Lemon Balm Meringue Bars

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If you are trying to watch your sugar intake you might want to turn your head. You have been warned.

Lemon Balm is a pretty invasive herb. Like mint, it will crowd a herb patch in every way possible.

I have problems keeping it at bay but I never want to be without it.

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After harvesting, washing and spinning lemon balm dry in my salad spinner, I keep it in a Tupperware container upside down in the refrigerator.

Place paper towels on top before you snap on the lid and then turn it over. Any wetness that might be left after a good spin should absorb into the towels. If you spin well there may not be a lot of residue.

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You can make wonderful vinaigrette, cakes, breads and these bars.

Lemon Balm Meringue Bars

Preheat to 350 degrees.

Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup butter

Stir flour and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press evenly into an 8 inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile put together the topping.

Topping
1 1/8 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole lemon balm leaves
2 T all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
3 T lemon juice
4 eggs (one separated
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a food processor process sugar and lemon balm leaves until leaves are ground fine. The sugar will be pretty green colored. Hold back 1/8 of this sugar for the meringue.  Transfer the remaining cup of sugar to a bowl and whisk in flour and baking powder. Add lemon juice and 3 eggs and one yolk, reserving the one white for the meringue in a separate bowl, blend well.

As soon as the crust is baked, pour this topping over the crust and return to the oven. Bake an additional 20 minutes until the top feels barely firm.

Meanwhile with an electric mixer whip the reserved egg white with 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tarter.
Gradually add the reserved lemon balm sugar as you whip into stiff peaks.

Pull the bars from the oven and ice with the meringue. At this time turn the oven to broil. Broil the meringue to light brown, watching closely as it only takes a few minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and then cut into bars. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

I am sharing this with Home Matters Linky Party # 33

Rhubarb Jam

Spring is certainly here. A crab apple in bloom.

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Our first harvest of the season is rhubarb. I made jam today.

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This plant is so large and beautiful.

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Of course you don’t use the leaves because they are poisonous. Stalks only.

This recipe only makes a small batch. I plan to make two small batches this season. Another later in the season.

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With only two of us we don’t need more than that. With the plum, blackberry, crabapple, and grape we hope to harvest we should be covered up in jam. The Lord willing.

Of course there will be plenty of rhubarb for pies, cakes, cookies and breads.

We harvest rhubarb from early spring until the first week in July.

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I got this recipe from Just a Pinch and it turned out perfectly. It is just as the name states, “easy” . I have only used the unflavored gelatin but the flavored could also be nice.

Easy Rhubarb Jam
7 c rhubarb (chopped in 1/2 inch pieces)
1 small jell-o (any flavor) or 1 packet unflavored knox gelatin
5 c sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c water

Directions Step-By-Step 1 Cook rhubarb and water until tender,add sugar and lemon juice and stir together well. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until you reach a boil that can not be stirred down. Add Jello and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Fill sterilized hot jars to 1/4 inch from rim of jars. Remove bubbles, wipe jar rims with hot damp cloth. Seal in jars to fingertip tight. Put in boiling bath canner with lid on for 15 minutes. Remove lid from canner, let sit 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner to a towel lined counter to sit and cool for 24 hours before storing. 2 **** if you need a little water, don’t be afraid to add it while cooking down the rhubarb… but go sparingly as the rhubarb creates liquid..

Giant Marconi Peppers

This is the first year we have grown these peppers. You can see from the picture how large they are. The bell pepper beside the Marconi is very large in itself.

I plan on throwing together a spanish rice and chicken stuffing for them this evening. I will try to post what I come up with later.

2010 Garden

The year 2010 has not been a year for Virginia gardens. Spring started off beautiful and green.

But alass the drought has made our crops scarce.
I did manage to put up green beans, and we are getting a few tomato and peppers.

The corn is not looking promising and it just makes one realize how blessed we are that we can run to a store for what we need. Makes me really appreciate our ancestors and the hard times they must have lived through “living off the land”.

On a up note we did have some great vacation time this year.


I just hope 2011 is a better year for Virginia gardens.

Homegrown Thanksgiving

I always do my deserts the night before Thanksgiving, so I don’t have as much to do on the big day.


Blackberry Jam Swirl Cheesecake


Pumpkin Pie

I was thinking about how much of our ingredients we grew this year.

The pumpkin for pie, blackberries for cheesecake, green beans, potatoes for mashed potatoes, the chard for wilted greens, the corn for corn salad, all the onion, green pepper, and herbs that will be used.

We didn’t grow the brussel sprouts, yams, flour and yeast ( although I could have used my starter but don’t plan to) or any of the meat, eggs or milk.

My food bill for this Thanksgiving was still out of this world, counting all drinks and the few above items.

Next year I need to try and grow the brussel sprouts and yams. I also might look into some chickens for eggs. I don’t wish to be tied to a milk cow however..lol.

A homegrown Thanksgiving takes a lot more than one can imagine offhand. I appreciate the pilgrims a lot more…

Spring on the Pond- derosa

So glad that spring has sprung here!

We have been harvesting lettuce, chive, onion, mint, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, arugula and radish.

lettuce mixture

lemon balm

chives

thyme

We planted new asparagus but it looks pretty pitiful the first year.

