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Jessica’s Garden: A Whole Lot of Love

Valentine’s Day is a holiday my husband and I try not to get too carried away with. No expensive or lavish gifts; usually something small and heartfelt. Like orchids; I love orchids. We used to set a $15 limit when we were first married as we had only just survived the holiday season and our anniversary quickly approaches in June.

Valentine’s Gifts from Grayson

Luckily for me, my husband Chris is an easy one to please. Grayson made simple and thoughtful canvas paintings and Valentine’s cards for his Dad and grandparents. I whipped up a batch of beet pickled eggs and a homemade tag for him. We both have an affinity for pickled eggs. Once a jar of my homegrown pickled beets has been devoured, I pop a few shelled hardboiled eggs in the remaining juice for about a week to work their magic.

Beet Pickled Eggs

Our backyard bantam chickens have picked up egg production again. They granted themselves a three or four week winter break, but as daylight is holding in longer, they have started laying again. As gifts for the grandparents, I packaged up half a dozen homegrown eggs. It may not have been much, but it’s just as our families do; and it’s all always appreciated.

Valentine’s Eggs

Grayson and I also spent quite a bit of time together in the kitchen this week. During supper preparation yesterday, he kept popping into the kitchen to check on me and ask if I needed his help with anything.

We made kale chips yesterday afternoon which turned out surprisingly tasty. I read a store-bought package’s ingredients list a few weeks ago, and it listed lots of nuts. So when I made mine this week, which I’ve never tasted or tried making, I tried to make them how I imagined the commercial version was produced.

Homemade Kale Chips

Kale Chips

1 Bunch Kale
¾ C Assorted Nuts (I used hazelnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and cashews)
Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In food processor, grind nuts, sea salt and pepper into a fine powder. Wash kale and tear leaves into chip sized pieces. In large bowl, drizzle kale with olive oil and toss in ground nut powder. Toss until well incorporated. On baking sheets, spread kale into single layer. Bake in oven, checking and turning often to avoid browning and burning. After about 10-13 minutes, kale chips should be crispy but still green. Enjoy as a guilt-free snack.

Grayson and I also made a couple versions of citrus curd over the week. I have always loved Lemon Curd and Key Lime Pie, so I could only assume Key Lime Curd would also be fantastic. And it was.

Key Lime Curd

Bright and tangy and sweet. It is amazing on a slice of hearty toast or just from the spoon. Grayson helped me with an adaptation of the same recipe, making instead Grapefruit Curd. We were preparing for afternoon company and I made grapefruit and key lime tarts to go with tea and coffee for the occasion.

Grapefruit and Key Lime Tarts

Making lemon and lime curd has always intimidated me. I have never found a recipe to preserve this luxurious treat as it spoils in only a few short weeks. Never again. It was so simple and easy that when the mood strikes, it can be easily put together even if its shelf life is limited. And let’s face it– it won’t stick around to see its expiration anyways.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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