Monthly Archives: July 2012

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (ranch dressing)

I am a herb gardener. Herbs are thriving in this summer heat. Since fresh tastes best.

This is my version of Ranch Dressing.

Homemade Buttermilk Dressing (ranch dressing) with fresh herbs

Use fresh herbs when you have them. Substitute Penzeys Fox Point seasoning for onions and garlic.

1 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt (low or fat-free may be used)

1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is ok)

juice of ½ lemon

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

salt & freshly ground black pepperto taste

Combine yogurt and lemon in a pint Mason jar. Add garlic,chives, parsley and, dill. Pour in half the butter milk. Whisk or shake all ingredients are well blended. (Or I use an emersion blender.)

Continue adding up to ½ cup of buttermilk until dressing is the desired consistency. (I use 1 whole cup of buttermilk.)

Makes 1 pint. Keeps for a week in the fridge. Always shake before using.

Note the expiration date on the buttermilk and let that date be your expiration for this Ranch Dressing. Always shake before using.

If you use fat free yogurt instead of mayo, the dressing is still creamy and now low fat salad dressing. Try it. I prefer it with yogurt because you can not tell the difference.

Mix ingredients in a bowl or jar.

Use these dried herbs in winter or to make a gift mixes.

Dry Ranch Mix

1/2 cup instant minced onion
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder

2 cups dry parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dry dill weed

Measure first five ingredients, minced onion, onion salt, garlic salt, onion powder and garlic powder, into a blender or food processor and blend until combined. Stir in parsley and dill. Store and keep mix dry. A Mason jar or freezer bag work well. Label and include instructions for dressing or dip. Label it. You think you will remember, but you won’t.

Include these instructions on the gift tag:

Buttermilk Dressing

1 cup plain yogurt (or mayonnaise)

1 cup of buttermilk

juice of ½ lemon

2 Tablespoons Dry Ranch Mix

Combine 2 Tablespoons dry mix, one cup plain Greek yogurt, lemon and one cup buttermilk. Allow flavors to blend for at least an hour in the fridge before using.

The original recipe called for mayo instead of yogurt but I pinky swear you will not be able to tell the difference.

If you make ranch chicken, ranch dip, ranch potatoes, ranch flavored oyster crackers or, ranch burgers, substitute this recipe for the packaged recipe with too much salt, msg, and other unpronounceable ingredients.

Sliced tomato with buttermilk dressing.

This is how to share with the Ranch Dressing store bought bottled users:

At “pass the ranch.”  give him your homemade version.

There is no need to  discuss that half the calories are missing, most of the salt and fat are gone. AFTER he says he likes it Then you can tell him.

Bluecheese crumbles and chopped basil.  photo PBH.



Homemade Buttermilk Dressing with blue cheese and basil.

Start with 1/4 cup blue cheese and 1 tablespoon of basil. Taste, adjust cheese and herbs.

Todays Harvest Basket

July 23, 2012
tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, TAM pepper, onion, arugula

White Wonder cucumber, Grandmother and Uncle Ebb grew white cucumbers like this. They are small, non bitter, great slicer. Photo PBH

This arugula, is a perfect green to combine with lettuce. Tonights salad included the arugula, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion. I make my own salad dressing. Usually a lemon and olive oil is the start of a good homemade dressing.

TAM is Texas A & M jalapeno pepper. Less heat but all the distinct flavor of jalapeno. (The little red peppers on the right.) I’ll roast them, then freeze. That way they will be handy to add to salsa and chili.



Todays Harvest Basket

July 19, 2012

chard, mint, tomatoes

chard, mint, tomatoes

Todays harvest included lots of small tomatoes, some mixed varietys of chard, and a hand full of mint that will go in tabouli and iced tea.

This is how I keep the mint under control: every day I make sun tea. I snip a

Mojito mint planted in terracotta drain tile

bit of mint off one of the four varieties each day. So, once or twice a week each mint (or the lemon balm) gets a bit of a trim. And I get fresh mint for cooking or for my sun tea.

