Your Seasonal Produce From The Garden To The Pan

13Why does the topic about vegetables make everyone delve continuously for seemingly unending queries? A casual chat about asparagus, tomatoes, lettuce, or Brussels sprouts and the likes can lead to unlimited subjects of arguments. It may be how one finds the other. To some, Brussels sprout may have foul flavor and a vile taste but others may find it so satisfying to their palate. Asparagus may taste great half-cooked to others but for me and maybe to some, it’s perfectly edible when raw. The texture has effect to a great extent which is the result of how they are cooked. All these never-ending arguments makes us realize the importance of welcoming vegetables into our daily meals though there’s one point that everyone can’t disagree, they are best when they come fresh from the garden, especially your own garden. Very gratifying, isn’t it?

There’s really no point for everyone to disagree or to contest which is best for there are lots of ways and diverse methods in cooking these seasonal produce. Lucky for us indeed to have known these cooking techniques so each can satisfy oneself when it comes to texture and flavor. Let me share with you dear readers these cooking techniques and guides to make you cook your veggies perfect in texture and flavor.

There are two techniques that you can use when cooking vegetables, the dry heat and the moist heat. Dry heat technique is characterized by quick moisture evaporation, concentrates the natural sugar and browns the juices in vegetables thus make them flavorful. Both methods come out with distinct flavor and texture.

Dry Heat Techniques includes the following:

Broiling – This is a cooking process that calls for a very high heat for a short period of time and can be done either in an oven or pan. A good technique to blister skins of sweet peppers or chillies for easy peeling and for smoky flavor because the heat is over the food. To avoid sliced vegetables to dry out due to high heat, brush them lightly with oil. Always be sure to do your grilling in a place where there’s good ventilation as this technique produces too much smoke.

Grilling – This technique only differs to broiling in the sense that high heat source comes from below and needs a basting liquid to keep the moisture of the food. In grilling small vegetables like mushrooms, onions and cherry tomatoes, a perforated stainless steel grid or a grill basket are perfect to use to avoid them from falling into the fire under. To caramelize and bring out a smoky flavor in vegetables, heavy grill pan is best especially when grilling indoor.

Roasting – The easiest technique that is favored by many is Roasting. Requires a heat temperature of not exceeding 400 degrees so vegetables won’t shrink and dry out and eventually rid of their natural moisture that is needed to concentrate the sugar and enhances the flavor. Coat lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with small amount of salt, place in a shallow-rimmed baking sheets arrange in a single layer then roast. A long way to go for snacks, finger foods or better still with rice or whole grain bread for lunch or dinner.

Sauteing – Using a non-stick cooking spray or coating the bottom of the pan slightly with oil or butter, place the pan over medium heat and wait till it becomes hot. Add vegetables to the large pan. It should be large enough to freely cook the vegetables in single layer. Tougher vegetables should be blanched first before sauteing for a more speedy way.

Stir-frying – This technique is similar to sauteing only that vegetables are cut into small sizes and constant tossing is required at a medium-high heat for quick cooking process.

For the Moist Heat Techniques, we have the following:

Blanching – This technique is putting the vegetables in a saucepan or pot of boiling water briefly to soften them. Cooking with this method can be stopped by draining and immediately plunging them into cold water to refresh. These processes, blanching and refreshing should be done to keep the enzymes intact and retain their texture and color. Pat them to dry using paper towel and then store in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Ready for use either for today or tomorrow by stir-frying or sauteing.

Boiling – In this technique, vegetables should be added at once to a boiling water and proper timing starts only when the water gets back to the boil. Leave pan uncovered. Boiling vegetables should not exceed seven minutes to retain its color and avoid their natural acids to change them into yellow-brown. Always refresh them if you want to stop the cooking especially if they are meant for vegetable salads.

Braising – A method that is great with vegetables with less moisture content though works well to all kinds too. The process of browning and steaming make the best in them. Place a little fat in a pan to lightly brown the vegetable then add a little liquid to begin cooking. Cover the pan and cook slowly over medium-low heat. Add enough liquid after the vegetable releases its moisture just to keep it moist. The liquid can either be chicken stock or water. The key to a perfect braising is proper timing. Firmer and thicker vegetables like broccoli stems requires longer time to brown than the thin and delicate ones like broccoli florets.

Poaching – This technique though similar to boiling requires less liquid and is done using a lower heat especially for delicate and fragile vegetables to be cooked gently. Poaching retains the nutrients in food and thoroughly cooks them. Liquids here can be water, wine or meat stocks.

Steaming – This is a technique that uses a large pot and a simple steamer to cook. Place vegetables in the steamer making sure not to pack them tightly to ensure even cooking. Bring water into a boil first before placing the covered steamer into the pot. Cooking time for steaming vegetables depends on their sizes and the thickness.

No matter how you like vegetables and no matter how you prefer to cook them, there’s surely one cooking technique that suits everyone to great satisfaction and advantages especially when it is beneficial to health.

