Archive for January, 2011

Does the Color of Food Effect Taste?

Rows of beautifully colored vegetables line the wall, and I can imagine a wonderful meal.

I do not eat the red, my daughter tells me. Since when did she give up on eating a tomato? The green, yellow, white, and brown go down well.Red will not do. Later, we are walking by the vegetable aisle in a grocery store, and she is excited to taste the fruits and vegetables offered as samples. I see these bright, fresh colors thinking of meals from chefs. I noticed that meals with a monotone scheme do not go down well in the family. The meal could taste great, but they do not eat as readily when there is a meal of many hues. This leaves me considering meals from the winter garden.
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Holding Patterns: Cleaning up and moving things around the yard.

Not much is happening, so I am still in preparation mode for the new planting season.

We needed the rain. I am glad for the sun. A visitor from Germany reminded me how lucky we are in Houston during the winter months. There is an unease in my bones though. In Chicago as a lad, I could not do anything here in the garden, so I played in the snow. With our weather, I can still enjoy the flowers, but there is not much that I can do that will not succumb to frost. I decided to have everything ready to go, where I could simple set the plants or seeds into the ground, so my task began.
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Broccoli and Kohlrabi in Miso Broth

Braised vegetables go well on winter days. Young broccoli is so tender and bright when braised.

The garden centers are setting up for spring. I have been receiving emails advising me to consider my coming garden, and I am still thinking of winter vegetables. That is wrong. I am making plans for the spring by preparing the beds, but the winter vegetables dominate my thoughts, since I have been harvesting them for the table. Mustard that is a bit too spicy when fresh has a milder flavor in the stir fry. The kale an collards have a better flavor with the colder temperatures, but they are not as abundant (or I have been harvesting them heavily?). The cabbages are beginning to form their heads. Then I noticed that I could have broccoli for dinner.
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The Hard Freeze in Houston

Finally we are getting rain, and the cold weather has arrived. This is the time for freezing temperatures to keep hitting us.

The hard freeze came and went, and life in the garden continues. Long periods of freezing temperatures can come back until the end of winter, so I am stilling watching my plants. I expected the tomato plants, eggplants, and peppers to suffer. I also thought my coleus to die back. However, I was not sure how bad the damage would be to other plants. My wife was quite worried that we would loose many plants, like last year, so she wanted to head out to cover plants. Last year’s freeze hurt plants that had never been effected in the past. With trepidation, I walked out into the garden to asses the fate of my plants.
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Carrots, Onions, and Peas in the Winter Garden

You may not think that gardeners would be planting during this cold snap, but I am.

I am having too much fun watching others cover and uncover their plants. Our temperatures have been going from nearly 80F to 40F on a biweekly basis. I was walking through my local nursery, and mainly I am finding only a few varieties en masse. This is not the time to be considering a new bed for vegetables; is it? With the relative mild Houston winters, we could be planting year round. I spotted onion sets by the door, so I became inspired to expand my vegetable endeavors.
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Mustard Greens for Breakfast, Daikon for Lunch

Simple warm dishes for a cool day make for a nice change. Why not warm vegetables?

My wife has attended a few lectures on health at the hospital where she works. I think she focuses on the food discussions, even though she does not cook often at home. Yams are her new favorite. This is her superfood of choice. To me, any vegetable is a superfood, so I do not get the point on concentrating on a few vegetables. One problem that I have though is incorporating more vegetables into the diet, when it is so easy not to. Recently, my morning meal and often my lunch is a simple vegetable dish.
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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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