The Beet Street Blog

‘Using My Backyard Grocery Garden Harvest’ by Vikki Lawrence-Williams

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I love my “backyard grocery” garden! From the radiant plump raspberries to fat green zucchini to juicy ripe sweet tomatoes… eating from such a convenient grocery was unfathomable to me just a couple of years ago.  But I’ve worked hard and learned a lot, while making mistakes and experiencing intense pleasure and joy.  When I harvested my first homegrown blueberry, the burst of sun-warmed juice filled me with gratification.  I couldn’t imagine ever NOT growing at least some of my own food.

We are a family of picky eaters.  Two of us can’t have wheat.  One of us can’t have dairy.  One of us is pre-diabetic.   And one of us will eat almost anything while two of us don’t like cooked veggies (one of these is me… the cook and chief gardener!).  So I dehydrate almost everything we harvest.

Because I dehydrate most of our veggies, I had to come up with ways to use them.  Sometimes I slice the tomatoes, dry them, store them, and later rehydrate them to use on homemade pizza.  Same with bell peppers. 

All-Vegg Powder:
Most of our dried veggies are used to hide nutrients.  I slice thin (or break apart into small pieces), dehydrate for recommended times and sometimes a little longer to get them extra crispy and fragile.  Once dried, I place in baggies and then in a canning jar, label, screw on the lid and ring, and put them on my shelf, waiting for the next batch.  When I have enough of every veggie, I start to powder them.

I use a twist-top blender to grind the veggies.  Each veggie is done separately.  Here’s a rough proportion count:
2 cups dried tomatoes
1 cup dried carrots and cauliflower (each)
½ cup each of dried eggplant, okra, sweet pepper, etc.

When I’ve make a fine powder from a veggie, I place in a quart-size baggie and go on to the next veggie.  I add this to the baggie and continue until done.  Seal the baggie.  Shake to mix well.  Place the baggie in a large mason or other canning jar with a dried bay leaf laying on top of the baggie.  (Most kitchen insects don’t like bay leaves.)  Add the lid and ring. Label.  Place on a shelf.

Consider using: eggplant, okra, tomato, sweet pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, carrots, squash, parsley, pumpkin.  Sometimes I add onions and garlic too!

Clean a small used-but-empty herb or spice-shaker.  Should have a top.  Dry well.  Fill with the all-vegg powder.  Use to sprinkle on foods (either at the stove or on the table).  Use to add nutrients to anything: mashed potatoes, stews, soups, spaghetti or pizza sauce, stir-frys… your imagination is the key!

This is perfect way to eat your vegetables when your garden has a thick blanket of snow or ice, and you are anxiously awaiting Spring to start planting all over again. 

Hot Pepper Powder:
I make a special seasoning with hot peppers! I don’t add these to the All-Vegg Powder because not everyone likes heat in their food, and you can’t hide heat!  So I dry the hot peppers and radishes separately.  For the radishes (let them grow a little too big and they become spicier and hotter), I slice thin, dry, powder, and store in a labeled baby-food jar.  For the hot peppers, I put on gloves (very important!), harvest them, slice them in rings, keeping the seeds and ribs intact, and lay on the dehydrator to dry. Once brittle, I turn them into powder and stored in a different labeled baby-food jar.   (Wash the dehydrator trays and grinder very well to eliminate any residue that might heat-up your next project.) 

Sprinkle a little radish powder on a salad to spice it up!  Add some hot pepper powder (not too much!) to your favorite chili when it’s snowing outside.  Hmmmm yum!

All-Fruit Powder:
The same procedure can be done with fruit.  Once powdered, sprinkle on desserts, cereal, granola, oatmeal, etc.

For more information, please check out my blog at www.survival-cooking.com.  Thank you for reading!  Vikki Lawrence-Williams

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

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