Some of our first experiences with vegetables probably relate to our mothers telling us to eat them and us not wanting to! As a kid, the tastes and textures of vegetables can be off putting unless doctored up. Boiled potatoes, blegh. Potatoes sliced and fried or with a mound of melted cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a deal! Thankfully, as we get older our palates change and veggies become something we look forward to eating. I mean, if given the choice between brussels sprouts and a cupcake, the cupcake is (OF COURSE!) going to win out on taste. #Duh. But I also know that the cupcake adds more mass to the muffin top, which I’m trying to minimize! And prepared the right way, I actually enjoy brussels sprouts. All of this is to say, if you care even a little bit about health, you should eat more vegetables than cupcakes (and donuts!), even though they don’t taste as good, okay?! And that’s where farm-to-table matters!
If you were with us last week when we kicked off the new year with our January In 67 Words or Less video, you know that we started the year with thoughts on fruits, including juice shots, smoothie recipes and cocktails. If you missed last week’s blog you can check in out here! As we continue our New Year’s reset and focus on health and renewal, vegetables become our focus. Not only do freshly picked vegetables offer more flavor and nutrients than store bought produce, farm-to-table gardening at home saves you money! Let’s begin with…
Planting Your Own
An herb garden kit in a recycled egg carton container that contains seeds and instructions? Yes, please! If you’ve never planted a garden before and typically murder house plants, this is a good place to start. And, bonus! This kit is actually designed with cocktail lovers in mind because it grows the most popular herb varieties needed for your favorite adult beverages. Seriously, how cool is this? From Grow. Cocktails, each kit features six packages of seeds, including Thyme, Lavender, Thai Basil, Mint, Lemon Balm and Blue Borage, starter soil, cocktail recipes, wooden plant ID stakes, growing instructions and pencil – all in its own planter! It’s a great hostess or birthday gift, even for people with zero green thumbs.
Aren’t Gardens Supposed To Be Outdoors?
Think you’re too good for a small windowsill herb garden? Then, let’s get dirty! Backyard gardens can be tricky. Besides the dog traipsing through and either snacking, crushing and/or digging up your plants, you’ll still have to contend with birds, deer, raccoons, rabbits, rodents, and snails who are much harder to contain even if you have some sort of fence to keep the dog out! The unpredictable nature of your ground soil is also something to consider. If your soil isn’t rich in nutrients or doesn’t drain well, you’ll have to put more effort into farming. That’s where raised gardens come in handy!
This beautifully designed raised garden makes farm-to-table backyard gardening easy by creating a decorative fortress that protects your precious vegetables from pets and pests. Don’t want that kind of investment or even have space for something that large? Home Depot offers these cute 3-tiered jobbers that are compact enough to fit on an apartment balcony and still supply you with salad fixings!
Want To Garden, But Don’t Know Where To Start?
Okay, I’ll admit, when I first read that Amazon was going to start offering garden services, I pictured THIS GUY coming to the house to help me get my backyard farm going!
Alas, the shopping giant is working on a phone app that will allow you to snap a picture of your yard and then generate exact recommendations, based on available space and geo-location, which plants and vegetables will grow best in your climate. You’ll get instructions on how to plant them, what tools you’ll need, and where to buy them (that’s a no brainer, right?!). They’re even toying with the idea of providing customers with garden “blueprints” so that you know exactly how to lay everything out! Read more about it at Modern Farmer.
When You’re Ready For the Big Time
First there were man caves. Then, she-sheds. Now that everyone is putting more effort into sustainable living, there’s a return to building really cool, beautiful greenhouses somewhere in the yard so that you can grow flowers, fruits and vegetables all year around. First, you kind of need a yard! Light transmission, humidity control, temperature and ventilation are all practical matters you’ll want to consider when building your greenhouse (or so I’ve been told!). Don’t ask me! I don’t know anything about that scientific mumbo jumbo, I just know a good-looking greenhouse when I see one! Like, how cute is this barn style?!
Or this one with stained glass on top?!
This DIY one below is made from used windows and doors!
Okay, before I get lost in gardening, let’s move on to what you can do with those vegetables you’ve grown. Yeah, of course you can eat them! But you can also decorate with them! In fact, I think it’s safe to say people have been decorating with vegetables since, well, people have been decorating! All you need is a bowl! Put any number of colorful vegetables in said bowl and you’ve got yourself table decor! It’s one of the easiest ways to add color to your kitchen that you can change up weekly as you eat and replace with new veggies.
Here’s a table to rival any produce department! Plantains, papayas, lemons and whatever those cool green flowers are called (they’re actually Dianthus). Anyway, they’re the perfect bloom to tuck into a sprawling array of fruits and vegetables. So pretty! If you’re looking for other centerpiece ideas that feature fruits and vegetables, then check out last year’s turkey day blog to see some exquisite images!
Vegetable Baby Shower, What The Whaaah?!
If the guest of honor is expecting more than one bundle of joy and you’re on baby shower duty, throw a Sweet Peas in a Pod party! For your color scheme think peas and carrots – crisp green with a pop of orange. Get creative with decor and favors, all centered around pea pods. For game time, have guests guess which celebrities have twins or are a twin. You can also feature peas in the food you serve, from vegetables in salads to peas in a casserole. While we’re on the subject of raising vegetables, errr, babies, here are some other fun baby shower ideas to check out!
You knew it was coming! When it’s time for cocktails that feature vegetables, my mind immediately jumps to a Bloody Mary because 1) I tend to think of tomatoes as a vegetable even though they’re a fruit and 2) you garnish the drink with actual vegetables like celery, baby carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, along with fruits such as lemons, limes, and olives (yes, olives are a fruit!) For one of my favorite Bloody Mary recipes, created by the Bal Harbor St. Regis, check out Reset Your Clock!
Cocktails With Fresh Herbs
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- .75 ounces Green Chartreuse
- .5 ounce simple syrup
- 2 – 3 dashes celery bitters (Scrappy’s Bitters makes one)
- 2 medium sage leaves
- 2 rosemary sprigs
Muddle sage and one rosemary sprig in a shaker. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a glass filled with ice and garnish with remaining rosemary sprig.
Given its gorgeous color, this Blackberry Herb Cocktail from Bradford Greenhouses would have been perfect for New Year’s! Alas, Valentine’s Day is coming next month so I’ll try it in February. (Who am I kidding? I’ll probably just invite some friends over this weekend and make it then!) You’ll want:
- 2 cups fresh blackberries
- ¼ cup plus 2 TB sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 ½ TB finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 bottle chilled Prosecco
- Fresh rosemary sprigs and blackberries for garnish
Simmer blackberries, sugar, water, and rosemary in a small heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced by two-thirds, about 20 minutes. Strain liquid and discard solids. Chill syrup covered until cold. Divide Prosecco among 6 flutes, then pour 1 ½ teaspoons of syrup into each. Garnish with rosemary and fresh berries.
Okay, Eat Your Veggies!
You don’t need to think of vegetables as a side dish all of the time, especially in winter when you can use hearty root vegetables like beets, parsnips, carrots, and turnips in a tarte or stew. Root vegetables mature quickly. Typically planted in spring and fall, root vegetables are usually harvestable 4-weeks after putting them in the ground. Score!
Zucchini For Dessert!
Another vegetable that’s easy to raise is zucchini! Anyone who’s ever grown zukes always ends up with way more than they can use. They get big! Fast! Best of all, when you’re sick of cooking them for dinner, you can turn them into Zucchini Bread (With Lemon Glaze!) for dessert! This recipe even adds carrots for a double-dose of vegetables, then adds sweet zest with lemon glaze! Mmmm!
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