The tomatoes are mostly Riesentraube Cherry Tomatoes, an old Pennsylvania Dutch heirloom tomato meaning “giant bunches of grapes.” They are larger than most cherry tomatoes. and the distinctive thing about them is the little pointy nipple on the end of every tomato.

tlnb – the little neighbor boy-  came by today and told us we would miss him this week because he was going on vacation. I suspect he is right. We do miss our frequent garden guest when he doesn’t come around.

He’s just as cute a Dennis the menace and asks dozens of questions at every visit. Lately he can also answer some of the questions.

“Why do you garden so much?” he asked.

“I know. You like to know where your food comes from and gardening reminds you of your mother and your grandmother,” he answered.

Todays Harvest Basket

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Onions, tomatoes, celery

celery, onions, tomatoes

First time to grow celery and it is a heavy feeder and needs lots of water. It should be blanched. The celery was very green (because I did not blanch it.) It is not bitter, but it should be, because I really forgot about it. These plants were in the shade of other plants (roses, tomatoes.)

The celery should have been picked weeks ago before the big heat wave. But even the bugs and disease ignored the celery. So sometimes, even when you do everything wrong, garden plants will thrive anyway.

This was the last of the onions in the garden.  A few saladette tomatoes, the Indigo Rose tomatoes are ripe every day.


Spiced peach cobbler

It’s peach season! I ate half of my entire peach crop in one setting. The squirrel ate the other one. So, these peaches are from the local orchard.  Just across the Mississippi River is Cobden Illinois, famous for their peaches.

The region if known for the wine trails. Cobden also grows some of the best apples and peaches. photo by PBH

Though it is an easy drive, we like to make our trip to the peach orchard a get away weekend.  We love staying at Makanda Inn B&B, 855 Old Lower Cobden Road, Makanda, Illinois 62958. Southern Illinois newest bed and breakfast located in the heart of the Shawnee Wine Trail.

Robin Sue of Big Red Kitchen says “This is my go-to Peach Cobbler recipe. It has never let me down. This dish is very moist, super fast to make, and wonderful served warm with vanilla ice cream, perfect for summer cook-outs.”

Miss Jean’s Peach Cobbler  Cooks and recipe collectors on Pinterest wil love her Big Red Kitchen boards.

So rich and buttery, just a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream will do. photo by PBH

I made this recipe, except I added a touch of spice: ½ teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg and the tiniest pinch of ground cloves.

This is my version of Miss Jean’s Peach Cobbler. It sounds like one of those great 70’s recipes we loved before we were told butter is bad. You know those kind of dump cakes that amazed us when they really worked?

Spiced Peach Cobbler

4 cups fresh peaches sliced and sweetened if necessary
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 pinch ground cloves
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Set oven to 350. Put stick of butter in a 9×13 inch pan. Set pan in oven for a minute or until butter is melted. Remove from oven.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Mix combined dry ingredients with milk and sugar until smooth.
Pour batter over melted butter.
Put peaches and any juices on top.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
Let set at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

My recipe is adapted from Miss Jean’s Peach Cobbler

To read more about Makanda Inn go to Striped Pot: The Makanda Inn B&B Learn more about the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

GBBD July 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2012

I got the Morning Glory seed for this beauty for Renee’s Garden.

Containers and hanging baskets are getting water at least once a day now. Every year a few more plants are added to the drip irrigation system under the pergola on the deck. And, below the pergola on the patio, just outside the kitchen.

Senorita Blanca™ Spider Flower Cleome hybrid (Proven Winners trial plant.)

SUPERBELLS® Lemon Slice. Calibrachoa hybrid (Proven Winners Trial plant.)

Lemon slice and Watermelon (Proven Winners trial plants) These hummingbird magnets get watered twice a day. They are looking good despite the heat.

Lantana provides color all summer as long as it is well watered and fertilized.


Four o’clock “broken colors” from Renee’s Garden.

This odd zinnia is the result of saving seed produced by last years hybrid zinnias. You never know what you will get when you save seed from F1 hybrids.

