August 2015 - Julie Green and Keen
After planting my herb garden last year I have had so much success with growing and harvesting all my herbs.  I don’t know why I didn’t plant one sooner.  With it being the peak of summer I have found myself using more and more herbs in salads, drinks, and as an additive to many summer dishes.



I have encouraged many of my friends to plant an herb garden and they are just as pleased as I am.  One question they always come back to me with, is how to harvest them and dry them for use.  It is not tricky but it is good to know how.



Here is how I harvest my fresh herbs.

How to dry fresh herbs-


Cut the healthy branches you want to dry from your herb plant and remove any dry, diseased, yellowed, or spotted leaves.  Then shake gently to remove any dirt or bus that may still be on them.

Get rid of the lower leaves, about an inch along the bottom of the branch. Make bundles of 4-6 branches and tie together using a string or rubber band.  The bundles will shrink as they dry so it is important to keep an eye on them so you don’t lose any branches.

Use a paper bag and cut multiple small holes and label the bag so you remember what herb you are drying.  Insert the herbs upside down in the paper bag and close the bag with a string and hang the bag upside down in a warm airy room.

Check your herbs weekly to make sure they are progressing along until they are dried and ready to store. And enjoy your freshly dried herbs.

How to freeze fresh herbs-


Cut the healthy branches you want to freeze from your herbs and remove any dry, diseased, yellowed, or spotted leaves.  Wash and chop them or leave them in larger springs and leaves.
Pack the wells of an ice cube tray about 2/3 full of herbs and pour extra virgin olive oil or water over the herbs to fill up the well.  (You can mix herbs to create a unique mixture)  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

After frozen remove the cubes and store in the freezer in containers or small bags.  Enjoy your frozen herbs whenever you please.

Drying and freezing are the two ways I use the most to keep my herbs longer.  Do you use other ways to preserve your herbs or other methods, I am intrigued to know and try new ways.  Just leave a comment below.

Go green and stay keen,

Julie

Harvesting Fresh Herbs

by on 8/31/2015
After planting my herb garden last year I have had so much success with growing and harvesting all my herbs.  I don’t know why I didn’t pla...
This afternoon both Hannah and Liam are a friend’s house so I am making my husband some vegetarian sushi!

We love sushi so much, it is difficult to make it while the kids are home because they think it is “weird.”  They don’t know what they are missing out on  :D

My husband is doing some yard work so I am going to surprise him with it and some soup for dinner.  I can’t wait.

Vegetarian sushi is delicious and fairly easy to make.  Here are the sushi and soup recipes that I like using when we finally get to indulge.

Basic Sushi


Ingredients-

2 cups short grain or medium grain rice
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1 package of roasted seaweed sheets
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into long narrow strips
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into long narrow strips
1 avocado, removed skin and sliced into long narrow strips
1 block of cream cheese, sliced into long narrow strips
Soy sauce and wasabi for dipping and garnish

Directions-

Cook the rice as to package instructions and let cool.  Mix the rice vinegar and salt in a small bowl and pour over the cooked rice.  Use your fingers to mix the rice and mixture together.
Place the seaweed sheet, shiny side down, on the sushi roller and spread sticky rice evenly across.  Leave a one inch tab of seaweed on one edge.  Place carrot strip, cucumber strip, cream cheese, and avocado across the rice bed.
Dab the exposed tab of seaweed with wet fingers and use the sushi roller to roll your roll making sure you are using enough pressure to keep the rice sticky.
Cut your roll into small pieces and Enjoy!


Miso Soup with Greens and Tofu
Ingredients-

4 cups water
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup chopped green chard
¼ cup firm tofu, cubed
3-4 tbsp. white miso paste
1 sheet or ¼ cup nori, cut in large rectangles

Directions-

Place water in a medium sauce pan, bring to low simmer then add nori and simmer for 5-7 minutes more.
Place the miso paste into a small bowl, add a little hot water and whisk until smooth.  Add to the soup and stir so it doesn’t clump.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add salt to taste if desired and enjoy.

This recipe can be used with a variety of vegetables and you can add and take away spices or sauces to create your unique roll.

It is going to be a delicious dinner!

