The Tasteful Garden: How to grow and cook what you love to eat

The Tasteful Garden: 2 fine gifts for folks with green thumbs

December 14, 2012 

Gardener Carol Stein loves her Corona pruners.

COURTESY OF CORONATOOLSUSA.COM

  • Helen’s Cornbread Dressing Three eggs give this dressing a light, fluffy quality. I often reduce the number to two eggs for a more bread-like dressing. (Use more sage if you like the flavor; Helen uses as much as a tablespoon. You can also add or substitute marjoram, rosemary or thyme.) 6 cups crumbled cornbread 3 to 4 pieces loaf bread, crumbled 1 cup chopped celery ¾ cup finely chopped onion 2 to 3 tablespoons margarine or butter 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon salt or to taste ¼ teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon or more sage, to taste (see Note) 3 eggs, beaten 2 or more cups of chicken broth HEAT the oven to 375 degrees. CRUMBLE cornbread and loaf bread. Saute celery and onion in margarine or butter until tender. Add to the crumbs. STIR in the Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and sage. Stir in the eggs. Stir in enough broth to give the mixture the consistency of pork and beans. Be sure to add enough broth. POUR into a greased 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until browned. YIELD: 8 to 10 servings

Carol Stein grows it

Good things come in small packages, but my best gardening gift came in a homemade trailer. The commercial name is turkey compost – a manure that can be used as-is to grow almost anything or to amend garden soil, add to potting soil, or as a side dressing on flower and vegetable gardens.

Seeing my many plants respond to the rich nutrients and formerly unproductive areas be transformed has been a game changer. Ask at locally owned garden centers about turkey compost or composted turkey litter.

If you’re not into giving or receiving manure for the holidays, the next best thing is a great handheld bypass pruner.

I’m sure Debbie enjoys a fine chef’s knife the same way I enjoy my current favorite pruners. Corona Model BP3350 is well designed and great for cutting everything from slender flower stems to tree branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Before I venture into the garden, I always strap on my belt and its leather holster containing my Corona, because I always spot something to snip, clip or groom. And whenever I catch the scent of herbs, I’m inspired to plan the evening menu around whichever aroma seems most enticing and must cut some immediately.

I like Corona pruners now, but my taste in pruners has changed as I’ve aged. When I had the strength of a 40-something daily tennis player, I favored Fiskars cutters. In my mid-50s I switched to Felco pruners. Now it’s Corona, and my senior-citizen wrists thank me after I spend a day tidying up my acre of lush vegetation, which was made possible by turkey compost.

Debbie Moose cooks it

When Carol got me thinking about the best thing in my kitchen, I considered a number of possibilities. But my answer isn’t a big appliance or some kind of exotic roaster.

A friend once told me that she felt she deserves to have and use beautiful things to prepare meals, things that make her feel good as she works.

That’s why, like my friend, I mix batters, whip salad dressings and fold bread dough in the assortment of bowls that I’ve collected from North Carolina potteries. I don’t reserve the pottery for admiring or serving. I even purchased a bowl once simply because, when I cradled it in my arm, it felt as if it had been made to fit me. I had to have it.

I believe the best money is spent on things I use daily like my bowls, or nice kitchen towels instead of faded ones held together by threads. If I break a bowl – and it’s happened – that’s OK. It’s the price of having those beautiful things truly be part of my life rather than sitting on a shelf.

Gifts that make cooks happy and more beautiful every day are gifts to remember – even if you give them to yourself.

Another fabulous gift is a great recipe for a classic dish. I had struggled with making good cornbread dressing for years before I got this recipe from Helen Moore, who wrote a cooking column for this newspaper for many years. I’m grateful to Helen every time I bring it out.

Reach Debbie Moose and Carol Stein at tastefulgarden@hotmail.com.

For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link:

Helen’s Cornbread Dressing

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