Saturday, July 25, 2015

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling #GardenCuizine #EatCherries

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
My family and I prefer cherry pie filling less gooey than store-bought canned fruit fillings, but not as dry as pure cherries tossed with sugar and lemon juice. Heating sugar with liquid and adding a thickening agent first makes the best cherry pie.

It takes about 4 to 6 cups of fresh pitted cherries to make a homemade cherry pie. I just took a cherry pie out of the oven made with organic tapioca starch. For the liquid I used lemonade, but you could also use cranberry juice cocktail.

Other thickening agents include cornstarch or arrowroot. Tapioca comes from the root of the tropical cassava plant and is used the same as you would cornstarch.


Heaping 4 cups fresh pitted cherries
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons tapioca starch 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup lemonade
  • Rinse fresh cherries; pit cherries (I use a handheld cherry pitter) and set aside.
  • In a small bowl mix tapioca starch and cinnamon with a little lemonade to make a paste/slurry - it should be smooth, set aside. 
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemonade.
  • When sugar is dissolved, stir in the cherries.
  • Stir in the tapioca slurry to desired consistency; heat until the mixture thickens and becomes clear. Add water to thin if necessary - try not to stir too much. 
  • Let sit while preparing your favorite pie dough or use as a topping on your favorite danish or dessert recipes.
Related Links
Science of Food Thickening Agents
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Growing Sunflowers and Sunflower Seed Nutrition #GardenCuizine

Sunflower Seed Nutrition
Sunflower Seeds come from the center of Sunflowers. When you look closely at the center of a sunflower, you'll notice many tiny buds. Each little yellow bud will bloom and then go to seed. As the plant produces seeds, the seeds extend into view for birds to nibble out - almost like a Pez dispenser for birds! 

In addition to birds, people of all ages enjoy sunflower seeds, which provide a good source of protein and other important nutrients. Try roasted sunflower seeds on a garden salad or as a healthy snack.

Sunflower Butter
Ground, roasted sunflower seeds make sunflower butter that has a texture similar to peanut butter. Sunflower butter provides a healthy alternative to tree nut butter for those with peanut allergies.

Growing Sunflowers
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) come in all varieties for growing in the garden; but we rarely plant them ourselves; birds and chipmunks plant them for us. This year we have the most ever sunflowers in our gardens.
Sunflower Seed Nutrition: Dry roasted without salt
Excellent Source: Vitamin E and heart healthy unsaturated fats
Good Source: dietary Fiber, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Zinc

1 ounce (28g) = 163 calories, dietary Fiber 3g (12% DV), Protein 5g, Vitamin E 7.3mg (37% DV), Niacin 2 mg (10% DV), Vitamin B6 0.2 mg (11% DV), Folate 66.4 mcg (17% DV), Zinc 1.5 mg (10% DV), total fat 13.9g (21% DV)- polyunsaturated fat 9.2g, monounsaturated fat 2.7g, saturated fat 1.5g 
Blog post and photo Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rutgers Master Gardeners of Cumberland County Butterfly House #familysuccess @monarchwatch

No more worrying about the group of orange and black monarch butterflies that came home with me from Rutgers Master Gardeners of Cumberland County butterfly tent exhibit that was held at the Family Success of Vineland. The monarchs were released into gardens full of native NJ flowering plants.

Driving home with a box of butterflies on the passenger seat felt so strange. I felt a sense of responsibility to care for them properly and get them into an environment with nectar plants asap. 

I had no idea there were butterfly farms that shipped butterflies for events like this. Each butterfly was carefully packed into it's own special envelope that came from Florida. At the end of the Family Success event, some butterflies went home with a few of the master gardeners and eleven went home with me! 

Our butterflies were safely packed for travel. As I drove home, the weather report was getting worse. A severe thunder storm with heavy winds and rain was on the way in less than one hour from the time I was going to release the butterflies. 

How could I release tired, weak butterflies just before a bad storm? It just didn't seem right. So when I got home I put an ice pack in the box to keep the temperature cool to keep the butterflies calm and somewhat dormant. The box was a special one from the butterfly farm; the ice pack did not touch the butterflies; no worries, they didn't get hurt or frozen.

When the storm passed, I took the butterfly box outside and released them, one-at-a-time, onto a weedy plant next to our front porch. It was too dark to take them to the milkweed patch. They were all alive, but looked tired as they crawled out of their envelopes. One panicked and went flying towards the porch light. Another fluttered onto the concrete porch. We quickly turned off the light. They calmed down and rested.
First thing in the morning, I rushed outside to look for them. I noticed four butterflies were still on the plant where I put them. They appeared weak. I carefully picked them up and moved them to their favorite, fragrant milkweed. The blooms and leaves were still wet from the rain the night before; the sky overhead was clear and blue. A beautiful butterfly day.