Julie

Vegetarian Sushi

by on 8/16/2015
This afternoon both Hannah and Liam are a friend’s house so I am making my husband some vegetarian sushi! We love sushi so much, it is di...
I was looking for images on the web and came across an awesome infographic on BusinessInsider.com.


Although, it was posted a couple years ago, it is still relevant and resonated with me.  It is titled, Why You Need to Stop Driving Your Car Right Now.

I always try walking or riding my bike whenever I can and only drive my car when it is really necessary.  It not only saves me money by biking but I get exercise too.

When my husband and I were looking for our first our home, it was essential that it was located close to markets, parks, work, and our children’s school.  We were fortunate enough to find a home that is in a very central location and walking and biking distance to many places.

Since moving here and not using our car as much, we have seen a large drop in our transportation expenses and we are even healthier.  We are helping the earth by reducing our emissions that are harmful to the environment, not spending money on cars upkeep, saving of fuel, not having to pay for parking, and we get to speed past traffic jams.

I saw this statistic that shocked me; it showed that 80% of bike commuters improve their heart and lung function within 8 weeks! Just 8 weeks! I couldn’t believe it.

Once you understand how the simple change from driving your car to riding your bike is, it is clear that riding your bike is better for you, your health, your family, and the environment.  So hop on that two-wheeler and get pedaling.

I have shared here, the informative infographic from BusinessInsider.com. Enjoy!


After reading this infographic, I hope you feel motivated to start riding your bike whenever you can.

 If you live near your work, grocery stores, or frequented venues, why not give it a try?  I enjoy walking and biking places, it allows me to clear my mind and stay active.  I challenge you to try swapping your car for an earth friendly bike! :)

Go Green and Staying Keen,

Julie


Happy National Watermelon Day! :D

Okay, I know it is not a widely known holiday or for that matter really celebrated, but our family takes National Watermelon Day very seriously.  It is a great day to indulge on watermelon for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Watermelons are pretty interesting fruits as well, giving us plenty to talk about.

Here are our family’s favorite fun facts about watermelons-

There are 300 different kinds of watermelons in the US and Mexico
They are the perfect summer snack because they are 92% water making them so refreshing.
The world’s heaviest watermelon weighed 268.6 lbs., now that is a lot of watermelon.
People eat on average 16 lbs. of watermelon annually.
Egyptian hieroglyphics show the first-ever watermelon harvest took place about 5,000 years ago.  They were often sealed into tombs of kings.

Now you can have the same useless trivia as we do.

There are so many recipes with watermelon that are often forgot.  People usually just eat them sliced, although it is wonderful that way, there are so many more possibilities when it comes to a delicious fruit like this.

Watermelon-Peach Salsa with Tomatoes-

Ingredients-

½ cup hot pepper jelly
1 tbsp. lime zest
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cups seeded and diced watermelon
1 cup peeled and diced fresh peaches
1/3 cup chopped basil
1/3 cup chopped chives
3 cups baby tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil springs to garnish

Directions-

Whisk the pepper jelly, lime zest, and lime juice together and then stir in watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives.
Season the baby tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with salsa, and serve with basil if desired.  Enjoy!

Don’t be nervous at the thought of warm watermelon, Grilled Watermelon Slices are delicious-

Ingredients-
Several slices of watermelon
2 limes, juices
½ a limes zest
3 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. water
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
A few pinches of salt



Directions-

Preheat the grill to high.  Cut watermelon into 1 inch thick slices and lightly brush each side with honey and place on grill until browned, about 2 minutes.
In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients and drizzle mixture over watermelon slices on place.
Enjoy!

And for a little adult beverage, Frozen Watermelon Margaritas are very tasty-

Ingredients-

1 ½ cups watermelon, cubed
1 cup tequila
½ cup lime juice
½ cup orange liqueur
1-2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 cups ice

Directions-

Puree watermelon, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until desired consistency.  Divide among glasses and garnish with lime and watermelon slice.
Enjoy!


With your new fun facts and superb watermelon recipes, National Watermelon day is going to be WONDERFUL!

Go green and stay keen!

Julie

National Watermelon Day

by on 8/03/2015
Happy National Watermelon Day! :D Okay, I know it is not a widely known holiday or for that matter really celebrated, but our family ta...