Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy Summer Solstice!

It's officially summer! My garden is gaining momentum and I have enjoyed watching it slowly become more and more jungle-like. Some of the first plants to mature (aside from my beloved radishes, that is!) were the nasturtiums. I love them because they are incredibly intricately beautiful and they are edible! Nasturtiums contain vitamin C, iron, and anthocyanins (flavonoids with strong antioxidant properties). If you are serving a salad it looks very fancy to put a few of these beauties on top. The leaves of nasturtiums are also edible, but are significantly more peppery than their flower counter-parts.

I was blessed to be invited to a wonderful Solstice party last night at my friend Liza's house. There was a fire pit in the backyard with a warm fire crackling and tiki torches surrounding us to keep away the mosquitoes, which is good since they have a tendency to try to eat me alive. We started out with a meditation and then wrote on pieces of wood words that represented what we wanted to energize in our lives and things that we wanted to rid ourselves of. We then added the sticks to the fire with the idea that the positive things would be energized by the fire while the negative things would be carried away from us by the smoke. A potluck dinner followed with plentiful amounts of delicious foods.

I made a potato salad for the potluck with organic potatoes because according to the studies that produced the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen List, even after being washed potatoes contain more pesticides than any other vegetable by weight. I know buying everything organic can sometimes be a challenge so I think the guide that EWG provides does a great job in helping consumers to prioritize what fruits/veggies are most important.

I love having an herb garden because it has so many benefits: it attracts bees and butterflies, smells great, helps to keep away predatory insects, they taste great, and they have lots of phytonutrients and antioxidants that keep me healthy.  I added some minced mint, as well as chives and dill to the potato salad. I love working on a recipe, and realizing I need a bit more of a certain ingredient, and being able to get what I need from my backyard garden. It is such a great feeling!

Potato salad recipe:
9 red-skinned organic potatoes, diced (on the EWG Dirty Dozen List so buy organic!)
4 stalks organic celery, finely chopped (on the EWG Dirty Dozen List so buy organic!)
1/3 C red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp mayo
6 oz plain yogurt (I used whole-milk goat yogurt but you can use whatever you want)
1 Tbsp olive oil
a handful of fresh dill, chopped
3 sprigs of mint, chopped
a handful of chives (about 10-15), chopped
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the potatoes, celery and red onion. Add the mayo and yogurt. Mix in the spices and herbs and you're good to go!

Today when I was serving leftovers for lunch I mixed a couple of hard-boiled eggs into the potato salad, which complemented it nicely. I served that over a bed of buttercrunch lettuce (picked from my garden) mixed with clover and chickweed that I foraged from outside, as well as a dash of Greek feta vinaigrette. Mmmm mmmm good.

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