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Monday, October 29, 2012

Mom's Oven --- Mixed Veggies with Coco Milk


The Great Gardener planted mixed vegetables in our garden.  He likes to eat okra, pumpkins and potatoes, while I like to eat bittermelon and okra also.  My friend gave me bittermelon seeds and I couldn't believe that we could also plant it here.  Bittermelon, as well as, okra are tropical plants. The soil and climate are just right for these plants to grow during summer in our place.  They were all harvested and shown under - Fruits of our Labor - Harvests #8. 

   
BITTERMELON PLANTS


BITTERMELONS
The bitter melons also belong to the Cucurbitaceae family.  They may not be a well-liked vegetable to eat by other people because of its bitter taste, but its health benefits are very amazing.  They are an *excellent source of antioxidants nutrients,  Vitamins A and C and folates.  They are also a good source of niacin (Vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6), and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, magnesium and phytonutrients which are responsible for lowering blood sugar levels and can help in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.


Please view also this bitter melon recipe - Bitter Melon Pickles

BUTTERCUP WINTER SQUASH PLANTS


BUTTERCUP WINTER SQUASH
This winter squash is also a member of the Cucurbitaceae food family. It contains *alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, Vitamin C, B1, B3, B6, pantothenic acid, folate, and omega- 3sIt provides antioxidant support, anti-inflammatory benefits, potential blood sugar regulation benefits and prevention of type 2 diabetes. 



OKRA PLANTS


OKRAS
Okra is rich in *dietary fibers, minerals, and vitamins like Vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein which are essential for good vision, skin, and healthy mucous membranes and protection from lung and oral cavity cancers.  It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, Vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  It also has a good amount of Vitamin K which is good for blood clotting and strengthening of bones.  It is also rich in iron, calcium, manganese, folates, and magnesium. 




SWEET POTATO PLANTS


SWEET POTATOES
They have *antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients.  They are an excellent source of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and a very good source of Vitamin C, manganese,  copper, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin B5, and potassium.  

I made a salad recipe with potato leaves included and named it after the first one or two letters of each vegetables (Potato, Saffron Summer Squash, Golden Egg Summer Squash, and Zucchini), thus called - Posagoz Mixed Salad. 


Please see about planting other vegetables and trees  - The Garden (2012) and The Garden 2013.




MIXED VEGGIES WITH COCO MILK
This recipe is really enticing to eat with all its tropical vegetables grown in our garden.  They contain almost all the nutritional value your body needs. As usual, spices are added to give more flavor to food and perk up your choosy taste buds.  This is a complete, well-balanced meal for anybody especially those who are vegetarians or on a diet.  Try it.    

Ingredients:

1 pc     small sweet potato, cubed  ¼ inch thick

½ cut   small buttercup winter squash, cubed ¼ inch thick

2 pc     bitter melon, cut ¼ inch thick

12 pc   okra, cut ¼ inch diagonally

20 pc   pre-cooked frozen shrimp (medium)

1 can   coconut milk 13.5 oz
2 tbsp  corn oil
1 pc     clove garlic, minced
1 pc     onion
1 tsp    Tony Chachere's Original creole seasoning
1 tsp    5th Season Italian seasoning
2 tbsp  soy sauce less sodium
2 tbsp  sugar
½ c      water

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Instructions:

1. Wash all the vegetables with fruit and vegetable wash and rinse them thoroughly. Soak the sweet potatoes in water after cutting to avoid darkening of its skin. Soak also the bittermelon longer in water after cutting to lessen its bitterness. Cut all other vegetables according to instructions above.    Prepare the other ingredients before cooking. 

2. Preheat cooking pan with cooking oil.   Saute the garlic until lightly brown.  Saute onion until lightly soft.

3. Drain the sweet potato and mix in as well as the squash into the pan.  Add water and let it cook for 10 minutes.  Stir.

4. Drain the bitter melon and mix in as well as the okra into the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes. Stir.

5. Add the shrimp, seasoning, soy sauce, sugar, and coconut milk in that order.  Cook for another 3 minutes. Stir. 

    (Note: If the taste is still bitter, you can add more sugar to lessen 
               the bitterness and suit your taste.)
Servings:  approximately 8 (1 cup per serving)



Please see my other Cooking Recipes:


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“Cooking doesn’t only involve knowing what and how to cook and prepare  all the ingredients, but also how much you love to cook for somebody .”






Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Fruits of our Labor - 2012 (Harvests #8)


"There is nothing more exciting and happy moment than when you see your plants growing and bearing fruits after lots of hard work everyday in our country living." 


OKRA FIELD


OKRA PLANTS
This plant is rich in *dietary fibers, minerals, and vitamins like Vitamin A and flavonoid antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein which are essential for good vision, skin, and healthy mucous membranes and protection from lung and oral cavity cancers.  It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in B-complex group of vitamins like niacin, Vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  It also has a good amount of Vitamin K which is good for blood clotting and strengthening of bones.  It is also rich in iron, calcium, manganese, folates, and magnesium. 



OKRAS HARVESTED
This plant is the one of the most excellent ones we have grown because of its longer time of  continuous flowering when other plants have stopped producing already. Okra is a tropical vegetable and I never thought it is also well known here because fried okras are being sold in the grocery store.   I  fry okra everyday because that’s what the Great Gardener likes to eat.  I like to cook them in a soup or with tamarind-soup base recipe or sauté them with other vegetables.  The Great Gardener is a good eater and one good thing about him is that he never complains whatever I cook and set on the table.  (Thank God for having food on the table whereas other people don’t have.) The only time I don’t fry okra is when I give a day’s harvest to our relatives.  That gives me a day off for the day and I’m grateful to them.  There are lots of okras to harvest everyday that my big basket gets full always every day.  If I don’t harvest for a day, they will become GIANTS as I fondly call them. Don’t let your okras become GIANTS. If the okra has reached its medium size and it’s not too firm or hard when you touch it, then they are ready for harvest. I missed harvesting some okras maybe because they were good in hiding from my eyesight (+.+).  Or maybe they are afraid of getting fried in a hot cooking oil? They grew so close together and tall as if I’m in a “jungle” every time I go around picking them.  I have to look up and down while I walk slowly around the field because I’m afraid that there might be a snake on the ground.    Up to this writing, they are still blooming, though not as many as they used to be. Thank you very much, Mrs. Okra. You are really, really, really doing an excellent job.  We will see you again next spring time.   To the GIANTS  thank you very much also for I will have more crafts to do and don’t worry no more frying.   (-.-)


SWEET POTATO FIELD


WHEN TO HARVEST THE SWEET POTATOES
Can you see the difference between the first picture and the second picture above?  You don’t know if the sweet potatoes are ready for harvest or not because they are grown under the ground.  Neither you even know if they are big or small nor where they are under the ground. Aside from counting the number of months since the sweet potatoes were planted, when the leaves turn into yellowish color and get withered, these give you a signal already that it’s time to harvest this nutritious vegetable.  


SWEET POTATO TUBERS
Look at those giant sweet potatoes! From its main root, comes the tubers as shown in this picture.  It’s better to harvest when the soil is dry and not moist so that it won’t be so sticky to the sweet potatoes.  Before, I used a small fork only to dig , but later on, I thought of using a shovel to make the digging easier.  I dig one main plant post at a time only because it’s hard to dig something that you can’t see at first and thinking how deep I should dig.  I have to be careful also in digging because I might damage the sweet potatoes where I really don’t know how far they extend most of their other roots.  As I dig, I found out that not all their roots turned into a big sweet potato.  I have to follow each root where they are leading to.  When I lay the shovel into the ground and step on it, I can feel that there is something blocking the way down, and I say, “Oops, sorry Mr. Sweet Potato.” (-.=)


SWEET POTATOES HARVESTED
I got lots of GIANTS again. The sweet potatoes need to be cured for a week to heal its bruises they got out of my digging.  "I’m really so sorry about that, Mr. Sweet Potato (-.=).  This is my first time to harvest you and I will try to do better next time".  The Great Gardener told me that he will buy a tool for digging so it will be easier and less damaging to the sweet potatoes.  After a week-curing period, I stored them in an open box in front of our porch only till I’m ready to cook them one day.  They have *antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients; an excellent source of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and a very good source of Vitamin C and manganese; and a good source also of copper, dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin B5, and potassium.  I’m not a medical specialist or even a nutritionist , but has anybody asked why does a person pass gas after eating sweet potatoes? (-.-) Joke only, but this is a good question to ask, isn't it?





