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Blue-Ribbon Black-Powder Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

Blue-Ribbon Black-Powder Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from Hell's Backbone Grill, With a Measure of Grace

3 tablespoons cornmeal
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. white sugar
1 stick of butter, chilled and cut into chunks
1 cup of buttermilk

1. Adjust oven rack in the center of the oven. Heat to 450 degrees. Grease a 9 by 11 cookie sheet or line with parchment or a Silpat. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cornmeal over surface.
2. Place flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl or in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Whisk or pulse 5-7 times.
3. If making by hand, cut butter in with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles uneven, coarse crumbs. If using a food processor, distribute butter chunks over the dry ingredients. Pulse 10-12 times, then transfer to large bowl.
4. Pour buttermilk over the top of the dough, folding ingredients at edges of bowl into middle using a rubber spatula. Rotate bowl one-quarter turn with each fold until dough is moistened and sticky, leaving few dry patches.
5. Turn dough ball onto lightly floured counter. Lightly dust your hands with flour and gently ease dough into a square shape. With bench scraper or sharp kitchen knife, cut dough in half and stack one-half on top of the other. Repeat three times, flattening, cutting, and stacking. Adding flour if necessary. I had to add a bit of flour:)
6. Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon of cornmeal. Using floured rolling pin, roll to one inch thick. Cut biscuits with a knife or bench scraper into 2 by 2 squares, we cut ours in a circle. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

I hope you try these biscuits at home! And if you have time please visit Hell’s Backbone Grill. Their ingredients are super fresh, they only come from their own gardens, their six acre farm, or from local farmers. For that reason, they are only open Spring-Fall. Call for a reservation. It may be a little town in Southern Utah, but everyone goes to dine at Hell’s! The service is incredible, Blake, Jenn, and staff are down to earth and super friendly. This is a one of a kind restaurant.

Hell’s Backbone Grill
No. 20 North Highway 12
Boulder, Utah 84716
Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner

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A Look into the Kitchen with Chef Brian Widmer

Look into the Kitchen

“Nothing can compare in freshness to the produce we get from our garden,” Chef Brian Widmer says as he bustles around the kitchen in preparation for the evening’s dinner service. “We have a reputation for using only high quality produce so our purveyors know to bring us the best. We don’t take sub-par products; we want the best of the best and the freshest ingredients coming out of our kitchen.”

Chef Brian Widmer was raised and went to school on the East Coast. His career lead him from the Grand Canyon, to the Bay area, and in 2013 back to the West and Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge. Chef Brian Widmer has been the Executive Chef at Garland’s since 2013 and has been creating timeless dishes that guests can’t get enough of.

“I want our guests to be completely satisfied when they leave the restaurant. I want them to eat something that they can’t get anywhere else,” Widmer explains. “I am very familiar with the culinary scene in the Bay area, and in major markets like New York City – people expect high quality there. So I want to defy expectations and show people what they can get right here in Arizona. What we are doing here is just as good, if not better in some ways, than the food scene in big cities.”

So what is Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge doing to get their culinary edge? Garland’s is bringing the farm-to-table experience alive in Sedona. The menu is shaped around the fresh produce that comes straight from the gardens, orchards and greenhouse on the property. Their veteran gardener, Mario Valeruz, knows the grounds well. He knows what will grow, what won’t and how to get the best ingredients using organic practice. The fresh, natural ingredients combined with Widmer’s experience result in incredible dishes that reflect the seasons, surrounding area and his own creativity.

“When I plan my menus I look at what we have available and creative ways I can infuse those ingredients throughout the week. My first season here, we had one of the biggest crops of peaches Garland’s has ever had. We then had to incorporate these fruits into a lot of dishes, which forces you to get inventive with the way you cook and transform your ingredients.” Widmer talks as he peels the beautiful red, crisp skins off of roasted tomatoes. “That’s the challenge and the beauty of working with produce on site. There is a flexibility with being able to go to the garden and see what is ripe and ready to be used. For example, I was able to switch the dessert tonight since we had plums ripe and ready to be picked. At the same time, you have to be mindful of what is available and be sure that you are using, not wasting what we have here.”

Widmer notices the clear difference in the quality of the produce that comes from the gardens and insists on using what they have on site. “I make homemade pasta every other week and I won’t do pasta if I don’t have eggs from the property. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the way the way the pasta comes together with the eggs from our coop. The eggs have a higher fat content, they are all a little different and they produce an overall better pasta.”

When you dine at Garland’s you can taste the freshness and the quality in each dish. When you speak to guests who have been coming for years and years, they always praise the dining experience. You truly cannot get the same, high level dishes anywhere else.

