Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today In Our Garden #GardenCuizine #gardenchat

Today In Our Garden
South Jersey
USDA Zone 7a (formerly zone 6b)
July 29, 2012  
In addition to several varieties of heirloom tomatoes growing well with fruits that are still green (see photo posted on twitter @GardenCuizine this morning), our kitchen garden features colorful flowers and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and many varieties of herbs. We are especially thankful for some recent and much needed rain!

Clockwise from left to right:
  • Tarahumara Chia (Salvia tiliifolia), which naturalized in one of our raised beds. It's thriving and expected to bloom in August. 
  • Of all our tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes are ripening first. All plants were started indoors from seed saved from the previous year, using the fermentation process.
  • Dahlias are blooming now too. Our dahlias are special to me because all of our tubers came from my late cousin, whom I greatly miss. He was a master dahlia grower and surely would NOT be happy with the size of our blooms. They are not dinner plate in size, because we didn't divide the tubers; but they are still beautiful and make a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements. 
  • All varieties of Italian basil appear ready to harvest and have been beginning to bloom. When it becomes impossible to keep up with pinching off the bloom buds, we know it is time to process the leaves into pesto. We'll probably process some next weekend.
  • We are still harvesting Swiss Chard Northern Lights Mix. Swiss Chard can take the heat and produces all summer long. Our Chard was grown from seeds that were directly sown in early spring.
  • Perennial, 4 to 6 foot hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) are blooming now and are gorgeous. We have blooms in shades of pink and white. 
Today in Our Garden spotlights a mere sampling of what is in bloom at the present time. Of course, we have many other plantings in bloom too. Hope you enjoyed the brief garden tour.

Happy Gardening! 
Related Links
Check Out CHIA - A Super Salvia
Photo collage Copyright (C)2012 Wind. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day-by-day tour of Sicily * Erice, home of famous Sicilian Pasticerrias! #FCPDPG #GardenCuizine * Marsala Wines

Sicilian Culture and Cuisine
Marsala and Erice, Sicily - day 3

Our 10-day excursion to Sicily with the Food and Culinary Professionals Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gave us an insider's look at Sicily's wine production and cultural heritage. 

We began our tour in Palermo and started making our way counter clockwise 3/4 of the way around the island. Our third day was a busy day, as all our days were. We visited the western coast of Sicily, touring the Salt Pans and the Florio Winery in Marsala in the morning, then traveled to Erice, a medieval town - said to be the ancient birthplace of Venus - in the afternoon. Being a trained pastry chef, I especially enjoyed visiting Erice - known for its pastry shops.

Salt Pans of Sicily
The Salt Pans in Sicily are located on the coastline, between the cities of Trapani and Marsala. In this area, salt is extracted from the seawater using windmills that move the salt through the pans - a procedure that the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians once used when they colonized that part of Sicily.

Migratory birds like herons and flamingos stop along the Sicilian coast on their way to Africa in the autumn, but in spring, our timing did not coincide with the birds migration. 

Florio Winery - Marsala, Sicily
What was not to like about taste testing Sicilian wines! Florio Winery was founded in Marsala in 1832 by Vincenzo Florio Sr.* Their wines have improved over the years and were not nearly as sweet as expected. 

*The Florio family sold their winery to the Cinzano family in 1924. World War II resulted in severe damage to the winery. A major renovation was completed in 1984. In 1988 the winery changed hands again, and is now owned by ILLVA Saronno Holding company, which is breathing new life into their wine sales.

Erice, Sicily
Our tour bus could get almost to the top of Mt. Erice, but motor vehicles could not go the entire way. We put on our walking shoes and enjoyed some exercise. Once in Erice, the view overlooking the city of Trapani was spectacular!  
Sicily has several castle remains. Two castles are located in Erice: the Pepoli Castle (now a hotel), which dates to Saracen times, and the Venus Castle, which dates back to the Norman time period. We were near the Venus Castle.
Wild Borage along the walk to Erice
We walked along the cobble-stoned streets and really enjoyed visiting this area. Erice was a highlight for me because I had the opportunity to meet famous pastry chef Maria Grammatico, who is featured in the book Bitter Almonds, written by Mary Simeti. Chef Grammatico has an interesting story of how she learned Sicilian pastry art after World War II in the convent of San Carlo in Erice.

