From Planning to Planting and Harvest to Table.

In The Kitchen



Mushrooms – Use more than one kind to give the soup a richer flavor.  1 1/2 Cups of  White Button mushrooms, 1 cup of Baby Portobella, and One Package of dried Shitake. About 3 cups of mushrooms in total.

Broth – One Quart of Mushroom and One Quart of Beef Broth. You can substitute Vegetable Broth for the Beef if you are vegetarian.

Barley – 1 1/2 cups

Carrots – 1 cup

Celery – 1 cup

Garlic – 6 cloves

Thyme – 2 Tbs dried, 4Tbs if using fresh

Onions – One sweet white onion, and 2 bunches of  green onions

Oil – I used avocado oil. It has a mild flavor and holds up to high heat temps.


1) Soak the dried Mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water. This makes extra broth and the dried mushrooms have an intense, rich flavor. While they’re soaking, rinse and chop the other mushrooms

2) Add avocado oil to cover the bottom of the pan, roughly 2 TBS. Heat the oil and add the diced white onion. Let the onion cook until it is translucent, about 5 minutes.

3) Pick the best celery out of the bunch, clean and chop. Rinse the carrots, use a potato peeler to peel the a thin layer off the carrots and chop. 1 cup of each is roughly 6 carrots and 6 stalks of celery. No worries if you use a little more or a little less. The carrots and celery add a sweetness to the earthy flavor of the mushrooms. So if you like it a little sweeter, add a little more of each.

4) Now add all the mushrooms, all the broth, the carrots, the celery, and the thyme to the pot. Put the garlic through a garlic press directly over the pot, or smash and chop, whichever suits you. Just add all the garlic to the soup at the same time.

A Beautiful Pot of Deliciousness

5) Let the pot simmer for an hour before adding  the green onions, 1 1/2 cups of the barley, and one a cup of water. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste.

AND – You’re Done!! Yep – that’s it.  It’s an earthy, slightly sweet, bone warming bowl of goodness.


You are done!! Enjoy.




I love the herb Rosemary so much my family says it should be my middle name. This aromatic herb is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it’s good for your body, but believe it or not, the scent of this herb can also calm your nerves.  Now add it to potatoes and just the smell of this soup will take you to your good place.

Ingredient List:

One whole onion – yellow or white

4 Tbs of good quality butter ( I used sweet Finlandia butter)

2 cloves of garlic

4 cups of broth (I used chicken bone broth, but you can substitute with vegetable broth)

3 cups of cooked potatoes, (I used the red skin potatoes left over from my roasted chicken, and I left the skins on)

2 tsp fresh Rosemary (1 tsp of dried rosemary = 2 tsp of fresh. If using dried Rosemary, rub it between your palms over the pot to release the oils)

salt and freshly ground black pepper, with a little more pepper than salt.

Sweat the onions in the butter in a medium size pot. This takes about 5 minutes. Add the broth, potatoes and rosemary. Cook on low for an hour, adding extra broth if needed. Mash the potatoes right in the pot using a fork or a potato masher. This will give the soup the satisfying creamy texture without diluting the flavor with cream or milk. Add the salt and pepper. I used 2 tsp of salt and 2 of pepper. The black pepper balances the sweetness of the potatoes, but if you’re not a fan of black pepper, like my husband, then adjust the amount.  And that’s it!!! This soup tastes even better the next day.




This soup is my family’s favorite, which is fine by me because that means more Rosemary Potato Soup for me.  I think what makes this soup a favorite really is the bone broth.  As this is a family favorite, I made a large pot. You can adjust the ingredients to fit the size of your family.

Ingredient List:

1 c of each, onion, carrots and celery

2 cups of chicken (I used the chicken left over from the chicken roasted with jalapenos, recipe on front blog page)

1 cup of short grain brown rice (soft, small and sweet)

8 cups of chicken bone broth (made a few days earlier from the chicken roasted with jalapenos. This recipe is also on the front blog page)

2 Tbs each of fresh Rosemary and Thyme

6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp of dried Tarragon

2 Tbs of good oil, Sunflower or Olive Oil

Sweat the onion in the oil. This takes about five minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the broth, garlic and herbs, chicken and rice. Let this cook for at least an hour, until the rice is tender. The rice will absorb the broth over the next few days, so feel free to add more broth or water before reheating.

