DIY Garden Markers

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If you follow me on Insta, you already know that I recently attended a seed starting workshop. At the workshop, we got some seeds going for pea shoots and two varieties of heirloom tomatoes. However, feeling inspired and suddenly much less intimated by starting plants from seed, I was determined to plant even more. (Now, here’s to hoping that I have some kind of outdoor space when I move in June.)

Anyway, I went out to purchase supplies, and to my dismay, it wasn’t until I got home from the store that I realized I’d forgotten garden markers. I was super bummed, as labeling and dating is key when starting seeds, and I had my mind set to get started right away. Five minutes of brainstorming later, using materials that I already had on hand, I came up with a super easy means of creating adorable garden markers.

Wish me luck as I grow plants from seed for the very first time! Happy gardening. :)

What you’ll need:

  • Bamboo skewers (1 for every 2 garden markers)
  • Washi tape
  • Heavy duty kitchen shears
  • A permanent writing utensil

What you’ll do:

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Step 1: Gather supplies.

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Step 2: Using kitchen shears, cut bamboo skewers in half.

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Step 3: Roll out approximately 4 inches of washi tape. Place a skewer in the middle. Fold the sticky side of the tape on top of itself. Cut the remaining tape away from the roll.

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Step 4: As pictured, cut a small triangle into the washi tape.

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Step 5: Label and date with a permanent writing utensil.

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Repeat steps 1 through 5 until you have as many markers as needed.

10-Minute, Pectin-Free Red Currant and Raspberry Jam

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I love trying new fruits and veggies. While I love the uniq fruit and pepino melon that will soon be discussed in this post, I recently gave red currants a whirl and couldn’t stand their taste raw. Not wanting them to go to waste, I looked online for inspiration. I saw many recipes for red currant jam, and eventually decided to create a jam of my own.

Since the overwhelming bitterness of the red currants was what my taste buds couldn’t handle, I added raspberries for sweetness. Furthermore, I added lemon juice so the acidity from the lemon would balance out the bitterness of the currants. Additionally, lemon juice is a great choice for jams, as it contains pectin and eliminates having to add processed pectin to help solidify the jam.

Had I known that making small-batch jam could be this simple, I would have started making my own jams a long time ago. I’m not into canning, as I’m not into anything in the kitchen that requires a bunch of tools and steps. Given that the small amount of jam that this recipe yields will be consumed far before it has a chance to spoil, sterilizing the jar isn’t really necessary. Plus, as there are so many wonderful jams to be made, it doesn’t make sense to me to make jars upon jars upon jars of the same jam.

Although the aforementioned uniq fruit and pepino melon are unrelated to this post aside from being photographed with the jam, I’m going to give them a short plug. I discovered these while shopping at Whole Foods, and asked a gentleman working there if he’d tried either. He said no, but asked me if I would like to try them. What?! Of course I do! As it turns out, Whole Foods will let you try any of their products without any pressure to buy. Score.

Anyway, uniq fruit, also known as ugli fruit, is native to Jamaica. It is a citrus fruit that has a beautiful, yellow-green ombre outer. To eat, hand peel and break into wedges like most other citrus fruits. Uniq fruit is an orange, tangerine, and grapefruit hybrid, and that’s exactly what it tastes like. Delightfully sweet and tart all in one… yum!

Now, onto the pepino melon, also known as pepino dulce, which translates to “sweet cucumber.” Native to South America, this fruit has a lovely, pastel yellow outer with vibrant purple stripes. If a honeydew melon and cucumber had a baby, pepino melon would be it. I absolutely love it. It’s mildly sweet and so refreshing. Given how much I love both honeydew melon and cucumbers, I’m amazed that it took me this long to discover this scrumptious little fruit.

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Top: pepino melon. Bottom: uniq fruit.

And, without further adieu, the recipe…

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pint red currants, de-stemmed
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup pure cane sugar

What you’ll do:

  • In a fine mesh strainer, thoroughly rinse the currants and raspberries; transfer to a medium pot; add lemon juice and mash with a potato masher
  • On high heat, bring to a boil for about two minutes; then, stir in the sugar and boil for another two minutes
  • Pour into a half-pint jar and allow to cool before applying the lid and storing in the refrigerator

Note: This jam is more on the tart side. If you prefer a sweeter jam, forgo the fresh lemon juice and double the amount of sugar. Yields enough to fill a half-pint jar.

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Slow Cooker Baby Artichokes with Lemon-Asiago Aioli

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I have always loved artichokes, but it wasn’t until recently that I experienced eating a whole artichoke. It was one of many small plates that my roommates and I indulged in at Vernick, and it was divine. It never dawned on me to attempt to create a similar dish until baby artichokes caught my eye at Whole Foods the other day (mostly because they’re so cute!). While I’ve only seen whole artichokes on menus a handful of times, regardless of the restaurant, they have been prepared either on the grill or steamed. However, to avoid any of the guess work that goes into ensuring that the artichokes turn out perfectly tender, I opted for the slow cooker instead.

Once cooked, these guys are intense with flavor and make for a unique, relatively healthy appetizer that will wow your guests. To eat, simply remove a leaf from the artichoke, dip the meaty portion of the leaf into the aioli, and scrape off the meaty portion with your teeth. Discard the remaining leaf. As you work your way toward the centermost leaves, the leaves will be tender enough that you can eat them in their entirety.

PART 1: THE ARTICHOKES

What you’ll need:

  • 12 baby artichokes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Rinse the artichokes thoroughly; prep by cutting of the stems, as well as about 1/2 an inch off the tops (for full-sized artichokes, cut about 1 inch)
  • Arrange the artichokes in the bottom of a slow cooker
  • Combine the broth, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, and salt in a food processor; pour over the artichokes
  • Cook on high for 2 hours (for full-sized artichokes, cook 3 hours)
  • When finished, arrange on a serving dish

PART 2: THE AIOLI

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil mayo
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup asiago, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Italian herb blend
  • Cracked black pepper and Himalayan salt to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until smooth
  • Pour into a small serving bowl

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