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Tag Archives: Food

  • The top things that leave tomato lovers quizzical in the garden

    Steve Goto is a third generation nurseryman. With an education in banking he never thought he would be selling tomato seedlings let alone be one of the most experienced and sought after lecturer of tomatoes in California. He recently let us in on one of his secrets for growing the best tomatoes: John and Bob's Soil Solution.

     John and Bob’s products help me grow tomatoes with stronger stems, flourishing canopies and sweeter fruit! -Steve Goto

    Once we started talking with the "Tomato King," we soon realized he was full of tomato-growing knowledge. We were lucky enough to get some advice for our own gardens....we are sharing it with you today.

    by Steve Goto

    With the long weekend coming up, many of us anticipate getting our gardens in the ground. Many of us enthusiastically plant a variety of tomatoes so that we can enjoy the vast bounties of the summer. There is nothing like a fresh beefsteak tomato sandwich on a hot summer day, a fresh heirloom tomato salad with balsamic vinegar in the fall, or a hearty winter marinara canned from some sweet Amish paste tomatoes with peppers and onions from the garden.

    To enjoy these fruits (yes, tomatoes are technically a fruit ;) ) many gardeners have some common questions:

    1. Watering, How much? How often?

    I found that a deep watering at intervals is the best way to water. A rule of thumb is to water deeply once every 7 days for the first 4 weeks. Watch the foliage in the coolest part of the morning after sunrise and check to see if the foliage is drooping. Do not be fooled by a plant’s foliage drooping as needing water. This is natural when the foliage is drooping in the mid-morning or afternoon heat. If the foliage is drooping in the cool morning air, then the plant requires a watering. That’s the best time to water. Deep watering is the key. A slow drip from the hose for at least 45 minutes is advised. Apply water again when the foliage is drooping only in the cool early morning. Count the intervals between waterings. That will determine your interval. You will know about when the plant will need water again.

    2. How important is it to rotate your tomato crops?

    By using organic gardening methods it is no longer necessary to rotate crops. However, it is generally a good idea to switch things up every few years. This gives the soil a chance to rest and deters both insects and diseases that prey on tomatoes from establishing firmly in a particular spot in the garden.

    3. What are suckers and is it important to remove them?

    Tomato suckers, or side shoots, are the growth that appears in the plant crotch between the stem and a branch. This extraneous growth takes away from blooming, fruit producing branches. It is important to remove these suckers because this allows the tomato plant to produce the best quality tomatoes and encourages stronger stems to support the fruit. Trimming the suckers redistributes the plant’s sugar stores to the place where you want it the most: in that big, delicious red orb!

    4. Is it a good practice to remove the foliage before you plant and why do you plant tomatoes deeply?

    Prepare the plant by removing all the foliage on the stem, leaving only the top three leaves, or 4 to 6 inches of foliage at the tip. Bury the plants stem in the soil only exposing all the way except the top three exposed leaves, or 4 to 6 inches above the soil line. Tomatoes plants are amazing this way, in that the buried portions of stems will produce roots in 5 days. This process creates a much more organized system where your plant will be able to absorb more nutrients than from the larger established root system alone. Remember to always remove the flowers and any forming fruit!!!!!!

    5. How do you prevent the dreaded Tomato Hornworm?

    Tomato hornworms can best be controlled by picking them off your plant with a pair of tongs, but it is best to spray first, then hand control them. Hornworms with the white egg cases of parasitic wasps should not be destroyed because the wasps will hatch out and destroy other hornworms in the garden. Organic controls such as Spinosad or B.T. are safe for people, but deadly for insects.

    6. How do I prune my plants to get the biggest sized tomato plant or squeeze out the best flavor?

    Pruning is a method of removing side branches from the main stem. Most times tomato plants can get out of hand and should be pruned to keep the plant orderly. Another reason is to enhance the growth of the remaining fruit by channeling the plants growth energy to only the fruit on main stem. This causes the fruit to grow to its maximum flavor and size. This method also produces less fruit – but better fruit. All side branches on the plant will produce fruit. Many are confused about the need to prune or even what to prune. I find that this answer lies with the grower. Pruning is directly related to what the grower wants to accomplish.The rule of thumb is: Do you want maximum size and flavor? Yes, prune all side branches. Do you want a large crop of fruit but don’t especially care about size? No, do not prune.

