Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Pictureless Update

This is just a brief blog update to say I haven't gone away, but am having problems with out computer as well as with blogger. The computer issues have kept me away  for some time and now that I'm trying to blog again, blogger doesn't want to add my photos.  It is irritating to say the least and making me wonder if I should look into another blogging platform. I seem to have so much trouble with photos.
Anyway, the news around here is seed starting and dreaming, oh dreaming about spring! We are in the midst of the worst winter we've had in years. Very depressing. But seeing the baby alliums popping up is cheering and today the skies are blue and the temps are mild. Later this week it's back to single digits.
But 2014 is looking to be an awesome year around here. Last year was a toughie, with our older son's divorce and move to Florida. We miss him a lot. But he has a new girlfriend and...I'm going to be a Grammy!! Something I had just about given up on. It is a boy and he is due to arrive in early August. The height of gardening time and we will have to travel down to Florida to meet him, but priorities! I'm feeling very blessed.
Well, here's hoping I can get this blog moving again soon. I tend to lose my motivation when there are technical difficulties to deal with, so hoping they don't last.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Starting the New Year With Cold Weather But Warm Tummy

Like much of the country we are in the deep freeze here in CT! Yesterday was spent digging out the snow-covered driveway and keeping the woodstove going strong just to stay comfortable and cozy inside. Now that the holidays are past, it is very quiet and low key around here and I find I am actually missing the busy activities of Christmas and the company of friends and family. I made my first seed orders on January 1 and received the first delivery of seeds today, a small order from Johnny's Selected Seeds, which really put a smile on my face. Normal activities will be starting up again next week and now is a good time to experiment with interesting recipes, the kind that both stick to your ribs and are healthy. It's time to get to using up all that summer produce I stored in various ways.
The 2013 garden produced the very best onions and shallots I have ever grown and they are keeping beautifully in our unheated basement. I had a bushel of large Ailsa Craig onions that are only supposed to keep well for two months but are still holding up well after four and I haven't even begun to use my keeping onions. So yesterday I tried out a neat idea I stumbled upon in a cookbook at our local library:caramellized onions done in the slow cooker to be used for various meals. I'm not sure they're actually caramelized, but they sure were easy and taste great.
 All it required were five pounds of sliced onions and one stick of butter in the crock-pot, cooked on low over 8 hours. OK, I'll admit, I cheated and did them on high over five, but they still turned out well.
Lots of juice though. I used some of the onions to spoon over pierogis that I'd made for supper. I divided some more into one-cup containers for the freezer to use in future meals. And all that juice plus the remaining onions I also froze, with plans to make a nice onion soup with them in a week or so. You know, the kind with chunks of bread and cheese melted on top. Yum. I'm making myself hungry just thinking about it. Today is all about making bread (pumpernickel, to be precise) and reading about cooking and gardening. And still cleaning up some of the remaining signs of the holiday festivities! Bring it on, 2014!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Is Icumen In...

If you've never read poet Ezra Pound's irreverent take on the medieval poem "Summer is icumen in" you should! It always cracks me up and summarizes nicely my own feelings about the season. Except for December and the days leading up to Christmas of course.
We got our first real snowfall yesterday and it's beautiful and Merry Christmassy. Here is the garden in winter mode:
 There is much brush needing to be cleared around it that I never got to during this incredibly hectic fall. And though a rest from garden work is nice, looking at this just makes me sad! I look forward to spring already. Here's a look at more snowiness by the house:
Erg, the season of shoveling, sloppiness and frigid cold (our highs are supposed to be in the 20s this weekend!)
But spread beneath the Christmas tree, those harbingers of hope, the new seed catalogues! This is the first time in five years I haven't sat down to devour them as soon as each one arrived. I just haven't had the time and likely won't until after the 25th. So my annual seed orders will be placed a little later than usual this year.
Something to look forward to in the quiet days that follow the holidays!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Back From My Travels

Happy Harvest Monday everyone! I feel completely out of sync with my routine having been away for nine days during this busy holiday season and I'm trying to get it  together again with Christmas right around the corner. Hope I don't have to travel during the holiday season again anytime soon! Still, it was wonderful to see my older son after the better part of a year since he moved away from here. Lookin' like a happy mom! And look at all of that green!

