The Garden Spotter

Cranberry Orange Shrub


Easy Peasy Dried Tomatoes



img_0350 Looking for a super easy way to preserve those last tomatoes of the season? I’ve recently discovered how to dry tomatoes using my own oven. No fancy dehydration apparatus. No big mess or production in the kitchen. Just a few simple ingredients, and some time. (more…)

Recipe: Strawberry Shake


strawberry shake It’s strawberry season, and we’re experiencing a bumper crop, which means lots and lots and lots of strawberry shortcake. But if you’re looking for something a little different, something that’s quick and tasty, how about a refreshing strawberry milk shake? (more…)

Recipe: Old Fashioned Crab Apple Jelly


So, you have an abundance of crab apples and don’t know what to do with them? Here’s a recipe adapted from the 1959 Farm Journal Country Cookbook.  With a hint of vanilla, this jelly is delicious, sweet and fragrant.
crabapple 006

Crab Apple Jelly

5 lbs. crab apples

8 c. water


1 tsp. vanilla

  • Remove stem and blossom ends from washed crab apples, cut in halves and place in large kettle. (Red fruit makes the most colorful jelly.) Add water and cook until fruit is very soft, about 10 minutes.
  • Strain mixture through jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Do not force the juice through bag, as this will cause the jelly to become cloudy.
  • Measure juice. You should have about 7 cups, but this is not always easy to gauge, since all crab apples are different. Stir in 3/4 c. sugar for every cup of juice. Bring to a boil quickly and cook rapidly until jelling point is reached.
  • Skim off foam, stir in vanilla and pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ head space.  Process for 5 minutes. Makes about 4 half pints, but amount can be more or less, depending on  variety and juiciness of crab apples.

Plow & Hearth

Coming Soon to Your Table: The Zoodle


After a good harvest, you can have zucchini coming out your ears. You can have so much zucchini that you have to give it away. You can even have so much zucchini that a certain amount of it will inevitably just go to compost.

But a new gadget is taking the dejected zucchini by the bootstraps and giving it new life as a serious culinary ingredient. The spiralizer is a kitchen tool that turns whole vegetables – not just zucchini but summer squash, beet and turnip – into adorable little curlicues sometimes called zoodles because they resemble the shape and texture of flour noodles.   williams sonoma spiralizer Credit / Williams Sonoma

Spiralizers come in all shapes and sizes. One of the most popular, the Paderno Spiralizer sold by Williams-Sonoma, goes for $39.95 and comes with three different blades. There’s no AC or battery to worry about – it operates by hand crank – and all parts are BPA-free, according to the Sonoma website.  There are also hand-held types, like this one sold by Target for $14.99, which turns out spirals when you hold the veggie in one hand the the device in the other, and twist.  Even more affordable is the traditional hand held vegetable peeler, which can create long veggie ribbons. offers a Kuhn Rikon set of three for $14.99.

What spiralizers have done for zucchini is nothing short of amazing. Once thought of as bland and lifeless, zucchini now has a place in the spotlight as food bloggers experiment with the zoodle as a nutritious, low-calorie, gluten-free ingredient in a variety of dishes.

Raising Generation Nourished’s Chicken Zoodle Soup might be just the thing on a cool autumn evening.  zoodle soup raising generation nourished Credit / Raising Generation Nourished

Love Pad Thai? Here’s a new twist from White on Rice Couple called Zucchini Pad Thai Noodles.    zucchini pad thai white on rice couple Credit / White on Rice Couple

Here’s another zoodle-fied interpretation of a classic. It’s called Zoodle Chicken Parmesan substituting zoodles for spaghetti noodles, and it takes only 20 minutes.  From Pinch of Yum. Zoodle chicken parm pinchofyum Credit / Pinch of Yum

How about an interesting zoodle side? Zoodles with Garlic and Herbs comes from the blog, The Iron You. Just make the zoodles and saute them in a pan with butter, garlic, basil and spinach. Top with Parmesan, and voila!   Zoodles garlic butter with herbs the iron you Credit / The Iron You

Zucchini noodles are also being used in cold dishes. This Zucchini Ribbon Salad comes from zucchini_ribbon_salad_in_bowl Credit/

Of course, these are just a handful of the many, many zoodle recipes to be found, tried and tried again. There are literally oodles of them, and the number is likely to grow as the frenzy over zoodles continues.

Next time you have the urge to chuck that zucchini, consider zoodles instead. Chefs Catalog

8 Berry Nice Popsicle Recipes


One of the ultimate pleasures in life is a frozen popsicle on a hot summer day. Even if it stains your lips and fingers or gives you a big ol’ brain freeze, it’s worth every delicious, refreshing gooey drop.  What’s even better is if that frozen treat is made with healthy ingredients from the local farmers market or from your own back yard. With berry season in full swing, here’s a round up of popsicle recipes from the web: Downloads22


(tl) Blueberry Zinger Pops

(tr) Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cheesecake Pops

(bl) Pure Raspberry Pops

(br) Blueberry Greek Yogurt Popsicles



(tl) Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Popsicles

(tr) Coconut Rhubarb Strawberry Popsicles

(bl) Blackberry Ombre Popsicles

(br) Wild Blackberry Mint Popsicles

Coloring Not Just For Kids Anymore


When was the last time you picked up a crayon and colored in a coloring book? Unless you’re a new parent, you probably haven’t picked up a box of Crayolas in quite some time, which is really too bad because a growing number of psychologists suggest that coloring may be good for you.  It helps you to “let go” and get creative. It helps you relax and unwind. coloring book for adults

Coloring books for adults are hot right now, thanks in large part to Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford, who started the trend with her adult coloring book, The Secret Garden, in 2013, which reportedly sold more than 1.4 million copies.  Her new book, The Enchanted Forest, out this spring, went immediately to the top of the charts on Amazon. That’s right, a coloring book.

coloring book for adults coloring book for adults In an interview with NPR,  Basford said she started producing coloring books for adults after clients repeatedly told her they had an urge to color her always black and white illustrations. On why she thinks her coloring books are so popular she said, “I think there is something quite charming and nostalgic about coloring in.  And chances are last time you picked up pens or pencils you didn’t have a mortgage or like a really horrible boss or anything. So yeah, it’s just a really nice way to be creative. You don’t have to sit down with a blank sheet of paper or, you know, have that scary moment of thinking, ‘What can I draw?’  The outlines are already there for you, so it’s just something that you can do quietly for a couple of hours that, you know, is hand held and analog and quiet.”

With the popularity of her books and the discovery of a whole population of closet coloring addicts, Basford got inundated with people wanting to share their colored renditions of her inked pages. She recently started a colouring gallery  webpage for grown ups to to show off their work, and have other people rate them.

Basford also has another coloring book due out this fall by Penguin Random House, this time with an ocean theme.  It’s called The Lost Ocean: An Underwater Adventure & Coloring Book. In the meantime, her success has spawned a new market for adult coloring books on sites like Etsy, many with garden or nature themes.


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