Basil Jelly

When was the last time you saw something like basil jelly in the grocery store?  I never have, but I know it exists because my mom would make it from scratch.  That’s the wonderful thing about making your own goodies is that you get to have so many options available to you.

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Apple Pectin Jams & Jellies

I’m a bit of a purist and I really believe that sometimes there’s no school like old school.  Take jellies and jams, for instance.  I’m pretty darned sure the settlers didn’t have a box of Sure-Jell, or whatever it’s called, on hand.  They just used fruit, water, and sugar.  That’s it.  They relied on natural sources of pectin and just a slight bit of patience.  No food colors, no gelling enhancers.

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Fire Starter “Bombs”

Winter is on it’s way, for some of you sooner than others.  We are in the “others” category.  It’s almost Halloween and it was nearly 90 degrees today.  None-the-less, the night time temperatures are dropping, and the forecast shows that the inevitable is on it’s way…cold days.  I’m not complaining.

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Pineapple Sage

Salvias (sages) are a wide-ranging group of plants native to a variety of habitats around the world.  What they seem to have in common are brightly colored, tubular shaped flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies just love.  This particular Sage is no exception, and has the added bonus of sweet smelling leaves that give off a pineapple scent (hence the name).  The leaves and flowers are both edible, and are usually used fresh.

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Feta & Dried Tomato Frittata

Frittatas are a wonderfully easy way to whip up an any-time-of-the-day meal.  They can be very nutritiously balanced, all in one pan, and are one of those meals that can help you clean up leftovers in the refrigerator.  Technically this is an Italian dish, but I use feta cheese in mine, and I was taught how to make them by a Greek woman, so it’s close enough!

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Home-Made Soil Acidifier

The majority of plants can handle soil that is near a neutral pH, but some are really picky and they will let you know before long if you don’t give them the soil environment that they need.  Stunted growth and yellowing leaves are some of the more common signs that your soil pH is not where it should be.

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Baked Pears

Pears are fussy things.  Every fall you wait for them to get past the hard and tasteless stage and to move on to juicy tenderness, and just when you think you nailed that perfect moment, it turns out you completely missed it and you wind up with mushy or mealy blobs.  Ugh.

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Greek Coffee

The weather is finally starting to cool down a bit.  I know what you’re thinking: it’s the middle of October, of course it’s cooling down!  Um, I live in the middle of California.  It’s going to be near 90 degrees tomorrow.  Things are relative, you know?  So what this all means is that it’s time to switch out from our refreshingly cool iced frappes to our hot and comforting Greek coffees for our mid-day caffeine fix.

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Friend or Foe?

Most definitely friend!!  Though this bizarre looking creature may give you the heebie-jeebies just looking at it, you will want to welcome them with open arms.  You are looking at the juvenile stage of everyone’s favorite aphid-eater: the ladybug!

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The Science of Yogurt

As a biology teacher, I can’t help myself when it comes to explaining why certain things work the way they do.  It’s in my nature, and it’s been my profession for over two decades.  My students are usually pretty fascinated when they start understanding what is taking place with things they may see and use on a regular basis, and so I hope you will be, too!  (Get the recipe for making your own: Greek Yogurt Recipe, there’s also a link at the end of the story!)

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Eggs with Tomatoes and Feta

Imagine you’re living in a small Greek village.  It’s summer, the rising sun is warming the air, birds are starting their morning routine, and you are awoken by the braying of a donkey and the cackling of a proud hen that has just laid her egg for the day.  What do you do?  You go make breakfast, because with all that noise you aren’t falling back asleep anytime soon!

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California Fuchsia “Silver Select”

It was by pure accident that I discovered California fuchsias.  The Old Man and I were in the process of transforming our dull, and rather dead (thank you drought), yard into a more water-wise and heat tolerant landscape.  An internet search for drought tolerant plants to use led us to the discovery of a nursery, not too terribly far away in the neighboring foothills, that specializes in California native plants, which by their nature are rather used to not getting much rain.

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Tuna Salad with a Greek Twist

I know what you’re thinking. Tuna salad? Really? Yes! I know it’s not sexy, but tuna salad sandwiches are one of my family’s favorites. I’ve loved them since I was a kid. Maybe it’s a Greek thing, but I have always been fond of a variety of seafood. Perhaps it’s stamped onto my “Greek DNA”, but I’m good with it!

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Rosemary

There are a few herbs that are routinely featured in Greek cuisine, and rosemary is one of them.  Often paired with garlic (of course!), it adds a distinct flavor to stews and meats.  I prefer to use it fresh, but if you have home-dried rosemary it works just as well.  I have not been as impressed with commercial dried rosemary, so if you have the space to grow your own it is well worth the effort.

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Look up…

It all started with a single pine tree on the side of the road. At first there were only a handful of them up in that one tree. But each year their numbers grew until that one tree just wasn’t big enough. So they spread. Then spread some more. Now there are dozens of them up in a cluster of at least 8-10 pine trees on the side of the road.

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The Garden Sink

If you have ever harvested produce from your own garden, or brought in cut flowers from the yard, you and I have very likely had a shared experience. You’re washing off your prize when out crawls something unwanted. Maybe it has six legs, maybe eight (the WORST!), or, ewwww, no legs at all and is slimy. Whatever it is, it is now inside. Exactly where you probably don’t want it to be.

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