Imagine a 20 foot row of that! Ground needs working!

I so look forward to the growing season and hanging out at our old backyard fishing hole!

Fishing hole painting done with Photoscape! Cool free program!

Come back as the season progresses. We hope to have a lot more wonderful vegetables to show off.

Garden Omelet

We are having some problems with one of our ponds. One flow way has a hole in it and dear hubby is here trying to get it fixed.

The way it all works is the drain way from the upper pond flows into the lower pond through this spillway.

The lower pond spills into the pipe we are having problems with and then runs under our drive and into the creek.

We believe he has it fixed, but we must get some rain to allow the lower pond to fill back up to really see.

What does a working man need to get his day going but a “Garden” omelet with home fries.


Just gather whatever may be in the garden. This one has onions, spinach, some freezer tomatoes (from the garden just delayed a bit), and Mexican tarragon.

Place it all inside a pool of beaten eggs in a greased fry pan.
Fold when it becomes firm. Add some cheese on top.
Fry some potatoes to complete and feed your hungry man before a hard days work.

Now I have a question. This is my first year trying to grow rhubarb. Just look at these leaves.

Why do they have holes? Aren’t rhubarb leaves suppose to be poison, so what would eat holes in them? Do they normally grow that way maybe?

I searched the web and even found insect spray to make from rhubarb leaves, so I wouldn’t think insects would be eating at them. Would they? I hope someone can help me.

Here is an insecticide recipe.

Rhubarb Insecticide: Boil up one pound of rhubarb leaves in a few pints of water for about 20 minutes, allow to cool, and then strain the liquid into a spray bottle. Add some dish detergent (not laundry detergent) and spray on leaves to kill bugs like aphids and spider mites.

The above taken from Insecticide Link

PS note added later- I found my problem..


The first indications of Ascochyta leaf spot are numerous small yellowish-green areas on the upper surface of the leaves. Within a week of initial symptoms, the leaf tissue turns brown and dies resulting in angular spots. These spots have white centers surrounded by red zone and then a grayish-green zone. Often the dead tissue will drop out giving the leaves a shot-hole appearance which may be confused with insect feeding.

A second disease problem that has been common this year is anthracnose stalk rot. First indications of this disease are wilted leaves and large, water-soaked lesions on the stems. The lesions quickly enlarge and turn black. The stems may have a twisted appearance and the whole stem may collapse.

Both of these diseases can be controlled with good sanitation practices. Remove and dispose of infected tissue during the summer and after the first frost. In the case of Ascochyta leaf spot, stems with infected leaves may still be harvested and should be taken first whenever possible. Since both diseases overwinter in infected plant tissue, good sanitation practices should control most of the disease problems.

Found at Link on Rhubarb disease

Upside Down Update

I was so excited to begin my upside down project!

I was wanting a smaller tomato to try but could not find what I wanted so I ended up using Jubilee. I hope they won’t be too heavy which was hubby’s concern. I am trying two this year in hopes of next year filling a whole side of my deck.

As you can see here I have lots of deck space to hang them, and since we always worry about our dogs laying on our plants outside of a fence, I thought it would work great. They couldn’t lay on the plants unless they learned to fly.

My biggest concern is that this side of our deck only gets the evening/afternoon sun.

I will have more updates as they grow and hopefully I won’t have to report they came crashing out as they mature and get heavier.

While I am at it I’ll show my sage blooms just because I can.

Independence Days Challenge

Sharon’s Independence Days Challenge update can be found here. Link

Here are my weeks challenge results, to the best I can remember. I didn’t get much done because my grandkids were sick and couldn’t go to daycare a couple of days. I always keep them when they are sick. Poor little guys.

1. Plant something.
Since we can not grow lemon trees in our area, I planted lemon balm.

Outside of a fence our dogs will trample, lay on, or devour anything around. I had to place tomato cages over the lemon balm plants to ward off the dogs. I also planted more peppers.

I transplanted some cilantro that had sprung up on its own from seed last year.

I have been trying to start cilantro from seed I harvested and they just recently formed their second leaves,

so I am glad some took the notion to jump start and grow itself!
Some flat leaf parsley seems to be doing the same thing (grow itself), and dill.

2. Harvest something.
I harvested some cilantro, oregano, thyme and dill and cooked by using them in recipes this week.

3. Preserve something.
I preserved more dried oregano.

4. Prep something.
I did prep by collecting some lemon balm recipes from the web and got instructions on starting and maintaining a compost bin.

5. Cook something.
I am always cooking something..anything new this week? No.

6. Manage your reserves.
I managed my reserves by inventory of my home canned goods. Did I dread doing that one. I threw out some older I figured we wouldn’t eat in time so the jars would be available for this season. I also used up some stuff, like the last of my canned tomatoes.

Whatever you do, if canning, don’t store the jars with the rims on like I often do. You are supposed to store the cans rimless.

7. Work on local food systems
No local Food work this week, unless you count feeding sick grandchildren to grow into local citizens someday.

I might be scarce the next few weeks. Grandkids birthday for me to work on and I am getting a new computer and high speed.

Hopefully by the time any webbies see me again I will be zipping around cyberspace on my new system.

God Bless!