Saturday, July 25, 2009

The amazing Aerogarden Herb and Serve for salad dressings and marinade

I admit, I'm kind of an Aerogarden junkie. You can see in the blog that I bought three Aerogarden units, I bought the shelves, I bought the soft ties, I bought the replacement pumps, the replacement bulbs, half a dozen different seed kits, and even the AeroGarden Master Chef Herb Cookbook !

Herb 'n Serve from Aerogarden is something new I decided to try. Now, I have every kitchen gadget known to man, from a George Foreman grill to a rotisserie hot dog cooker to a Keurig coffee maker. But this one is one of my new favorites. If you are looking to make vinigrette or marinade, you'll love it too.

The Herb 'n Serve looks a lot like a salad dressing bottle with a cap. The difference is, there's a powerful, battery-run blender on the bottom, as well as convenient lines on the carafe that lets you measure perfect proportions of oil and vinegar.

I decided to make a herb vinigrette. It started with a "handful" of fresh herbs from my Aerogarden (the parsley is from the parsley plants I transplanted into pots, which are thriving)

I opened the box of the Herb and Serve. It consisted of four parts: a carafe and a bottom (already assembled), a plastic twisting cap...

...and six AA batteries to power the thing.

I followed the instructions step-by-step. Step one was adding Balsamic Vinegar to the vinegar line.

I threw in my bunch of herbs...

Then, I flicked the switch to "on". The whole thing started blending.

Once the whole thing was blended, I just added some salt, pepper, mustard...

...and olive oil.
The result was a perfectly delicious vinigrette which would go well with any salad. So the next step was to find a salad. I went to my top Aerogarden unit and started harvesting mesclun leaves. This is what I got.

I poured the vinigrette on just like it came in a bottle.

And voila--there's a delicious salad prepared 100% using the amazing Aerogarden. The mesclun tasted like mesclun, and the vinigrette added a great burst of flavor.

I am looking forward to trying the marinade maker capabilities of this thing. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Aerogarden Snowpeas are falling like dominoes

Bad news about the Aerogarden snowpeas. For no reason, they seem to be dying.

Here's a plant that was thriving less than a week ago. Now it's shriveled up. Two pods have completed died, and I see that three more have dead leaves which are starting at the bottom and moving to the top.
The odd thing is--there has always been plenty of water, the lights have been working just fine, and I've been putting the nutrients in right on schedule. The temperature in the kitchen has always been just fine (in fact, the other Aerogardens are thriving).
So, I have to conclude that it's the seed pods that were at fault. I wrote back to Aerogarden, and I'll let you know what they say.
There's one pea pod that seems to be getting big. Let's see if it can reach full size before the rest of the plant goes.
In the meantime, the Aerogarden Herbs are doing splendidly, and yes, the basil is full grown again. What else is new?

The mesclun is doing well too. And unlike my short-lived romaine lettuce it's still 100% bug free! In the next post, I'll talk about how I made my own salad AND salad dressing with the amazing Aerogarden!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What a revolting development...

So, in an unpleasant development a few days ago, I was examining the sponges on my snowpea plant and looking at the roots. Then, one of the roots started moving!

You guessed it. Some critter had decided to lay its eggs in the sponge, and suddenly there were dozens of little creepy crawlies in the sponge material. Sadly, I thought that starting an indoor garden would mean freedom from critters, but because of the light and water I've had to deal with whiteflies, fruit flies, and now these mysterious little wormies.

I tried picking them out, but there were just too many (plus, I can getting a bit sick to my stomach). In a moment of desperation, I took some drops of boiling water, and dropped it in the sponge. Surely enough, this killed the worms, but it looks like it also killed the snowpea. So long story short,that's two snowpeas down, five left.

Anyway, a moment of silence for the one pea pod that was taken before its time :(

In better news, I got home to a cute little box delivered by the mailman.

I opened it up, and there, wonderfully packed, was my replacement Aerogarden pods, one peapod and one mesclun.

I took out the offending snow pea seed pod out and replaced it with this one. We'll see in 6-12 days if it sprouts, and if it can catch up to its siblings.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The basil has...well, you know.

So, the basil is showing off again. Check out the growth after just a few days. In some ways I wonder if the basil is hogging all the nutrients from the others. The mint is holding its own, but the parsley and the thyme is anemic, and the purple basil is barely hanging on. I would contact Aerogarden for a replacement, but no big loss if I don't get purple basil growing, as I prefer using regular basil anyway.

So, you know the trend by now. I chopped a healthy piece of basil off.

