All posts by Botanical Interests

Flea Market Street Corn

street corn recipe

When summer arrives, one of our favorite activities is visiting the Mile High Flea Market in Denver, Colorado. But this is no ordinary flea market; besides garage sale stuff, antiques and fresh produce, it also has great food stands! We never miss their “famous” (at least to us) street corn—steaming, grilled corn on the cob covered with butter, mayonnaise (trust us, it’s delicious), cheese and chili powder. We love it so much, we recreated the recipe, just in time for Memorial Day barbeque!

4 ears of corn
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 cup queso fresco (cheese)
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ cup chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)
2 limes cut into wedges

  1. Remove husks from corn. Brush corn with butter and grill for 5–7 minutes, turning occasionally for even grill marks.
  2. While corn is hot, brush with mayonnaise, sprinkle with cheese and chili powder, and top with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

So easy and delicious!

Corn Sweet (se) ButtergoldCorn Sweet (se) Sugarbaby

 

Homegrown Salsa

homegrown salsa

While we are always touting the fresh flavors of homegrown vegetables, we cannot emphasize enough how much this is true for salsa made from homegrown ingredients. The freshest, brightest flavors are found when tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers are grown at home and blended into your personalized salsa. Here’s our favorite recipe!

½ white onion
2 jalapeños (we left the seeds in for a spicy kick)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 ½ lbs. Roma tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
splash of lime juice

fresh salsa ingredients

  1. Pulse the onion, jalapenos, and garlic into small chunks in a food processor or blender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour for flavors to marry.

That’s it! Serve with tortilla chips or with your favorite Latin foods.

DIY Chive Oil and Vinegar

DIY chive oil and vinegarWith beautiful, edible flowers and delicate onion-flavored foliage, chives are at home anywhere—even in the flower bed! But chives don’t have to be just a garnish on your baked potato. Chive blossom vinegar or chive-infused oil work deliciously in a salad dressing. Try cooking your morning eggs in chive oil for a subtle, yet scrumptious, onion flavor, or add chive vinegar to your potato salad recipe. Chives are so easy to grow because they require little maintenance, and they are perennial!

Chive-Infused Oil: Blend one bunch (10–15 stems) of chives with 1 cup of light oil like vegetable or grapeseed oil in a blender until puréed. Cook over medium-high heat in a saucepan for about 10 minutes. Cool and strain over two layers of cheesecloth overnight. Keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Chive-Blossom Vinegar: When flower heads begin to fade from bright pink to a rosy color, harvest them for vinegar. Fill a glass jar loosely with flower heads, then fill with white vinegar. Put the lid on and place on a sunny windowsill. In 1 to 2 weeks, strain off flowers. Dilute with more white vinegar if the chive taste is too strong.

Chives Common Organic

Squash and Spinach Quesadillas

squash and spinach qusadillas

These quesadillas are both sweet and savory thanks to our ‘Sweet Meat’ winter squash. Super quick and easy to make, you can even prepare the filling ahead and keep in the refrigerator for a healthful dinner in minutes!

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
3 bunching onions (green), chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup roasted winter squash (Sweet Meat or Waltham Butternut)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces goat cheese
6 whole wheat flour tortillas
cooking oil

Directions:

squash and spinach quesadillas

  1. Sauté spinach, onions, and garlic in olive oil for about 3 minutes, just until leaves are wilted.
  2. Add black beans and roasted squash. Cook until heated through, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, spread goat cheese on two tortillas.
  4. When filling is heated, add to one tortilla, then stack the other on top.
  5. Brown in pan with another teaspoon of cooking oil.
  6. Repeat for remaining tortillas.
  7. Serve warm with cilantro, sour cream, and salsa on the side.

You Can’t “Beet” These Chips

beet chipsHome-grown beets are delicious root vegetables, and the leaves are considered by some to be the best of all greens!  Roasting and pickling are traditional ways to prepare beets, but we’re marching to a different “beet” with these oven-baked beet chips! So quick and easy to make, you’ll even get the kiddos to enjoy them. 

