Monday, August 18, 2014

A Pot Luck Picnic for Gardeners and Friends at Schenley Plaza!

Lemon Verbena Cookies On the Way to the Picnic!

Gardeners Know How to Cook!
Me and One of My Gardening Mentors, Jessica Walliser!
Jessica and Doug with Fans of Their Radio Show and GE Events!
The title of this post may be a mystery for you.  A couple of weeks ago I got invitation from Jessica on Facebook for a pot luck picnic for gardeners and friends organized by Doug Oster, her Organic Gardeners radio partner.  He and Jessica are a very talented pair.  Jessica taught me everything I know about horticulture and probably much more that I have forgotten and should have remembered.  We were giggling yesterday that she would stand in front of us holding her notes so tightly and would start to read.  Two and one-half hours later she would be done and the class would have been writing the whole time!  It was an amazing time.  I learned so much that has made me the gardener I am today!  Thanks Jessica!  Thanks Doug for organizing the event.  BTW, Doug is a columnist and blogger for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and a garden author as well. 

The event was held at Schenley Plaza.  There is a big tent in one corner that is used in all kinds of weather for eating and socializing.   I thought I may have known a few more people, but I didn't know a soul besides Jessica and Doug.  As it turned out, a lovely couple asked me to join them.  Thank you Veronica and Dennis for asking me to join you.  Always interesting to hear about the same problems or different ones in the garden.  Universal problem is the deer population.  Veronica cooks what Dennis grows.  I would say it's a great partnership.  I had lunch before I went and so I didn't try everyone's dish.  I did love an individual quiche that turned out to be Veronica's contribution.  She gladly shared the recipe with me.  It is simple and delicious!  I'm going to share it with you plus the recipe for lemon verbena sugar cookies I have shared before.

ZUCCHINI CHEESECAKE (OK, so it's more like a quiche.)
Serves 6
Contributed by Mary Ann Fennimore

1 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 T. parsley, chopped
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
4 eggs
2 medium squash, shredded and drained (3 cups)  

Mix the oil with the eggs first (This step seems to help the batter come out smooth.) and then add all other ingredients except for the squash.  Squeeze out the excess moisture from the squash and fold into the batter.  Bake in a greased 8 x 8 inch casserole dish about 30 minutes at 350˚.  (Veronica said she used a muffin top pan for the individual quiches and topped them with a slice of tomato (Hers was a Roma variety.) before baking.

(Makes about 4 dozen cookies)
Source Unknown

2-1/2 cups flour                                          1 cup butter, softened
2 T. fresh lemon verbena, chopped            1-1/2 cups sugar
2 t. baking powder                                       2 eggs
1/4 t. salt                                                      1 t. vanilla
1-1/2 t. lemon zest                                      extra sugar for rolling

NOTE:  If you don't have any lemon verbena or other herbs, I think you can just omit it and just let the lemon zest be the surprise.  Preheat oven to 350˚.  Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) in a bowl and set aside.  I put all other ingredients (butter, lemon verbena, lemon zest, sugar, eggs and vanilla) except for the extra sugar in the food processor and combine or beat in a bowl with a mixer.  The food processor finely chops the lemon verbena and lemon zest so they aren’t big pieces.  If you don’t have a food processor just make sure to finely chop the lemon verbena and lemon zest (or other herbs) (fresh rosemary or lemon balm would work as well) and add them to the dry mixture.  Add one half of the flour mixture to the food processor or bowl to combine.  Then stir in the remaining flour mixture with a wooden spoon.  This is a very sticky dough.  I have tried to refrigerate it, but it is still sticky.  So make rounded teaspoons and roll them in the extra sugar.  Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes until golden on the edges.  When you take them out of the oven, let them sit for a minute or so and then take them off the cookie sheet to cool.

I think I won the grand prize (an automatic grass seeder) briefly.  I passed it on to the next ticket holder.  I don't have enough grass to warrant a grass seeder!  The person who finally won it was thrilled!  They gave away a lot of prizes yesterday.  My prize was getting to talk to Jessica.  Was very glad to be with her again.

The other point in Jessica's and Doug's story is that they had a partnership with the local Market District Giant Eagle stores to come and do a cooking demo and answer people's questions and give organic gardening tips on a monthly basis.  They had quite a following.  Giant Eagle pulled the plug on these events and this picnic was a thank you to their followers because Giant Eagle didn't give them a chance to say goodbye.  I know these two will come up with a solution.  So stay tuned!

Back to the ickies and stickies in the garden.  I actually have a Youtube page started, but it is about The Herbal Husband's flight on the Memphis Belle over the weekend!  How do these things happen?  Hope to get some gardening videos on there shortly.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

These recipes sound delicious!

Have a GREAT week ~ FlowerLady

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Thanks FL for stopping by as always! I think you will like both recipes! Have a wonderful week as well! xo