African Sermon Safaris offers the most amazing mount Kilimanjaro climbing routes in the whole Tanzania. Please read more information here on available routes.

Planting a Healthy Vegetable Garden at Home

66If you want to learn how to plant a vegetable garden you are making terrific decision. Planting a year around vegetable garden will allow you to grow enough fresh vegetables for you and your family that you will soon have fresh and organic vegetables on your table daily. Whether it’s to save money or to avoid genetically modified vegetables at your supermarket, planting a veggie garden provides countless benefits.

One of the first things you need to know when looking to learn how to plant a vegetable garden is making the most from your the space you have available. You will be surprised how many fresh vegetables you can grow even with limited space for a plot. If possible try and stay away from any trees which can steal nutrients away from your vegetables.

Vegetables need plenty of sunshine, look for an area that receives plenty of morning sun. Preparation is the key to learning how to plant a vegetable garden you can be proud of. One of the secrets to growing a great garden is soil preparation, it is critical.

With soil preparation you must remove all weeds, avoid any weed killers and remove them by hand. You must test the pH level of your soil, anything around a reading of 6.5 is ideal. If you are unable to test it yourself head over to your local gardening store for testing.

Having your soil pH either too high or two low will restrict nutrients to your vegetables. Garden lime is commonly used to bring up low pH soil levels. Dig the soil over and look to get to depth of about 30cm (12″).You should allow 4-5 weeks before you begin to plant any vegetables.

Now you might be asking what vegetables you can plant? This will be dependent on climate zone so speak to your gardening store about the ideal vegetables for your area. You can pick up seedling for a great price and begin planting after your soil preparation.

The key to learning how to plant a vegetable garden from scratch picking the right vegetables that you can rotate year around to help eliminate pests and disease problems.

Organic fertilizers such as animal manure and garden composts are fantastic for providing nutrients to your vegetables as well as improving soil conditions and structure. Organic fertilizers help retain moisture which is very important. Watering your garden is important but try to ensure it doesn’t become waterlogged and allow for proper drainage.

Want to learn a step by step guide on how to plant a vegetable garden properly?


Growing a Vegetable Garden Can Be Fun

Raised bed vegetable garden with fruit strawberries, sunflfowers, climbing scarlet runner beans vines, house, trellis, protection netting, corn, chard, sunny day

I know what you’re thinking: gardening is too hard, it takes too much time, and how can anyone like me go about growing a garden when I know nothing about the subject? This is most people’s view on gardening, and is completely wrong! Gardening is easy and anyone can do it!

Imagine needing to make a salad, and walking out to your garden where you have fresh lettuce growing. You pick a head of lettuce, get it washed, and then realize you need some more ingredients.

Back out to the garden you pick some tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, onion, and peppers as well. Throwing this in your salad, you realize you are eating the tastiest salad you have ever had in your life! This is because you are growing the highest quality of fruits and vegetables, as well as getting it as fresh as possibly can be!

How to Start a Garden

But how can you start a garden? It’s simple! All you need is a spot of ground, some water, seeds, and some determination.

Start with tilling your garden. You will want to mix up the soil nice and good to mix the nutrients equally throughout the garden. This is also good as it gives the soil some shaking, which will allow your plants to grow deep roots.

Next, you can then make rows in your garden, and begin gently placing your seeds throughout your rows and covering it back up with dirt. Once the rows are covered, spread some fertilizer over the rows and begin to gently sprinkle some water over all of your rows.

Going Organic

It is also important to note here that not all seeds and fertilizers are created equal! I personally prefer to get Organic seeds, fertilizer, and pesticide.

Getting organic seeds for your garden allow you to have the most natural gardening experience possible. Not only will organic seeds taste better, they are better for the good bugs in your garden! Bugs don’t like non-organic pants!

As for fertilizer, be sure to get an organic fertilizer with plenty of nutrients. If you put the nutrients in the soil, the nutrients will be in your plants. If the nutrients are in your plants, they will be in your body! It’s like taking a vitamin supplement by eating delicious food out of your garden!

Being Careful with Pesticides

As for pesticide, be sure not to use chemicals and other hazardous material. Not only is it horrible for the environment, the bugs don’t like it and your plants don’t like it either. Additionally, it has been proven to present health defects in a human body, so try to find something organic to keep those pests off!

Growing a garden is fun and easy! Once you get out there, you’ll realize that it really comes down to making sure your plants are getting plenty of water and are staying weed free! So go ahead, plant your garden in that empty space in your back yard, and start enjoying all the wonderful health and life benefits that a garden brings!

Incorporating Vegetables in Your Garden

64It’s not surprising that many people are opting to grow their own vegetables, especially since the food prices continue to rise. Many gardeners find themselves planting and tending to various plants and flowers, so why not add vegetable plants also.

There are quite a few vegetables that you can grow in your own garden. Of course, you need to consider your climate when you choose particular vegetables.

Firstly, you need to designate a certain section of your garden as a vegetable patch. Create a pathway with cobblestones that leads you to the vegetable patch. You can build a low brick wall around the vegetable patch and add some cladding to the wall to give it a modern appearance. Within this section, check the soil and dig to loosen it. Then remove all the weeds before you plant anything. You may need to get a quality soil and fertilizer.

