Delicious Shrimp Orzo Dish Flavored with Basil

Isn’t it great when you get introduced to a new food and you really like it? Here’s a great little recipe using basil.

Shrimp Orzo Basil Dish After Cooking
Shrimp Orzo Basil Dish After Cooking

The Shrimp-Orzo-Basil recipe highlighted here is something I never would have tried to make had it not been for a friend arriving on the doorstep with recipe in hand and ingredients in a huge coolie bag.

Shrimp is not a favorite in this house, sad to admit I know, and orzo is new to my kitchen so when she showed up ready to cook, I said, “Right this way!

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How To Make Chili Sauce

The Chili Sauce recipe here is so good you’ll eat it on everything! We eat it on eggs, potatoes, roast beef, ham, chicken and sandwiches.

Inside a grilled cheese sandwich is a favorite way we enjoy this chili sauce.

Chili Sauce For The Pantry
Chili Sauce For The Pantry

With just the right amount of ground cloves and cinnamon mixing with the rich tomato taste, who needs ketchup?

The recipe makes half a dozen pint jars, depending on how thick you let it get. We’ve had 5 to 7 jars prepped from every batch with a little left over for sampling the day it’s made. 🙂

Be prepared to take up the WHOLE day making it though. It does take several hours for so many tomatoes to cook down to a thick sauce. A crock-pot could be used to advantage here, but I don’t have one so I use a kettle on the stove instead.

Chili Sauce Recipe

12 tomatoes
3 onions
2 hot peppers
1 c. sugar
1 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

Ingredients For Chili Sauce
Ingredients For Chili Sauce

Chop the tomatoes in bite-size pieces. This makes the tomato skins that make it through processing a manageable size in the finished product.

Put all ingredients into a large stock pot or crock-pot and bring to a boil.

Of course you can make it hotter depending on how many and what type of peppers you add. At different times we’ve used jalapeños, tiburons, chili peppers, or even mild peppers with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper flakes.

Once boiling, turn the heat back to a simmer, but not too low. This part is important.

You want to cook out most of the water from the vegetables so the heat setting can be a little higher to start with as there is more water in the mixture at the beginning. As the mixture is cooked steam comes off so the sauce becomes less watery as you go.

The sauce can easily scorch if the heat setting is too high, especially when it starts to thicken.

Chili Sauce Reduced in Volume After Cooking For A Couple Hours
Chili Sauce Reduced in Volume After Cooking For A Couple Hours

What works on my stove is to bring the vegetable mixture to a boil on high heat, then turn the heat back to about 8 o’clock (if the stove dial was a clock face) or medium-low.

Make sure to stir the mixture occasionally, taking note of the thickness of the sauce. When the sauce has reduced in volume by a couple of inches in the pot, turn back the heat a notch or two to prevent scorching.

Keep stirring and checking the sauce consistency. When it seems THICK, it’s time to can it.

7 Jars of Chili Sauce in a Water Bath
7 Jars of Chili Sauce in a Water Bath

Ladle into hot jars and process in water bath for 15 minutes. Put the lid on the water bath during this sealing process.

If you’re lucky enough to have lots of tomatoes at the end of the growing season, making this chili sauce is a great way to use up those extra tomatoes.

Note: A friend reported that she used this recipe with green tomatoes and was very pleased with the outcome. Just saying!

How to Make Green Salsa Verde

We had the best corn chip dip ever in this little hole in the wall restaurant. It was years ago but I still remember how everyone at the table raved about it!

Ever since I could never find an equal to the taste of that green salsa dip. Until now, that is.

Tomatillos From the Garden
Tomatillos From the Garden

This year tomatillos were a success in the garden, so it was really satisfying to have my own fruit to make a batch of green salsa for the first time.

Ripe Tomatillos Fill The Husk
Ripe Tomatillos Fill The Husk
One Pound of Tomatillos
One Pound of Tomatillos

The year before last wasn’t a success as only one plant came to maturity in the garden. Without a second plant to cross-fertilize its flowers the fruit was barely bigger than a pea.

The Salsa Verde recipe came from a local fruit and vegetable market where they offered tomatillos for the first time. The story goes that a new Latino employee introduced them to growing the small tomato relative. As a way to get people interested in trying the newest fruit at the market they shared the following recipe.

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Time To Plant Winter Lettuce Again

If you missed planting lettuce last month, you still have time to toss out some seeds for a great crop of Winter Lettuce.

In our temperate zone in Pennsylvania there are some months when we can’t get fresh garden veggies, so any time that we can extend the growing season is worth the effort.

Have you seen what lettuce in the grocery stores looks like during winter? It’s not usually something that I want to spend my money on. We only see small heads that are quite expensive given their size and their quality.

We really enjoy having fresh salads with ingredients pulled or cut right from the garden out front. It just makes sense for us to grow our own and we encourage any salad-lover to do the same.

Here’s all you have to do to grow your own Winter Lettuce:

  1. Turn over or dig up a small patch of garden for your lettuce patch.
  2. Smooth out the surface with a rake or even your hands if it’s a small patch.
  3. Toss small handfuls of mixed lettuce seed over the prepared area.
  4. Step on the prepared area lightly to “plant” the seed.
  5. Water the lettuce patch lightly.
  6. Watch the weather forecast for freeze warnings.
  7. Use a sheet or old curtain to cover the lettuce patch entirely before freezing weather is predicted.
  8. Weigh down the corners of the cloth with hand-sized rocks, pieces of wood, or other heavier objects so the cover doesn’t blow away in the wind.
  9. Watch the cover over the coming weeks and re-cover the lettuce if it’s been disturbed.

That’s it! If the beginning of winter is mild, you might even be able to enjoy some baby cut lettuce before the year is out!

Japanese Beetles Eat Only The Good Parts

Leaf Skeletons Evidence Beetle Damage

Every time we see Japanese Beetles on plants around here the leaves appear to have similar damage regardless of what plant serves as their perch.

Cherry Leaf Skeletons Courtesy of Japanese Beetles
Cherry Leaf Skeletons Courtesy of Japanese Beetles

I’m not sure what makes the fleshy green parts of a leaf taste “good” to a beetle, but that’s definitely their preference, if it comes down to that.

Maybe their mouth parts can’t handle the structure of the leaf ribs or maybe the stemmy parts don’t have the right flavor – can beetles taste their food and do they have a tongue? So many questions, so little time!

Bing Cherry Tree Showing Japanese Beetle Damage in Upper Leaves
Bing Cherry Tree Showing Japanese Beetle Damage in Upper Leaves

By skeletonizing we mean all the fleshy green parts of a leaf are eaten and the ribs remain. Only the shape of the leaf or outlined structure is left intact and the remainder of the leaves turn brown.

Damage by Japanese Beetles extends to blackberry, basil, cherry, purple cone flowers, roses, and many others.

How To Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetle On Echinacea Flower
Japanese Beetle On Echinacea Flower

Get rid of Japanese beetles by knocking them off their perch into a pail of soapy water.

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