    Hopefully these answer your “big” tomato questions. What concerns do you have about getting the best tomato harvest?

  • For The Person Who Has Everything

    We all have at least one person in our lives who's pretty much impossible to shop for. Either they simply buy whatever they need, or they don't have any particular craft or hobby to build on. Here's a collection that's sure to surprise and delight even the trickiest people on your list.

    Woolly Pockets Gardening Pocket for Vertical Wall GardensNot Your Mother's Pocket Garden. Woolly Pockets are flexible, breathable, and modular gardening containers. Not quite a pot, more interesting than a window box, these planting “pockets” allow you to place one plant in just the right spot. Perfect gifts, they're lightweight and fold flat, which makes them very easy to use, move, and store just about anywhere. ($39.00 - $247.00) Buy Woolly Pocket gardening pockets for vertical wall gardens here.


     

    The Charles Collection - Stretchable Silicone Clock The Charles Collection - Stretchable Silicone Clock

    Nine 2 Five. The Charles Collection founder Charles Heydinger was inspired by the melting clocks seen in the work of surrealist painter Salvador Dali. He chose to highlight three numbers on the clock face — 9, 2, 5 — to play up our conventional workday hours in graphic typeface. You can stretch a 9-inch square clock into different organic shapes, up to 12 inches square, that are held in place with pegs. It’s a clever, fun way to stretch the imagination. ($50) Buy the Charles Collections unique clock design here.

     

    PossibiliTree Handmade Wooden Tree

    Tree For Life. Imagine Christmas without having to find, haul, water, and dispose of an evergreen tree, but still being able to bring a piece of nature into your home for the holidays. That was the inspiration for architect Richard Babcock, who designed this stunning handmade wooden tree, the possibiliTree. A great gift for an environmentally-conscious person on your list. ($160.00 and up) Buy Possibilitree wooden holiday tree here.




     

    Joel Garcia Sculpture in Papier-Mâché Day of the Dead Sculpture in Papier MacheCelebration Of A Yoga-Loving Soul. Artist Joel Garcia of Mexico City is a world-class papier-mâché artist, known for his Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”) sculptures. Dia de los Muertos is an important holiday in Mexico. Also called All Souls Day, it is a time to commemorate the dead, beautify cemeteries, and pay homage to your ancestors. Sculptures like Garcia’s help celebrate people from all walks of life, with different passions and hobbies, and his masterful technique means that a piece made from newspaper, flour, and water has all the gloss of something made from porcelain. ($250) Buy Joel Garcia's Day of the Dead Sculpture in papier-mâché here.

     

    Spencer Peterman, Natural Edge Spaulted Maple Bowls Wooden Bowl, Hand Carved Wooden BowlsFunctional Art From Fallen Trees. Spencer Peterman scours the woods near his studio in Western Massachusetts looking for fallen trees, then he turns his finds into stunning bowls that celebrate the life and death of trees. His spaulted bowls are named for the natural veining, or spaulting, that occurs when wood begins to decompose. Each bowl is a one-of-a-kind creation, and we love that the wood is either found or donated. Spencer never cuts down trees, although if you have a beloved tree that has fallen, he can make it into a bowl for you. A unique and inspired gift for someone special on your list. ($26.00-285.00) Buy Spencer Peterman's hand carved wooden bowls here.

     

    Cali Bowl No Spill Salsa Bowl, Toddler BowlRadical Bowl. Anyone who regularly cleans up after uncoordinated toddlers, careless teens, or hungry husbands will appreciate the insane genius of the CaliBowl. Its sleek, patent-pending design makes it nearly impossible to spill its contents while you’re scooping them out. CaliBowl comes in ceramic or polypropylene, a plastic polymer made from partially recycled materials, and they’re all dishwasher and microwave safe. ($13.00 and up) Buy CaliBowl no spill salsa bowl or toddler bowl here.


    goat carmel sauce

     

    Caramel-icious Confections. It’s Fat Toad’s somewhat unusual goat milk caramel that caught our eye. Josey has lived in Mexico on and off for the past decade, and there she discovered cajeta, a popular caramel sauce made from goat’s milk. She insisted the family try their hands at making it, and five years and four flavors later, customers can’t get enough of this delectable treat. We’re thinking ice cream right about now. ($8.95) Buy Fat Toad Farm Carmel Sauce here.




