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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Zucchini Bread with Pineapple and Pecans Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

A few years ago, the star in my garden was the zucchini. You know how it is -- suddenly you have dozens of giant zucchinis from one small seedling. Naturally, that has led to a need for zucchini recipes. Here is one I found for a zucchini bread that was handed down from a friend's grandmother. I made the bread today for a potluck at the community garden and it turned out great (very moist), so enjoy! You can find more (including a recipe for Sicilian stuffed zucchini) on the recipes tab.

Zucchini breadIngredients
3 eggs beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups zucchini, unpeeled and grated
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmug
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add zucchini and crushed pineapple. Combine dry ingredients and add them to zucchini mixture. Mix well. Add pecans. Pour mixture into two greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool 10 minutes in pans. Very moist. Will last a week or two in refrigerator. Freeze well.

 
Tips for Hand Bed Preparation from the Esalen Farm and Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Esalen Bed PrepGood organic gardeners will tell you that they don't grow plants, they grow soil -- and by that they mean a soil rich in organic material. As we begin to pull out our summer crops and get ready for fall planting, it's a good time to take a look at the soil in our garden and do what's necessary to create the "healthy dirt" -- or humus -- that will give life to our new seedlings. For some, it might be time to put in a cover crop. For those ready to put in their next round of seeds or seedlings, here is a step-by-step "Guide to Hand Bed Preparation" created by the food folks at the Esalen Farm and Garden, who have some of the healthiest beds (and, hence, crops) you'll ever see. I made a few edits for the home gardener but it's a great guide to get you started. Happy fall planting!

1. Clear all plant waste of previous crops and weeds from the bed using a short-handled fork, hard or soft rake, and a compost bin or trash can.

2. Check that there are suitable stakes (i.e., able to have a string easily tied to) at each corner of the bed. Stakes should be between 42-48 inches apart. If a stake is missing, drive a new stake into the ground to create the appropriate width; move existing stakes to create the appropriate width.

3. Connect parallel corner posts with string to mark the length of the bed along the pathways.

Read more...
 
Preserving Farm-Fresh Flavor at Sacramento's Grange Restaurant Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Grange RestaurantIf your garden is like mine, you're starting to an abundance of tomatoes from your garden (or local farmers market) so I thought I'd bring back this recipe that Chef Michael Tuohy shared with us in 2009 when he was the executive chef at the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento. The highly regarded Grange is still in Sacramento, with Chef Oliver Ridgeway now in charge, while Chef Tuohy has a new assignment as the executive chef and general manager for the new arena being built in downtown Sacramento. What hasn't changed is the focus on farm-fresh ingredients, including (yes) summer tomatoes. Enjoy!

Surrounded by the fertile Central Valley of California and with a weekly farmers market just outside its front door, the Grange Restaurant & Bar in Sacramento prides itself on using the freshest seasonal produce. Local farms such as Capay Organics and Del Rio Farm are even credited on the menu, which changes daily based on what’s in season. Even the wine list is focused on the local, featuring small production, boutique wineries from approved viticulture areas in California.

As this is the season of the tomato, we asked Chef Michael Tuohy for some tips on how to get the most out of those lovely heirlooms:

“In a perfect world, tomatoes would be ripened by the sun and enjoyed directly off the vine,” said Chef Tuohy. “In order to preserve farm-fresh flavor, I suggest storing heirloom tomatoes on their shoulders and out in the open air. Storing tomatoes refrigerated cuts flavor and brings out acidity.”

But, in the meantime, enjoy his Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
Serves 6-8 persons

Ingredients
3 Heirloom Tomatoes, rough chopped
2 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T pimenton dulce (sweet smoked Spanish paprika)
1 T pimenton piquante (spicy smoked Spanish paprika)
1 T toasted ground cumin
1 C torn sour dough bread
1 C almonds, rough chopped (marcona preferred)
2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/2 C sherry vinegar
salt to taste

Method:
***note: For best results, I like to double puree using an immersion blender first,
then transfer to a high powered blender like a Vita Prep for a smooth, light airy texture.
If you blend just once using a standard blender or food processor, you will have a more
coarse texture, which can be nice and just as satisfying.

1. Place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a container large enough to hold while blending with an immersion blender. Or, place into a standard blender container.
2. Begin blending and slowly adding the olive oil to create an emulsion.
3. After all ingredients are incorporated, taste and adjust for seasoning.
4. Chill very well before serving.

Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped almonds and a bit of coarse sea salt like Fleur de sel, or maldon.

 
10 Steps to Help Get Those Seeds Started Print E-mail
Written by Maree Gaetani, Gardener's Supply Company   

SeedlingsWe've noticed a significant increase in consumers wanting to either try seedstarting or elevate their capability with new equipment and lights. Here are 10 steps along that make seedstarting simple and successful:

1. Choose Seeds Wisely. If you're new to seed starting, stick with easy-to-grow vegetables and flowers such as tomato, cucumber, basil, squash, morning glories, bachelor buttons, calendula and cosmos. Don't start your seeds too early. Find the last expected frost date in your area and count back from that date based on the seed packet recommendations to determine when to start seeds indoors. Starting too early will create monster plants that need to be tamed because the outdoor environment isn't ready for them yet.

2. The Right Equipment. You can start seeds in just about any container, provided it's sturdy and allows for water drainage. However, for those new to seedstarting, complete systems are also available.

3. Start with the Right Organic Mix. For best success, use a seed-starting mix that contains peat moss and vermiculite. These ingredients provide a medium that holds moisture, drains water, and is light enough to germinate and grow even small seeds such as pansies.

Read more...
 
Finding Farm-to-Table on Molokai Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Molokai FarmersAt first glance, the Hawaiian island of Molokai may not appear to have all that much to offer the farm-to-table foodie. There are only a smattering of restaurants in the main town of Kaunakakai, and two of the best feature burgers and pizza. But, like a lot of things on Molokai, dig a little deeper and you'll find an abundance of fresh local (and, yes, organic) products. For instance, that burger spot, Molokai Burger, has a sign outside stating its meat is sourced from local ranches (and the burger was yummy) and the vegetables topping the pizza at the Molokai Pizza Cafe were incredibly fresh.

The truth is the island has always been an agricultural powerhouse, with its earliest inhabitants farming taro, sweet potatoes and fish ponds more than a century ago. Heck, even the high school mascot is a farmer (above) -- and a read of the local newspaper and signs alongside the road highlights the importance of agriculture (and, as with the other Hawaiian islands, the tussle between proponents of sustainable farming and the presence of Monsanto) to the community. With most accommodations on the island coming with kitchens or kitchenettes, Molokai offers a great chance to take advantage of truly local Hawaiian offerings.

Here are some gems we discovered on a recent trip:

Read more...
 
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