Well, from 70 plus degrees Florida back to 30 degrees Connecticut has brought me face to face with what's left of the harvest, which isn't much. I still have carrots in the ground and they haven't been mulched. But I was able to harvest a handful of bite-sized ones this week which were very sweet eating. Most of them ended up in a kettle of split pea soup.
 This may well be the last harvest of the season for me. I still have more carrots out there, as well as some kale and Brussels sprouts, but they are all looking the worse for wear. Time to hunker down for the winter and dream of next year's crops. But who knows, maybe I'll get a few more bits out of the garden yet.
In the picture above are my dried scarlet runner beans. The photo isn't the clearest in the world, but the beans really are pretty. When cooked they are very "beefy" and filling. Now that I've admired them enough I plan to soak and boil them like I do with all the dried beans I purchase, then freeze in 2 cup portions, ready to use in any bean recipe I choose. I prefer this to buying canned beans because they are not loaded with sodium prepared this way, are a lot cheaper and once frozen, they are just as convenient.
That's it for this week's Harvest Monday report which is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions each week. Time to get inspiration from the southern hemisphere!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Still Harvesting Monday...

I'm happy to be able to say I'm still getting some harvests from the 2013 garden, even if they are getting smaller and more spread apart!
 This week I pulled a few small carrots and two very little fall cabbages that were used in a nice stir fry.
 There were also a few greens: mostly arugula, some chard, beet greens, tatsoi and a leaf or two of lettuce. I pulled a few more French Breakfast radishes as well.
And later on there were a few more carrots and Brussels sprouts. I planted twice as many Brussels sprouts this year as last but look to be getting about half as many sprouts! Go figure!
I am way behind on the fall garden winterizing as seems to happen every year when I tend first to get struck down with a cold, then the many scheduled activities take their toll and I lose my momentum. I am leaving a week from today for Florida to visit with my parents, brother and his family and my son for the Thanksgiving holiday which will further put me behind. But today is gorgeous out and I hope to take advantage of it this afternoon. And maybe a glimpse of green in the Sunshine State will lift my post summer spirits again! The first seed catalogue for the 2014 growing season arrived this week too, so let the garden dreaming begin!
Daphne's Dandelions is our host for Harvest Monday and I am looking forward to seeing what is being harvested around the country and the world this week! Head on over for a little garden inspiration!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leek Greens, Or Waste Not Want Not

I've mentioned before on this blog that my husband is a vegetarian, so over the years I've learned a bit about cooking without meat. And I've found that one thing that helps me to make a very flavorful meatless gravy for his holiday mashed potatoes are the tough leek greens that might otherwise get tossed right out into the compost pile. Well, that is where they eventually end up, but not before I've made a flavorful broth from them.
 All I do is cut up the green stems into pieces and stew them with water for about two hours. Sometimes I let them sit overnight in the fridge afterwards. Then just strain the liquid out and voila, a nice golden broth that I will freeze for now and use later as a base for gravy or soup. With some added spices and salt it makes a meatless gravy that has some real depth of flavor to it and I feel like I've wasted a lot less of those nice leeks I grew!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harvest Monday

My posting has slowed down because I feel like I haven't had much of interest to write about lately. We are gradually moving into winter, with temps this week predicted to plunge into the mid twenties at night and not get out of the forties during the day. But I still have a harvest to share this week:
I have quite a few leeks out there yet. They are not huge like my Welch forebears are famous for, but they are just fine in the potato-leek soup they ended up in! It's a favorite around here and perfect for cold days. I also harvested a few Kossak kohlrabi that were planted for fall. They didn't get very large either, but again, they work fine for some fresh vegetable in a cold season. It will be interesting to see how things keep with the really frigid nights that will be hitting the garden.
 I finally got around to planting the garlic last week. Discovered unfortunately that my German Red did not keep well at all, so planted a very tentative row. All the other varieties held up great. I planted about half as much as last season, because I really did plant way too much and I need the space for other things in the spring. In the photo above, you see I have the bulbs still at the surface, but no fear, they were pushed down three inches, covered and then mulched.

Thought I'd take a picture of the Brussels sprouts. You can see all the fallen leaves in the pathways, so there certainly is some neatening up to do down there. I'm still in the process of winterizing things. So that's it for this week's Harvest Monday report! Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what other gardeners have been bringing in this week!