Once your vegetable patch is ready, you can go to your local garden centre to get a few vegetable seeds or young plants. Be sure to keep your climate, and the season, in mind when you choose the vegetables that you want to plant in your garden.

There are many types of vegetables that you can plant in your garden which include tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beetroots, peppers, pumpkin, sweetcorn, and sweet potatoes, amongst others. Along with your vegetables, you could include herbs too. Allocate a small section along one of the sides to plant the herbs. You could plant the following herbs: basil, garlic, parsley, thyme, and coriander.

Most vegetable plants require a reasonable amount of maintenance which include watering, pruning, trimming and keeping pests away. You need to remember to check on your vegetable patch regularly to ensure that they are growing sufficiently. Also, remember to pluck any ripe vegetables. Give them a thorough wash before you cook or eat them.

Incorporating vegetables in your garden is rewarding because your family is able to enjoy fresh vegetables that have been grown by your own hands. Plus you’re able to create a decorative area in your garden with cobblestone walkways and beautiful wall cladding paving stones. This is the modern age so gardening is no longer an old fashioned hobby and planting your own vegetables is the latest trend. Remember to plan your garden layout before you get started, so that you have a good idea of which areas to pave to create a contemporary garden.

The Paving Warehouse & Wonder Rock, masters in the art of simulated rock, are no ordinary stone masoners. The Paving Warehouse is South Africa’s leading manufacturer of simulated rock, with applications both indoors and outdoors, each stone cast is a classic.

The Health Benefits Of Establishing An Organic Fruit And Vegetable Garden And How To Start One

12Most people think about going to the nearest grocery store for fruits and vegetables, unaware that many of these foods come from faraway places and have been grown with the use of potentially dangerous pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.

If you have a little bit of land on your property, however, you can consider growing much healthier food without such chemicals that are used in growing commercial produce. Growing your own food supply also saves money and allows you to contribute to a more health earth for all living things.

Your commitment to healthier growing

When you decide to grow organic, you are committing to growing food naturally. This means that instead of chemicals, you use mulch, manure, or compost to fertilize the garden. You are committing to weeding, watering, and harvesting the vegetables and fruits when they become ripe. Since no chemicals are involved in maintaining an organic garden, the food will be free of poisons and much healthier for you than foods you get at the grocery store.

As an up and coming organic gardener, you will learn how to grow foods holistically and with health as a priority. Your own grown vegetables and fruits will contain valuable nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for better health. These foods haven’t yet had these nutrients leached from the long packing and delivery process. You simply go out your door and pick them at their peak of freshness.

You might have to learn about crop rotation. This is when you grow one type of food for one year in a single place and alternate it with another food the next year. This is because different foods take and give back to the soil in differing amounts and you can use some nutrients from the food you grew the year before to nourish the food you are growing this year.

Added to this, you need to have a compost pile, which contains leaves, dirt, food remains and manure that mix together to form the best soil and fertilizer available. No longer will you throw your meal scraps away but keep them in a compost heap that is regularly turned and aerated with a pitchfork. Worms in the compost heap convert raw matter into black, healthy dirt.

What are the disadvantages of conventional farming?

It is now well known that conventional farming is harmful to the environment. It leads to poor soil and vast areas of deforestation, loss of indigenous animals and birds. Some species have become all but eliminated or extinct because of the conventional farming practices throughout the world.

This kind of farming has become a great threat to global biodiversity. There have been huge declines in the numbers of bees throughout the world and there have been similar declines in bird and animal population. The deforestation of nature areas is destroying the habitats of many living species and since all living things are directly or indirectly connected, it affects the human population as well.

There are known increases in toxic substances in our bodies after consuming a diet of conventionally-grown food and, if these are allowed to build up over time, we can sustain organ damage, shortened lifespans and an increase in various types of cancers.

How Can Organic Gardening Help Us?

Organic farming and gardening has many positive effects on our lives-benefits that range from physical to social to mental. There is nothing so stress relieving than working an afternoon in your own garden, growing your own healthy foods. In the city, where there is less space for gardening, community gardens have sprung up which bring people together in a positive and enjoyable way.

People can spend more time out in the sun tending their gardens and this adds to the vitamin D content of our bodies. You can be more physically fit by working in an organic garden. You get to use your muscles on a regular basis and you will be growing foods that are actually healthful to all parts of our body.

You can feel comfortable that you are not adding to the destruction of the earth and its valuable soil. Putting your hands in the dirt can be soothing and can bring about a greater sense of calm.

How To Start An Organic Garden

You can actually start with pots and growing vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. You can start a compost heap so you always have a ready supply of rich soil. Find a sunny spot in your yard and till it, making room for several rows of whatever type of vegetable you like. If you don’t enjoy gardening, make it a point to always buy organic foods at the store. You will be doing your part in keeping the earth, its soil, and its animals healthy, including you.