Monday, June 28, 2010

Meet Luke

Mrs. Mary Duckett, Adriana Vandross and Luke Howerter

Although slightly remiss in announcing, our Community Ministries department and the St. Francis Community Garden is happy to have Luke Howerter join us for a summer internship. Luke is a recent graduate from Furman University and a Servant Scholar through the Mere Christianity Forum. He received his undergraduate degree in Earth and Environmental Science and has a unique passion for gardening and a heightened interest in sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Currently in the 4th week of his internship, Luke has already completed so much. He has planned a new design for the two handicap beds that are in desperate need of some TLC. He has researched and ordered a compost tumbler for the garden, also creating an education sheet for it. In addition, he is working with Mrs. Peggy Baxter and her Odessa Street garden. This garden will be specifically focused for seniors.

At 35 hours a week for 10 weeks, this internship is an intense one. 50% of his time is dedicated to being outside the office in the community where there are undeserved in need. Luke will also be helping with the blog, among other things. We are so happy to welcome him to our team and garden! If you have any specific gardening questions, please feel free to contact him at

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Family's Favorite Dressings

Have you picked up a bottle of salad dressing lately and read the label? You might find some interesting ingredients like Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Cellulose Gel and Cellulose Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Maltodextrin, Propylene Glycol Alginate and High Fructose Corn Syrup. I will admit that those things regrettably sit on the shelves of my refrigerator. One can barely pronounce them, much less have a clue what they really are and ultimately know what the nutritional benefits may be. Since moving to the Upstate from the Low Country almost 2 years ago, we have enjoyed the bounty of locally grown produce, and tasted the difference in farm fresh milk and eggs.

Real food allowed to ripen on the vine needs little to add to the flavor; we are learning to savor what's in season. It all began with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers bought at Robert Jackson's road side stand just around the corner. We ate bowlfuls of them cut up with a simple dressing. Below are some of our family's favorite dressings and some simple salad variations. I've slowly stocked my cupboard and refrigerator with some basic oils and vinegars so that a dressing can be made in a few minutes. In taking the time to do this, you will avoid the list of preservatives and artificial flavor enhancers store bought dressings offer and instead introduce good simple nutrition and flavor to the table. The oils used provide Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids that promote heart health, stronger immune systems, better brain function and a long list of other health benefits. (for more information visit these websites and

The way I figure, if a food was served a thousand years ago, it's probably still worth eating today. Enjoy!!

Basic Vinaigrette: serve on any salad or drizzle some over a bowl of chopped up cucumbers, tomatoes, and sweet onions, add olives, fresh basil and feta cheese if available.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
4 T red wine vinegar
4 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp garlic salt (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
1 tsp Italian Herb blend (or either dried oregano or basil)
1/4 tsp pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until blended. (I use a jelly jar)

Raspberry Mustard Vinaigrette: this is great served with a spinach salad made with cut up strawberries, sweet onion, pecans or walnuts and either feta or gorgonzola cheese. You can substitute different fruit like apples or pears and add dried cranberries or cherries.
4 T Walnut oil (you can use olive or canola oils or any combination of them)
1 T Balsamic vinegar (if you don't have Raspberry syrup, a flavored Balsamic vinegar can be substituted)
1 T Raspberry Syrup (I found mine while visiting the Biltmore)
2 tsp Dijon style mustard
1/4 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until blended.

Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette: serve over a bed of spring lettuce or spinach, pear, avocado, red or sweet onion and blue or gorgonzola cheese.
1/2 C Canola or Sunflower oil
1/3 C seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 T fresh lime juice
1 T minced fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp garlic power
pinch salt
Mix all ingredients together in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until blended.


Diane Biedler