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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Recipe of the Month: Stir Fried Asparagus & Portabello Mushrooms

It's spring!  The Asparagus has arrived in stores and some farmers' markets.

Time to make an excellent side dish with a barbecue background and Asian flare:

Stir-Fried Asparagus and Portabello Mushrooms

1 lb. asparagus (preferably organic & local)
2 portabello mushrooms (preferably organic)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Trim the tough ends off of the asparagus and compost them.  
Cut the asparagus spears into pieces of around 2-3 inches each. 
Slice the portabello mushrooms to a width of 1/4 inch or so. 
Place a 12 inch frying pan (or cast iron pan) on either the stove or the grill.  Add the oil and heat until you can see a bit of smoke coming from the oil.  The pan will be ripping hot at this point. 
Carefully add the asparagus and mushrooms to the pan using tongs. (Caution: This may splatter.)
Cook until the asparagus spears brown to a desired level.  (I myself prefer a small bit of char to give it that caramelized, barbecue-like flavor.) 
When the vegetables are cooked, place them in a bowl.
Whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and sesame oil, then toss together with the vegetables. 

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gardening Season

Stable planting weather is just around the corner here in Michigan. Soon,I will be busy working outdoors, which means less time blogging indoors. I will still attempt to blog once a month at least. I will also record my gardening endeavors and will do some "catch up" blogging in the later fall.

I hope that my readers will forgive the slowing of my blog posts for the season. I encourage you all to use the time that you would have spent reading my blog to get outdoors yourselves.  Please join me in soaking up the beautiful season to come!  Happy gardening!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Glyphosphate (Weed Killer) - Why I will never use it again

I have never loved using chemicals in my yard. I avoid it as much as possible.  However, I do admit to using Roundup in the past to destroy poison ivy and the occasional weed in a hard to reach place.  

I am now officially and publicly stating that I will no longer be using this chemical for any reason, ever again.  Here is why:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has established that glyphosphate (weed killers such as Roundup) is a carcinogen with links to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer). Please share this info with others. Link to WHO document:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mike's Green Garden Podcast Interview

I was honored to be interviewed on Mike's Green Garden Podcast.  These lovely people are working to encourage organic gardening practices in the community.  Please give this interview, along with their other episodes a listen!

Spring Tasks 2015

A honeybee on my crocus.
Now that we are well into April, the REAL gardening begins!

I have so many plans for this season and a looooooong list of things that need doing.

As every gardener knows, the "to do"  list never ends.  And the only way to make progress is to do a little at a time, working with the rhythm of nature.

My gardening plans for this season include:

1. Complete Master Gardener class.  (Only 2 classes left!)
If you are interested in the class for yourself, check out:

2. Complete the 40 hours of volunteer work to become a certified Master Gardener this year.
        -- I am on my way to finding places at which to volunteer:
Garlic Mustard - invasive plant in MI State Parks
                       I will be working with the Brighton Garden Club to help with the flower garden at the Brighton District Library. 
                      I am also planning on helping to weed garlic mustard from a couple of the State recreation areas in Livingston County, MI.
                     I am meeting with Ms. Kay Simmons who organizes for the Livingston County Hunger Council in order to find out if I can volunteer at the Brighton Victory Garden.  This garden helps to supply Gleaners Food bank.  (We may even discuss creating a food forest in the garden - here's hoping!)

By the way.. If you happen to live in Livingston County, want to garden, but don't have any land of your own, the Brighton Victory Garden will allow you to garden for yourself in an allotment space in exchange for 5 hours of volunteer work each month in the community garden.   Contact Kay Simmons at the link above for details.
 3. Plant an herb and perennial vegetable garden in the one strip of garden space nearest to the shore of the lake in my yard.

4. Maintain the gardens that I have already and keep the yard clean. (I won't bore you with the long list of what this involves.)

I have also accomplished some basic tasks already.

Uncovered & Pruned the Roses.
1. Basic yard clean up:  cut down the dead perennials, removed most of the leaves from the yard, pruned the bushes, and pruned the roses.

2. Re-potted some of the seedlings into potting soil (instead of the seed starter mix that they were in before.)

4. Re-potted the chard & cilantro. Starting to harden off these seedlings outside. 

Re-Potted the Seedlings
  3. Built a mason bee house.
  If you want to build your own check out: 

  6. Cleaned and filled the bird feeders.

That is enough for now. I just can't wait to start really planting things!

Chard & cilantro seedlings.

My mason bee house.

Clean bird feeder.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Recipe of the Month: 3 Quick Easter Candies

Happy Easter everyone! 

This "recipe of the month" is all about your bunny-induced spring sugar fix!

Learn to make 3 EASY, QUICK Easter candies.  You don't need the stove, don't need the oven and don't even need to measure the ingredients!

If you wish to make all 3 of these you will need: 

2-3 bags of chocolate pieces (dark, white, or colored)
chow mein noodles
jelly beans
candy/cookie sprinkles
 Special Equipment:  silicone candy mold - Easter shapes (You can find these online, at craft stores, and many grocery stores.)


Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave at 30 second increments until the chocolate melts and is smooth.

Be sure to stir the chocolate between each heating in the microwave.

Add the chow mein noodles to the chocolate and stir to coat.

The noodle chocolate mixture should look like this.

Spoon the mixture into small clumps on a cookie sheet.

Decorate each nest with 3 jelly beans, then refrigerate until the candy hardens.


Melt the chocolate as with the bird nests above, but this time add peanuts.

Stir the peanuts in until they are coated with chocolate.

Spoon the mixture onto a cookie pan and decorate with jelly beans. Allow to harden in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then serve!


Fill an Easter-related-shape silicone candy mold with chocolate pieces.

Place the candy mold in the microwave and melt the chocolate at 30 second increments until smooth.

Stir the chocolate with a toothpick between each heating so that it is smooth. Tap the mold against the counter top so that the chocolate spreads evenly within the mold.

Cover the surface of the warm melted chocolate with decorative candy sprinkles.

Refrigerate the mold for 1 hour.  Once the chocolate is hard, carefully pop the candies out onto a baking sheet.

Display and serve your candies for a sweet, delicious Easter!

Vegetable Seed Starting - Chart Crazy!!

Use a full-spectrum light to start seeds in Michigan. Light from a window is not enough!
Most seeds should be started in soiless/seed-starting medium rather than potting soil.
This week, our Master Gardener's Class lesson was on vegetables and seed starting.  The charts that we were provided were so useful that I HAD to share them with you all. So, here they are in one convenient on-line collection!

 The charts are primarily applicable to zone 5b (Southern / Central Michigan).

Much of this information and more can also be found at the MSU Extension website.


Favorable conditions for seed storage: Cold and dry (e.g. dry seed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.)