Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lord Almighty, I Feel My Temperature Rising!

And, not just because I'm a hunk of burning love.  As Summer lulls on, the mercury keeps surging, and it's got me looking for new ways to stay hydrated, and cool
leading me to peppermint infused water.  

Since the menthol in peppermint can actually induce a mild sweat, it's considered a cooling agent, and is quite refreshing in small doses.  Peppermint is also a source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium - some of the crucial building blocks for our electrolytes, which are often easily depleted by guzzling tons of ordinary water in hot Summer months.  Ok, so while we may not be bowled over by the trace amounts of minerals in herbs, and able to forsake all other forms of food (1 Tbs of fresh leaves = 9 mg of potassium), it certainly doesn't hurt to slip 'em into your jug, and infuse your beverage you were already going to drink!

Here's What You Do:
In a glass gallon jug combine the ripped, crushed, or pulverized leaves of 5-7 stems clipped from your peppermint plant with pure, filtered water.  Let sit around 6 hours on your counter top, strain, and keep in the refrigerator for the duration of its use.

"But my garden is overgrown with peppermint, 5-7 stems a day will never tame this invasion," you're saying.  I know, I know (well, I should say: I know now - I had no idea, before planting, how aggressive peppermint was in the garden!) ...  But now that you have an out of control patch of herb you're going to clip the hell out of it, and start drying it to make your own tea!

Here's What You Do:
Step one - Clip the hell out of it.
Step two - Dry it.  Here, you have a couple of options.  One, you can gather small bunches and hang them in a clean, dry area with lots of air flow.  Or, save your drying for the odd rainy Summer day, and dry your batches in the oven.  I use my roasting pan that came equipped with a rack in the bottom, of course you can improvise with cookie sheets and cooling racks, it doesn't have to be perfect, you just want nice air flow around your stems.  Next, place your peppermint in the oven on the lowest setting your appliance allows, and leave the door cracked open - you want to dry it, not cook it (depending on your oven, and location this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to about 1 hour and 45 minutes).  Remove, and let cool.
Check for signs of moisture; your leaves should be nice and crunchy.

Once your peppermint has sufficiently dried, remove the leaves from the stems, and rub in a strainer situated over either a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pestle or soup spoon gently grinding the leaves into small flakes and removing any unwanted sharp pieces of stem.  Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry location until your next tea party, or recipe calls for it.  Enjoy!

xoxo

Thursday, July 20, 2017

15 Seeds to Order and Sow Now!

July is a great time, in the Pacific Northwest, to buy and even start your seeds indoors for an August planting of your Fall, Winter, and early Spring crops.

Below, are fifteen plants (including my personal favorites) to consider swapping out with varieties who've already had their early Summer hurrah, and produced all they're likely to this season.

Beets
(Bull's Blood, Detroit-Golden)
Broccoli
(Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli)
Brussels Sprouts
(Long Island Improved)
Cabbage
(Golden Acre)
Cauliflower
(Pusa Meghna)
Cilantro
(Coriander - Slow Bolt)
Collard Greens
(Georgia Southern Creole)
Kale
(Scarlet)
Leeks
(Giant Musselburgh)
Lettuce
(Red Romaine)
Mustard Greens
(Red Giant)
Radishes
(Black Spanish, Sparkler)
Spinach
(Monstrueux De Viroflay)
Swiss Chard
(Rainbow, Fordhook Giant)
Turnip
(Gold Ball)

As always, my favorite seed mongers include: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Garden Hoard, and Seeds Now.  Happy planting!

xoxo

Monday, July 17, 2017

All Wrapped Up: Canvas People

A couple Seven years ago, I snapped one of my all-time favorite photographs on a beachy, mid-day stroll where (nearly) everything had come together perfectly, and quite accidentally.  All I knew was that the lowest tide of the year was coming up at some point, and I needed to get my toes into some cold saltwater as quickly as possible.  What I didn't know was that I'd have to trek nearly the length of a football field to get to said saltwater ... Never one to be easily discouraged, however, if even under the blistering sun back then, I cuffed my off-brand denim jeans from the men's department of my local one-stop-shop, and slogged out to the water's edge, flip-flops in one hand, borrowed digital camera in the other, and me ducking every now and again beneath the safety of the pier's shaded underbelly.
http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-4012340-12590055
What I found at the end, aside from the refreshing tingle of chilly Puget Sound waves lapping at my ankles, was totally worth it.  And now, thanks to a company I first patronized in 2011, I have it on an 18 x 24 canvas on my wall.  After many setbacks, and a pace so glacial it could drive a sane man to weep with madness, I'm finally catching up on my to-do list.  Thankfully the stars aligned, and Canvas People offered a 90% discount, and quick delivery to make up for all of my slack in this project!
It might need a gaudy frame...

And now, here it hangs above my uneven chairs in my crooked cottage (note to self: will rearranging chairs to go with the slope make them look even?)  Ah, the joys of renting a 100+ year old house sitting on an underground spring ... the baby earthquakes in the bay aren't exactly helping matters; before it's said and done, I might end up with a houseboat!

If you've got some goodies of your own you want to turn into masterpieces for your wall, place an order with Canvas People through August 22, 2017 and get 70% off your order + $4.99 shipping - gaudy frames, optional.