SWEET POTATO LEAVES
Not everybody knows that the leaves of the sweet potato plant are edible.  They can be eaten plainly and cooked by steaming or boiling them in a few minutes and add fish or soy sauce in it or add some fresh tomatoes.  You can also mix them in a tamarind- soup base recipe.  I concocted a recipe about the sweet potato leaves which was posted in my Mom’s Oven section (Posagoz Mixed Salad) before this harvest.  I mixed them with the members of cucurbitaceae family.  It is a delicious summer salad recipe that you can be delighted to eat, especially those vegetarians, or if you are on a healthy diet.  



BITTER MELON VINES


WHEN TO HARVEST BITTER MELONS
This plant is also a tropical vegetable and very popular in our country because people like to include it as part of weekly food recipe cook and set on the  table.  I never thought also that this plant can grow here just like the okra because both are tropical vegetables and part of Asian cuisine. It can grow  like crazy on the vine and this is the second year we planted this plant.  During the first year, we were able to have good harvest because the bitter melons I harvested were bigger than today.  We used the seeds we gathered from the first year’s overripe bitter melons to plant them again this season.  I didn’t have this blog yet and was not able to take a picture of the last year’s harvest.  When the bitter melons have big bumpy ridges and the color being light green, they are already showing its maturity for harvest. Don't harvest them when they turn yellow for they are already overripe.  (^.^)




BITTER MELONS HARVESTED
These bitter melons are not as good as our first-time harvests last year because the plants produced more and bigger bitter melons before. I gave a lot to my friends.  The bitter melons also belong to the Cucurbitaceae family.  It may not be a well-liked vegetable to eat by other people because of its bitter taste, but its health benefits are very amazing. They are an *excellent source of antioxidants nutrients,  Vitamins A, C, and folates.  They are also a good source of niacin (Vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (Vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6), and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.  They also contain phytonutrients which are responsible for lowering blood sugar levels and helping in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.  The leaves can also be eaten jus like the leaves of the sweet potatoes.   I will post a delicious, nutritious recipe mixing all these vegetables (okra, sweet potato, buttercup winter squash, and bitter melon) in one cooking.


After posting this last produce, frost came last Sunday and all the plants in our garden were affected except the blackberry plants. We will have more fruit and vegetable plants to present next spring time. I hope you find some humor in our garden story and learn something beneficial to maintain your good health.  Good choice of good, nutritious foods is worth every penny you spend. It's time for happy cooking...  (-.-)



Please see Mom's Oven for recipes using these vegetables:
     Mixed Veggies with Coco Milk
     Bittermelon Pickles

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mom's Oven --- Seasoned Tomato Sauce (Homemade Sauce)


These tomato plants grew up from the seeds of overripe tomatoes that I failed to harvest.  It's really a miracle - a God's blessings.   They produced abundantly good tomatoes that I thought of making another tomato recipe.  I couldn't stop thinking of what I could do to preserve and not let them get rotten. 


TOMATO PLANTS


They are a good sources of *Vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, potassium, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, manganese, lycopene, and dietary fiber. They are also very low in saturated fact, cholesterol, and sodium.  They can reduce the risk of heart disease  and cancer, maintain healthy skin and hair, improve bone health, and reduce inflammation.

*Nutrition Reference:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/6-health-benefits-of-tomatoes.html

Please see about planting other vegetables and trees - The Garden (2012) and The Garden (2012).

  
SEASONED TOMATO SAUCE
What a good, nutritious meal to have on the table if you have a produce freshly harvested in your garden!  These fresh garden tomatoes are seasoned with spices and herbs to perk up your appetite.  It's an all-in-one recipe that can be conveniently used as a spaghetti sauce, dip for your favorite chips,   pizza sauce, taco sauce, or to sauté your mixed vegetables and even sardines in can.  You can also make an egg omelet with this seasoned tomato sauce.  You don’t need anymore to chop onions, mince garlic, and cut tomatoes every time you like to sauté something. You can freeze and thaw it and they are ready to use whatever your choice is and whenever you like to eat your favorite meal.  So grab a plate and try it.    

