottery. That's not much work..] But, you get what I’m saying right?
llama sky

Right now, I’m dreaming of making a really fresh sweet dessert. I noticed this morning there are lots of rhubarb stalks ready to be picked. So, I’m thinking Strawberry- Rhubarb Squares, a shortbread type of dough… I will work on the recipe today, pick the stalks tomorrow…and I am a little excited now. I will share photos tomorrow.

Be Well,
Jess

Asparagus. Asparagus? Yes, Asparagus.


An aphrodisiac. Yeah, you heard me; Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century herbalist, wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.”
In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served 3 courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinners (not absolutely necessary, I hope, but asparagus lore nonetheless) to, well, you get the picture.

Asparagus

Can you tell I’m in the mood ~ for Spring!

What is spring without asparagus?!Do you have asparagus growing in your garden? If not, it’s not hard to get started, you just have to be patient, well. for a couple years!spears

You can get asparagus crowns at most garden centers.
images-5

Dig a furrow about 10 inches deep and wide and as long as you want your row to be. Fill the trench about halfway with compost and place your asparagus crowns on top, about 10 inches apart and cover loosely with soil and water. This is best done in the springtime as soon as the danger of frost has past.
You won’t get any spears your first year, but the fern-like foliage will still be pretty. Make sure you mulch well every autumn to keep weeds down and a steady stream of nutrients coming. Asparagus is a hungry plant.
asparagus-1

Do not harvest your asparagus until it’s at least three years old. This allows the plant to have time to build a strong root system. When your’s is ready; gather the asparagus and leave at least one stalk in the ground, for good luck, so the lore goes; actually it is common sense, it leaves seeds for sowing.
Asparagus is great for permaculture because it can live 15 years or more and keep providing you with tasty spears each spring.
It grows best in sandy, alkaline soil in full sun, but it’s not picky. It can handle a bit of shade and less than perfect soil too, as long as you fertilize it well.
spears
Your plants will start sending up shoots shortly after the frost has past and may continue well into June. Cut the shoots near the base when they are about 10 inches long and about as thick as your finger. If they are thinner than a pencil, your plant isn’t ready for harvesting yet, or it’s gotten tired of being harvested and needs to be let alone. Make sure the heads of the spears are tight and haven’t started to feather out. Once they’ve started to get ferny, it’s too late to harvest them.
Asparagus Berries

Asparagus is best eaten fresh, but if you want to save some for later, put it in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers and store it in the fridge. If you want to save some for a long time later, steam the stalks for about five minutes and then freeze them in a freezer bag.

Asparagus is a good diuretic and is full of nutrients to help build up strength. Asparagus is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you’ll find. It is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamins B6, A, C and thiamin, contain no fat or cholesterol and are low in sodium.

It is best lightly steamed so that it is tender-crisp and bright. I like to serve it with a tangy lemon butter sauce.
asparagus-

PS. It’s a good food to eat when you are doing a bodily cleansing, a great “spring tonic” kind of food.

Soup’s on…at Picasso’s: chicken noodle with kale, corn chowdah, and creamy carrot curry (vegan)
try a citrus salad on baby kale, or grilled pear and pork on mixed greens.
Turkey burger with vidalia balsamic jam!

Be well,
Jess

Sunday, Sunday…


Sunday in our home town, is probably much like Sunday in your hometown. Church, followed by breakfast at your favorite spot. Home for some yard work or chores…Does anyone still have their traditional Sunday family dinner, I hope so. Now that we are at the Shoppe on Sundays, there is no time for a sit down Sunday dinner. Oh, I am not complaining, I love what I do, I love the people I have met, the friends I have made, and the atmosphere our family has created, a few people have commented, on this in particular; they thought it felt like an extension of their home, their dining room, kitchen or living room. This sounds just about perfect to me. Maybe we can’t have a sit down Sunday dinner here at Picasso’s but we are surrounded with family and friends, and that is almost as good. Don’t you think?

pansy and iris

Our Sunday Soup specials, Tuscan Sausage, with potato and kale (just as luscious as it sounds) and vegetable (loaded with veggie goodness)

Salad special Sunny citrus on mixed greens with red onion, cucumber herbs, served with our homemade honey lemon dressing. A bright spot in your day!

Smoothie: Mango tango (oh, yes, I just made that up) Mango, orange juice, pom juice, and vanilla yogurt! Shine on!

Special: Angel hair pasta with tomato pesto and topped with fresh grilled chicken! Served with a side salad or not!

Have a wondrous day, enjoy your friends and family!

Wow, that’s a lot of exclamation points! hee her.
Be well.

Gold, pure Gold.

Gold, pure Gold.

Secret Pumpkin Whoopie Pies….shhh


I always look forward to this time of year; an in between time. In between the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and the jammed packed schedule of the fleeting summer months. A time to collect my bearings, look at where I’ve been and where I am heading, start holiday to do lists, take down and launder summer curtains, pillows, and porch furniture cushions…hang the heavier, cozier, cool weather drapes, toss the comfie blankets, and pillows on the sofas. Time to stack fire wood for the kitchen wood stove, and the time for my families favorite: PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIES! I have shared this recipe with very few folks over the years..they are fabulous and the recipe was my secret; after several friends asked for the recipe, and neighbors declared,”It’s almost whoopie pie season isn’t it?”, I suppose it is time to share this favorite recipe with you. Guard it well. I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do.