“A lot of our guests return year after year so I always try to mix up the menus and try some new things. I compare the menus from last year to make sure they are not the same.  We will do holiday inspired meals, like last year we did barbecue over fourth of July weekend,” Widmer talks as he works, he never stops moving. “We do seasonal dishes using ingredients like our winter squash and an amazing Heirloom Pumpkin that is from New England.  I love when we get to use all of the fresh fruit, the cherries, apricots, peaches and apples. People always rave about the meals but really it is our ingredients – they are all top notch, vine ripened and organic.”

Chef Widmer is an undeniable force in the kitchen. He is highly attentive to every dish that goes out of the kitchen, as well as everything coming in from the grounds. He has a small staff of three that help him prepare dinner services. He is focused on what he does and has plans for a future at Garland’s.

“As we continue I would like to build on our organic produce and try to locally source everything. We get some of our products from purveyors, and they do a great job getting us high quality items, but I would like to be getting everything from our own grounds and local farmers, growers and shops.”

With Chef Widmer at the helm, there are no limits that Garland’s cannot reach. As their reputation continues to grow for fine dining, the dishes enjoyed by guests are sure to amaze. Stay tuned for more updates from the Garland’s kitchen. You can book a stay and check availability by calling: (928) 282-3343.

You can meet Chef Brian Widmer at our special event during Organic Gardening Month and hear all about his career in the kitchen.

Thursday July 23, 2015 – Meet the Chef: Brian Widmer

Time: 11:30am

Registration Fee: $15 (All proceeds will be donated to Gardens for Humanity, a Sedona non-profit)

At this event, guests can hear from Chef Brian his techniques, the way he creates and incorporates dishes using local products and produce straight from the garden. Participants will be able to ask Chef Brian questions and learn what it takes to be the chef at a highly rated retreat.

Spots are limited so pre-registration is required! You can purchase your tickets via EventBrite

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The Man Behind the Garden

Garden Collage 1

If you’ve ever visited Garland’s and have been astounded by the fresh produce coming through the kitchen, you have veteran gardener Mario Valeruz to thank. Mario came by chance to Garland’s in the early 1990s. After staying for a week, he got hooked and stayed on for a few seasons and was eventually handed over the responsibilities of tending to the orchards and gardens.

When Mario first came to Garland’s, the grounds were flood irrigated, the entire orchards were tilled and chemical sprays were used. Mario vividly remembers suiting up to spray the apple trees with fungicide, “We would put on this great big plastic suits to protect ourselves from the chemicals, and I got to thinking that there had to be some other way to do this.” After visiting an organic farming and gardening conference in California, Mario began switching everything over to organic practice. They began using pop up sprinklers instead of the traditional furrows that held in the water from flood irrigation. They stopped using chemicals and advised their soil consultant, Amigo Bob to help them nourish he soil.

“Before we started going organic, we weren’t improving the soil,” Mario explained. “Now that we have stopped using the chemicals, you can taste a huge difference in everything we grow. The apples are much sweeter, they have a better flavor, plus they have a longer shelf life. Now our trees are much healthier – some of our trees are 100 years old!” They also noticed that the birds began nesting in the trees once they switched over to organic; the bird populations are now thriving with a wider variety of species than before.

Keeping their soil healthy and maintaining healthy gardening practice is crucial to what Mario and orchardist, Rob Lautze do. Every year they do soil tests to ensure that the soil is remaining healthy and balanced. Mario stays up to date with publications like Acres USA that educate the public about organic and sustainable farming practices. They also practice seed saving to help preserve different plants and herbs. For example, they have 15 strains of garlic that they grow on site and seed saving allows them to regrow the garlic each season.

Garland’s also has an incredible irrigation ditch that pumps water directly from Oak Creek up to their property to water their gardens. “The water from the irrigation ditch from the spring is incredibly important. High quality water helps the plants grow, it makes us unique and green. It starts one mile up creek and we rely on it.”

While the irrigation ditch has made an incredible difference in gardening practice, it has come with a lot of challenges. “I have so many stories about that irrigation ditch. It requires a lot of man power, and after rain storms silt gets into the ditch and you have to dig that all out by hand. We put in a lot of work to keep it going and occasionally we find people up their building dams in it to stop the flow, one time I caught people throwing giant rocks into it, intentionally trying to break the structure. Once there was a woman up there relaxing in the ditch – she was just sitting there relaxing, it was quite a sight.”

There is always something to be done to keep the gardens going and Mario is the man behind it all. When he isn’t at Garland’s he is out helping neighbors and friends in the community with their own plants, trees and crops. He also sells produce at the Flagstaff Farmers Market; his good reputation keeps people coming back to him for the freshest items.