INGREDIENTS:

2–3 whole beets (or however many you wish to make)
A couple tablespoons of olive oil
salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Peel beets, but remember, red beets stain! We use gloves or paper towels to protect our hands. (Or you could use Golden Boy beets that don’t stain!
  3. Slice into thin rounds. A mandoline will make this much easier (see photo). 
  4. Spread out on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt to draw out excess moisture. After about 15 minutes, blot dry with clean paper towels. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with oil. Place beet rounds on baking sheet and add a pinch more of salt or any other herb or seasoning you’d like. 
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until crisp.

beet chips

Beet Chioggia Organic Beet Golden Boy   Beet Detroit Dark Red

 

And the Award Goes To…

swiss chard bright lights
‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard in Judy’s Garden

For me, gardening is a labor of love. I make a thoughtful plan every year and try different tricks (like my grandpa “Pop’s” advice to soak beet and morning glory seeds), but even after all that, sometimes I get a less-than-desired result. It’s been one of my missions to share my passion for gardening, helping home gardeners be successful no matter what level of gardener they imagine themselves to be. That’s why offering varieties that are proven performers is a must! All-America Selections (AAS) winners and other Botanical Interests-tested, reliable varieties are essential to ensuring our customers have the best choices for home gardening.

In 1932, W. Ray Hastings, the Southern Seedsmen’s Association of Atlanta’s president, suggested that a network of trial gardens be grown and evaluated by skilled, unbiased judges in different U.S. climates. With this evaluation process, gardeners could truly know if a new cultivar was actually improved and how it might perform in their area. Industry leaders must have thought that was a great idea because from this, AAS was born, and began announcing winning varieties the very next year.

The AAS objectively trials and chooses reliable, high-performance winners. They judge varieties on yield, novelty, earliness to bloom or harvest, pest and disease tolerance, and overall performance. In more recent years, they have added that varieties need to have at least two improved qualities and cannot be genetically engineered (commonly referred to as GMO). AAS is still the only national, non-profit agency evaluating plant varieties, and we are so grateful for their work!

At Botanical Interests, we strive to inspire and educate our fellow gardeners, supplying varieties you can trust because we value your trust! Just in case your Pops didn’t give you all the tips you need, we research sowing and growing tips for easy-to-follow instructions inside each seed packet, so you can simply get growing! 

Baked Cauliflower Tots

cauliflower tots

What are cauliflower tots? The answer to your tater-tot yearnings without all the fat, carbs and starch! So good for you, simple to prepare, and a great way to sneak more vegetables onto your kids’ plates.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of steamed cauliflower
2 eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
 

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Mash steamed cauliflower and mix in all other ingredients.
  • Form into tots and place on greased cookie sheet.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned.

cauliflower tots

Serve with your favorite condiment (chipotle mayonnaise shown in picture).

The Value of Gardening from Seed

garden with seedsThere is nothing like harvesting supper right from the garden. One of my favorite memories is of one of my daughters’ sleepovers. I handed out some old wooden bowls to the girls and told them to go get something from the garden for dinner. They were so surprised to get food right from the back yard! The fresh flavor and high-nutrient value of just-harvested food cannot be denied, but there is also something so special about eating something that minutes before, was growing in our garden, having been tended with loving kindness, and is free of pesticides and GMOs. Seeing those young ladies use the same bowls I harvested in as a child really brought it all full circle, and that they wanted to repeat the tradition every time after, made my heart soar!

So for me, the real value in growing from seed isn’t just “dollars and cents”—it is in the quality of my food, the joy of fresh air and productive exercise, and even a bit of a spiritual connection to the earth, definitely a kind of therapy. 

Costs less. Growing from seed costs exponentially less than purchasing plants and produce. For example, a 4″ tomato plant can run you $4, while a plant sown from seed costs 35 cents or less on average. A bunch of colorful, organic carrots is typically priced around $4, while a packet of the same organic carrot seeds is about $2.99, and typically results in about 160 carrots, even after thinning!