Step one – sweat your onions.  Then cook the carrots and celery with the onions for another two minutes before adding the remainder of the ingredients

Trimming your fresh herbs can be a little tedious, but worth the time. Put on some good tunes to take your mind off of how many little rosemary leaves you have to remove and chop. The Thyme is easier. Just strip the leaves from the stems. No extra trimming needed, unless the music is good and you just can’t stop chopping.  The garlic is easier, just put it through a press or give it a fine chop.  The Tarragon is even easier.  Rub the dried herb between you palms directly over the pot to release the oils.

Next .  .

All together now . . .


and dinner is served





These cookies are true Shortbread, which means no egg, lots of butter and just a bit of sugar. I’ve added lemon and rosemary for a really refreshing flavor. They’re just great dunked in a cup of tea (a cuppa).  When I made them for my friend from Ireland, Joan, she told me they were lovely and very short.  I had no idea what she meant by short, and frankly it wasn’t the first time  because even though we speak the same language, we really don’t. She explained that meant you could really taste the butter, which is what makes this cookie a true Shortbread (a Scottish invention I’m told).

Recipe:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup of butter (2 sticks) softened

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup of super fine sugar

2 cups of flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp of grated lemon peel (2 medium lemons give you just a touch more than 2 tsp which is quite alright)

2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

To release the rosemary leaves from the stem, just pinch the stem as far up as you can, and while holding the bottom of the stem with your other hand, run your fingers down the stem. This will give you a nice little pile of leaves.  Chop finely.

Beat the butter until very  creamy, then add the sugar and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and salt.  Continue beating until the crumbly mixture forms a ball.  Mix in the rosemary and the lemon.

These cookies do not have to be rolled out and cut, but I did because it was Valentine’s Day. I divided the dough into 3 balls and chilled them in the fridge to make it easier to roll the cookies out. However you can make it easier on yourself by doing it the old fashioned way. Scoop out about a tablespoon size amount of dough, gently roll it into a ball. Place the ball on the parchment lined cookie sheet, and gently press the bottom of a glass on the ball to flatten it, not too thin.

Place the cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 350• for 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick your cookies are.


On Mother’s Day I  make a batch for my mother-in-law and frost the cookies with a little lemon curd. It’s a little messy, but she really loves them.



Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies with Peppermint.

I adapted this recipe from the Baker’s one bowl brownie recipe.

The key here is to use the best quality ingredients. The best chocolate and definitely the best flour. You can certainly use regular white or wheat pastry flour, but as I need mine to be gluten free, that is what we use.  I have found the gluten free flours made of rice are best for the brownies. Other gluten free flours use a mixture of potato flour, rice flour, and/or an assortment of bean flours. Those are good for other baked goods, but not for the brownies. I have included a photo of the flour I use, Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. My family and friends tell me that they actually prefer the gluten free. I think it makes a softer, gooier brownie, believe it or not.

Preheat oven to 350, line a 13 x 9in pan with parchment paper, or you can grease it with butter and dust it with flour.


6 ounces  unsweetened baking chocolate (that’s 10 squares, or one and half bars of the Baker’s unsweetened chocolate baking bars).

18 TBS, That’s two sticks plus 2 TBS, of butter

5 eggs

2 cups of sugar

1 1/2 cups of flour

2 Tbs of vanilla.

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Optional additions –  1 1/2 c of walnuts, or as in this recipe, peppermint candy canes and 1 tsp of peppermint extract. Just don’t use both at the same time!

Put all the chocolate and the butter in a medium size bowl and melt it in the microwave, 2 minutes at time, stirring the mixture in between. Once the chocolate is completed melted, take it out of the microwave and add the sugar one cup at a time, stirring until it  is completely melted. Then add the vanilla and the eggs, again stirring until it is smooth. Add the flour and keep on stirring, you guessed it, until it’s smooth. Now add the chocolate chips. Add them last so they don’t melt in the chocolate mixture.  The reason you don’t need nearly as much sugar as the original recipe, is because of the addition of the chocolate chips. However, I have also made it without the chocolate chips and the brownies were still good. So if you’re concerned about sugar, you can certainly leave the chocolate chips out.  The rice flour adds some sweetness and the extra egg adds richness.