Ingredients:
5 lbs    ripe tomatoes
1/8 c   100% extra virgin olive oil
3 pc     cloves garlic
1 pc     big onion
1 pc     small bay leaves
1 tsp    oregano
1 tsp    basil leaves
1 tsp    black pepper
1 tsp    5th Season Italian seasoning
1 tbsp  sugar
1 tbsp  salt

Preparation Time: approximately 2 hours

Cooking Time:  1 hour

Instructions:

1. Choose the good, ripe tomatoes. The preparation time doesn’t include the de-seeding of tomatoes. Before cutting the tomatoes, soak them in a big bowl with water and pour 1 cupful of fruit and vegetables wash for every ½ gallon of water. Make enough solution to completely cover the tomatoes and soak for 2 – 3 minutes.  Rub or swish, as needed. Rinse under running water and drain.  Before processing the tomatoes, remove the seeds and blossom ends before cooking. When you process the tomatoes in a food processor without removing the seeds first and then strain them later, more nutrients will not be included and wasted. High concentration of nutrients are found in tomato peel. On the other hand, if you process the tomatoes after cooking and strain puree,  the spices and herbs will  not be included and wasted also.  That’s why,  I prefer to remove the seeds  before cooking and processing, though it takes time.  The processed tomatoes still contain its peel except the seeds and by doing this method, nutrients are not wasted and will also lessen the cooking time to thicken the sauce.

2. Cut the garlic and onion into halves and then wash them to lessen the aroma causing eye irritation. Processed the garlic and then the onion in a 10-cup food processor to avoid further irritating your eyes.  Set them aside. Next, processed the tomatoes until smooth.      

3. Pour the olive oil in a preheated cooking pan.  Saute the garlic until lightly brown and then the onion until soft. 

4. Add the processed tomatoes, oregano, bay leaves, basil leaves, black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, and sugar.  Simmer and stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Cook for 1 hour uncovered until it thickens.

5. Let it cool at room temperature for few hours. Remove the bay leaves. Prepare the plastic freezer bag, label it and write the date.  Measure out 1 cup and put it in a plastic freezer bag.  Let the air out before sealing it and store them in the freezer.  There is another way of storing them with the use of food saver bag.  Pre-freeze them first in sandwich bags after measuring out 1 cup each.  When they become solidly frozen, store them in food saver bags with the use of Food Saver Machine.  They will last longer because it removes most of the air thereby reducing oxidation which affects its overall quality and inhibits the growth of microorganisms.    
Yield:  5 cups

Note:  There is another way of storing this seasoned tomato sauce – CANNING—like the ones shown below.  

Please see my other canning recipes:
     Bitter Melon Pickles                   
Garden Blend Salsa                    
    How to MakeFig Jam         
       

Canned Seasoned Tomato Sauce


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"Cooking doesn’t only involve knowing what and how to cook and prepare  all the ingredients, but also how much you love to cook for somebody."  

Monday, October 15, 2012

My hands can do this --- Pumpkin Hat (male)


With lot of pumpkins harvested from our garden, why not raise my wand to show some mystical creativity with these pumpkins?  I say … bewitched by this simple, cute pumpkin hat I made and designed for the coming Halloween season.  And I found a funny, looking pumpkin with many look-alike pimples on its face and around to fit this hat.  In reality, the look-alike pimples are naturally healed insect bites (-.-)


*PUMPKIN HAT-male
(with Facial Expression Design - blue eyes)

Materials:
(1)  small sweetie pie pumpkin with 2 inches long  stem      
       (pumpkin with healed insect bites)
(1)  Caron Simply Soft, 4 ply, acrylic 6 oz  (black) (leftovers)
(1)  Caron Simply Soft, 4 ply, acrylic 6 oz  (soft blue) (leftovers)
(1)  set acrylic paint permanent (12 bright colors) with brush
       crochet hook size - F5 / 3.75mm
       pencil
       paper towel
       small container with water for rinsing the paint brush
       cotton swabs

Level of Difficulty - easy

Stitch Abbreviations:
(ch)   chain
(sc)    single crochet
(dc)    double crochet
(st)     stitch
(sp)    space
(sl st)  slip stitch
(fpdc) front post double crochet

Note:  Count first all the stitches you have made before going to the next row to avoid mistakes.

Special Instruction:
(fpdc) – front post double crochet – (YO) and insert hook from front to back around post of (dc).  [(YO) and pull up a loop and draw through 2 loops] 2X .

