Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Category Archives: Recipes

Frugal Friday: Sage Flower Pesto

Way back in our flowers post we talked about all the benefits and uses of flowers in our garden, and I mentioned sage flower pesto. I finally got a chance to try it out. The verdict- delicious! Served over pasta and garnished with goat cheese and cilantro sprigs, alongside local, organic asparagus (not ours), it was the perfect spring meal.

I looked to this recipe as a guide. Here’s what I used:

  • 1  1/2 cup fresh sage flowers
  • a handful of cilantro flowers
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, give or take depending on consistency
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion
  • salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice
  1. Toast nuts. You can do this in the oven (5-7 minutes at 400° F), but I find it quicker and more efficient to sauté them in a pan with a little oil. You can sauté the garlic, too, if you don’t like it too strong.
  2. Place sage flowers, cilantro flowers, nuts, garlic, and onion in a blender or food processor, and process until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Add olive oil a little at a time and process until desired consistency is attained. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it’s pretty bitter like ours was, you can squeeze in some fresh lemon juice.
  4. Stir into cooked pasta or use as you like. Any leftover pesto can be frozen in small containers or ice cube trays for future use!

Nothing better than getting a tasty meal out of something growing in the garden that is often overlooked when it comes to harvesting!

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More Pickling

Last week we found ourselves with way too many beets and cucumbers to eat, so it was time to get serous about preserving our abundance. Like cucumbers, pickling beets is really easy and the results are so good You’ll want to cook them first, either by steaming or roasting. We’ve tried both ways but usually just cut them in half and steam ’em. Don’t worry about peeling the skins, you’ll be able to remove them easily after the beets are cooked.

While your beets are steaming, prepare the brine in a separate stock pot. We boil 1 part water with 1 part vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is our favorite, but it gets pricey so this time we used half white vinegar and half balsamic. Apple cider vinegar is good too. You can also add brown sugar, cinnamon, or cloves.

After your beets are cooked, cool them under water and slide the skins off with your fingers or a butter knife. It should be fairly easy to do, but it does take a little time. Then slice your beets and pack in your sterilized jars.

Ladle your boiling brine in up to 1/4″ of the top of each jar, wipe the mouth with a damp paper towel to ensure a good seal, and tap against a surface to dislodge any air bubbles (some people prefer to scrape a non-metallic spatula around the inside). Close them up and process in your boiling water bath for about 10 minutes.

Once removed, allow to cool before moving to a cool, dark place (we use the basement). You should hear delightful little plinks when the seals form as the contents of the jars cool down. You’ll know they’re sealed when the lid is depressed and doesn’t pop up when you press it.

pickles pickles picklesLooks like we have enough pickled cucumbers to last us through the winter, but we’ll definitely need more pickled beets… we love them on salads and straight out of the jar. Good thing we’re planting more beets at Dave’s place!

Beets!

We harvested some Shiraz Tall-Top Beets and some carrots yesterday from Dave’s place. We used them to make a roasted, toasted beet burger dinner.

We sliced the beets and roasted them in the oven at 375° F for about 40 minutes in a marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, and cracked pepper, with juice of half an orange squeezed on halfway through.

We toasted chopped pecans separately, as well as some slices of french bread.

To assemble our “burgers,” Eric rubbed garlic on the toasted french bread, then we spread a layer of goat cheese and added the toasted nuts. We then layered two beet slices each with a couple fresh Russian kale leaves and parsley leaves, topped with another dollop of goat cheese and a couple nuts, with an extra drizzle of olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette.

Served with steamed carrots- delicious!

