Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ellen's beets

I had some beets from my farm share and some were looking done in the garden... So I thought I'd try Mrs. Emlen's recipe. These are delicious. And aside from having a pot of boiling water in your kitchen for an hour it's a very easy recipe.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Reprieve! Ugh - yess, it has been a blessed and balmy 87° today, even though the humidity didn't give us much of a reprieve - it was pretty much a 95.5% humidity situation. But it's much more bearable at 87° than at 103°. And so I opened all the windows turned and turned off the air conditioners. Aaaaahhhhh..... nothing beats fresh air.
I went for a bike ride, came back completely sweaty and thought - well, I'm already sweaty, lets tackle the garden. (which I've been ignoring in this heat)
So I did. I mowed the lawn (three weeks forgotten). Watered the weeds so that I could pull them out. I don't know if you can tell in these two images (above and below) but on the right side I yanked out a ton of weeds. They were all edible of course which caused a bit of guilt - I must confess. I had the Asian day flower, lots of grass, poke weed, and the pink flower weed that I don't know what the name is, plus a ton of lamb's quarter. Of course it's been really hard to "weed" the lambs quarter now that I know how good it is. But today - maybe I came to my senses (because of less heat?) - I decided... it's time to weed. I don't need to eat the weeds. I also had a good look at the majority of them. They seem to have been hit hard with the birdy poop. Then I looked up. Amazingly - the densest weed growth is directly beneath the telephone wires running across my garden. Which is great... except that this seems to be an annual station of "relief" because the lambs quarter in that region is very pooped-on looking. So... since I am NOT starving, I decided to sacrifice the lambs quarter for the tomatoes and collard greens. I have plenty from my farm share and I don't need to try to make use of everything edible in my "garden".
The rest of my garden is going bananas: Here is the Melisse plant. A month ago we could still see earth around it.
It turns out that the lantern plants I planted last year are doing okay as well. They don't really like it here though.
I moved two stalks I thought might be the same thing to a different location and they are much happier. Both have lantern buds and the leaves are much greener. For those of you unfamiliar with these - these will turn bright orange in the fall. They are very beautiful.
I don't know if I've mentioned my indigo plant on the blog yet....
This is a gift from Jennifer - of knitting fame Jennifer. She grew a huge bush in her yard last year and I was extremely envious. This year - I don't remember what we traded for - but it was worth it. I have a beautiful little indigo plant.
I did have to rescue it from the weeds. But apparently when the leaves die - they turn the tell-tale blue:
The tips of these little ones seem very blue to me. I did have to rescue the plant from the weeds. Hopefully this one will go crazy now. I also had to rescue my cockscomb from the weeds. It's just started to "bloom"? Is that the right word for this plant? I don't know. Jennifer also sent me the instructions on how to make indigo from the leaves... I can't wait! I wonder if it's a perennial?

And then in other news... I knew I wanted to post about this but wasn't really sure where to post.
I decided a couple of months ago that if I was trying to twist a bunch of people's arms into joining my charity project (www.pinkknit-a-thon.blogspot.com), I should probably pay it forward and do some charity work for others. So this weekend while the weather was unbearable, I decided it was time to crank up the air conditioner, watch movies and knit some swatches for Heart in Hand Project. This is a project to make blankets for those hit hardest by the tornadoes this late spring/early summer (remember them?) especially in Missouri. I found this yarn at AC Moore when I was there this weekend, and I knitted five squares from one skein.
It was fun doing a no-brainer project - just knitting. Maybe the good people at Heart in Hand will get another set, if I get my act together.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's Hot.

It is so bloody hot. I just have to post about how freekin' hot it is! I'm so blown away (almost literally) because it is so incredibly hot. The minute I walk out the door I start sweating. Thank goodness for electricity and god bless the person who invented air conditioning - although I wonder if it isn't the old vicious cycle... are we staying cool at the expense of the world climate next summer? Is all of the exhaust we are putting out now harming us in the future? Because if it is - we are in serious trouble. I will be non-functional through the summer.
When I was running errands today - my car thermometer said 117°. I've never seen that before.
I took Lucky to the vet - he was his typical self... super friendly for about 8 minutes and then really grouchy. But he has to be on the 2nd floor, it's too damn hot on the first floor. Ugh. I'd really like everyone to get along. That would make things so much easier.
It's so hot I even moved the worms upstairs. They appreciated it. When I looked yesterday to see how they were doing they were all crawling along the top of the bin - trying to get out. Now that they are in cooler "weather" they are much happier. All down in the rubbish chomping away.
Okay - cross your fingers that we don't have a black-out. Otherwise, I'll be sleeping in a very cold bathtub - with ice cubes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the Things you learn from your friends....

