Meal Planning Monday ~ From the Garden

 

This week’s post is by Sheri Ann Richerson of The Experimental Homesteader.

Growing a garden is a great way to save on your grocery bill and eat the freshest produce possible. The fresher the produce is, the more nutrients it contains thus the healthier it is for you. Fresh produce from the grocery store – at best – is several days old. Farmer’s markets are a good source of fresh produce if you can’t grow your own, but sometimes even that produce was picked a day or two before market day.

Growing a garden is simple if you start right and that means starting with the soil. Healthy soil is essential to growing good produce full of nutrients. It doesn’t matter if you grow your produce in containers, in the ground or in raised beds.  Start with buying organic soil meant to grow vegetables in or enrich the soil in your garden with three inches of compost before you plant.

Set up a rain barrel or hose in the area you are growing your produce in. Plants typically need an inch of water a week to thrive but this does vary according to the plant and weather conditions. For those who have never grown a garden before, start simple. A single tomato plant, a few radishes and some lettuce are all you need to grow a simple salad garden – and you can do this in a container. Other easy-to-grow crops include green beans, cabbage, green onions and most salad greens.

Monday ~ Two Pea Sauté with Basil, Parmesan And Sesame

I like this recipe because it allows me to use smaller amounts of snap and snow peas. Often early in the season my plants simply don’t produce enough of the two combined to make a side dish. This dish is a great way to use some of the extra basil you’ve harvested. The sesame seeds add an unexpected crunch that is delightful – and you can grow sesame in your garden. I like to pair this recipe with pork chops.

Tuesday ~ Spicy Flat Italian Beans

My mouth is watering just looking at this recipe. It is that good.  I often visit a Farmer’s Market in a nearby city because I have the opportunity to buy grass fed, non-GMO meat. The man I like to buy my meat from was selling these beans. I had never seen them before and struck up a conversation with him. He explained to me these were a great substitute for green beans and cooked up in about 10 minutes. I was sold and bought some. I came up with this recipe because I like spicy food.  Try it paired with beef or alter a  stir-fry recipe to use the beans in.

Wednesday ~ Cooking Kale & Swiss Chard

I hear it a lot – what do you do with kale or Swiss Chard. You can eat it raw in a salad. You can cook it a lot of different ways but some recipes are just bland. After numerous attempts at cooking both kale and Swiss Chard, I finally came up with this recipe – and I love it. Both of these vegetables are really good for you and while some people disagree with cooking either kale or Swiss Chard, this is my go-to recipe.

Thursday ~ Fresh Garden Salad with Herbs & Flowers

Salad is plentiful during the summer months. With a bit of protection, lettuce and a number of other greens will grow year-round even in my Indiana garden (USDA hardiness zone 5/6). During the spring, summer and fall there are so many ways to add flavor and color to a salad. Edible flowers such as dandelions, violas and rose petals add so much color not to mention vitamins and other essential nutrients. Toss in some herbs such as dill weed or basil and the taste really pops. Of course don’t forget standby favorites such as fresh fruit, nuts, meats and cheese. In fact, once your salad is made you might even realize you don’t need as much salad dressing because you would rather enjoy the taste of the salad.

Friday ~ Easy Coleslaw from the Garden

Coleslaw and fried chicken are the perfect summer meal. Nothing compares to the taste of homemade coleslaw. It is worth the effort of growing the produce and making the slaw even though the process is kind of messy. Watch out for those little white butterflies in your garden if you grow cabbage and if you start seeing holes in it, simply sprinkle some food grade diatomaceous earth on top of your cabbage. That will solve the problem.

Saturday ~ Grilled Bacon Wrapped Corn with Lime and Dill

Wrapping bacon around corn-on-the-cob might seem odd but it gives the corn a wonderful taste and keeps it moist. Be sure to prepare the lime and dill butter in advance. In fact you can make the butter and freeze it to save time. Then all you have to do is put pats of frozen butter on the corn before wrapping it in bacon. I have found that using thick sliced bacon produces better results than the thin bacon you normally see in the stores but either will work.

Sunday ~ Baked Maple Bacon Green Beans

I love this recipe. It might not be the healthiest, but once in a while that is ok. This is a great recipe to take to family reunions or church pot luck dinners, but be prepared to be asked for the recipe. You might even find people like it so much that you are asked to make this recipe every time there is a get-together. Fresh green beans, thick sliced bacon and real maple syrup are the keys to making this recipe taste great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of fresh green beans
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bacon

 

Directions:

Begin by rinsing the fresh green beans off under cold running water. This is necessary to do because sometimes faded green bean flowers, dirt or bugs are stuck to the outside of the bean.  Once the green beans are clean, snap off both ends. Some people prefer not to do this, but I like to. The decision is yours. Just make sure no stems remain on the beans.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

The next step is to gather five to eight green beans into a bunch.  Wrap the bacon around the green bean bundle one time making sure to slightly overlap the bacon ends.  I used kitchen shears to cut the bacon at this point. I was able to wrap three bundles of green beans using one slice of bacon.

Lay the bacon bundles in a baking pan that has edges with the bacon ends facing the bottom of the pan.  If you wish, you can lay extra slices or chunks of bacon over the top of the green bean bundles at this point.

Melt one stick of butter – or if you are using homemade butter, melt 1/2 cup of butter. Be sure to measure it un-melted.  Pour the melted butter over the top of the green bean bundles.  Drizzle maple syrup over the top of the green beans. The maple syrup does sweeten the green beans and next time I am going to try this recipe without using the maple syrup.  Sprinkle salt, pepper or your other preferred seasonings on top of the green bean bundles.

Place the green bean bundles into the pre-heated oven. Do not put a lid or foil over them.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F and cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer. This will crisp the bacon and make it delicious.

Sheri  Ann Richerson is a leading pioneer in the self-sufficiency movement.  For the past 19 years she has been living, teaching, and promoting  organic gardening, natural health and self-sufficiency through all forms  of media. Her bestselling books include “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To  Year-Round Gardening,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Seed Saving &  Starting” and “101 Self-Sufficiency Gardening Tips.”

For more information, please visit her writing website at SheriAnnRicherson.com, her gardening and homesteading website at experimentalhomesteader.com or subscribe to the Experimental Homesteader podcasts on iTunes.