Saturday, June 27, 2009


I've never eaten kohlrabi before, although I have seen it in the grocery store. My mother never fixed it; and I never experimented. But this year I was given a gift of four kohlrabi plants which I put in my garden (I thought they were cabbage!)

Today I went to meeting of the community gardeners at Unger Farm and our extension agent pointed out several gardens with kohlrabi that should be harvested "immediately", or they would be as hard as baseballs. Well, needless to say, the ones in my garden were even bigger than the ones he pointed out.

Tonight I prepared it, sliced very thin, and sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic and green onion slices, with a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and a little cream cheese and milk. It was great! Two kohlrabi bulbs were more than enough for the two of us, we've got leftovers.

I found a great web site today that features a North Carolina extension educator who shows how to prepare some lesser-known or used vegetables and fruits. The videos are really designed for produce sellers at farmer's markets so that they are able to help introduce their customers to using more produce. Her videos also are accessible via YouTube. I watched the eggplant video, and was enchanted by her accent.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And the rains came....

Title of Louis Bromfield's novel, and the way I am feeling tonight. It was SO HOT and muggy this afternoon - 90 degrees (our air conditioning isn't working at home, DH has ordered parts for the air conditioner) I suggested we go to the movie theater for the evening's entertainment. We watched "The taking of Pelham 123" which was a great movie except I hate the violence. But DH loves movies with car crashes and there were a few of them!

When we left the theater, it was raining. It has cooled off down to 70 and much more comfortable. Evidently we lost power at home, the clocks were all blinking when we got home, but only off by two minutes.

Bee balm in bloom

The bee balm (aka Monarda) is in bloom, just in time. In this 85-degree heat the hummingbirds have emptied their feeder. I filled it last night, the ratio being 1 cup sugar to 2 cups water.

The hummingbirds seem to like the bright red color and deep-throated petals of the monarda.

There are at least three separate groups of hummingbirds visiting my feeder. One goes to the woods behind the house, one always goes to the red-twig dogwood, and the other always exits by flying over the garage roof toward the neighbor's.

They chirp at me if I am in their way or get too close to their feeder.

I always thought of them as silent birds, but in fact they are quite noisy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Seasonal Salad

Searched for a recipe in SOAR (searchable online archive of recipes) for arugula, and the first one that came up sounded pretty darn good.

2/3 cup pearl barley
1 pound green beans -- trimmed
1 cup fresh corn kernels
4 ounces arugula
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 1/2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese -- crumbled

Cook barley in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 30 m inutes. Drain; cool. Transfer to large bowl. Cook beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 min utes. Drain. Transfer beans to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. Pat b eans dry with paper towels. Cut half of beans into 2-inch pieces. Transfer to bowl with barley. Mix in corn kernels. Coarsely chop 2 bunches arugula; add to bowl with barley mixture. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, shallots, thyme and Dijon mustard in small bowl to bl end. Pour enough dressing over barley mixture to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange remaining 2 bunches arugula around edge of large platter. Arrange rema ining whole beans in spoke pattern atop arugula. Mound salad in center of plat ter. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Drizzle any remainingdressing over arugula and beans and serve.

OK, I cheated. I used canned whole-kernel corn instead of fresh, and frozen green beans (grown in our garden last year) instead of fresh. I used 1/3 of a whole onion instead of shallots, and used my food processor to blend the dressing. I did have the fresh thyme. Remember, I planted it in between my cole crops, (the mystery plants turned out to be kohlrabi, never have grown it before, heck, I've never even eaten it before!) Just had to dodge the sprinkler to go get the thyme... And I used semi-soft Manchego cheese for the goat cheese because that is what I had in the bottom of the refrigerator.

Rest of the menu is baked pork chops and baked potatoes. Going to have to eat outside because it's too hot in the kitchen! Add a glass of chardonnay and everything will be fine.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Neon orange guck

I went out to check on my garden tonight after work and found this "stuff" on the backs of the leaves of one of my raspberry? Blackberry? plants (they are planted near each other and I have trouble identifying until the fruit comes on).
Is it a fungus? Bug eggs? spray paint? I looked on Ohioline, it could be orange rust which does not infect red raspberries, (great! My Carolines and Autumn Brittens might be safe!) just black raspberries or blackberries - or possibly late leaf rust which ONLY affects red raspberries, according to MSU extension. Question - how do I figure out which it is? Or does it really matter? I guess I just have to dig it up and "destroy" it. (How do I do that? Do I burn it or put it in the trash pickup?)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Deer proofing the garden

I planted hollyhocks near the mailbox. First thing this year the neighbor, with good intentions, whacked a few of them with the weed whacker. I had to admit that it looked a lot more tidy after his ministrations.