Master Gardeners: Patti Sheppard, Pam Burton, and Jan LoBiondo will be pleased to know that all the monarchs survived and are soaring in our sunny gardens. We've been watching them all day visit their favorite nectar sources, especially the native, common milkweed and echinacea. Every home owner should consider planting a milkweed patch just for the monarchs, especially since milkweed is the only plant they lay eggs on.
The milkweed swayed from side to side from the warm breeze - occasionally a butterfly lost their grip and fell to the grassy ground, but don't worry. Each time they fell off the blooms, we repeatedly picked them up and put  back. They slurped the nectar and started moving their wings back and forth. You could see their energy improving from the sweet nectar.
As the morning sun warmed their wings and their bodies got nourishment from the nectar they flew up towards the sky and into the nearby Tulip tree. Some soared over the pivot hedge and glided past groups of colorful daylilies and yellow rudbeckias to land on the bright pink echinacea. 

Thanks Family Success of Vineland for hosting such a fun and interesting exhibit. Families who visited the butterfly tent learned how to tell a male from a female and about a butterfly's life cycle - from laying eggs that hatch into larva (caterpillars) through their transition to a pale green capsule called a chrysalis. And, about how butterflies emerge from the chrysalis when they are ready to fly. Truly a fascinating and beautiful insect.

Did you know monarchs are diminishing each year? For incredible coverage of monarch's 2,000 mile migration that takes several butterfly generations to make to their destination in Mexico, check out an amazing video by PBS called The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies.

Sadly, the amount of monarchs we see are decreasing due to loss of habitat in the US and Mexico because individuals and businesses want money from chopping down the trees in Mexico where the monarchs huddle. Other major reasons include the use of insecticides like Bacillus thuringiensis (bt)* used on genetically modified corn (butterflies fly over corn fields and the pollen can kill them when they get close). Also, there are less and less common Milkweed plants in the US and elsewhere due to construction and housing. Monarchs need milkweed to survive. 
If you plan on making a spot in your yard for a butterfly garden, don't forget to plant milkweed. And remember, when the milkweed dies at the end of the season, leave it there - it may have butterfly eggs on it!

*Commercial Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) insecticides are classified as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the EPA, and are approved for most organic certification programs. However, they are controversial; they kill caterpillars: Different strains (about 600 are known) of Bacillus thuringiensis produce different forms of delta endotoxins – many are toxic to caterpillars (e.g., European corn borer), while others are toxic to flies (e.g., mosquitoes) or beetles (e.g., corn rootworm).(1)References

Related Links
Family Success Vineland
The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies
Milkweed for Monarchs by Pat Sutton
GM Corn Harms Monarch Butterflies
 Photos, Videos and blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

@Moorestown4th of July Parade 2015 ★ Independence Day Family Fun! @MoorestownPatch

Thank you for visiting GardenCuizine

and Thanks to the Moorestown 4th of July Committee!
Related Links

More Moorestown Fourth of July Parade photos
Photographs Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Holiday weekend Today in Our Garden #GardenCuizine #July4th

4th of July 
Today in Our Garden
Bursts of Cleome and red Bee Balm blooms get my vote as the best garden flower fireworks. Blooms are everywhere, thanks to frequent rains that have kept our new rain barrel filled to the brim. I've been using Mother Nature's free water for watering potted plants. 

Tall tomato plants, gladiolus and bronze fennel surround free standing sunflowers that were planted by birds and chipmunks. I noticed our first sunny bloom today. Overall, the gardens are lush - and so are the weeds! A gardener's work is never done.

Speaking of fireworks and holiday weekend festivities, we took mom to the Moorestown NJ 4th of July parade yesterday. She loved it almost as much as the key-lime pie she had for dessert at Curtain's Marina the day before.
The spitting rain didn't damper our fun day. Hope you had a fun-filled July 4th too. 
Below are a few more blooms today in our Jersey garden. It's wonderful to see our cobalt blue hydrangea blooming again. The severe winter of 2013 left it alive, but unable to produce blooms last year. We bought the hydrangea flag last year as pretend blooms. No pretending needed this year!
And, now is the time to take notice of beautiful day lilies. Even if you don't grow them, take time to appreciate them in other yards and gardens. It's hard to believe each bloom only lasts one day.
Happy Gardening! 
Blog post and photographs Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.