Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. Savor the Tastes: Good Food & a Great Garden

    My favorite food writer, Michigan's own Sally Ketchum, is back with a look at taste. You'll savor Sally's musings on how different foods appeal to our sense of taste.

    And for dessert, Sally tosses in a few timely tips for all of us green thumb-challenged home gardeners.

    Take it away Sally...

    Savoring the Tastes: Good Food & a Great Garden
    by Sally Ketchum
    Special for

    Ah, tastings! Smart dieters know taste is a premier fat fighter. You know taste: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Four of them. Yet, in India, chefs consider a fifth taste-hot/pungent. Makes me think Cajun food.

    Still another taste-UMAMI-is recognized now around the world. In Japanese, umami simply means "darn good or yummy." (There is a popular sweet garden pepper from Japan-seeds available in America-called Yummy. In Japan, folks eat these small peppers like we eat apples.)

    Simply, if you dive into a dish, that is either one ingredient or many or something in between, and more than sweet or sour, salty or bitter, you think," Oh wow, this is simply good!" That is umami!

    Now I talk about all this because I like things savory, and I guess that's "not sweet." And the word savory brings to mind the herb summer savory. There is also winter savory, but that's a little stronger.

    Summer savory grows fast and you can find savory seedlings at local nurseries if you hunt. Even some seed racks have packets of it. As a culinary herb, it's a favorite in bean dishes.

    Summer savory is a small annual, about 18"-20" high with small pinkish flowers. Through the ages, savory has been so beloved for its bright flavor that the word savory has come to mean good food or even a good experience.

    Sally's 5 down 'n dirty gardening tips

    Now that we've whetted your appetite, there are a few things to remember as we tend our gardens (and tending gardens is great exercise!)

    --Keep vegetables picked to encourage more production. Two feet-long zucchini are useless.

    --Thin greens, leafy herbs, spinach and lettuces to use as baby greens for salads.

    --Celebrate your garden in your picnics and parties. Make herbal bouquets for the table. Start the day with a watermelon carved like a shark and fill it with various melon balls and local berries. For evening events, adults might like to add a cup of vodka or Cherry Heering liqueur to the mix of juices. A non-alcoholic berry and fruit juice is great for kids.

    --Get a rain barrel and keep plants strong with "manure tea." Fill the barrel (or another container) half full of composted manure and wait for rain. Use the rich "brew" to fertilize plants. For quick results, use a smaller container.

    --The Green Thumb Doctor finds that a bent stem can often be saved by a 2" piece of plastic straw. Slice the piece open on one side. Pry it apart and enclose the stem in it. Leave the straw piece on, and the stem will probably regain strength. Works for me will work for you.

    Onward to the weeding; off with the pounds!

    Sally Ketchum writes about food and other matters of importance from her lakeside Michigan lair. For more on Sally, and to check out her award-winning kids' novel, Bread Garden, go to

    Ingredients of Success
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