Unfortunately, the deer found the remaining hollyhocks very tasy. That thing that looks like green sticks is what is left of my hollyhocks. First they ate the blossoms at the top, the next night they came back and ate all the leaves. There are a few buds left, if I fertilize them and mix up some "Hinder" do you think they will leave them alone?

Don't plant mint!!!!!!

Three years ago, I thought it might be a nice idea to have some spearmint near the door so I could garnish iced tea or lemonade with a mint leaf or two.

I started a few seeds in a flat, then planted them out into a flower bed near the garage. That first year I had all the spearmint tea I wanted from fresh spearmint, and I gathered a lot of spearmint and dried it.

Last year it took over the whole flower bed. It was pretty until it started getting too tall and spread into the daylilies, obliterated the little mugho pine, and was competing with the alpine strawberries!

This year, it was awful. The dried stalks were scratching and looked awful. The roots were getting deeper and the plants were getting taller. It was spreading into the lawn.

So this weekend I started digging it up. After watching me struggle to spade up the front half of the flower bed, DH went to the neighbor's and borrowed a backhoe to dig up the rest. When all the dirt was out of the bed except for around the tree roots, I started screening the dirt, to put the dirt back into the bed, but put the spearmint roots, plants, and wild strawberry plants into the compost. It only took about 20 wheelbarrows full.
Talk about a lot of work! Now I know why I didn't choose landscaping as a profession!
I planted cleome, geraniums, verbena, and lobelia in the bed. I took one daylily out of the bed (that's it in the background) and am trying to decide where to put it. I left the hollyhocks in, and some of the daffodils.
It will be interesting to compare the before and after pictures in a few months.
I mentioned to DH that maybe I didn't get quite "all" of the spearmint, because I left the daffodills in place. You should have seen the horrified look on his face!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Talk about slow food! It's been a while since I made lemon meringue pie. It is one of DH's favorites, and the weather is HOT, and I had lots of eggs, and happened to have some lemons in the fridge, and a prepared pie shell from the last time I made a pie.

Here's the recipe:

Prepare and bake a 9-inch baked pie shell. Cool.

Separate 4 eggs.

Mix in a double boiler top

4 TB cornstarch

4 TB flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 c sugar

Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water - cook and stir over direct heat until mixture boils. Set over hot water, cover, and cook 20 minutes. Add 1 TB butter, few gratings of lemon rind, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten.

Cook and stir until thick. Cool. Pour in cooled pie shell.

Prepare meringue - Put 4 eggs whites in mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form . Gradually beat in 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a few grains of salt. Spoon the meringue evenly over the pie, but do not make it smooth. Spread well to the edge to seal to the pie crust so the meringue does not shrink while baking. Use the back of the spoon to make peaks if desired. Bake at 425 degrees until delicately brown (about 5 minutes).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Saying goodbye, slowly

When I went to work Monday morning we had an "announcement", the plant would be closing by June 2010 or sooner if market conditions demand.

Well! Ok! What next?

It has been a week in shock, we don't believe there is anything we can do to change the decision that has been made, given the statements made by President Obama about the need for a "quick and surgical" bankruptcy. Quick does not mean going back to revisit already-made decisions.

So, it is to be a professionally-done wind-down. No tears, just make sure that things are properly closed up and turned off and sent out and documented and accounted for.

I am just a little too young to retire. I don't know what will be next in my professional career - but I know it won't be here. So, this will be the last year, at least for a while, for the Bellville Farmer's market and the Alta Greenhouse farmer's market.

My peach tree, planted the year my husband and I were married from a seedling started by my former neighbor, will not bear fruit this year because of the below-zero temps last winter. Had this not been the case, this might have been the year that it finally bore fruit.

It reminds me of the three apple trees I planted at my last house - I had Liberty, Enterprise, and Jonafree - three varieties advertised to be resistant to rusts, etc. I got married when they were just starting to bear, and sold my house. The trees did not move with me. It was hard to leave them behind.

On the one hand, I am excited about new career possibilities and opportunities. On the other, I am very sad to be leaving behind my garden, my trees, and especially making my family more distant, geographically. My oldest daughter is expecting my third grandson this month, and I will just be getting to know him when moving...

I spent some cathartic time hoeing weeds in the garden tonight.

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