As soon as we got back to the States, I ordered her book in English. In Sicily, Maria only had her book available in Italian. I'm inspired by her classic Sicilian pastries and hope to make some of her recipes.

Maria Grammatico's baked goods and confections were truly works of pastry art. I could have spent the whole day there. Her shop was welcoming and she was super nice too.

While there, I took a sneak peak at her kitchen and took many mouth-watering photographs of her amazing Sicilian pastries, including dolci di Badia, Sicilian cassata, tortina paradiso, frutta martorana and biscotti di fichi. Her pasticceria uses classic Sicilian ingredients, including figs, honey, almonds, citrus and ricotta cheese.
Watch for our Day 4 culinary adventures at the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School. Every day was better than the next in Sicily!
Related Links
Blog post and photographs Copyright (C)2012 Wind. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Garden Harvest Colorful Swiss Chard * Excellent Source of Nutrients #GardenCuizine #RDChat

Northern Lights Swiss Chard
GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis: 1cup (175g) cooked:  

Over-the-top Excellent Source  
Vitamin A 10,717 IU (214% DV WOW!!!)

Excellent Source  
Vitamin C 32 mg (53% DV)
Magnesium 150 mg (38% DV) 
 Potassium 961 mg (27% DV)
Iron 4 mg (22% DV) 

Good Source
Vitamin E 3 mg (17% DV) 
 Dietary Fiber 4 g (15% DV)
Calcium 101 mg (10% DV)

 When cooking or adding Chard to other dishes, no added salt is necessary since natural sodium content is 313 mg (13% DV). 
Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories for adults and children age 4 or older 
Related GardenCuizine Links
Eat Right with Color
 Photo and Blog post Copyright (C)2012 Wind. All rights reserved. Nutrition Data USDA Nutrient database.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

PURSLANE * Don't Weed It! * the highest vegetable source of Omega-3 #GardenCuizine #GardenChat

A weed you don't want to pull out in your garden. After pulling out our mizuna greens after they bolted and went to seed, I was ready to plant something else in their spot. Space is at a premium in our backyard home garden. I noticed a green mat of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) seedlings had appeared in the area, as if overnight. So guess what was going to be growing in that spot? You guessed it - the purslane stays!

Purslane Nutrition

Many clinical studies have confirmed that Purslane is a nutritious food. Purslane is the highest vegetable source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Other plant sources of Omega-3's include chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, edamame and soybeans. Purslane is also rich in antioxidants, Vitamins E and C, beta carotene and other important nutrients.

Purslane can be harvested, rinsed and added to garden salads or added as an accent green to any imaginable entree or side dish. Purslane is one of those greens you probably won't find in your grocery store. Look for it in your yard and garden, you just may have it growing. 

Purslane, the healthiest weed in your yard, is just another reason NOT to invest in weed killers. Organic, is always the best way to go. It's better for you, the wildlife and the environment.

Happy Gardening! 
Related Links
Purslane, an Edible and Beneficial Garden Weed by Darius Van d'Rhys
Purslane, Weed It or Eat It?
Ask the Expert, Omega-3 Fatty Acids Harvard School of Public Health
Chia vs Flax Omega-3 Nutrition

Blog post Copyright (c)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pistachio Nuts for Protein, Potassium, Phytosterols, Antioxidants, Fiber, B-Vitamins #GardenCuizine @NutritionTwins

Pistachio Nuts
Healthy Snacking
The FDA states that, "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." Click on the chart below to see more.
Strong scientific evidence shows that Phytosterols, including: Beta-sitosterol, Campesterol, Stigmasterol, 5-avenasterol, sitostanol and campestanol have been shown to reduce cholesterol. 2 to 3 grams per day can lower total cholesterol by 4 to11% and LDL by 7 to15%.* 

Plant sterols are naturally found in plant foods like nuts; and also are added to food products like HeartRight® SmartBalance® buttery spread. To help improve or maintain healthy cholesterol levels, eat more nuts, fruits and vegetables; read food labels and look for added plant stanols and sterols.

Read more abut Pistachios
Check out "Nuts About Pistachios" article by Diana Wind, RD
published on
*Reference: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library.
Related Links
NutritionTwins: A diet that includes tree nuts, such as pistachios is linked to a healthy heart! A recipe for a healthy heart
Blog Post and Tree Nut Nutrient Chart Copyright (C)2012 Wind. All Rights Reserved.