Its amazing what you learn from your friends ... or because of your friends.
Here's how it happened. Today - I met with a food historian at work to plan for an event featuring THE COOKBOOK. As we were browsing the book I found so many recipes I still want to try. (By the way, the menu for the event is: meatballs, sweet potato pudding, macaroons, cottage pudding, and currant shrub.) We were trying to come up with a vegetable (because I insisted) and I thought - oh, hey, there is a pickle section. So I went through it and found the recipe for "nasturians" [sic]. I asked - does she mean the flowers? Yes.
Well... actually no. I came home and started googling. It's amazing what you can find on the internet. "How to pickle nasturtiums" and all of the results included the word "buds". "How to pickle Nasturtium buds". It also included the phrase, Poor Man's Capers.
Huh. Capers... interestingly enough capers came up in a conversation this past weekend with Melanie. Where do capers come from? A bush. Well not quite. Turns out, if you google "capers" you get a very interesting story. I found this info on Wikipedia - a completely reliable source (I know Daddy.) But yeah, now I want a caper bush. It has pretty flowers. Are there Caper farms? Seriously! So what I learned from my conversation with my friends is what a caper really is. Thanks Meli! And - turns out - Pickled Nasturtiums doesn't mean the flowers - it means the buds.
In other news - I harvested my very first beet. I'm going to use Ellen Emlen's recipe for the roots. I'll cook the greens in garlic. yum.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden and Birkshires and kitties!

My newest kitty is still here. I'm not sure what's going on with Lucky. He can be very sweet, but today when I got home he was not a happy camper. He also hasn't pooped in several days... so now we need to go see the doctor for sure. I just hope he's not pooping somewhere else I just haven't discovered yet. I haven't smelled anything suspicious though. I've tried introducing him to Jacques and Swee'pea. It's not going well. Mostly because Lucky is so vocal about his displeasure. He sure is a character.
Had a little bbq last weekend and made some mint ice cream. Pretty yummy stuff! Fresh mint from the garden. I mixed it with the sugar for the cream. It's perfect for chocolate syrup and strawberry jam and... ???
My first zucchini also showed up. I'm a bit surprised that there aren't more. I thought I would be inundated. But I'm not. There is another one growing now. But only one.
My tomatoes are flourishing. I finally have close to ten fruits on the vines. I am really looking forward to those. The fruits are getting quite large too - they must start turning red soon?
Flowers are doing well also - I have lots of these. They are next to my firey-orange cosmos. Looks very beautiful.
Blueberries!! I've got two ripe ones. Watch out.
Basil - oodles of it. I ran out of olive oil so it's all washed and waiting for me to do something with it tomorrow after I buy more olive oil.
And look what I found when I went to cut some parsley! Another caterpillar. Remember Fred? Same little guy (I think). So now the little guy is in a jar chomping on my parsley and well see what he turns into.
And yes I was in the Berkshire's, Western Massachusetts this weekend. It was absolutely lovely. Melanie has an amazing house - now with horses, hot tub, clean air, and a sparkling pool. Very lovely. There are also two barn cats. Who are new mommies. Here is Tiger with the 8 little ones. The litters are about a week apart. They are so cute!

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'm a wild foodie!

Well, I finally did what I threatened to do... try eating my weeds.
Here is a bunch of lamb's quarters growing in my tomatoes. I've always had to weed this stuff like crazy. I don't know how so much of it can seed itself in my yard, but it does. So after the event at the Wyck house I decided to let it grow, so I could harvest some, so I could eat it.
I pulled up bunches of it. made a nice clear space in the tomato garden came inside, cleaned it up, and cooked it in a little bit of olive oil and some garlic.
All of the websites say this stuff tastes just like spinach. Boy are they right! It's pretty delicious. I'll have to try it as a salad next time. Supposed to be just as good. And don't worry - there is plenty left in the garden.
I also have tomatoes coming!!! I'm super excited about these. Of the 12 plants in the garden only one or two have fruits. They are growing like crazy, but I hope the others get fruits soon. I also have some baby zucchini's and a few beets are starting to show up.
In the last few minutes it decided to dump on us. A massive thunderstorm has parked itself over my neighborhood. This is good - we need this! It's pouring. Unfortunately I had sheets on the laundry line. Those will have to be done again. But it is nice and cool for a change.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

And then there were three...