Frugal Friday: Homemade, Homegrown Pizza

We love making things from scratch, especially when we end up with a high quality meal that cost us significantly less than out at a restaurant. Pizza comes up on our menu fairly regularly, not just because it’s delicious, but it’s also pretty easy to make.
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Our favorite pizza crust recipe is this Quick Beer Pizza Dough– it’s just flour, yeast, baking powder, salt, olive oil, and 1 bottle of room temperature beer. This recipe is enough for two 12″ pizzas. We prefer to make the dough fresh, but it does freeze well. A couple weeks ago, Eric happened to open a bottle of beer he didn’t like; not wanting to waste it, I took it and made up a batch of this dough and froze it in a ziplock bag. It sat in the freezer until yesterday, when we harvested these beautiful tomatoes:
Before we made our pizza sauce, we de-seeded the tomatoes to save for next year. Then we made up a quick sauce by sauteing onion, garlic, tomatoes, and the hot pepper from the garden in oil until everything was soft and fragrant, then we added fresh basil, oregano, and parsley from the garden, and of course salt and pepper to taste. We prefer a smooth pizza sauce, so we blended it in a small food processor- you can keep yours chunky if that’s your thing. Keep in mind, the longer your sauce cooks, the more flavorful it gets.
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Next, the fun part: assembling your pizza. Eric has experience at pizzerias, so he rolls out the dough by hand; you can also use a rolling pin. As for toppings,  Eric uses high quality cheeses and I’ll throw on some Baetje Farms goat cheese or vegan cheese or opt for a tomato pie (cheese-less). We try to use as much from our gardens as possible. Even if you do have to buy some toppings, it’s still way cheaper than having to pay for each topping at a pizzeria.
Enjoy!

Baby Carrots

We thinned out our carrot bed a few days ago- carrot seeds are very small and when you sow them they end up close together. Throughout the growing season, we thin out the carrots multiple times to give the carrots room to grow. At this point, the carrots we’re uprooting are large enough to enjoy. The “baby carrots” you find at the store are just shaved down from larger carrots; our baby carrots have the sweetness and crispiness of fresh growth. There’s no comparison!

We devoured most of the baby carrots raw, and then steamed some for a veggie pasta.  They were so good that we went out and thinned two more rows the next day! Eric created an amazing salad to showcase the carrots, inspired by one of Jamie Oliver’s dishes. We call it the Fruits & Roots Salad:

Ingredients

• 1 pound carrots
•  1-2 big beets, peeled and sliced
• 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & minced
• 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• extra virgin olive oil
• red or white wine vinegar
• 1 orange, halved
• 1 lemon, halved
• 2 ripe avocados
• several slices of ciabatta or other good-quality bread (or homemade croutons)
• a bunch of fresh salad greens

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F

2. Steam the carrots and beets until nearly done.

3. While the carrots are steaming, create the marinade in a separate bowl by combining the red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme. Mash together, then add 1-2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar and enough olive oil to cover the paste.

4. Transfer the cooked carrots to a roasting pan, and pour the marinade over the carrots to coat them completely. Add the orange and lemon halves, cut side down. Bake 25-30 minutes.

5. Arrange the bread on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven during the last few minutes of roasting. (Disregard if you already have croutons,  or you can choose to just toast your bread, too).

6. In a large bowl, add the avocado, the roasted carrots & beets, and croutons. Pour the marinade from the pan over the bowl and squeeze the orange & lemon halves with tongs to add the juices. Add olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste. We plated our salads separately by adding a bed of salad greens to each plate and topping with the fruits and roots.

We’re looking forward to thinning the rest of the carrot bed!

Frugal Friday: Bread bread bread

As you can tell by our fresh herb bread recipe last post, we tend to make two loaves at a time- because, really, who wants to put in that much time to end up with one loaf? But sometimes at the end of the week (if we haven’t frozen the extra loaf) we end up with bread that’s not so fresh. What to do with our delicious-but-slightly-stale bounty? There are a number of easy and tasty ways to use up your extra bread.

Make your own croutons: Pre-heat your oven to 375° F. Cut your bread into cubes and spread them out on a baking sheet. Lightly spray with oil and season to your liking- I like to sprinkle on a little salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning the croutons halfway through. Your croutons are done when they’re lightly toasted and completely dried out.  Allow to cool and store in a sealed container for up to a week.

Make your own bread crumbs: Follow the same steps as the crouton recipe above. Once cooled, transfer the croutons into a sealable plastic bag, wrap in a towel, and crush/beat with a rolling pin on a sturdy surface until all the croutons have been reduced to your desired texture. You can also do this in a blender or a food processor, but what’s the fun in that? Keep your breadcrumbs in the bag or in another sealed container for up to a week, or you can freeze them for future use!