    Arghand Sarah Chayes, Soap from AfghanistanWashing Away The Opium Trade.In 2002, National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Sarah Chayes started a cooperative called Arghand to make these unique soaps resembling beautiful stones polished by river water. The enterprise encourages farmers to plant crops like apricots, pomegranates, spices and herbs — instead of opium. Arghand means "triumphant” in Persian. That’s how you’ll feel when you give them to that unique person on your list. ($15.00) Buy Arghand's handcrafted soap pebbles here.




    Bound Mini Photo Album BookZoomAlbums are the professional-looking, pocket-sized albums anyone create on their own, at home, that will have everyone asking where they got them. Each kit includes the Creator Software CD, which lets you simply drag and drop the photos you’d like to use, and enough supplies to create three albums. The patented photo pages work with a regular ink jet printer; simply print twelve photos on a single sheet, fold along the score lines, and remove the adhesive backing as directed to assemble the finished product. ($35.95) Buy Zoom Album, the bound, mini, photo album here.




     
    Soundview Millworks Cheese Board Wooden Cutting BoardAn Appetizing Addition To The Kitchen. These smart looking boards from Soundview Millworks made of high-quality Santos mahogany and eastern hard maple can be used as cheese trays, appetizer platters, or for cutting. The boards are rubbed with 100% tung oil then finished a second time with mineral oil and beeswax, for superior durability and a safe, natural seal. But what really makes them unique is the sailboat cleat(s) attached to the side, which provides an eye-catching stainless steel accent and handle. ($65.00-$90.00) Buy Soundview Millworks wooden cutting board here.



     

    MixMyGranola Custom Granola MixMixed With Love.Trying to cook up a perfect breakfast for someone in your life? MixMyGranola will throw together a custom, all-natural, 16-ounce blend according to your specifications that lets the person you're buying it for know you remember they hate raisins, love Craisins, and adore all things chocolate! Just go to the site, choose a granola or muesli base, and layer in all your recipient’s favorite things. It’s that simple. ($4.99 and up) Buy MixMyGranola custom granola mix here.



    rum sum sum - Personalized Photo Art Personalized Photo ArtGive The Walls Something To Talk About. When Anne Gearon moved from Australia to Chicago, she quickly fell in love with the quirky type she saw everywhere. She spotted an adorable “A” here and a tremendous “T” there. Slowly, she built an image bank of Chicago typography. What to do with all of the lovely letters? She started by making a name collage for her son’s birthday. As friends began requesting artwork of their own, she launched her business, rum sum sum. Anne now designs all kinds of things with type — artwork, magnets, and even clothing.  ($7.50 and up) Buy Rum Sum Sum's personalized photo art here.

     

    Vintage Custom Brooch. Designer Anne Koplik combines glass beads, semiprecious stones and hand enameling to create her signature brooches all of which are made here in the USA. You can even pair one with the stunning book, Mrs. O - The Face of Fashion Democracy, by Mary Tomer, and complete the look for that person who has everything. ($39.00-$75.00) Buy Mrs. O The Face of Fashion Democracy" and stunning brooches here.



    Sodastream Soda Club, Make Your Own Soda and Sparkling Water, CarbonatorFizz, Sparkle, and Pop Love the fizz of a carbonated beverage but hate taking the empty ones to be recycled? We were thrilled to find SodaStream from Soda Club Group. With a touch of a button you can turn flat water effervescent. Add any of the company’s 25 flavored regular and diet syrups and you’ve got homemade soda at a fraction of the cost of store brands (and without high fructose corn syrup). It’s a great way to save time and money—and reduce your carbon footprint. This is something fun for the person who doesn't even know they want it. ($99.95-$199.95) Buy Soda Club Sodastream carbonator to make your own soda here.


