Pomegranate Seeds–A Sweet Explosion on the Tongue

Author: Meera, September 12, 2016

Strolling through our small orchard today, I cut into a pomegranate to check on the seeds–the edible part of the fruit. To my surprise, they had turned ripe. Inside, the seeds were gorgeous red jewels, plump and juicy. The sweet juice in the seeds carries a powerful antioxidant punch, too; it’s loaded with Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, potassium, protein, and folate.

 

 

pomegranate seeds  lg web

 

 

You might wonder about ways of cooking with pomegranate seeds. How about tossing them into citrus or a green salad, pairing them with goat cheese on a crostini, or sprinkling a few on poached pears dipped in chocolate, or incorporate them into a Mediterranean couscous with cashews or pistachios?

 

I think I’ll make some pomegranate jelly–it tastes great on toast, makes an excellent foil for goat cheese, and also creates a moist and delicious glaze for chicken.

 

The hardest part of making the jelly is separating the seeds from the white pith that holds the seeds in place inside the leathery peel.

 

The jelly recipe consists of few ingredients: pomegranate juice, sugar, water, and classic pectin. Here’s how I make the jelly.

 

 

 

POMEGRANATE JELLY RECIPE

 

Ingredients:

 

3 1/2 cups pomegranate juice (well strained to remove all the particles)

 

5 cups granulated sugar

 

6 tablespoons classic pectin

 

 

Directions:

 

Prepare boiling water canner and wash eight to ten half-pint jars in the dishwasher.

 

Place rings and lids in a pan of simmering hot water.

 

Cut one end of the pomegranate off to expose the membranes and seeds.

 

Section the pomegranate and scrape the seeds out into a medium to large bowl.

 

Repeat the process until you had several cups of seeds.

 

Rinse well and then run the seeds through a juice extractor.

 

Strain out the juice through a jelly bag or multiple layers of cheesecloth. Note: The juice stains, so take care to protect kitchen counters and clothing.

 

 

Ripe pomegranate

Ripe pomegranates have a leathery outer skin

 

 

 

Put the juice and pectin into a large pot and bring to a boil, carefully stirring to blend in the pectin.

 

Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved and boil for one minute at a roiling boil that cannot be stirred down. Ladle off foam, if necessary.

 

Ladle jam into clean, hot jars leaving one-quarter inch head space. Attach hot lids and then the rings. Tighten to finger tight.

 

Lower the filled and sealed jars into the canner. Process for 10 minutes at a roiling boil. Remove and let cool.

 

 

 

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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016, is now available on Net Galley (netgalley.com) for professionals and readers who write reviews. The book may be pre-ordered as well. Click on the link under the image.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Attract Local Pollinators

Author: Meera, July 24, 2016

Today, I spotted a gorgeous bee, big and black with reddish-brown wings, dipping its proboscis into the lavender wisteria and other blooms in my garden. I was stung by a bee yesterday, but that doesn’t stop me from smiling with delight observing this little pollinator at work in my garden.

 

 

 

A longhorn bee is twice the size of a honeybee

This longhorn bee, twice the size of a honeybee, dips its proboscis (meaning, tongue, nozzle, or snoot) into a bloom.

 

 

I admit I’m a fan of pollinators and enjoy watching them work amid the sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, wisteria, and other blooms in the bee and butterfly garden I planted earlier this year.

 

 

The flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bumblebees, and other types of bees, including my own Italian honeybees, the stock of bees most favored in this country (Apis mellifera ligustica). See, http://beesource.com/resources/usda/the-different-types-of-honey-bees/

 

 

 

It's easy to grow a variety of annuals or perennials in a raised box

It’s easy to grow a variety of annuals or perennials in a raised wooden box filled with soil.

 

 

 

Honeybees pollinate 90 percent of North America’s commercially produced crops, including almonds. That’s why many Northern California almond growers rent honeybees for use in their orchards during springtime bloom.

 

 

Honeybees love hovering around all types of lavender; here, it's the Spanish variety

Honeybees love hovering around all types of lavender; here, it’s the Spanish variety

 

 

 

The National Academy of Sciences has noted that pollinators are needed to reproduce 75 percent of the Earth’s flowering plants. But there’s been a drop in natural pollinators, in part due to habitat loss and pesticide use.

 

 

Populations of the yellow, black, and brown Western bumblebee, once common from southern British Columbia to central California, have now all but disappeared. To attract bumblebees, plant giant hyssop, milk weed, and nettle-leaf horse mint. See, http://www.wildflower.org/collections/collection.php?collection=xerces_bumble

 

 

Here’s what else we gardeners and farmers can do to attract local pollinators.

1. Avoid using pesticides.

2. Plant bee, bird, and butterfly friendly native plants.

3. Choose plants that flower in varying diverse colors and shapes to attract a wide variety of pollinators.

 

*          *          *

 

 

If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

 

These novels are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

Now available in mass market paperback, this debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 27, 2016

 

 

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Less Mopping, More Writing

Author: Meera, December 3, 2013

 

It may not be immediately apparent what recycled bricks have to do with writing, but bear with me. A friend who does professional demolition of houses and properties brought us a truckload of bricks from an owner who was re-landscaping his upscale property in a nearby East Bay city. Otherwise, those bricks were destined to be discarded in a landfill.

 

The brick path lies under the window boxes and connects to the garden

The brick path we’ve laid runs under the window boxes and connects to the garden

 

 

Temperatures hovered near 70 degrees Fahrenheit this past weekend (Thanksgiving) and the weather was perfect for us to lay a brick walkway. My architect husband and I are passionate about recycling materials that still have life in them. It’s one of the reasons why two of our favorite places to visit are architectural salvage yards in Berkeley: Ohmega and Urban Ore. See http://www.ohmegasalvage.com/ and also see http://UrbanOre.com/

 

With the rainy season on its way, it seemed like a good idea to lay the brick in a pattern along the northwestern side of the house where we keep the recycle and garbage bins. During winter, we track a lot of mud into our small farmette home because we have only dirt and gravel paths through the garden and orchard areas.

 

This year, it will be different. The newly laid brick walkway runs from the front to the rear of the house, joining the front porch (that we are currently building) with a gravel path leading to the property line. We laid out the brick pattern and tapped them close together, using a rubber mallet (since hitting brick on brick can cause breakage).

 

The brick walkway runs past the construction of the new front porch (still in progress)

The brick walkway runs past the construction of the new front porch (still in progress)

 

 

We still need to pour sand on top and sweep it into the cracks. But this kind of path can last for years. The ancient Romans built similar paths that remain to this day. The rains will come, but less mud will be tracked in because of the paving stones. That means for me fewer hours this winter spent mopping the mud tracked in and more time writing on my cozy mystery series.

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