Here we are in the middle of summer and gardens that haven’t dried up from the drought, been washed away by flood, burned up by the wild fires or just blown to another location by tornadoes, seem to be doing fine.

Global temperature change is taking it’s toll. I have friend who says, “I don’t have a dog in this fight,” and won’t discuss the matter. There is no joy in “I told you so.” So, lets just do what we can to help each other through.

Many thanks to Carol of May Dreams for Bloom Day. Anyone can participate, visit Carol for details.

There are more blooms around today, but I am really focused on the herbs and vegetables these days.

Vegetable Garden Report

Well, here’s my new pride and joy, Indigo Rose tomato. Just bigger than a cherry tomato, the area that is esposed to sunlight turns blue. The areas of this tomato that do not get direct sunlight are red/orange.

All the cherry tomatoes are producing and the big tomatoes are growing bigger every day. I still have chard in the garden. There are some red onions still in the ground but most of the onions, shallots and garlic are harvested.

Droves of squash bug thugs are in the garden. Squash hardly has a chance this year. A few eggplant, cucumbers and carrots are doing well. Peppers, both hot and sweet  are on their way. If I can keep them watered, it will be a good crop.

Indigo Rose New Blue Tomato


I’m updating this story very often. Mainly because, it is rare to discover a new wholesome food. There are lots of hybrids out there but this is a completely new tomato. Read more.

Rose Marie Nichols said, “You know Patsy, this tomato has the highest level of Anthocyanins anywhere.”

I just nodded, hoping I appeared to know what she was talking about. But I went flying to the internet to learn more about Anthocyanins. It’s the pigment that makes blueberries blue and the reason they are so good for you.

Scientists are asking if Anthocyanins are helping fight cancer or wrinkles. But we do know anthocyanins are one of the best reasons we should eat deep colored fruits and vegetables.

Jim Myers, dept of horticulture, OSU is the wizard behind the research. He develops improved vegetable varieties to support gardeners, growers and processors in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).

This tomato plant is still evolving. Buy the time the University has completed it’s research, it is likely Indigo Rose will end up other positive traits like stronger disease resistance.

I grow tomatoes that tell a story, like so many heirlooms do.

Since every other tomato I grow is an heirloom, this is indeed unusual in my experience. I like growing tomatoes that come with a story and a history. Like Granny Cantrell.

Granny Cantrell produces big, one-pound tomatoes in my garden.

Seed from this tomato came from a WW II souldier who gave it to Lettie Cantrell on his return to the US.

Lettie said she saved the seed from the largest tomatoes every year. It was the only tomato she grew in the hills of eastern Kentucky. She grew this tomato every year from the 1940’s until she died in 2005.

I agree with Lettie. The Granny Cantrell tomato is a rich old fashioned beed steak type tomato.

If I could grow only one tomato, it just might be this one with big, red one – pound fruits.



Todays harvest basket

onions, shallots, tomatoes

I can never have too much garlic or too many onions. photo by PBH

Alliums for all. Onions and shallots  plus, tomatoes are slowly producing. photo by PBH

Most of the onions are sweet onions and will not keep well. I’ll make a big jar of pickled onions pretty soon. The recipe was on Pinterest.

In the photo: French red shallots, chippolino and red torpedo onions. A fewwhite and yellow onions that did not get picked for green onions in the salads.

What kind of onions to you grow?

Todays Harvest June 27, 2012

Todays harvest included onions, carrots, chard and Chinese cabbage


I’ll make cole slaw out of the cabbage. It is a lighter version of slaw. I never make that mayo based dressing any more.

The chard will go into green rice.

Todays Harvest Basket

June 16, 2012

carrots, chard, wasabi arugula, red onions

My gartden harvest June 16, 2012 photo by PBH


It’s a small garden, after all there are only two of us. Plus, I am lucky enough to share with neighbor Patty and Neighbor Dorothy. We are all looking forward to tomatoes.

We can usually eat everything fresh. If not, there is a vegetable pickle crock in the fridge. Or, occasionally, I will freeze or dehydrate the surplus.

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