Instructions: (Black)
1st Row – Make 4 (ch). Make the first loop hole bigger than the rest so you easily insert the hook and make the succeeding (dc’s).  Make 11 (dc) in 4th (ch). Hide the excess yarn as you make the double crochets. Join with (sl st) to beginning (ch) 4.  
Result - 12 (dc)

2nd Row – Make 3 (ch).  (Dc) on the same (sp).  [2 (Dc) on next (dc)] 11X.  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).  
Result –  24 (dc)

3rd Row – Make 3 (ch).  (Dc) on the same (sp).  (Dc) on next 2 (dc).  [2 (Dc) on next (dc). (Dc) on next 2 (dc)] 7X.  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).
Result –  32 (dc)

4th Row – Make 3 (ch).  (Dc) on the same (sp).  (Dc) on next 3 (dc).  [2 (Dc) on next (dc). (Dc) on next 3 (dc)] 7X.  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).
Result – 40 (dc)

5th to 8th Row – Make 3 (ch).  (Dc) on next 39 (dc).  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).
Result – 40 (dc)

Connecting Another Yarn (Soft Blue)
Insert the soft blue yarn into the loop hole of black yarn. Pull the black yarn and tie it once with the soft blue yarn. Do not cut the black yarn.  The inside part of the hat should be facing you as you crochet.  (Sl st) on same (sp).  Hide the excess yarn as you crochet.

9th Row – Make 3 (ch). Work (fpdc) on same  (sp). [(Dc) on next (dc). Work (fpdc) on same (sp)] 39X.  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).  Cut the yarn and fasten off.  
Result –  40 (dc) and 40 (fpdc)


Connecting Another Yarn (Black)
10th Row – Pull the black yarn and insert the hook on the first (dc).  (Sl st) and make 3 (ch).  Hide the excess  yarn of the soft blue yarn as you crochet. Make (sl st) on same (sp).  Make 3 (ch).  (Dc) on (fpdc).  [(Dc) on next (dc). (Dc) on next (fpdc)] 39X.  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).
Result – 80 (dc) 

11th to 12th Row Make 3 (ch).  (Dc) on next 79 (dc).  Join with (sl st) to beginning 3 (ch).  Fasten off and hide the excess yarn.
Result -  80 (dc)


FACIAL EXPRESSION DESIGN
1. Prepare the small pumpkin, acrylic paint, a piece of paper towel, and  small container with water for rinsing  on the table.  Be sure to rinse your brush every time you change color paint and  dry it with paper towel to avoid smear.

2. Draw some samples of facial expression designs you like to  make on a piece of paper.  Choose a good area of the pumpkin to use as the face. Using your pencil, sketch your chosen facial expression design on the face of the pumpkin as shown in the picture (a) below.


Facial Expression Design (a)

3. Brush the white paint first and apply on both eyes as shown in picture (b) below.  Let it dry.  If there is a need to reapply more white paint to cover the skin color of the pumpkin, do it.  Let the last coat be dried first before reapplying the paint.  Rinse the brush and dry with paper  towel afterwards.  Don’t paint the look-alike pimples on its eyes.



Facial Expression Design (b)

4. Next, brush the lips with pink color initially.  (Note: The color of the lips will be retouched later).  For every reapplication of  the brown color, let the last coat be dried first before doing it for the blending of the colors well.   Rinse the brush and dry with paper towel afterwards.  Don’t paint the look-alike pimple on the tongue as shown in picture (c) below. Paint the tongue with pink color. Rinse again the brush and dry with paper towel afterwards.



Facial Expression Design (c)

5. Next, use the black color to make the eyebrows and eye lids as shown in picture (d) below.  Outline the shape of the lips, tongue, and draw a line under the eye as an eyebag, too.  The last one to paint with black color is the eyeball. Since the eye is already covered with white paint, you have to draw the size of the eyeball again with a pencil.  Be careful in painting the edge of the eyeball and its center as the black paint may smear the white color background of the eye.  If there is a smear done, wet a cotton swab lightly and dab the area to remove the smear.  Reapply the paint.  Rinse the brush and dry with paper towel afterwards.



Facial Expression Design (d)

6. The last color to use is the blue paint for the eye color as shown in picture (e) below. Be careful also in painting this area to avoid smear to the black color around and in the center.  




Facial Expression Design (e)


7. I retouched the lips and added crooked teeth to make it look funnier, as shown in picture (f) below.  I retouched the color of the lips, too.  I mentioned before in Instruction #4 that this lip area will be retouched later.


   

Facial Expression Design (f)

8. For a change of different color, just wipe it with wet paper towel.  You can also use green color for the eyes and pink color for the tongue as shown in the final picture below.


Pumpkin Hat-male
(with Facial Expression Design - green eyes) 
*This project was featured in my designer’s profile at All Free Crochet as “Haunting Mexican Pumpkin Hat” and posted  # 3 in What’s Hot – Top Halloween Crochet Project (May 09, 2015).”  Please note this ranking is not permanent.  Thank you very much to all viewers.