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7/10/2011

German Potato Salad, DayliliesGerm

Barbara Young and her cucumber crop.

Josh and his mother, Barbara, made it back from Rhode Island yesterday. They'd driven my books and products to Pittsburgh, PA where I was speaking at the Herb Society of American conference. I flew home and they drove on to Rhode Island where the Young family had lived. Barbara hadn't been back to visit in nearly 10 years so it was fun for her to see relatives and friends. That's  Barbara, below, with her Photoshop cucumber, obviously having more luck than we are here. Cucumber beetles wiped out several melons in just 2 days and are hard at work on the cucumbers. It's discouraging, as you can imagine. Nothing stops cucumber beetles (and no, don't suggest what someone last year did; we're organic, I'm not going to call an exterminator and spray the garden). Here's another of Barbara's giant Photoshopped vegetables.
Giant tomato, as created by Barbara's grandson, Christopher Young.
Heat is hovering in the upper 90s every day and we are getting serious about needing some rain. Constant watering, using drip irrigation and over-head, as well, keeps things alive but doesn't satisfy the plants like a soaking rain would. It's hard to believe we were inundated with rains and flooding less than 2 months ago and now we're getting desperate for moisture. Lady bugs are keeping up with aphids and other critters but they're no match for the bigger pests like the cucumber beetles, squash bugs and squash vine borers.
Lady bug on a native Solanum plant.
Here's a spotted cucumber beetle, in the photo below, taste-testing a winter squash leaf. Not even birds or chickens will eat these little yellow and black spotted critters.
Such a little bug, the same size as the lady bug, but one's helpful, and this one is a threat to crops.
The potatoes are nearly all dug, most have been sold at the farmers markets on Friday and Saturday night. We may try to plant a fall crop in a week or two. Friends told us they always plant their fall crop of potatoes in mid July so I think we'll give it a try.
Red potatoes, ready for market at a friend's house.
We had a very good crop of fingerling potatoes earlier (those aren't fingerlings, above, those are red potatoes). One favorite of the fingerlings is Anna Cheeka's Odette, one of the best for making German potato salad. Fingerling potatoes stay firm when cooked and aren't mealy, which means they don't break up into mashed potatoes when you make potato salad. Here's the recipe I like:

German Potato Salad
l pound fingerling potatoes, (or substitute German butterball or Yukon), skins left on
 8-10 slices bacon
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 T. sugar

Put the potatoes in a steamer or double boiler and cook over salted water for about 30 minutes or until tender when forked. Let the potatoes cool, reserving 1 1/4 cups of the salted cooking water.

Fry the bacon over medium heat until nearly crisp but still bendable. Remove bacon from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces. Leave bacon fat in the pan. (Bacon drippings, after all, are "America's olive oil!")

Reduce skillet heat to low and add the chopped onion, cooking until soft. Raise heat to medium, sift flour into the onions, stirring for about 5 minutes to make a roux. Let the flour and fat become well bound together and lightly brown in color.

Slowly add the vinegar to the roux, stirring steadily until the sauce thickens. Next, add the potato water, also slowly, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved.

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and add the sauce, tossing with the bacon pieces. Mix gently. Best served immediately while still hot.

Summer here at Long Creek Herbs means daylilies and we have several colors. Here's one of the orange doubles...

And this white one was a new one last year.
And one more, for contrast.

Rose Butter-2

Both pretty, and food!
There are lots of kinds of roses that are also wonderful seasoning and decorative herbs. How do you know which ones to eat? (Click this link to see my YouTube video on eating roses: http://www.youtube.com/longcreekherbs).

1-Don't eat roses from a florist shop. Those have been highly sprayed with insecticides. Additionally, they have little fragrance, and thus, no flavor.

2-Don't eat roses from your own garden if you are using systemic fertilizers - those include insecticides that are taken up by the rose bush with the fertilizer, and dispersed throughout the leaves and flowers.

Other than that, if the roses are un-sprayed, and have good fragrance, they will also have good flavor and are good to eat.

Roses are related to apples and several other fruits, all edible plants.

Rose butter, made with very fragrant dark pink roses. It's delicious on any good bread!

An easy way to start eating roses is by making rose butter.

Start with a pound of unsalted butter (don't substitute margarine, use real butter for this, your taste buds will thank you). Let it come to room temperature or soften it slightly in the microwave but do not let it melt.

Gather a heaping cup full of fragrant rose petals in the morning, after the dew has evaporated but before the heat of the day. Why? Because the rose oils are strongest then and the flavor will be the best.

Chop up the rose petals, or put them in a blender and gently pulse-blend until the petals are finely chopped.

Combine the finely chopped rose petals and the butter and mix well. Form the butter into a mound, add whole, fresh rose petals to the outside, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The flavors will be best after about 24 hours or overnight.

Food grade rose water is available in many whole foods stores.

Note, if you are using red rose petals, most red rose varieties have little flavor or fragrance ('Mr. Lincoln', a hybrid tea, is an exception, it has pretty good fragrance and flavor. But if you want rose butter and your roses aren't the tastiest, add 2 teaspoons of food grade rose water as you are mixing the rose petals into the butter.