Other recipes: You can find lots of bread pudding recipes online, and slightly-stale bread is perfect for French toast (our favorite vegan recipe here). Or if you’re going for something more savory, try making a strata (if we’re lucky, Eric’s sister might share her tasty recipe…) The possibilities are endless!

Fresh Herb Bread

With the cool and rainy weather we’ve been getting here in St. Louis, we have an abundance of fresh herbs. We try to cut them back before they get too bushy and because they get bitter when they flower, so we like to find creative ways to use them up.

Parsley Garlic chives Basil

Herb Spiral

Today’s high of 55° F. makes it the perfect day to stay inside and bake some fresh herb bread. I’ve adapted this recipe from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. The process takes a while (about 4 hours total), but you’ll end up with two of the loveliest, heartiest loaves of fresh bread you’ve ever had. (And your house will smell so good!)

Herb bread Read more of this post

Frugal Friday: Homemade Peanut Butter

We just made our first batch of homemade peanut butter, and we’ll never go back to store-bought again. It’s extremely easy to make and way more cost efficient, especially when you’ve been buying the good organic stuff like we had. We bought a 2 pound bag of raw organic Valencia peanuts from Azure Standard for about the same price as one 16 oz jar of organic peanut butter. You can also buy roasted peanuts, shelled or in the shell.

Here’s how to make your own peanut butter:

  • Roast 2 cups of raw peanuts in an oven at 350 degrees F. for about twenty minutes, rotating the nuts halfway to ensure even roasting. (Skip this step if your peanuts came pre-roasted)
  • Transfer the peanuts, skins and all, to a food processor and blend for several minutes. It’ll look clumpy at first, but the natural oils in the nuts will be extracted the longer you blend the mixture. Scrape the sides of the container and the blades periodically.
  • After about 5 minutes, you can adjust the consistency of your peanut butter by adding small amounts of canola or peanut oil, up to 1 teaspoon.
  • Add honey or salt as desired. We added about 2 teaspoons of honey to ours.
  • For chunky peanut butter, process 1/4 cup of peanuts into small pieces, reserve them on the side while you blend the rest of the peanuts into the butter, and add them at the end.

Get creative! You can use this process for any type of nut. We tried this amazing recipe for a vegan Nutella spread. Almond butter’s next on our list.  

Frugal Friday: Dog Treats

First off:

Eggs!

We got three more eggs from our ladies (they’re no longer “girls”)! Now we know there are at least two of them laying, since the shells are different colors.

Anyway, back to Frugal Friday: dog treats are really easy to make, and you can usually throw them together with things you probably already have in your pantry. I use and build off of this vegan dog treat recipe, which uses flax seeds and oats as healthy additions instead of just flour:

dog treats!

  • 3/4 c. peanut butter
  • 1 c. oats
  • 2/3 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seeds
  • 2/3 c. water

Preheat oven to 375° F and lightly grease two baking sheets. Mix together all ingredients and roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4″ thickness.  Then you can cut out shapes using cookie cutters (or if you’re lazy like me, use a pizza cutter to cut squares or diamonds). Transfer treats to baking sheets and cook for 12-15 minutes- you can flip them halfway through, but you don’t have to. They’re done when the bottoms and sides are slightly toasted. They’ll crisp up as they cool down.

Alterations and additions:

  • Instead of the peanut butter, use 2 c. ground peanuts (raw or roasted, but not salted) and 1 T. canola oil.
  • Add shredded carrots, apple peels, or beet skins.
  • Add fresh parsley and mint to freshen breath.
  • Our dogs love 1 T. nutritional yeast mixed in.
  • Add an egg for binding, then omit some of the water.
Enjoy!

Vegan Hamantaschen for Purim

Purim is one of our favorite Jewish holidays! In the story of Purim, Haman, one of the advisors to the Persian King Ahasverus, wanted to exterminate the Jewish population because the new queen’s cousin, Mordecai, refused to bow down to Haman. The king didn’t know his new queen was Jewish, and when she revealed her Jewish identity, Haman’s plans were spoiled. And, most importantly, Haman was known to wear a triangular hat.

So now we eat triangular cookies called hamantaschen to celebrate Purim.Hamantaschen in your face.

I’ve veganized my mom’s hamantaschen recipe,  Read more of this post