Oven-Dried Tomato Slices

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Recipe

Popping in today with simple summery trick for you.

Of the ten tomato seedlings I raised, only one survived into adulthood — a yellow pear that, like every other tomato planted in this garden over the years, woefully underperformed. Fortunately, the market doth provide. In this instance, it provideth too much, and where ripe tomatoes are concerned, time is of the essence.

Tomatoes with greens, in omelets, on pizza in slices or as homemade sauce, eaten in thick wedges with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. They’re all on heavy rotation, but I wanted to try a new technique: oven-drying. Great to make the most of a windfall of beautiful, ripe summer tomatoes, but also to improve the dull taste of those not quite ripe, or even those purchased out of season that travelled a long, flavor-sapping distance to the supermarket.

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Have You Met… Collard Greens

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Have You Met...

This post is part of the series Have you met… meant to spotlight ingredients, providing nutritional background, a little culinary inspiration, and perhaps encourage you to take an adventure into new markets and cuisines.

Have you met… collard greens?

Cultivated around the globe for more than 2,000 years, collards are nothing new. And yet, this hardy cruciferous vegetable is often overshadowed by trendier greens like kale and rainbow-stemmed Swiss chard.

Hailing from the northern Midwest, it wasn’t until we moved to North Carolina that we experimented with and eventually embraced collards. Now they rank among our go-to veg. Edible from leaf to stalk, we love them for their robust flavor and versatility in the kitchen. In the cooler months finding massive bunches grown by a regional farmer isn’t difficult. In the summer and autumn, we’re all about sweet, tender home-grown!

Here’s hoping I can help give another of the dark leafies the attention it rightfully deserves…

Collard greens bunch
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Celeste Fig Jam (Raw + Sugar-Free)

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Recipe

“Fall [is] the time when everything bursts with its last beauty,

as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” 

— Lauren DeStefano

Our southern autumns may not be as beautifully striking as those we grew up with in Wisconsin, but the upshot is an extended growing season that keeps the kitchen well-stocked with freshness. It presents the best kind of dilemma: how to preserve the harvests before they fade.

Figs in Basket_2014

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Handmade Holiday Gifting, Part 1: Basil-Infused Salt

Eat Well Edibles Grow Well Recipe

The holidays are only a short ways off, meaning it’s time to start thinking about gifts. At the very least, it’s time to start thinking of ideas for everyone on your list — stocking stuffers, party favors, hostess gifts, gifts for coworkers or maybe your child’s teacher.

Today I’m sharing a unique idea that you might assume is something best left to the experts, when in actuality is incredibly easy to make at home, with no special equipment other than a food processor.

Homemade basil-infused salt.

Basil salt in food pro

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Grow Your Own + Cool-Season Garden Ideas

Eat Well Grow Well Live Well

I can remember the smell of the wet soil as my grandma and I walked through her abundant Wisconsin garden. She always turned at the exact moment to catch me with chipmunk cheeks full of sun-warmed pear tomatoes — my favorite. We’d laugh, and she’d jokingly remind me to save a few for us to eat at lunch. (There’s no way I could’ve eaten all of the tomatoes on those overflowing plants, but that never stopped me from trying!)

To me that garden was a magical place, like a different world. It was there I learned that amazing beauty and unbeatable taste could come from the humblest of beginnings with a bit of planning, patience and dirt under my nails. Each season Grandma moved me up the ranks — from water girl, schlepping can after can way back to the garden, to being in charge of the garden map and selecting each of the crops to grow and where to plant them.

The experience taught me to look at food differently, and to appreciate freshness, quality, hard work, the awesome power of Mother Nature, and of course good health. It also impelled me to create gardens of varying sizes at each of the five places my husband and I have called home. A tradition I plan to continue and one day pass on.

August 2014 garden_AM fog

How do I love gardening? Let me count the ways. 

Growing my own veg and fruit provides so many benefits. There’s nothing fresher and more local than your backyard, and harvesting at the peak of ripeness means optimal flavor and best possible nutrition. Not to mention it’s a killer (free!) source of exercise, you know exactly where your food was grown and how it was treated, and you greatly diminish your carbon footprint and costs.

Almost as important as those things to me is the kind of therapy gardening provides. Out in the open air absolutely alone with my thoughts, feeling the warm earth, discovering God’s creatures (welcome or not — I’m looking at you, fire ants), witnessing the changes that literally occur overnight. Gardening fills me with a sense of pride, accomplishment, wonder and pleasure.

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