When I added the peppermint candies, I left the chocolate chips  and the walnuts out. I used 3 candy canes and  I crushed them just past bite sized. The little bit of candy along with the peppermint extract are perfect with the chocolate.

Put the candies in a baggie, and pound then with your rolling pin. Sure work out some issues on the candy, but not so much that you turn it into flour. Then fold them into the mixture. Stir in your extract and the mixture is then ready for the pan.

The mixture fills the pan and is about 2in thick.

Here’s the secret to soft, gooey brownies, whether you use gluten free flour or not.  Take them out of the oven before they’re set, about 5 to 8 minutes before the recommended baking time of 30-35 minutes, less if you have an electric oven. Set the time for 20 min and then check them every couple of minutes. Insert a knife and the batter will still stick to it. They’ll be just set on top but gooey still on the inside. Don’t worry,  they will set as they cool, and will be the perfect texture to match the rich chocolate flavor. Hey even if they’re still super soft, as my cousin says, that’s the best way to eat them!   I think that because these brownies are so satisfying, you will eat less. At least that’s the story I tell myself.

Hello Garden Cooks

Here’s a recipe for the blog post  Potato Virgin blog on the Charmed Garden page.

Potatoes should be ready to harvest two weeks after the green leafy tops have died back (i.e. turned brown, or yellow and are no longer upright).  That said, I still harvested my first bag a little too early. The potatoes were still a little hard, and some were still really really small, even though they were supposed to be small because they are fingerlings.  They were so small that they could easily be used by the tiniest of fairies for dinner.  They tasted okay, but were missing that delicious sweetness of a perfect potato.

So, I left the last bag alone, because the tops still had a fair amount of green and I wanted a better crop out of this bag.  I absolutely love potatoes so this was hard for me to do. We had a family reunion at our home, and still they sat in the bag on the driveway, and I was patient. We took a road trip through parts of Canada and the Upper Peninsula, and still they sat cozy in their bag of dirt.

Home one day and I couldn’t wait any longer.   I needed my potatoes!!!   And baby it was worth the wait.  The potatoes have much better color, are tender, and larger. They are fingerling potatoes so large is still  a relative term.

Here’s photos of the potatoes right after harvest and on my plate.

My bag of beauties!
My bag of beauties!
My plate of potatoes with other veggies from the garden.

I cooked the potatoes in avocado oil along with diced baby eggplants (grown in a container next to the garage), red pepper (also from a pot, this one on the deck), kale, and onions.  All the veggies are from the garden. I added what was left of my basil, a clove of garlic (not from the garden), diced, and finished it with grated parmesan cheese.  The hardest part of this recipe is dicing all your veggies.

Here’s the basic recipe:

The idea here is to cook your fresh potatoes with what you have on hand, so that this is a low stress, fresh meal.

My Ingredients include: onions (it doesn’t matter what kind), I used about 1/4 c – however you can use more or less to your taste; 1 clove minced garlic; about 2/3c of potatoes; 2 baby eggplant, one red pepper, 3 kale leaves, a handful of basil, and parmesan cheese to taste

Cook the onions and garlic just until translucent (see through), add your diced (the smaller/thinner you dice them the faster they will cook) potatoes and a little more oil if needed.  You can use broth instead of more oil, just a scant 1/4c.  Cover andcCook the potatoes for a couple of minutes. Then add your peppers, eggplant, or any other veggies you have hanging around, like perhaps diced green beans.  Add your kale and herbs last. Once the potatoes are soft, you are done. I recommend sprinkling the cheese on top of your warm veggies after its on the plate.  If you are adding tomatoes, add them just a minute before you finish to avoid making your dish soupy.

You can adjust this recipe to your taste. However, there are a couple of  important things to keep in mind. Be sure to use oil that does not break down in high heat, which is why I used avocado oil.

Sure its not a lot of crop, but still pretty easy and fun to grow. All I did was add dirt to cover the green plant as it grew taller and taller. I think if my bags were taller, and I could have added more dirt, I would have had a few more potatoes.  There’s always  next year!! So stay tuned.

If you’ve had a successful potato crop, please share!!!

4 thoughts on “In The Kitchen”

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