Mario also grows his own produce in a Hop community garden in Sedona. He understands that the soil and climate is different there than it is in Oak Creek Canyon so he tries to grow plants that are more heat resistant like basil and eggplant. “The Hopi that I share the land with use a traditional waffle bed design so I like to see how their plants grow versus my little corner. I constantly try to give back to the soil. I use humates which add carbon to the soil and boost it quickly. Carbon also changes the color of the soil. The soil is black for 8-10 inches and then below it is bright red.”

When you speak to Mario about the gardens and what he does, you can tell he is passionate about it. He has spent over 20 years developing and nurturing the Garland’s property and all that grows there. So next time you are dining at Garland’s and can’t get enough of the yummy heirloom tomatoes, summer squash or pickled garlic, remember that Mario is the reason the delicious produce is on your plate. 

Smaller Day in the Garden Promo

You can come listen to Mario speak about organic gardening practices this month during Organic Gardening Month this July! Join us on Thursday July 16, 2015 at 11:30am for A Day in the Gardens: Tour the Garland’s Orchards and Gardens with Tips from the Experts

Enjoy a tour lead by the Garland’s gardener, Mario Valeruz and their orchardist, Rob Lautze. Learn about Garland’s organic gardening processes, the produce that grows and get any questions answered that you may have. Mario and Rob are experts in their field and can offer many insights to participants. It’s a beautiful way to spend your afternoon.

Spots are limited so pre-registration is required. You can purchase tickets on the EventBrite event page and pay using PayPal and all major credit cards.

Tickets: $15 (all proceeds go to local non-profit Gardens for Humanity)

Register Now Via EventBrite


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Urban Gardening in Small Spaces

Here at Garland’s we have acres of lush landscape where we are free to harvest from our garden and orchards. But we understand that everyone is not blessed with spacious yards and room to plant gardens. But just because you are limited in space, does not mean there is no room to try your hand at gardening. There are space saving options, as well as some wacky, creative storage ideas that you can adapt to your own home and style. From shoe sized plant holders, to moveable gardens, we are going to introduce you to some creative urban gardening ideas. 

DIY Urban Gardening

Project #1 – Shoe Planter Garden

If you have an old pair of shoes, why not turn them into a planter? Transform your shoes into a planter for succulents or a small herb garden. Here’s how:

  • Before you begin: Remember that a shoe’s are often shallow. You will want to choose small, shallow-rooted plants. Be sure that each plant you choose has the same requirements for water, fertilizer and sunlight. (we recommend small succulents or herbs)
  •          Once you’ve picked a pair(s) of shoes, you will want to clean them off with a damp cloth to clear off any debris or dirt. Then you will want to spray the exterior and interior of the shoe with an outdoor acryclic sealer (ie: Krylon brand sealers).
  •         After the first coat of sealer is applied, you can always decorate the shoes with paint, stickers, etc. But you’ll want to put an additional coat of sealer on the shoe once decoration has been done.
  •         When your shoe is dried and decorated just the way you want it, you will need to drill shoes in the bottom of the shoe for drainage (if you don’t have a drill, you can use a hammer & nail). Holes should be around 1 inch apart.
  •        Once the holes have been drilled you are ready to fill your shoe with potting soil. Fill it ½ of the way to the top, starting with the toe and then the moving along the shoe. A soil mix containing organic material such as peat moss will help absorb and retain water. A soil mix with bark or perlite will provide good drainage.
  •        You are ready to plant your seedlings or small plants once the soil is in the shoe. Be sure to evenly disperse water across all of the soil once your plants are in place!
  •          Voila! There you have it!

Project #2 – Pasta Strainer Planter

An old pasta strainer is perfect for an alternative planter. It has built in drainage and can easily be hung by its handles for fun, funky hanging planters. The project is easy to do and doesn’t require a lot of work to get it going.

  •        Start with your strainer. Use an old one from the kitchen, buy one at a thrift store or an old antique shop. Once you have your planter, clean it up, paint or decorate it any way you choose. Spraying it down with an outdoor acrylic sealer is also a good idea to help prevent rusting
  •         Line the inside of your strainer with a layer of landscape fabric. It’s breathable enough for water and moisture to get through, but will prevent the dirt from falling out of the holes in the walls of the strainer.
  •          Choose your plants that go with the weather and growing season. You’ll want plants that can stand up to your climate.
  •          After your landscape fabric is in place, you are ready to add in your soil and put your plants into place. That’s it – cheap, fun, easy and beautiful!

Project #3 – Paint Can Planter:

If you have old paint cans, or any cans, lying around the garage or home, you can easily transform them into a planter. You can easily paint and decorate them any way you would like to match your own personal taste and style.

