What harm do a few dandelions do?
Well, it’s the Super Bowl again, and while my team is not playing, and we’re not having a party, it’s not a bad day to plan a quality meal. We had some beef tenderloin in the deep freezer, some Jones Farm bacon and thought a crock pot meal might be the way to go as an alternate to grilling in the cold and snow. (Thankfully, it’s stopped snowing.) I came across a recipe for a crock pot beef tenderloin via A Spicy Perspective:
(Check out the recipe card for the directions and ingredients.)
While mine didn’t end up looking the same, it still smells heavenly! (Final pictures to follow once it’s done!)
I seared mine in a cast iron pan- cast iron is starting to grow on me, and it’s not hard to clean.
A pile of onions and garlic ready to go in after the crock-potting of the tenderloin:
The tenderloin getting ready to begin its slow cooking- with the bacon juices marinating from the top!
We have a rosemary plant indoors that’s liking the window well enough, so thankfully, we had fresh rosemary.
After cooking a while, I added the remaining ingredients, but realized I was almost out of balsamic vinegar… But, no worries- you can make a substitute with red wine vinegar (which, thankfully, we have- no emergency trip to the store this time!) I used the last of the balsamic I had and filled in the rest with my substitute. It smells great so far- we should be eating during the game. (Finished product photo to follow!) Eat well, my friends! (Verdict: delicious!)
If you live in a locale where winter has settled in with its icy grip for the next few months, what’s a warm-weather-loving, green-seeking gardener to do (besides enjoying the houseplants)? Maybe check out your local seed library… While the concept been around for a little while– some part library, somewhat seed bank, it provides a means to share rare and heirloom seeds locally and make them more available. It’s not without controversy, as some companies have moved to protect plants that they see as their property.
I had previously been aware of Giant Hogweed‘s dangers, and noted when it was reported in Wisconsin recently. Certainly glad there was none of it around here, and then I found wild parsnip! Same theme; different plant.
This strikes a little closer to home- literally. I found a few plants in our yard, thankfully in an easy to access area from all sides. I don’t recall hearing anything about the plant up until now, and I don’t remember seeing it growing anywhere from when I was a kid. Other than the small patch of plants, it’s not close to our area that I’ve seen, but we don’t have to go far to see whole ditches and edges of fields full of it. The DNR and local media have shared more information now that the plant is in bloom with the summer season.
It looks fairly innocent, almost like tall dill!- nothing that would suggest that precautions are needed to deal with this thing. Mainly, my concern is for friends, family, and their kids who visit our place. It seeds like crazy, and the sap causes burns on skin in conjunction with sunlight (cloudy weather doesn’t make it safer!)
I’ve taken precautions to eliminate this noxious greenery– unfortunately, I didn’t catch it sooner. I’ve taken steps to kill the weeds at the roots, and dressed appropriately to remove and burn all the seedheads. Thankfully, it all was still fairly green, so I think we got to it in time before seed dispersal.
I’m not sure how it traveled to our yard since there’s not much else close around. Perhaps via creature travel… Watch out in your own outdoors and adventure safely to save yourself some trouble!
There’s nothing quite like grilling out, and one recipe that has turned asparagus-haters into asparagus-lovers in my family is grilled balsamic asparagus. There are quite a few tasty yet simple variations available online. Mine is as follows; amounts are determined by the amount of the veggie you are making. The coriander provides a citrus-y zing that goes well with the balsamic.
This recipe is easy to make in a skillet/wok, though flame grilling provides a better flavor, IMHO.
To prepare the spears, it’s not required to trim them with a knife or peel them. You can snap the spear in two towards the bottom (the more fibrous part will separate from the more tender part naturally).
Grilled Balsamic Asparagus
Bunch(es) of fresh asparagus spears
Olive or vegetable oil
Coriander (crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle or use powdered coriander)
Rinse and prepare asparagus (as noted above). Put all ingredients into a sealable plastic bag and set in a baking pan (in case the bag leaks). Refrigerate and marinate for at least 1 hour, mixing at least once or twice, so all spears sit in the mixture/are coated well. Grill until the spears are cooked to desired doneness, rotating as needed. (I prefer to cook them until darker green, but not so much that they are mushy.) Serve hot.
(And watch for grill flare-ups due to the oil; make sure to grill safe!)
I found this handy “favorite foods” chart via awaytogarden.com. If you’d like to encourage some additional wildlife to your yard, it may be useful for you as well! Though it may be snowing, spring is approaching!
We had some remaining spaghetti squash from this year’s growing season, (it’s December, and they keep really well!) and had just had the classic spaghetti-squash-with-spaghetti-sauce iteration recently, so we wanted something different (and simple!)
I stumbled across the original recipe idea: http://greatist.com/eat/recipes/barbecue-spaghetti-squash-pulled-pork-tacos, but wanted something even simpler than that. A crock pot beckoned.
1 or 2 spaghetti squash (depending on size, may need more if smaller squash)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut squash length-wise and remove seeds. Remove the stem end. (You can make and snack on roasted squash* seeds** while you are waiting for this to cook!) Put aluminum foil in a baking pan large enough for squash (use a pan with sides). Rub coconut oil on cut sides and in center of squash halves. Sprinkle cumin over all and put cut side facing down, onto aluminum foil. Bake halves at 350 for at least 45 minutes, until squash is tender- check with a fork. (It should string out like spaghetti from shell.) More baking time may be needed; it will depend on the size of the squash.
Put 2 cups of water in crock pot. Mince onions and garlic and add to crock pot. Add half of squash to crock pot and top with BBQ sauce. Add remaining squash and top with more BBQ sauce. Follow crock pot directions (can be on low or high setting). Stir halfway through cooking time. Add more BBQ sauce to taste. Let cook with crock pot cover off for a little if mixture is too watery. Serve on rolls/buns.
Crock-potting it up!
Feedback: The cumin gave the squash a nice deep flavor, and the BBQ simmered down to be very rich and robust. We would definitely make this again. We froze some for later use.
Some family members said they liked this better than actual pulled pork because it was not fatty.
The squash (not altogether unexpected) was maybe lighter than my hardwired-for-pulled-pork brain was expecting. Next time, I may add a few lentils to cook in the crock pot with the mix to add a little more heartiness to the dish/make it more toothsome. I’d have to watch the liquid levels, though, just so nothing dries out.
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*Yes, these squash seeds will work too- move over, pumpkin!
**Additional recipe for roasted squash seeds: Check out the link, or use my way- cover a pan with parchment paper- no butter/oil needed. Add squash seeds (no need to rinse, though you may want to pick out any random squash strands). Shake your favorite seasoning over seeds. Salt, if desired, or a no-salt seasoning works just fine too. Stir and season again. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Add more seasoning if desired. Bake another 10 minutes or until seeds have completely dried (the seasoning will dry/adhere to the seeds). Enjoy!