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Seed Spotlight: Red Express Cabbage

January 26th, 2011

 

Delicious, antioxidant-rich cabbage may not be the most popular vegetable in the garden, but it offers wonderful flavor and versatility that should not be overlooked, especially for warming winter meals. In season from late fall through winter, now’s the time to enjoy cabbage.

An ancestor of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, cabbage was once prized by ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and for centuries, during famines, cabbage was a staple that helped sustain people in need.

Red cabbage, such as our Red Express, is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol and a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron and magnesium. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, K and B6.

Generally used to make coleslaw, it is also perfect for Braised Red Cabbage and Apples (below), a classic German-style dish that is easy to prepare. It complements a variety of foods, such as braised meats, game birds, and pork dishes. When cooking red cabbage, it’s important to note that cabbage’s red coloring reacts to changes in Ph, so avoid cooking it in aluminum cooking vessels and include an ingredient like acidic fruit, lemon, vinegar or wine.

Braised Red Cabbage and Apples

Ingredients

2 tablespoons bacon fat

1 small onion, diced

2 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and diced

1 small head red cabbage, cored and shredded

½ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup cider vinegar

Kosher salt, to season

Freshly ground black pepper, to season

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sauté onion in bacon fat in a large Dutch oven. When slightly caramelized, add apples; sauté for two minutes. Add cabbage, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil then cover and bake for 40 minutes or until cabbage is very soft. SERVES 6

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Guest Blog: Jerry’s Garden

January 20th, 2011

One of Humble Seed’s primary objectives is to inform, educate, and inspire positive change in the world. With today’s technology, it has never been easier to convey a message or an idea. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and internet blogs are becoming more influential by the day.  Here at Humble Seed, we feel very fortunate that this technology has enabled us to connect with and grow such a knowledgeable and diverse community.

Nothing highlights that more than the spectrum of  guest bloggers we have featured in the last few months. We have had Master Gardner ‘Gardening Jone’s‘ timely piece about food safety.  Dorren Pollack, Chairperson of the Phoenix Permaculture Guild, excellent article “Garden to Table in 60 Days“.  Nutritional coach, whole foods chef, speaker and author Adam Hart’s fun and informative video blog.  And Brendan Cook, Director of Sustainability for EcoAid, support for “Big Garden-Small Carbon“.

So today, we’re happy to introduce to you, Jerry Greenfield. He will be doing a once-a-month guest blog for Humble Seed. He will bring his passion, experience, and unique gardening perspective. Look for his blog post every third Thursday of the month. Now, here’s Jerry….

Hello Everybody!  It’s nice to “meet” you!  My name is Jerry Greenfield and I am the newest guest blogger for Humble Seed.  I can’t even remember at this point how Jim Mitchell (co-owner of Humble Seed) and I got to know each other, but somehow we became friends on Facebook and we’ve continued to grow our friendship over the past several months.

It seems that Jim and I share very similar views when it comes to gardening and living a green, sustainable lifestyle.  I like what he has to say, and he likes what I have to say, so I started thinking that his readers might like what I have to say too!

When I approached Jim about writing guest blogs for his site, he was more than happy to have me!  So here I am, writing my first guest blog for Humble Seed!  My bio should tell you a little about me, but I can elaborate a bit here.

I’m an old man—approaching my 57th year—and have been gardening for decades.  Okay, maybe I’m not that old, but I certainly feel it some days!  I’ve always gardened organically because I started gardening before it was even possible NOT to garden organically!  I think it’s crazy that gardening with nature and by natural means was good enough for our ancestors for thousands of years, but now most of us are in such a hurry to find new ways to garden that we’ve forgotten the fact that we couldn’t have gotten this far without the help nature has provided us.

I’m a strong believer that things are the way they are for a reason.  For example, if plants were meant to have chemicals inside of them that killed or repelled pests, then the plants would naturally have these chemicals—we wouldn’t have to genetically modify the seeds to produce these chemicals.  Another example, if plants were meant to grow faster than they do…ah…then they would, simple as that.  But plants are programmed to grow at a certain rate for a reason and messing around with their natural growth rate can be detrimental to the plant.

I think we’ve been messing around with nature for long enough and it’s time to go back to our roots.  It’s time that we start working with nature again and not against it.  It’s time that we embrace our humility and once again become humble to the seed and all of its natural wonder.

So, I hope you’ll all enjoy my guest blogs!  I plan to offer you advice, share opinions, and discuss current events pertaining to our environment, food industry, and governmental procedures concerning our health and rights to grow and consume natural and organic foods.  Above all, I will promote organic gardening as our means to survival.  Once again, thanks to Jim for allowing me to reach out to all of you, and I’ll catch-up with all of you soon!