    Vers 1.5, iPod Alarm Clock, Radio, Docking Station VersAudio 1.5 Sound System There are other iPod Alarm Clock, Radio, Docking Station combinations out there, but the Daily Grommet has found the one with the best sound, the best style, and the best story: VersAudio. This is a great find, perfect for even the pickiest guys out there! You can buy VersAudio's 1.5 Sound System iPod alarm clock, radio, and docking station combination here. ($199.00)

    See more gift ideas for the person who has everything here.

    See what unique gift idea the Daily Grommet team has discovered today!

  • Recipes for a perfect 4th of July Cookout

    Do you love grilling as much as we do?  You may have noticed we're big fans of grilled food here at Daily Grommet.  We featured FlameDisk a couple of weeks ago (a super-easy and quick way to start your barbecue fire), and Sherry of Chaos Theory wrote about her favorite summer pastime (guess what -- cookout central!) a couple of days ago.  To help you enjoy the long weekend ahead, we asked Rachel (we love her fabulous blog, A Southern Fairytale) to share some of her primo grilling recipes -- you're gonna love 'em!  Thanks, Rachel!

    By Rachel of A Southern Fairytale

    It's summer time and that means that grills and BBQ pits are heatin' up across the nation.

    One of my favorite things to do when the weather heats up is to fire up the grill and take the heat of the kitchen outside!

    Grillin' Burgers PacketsThese foil packet burgers are one of my family's favorite grillin' treats. The burgers burst with flavor and the veggies are perfectly cooked and seasoned.

    * 2 lbs lean ground beef (or turkey)
    * 7 to 9 garlic cloves, minced
    * 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    * Rachel’s Simple Seasoning (RSS)
    * garlic powder/salt/pepper mix (1 part each)
    * cherry tomatoes
    * mushrooms, sliced
    * about 2 to 3 C shredded cheddar cheese
    * bacon slices, 2 per patty
    * baby carrots
    * 2 medium onions, sliced
    * 5 medium potatoes, sliced about 1/4″ thick
    * tin foil
    * sliced jalapenos, fresh (3, recommended) or pickled
    * ¼ C Worcestershire Sauce

    1. In a large bowl mix the meat, garlic, green onions, RSS, 3 part seasoning mix, cheese, jalapenos and Worcestershire. Use your hands, get dirty... it's part of the fun! Cover with foil or saran wrap and chill for at least an hour.
    2. Thinly slice the potatoes, onions and mushrooms and begin layering them onto the center of your foil packet. Sprinkle with a dash of RSS. Once you have all your foil packets prepped and ready (4 to 5 depending on the size of your burgers), begin shaping your patties.
    3. Choose your size, roll into a ball and begin shaping into a patty. Make sure the center of your burger is thinner than the edges.
    4. Place each patty on top of the potato & onion mixture and then surround them with your mushrooms, carrots and tomatoes. Top each patty with 1 to 2 slices of bacon, sprinkle with RSS and then seal. Leave room in the packet for steam to build, they should resemble little foil tent packets.
    5. Place on your grill or over your campfire and cook about 15 minutes.
    6. Open them, wait a minute or two before you commence to devouring or you will blister your mouth into oblivion.

    To me grilled corn on the cob screams summertime: BBQ's, running through the sprinkler, fireworks, sparklers and chasing bubbles in the backyard.

    There are few things as delicious as biting into sweet grilled corn and having those kernels burst in your mouth delivering a rush of sweet corn, juice and seasonings! I'm drooling just thinking about it!

    Grilled Corn on The CobTo make this easy grilled corn on the cob you'll need:

    * Corn
    * Garlic Powder/Salt/Pepper (equal parts of each)
    * or
    * RSS
    * or if you have younger kids
    * cinnamon and sugar (nutmeg optional)
    * butter
    * foil

    1. Shuck and wash your corn removing all the corn silk.
    2. Butter the entire piece of corn and then sprinkle evenly with your seasoning of choice.
    3. Wrap each piece of corn in foil and grill over medium heat about 5 minutes on each side (yes, it does too have sides... use your imagination)
    4. Remove from heat
    5. Drool and enjoy this wonderful grilled delight!!

