Ungraded

When I sell eggs at the farmers market I have to label them as ‘Ungraded’.  The size of my eggs can and does vary, although usually it is not a really significant difference…usually.

About a week ago I found what was probably the largest egg I have found to date.  Not surprisingly, it was a double yolker.  I also found what was probably the smallest egg I have found to date.  It was tiny enough that when I held it in my palm I could close my fist around it.  It was smaller than a quail egg!  When I cracked it, the yolk was so tiny I almost couldn’t tell it was there!

Here is the largest egg and the smallest egg side by side.  I kept these two for myself. I can only imagine what one of my customers would have thought if they opened their box of eggs to find these two.  Definitely ungraded!

Herb of the Week – Basil

Basil is one of my most favorite herbs.  I love it and surprisingly it has many more uses that in spaghetti sauce and tomato based dishes.  There are a number of different basils available. I prefer the Genovese variety and that is what I grow on my farm.

Basil is often used fresh and like many herbs should be added near the end of cooking or the flavor is diminished.  Dried basil is popular but the flavor is so much less than that of fresh basil.  I prefer to freeze my leftover basil and add directly to cooked dished rather than use dried.

Since recipes for pesto and pasta sauce are readily available in many cookbooks and online I will provide you with some alternate, yet delicious ways to use basil.  I hope you enjoy! And remember, you can click on any of the recipe titles below for a free printable recipe card!

Basil – Lime Sorbet

1 C. Water
1 C. Sugar
¾ C. Lime juice
15-20 Basil leaves, minced

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil one minute then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add minced basil, lime juice and cooled simple syrup to a blender and puree.  Pour into a container and cover.  Place in the freezer for two hours.  Remove from the freezer and break into large pieces.  Return frozen pieces to the blender and blend until smooth.  Quickly return to the freezer and store until ready to eat.  Note: You can substitute mint in place of the basil for another tasty treat.

Basil and Lemon Capellini

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. butter, softened
3 tbsp. olive oil
10-15 fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 package capellini or thin, angel hair pasta
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring several quarts of water to a boil.  Salt the water and cook pasta to desired tenderness.  Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and zest, butter, olive oil, basil and parsley in a large bowl big enough to hold all of the pasta.  When the pasta is cooked, lift directly from cooking water into the serving bowl with tongs.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Add cooked chicken or shrimp to the pasta for an even heartier meal.

Strawberry Balsamic Basil Spritzer

½ cups Sugar
½ cups Water
4 whole Basil Stems
½ cups minced Basil leaves
1 ½ cup Chopped Strawberries
1-½ Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
3 cups Prosecco Sparkling Wine (or substitute sparkling water)

Combine the sugar, water and basil stems in a small saucepan. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a boil for about a minute, and then remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove the stems and add the minced basil. Place in a jar or other airtight container and allow to cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

In a food processor, combine the strawberries and balsamic vinegar and blend into a puree. In a pitcher, combine chilled basil syrup and balsamic puree. Add in Prosecco and stir well before pouring into glasses. Serve over crushed ice.

Through Black Spruce – Joseph Boyden

It has been a long time since I have posted any reviews of the books I am reading.  I’ve still been reading, I just got out of the habit of posting about it.  A friend recently requested that I start doing it again because she always found the reviews helpful.  So…I will do my best to keep on top of this again!

I just finished reading BThrough Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden and although I enjoyed it, it certainly wasn’t one of the best books I have ever read.  The book is told from the perspective of two characters.  The chapters switch back and forth between Will Bird and his niece Annie Bird who are both Cree Indians from Moosonee, Ontario, Canada.  Will Bird is in a coma in a local hospital and Annie faithfully comes to visit him each day.  The story switches between present day and the past all leading up to the discovery of why Will is in the hospital which you do not learn until the very end.  It is a touching story of love, loss and discovery.  The way it was told was unique and interesting but a little confusing.  When I read I tend to get so caught up that I do not realize the changing of chapters.  Since each chapter switches back and forth between Will and Annie and is told in first person, I would sometimes be confused about who was talking.  The only thing I really felt was missing was a sense of urgency.  I like a book where I feel compelled to read in order to discover or uncover the mystery within.  The story presented a mystery but it kindof took a back seat to the rest of the story and when finally resolved was somewhat disappointing.  Overall, the book was well written and was interesting enough that I could recommend it to someone else.

Through Black Spruce – Joseph Boyden
Rating 4/5 Stars

Click on the book to purchase through Amazon.com.

Yoplait Greek Yogurt “Nourish Your Inner Goddess” Giveaway

Congratulation to Sibohan, the winner of this contest.  She replied “I would love to try the honey vanilla! I love Greek Yogurt, but I usually just get plain.”

Sibohan, I hope you enjoy your package.

The folks over at MyBlogSparkare really great and they  teamed up with Yoplait and gave me the opportunity to try the new Yoplait Greek yogurt and sent me this awesome gift pack:

Photo courtesy of Yoplait

I got 2 coupons for 1 free cup of Yoplait Greek yogurt, as well as some spa goodies:  a wrap, bath slippers, and some bath accessories.  It’s part of a tie-in with the new “Clash of the Titans” movie coming out.

You will get the opportunity to win the same gift pack that I received at the bottom of this post so keep reading!

I fell in love with Greek Yogurt about 2 years ago.  Unfortunately, at the time, Greek yogurt was really hard to find.  I had to drive about 70 miles to the Whole Foods Store in Little Rock to find Greek yogurt of any kind. However, many companies, like Yoplait, are now marketing Greek yogurt and it is readily available in you local supermarket!