I decided to do something special to my Nutrisystem Pizza by converting it to a Margherita Pizza. Now, the way the "Nutrisystem Pizza" works is, it's a slab of flatbread the size of a Pop Tart. You slather on the tomato sauce that comes in a little packet, and then you put on grated cheese. I decided to add my fresh basil before sticking it in the oven.

I gotta say, it turned out incredible. The added taste of the basil transformed it from a ho-hum pizza slightly under the quality of a frozen pizza to, I kid you not, a gourmet meal. The smell of the cheese and the tomato sauce and the basil was nothing short of heavenly, and the taste was great. It didn't look too shabby either.

In other news, check this out. Could that be a tiny snowpea peeking out?

I admit, I am a little worried about the snowpeas, because I think I made the wire "trellises" too late. I was supposed to do it when the plants were 1-2 inches tall, but I waited until they got long. So they're not being supported too well now--they're not wrapping around the trellisses, but rather drooping back to the Aerogarden itself. I tried shoring up a couple plants by adding more wire to serve as support, so we'll see if this helps. Still, I do see a couple flowers, and this looks a lot like a pea pod, so we'll see.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Freezing Aerogarden Herbs for Future Use

No, this isn't a repost from a few days ago. Within days of pruning the basil, the basil plant has gone and grown tall again, to the point of hitting the lights.

Now, the leaves of basil are full and absolutely beautiful. It's still not enough basil for me to cook a recipe, but I can't bear to prune them and throw them away. Still, letting them grow would cause them to burn when they hit against the lights, and also, they're very clearly stealing light and nutrients from the other herbs (strangely, the purple basil doesn't look like it's going to make it)

One popular trick that herb gardeners use is to freeze the herbs for later use. I took out the Herb n Ice Freezer Trays I ordered a few weeks ago at the Aerogarden Store (to find it, click on "Accessories" and scroll down). Yes, you could use regular ice cube trays too, but I like the fact that the Aerogarden trays were made of silicone, and the compartments are perfectly measured for tablespoons and teaspoons, so when you need them for recipes, you just need to pop them out and use them.

tray for freezing herbs

The first step was to harvest the basil. I deliberately chopped off a ton.

basil on cutting board
I picked off the leaves and put them into a bowl.

basil leaves in cutting bowl
I pulled out my brand new KitchenAid Food Chopper and chopped the leaves effortlessly.

kitchenaid chopper and basil
This was the result.

chopped basilFinally, I put the leaves into the tray, filled the compartments with water, and put it all into the freezer. In all, I yielded 4 tablespoons. A good pesto recipe requires 2 cups of pesto, so I'm 1/8 of the way there!

chopped basil in freezer

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How great is AeroGrow Customer Service?

So, the bad news is, that little snow pea that thought he could...thought he could...couldn't. The little green seedling eventually wilted under the Aerogarden lights. And on of the Mescluns never even sprouted. So out of 14 pods, 12 grew and these two did not:

I went onto Aerogarden's site and submitted a message to their Customer Service telling them that these two pods didn't grow.

Within a day, I got a very nice response from "Mary", who said that two new pods were on the way, along with some advice on how to grow them. And then I got another email with an order form saying that it had been shipped. How cool is that?

Monday, July 6, 2009

What a show off

So, here's an update on the herb Aerogarden:

The mint and the chives are doing well, while the dill is growing but a bit pale in color. The purple basil is not doing well at all--the leaves look very pale. The thyme looked that way too at first, but it's starting to perk up just a little.

In the meantime, talk about an overachiever. The basil has shot up and even hit the grow light (burning a few leaves in the process). Back when I started this blog, I would be hesitant to prune the plant, but after hundreds and hundreds of leaves by now, I happily chopped away. In fact, it was a very, very lovely complement to my Nutrisystem Chicken and Dumplings (don't worry, once I get more herbs I'll start cooking real things again, diet be darned)

The other gardens are doing fine. I looked up at the mesclun on the top shelf, and noticed that one of the lights had burned out.

I think this Aerogarden was the same unit that started this blog (which grew the International Basil kit) so it's had a good life. Luckily, I had some spare lights I had purchased at the Aerogarden Store. Voila, two working lights again.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Savings at Gardener's Supply Company

From time to time, Gardener's Supply Company will send me discounts to post on this site. Here's the latest: from now until 8/13, click through on the banner below and you'll get 10% off any order over $50. Great time to stock up on all your indoor herb needs, from potting soil to planters to rosemary trees (although I've given up trying to grow rosemary, as I'm evidently the grim reaper of rosemary plants!)

Gardener's Supply Company