Canning and Preserving For Long Term Storage

September 2, 2010

whole-tomatoesBoy, the canning season is upon us… for those who like to preserve goods for the winter and long term storage.  I’ve been waiting for the tomatoes to appear in abundance so I can get my tomato canning completed.  The weather here in Utah has been so cool that everything is ripening two weeks late.  The peaches are just beginning to appear also.

If you’re into canning and preserving… check out my new site  Canning and Preserving.  I’ve dedicated the site to my grandma Ella and my momma, Evelyn, who were the best canners in the world.   They were both from Georgia… so I’ve added a little southern flare here and there to make it interesting.  Also.. if your are into using herbs…. my sister Sheila’s site is the place to go for Easy Herb Gardening. Lots of good ideas there.

Well, off to see if there are any ripe peaches available for making peach slush or cobbler.

Til Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S.  Canning and preserving food for long term storage is part of my family’s traditions.  I notice that it’s not as popular as it once was.  Do you can and preserve food?  How to you prepare for long term storage?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

Ranch Dressing – Homemade With Herbs From Your Garden.

May 20, 2009

Ranch Dressing is the leading dressing for salads.   This Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe is easy to make and is made using fresh herbs from your garden. So while your planting poseys in your flower beds… leave a little room for growing the popular herbs,  chives and parsley.  They are a wonderful perennials and they are the main herbs used in Ranch Dressing.

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Both herbs, parsley and chives, like to be planted in rich soil and they like the sun.  However, my mom had a beautiful bed of parsley that grew under some bushes… and it did very well.   Parsley and Chives winter over very well, even in cold temperatures. They are up and ready to begin harvesting by the middle of May.

A bit of advise about harvesting your herbs.  Parsley should be harvested frequently so it keeps coming back.  Harvest it while the shoots are relatively young.   If you are going to be using chives for eating, prevent them from flowering by cutting out all the flower buds as they appear.  Allowing them to bloom restricts the growth of new leaves.  Harvest your chives from the outside edges cutting them 2″ above ground.  They will continue to grow and you can harvest them frequently during the entire summer.

Cut parsley stems close to the ground and it will continue to reproduce.   Wash it.   I know… I’ve heard that your not suppose to wash herbs… but the thought of eating  tiny gnats doesn’t appeal to me, so, I wash it well and hold it by the stems and shake all the water out.  (Yep.. I was right.. there are those little bitty gnats.)  Dry the parsley carefully with a towel.  I cut the parsley fine with a small pair of scissors I keep in the kitchen.

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Wash and dry the chives too.  Using the scissors, snip the chives in 1/4″ lengths.

Any extra herbs left… just leave them in the bowls and both herbs will dry in about 2 days.  If you get a bit nervous… cover the bowl lightly with a paper towel.  Shake the bowl now and again so the herbs will dry evenly.

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I pick up a few small jars at Ikea.  Each time I harvest the herbs and dry them they are added to the bottles.   Soon, several bottles will be filled and ready for winter use.  (Great Christmas gifts.)

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This homemade Ranch Dressing was such a hit with my family that I’m going to keep an ample supply in my fridge all summer long.

They ingredients are very simple:  1 Cup Sour Cream,  1 Cup Mayonnaise,  1 Cup Buttermilk.  1 heaping T.B. Chopped Chives,  1 heaping T.B. Chopped Parsley,  1 Large Garlic Clove Crushed (About the side of a quarter… and some times I use a bit extra… Mmmmmm garlic!)  2 Tesp. of Fresh Lime.  (Yield 3 Cups and it keeps for several weeks.)

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In a mixing bowl, combined the Sour Cream, Mayonnaise, and Buttermilk.

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Add the cut Chives.  Yes… it’s okay if you sneak in a bit extra.

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Add the cut Parsley.  Smell the aroma!

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I love my garlic press because it saves so much time.  Press your garlic and add it to the mixture.  Yea for garlic!

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If you put your limes in the microwave for about 15 seconds… it will warm them… then roll the lime with the heal of your palm until the lime is soft.  Wow! lots of juice.

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Add the lime juice.

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Mix all  together with a wire whip.  Place it  in fridge for a few hours so the flavors blend well.

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Heap this Fresh Ranch Dressing on your crisp green salad.

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If you want something delicious.. try this Fresh Homemade Ranch Dressing on potatoes.

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And fish is to die for with this Ranch dressing on it.

So… get busy and plant yourself a little herb garden and enjoy this Fresh Homemade Ranch Dressing recipe all summer long.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S.  During the winter months, use the Ranch Dressing recipe I posted earlier this year. You can use your own dried parsley.

P.P.S.  Click on the related posts below and learn more about herbs.

P.P.S.  I think I’ll head for the kitchen.  A green salad sounds really good!

Growing & Cooking With The Herb…Dill

July 30, 2008

Dill is an herb that flourishes well in an herb garden and is a delightful herb to use in your cooking. Growing dill is easy and it does well in the full sun or part shade. Dill can be be planted by seed or plant starts. Sometimes it’s called dill weed because it comes back in the herb garden if the seeds from the previous year have fallen to the ground. It can over take an herb garden area so, you can control it by plucking out the new plants you don’t want to grow to maturity.


