You asked, she answered! Here is this week’s Q&A with Grandma Pellegrini.

Take it away grandma!

Q. How do you keep the critters from eating up your garden? I plant fruit trees and have raised vegetable gardens, and so far only the groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks and birds have enjoyed my homegrown produce. The area is fenced in, the raised vegetable beds are covered with netting, and still the critters persist. Should I just start charging these pesky critters an admission fee?

A. The critters pretty much leave herbs alone which is one reason I’ve been concentrating on herbs. When I had a larger garden I planted a Southernwood (a small woody shrub with a  strong repellent odor)  at the entrance. Having been told that it would deter any invaders; it seemed to help.  (I also had the whole garden fenced in at that time).

Q. Hi Grandma P – I am a foraging newbie. Do I need a guide for forest foraging, or am I safe following the advice of something like “Stalking the Wild Asparagus,” which is supposed to be a classic foraging book? Thanks so much for sharing your insight. 🙂

A. I have not consulted any books since ‘Stalking the Wild Asparagus’ some years ago. It seems to still be regarded as a prime source of  information on the subject.  Where do you plan to be foraging? I’ve noticed some new books on the subject that look charming and useful and have information about specific areas, but have not investigated any (yet).

Q. How old are you?

A. In September I will celebrate my 90th birthday. I am a Virgo, which has proven to be a ‘mixed blessing.’

Q. What is Stevia and what are your favorite ways to use it?

A. Stevia is an herb; a sturdy plant with sweet dark green leaves. I have 2 plants in  pots (planning to plant one in the garden), and I pluck off a leaf whenever I want to add a bit of sweetness to a dish: dressings and dips  in the blender, stir-fries, sauces, etc. It is available in powder form from various manufactures, and I’m still trying to determine which I like best for baking (not too successful) and for sweetening drinks like tea and    lemonade, and for puddings. It needs to be stirred in liquid before it releases the sweetness fully. Currently I’m using the blue packets labeled Stevia. It has no calories! And no glycemic input.

Q. What is your favorite recipe lately?

A. My favorite to bake is Rosemary Lemon Cookies. For an entree I guess it would be (just discovered) Braised Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce. I make it with Tofu and serve it on Brown Rice Pasta (shells, or fuseli or whatever). That combination, beans (in tofu) and rice, creates a  perfect protein. (I hope Georgia will forgive me for stepping on the nutrition soap-box).

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