Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Growing garlic—what’s the difference between softneck garlic and hardneck garlic varieties?

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 01:51 PM PDT

Growing garlic in your own garden lets you play with flavors you cannot find at stores. We carry more organic seed garlic than any other garden company, at the best prices, so plunge in and get garlicky.

How to grow garlic

The nuts and bolts of growing and harvesting garlic are right here for you, in the Grow Organic How to Grow Garlic video and their downloadable Garlic Growing Guide.

The question is, which varieties of garlic seed do you want to plant? Softneck or hardneck or both?

Garlic has a neck?

By the time you see garlic in the store it has been trimmed, but there is still a papery tuft that stands above the bulb. That's the covering of the "neck" of the garlic.

Garlic also comes with different colored skins around the cloves. The cloves themselves are always a creamy white.

Softneck Garlic

This is the garlic you'll find in most grocery stores. The bulb has a mild flavor. A great virtue of the softneck garlic (Allium sativum ssp. sativum) is that it stores very well. Since the necks are (literally) soft, you can cut them nice and long for braiding. A braid of garlic makes a winning kitchen gift for friends and family!

Which to choose? California Early White has no hot bite in its flavor, grows rapidly and is ready to harvest early. If making garlic braids is your top priority, plant California Late White. You'll get a stronger flavor with this garlic, and it does better in warm climates than the Early variety.

Hardneck Garlic

Hardnecks (Allium sativum ssp. ophioscorodon) are closer to wild garlic, with complex flavors. These are the garlics that some compare to wines with subtle differences that reflect the regional soil and weather patterns. One simple benefit to the cook is the way some of their skins slip off smoothly. Hardnecks do not store as long as softnecks—cure them, eat them within 6-10 months, and get to know their distinctive flavors. Spanish Roja's flavor in particular is rich and classic—it does have a shorter shelf life, of 3-4 months, so go ahead and enjoy this best seller early.

Elephant Garlic

This big guy is technically in the leek family, but you'd never know by the look or the taste. Kids love harvesting this giant of the garlic patch, and it keeps well too, with a mild flavor.

Storing Garlic

Garlic keeps best at 32-40 degrees with a relative humidity of 60-70. If you need help keeping tabs on the temperature and humidity in your storage area, try the Humiguide Thermometer or Digital Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer.

Garlic Combo Pack

Still can't decide? That's why Grow Organic created a Garlic Combo Pack, to let you try a little of this and a little of that—at a bargain price! It's a gastronomical delight featuring organic California Early White softnecks, organic Russian Red and organic Purple Italian hardnecks, a conventional Elephant garlic, and even some organic French Red Shallots for delicate flavors.

A Garlic Book

Ron Engeland's popular book, Growing Great Garlic is the ultimate guide for the organic garlic grower; in addition to practical advice, you'll learn more about garlic in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

For more information on garlic watch our videos on Growing Garlic and Garden Planning & Crop Rotation. Get the scoop on Music, their most popular of the hardneck garlics. Learn how to grow garlic and its allium cousins with their article on What to Plant in Your Winter Garden.

Welcome to the World of Seed Garlic!

Plant some garlic this year, keep track of what you like, and experiment with new varieties in the years ahead. Once you start growing garlic at home you'll be spoiled by having your own cured garlic to cook with, in such a range of flavors.

6 Amazing Vegan Brunch Recipes

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 07:34 AM PDT

Quinoa Porridge

Serves: 1

   1 cup unsweetened almond milk
   1/3 cup quinoa flakes
   1 tablespoon vanilla extract
   1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
   1/4 teaspoon ginger
   1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
   3 to 4 dried prunes, chopped (or other dried fruit)
   1 tablespoon maple syrup
   1 tablespoon raw sliced almonds

Bring almond milk to a boil in a pot over high heat. Add quinoa flakes, return to a boil, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and prunes and cook another 30 seconds, continuing to stir. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add maple syrup, mix well, and sprinkle with almonds.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Tofu Whip

Serves: 2 to 4

Maple Tofu Whip:
   1 (12.3-ounce) package non-GMO firm tofu
   1/4 cup maple syrup
   1 cup spelt flour
   1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
   2 teaspoons baking soda
   1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
   1/3 cup organic pumpkin purée (canned is fine)
   1 tablespoon maple syrup
   1 tablespoon vanilla
   1 cup almond milk

1. Drain tofu by placing it between two plates and setting a heavy pot cover on top of the top plate. Let sit for an hour, then blend tofu and maple syrup in a blender for about 30 seconds, until completely smooth.
2. Blend all pancake ingredients in a blender. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and ladle in batter by the quarter cup. Cook until bubbles appear, then flip using a spatula, even out (or thin out) pancakes with the spatula, and cook for two to three more minutes.
3. Top warm pancakes with tofu whip.

