Category Archives: Gardening

Dancing Peas


A little inspiration for those of us waiting through the long winter months as we dream about the upcoming gardening season!

These tiny dancing pea sprouts are sure to lift your spirits!!

Go ahead … Dance along

I won’t judge



Grow your own Edamame

I have grown Edamame, also known as green soybeans, for the past 2 years in my garden. The first year I had no idea what to expect and was overly thrilled when I actually harvested and tasted the beans. They were delicious! So I ordered more seeds the following year and planted away. The two types planted were Envy which I grew the first year and second year and Butterbeans only grown the second year.

I have included an excellent article from Mother Earth News regarding planting and harvesting Edamame. Find the article here Growing and harvesting Edamame.


We are in Illinois zone 5a and I did notice a huge difference in the growing patterns of these 2 types of Edamame. The Envy produced less pods but they were bigger with bigger beans. The Butterbeans grew faster with more pods on each plant but they were smaller all around. The Envy being the larger bean had a more robust nutty flavor.

Also both years I did experience a problem with the Japanese beetle …. of course, worse the second year with more plants and I am guessing overwintering in the soil. The beetle devastated the leaves (they did not touch the bean pods) and seemed to multiply like crazy as the season progressed. I was out in the garden every few hours with my bucket of warm soapy water flicking the beetles off the plants into the water. A time-consuming endeavor but at least they didn’t bite!

We enjoyed a few early harvests of the beans and then near the end of the season I gathered all and prepared for freezing. We realized about 5 lbs. total from both packages of beans.


Since the beans were already boiled up previous to freezing they only needed to boil 3-4 minutes to unfreeze.


They are very delicious and healthy for you!!

Give them a try in your garden next year …

just be ready for that pesty Japanese beetle!!


Grow a Pumpkin – Make a Pie


Pumpkin Pie is tradition and such a delicious one at that! From little we always had pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and times in between. Mostly though, they were the frozen store bought versions which are quite tasty for sure, BUT when you grow your own and then make pumpkin pie ………. well, it is quite the accomplishment!

Pumpkins are easy to grow and the Pumpkin Pie or Sugar Pumpkin which grows to 8-9″ in circumference is the type to grow. Granted they do get pretty viney so make sure you have the room. Bees adore the flowers and I make sure to grow plenty along with all the other garden goodies each year.

Once the stem on the pumpkin turns brown and dries out, it is time to harvest. The pumpkins will keep for several months so using them in holiday decorations is always great Fun.

When you decide to process your pumpkin(s) for pie or other recipes like pancakes, smoothies, cookies, etc. this is the way to go about it. We cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, turn upside down in a pan with about an inch of water to bake/steam.

bakingpumpkin bakedpumpkin

Cover and bake for 45 minutes to an hour on 350 degrees. Let the pumpkin cool completely and then use an immersion (hand) blender to puree the pumpkin meat. Discard the outer skin in the compost. One small pumpkin is enough for 2 pumpkin pies.

Pumpkin Pie

1 unbaked 8-inch pie shell

1 cup fresh pureed pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

Blend pumpkin and spices and mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for an hour. Filling will be soft but will set on cooling.


Buttercup Squash Soup


Before I actually started growing winter squash, I was quite intimidated by them. Glancing at the heaps of squash at the grocery stores each Fall, I would wonder “how in the heck do you cook with those?” I had not the slightest clue what was different from one variety to the next.

Fast forward into years of gardening and experimenting one by one.

I have grown very fond of this staple in our diet. First I planted and baked with Pumpkin pie pumpkins, Delicata, Acorn squash, Butternut and the newbies this year Honeynut and Buttercup.

Baking them as pictured above is the standard method we use. The squash is cut in half, cleaned out and placed face down in about an inch of water.


After about 20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees the winter squash is cooked and ready to eat or process further into your recipe. A bit of butter, cinnamon and/or nutmeg and you have a delicious side dish.

After seeing recipe after recipe in the magazines and online using winter squash for soup, I decided it was time to give it a try. We made Buttercup Soup and it was a Success!!


1 Large Buttercup squash

3/4 cup coconut milk

2 cups water

2 chicken bullion cubes

2 shallots (or 1/2 onion)

1-2 tsp. nutmeg to taste

Bake the Buttercup squash, scoop out the squash meat and process with an immersion blender or use your food processor to puree.

Add the above ingredients along with diced potato, carrots, green beans along with any other addition to your liking. Let simmer for 1-2 hours stirring occasionally.

Newest Favorite Winter Squash

1471619891365Honeynut Winter Squash

Seriously, if you garden make sure to grow this little delicious winter squash. I discovered it last year and fell in love with its taste and smaller size. It does send out a trailing vine for days so I set lattice fencing alongside so it would grow up and save space.

I really haven’t seen this variety around before so it may be new … not sure. Regardless, you can treat it as you would a butternut or acorn squash when cooking. The old standby for us is to cut the squash in half, clean the seeds out and immerse upside down in about an inch of water in a cooking pan. Steam in the oven for 20-30 minutes (when you can pierce the skin easily with a fork).

You can scoop it right out, add butter if you wish or use the squash meat as a base in recipes. It’s so good…….I just love it!!

We did experiment and try a Roasted version which was absolutely spectacular as well.  Peel the skin after you cut in half and remove the insides. Then cut the meat of the squash into pieces and marinate for several hours in a balsamic vinaigrette. Add diced garlic and fresh basil. Roast on an oiled baking sheet at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.


 Yes Yum!!!

Beans You Say


Cannellini Dried Beans

I am busy dealing with the last of the dried bean harvest for this year. These Cannellini Beans are late bloomers and the last to dry on the vine. Some may think growing dried beans is pointless since you can buy them relatively cheap at most grocery stores. I don’t use chemicals in my garden since this would harm my bees and I don’t like chemicals in my food. Another advantage is some of the beans you can grow yourself you simply can not find in the stores such as Jacob’s Cattle and Trail of Tears – two other varieties I grew this past year. Plus, believe it or not, I actually Enjoy opening each bean pod and watching the little beans fall into the harvest bowl. I find it therapeutic; time to just zone out!!

I dedicated a large space in the garden to dried beans this past year and the harvest was plentiful. I believe I still have beans left from last year so as you can see they are a good keeper. Probably one of the only crops that I can think of right now that can be kept in the pantry for a prolonged time without any other method of preserving, i.e. canning, dehydrating, freezing.

I will be fine-tuning the varieties I grow for 2017 since I plan to bring as much as possible to the Food Pantry. Less vine growers and more bush types as well since the viners go crazy and 1 or 2 varieties is enough (they do produce tons though).

Here is what I have grown in the past – Pinto, Jacob’s Cattle, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Cannellini, Rice Pea, Black, Red, Cranberry. The secret to cooking dried beans is to soak them for hours (overnight) and keep changing the soaking water … this eliminates some of the gassiness associated with beans and it works!

Alright …. more Dried Beans in the future garden plans! They make great gifts along with your favorite recipes too!