The dill herb reaches from 24 to 36 inches tall. However, there are dill dwarf varieties that are nice for container gardens. As the dill weed reaches full maturity, the plant may have to be staked because they have a tendency to bend over.

Harvesting the dill weed tops just before the flower opens gives you the best flavor. However, you can let the flowers go to seed for the next years planting. Also, the dill seeds from the head can be harvested and used later in your cooking.

Down on the stem of the dill plant, are airy fern like leaves. These can be harvested chopped and used in dill sauce, or a dill dip. The leaves can be cut and dried for future use. The entire dill weed head, stem and leaves are used in bottling homemade dill pickles.

An accent of the dill head and stem are lovely mixed in with a cut flower bouquet.

For me… the growing season for my herb garden is not long enough for me to experiment with all the possibilities. I am planning an indoor herb container garden for this winter. However, a 36 inch dill weed plant will not be part of my indoor herb garden selection. Too bad… for I dearly love a touch of dill.

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. For cooking with dill weed, check out my fantastic Fresh Dill Dip.

Cooking With Herbs – Dill Dip

July 30, 2008

Cooking with herbs adds a wonderful subtle flavor to foods. This dill dip uses the airy fern like leaves of the dill weed plant and is absolutely delicious. This dill dip recipe also requires fresh parsley leaves which give it added flavor. The herbs are coming on strong right now and it’s time to begin to enjoy the veggie harvest.


What makes this dip unique is the use of the fresh herbs along with a seasoning salt called Bon Appetit (a mild blend of celery and onion salt.) It is quiet salty… so don’t over do.


Prepare your parsley bunch by washing it and placing into a small container. I just use a small plastic disposable cup which is a bit narrow at the bottom. I use my scissors rather than kitchen sheers because the tips fit nicely in the bottom of the plastic cup. And yes… I do wash my scissors before I begin my cutting. Then… I cut, cut, cut, clip, clip, clip, until the parsley is cut to my liking…small and fine. You’ll need about 1 TB.


Cutting the fern like leaves of the dill weed plant is next. I rinse off the leaves, lay them on a cutting board, hold on to the ends, and using my trusty scissors, I cut, cut, cut the leaves very fine. You’ll need 1 TB of cut dill.


Place 1 cup of sour cream in a bowl along with 1 cup of mayo. Add 1 scant TB of Bon Appetit Seasoning Salt, 2 TB of dried onion flakes, 1 TB of your fresh dill, and 1 TB of fresh parsley. Mix well and let the flavors blend for couple of hours.


Serve this scrumptious dip with fresh veggies. I love fresh cucumbers. Great on tomatoes… corn on the cob… new carrots from the garden… on and on.

Mmmmm good!

Enjoy!

P.S. To learn more about dill, take a look at my post on growing and cooking with dill.
P.P.S If you want to be on my, recipe list and receive a hard copy of Fresh Dill Dip for your recipe files… just fill in the form below and you will get a copy immediately. Your printed recipe will fit into a 5X7 photo binder. Once your on my newsletter and recipe list… you won’t have to sign up again. After you sign up… I will automatically send you all future recipes. You’ll get lots of other free goodies too.

Planting A Container Herb Garden

June 6, 2008

Planting a container herb garden is simple and fun. Having an herb garden is not only useful in your cooking, but the fragrance of your lush green plants are a delightful addition to your patio or porch. For you who don’t have a porch or patio… I’ve seen a container of herbs placed in flower beds among the daisies and geraniums, soaking up all that good sunshine.

Go to your local garden nursery and select a nice variety of herbs that you will use in your cooking. I’m big on basil, chives, and oregano because I do a lot of cooking with tomatoes. However, I do pick up herbs I don’t frequently use… just because they’re colorful or they lend a nice texture to my container.

Locate a container that is suitable for your collection. There are all kinds of garden container options out there… a basket, an old wash tub, a slatted wood box… use your imagination. Last year I picked up a great metal container at an import store… drilled holes in the bottom… and was good to go.

Next, pick up some good potting soil. I use Miracle Grow potting soil because it’s convenient and the fertilizer is already in the mix.

Oh… one other little secret… pick yourself up a bag of “packing peanuts.” You know… those little white things you put in your packages so your valuables won’t get broken. You will need enough to fill the bottom of your herb container at least 1/4.

Once you’re planted… place your herb container in the sun. Herbs like plenty of sunshine and… water them only when dry.

I can hardly wait until I can slice fresh tomatoes on a plate, top them with slices of mozzerella cheese and sprinkle them with fresh chopped basil from my own herb garden. Sprinkle them with rich Balsamic Vinegar and watch them vanish by the quick hands of my children and grandkids. Hey… save one for me!

Hope you enjoyed the video!

Till Later,

Kathy Griffiths

Insightful Nana

P.S. Now don’t for get to pinch back your herbs all through the growing season so they will stay nice and full and continue to produce.