What is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is a thicker and creamier version of traditional yogurt.  It is used in a lot of traditional Greek dishes and dips such as Tzatziki which is made with Greek yogurt, spices, cucumber and garlic. Greek yogurt is made with an extra process that strains additional whey off of the yogurt.

How does Greek Yogurt compare with Traditional Yogurt?

Yoplait Original Yogurt                               Yoplait Greek Yogurt
170 Calories                                                      130 Calories
15 Fat Calories                                                 0 Fat Calories
27 grams Sugar                                               18 grams Sugar
5 grams Protein                                               12 grams of protein
20% DV of Calcium                                         30% DV of Calcium

For me, less sugar, less fat and more protein and more calcium are a huge plus.  The nutritional benefits are great but the taste is fantastic as well.

Yoplait Greek yogurts are available in 4 flavors: Strawberry, Blueberry, Honey Vanilla, and Plain.  I tried the Strawberry and the Honey Vanilla.  The strawberry flavor was very yummy.  I do like to add some additional fresh sliced strawberries to mine.  The Honey Vanilla is also tasty and is even better with a little granola sprinkled on top.

How can you win a gift pack like mine?

MyBlogSpark and Yoplait have generously offered to give one of my readers the same gift pack that I received!

Please keep in mind that the Free Coupon is not valid in these states: California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Tennessee.  Winners must respond to me within 24 hours of being selected and must be willing to provide a physical address, as your prize pack will be delivered by FedEX.  If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.

To enter, leave a comment and answer the following question:
What flavor of Yoplait Greek Yogurt would you like to try?

Entries will be accepted now through May 15th and the winner will be announced on May 16th.  The winner will be randomly selected from the total number of entrants.  Only one entry per person please!

PLEASE ONLY ENTER YOUR COMMENT ONCE! It may not appear immediately but I promise it is there!

Herb of the Week – Dill

Dill was probably the first herb that I got to know as a child.  I LOVE dill on potato salad and I love it in tuna fish but the uses and versatility of dill goes way beyond those two items.

Dill grows wild in many Mediterranean areas as well as southern Russia.  The name Dill comes from the Norse word which means to lull or sleep.  Ancient Egyptian medical documents indicate that dill was used as a pain reliever.  In the middle ages, dill was used to ward of witchcraft and to clear away thunder clouds.  In Germany, dill has been approved to help treat mild intestinal issues due to bacteria.  Dill has long been thought to increase milk production and is also believed to prevent colic in babies. Dill, like many herbs, has both medicinal  and culinary uses.

Dill weed and dill seed are both usable parts of the plant; however their uses are often not interchangeable.  Dill has a very delicate flavor and goes really well with fish, salad, vegetable, egg and potato dishes.

Enjoy the following recipes! Remember, click on the recipe title for a free printable 4×6 recipe card.

Creamy Garlic & Dill Dressing

1/2 c. milk (add more for a thinner dressing)
3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream
3 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper

Grate the garlic on a microplane and chop the dill.  Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to come together.  Serve over salad or as a chip or veggie dip.

Grilled Lemon-Dill Shrimp

2 pounds jumbo Shrimp
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced

Peel and devein the shrimp.  In a large plastic zip-top bag, combine shrimp, salt and pepper, melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and dill.  Seal the bag and store in the fridge for 30 to 40 minutes.  Do not leave the shrimp in the marinade longer than an hour or so or the lemon juice begins to “cook” the shrimp.  Heat an outdoor grill or a grill pan, oil the grates.  Grill shrimp until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.  Shrimp will turn pink when cooked.  Remove from heat and squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top just before serving.  Garnish with additional dill.

Cheddar Dill Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
¾ cup coarsely grated Cheddar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
¾ cup sour cream
1/3 cup whole milk
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Pulse flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add Cheddar and dill and pulse until just combined. Whisk together sour cream and milk, then add to the food processor and pulse until dough just comes together. Spoon dough onto a large baking sheet and bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Makes approximately 12 biscuits.

Herbed Potato Salad

3 pounds red potatoes, cut into chunks
¾ cup sour cream
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. white vinegar
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 small celery stalk, chopped
½ red onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, grated
2 tbsp. fresh dill weed
½ tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes until fork tender, drain and allow to cool.  In a large bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, eggs, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Add the potatoes and stir until potatoes are coated.  Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.  Can be made 24 hours in advance.

Garden Journal and Farm Photos

It is funny looking at these pictures.  These pictures were taken about 9 days ago and already the garden is looking SO different.  Everything is finally growing bigger and taller and the empty places between plants is being filled with foliage.  I harvested Lemon Balm, Dill, Oregano, Parsley, Cilantro, Thyme, Basil and Rosemary to take to the Farmers Market on Saturday.  The customers seemed excited to get their hands on some fresh herbs!

The Garden

Corn, Cantelope and Watermelon

Corn, yellow squash and zucchini

Eggplant and a variety of peppers

Asparagus!

Tomatoes

Lavender

Buttercup Squash

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Lemon Balm, Thyme and Sage

Leeks and Cilantro

Basil and DillParsley and Oregano

This week we need to put down some fertilizer and let the ground dry out a little.  Torrential rains this weekend have some of the plants looking a little yellow.  Hopefully the next few warm sunny days will help bring down the excessive moisture in the soil so we don’t get any mold or other issues.
Wednesday’s Herb of the Week will be Basil so look for an informative post and some printable recipe cards!

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