  • Summertime, and the BBQing is easy...

    Today's Grommet is Bug Off!, all-natural, DEET-free insect repellant.  We love to be outdoors in the summertime, but who wants all those bug bites?  We asked the lovely Sherry Osborne to tell us about one of her favorite summer pastimes -- I think we can relate to her idea of summer fun. (And it sounds like she might need some Bug Off!)

    By Sherry Osborne of Chaos Theory

    BBQ SignSummer has officially kicked off here in my hometown of Montreal as of Wednesday. Oh sure, summer started earlier than that according to calendars but they don't mean much of anything in real life.

    For one thing, June 24th was the first day that my oldest didn't have to go to school. Her last day was the 23rd, and it was so wonderful to really start summer vacation (naturally my youngest woke me up even earlier than your average school day anyway, but at least I didn't have to bark at anyone to hurry up and get out the door).

    For another, June 24th is a major holiday in the province of Quebec - St. Jean Baptiste. It generally involves a lot of street festivals with live music, parties and BBQs, and fireworks. Oh, and booze. It's not unusual to see ten people in line at the store, each of them holding a case or five of beer.

    We spent the first day of summer vacation lazing around, too-early start aside, then we went to have a BBQ with some friends we hadn't seen in about two years. It was so nice to stand with a glass of wine out on the back deck while one of the guys grilled up burgers and chicken, and it just screamed "hello, summer!" Since it was our first BBQ of the season it was even better. There's something about grilled food that really announces the start of summer for me.

    Afterwards we drove over to see other friends of ours, and we sat out in the backyard as the sun went down. We got our first mosquito bites of the season too, which is less exciting than the first BBQ of course, but we made up for it by lighting a fire in their brand new fire pit, and we toasted far too many marshmallows as the stars came out. Seeing some fireworks coming from somewhere on the other side of the suburb was almost like that cheesy perfect final touch that you would see in a movie sequence.

    The kids were up way too late, getting home at 11:30 that night, but that's part of the fun of summer too - throwing out the rigid rules just a little bit, staying up too long for the sake of a good time and good memories.

    And you know, for me that's what summer is all about! Happy grilling!

    Be sure to visit the Daily Grommet homepage, and check our blog later this week for a great grilling recipe!

  • A special cookie recipe: Daddy's Cookies

    Today we're featuring Doughmakers, a pebbled cookie sheet that we think is a must-have for any kitchen. And here's a special cookie recipe to go along with it. Happy baking!

    ---

    Daddy's Cookies

    By Angella Dykstra of Dutch Blitz

    Daddy's Cookies

    When I first met and started dating my husband, he had a cookie recipe from his Mom that he made on a regular basis. Part of the (extremely routine) lunch in his family included a Cookie. When we got married I took over the making of the Cookie. I tweaked the recipe a bit and made the Cookie even better. No offense to my mother-in-law; there is just room for improvement, you know?

    After years of eating the New! And Improved! Cookie, my husband said that he was bored of it. I did some more fudging with the recipe and now have a cookie recipe that is hands down the best recipe on the planet. You may think I am kidding, but I can assure you that I am not.

    INGREDIENTS:
    · 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    · 1 teaspoon baking soda
    · 1 cup butter, softened (We use margarine)
    · 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    · 1/4 cup white sugar
    · 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant white chocolate pudding mix. (Vanilla will do in a pinch, but you seriously need to try the white chocolate jello pudding mix.)
    · 2 eggs
    · 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    · 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
    · 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

    DIRECTIONS:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

    2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. I use a KitchenAid stand mixer (It changed my life! Seriously.) A hand-mixer will work just fine. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. And whip it. Whip it good. I usually beat the mixture for a good two minutes or so, until it is light and fluffy. The end result is phenomenal. Trust me.

    3. Blend in the flour and baking soda. I use a spoon to do this part.

    4. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (We don't use them but feel free to go, well, nuts.) Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

    5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

    My go-to tip for cookies is to under-cook them a little. This may not work for meat, per se, but under-cooking Cookies is all sorts of awesome.

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