Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin-seeds-1375500_960_720It’s the time of year to start carving out those pumpkins in any number of fantastic designs and shapes — even just plain jack-o-lanterns. When you’re sitting on the floor with your arms up to the elbow in pumpkin guts, remember to separate and keep those seeds! Fixed properly, they’re a low-calorie, high-mineral snack that’s just irresistible and recommended by the World Health Organization as a tasty way to get your zinc!


Fresh pumpkin soup garnished with pumpkin seeds

Everywhere on the internet and in health magazines you can read about the benefits of eating pumpkin seeds, and it’s easy to incorporate them into your diet:  in cookies, on salads, as a snack. While pumpkin seeds are available year-round in the grocery and health food stores, why not take advantage of making your own? It’s easy to do, and the aroma in your house will almost be reward in itself.


Seed the pumpkin: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of your pumpkin into a bowl.

Clean the seeds: Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, rinse the seeds in a colander under cold water, then shake dry. Don’t blot with paper towels; the seeds will stick.

Dry them: Spread the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and roast 30 minutes to dry them out.

Add spices: Toss the seeds with olive oil, salt and your choice of spices (see below). Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.

Sweet Toss with cinnamon and sugar (do not use salt in step 4).

Indian Toss with garam masala; mix with currants after roasting.

Spanish Toss with smoked paprika; mix with slivered almonds after roasting.

Italian Toss with grated parmesan and dried oregano.

Barbecue Toss with brown sugar, chipotle chile powder and ground cumin.



Too Many Tomatoes?

by OCMGA Master Gardner Mary Learman

This is a fantastic recipe for the glut of tomatoes in the summer. I like to use it for that last crop of the year, when there isn’t enough for a big canning session but too much to eat.

Untitled1Passata is such a useful store cupboard item to use in all sorts of savory dishes. You can use it as is for a quick pasta dish, pizza sauce, add it to premade tomato sauces and soups for an authentic taste. If you are all canned out, simply pour the finished passata into containers and freeze to use in the winter. Add some to risottos, gumbos, soups, stews and polentas for a rich undernote of harvest.

Roasted Tomato Passata.

To make two 16-oz jars, you will need:-

4 ½ lb. ripe tomatoes
7 oz. shallots
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
a few sprigs of herbs of your choice – basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary
1 t. sea salt
½ t. black pepper
1 t. sugar
2 fl. oz olive oil
2 T. commercial lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place then cut side up in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Scatter the shallots, garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, sugar and oil over the top. Roast for about 50 minutes to one hour, until the tomatoes are well softened. Remove from the oven and puree using a food mill.

Put the tomato puree into a pan, add the lemon juice and bring to the boiling point. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal. Water bath for 35 minutes.

Use within one year. Once opened, refrigerate and use within a few days.

Always practice safe canning – will answer all your questions.

Fragrances for Your Home

d82d8b9fa64448903b5327f129211e78Friends are coming over and your house smells like onions or fish. You can pull out the exceptionally expensive candles or scents that are available through any number of stores, or you can quickly create an aromatic environment using natural ingredients.

For a cozy ambience: In a pot full of water, add a quartered orange, cranberries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Simmer on low and replace water as needed.

For a classy ambience: To create a fresh, clean scent, let two cups of water come to a boil with a sprig of rosemary, vanilla extract, and the juice from half a lemon. If you toss in the rind, too, it’ll add zest.

Sweet fragrance: Add orange slices, fresh ginger, and a spoonful of almond extract to a pot; cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer.

Tropical: Fill a saucepan about halfway with water and add lime, coconut oil, and vanilla. As with the others, simmer on the stove replacing water as needed.

Woodsy environment: A pot of water containing cedar or pine should be brought to a boil. To remove a strong odor, try adding two bunches of bay leaves to the mixture.

Calm: To conjure a soothing scent before bedtime (or anytime), mix dried lavender, anise, nutmeg, whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick with water and let it simmer until the whole house fills with the lovely fragrance.

By planning ahead to gather and save the necessary ingredients from your garden each summer, you’ll be prepared to create the perfect sensory experience in your home.

Cook Smart! Chicken and pumpkin stew


What a great season for fresh vegetables in stews and soups on these chilly evenings!  You can also save energy by using your slow cooker rather than heating up the stove or oven.  From Wisconsin Electric comes this recipe for energy saving Chicken & Pumpkin Stew made in your slow cooker.