Secret recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie pies

Cookies
pre-heat oven to 350
2 cups brown sugar (tightly packed)
1 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin, cooked and mashed ( canned will do if in a pinch)
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla (real vanilla)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Cream sugar and oil.
Add remaining ingredients, mix well.
Drop by heaping tsp. onto parchment lined cookie sheet ( I use a cookie scoop, to obtain a uniform size)
Bake for aprx. 10 minutes ~ be careful not to over bake, you want them moist and cakey ( is that a word?)

Let cookies cool.

Filling

2 egg whites
4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla ( the good stuff)
3 cups of confectioners sugar ( use in 1 cup increments)
(1 1/2 cups shortening)

Mix together the egg whites, milk, vanilla, and 1 cup of the confectioners sugar.
Then add 1 cup of confectioners sugar and and 1 1/2 cup shortening..mix well
Then add last cup of confectioners sugar

Make sandwiches and enjoy! Remember, these are secret…shhh.

early morning light filtering through the snowy trees

early morning light

misty morning chill

barn roof tops and snowy glitter

frosty pumpkins

nature's sparkle

silly tree...every other one has lost their leaves...

rosey

What in the world do I do with these…


I have an abundance, a plethora, a boat load, a copious profusion of zucchini, now I know this is not the first time you have ever heard anyone say this ~ I am certain, but, I really, really mean it this time! If zucchini were gold I would be rich!

Now, I had to ask myself, “Who can I pawn this off on(I mean give these blessed vegetables to)”? No one really wants these 2 foot long green monstrosities; I needed to be honest with myself. So I grated too many; I figured I would freeze bags and bags of the green goodness, I could make breads, zucchini chocolate chip cake, use some in veggie lasagna this fall and winter…but now my freezer is running out of space.

I remembered a recipe from a few years ago; Zucchini boats! This was the answer, at least for today. They were yummy, even my family thought they were yummy (a bonus). I prepared them similar to stuffed peppers, with a rice, beef, and tomato mixture ~ all topped off with melted cheese.

Now, let me see if I can recollect how I made them, you see, I am not good at using recipes, I have many, many cookbooks (as in maybe 50 or more) and I read them all. And, that is where our relationship ends. When it comes to soups, stews, casseroles, and such I pretty much wing it! The end result is nearly always delicious.

go ahead gather your garden goods and lets get going!

family size recipe serves 6-8 folks
3 or 4 medium to large zucchini ( halved and hollowed)
1 medium onion finely chopped (I chop mine very fine because I don’t like onions, but you needn’t bother if you like them coarsely chopped)
olive oil
1 large green pepper chopped about the same size as the onion ( so that they cook evenly)
garlic to your taste, I love it, so I load ‘er up!
for seasoning, I use Italian herbs, you could even used the pre-mixed Italian seasoning packaged dried herbs. Now here is the tricky part ( for me) because, I use enough…what ever that means to you…I would say taste the meat onion, pepper mixture after it is cooked ~ go from there.
Salt and pepper to taste
6 servings of rice- roughly 3 cups (cooked) you could use instant,jasmine, or brown rice(which I prefer)
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey
1 large can diced tomatoes(I use the basil, garlic type)
spaghetti sauce ( your home made or your favorite)
cheddar cheese (or your favorite) to cover

I use a very large cast iron skillet (your can make the whole wretched mess in this one pan) you should see this thing! anyway…
Have the halved (I just smiled at that…) zucchini hollowed out…just past the seeds, set aside.
warm the skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to just cover bottom (not your bottom), add chopped onion, pepper, garlic, and seasoning saute until soft, and the onion is translucent… remove from pan, set aside.
add the ground meat to the skillet that you just sauteed the veggies in, cook through..drain.
Now, add the sauteed veggies, cooked meat, and rice (cooked, remember..hard crunchies, no good) in this large skillet and mix together, add tomatoes and heat through…breath deeply…yumm, smells great right.

remove skillet contents to a large heat proof bowl,rinse the skillet, if you are using a cast iron pan like I do ( if not get out a large baking dish) big enough to hold your zucchini.

Fill the halved zucchini with the rice mixture and place them in the skillet( or baking dish) as you go..when your filling ups are complete..pour spaghetti sauce or even seasoned tomatoes sauce around them, filling the bottom of the pan, no need to cover them with sauce, just enough so they bake in it. cover each boat with cheese, cover with foil. and bake at 375 until zucchini is fork tender, don’t be afraid to uncover and check on them…then continue baking uncovered until the cheese is done just the way you like it! I didn’t put a baking time in here – it will all depend on your zucchini size and thickness :) Now make a beautiful crisp salad and enjoy!


where the zucchini roam..


maybe, just maybe I should have washed these before the picture…


fall is coming…no frost on this pumpkin yet.


I think I am loving the color orange today, so cheerful!


..and the promise of more…pumpkins that is..


I think next year’s garden should have even more zinnias, don’t you?

I love this time of year!
Be well,
Jessica