Sunday, July 14, 2013

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Summer means weekends at the BBQ, Pool Parties, Beach excursions, theme park outings and more!  Why not have a mid-week party with Country Gourmet Home!  We have so many fun and yummy food party themes to choose from, like our Taco party, Ice Cream Sundae party, Crazy Salad party and Chocolate Lover's party just to name a few.  Contact me today to book your party!  We do online parties, catalog parties and in-home parties!  So, pick your theme and pick your party and give us a call!  

Visit us on Facebook and find out where we got these great recipes and gardening tips from!

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Salads
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ head of green cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ⅓ cup of mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic gloves
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • juice of 3 limes
  • salt and pepper
  1. Finely chop cabbage into bite-sized pieces, place into large bowl
  2. Peel skin from carrots then grate carrots into bowl
  3. Finely julianne red bell pepper, add to bowl
  4. Create dressing by blending together mayo, garlic, cilantro and lime juice until combined.
  5. Toss dressing with other ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste, serve chilled.Cilantro Lime Slaw

Heirlooms, the Garden Treasury

Completely Revised and Updated February 25, 2013
Vegetarians who treasure the moments spent in the vegetable garden can find even greater treasures with heirloom seeds that may be as old as their grandfathers. Anyone who has lovingly tended the plants for that specially awaited day to pluck a ripe tomato or a squash off the vine can agree that homegrown heirloom vegetables have unmatchable richness of flavor, sweetness, and juiciness, but wait--it can get even better.
When you discover the many unique features of heirloom varieties, you'll surely be hooked. You'll find seeds that have a long history, a pedigree, so to speak. You may be growing purple string beans, tomatoes of unusual shapes and colors, little round white eggplants, and beans for drying and soup-making that your great grandmother might have grown in her garden.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, placed such high value on his garden, he sought out fruits and vegetables brought to America by explorers from all parts of Europe. Today, visitors to Jefferson's home in Monticello can see varieties of vegetable and flowers that Jefferson himself once grew. Some of the seeds planted at Monticello may be almost 200 years old, an awesome concept and a perfect example of treasured heirlooms. Vegetables
Each year, in December and January, commercial seed companies sell attractive, relatively inexpensive seed packets to home gardeners through seed catalogs and garden shops. Anything from root vegetables and beans to eggplant, tomatoes, and okra are available. Though these catalogs are filled with appealing color photographs of your favorite vegetables, what they're selling are hybrid seeds, seeds that have actually been bred for the commercial grower.
Hybridized plants are the result of a cross between two varieties. For instance, two varieties of tomatoes are chosen because each has particular traits the grower wants to cultivate. When seeds are taken from the cross-pollinated tomato, these seeds will not be able to reproduce this crossed variety, but will revert back to one of the parents. Heirlooms, which are open-pollinated plants, on the other hand, reproduce themselves generation after generation.
Commercial growers who grow only hybridized crops risk the danger of a fungus or plant disease destroying their entire crop. It happened in the famous Irish potato famine in the 1840s where farmers were growing only one variety of potatoes. Disease destroyed their entire crop and millions of people died. Their variety of potato had no resistance to that particular disease, one of the pitfalls of hybridized vegetable crops. With the diversity of plant varieties offered by preserving heirlooms, many plants develop resistance to certain pests, preventing the total crop loss experienced in Ireland.
The commercial grower wants to breed fruits and vegetables that are uniform in size, ripen all at once, have the same color and shape, and that can be transported to market without spoilage. Invariably, it's the flavor that's lost. We've all purchased fruits and vegetables from the supermarket that tempted us with their bright colors and plump appearance but have too often given us that flavor let-down. The home gardener, too, may not always have success with these hybrid seeds and may feel discouraged.
Flavor is not the only feature lost with breeding hybrids. Thousands of varieties of unique vegetables and fruits have been lost to us. In the early 1900s nearly 7,000 varieties of apples existed in this country. Today, that number has shrunken to less than 1,000. Unfortunately, a similar pattern exists for most of our fruit and vegetable varieties.
Consider, instead, ferreting out companies that specialize in heirloom seeds. Many of these seeds are of varieties that are more than150 years old, such as lettuces with exotic names like Rouge d'Hiver and Little Gem. Some heirloom seeds come from other parts of the world and have enriched our table with such treats as exotic peppers from South America; Mache, a delicate variety of lettuce from Europe; or Pintong Long, bright purple, long thin eggplant from Taiwan.
Vegetables Preserving heirloom seeds gives people a sense of history and cultural heritage. By growing heirloom plants and saving the seeds, we can all participate in saving many varieties from extinction and preserving plants with special genetic traits. In becoming a seed saver of heirlooms, we can pass on the rich history with which many plants are endowed. If you can learn the origins of your seeds, pass this heritage on to your family members and share these seeds with other growers of heirlooms. In this way it is possible to save special varieties not commonly grown.
Today, many of us are concerned about the widespread practice of genetic engineering and the unknown consequences of genetically modified foods. Taking up heirloom gardening reassures us that we can enjoy vegetables and fruits that are pure, natural, unchanged, and in complete harmony with nature.
Heirloom seeds have special features that distinguish them from hybrid seeds:
  • The variety of seed should be able to reproduce itself. For example, one variety of tomato that has been saved for generation after generation of plantings will produce that same variety of tomato.
  • Antique seeds are always self-pollinated or open-pollinated and will produce plants with the same traits planting after planting, generation after generation. Hybrid seeds will not be able to reproduce plants with exactly the same traits.
  • The variety of seed must have been introduced at least 50 years ago, though some heirloom gardeners say they must be at least 100 years old. In recent years, however, varieties with shorter histories are considered heirloom because of their uniqueness.
  • The particular cultivar, or variety, must have a special history. Perhaps one can trace the plant's origins to a particular region of the country. Or, perhaps seeds have been saved by farming families who can recall that their great grandparents brought them from Europe.
Today there is a growing interest in preserving heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables along with their histories. Among the groups that have made special efforts to collect and save heirloom seeds are the Amish, the Mennonites, and Native Americans. There are seed companies devoted exclusively to saving and selling heirloom seeds and plants. Many universities are developing ecology departments that take a special interest in the preservation of heirloom seeds.
Tomatoes Many of us don't have the time or opportunity to grow our own heirloom vegetables, but we can make an effort to support those who do. In recent years, there are many small farmers who grow heirloom tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and eggplants and bring them to the shoppers who frequent farmers' markets.
What a delight to introduce the family to varieties of tomatoes with unique shapes and colors never seen in the supermarket! Unmatchable sweetness, fragrance, and juiciness are the outstanding features that beckon us to choose historical tomatoes over the hybrids. By seeking out these farmers and enjoying their treasures, you're helping to preserve old time varieties and encouraging farmers to sustain the tradition of the heirloom garden.

What's New!
Two new pages on our blog!  Baby Gift Registry and Wedding Gift Registry!  Check them out!  Please share them with friends and family.
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  1. Great blog post! Love the gardening tips!

  2. Can I share the slaw recipe on my fitness page, it looks yummy? Will give credit to your facebook page!

  3. Congrats! to Nicole of Woodstreamdream for winning a July Gifts of Sunshine bag!!! Woot!!! Thank you for being a loyal reader!!!