No - I didn't get another kitty. This one just showed up. This is Lucky. Lucky is a BIG kitty. He's even bigger than Jacques. He showed up in the yard and was still there the next morning. So I opened the door and in he came. I was going to place an add in Craig's List for a FOUND! kitty. For some reason I thought I'd search first to see if he'd been lost in the first place. Sure enough someone posted him with a picture. And it is him. But I've been trying to reach this person since then and have received no reply. :( Maybe the person is on vacation. Lucky is very lonely, but of course he and Jacques do not like each other. I'm not sure about Swee'pea yet. But I'm also not going pass him on until I've exhausted every possibility to get him back to his owner. He's a big love bug too. Sigh - how do I wind up in these situations?

On a different note - there is a "This American Life" episode - you must all hear. (When you get to the page - click on the red "play" button. The episode is about an hour long. Worth it.) It is a documentation of a group of prison inmates doing an act of Shakespeare's Hamlet. It will really blow you away. Talk about actors reflecting on their life for inspiration for their roles. It's the best acting you've ever experience. I've heard it twice now and I think I'll listen again. It gives you hope for people who recognize their wrongs, but aren't sure they should be forgiven. It's amazing. Check it out!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Garlic Scapes - clarification post

Here we go - this is A garlic scape. If you unwind it it is about 12 inches long. They are the flower part of the garlic that farmers cut off so that the bulb will be bigger. Apparently you can only get them at farmers markets.
And for the recipe I posted in the last post you cut off the flowers, then use the stems. They are very garlicky, but not sharply garlicky - just good flavor. Plus they are just really pretty. I got another bunch of them in my share yesterday. Yay! I might try something different this time... maybe a stir fry? I have two zucchinis as well....

Oh, and do I just have the cutest kitty or what?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happiness in the small things

My garden is flourishing and I am always amazed at the rush I get when I spend time with it. Here's my bird's eye view: The herbs in a row are happy as clams. They are growing like crazy, and it is such a pleasure to be able to go out and pick exactly what you want to put into dinner. Above is my beautiful mellissa plant (the big fluffy one in the middle). If you don't know this herb it is really lovely. It has a strong lemon scent - completely different than lemon grass. I went to the herbiary yesterday and distilled drops sell for $69. per bottle. That's about $1/drop! But it is pure heaven. Probably the most expensive whiff of anything I've ever put my nose close to. What an indulgence. While I can't afford that - I can stick my nose in the bush in my yard whenever I want to - or cook with it (it adds nice flavor to rice) and I also like to put it in my apricot sauce. mmmm. On the left is thyme and to the right is parsley and then a rosemary bush.
Below is the other half of the row, from left to right: chives, basil, dill (very faint), sage, and green onions (purple poof flowers). I'm also trying my hand at collard greens - they apparently like water - go figure. I say that because they were in the ground for a week not doing anything, turning yellow and then I soaked them and they perked up. Duh.
And the onion flowers. They are so beautiful! The bees really like them too. That's going to make for some funky tasting honey, maybe. So Matt, my partner in crime from the food symposium, keeps bees. I told him in return for honey he could totally park his hives in my back yard. I hope he takes me up on the offer. I have to think about what to plant for yummy tasting honey - we'll have to consult if it works out. The bees really like my echinacea flowers (see top), and the clover that is growing all over the lawn. I have a completely new outlook on my "lawn" after the symposium. I walk around on it and see totally different things in it now. I was going to try to re-seed the lawn with some real grass this summer, but now I think I want to keep it more along the lines of a "tamed meadow". I think I might try a weed salad tonight. I haven't done it yet. But the one plant I've yanked out in hand fulls has flourished by the tomatoes. So I'll yank it out again... The advise on the wild foodies website is to go easy. Eat only a little at first to see how it agrees with you. This is probably good advice since I was going to just go through the garden and pick a whole variety. I'll try them one at a time, see what happens.