Sweet Potato Tempeh Hash

Serves: 2


   2 sweet potatoes, cubed
   2 tablespoons chopped onion
   1 clove garlic, minced
   1 tablespoon olive oil
   1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
   6 ounces tempeh, cubed
   1 cup vegetable broth
   1 teaspoon paprika
   1 tablespoon soy sauce
   Salt and pepper, to taste
   2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potato in a lightly oiled or nonstick pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. In a wok over medium-high heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add pepper, tempeh, and a bit of broth and stir frequently for 2 minutes. (Keep broth handy and always have 1/2 to 1 centimeter of broth at the bottom of the wok.) Add sweet potatoes and paprika, and slowly add remaining broth until it has all been absorbed by the tempeh and potatoes. Then add soy sauce, salt, pepper, and parsley. Mix well and serve.

Carrot Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese

Serves: 6 to 12

   2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
   6 tablespoons water
   1 cup sugar
   1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
   1 cup flour
   1 teaspoon baking soda
   1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
   1/2 teaspoon ginger
   1/4 teaspoon salt
   2 cups shredded carrots
   1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
   1/2 cup raisins, optional
Maple Cream Cheese:
   1 (8-ounce) package vegan cream cheese, cold
   1/4 cup vegan margarine, cold
   1/4 cup maple syrup
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a cupcake tin with wrappers or oil the tin well.
2. Mix flaxseed and water well, then beat with sugar and applesauce in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and beat. When well blended, stir in carrots and, if desired, pecans and raisins.
3. Spoon batter into cupcake tin and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and let cool on rack completely.
4. Beat cream cheese and margarine in a large bowl until smooth. Add maple syrup and vanilla and beat again until smooth. If spread isn't sweet enough for your liking, add up to 1/2 cup sweetener of choice and beat until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Serve muffins with cream cheese spread on the side.

Tofu Scramble

Serves: 2

   1 (12.3 ounce) package non-GMO firm tofu
   1 clove garlic, minced
   1/3 cup chopped onions
   1 cup chopped broccoli
   1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
   2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
   1 teaspoon paprika
   1 teaspoon ground saffron
   1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
   Salt and pepper, to taste
   1 cup shredded kale (stems removed)

1. Drain tofu by placing it between two plates and placing a heavy pot cover on top of the top plate. Let sit for at least an hour.
2. In a nonstick pan over medium heat, lightly brown garlic and onion, stirring frequently. Crumble tofu into pan and add remaining ingredients except kale. Stir frequently, until tofu reaches desired color, about 3 minutes. (If mixture becomes too dry at any point, add water 1 tablespoon at a time.) Reduce heat to low, add kale, and stir for 1 more minute. Serve with vegan toast and tempeh bacon, if desired.

Banana French Toast with Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter

Serves: 2

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Butter:
   6 tablespoons vegan dark chocolate chips
   4 tablespoons macadamia nut butter (or other nut butter)
   1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
   1 tablespoon vanilla extract
French Toast:
   1 banana
   1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
   1 tablespoon maple syrup
   1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   4 slices vegan bread
   1 tablespoon vegan margarine
   Fresh fruit, optional
   Chopped nuts, optional

1. Place all nut butter ingredients in the top of a double boiler and stir until melted and mixed well. (If you don't have a double boiler, place a stainless-steel bowl on top of a pot of boiling water so that the bowl rests in the water but doesn't touch the bottom of the pot, and melt the ingredients in the bowl.) Let mixture cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
2. Blend banana, almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla in a blender and pour mixture into a shallow plate. Soak bread in mixture for 1 minute, flip, and soak another minute. Add margarine to a skillet over medium heat and rotate pan so bottom is lightly coated. Add bread and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. To serve, top two slices of bread with a dollop of chocolate nut butter and fruit and nuts, if you like.

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