Since 1970, the ultimate in natural plant care. Caring for your plants by appointment.

2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the now-famous Plant Doctor "house call".

All-natural, always has been, always will be. I blend long-lasting, slow-release, natural fertilizers (based on your plants' needs). This service is available only to my house-call customers.

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Recipes
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Welcome to the Plant Doctor Home-Grown Recipes!

Growing your food naturally leads to finding and inventing recipes that use what you grow. Miller's Harvest Chilli con Carne is a perfect example. In one recipe, I used 12-1/2 cups of my garden's sweet peppers, 4 cups of my home-grown onions, 7 cups of the celery that I love to grow and eat, plus a whopping 36 cups of fresh tomatoes.

Once the produce comes out of the garden, preserving the surplus can be by dehydrating, pickling, freezing, or by cooking into recipes that can be enjoyed immediately or frozen, ready to eat during the "off" season. Besides chili con carne, other popular ready-to-eat meals include shepherd's pie, pasta sauce, soup. All of these, and more, are so easy to make as the bounty arrives (and/or to preserve).

The recipes are tested and perfected right here! With a lifetime (since 1960 or so) of experience gardening and cooking, I also share with you many of the fine points that "they never tell you", even though somebody must know!

Every kitchen needs a cook book that does not assume that you know how to boil water. Mine is the Fannie Farmer. I use the 13th Edition but you probably want the latest edition (things change, even in cooking).

This All-American pressure canner is the one I chose to use for putting away my garden. Of the six sizes they make, why this one?

I chose this 21-1/2-quart canner because it holds 19 pints in one batch (or 7 quarts). It fits my (standard sized) stove top, which may explain why this model is also the most popular size of All American pressure canner (they call it a cooker/canner, but I never cook in aluminum). Smaller models handle fewer jars, and larger models occupy too much of my stove top. A wider canner interferes with the other burners that I need to heat the ingredients, warm the lids, and boil water for tea and coffee while I work (some things are important)! A taller canner comes so close to the range hood that I would have great difficulty manipulating the lid. My kitchen is very standard and so, likely, is yours.

† Home-grown right here! In each recipe, the dagger indicates an ingredient that I grew here (and most likely can be grown by you). Like me, you probably do not grow vinegar or salt.

 
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Home-Made Heinz 57 Sauce

August 13, 2014: Unlike "copycat" versions of this "home-made" recipe for Heinz 57 sauce (a sweet, tangy steak and BBQ sauce), mine is based on the ingredients used in the original, proven by a year of cooking and taste-testing. I use home-grown ingredients where possible. Notes and variations follow the basic recipe.

Makes 4-6 cups (depending on how thick you cook it down).

Ingredients:

1/2 c. raisins (sultana or Thompson) or dates (or any combination, to taste)
1/2 c. water
2 c. (generous) tomato paste
2 c. malt vinegar
2 c. white grain vinegar
2 c. sugar (I use coconut palm or muscovado sugar)
6 Tbsp. applesauce (or fresh apple or apple juice/cider)
1 Tbsp. Diamond pickling salt
2 Tbsp. tamarind (I recommend Tamicon)
1 tsp. onion powder (or fresh onion† to taste, puréed)
1-3 cloves garlic, puréed (about 1 Tbsp. garlic purée)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground chilli (mild, medium, or hot, to taste)
(optional) pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)
(optional) pinch of celery seed
(optional) 1/8 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 - 1 c. water
2 Tbsp. dry mustard

Tips:

To prevent lumps, use blender for dry ingredient that may be slow to dissolve (onion powder, turmeric, mustard. Blend with sauce or any of the liquid ingredient.

Tamicon tamarind paste is 100% tamarind with seed and skin removed and with no salt added. It is made for cooking straight from the jar.

The main feature of this sauce is the sweet-sour tang. It is not meant to be hot. I use chili (whole or ground) that is just spicy enough to make it interesting. My version is like a spicy ketchup or marinade or BBQ sauce, much like Heinz 57. You can use more chili, hotter chilis, more chilis, Jalapeno, Worcestershire, more cayenne, all to taste.  

Instructions:

Combine in blender or food processor: raisins/dates with first 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth (about 1 minute).

In a saucepan, combine the raisin purée with all other ingredients, except for the last water and the dry mustard. Blend thoroughly. Adjust spices to taste. On medium heat, bring slowly to boil. Simmer uncovered until thick (about 30-60 minutes). I use a tall stock pot to reduce splashing.

Once thick, add a purée of the dry mustard with just enough water to liquefy it. Combine.

Ladle while hot into sterilized jars. Allow to cool. Cover. Refrigerate. At your own risk: I use 1/2-pint (1 cup) preserve jars, 20 minutes in hot water bath, and store sauce on shelf until opened.

† Home-grown right here! (In this recipe: onion, tomato, sweet and chilli pepper, garlic)

 
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Victoria Rhubarb Compote

I believe that fruit compote is one of the oldest, simplest, and best known dessert recipes, but today (May 18, 2017), a few things came together just so, and I discovered a flavor combination that takes rhubarb to a new level. For starters, Victoria rhubarb is like no other. One taste of it will convince you of that. Even eaten raw in the garden, Victoria is superior to any other I have tasted. 

I wanted to harvest and cook some of the rhubarb today because it is about to make shade on other plants in the garden, besides the fact that rhubarb is at its best in early spring.

Ingredients

6 cups Victoria rhubarb, cut into pieces 1"-2"
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup maple syrup (medium amber or darker)
Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan large enough to hold 8 cups or more. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover, and simmer slowly for 5 minutes. Remove lid. Cook for another 5 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally, until all fruit is soft. Remove from heat. Cool. Serve alone, with ice cream, cake, or as you wish!

Notes

I use medium amber maple syrup from a local farm. I use fresh orange juice, and of course, I use home-grown Victoria rhubarb. I am a big fan of cinnamon but it is entirely optional. This recipe is still magical without the cinnamon.

For another superb taste treat, keep some rhubarb (you can freeze it raw or cooked) until strawberries are ripe. Strawberries (51%) and rhubarb (49%) make one of the best fruit crisps ever. This year, I will also try a strawberry-rhubarb compote.