Diverse varieties. Don’t limit your bouquets and cuisine to the mainstream! We frequently hear from new gardeners that they never even knew they liked tomatoes until they grew a variety bred for flavor, and not shelf life. Botanical Interests offers over 600 proven varieties so you can sow and grow exactly what you are looking for. 

Organic garden. The choice of organic food and goods is a lifestyle path that many have adopted. Whether you want to support organically-grown food for health concerns, reasons of environmental stewardship, or aiding pollinators, growing your own food and flowers using organic methods ensures you know exactly what goes onto and into your plants, where your food came from, how fresh and nutritious it is, and green; you simply cannot get more local! When goodness and love go in, goodness and love come out in the harvest.

Size matters. While buying big, beautiful, ready-to-transplant plants gives us instant gratification, studies show there is an ideal amount of time from germination to transplant, so when roots overgrow their little “cells” it causes stress on the plants, leading to lower yields, bolting (premature flowering), and bitter flavors. Bigger isn’t always better!  Starting from seed allows you to choose the ideal transplanting time frame for your area, which is based on your average last spring frost date. Also, ornamental plants (especially tall varieties) grown in small cell packs may have been sprayed with growth inhibitors that result in cute, stout plants, unnaturally flowering in tiny cell packs. While the look draws you in, that inhibitor lasts, meaning plants won’t be as big and beautiful in the landscape as those grown from seed.

No root disturbance. Nature direct-sows and so should we, in many cases. Many varieties perform best when direct-sown. Plants sown in place experience less stress, and because of that, mature more quickly. This is especially true of quick-to-mature crops like mesclun and cilantro, or  root crops, sunflowers, and those in the Cucurbit (cucumbers, squash) and bean and pea families to name a few.

Growing from seed is a skill anyone can learn that gives back “in spades”; the pinnacle of freshness, pride in the harvest and beauty, and natural therapy, not to mention cost savings,  plus, you get food and flowers!

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Red Onions

Caramelized red onions

Red onions have a high sugar content already, so when you slow cook them with honey and apple cider vinegar, they get even sweeter! Make this versatile garnish to enjoy on cheese and crackers, in a grilled cheese sandwich, atop burgers, or over roasted chicken.

 INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter 
3 thinly sliced red onions (we used our new ‘Cabernet’ onion)
3 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
fresh thyme leaves from 3-4 sprigs
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium to low heat. Add onions and cook for 20 minutes until translucent, stirring regularly so as not to brown the onions.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to incorporate.
  3. Cook down another 20 minutes until sauce thickens, and onions are dark.

Makes about 1 cup of caramelized onions.

Red Onion cabernet Botanical Interests

Giving Back All Year

all-sorts-of-veggies-and-fruit
Donation thank-you card from Lower Columbia School Gardens in Washington.

This time of year reminds us of what we are continually grateful for—our customers! We are always looking for ways to give back to the community to show our gratitude, not just at this time of year, but all year long. A few years ago, we began cultivating relationships with local schools and community outreach programs that may be interested in donations of seed packets for their gardens. The recipients were delighted, and soon the word spread, growing the program organically. 

As our company expanded, so did the amount of available seed without a home. Thus began our nation-wide seed donation program. We have been happy to provide seed for non-profits all over the U.S. that promote the joy of seed gardening—not only school gardens and community outreach gardens, but also 4H clubs, master gardener conferences, university sustainability centers, Earth Day urban garden projects, correctional-facility gardens, foster care gardens, and many more! We also donate seed-starting guides to schools, master gardener programs, and other educational programs.

It is truly inspiring to hear the wonderful feedback from those who have harvested from our donated seed. We love getting photos of 6-year-olds in the school garden who have just pulled their first carrot from the earth, or baskets full of home-grown veggies at the community outreach garden. One thing that especially touched our hearts this year was a heart-felt ‘thank-you’ from a correctional-facility garden.

So far this year, Botanical Interests has donated almost 50,000 seed packets! We love our donation program because it’s a great way for us to give, to educate, and to inspire, growing the gardener community!

We would like to thank everyone who has accepted our seed, and taken the time and effort to share their experiences, showing others just what pleasures come from planting a garden.