  •         This project is pretty straight forward. Take the paint cans, decorate them how you wish and pick out your plants. You can do this indoor, as a small herb garden for the kitchen, or outside (mounted or stand-alone).
  •         We recommend putting corks or small rocks at the bottom of the cans before adding in your soil. Once the soil is in place you can put in your plants.
  •         To differentiate between herbs and plants, chalkboard labels, are always a fun option.

Another project we love is the Tool Box Planter. You can see a tutorial here


gardening with small spaces

Urban gardening means finding innovative ways to garden without a lot of space. Some of our favorite projects repurpose items to create moveable and vertical gardens that allow you to plant, flowers, herbs, succulents and even vegetables.

Project #4 - Wheelbarrow Planter

A wheelbarrow planter is a great option that allows you to move your garden wherever it needs to be. It is also a pretty straightforward process that repurposes an old item and gives you a garden in a small space.

  •         The first thing you want to do is make holes for drainage. Flip the wheelbarrow over and drill holes into the bottom 3-6 inches apart. This will be essential in draining water and retaining moisture.
  •         Next, flip the wheelbarrow over and line it with either mesh screen, window screen or even landscape fabric. This will allow water to pass through but will not let dirt fall through the bottom holes in the wheelbarrow.
  •        Next comes the soil. HomeGuides recommends: “Fill the wheelbarrow to about 1 inch from the top with well-drained potting soil, using a bagged mix or your own blend, such as equal parts peat moss, compost and sand or a similar blend of organic ingredients. Soil-less potting mixes weigh considerably less than garden soil, making it easier to transport a full wheelbarrow around the garden.”
  •          After you have your soil in place it is time for the seeds. Follow spacing guidelines outlined for each plant, or seeds that you are placing in the soil. Get creative and mix up the varieties you put into the soil.
  •         Finally, HomeGuides recommends: “Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the plants to aid in weed suppression and help retain moisture in the soil. You can use organic mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, or inorganic mulch, such as pea gravel or lava rock. Organic mulches decompose over time to benefit the soil structure.”

Project #5 – Vertical Planter Using a Repurposed Shoe Holder

We love the vertical planters people have made using repurposed shoe holders. They are bit trickier and require a little more work since they need to be mounted but they are a wonderful space saving option for growing vegetables in an urban setting. (Instructables has a detailed tutorial with step-by-step images).

Project #6 - Pallet Garden

The pallet garden is another creative way of building a vertical garden in a small space.  For a detailed tutorial with step by step pictures check out Life on the Balcony.

  •         Start by finding a pallet. Go to a local store, and see if they have any pallets out back that they don’t need. You can usually get a few for free. If you don’t take them, they will just be thrown away so it better to repurpose one if you can.
  •         Once you have your pallet, clean it up. Replace any loose boards or nails that may be sticking out.  You can stagger the boards if you want more space for plants that need more room to grow.
  •         Once the pallet is prepped, you will want to staple landscape fabric to the back of the pallet since it will be standing upright. This will prevent soil from falling out of the back. You will also want to cover the bottom boards of the pallet with the landscape fabric.
  •          Next it’s time for planting and placing the soil. Make sure the soil is dispersed evenly through each layer so the plants are firmly rooted in place. You’ll want to do this with the pallet lying flat on the ground.
  •           Once all of your plants are in place, lean your pallet up against your preferred wall and water it regularly

You can also create an incredible Crate Garden using milk, wine or any wooden crate you please. Apartment Therapy has a great tutorial on how to create a repurposed wine crate planter.

There you have it! These are some of our favorite DIY urban gardening projects you can tackle in a small space. We hope you enjoyed them!

Organic Gardening Month

Learn all about organic gardening this month during Organic Gardening Month! Join us for special events this month on the Garland’s property. Register for Organic Gardening Month events via EventBrite

  • Tuesday July 14, 2015 – Practices and Principles of Organic Beekeeping: An Educational Workshop Lead by Patrick Pynes
  • Thursday July 16, 2015 – A Day in the Gardens: Tour the Garland’s Orchards and Gardens with Tips from the Experts
  • Tuesday July 21, 2015 – An Afternoon of Pairs: A Tasting Event Featuring Locally Sourced Wines, Chocolates and Cheeses
  • Thursday July 23, 2015 – Meet the Chef: Brian Widmer

Pre-registration for each event is required so don’t miss out! All proceeds for each event are going to Gardens for Humanity, a local Sedona nonprofit spreading kindness, compassion and connectivity through gardening. REGISTER NOW VIA EVENTBRITE!

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