Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Monday, July 5, 2010

picnic salad

every picnic needs a crunchy vegetable salad.  this is one of my all time favorites that can be adapted to personal taste.  i use broccoli, cauliflower, shredded carrots and celery.  chop the desired amount of broccoli tops, cauliflower tops, and celery pieces.  i purchase the carrots already shredded to save preparation time. decide ahead of time how much salad will be used within a day or two, and only prepare enough for the meals.

one the chosen ingredients are ready, decide on the dressing mixture.  the recipe calls for an equal amount of mayonnaise, sour cream and salad dressing.  being health conscious, i only use a low fat mayo, and a light or fat free sour cream.  for the dressing i have used peppercorn, poppy seed or a light ranch.  all three offer a different taste equally enjoyable.  personally, i prefer using less mayo and a bit more of the sour cream and peppercorn dressing. 

once the dressing is prepared to personal taste, mix lightly and chill the salad prior to serving. 

refrigerator pickles

one of the best summer recipes is for refrigerator pickles.  this recipe does not require use of any canning techniques and makes the best crunchy pickles.  the recipe was published in Martha Stewart's everyday food magazine.  i usually make one large jar using one of Martha's jars.  this recipe makes enough pickles for three smaller jars, which could be made and given as gifts to friends.

homemade pickles have a wonderful taste and are nothing like what is purchased in a store.  to make the pickles:  purchase 6-8 small Kirby cucumbers, celery, and white vidalia onion. chop the celery into small pieces, slice the onion in small rings or half-rings, and slice the cucumbers into small circles.  place all three into a colander and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.  allow to drain for at least 30 to 45 minutes,
while stiring every 5-10 minutes to allow extra moisture to drip out.

when the mixture is ready, place into a decorative jar or jars, and prepare the pickling juice.  use 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. (i usually reduce this amount in half) then add 1 teaspoon celery seed and 1 teaspoon mustard seed. stir until the sugar is dissolved.  pour this mixture over the pickles, cover and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours before serving.  the pickles will last in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. i love the taste of these pickles and totally recommend them.

lavender and baby's breath from the garden

one of my favorite fragrances in the garden is lavender hidcote.  i arranged several plants in a circle surrounding my sundial in the garden.  the lavender is in full bloom and i couldn't resist cutting some for my sun porch. my gyposphila paniculata is in bloom as well and compliments the bouquet.

my gyposphila is a perennial and has tripled in size in three years.  it produces a wonderful display of tender white flowers and this year, i plan to dry them for the first time.

both lavender hidcote and lavender munstead grow well in my garden producing two different colors of bloom and wonderful fragrance.