Custardy Baked Orzo with Spinach, Bacon and Feta    

1 cup orzo

12 ounces bacon

1 � pound leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced

10 ounces baby spinach

8 ounces feta cheese

tsp salt

tsp pepper

4 eggs

� cup plain Greek yogurt

� cup milk


Preheat oven to 375.  


Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl.  


In a large skillet, cook bacon until browned. Crumble bacon and add to bowl with orzo, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. In same skillet add the leeks and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add to orzo mixture. In same skillet cook spinach until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, feta, salt and pepper to the orzo/leek mixture.  


In a bowl, whisk eggs, yogurt and milk together and add to orzo mixture. Scrape the mixture into a greased 12x8 baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, until the eggs are set and the top is browned.




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Branching Out with Faith Appelquist


 Questions, suggestions or comments are welcome.

Contact Faith at (612) 618-5244 or by email 


Plants with Benefits


In the days before industrial pesticides, genetically modified crops, fertilizers, and monocultures, Native Americans understood the mutually beneficial relationship that many plants had for each other. Indians historically planted corn, beans and squash together in an intercropping system called "Three Sisters". The corn stalks support the bean vines; the beans add nitrogen to the soil; the squash leaves keep the soil moist and block out weeds. These three species have similar environmental requirements and don't outcompete each other for water and nutrients, thus allowing all three species to survive.


Cucumber is another good companion to the trio. Sunflowers can help ward off pests from corn. Marigolds are a garden workhorse, keeping away pests like nematodes.


In modern agriculture today there is little room for companion planting or building on these plant associations. We can only hope to recreate this little piece of our ancestry in our own home gardens.




For more on companion planting.

More Bees Please


When planning your garden this year, what are good plant choices for helping the bees? When in doubt, go for the native perennials. Having plants that bloom from April through October provides a constant food supply for bees. Be sure to strive for density (lots and lots) and diversity (different kinds) in your plant selection. Plants in the Lamiaceae (the mint or deadnettle family) or Asteraceae (commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family) are good sources for pollen and nectar.


The ideal bee habitat, a mixture of native perennials.

My favorite list of readily available bee-friendly plants
and their bloom time include:  
  • 'Orchid Frost' lamium (April-Sept)
  • 'Walker's Low' catmint (June-Sept)
  • Goat's Beard (June-Sept)
  • 'Phantom' joe-pye weed (July-Sept)
  • 'Grand Mum' bee balm (July-Sept)
  • 'Neon' sedum (Aug-Sept)
  • Sunflower (Aug-Sept)
  • 'Little Lemon' goldenrod (Aug-Oct)
  • Kickin Carmine Red aster (Sept-Oct).

Bee balm is in the lamiceae family, a favorite for bees as the name implies.

For a more extensive plant list and information how you can help the bees, visit the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab

Thanks for reading. Happy Planting!


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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