May 17, 2012 Leave a comment
It’s been awhile. Long enough that I’ve been wondering what I will write about when I finally get around to it? Should I? Who knows. But here I am. I’ve been spending a lot of time growing food. Yard work and gardening barely feel like work at all most days. I mean I sweat. Sometimes I ache. Some days I’m thoroughly exhausted. But still, it feels good to get my hands dirty and provide good, clean, fresh food for my family. It clears my head. And the payoff – food we’ve grown ourselves, without chemicals, in our own back yard - is as local and organic as it gets.
I extended the garden to reach out for more sunlight. A third of my garden is in the shade and growing food in that area is difficult. I’m adding some pretty plants to attract beneficial insects instead. I have about a dozen tomato plants, a dozen okra plants, eight or so sweet pea plants, a few pepper varieties (more to come), lots of fennel, and maybe ten or so onions have survived (but I don’t know if they’re going to make it) in this garden. The pots contain the Brussel sprouts and broccoli that I had in the garden since last fall. They didn’t thrive, but were still alive so I threw them in some pots to see what happens and what do you know… they’re growing. But I may be wasting time with them. I have lots of other herbs, garlic, strawberries, blue berries, black berries and carrots in other places and containers around the yard.
London is my garden buddy. Usually, I let her try to help, even when I know it’s beyond her strength or skill level because she is determined. She doesn’t believe me when I tell her she probably won’t be able to help with certain things. I don’t want to discourage this determination. I nearly lost my nose to a shovel last weekend because of it.
We roasted that carrot, along with more carrots and new potatoes and green garlic - all fresh from my favorite farmers market - with olive oil, salt and pepper. I served it with fish (cod I think), zucchini “fries” and sorrel sauce. That sauce was a big hit. Sorrel is a new herb I picked up this year. It’s really pretty and easy to grow. It has a tart, lemony flavor. It had grown quite a bit and I needed to find a way to use a bunch. I found this easy sauce recipe and made a few substitutions:
- 1 large shallot, minced (could substitute with any mild, sweet onions)
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 bunch of sorrel, chopped (about 20 leaves)
- salt and pepper
In small saucepan over medium-low heat melt the 1 Tbs butter. Toss in the shallots and cook until soft, but not browned. Add the sorrel and stir, cooking gently, until the sorrel “melts” then add the wine and reduce it down by about 1/4. Without allowing the sauce to boil, add the cream and cook gently for a few minutes until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Salt and pepper to taste.
The sauce is versatile. I made it again this week and served it with scallops. I’ll be pouring some leftover sauce on a couple of eggs in the morning. The zucchini “fries” also got good reviews from the family. I cut some zucchini into sticks, shook them in a bag with some seasoned flour and then spread them in a single layer onto an oiled baking pan. I sprayed them with olive oil and roasted them at 450 degrees until they started to brown. I would suggest spraying them very generously with oil. Otherwise, they come out looking like they were dusted with flour (see my picture). Tastes fine, but not very pretty.
My newest hobby is turning trash into treasure. I could spend hours in thrift stores. I still have several projects that I need to complete. One of the kids broke this urn. I may have cursed – and was just about to toss it into to the trash when I realized… I kinda like it better now. Ha! What do you think?
The old blue chair (unsafe for actual sitting), the watering can and the rooster bucket all came from a thrift store. A trip I made with my mom. We had quite a few laughs about the junk I was picking out. The uglier and more worn out it was, the more I liked it. However, I do draw the line at filthy, dirty, human hazards. No old, discolored and stained upholstered chairs!
I’ve mentioned before how being conscious about the food we eat led us to being more conscious about other things as well, like harmful cleaning and health and beauty products. One thing leads to another thing, leads to another thing… food, growing food, sustainable gardening, sustainable landscaping and next thing you know I’m obsessed with woodland plants, especially native ones. During a recent trip to the mountains I realized I never wanted to leave. Since that wasn’t a possibility I brought some of my dreamland home with me. We have wooded areas on our lot that I thought these transplants would like. I’m pretty excited about what I think might be native yarrow - plus a few ferns, violets, rhodendron and several other native plants I can’t remember names for. Most of them seem pretty happy. I also took a free class at the Reedy Creek Nature Center to learn about landscaping with native plants. I learned a lot, but there’s so much more to learn. (I’m going to have fun with this!) I asked for some advice on how to maintain a nice lawn without the use of chemicals. The advice was simple. More natural areas, less grass. Doh! Why didn’t I think of that? Less grass, less lawn to maintain! Oh and corn meal gluten, twice a year, to prevent weeds from emerging AND provide nitrogen to soil.