Jerry Greenfield Expert Author-EzineArticles.com

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

About Jerry Greenfield

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby. For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to “help” us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

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Basic Garden Accessories and Tools to Have on Hand

January 18th, 2011

 

Have you ever driven past a garden that looked postcard pretty? It’s a breathtaking sight to see, with neatly manicured plants and rows that look like they’ve been kissed by Mother Nature. Although Mother Nature does help in making a garden bloom and thrive, it’s also the garden tools that a gardener uses that create an outdoor oasis worthy of admiring and celebrating with outdoor feasts.

Garden accessories and tools are indispensible and easy to come by, whether you buy them at a garden center or flea market. Here are seven basic garden tools every gardener should have on hand:

1. Bow Rake. Bow rakes are used for removing clods of earth or rocks from the soil and leveling the soil after it’s been turned. There are short tines on one side and a flat side on the other—for smoothing the soil just before planting.

2. Garden Gloves. If you garden, you’re going to use your hands at some point. It’s inevitable. Garden gloves help protect your hands from rough weeds, thorns, water, etc.

3. Garden Shears. Also called clippers, garden shears are a gardener’s best friend when it comes to shaping plants and removing branches or dead or overgrown leaves. If you’ve ever dreamed about being a hairdresser trimming your garden plants is a great way to live out that hairdresser fantasy, in a roundabout way! Once you step back to witness your Edward Scissorhands handy work, you’ll feel thoroughly satisfied, as long as you don’t get scissor happy!

4. Hoe. This handy garden tool will help you aerate the surface of your garden by breaking up the soil. Aerating helps reduce soil compaction and allows for deeper root growth. A garden hoe is also an excellent tool for dealing with stubborn weeds.

5. Shovel. Shovels are the I’m-not-messing-around garden tool, ideal for turning large clods of dirt and digging holes, for shrubs and trees.

6. Spading Fork. A spading fork looks similar in shape to a shovel, but it has tines instead of a solid scooper. It’s a great tool for digging down into hard soil to help break up the ground.

7. Watering Can. While you may have a garden hose handy to water your garden, a long-nozzled watering can is a good garden accessory for watering young seedlings. The long nozzle ensures a more gentle flow rate.

While each of these garden tools is fairly inexpensive, you may want to start purchasing one or two a little at a time before the spring gardening seasoning arrives. If you’re planning on container gardening, you may want to consider smaller garden accessories and tools, like our 7-Piece Humble Garden Tool Tote.

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Raised Bed Gardening

January 13th, 2011

 

If you have limited gardening space or poor soil conditions, you should consider raised bed gardening. Even just a small raised bed is ideal for growing herbs and vegetables.

To make a raised bed garden, it only takes a few steps:

1. Pick a flat location that gets at least eight hours of sun per day and is accessible to your water supply.

2. Decide how large the raised bed garden will be, both length and depth. Keep in mind that you will want to be able to easily access the middle of the raised bed from each side. As far as depth goes ten inches is ideal, but many vegetables will grow in a raised bed that is six inches deep.

3. Get your raised bed ready. If you can dig out the existing grass, if any, or loosen the soil to a depth of at least eight inches it will ensure that your plants’ roots have ample room to grow. Build your raised bed with 2 x 6 lumber pieces that are rot-resistant. Cut the lumber then attach the pieces together to build a frame. Place in the determined location. Make sure and use a level to ensure the frame is level on all sides, otherwise, water may run off one part of the raised bed garden. Fill your raised bed with quality top soil, compost and manure. Once filled, level the soil. That’s it! You’re ready to sow seeds!

4. Managing your raised bed garden is easy, but one thing to keep in mind is that raised beds tend to dry out faster, so it’s important that you consider moisture retention; mulching the top of the soil will help. Every spring and fall top dress the soil with fresh compost and manure.

Raised bed gardening is easily manageable and offers great benefits, including:

1. Better soil drainage.

2. Less soil compaction—no one is stepping on the soil!

3. Better soil conditions, because you are controlling what ingredients are in your garden.

4. Earlier planting, because raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring.

5. Raised bed gardening is also a great consideration for anyone who has arthritis or elderly gardeners.

If you have never tried raised bed gardening, or gardening for that matter, this is a great option for the upcoming spring gardening season.