1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, brained and rinsed
3 pounds fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes, or 2 (15-ounce) cans of pumpkin puree
Salt and black pepper to taste



  1. Set slow cooker to high. Add olive oil.
  2. Cook and stir onion until lightly brown, then add chicken and pumpkin. Cook and stir until browned.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker.
  4. Cook stew on high setting for 1 hour; reduce cooker setting to low and cook until pumpkin is tender, 4 to 5 more hours. Season with salt and black pepper.

Posted by Vicki

Use those fresh herbs!

Now is the time to use some of those delicious fresh herbs from your gardens.  Here is a recipe from Mary Learman that brings your fresh basil into a recipe that is good and hearty for the upcoming cooler weather:

Quick Penne skillet bake

½ T. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Pinch red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 ½ C. water

1 ½ C. penne pasta

¼ C. heavy cream

¼ C. grated Parmesan cheese

¼ C. fresh basil, minced

½ C.  shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

In a 10-inch oven-safe skillet, saute garlic, pepper flakes, and salt & pepper in olive oil for about 1 minute.  Add crushed tomatoes, water, penne, and an additional 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Stir in heavy cream, Parmesan, and basil.  Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.  Bake for 8-10 minutes in preheated oven, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

Posted by Vicki

Flavored Waters: Recipes from the Garden

The National Resources Defense Council states that 90% of what you pay for a bottle of water goes towards packaging, shipping and advertising.  The bottles usually end up in the landfill where they take thousands of years to decompose.  Also many of the purchased flavored waters contain coloring, sugars and other unhealthy agents. So toss the bottles, save money and mix up your own.  Try these flavors over ice on a hot summer day – many of the ingredients may be in your garden or at your local farmers market!
1. Strawberry, Lemon, and Basil 
2. Orange and Blueberry  – To fully fuse the flavors, combine the ingredients in a pitcher and let them sit for up to a day before drinking
3. Watermelon and Mint
4. Citrus and Cucumber
5. Strawberry, Lime, and Cucumber – To fully fuse the flavors, combine the ingredients in a pitcher and let them sit for up to a day before drinking
6. Citrus and Cilantro
7. Rosemary and Grapefruit
8. Raspberry, Rose Petal, and Vanilla.  This combo steeps for a day, and the berries and petals are strained out before drinking
9. Blueberry and Lavender
Agua frescas typically call for added sugar, but adjust the sweetness depending on your taste or leave it out entirely.
10. Cantaloupe Agua Fresca with Honey and Mint. 
11. Kiwi and Cucumber Agua Fresca. 
12. Honeydew & Raspberry Agua Fresca.  Blend chunks of honeydew until they are liquified, then balanced out with water, fresh lime juice, and sugar. Garnish with tart raspberries. 
13. Watermelon Coconut Agua Fresca.  Coconut water gives this version a lightly sweetened base.
14. Champagne Mango and Lime – Champagne mangos bring the party!
cucumber water
Written by Mary Learman
Posted by Rachel

Basil & Parsley Pesto Recipe

Use those herbs you're growing!

Use those herbs you’re growing!

Do you grow herbs in your garden and, then, do nothing with them? Or maybe you dry them for use through the winter but that’s about it. Our own herb specialist, Mary Learman, has created many, many recipes and will be sharing them with us. This one is especially good spread on fresh baked bread!

Basil & Parsley Pesto Recipe

Yield: 1 ¼ cups

Toss this herby pesto with pasta, spread it over sandwiches or stir it into an Italian-style soup, like minestrone.


2 cups loosely packed basil leaves

1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 garlic cloves

4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Toast nuts – bake in a shallow pan in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Place basil, parsley, almonds and garlic in a small food processor; pulse until chopped.  Add lemon peel, juice, honey and salt; process until blended.  Continue processing while gradually adding oil in a steady stream.  Add cheese; pulse just until blended.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Freeze option: Transfer pesto to ice cube trays; cover and freeze pesto until firm. Remove from trays and transfer to a resealable plastic freezer bag; return to freezer. To use, thaw cubes in refrigerator 2 hours.

Sent By Mary Learman; Posted by Vicki