Friday, August 26, 2016

Small-Portions Harvests

For a variety of reasons, our garden this year (as in many other years) yields "small-portion harvests" -- just enough during any given week to treat us to home-grown fruits and vegetables that subsidize the rest of our meals, but not enough to store away and preserve.  Every year I work towards a more productive harvest, and each year it does get a little bit better (except maybe this year -- drought, ya know).  Nevertheless, despite the frustrations, I am filled with gratitude and wonder at each small-portions harvest that comes from our land.

Isn't it beautiful?  Colours, textures, scents, and flavours....
Four kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of potatoes, husk/ground cherries, buttercup squash, and the inevitable egg (though the hens are starting to molt and egg production is decreasing).  Not shown are the Astrakom eggplant and the German Englischer custard squash (which have been suffering mold problems) that we already ate this week.

Many more tomatoes to ripen, more squash and eggplant, and at least 2-3 more buttercup squash on the volunteer vine that this one came off of.  Our best produce is grown from the compost pile.  If only my whole garden were as rich as our compost pile....

(I am considering for next year limiting the scope of my garden, so I can spend more time and have more earth to amending and enrich.  And if there's little planted, I can let the chickens in to help me out with that -- they would love that!)
Read More »

Monday, August 22, 2016

For the Joy of Garlic

I love growing garlic.  If the soil is rich enough, garlic can be a very rewarding (and easy) thing to grow.  Planted in late autumn, it sits in the garden throughout the winter, popping green shoots through the cold earth before anything else in the garden even begins thinking about waking up.  At our house, it begins showing before the daffodils and tulips.  During the spring it grows tall and strong, and when summer hits, it sends out twisting, curling scapes that will eventually carry a large, round, seedy blossom at the end (if not cut down).  By late July or early August, garlic is ready to be harvested and cured.  Right now, we have a bushel basket of garlic in our dining room, complete with scapes and stems and some flowers.  I held out some of the best bulbs for planting in October, but the rest will be used in soups, stir fries, sauces, and more.  Glorious, delicious, pungent garlic.

Read More »

Monday, August 15, 2016

Post-vacation Garden

After being gone for ten days, I returned to a garden overcome with weeds (crabgrass, going to seed!).  So today, despite the withering heat and humidity, I weeded.  And I weeded some more.  Then I took a little time to admire the actual plants in the garden -- the squash plant that ate Hadley, a multitude of green tomatoes in the tomato jungle, a couple of tiny little figs, and an eggplant.  I also did a little potato digging -- my first potato harvest!
We finally got a little rain,and August is good.  Now I wait for the ripening to begin.

Read More »

Easy-to-Peel Hardboiled Eggs

In the spring and summer, we get eggs.  Lots and lots of eggs.  I am always looking for new ways to fix eggs -- scrambled, fried, poached, in breads, in desserts, in stir-fries, in souffles, in bulls-eyes.  Egg salad is a popular option at our house, but hard-boiling and then peeling the eggs always seems like a lot of work -- especially since fresh eggs tend to be more difficult to peel.

My solution?  Steamed eggs.  They are tender, look and taste fresh, and are a dream to peel.

Here's the deal:
Bring a pot of water to steaming.  Add a single layer of eggs in a steamer.  Cover the pot and steam for ~13 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare a bowl of ice water.  When the eggs are done steaming, let them cool in the ice water and then start peeling.

Don't throw out those shells!  You can compost them, feed them back to the chickens to keep their calcium levels up, or put them around your tomatoes.
Read More »