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Seed Spotlight: Rosa Bianca Eggplant

January 11th, 2011

 

Whether you call it aubergine or eggplant, this vegetable makes a wonderful addition to a spring garden and menus—as appetizers, side dishes and entrées. A plant native to India, the eggplant, today, is grown in most warm regions of the world.

Our heirloom and organic Rosa Bianca Eggplant—found in The Producer—is adored for its violet and white coloring and savored for its creamy, mild taste and wonderful texture. Raw eggplant can have a bitter taste, but once cooked, the flavor of eggplant turns deliciously complex and rich. This versatile vegetable can be fried, grilled or roasted.

If frying, it is important to take the raw eggplant’s texture into consideration. The texture is somewhat spongy, so it will soak up the oil. Fry over moderately high heat. Once the cell structure breaks down, the eggplant will release much of the oil it initially soaks up. Just like squeezing a sponge!

Grilling an eggplant is easy and adds a smoky-sweet flavor. Simply cut an eggplant, lengthwise, into steak-like pieces. Whisk together olive oil, minced garlic and chopped rosemary then brush each side of the eggplant slices with the mixture. Set eggplant slices, diagonally, on the grill and turn often until they’re cooked through.

Nutritionally, eggplant is low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. It is also high in dietary fiber; folate; potassium; manganese; vitamins B6, C, and K; thiamin; niacin; pantothenic acid; magnesium; phosphorus; and copper. Wow! That’s a lot of nutritional health benefits!

This vegetable is a keeper, so plan on adding it to your spring garden and menus. Two of our favorite eggplant dishes include Baba Ghanouj and Eggplant Parmigiano. How do you like to cook your eggplant? We’d love to hear from you.

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The Power of Peppers

January 6th, 2011

 

The next time you plant peppers seeds in your garden ponder this as your peppers grow and thrive: in addition to adding vibrant colors and a wide range of flavors to you plate and palate, peppers—both mild and hot—offer an abundance of health benefits, including:

1. Vitamins A, C and K – Bell peppers are chockfull of these vitamins. Vitamins A and C, by way of carotenoids, help support immune function, as well as help to prevent cell damage and diseases related to aging. Vitamin K helps protect cells from oxidative damage, and it helps to strengthen bones.

2. Red bell peppers contain lycopene, a carotenoid which helps to prevent some forms of cancer, such as cancers of the cervix and prostate cancer.

3. Capsaicin, mostly found in the white membranes of hot peppers, is the star when it comes to the benefits of peppers. Capsaicin, considered a superfood, has been shown to: relieve cluster, migraine and sinus headaches; aid in arthritis relief; and act as an anti-inflammatory. It is also acknowledged for improving mood and raising endorphin levels.

These are just a few of the wonderful health benefits of peppers. Vegetables, as humble as they may seem, are natural wonders that everyone should eat more of for increased nutrition.

Here’s a tasty stuffed jalapeno recipe, perfect to serve as an appetizer.

Stuffed Jalapenos, Southwest-Style

8 large jalapenos, halved, lengthwise, seeds removed
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 package cream cheese, softened
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Hickory smoked bacon slices

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, garlic powder and salt. Stuff peppers generously with cheese mixture. Wrap bacon slices around peppers then secure with toothpicks. Bake until bacon is crisped.

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Happy New Year from Humble Seed!

January 2nd, 2011

 

The New Year is a wonderful time of year. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the past year, including the good, the bad and the ugly, and it’s an opportunity to look forward to new positive adventures and experiences. Goals, or resolutions, are a great way to plan for a better New Year, and today, New Year’s goals have gone far beyond the common ‘lose weight this year’ standby.

One goal that many people are planning for in 2011 is planting a spring and summer garden. With food prices expected to rise in the New Year and the continual growth of the back to basics lifestyle, families are looking for ways to lower their grocery bills and live life more simply. The recession has not only cut into wallets but also revived a genuine need and want for wholesome goodness.

Gardening is a great way to maintain a steady supply of fresh herbs and vegetables, and gardening does more than saving you money and providing you and your family with the very best foods possible: it’s a wonderful family activity. For even just an hour a day, you can present an opportunity to get the kids away from video games and cell phones and spend quality time together, learning about the how, what, where, when and why of the food world. If you have any elderly people in your life that you’re taking care of, you can get them out in the garden, weather permitting, and enjoy each other’s company.

If you would like to eat fresher, healthier foods in 2011—who doesn’t, right?—then add ‘Spring Garden’ to your 2011 goals list. If you’re already committed to planting a spring garden but not sure what to plant, visit our Products page for a variety of ideas.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, full of great experiences!

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