Friday, August 14, 2009
It seems like this summer's theme is one of vines taking over the yard. I read somewhere that it will be a banner year for poison ivy due to global warming giving it the delightful opportunity for a longer growing season here in the Piedmont region. Perhaps this is why grapevines, virginia creeper and mile a minute vines are taking over my yard. Or could it have been the weeks of rain earlier in the season? Volunteer cucurbits of unknown origin are everywhere(is it a gooseneck gourd taking over my native hydrangea?Or could it be a fairytale pumpkin? I just have to leave the giant vines that spread by the minute, until I see what the crop might be)Even the vines that I have actually planted seem to be out of control. I practically have to use a machete to get into the garden. When my first planting of several types did not come up, I tried again with the result that we have 3 varieties of cucumber, four varieties of squash, including pattypan, acorn, ronde de nice (my go to squash every year) and an unusual one which I got from Native Seeds Search when I visited in Tucson this winter.(and where I evidently found the worlds hottest pepper which was just labeled capsicum). I like to cook the patty pan by sauteeing a sliced onion, adding the squash sliced in thin wedges and cooking till it carmelizes. Then I pour a little water in the skillet and put on the lid. When the squash looks done, I top it with parmesan cheese, put the lid back on till the cheese melts add sea salt and pepper and serve!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Cooking has always been a favorite activity but this year there's been a new challenge.
Due to digestive issues, for the last 6 months I have only able been able to eat mostly cooked fruits and vegetables that are low in fiber (carrots, green beans, beets) and proteins without tough connective tissue-this translates to fish and chicken (and more chicken!) and any other poultry that isn't too fatty. So I have really had to use my imagination to come up with recipes that work for my diet (sort of low residue, low fiber). It is otherwise known to my family as the "white diet" as many things I can eat are white as opposed to the formerly "brown" diet of whole grains and fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. My garden consists of whatever I can cram into it during each season and whatever isn't eaten by the local varmits. This season I tried to grow more of what I could eat, plus being optimistic that I'd be able to consume the other things by the time they ripened.When the pole beans (Blue Lake) were about 5 ft tall on their tutuer, whatever it is that chomps things off at the soil level ate them all. Woodchuck? Bunnies? So no beans this year. (Last year it was japanese beetles) Then I thought I bought two flats of beets in Amishland. These turned out to be a Lot of swiss chard which my husband and a few friends are enjoying. My hunt for interesting recipes that work has been far reaching as the same old thing can get boring pretty fast. Last week I hit a treasure trove of 70's and beyond cookbooks at the AAUW book sale- most were under a dollar. An excellent source for poultry and vegetable dishes has been a"A Book of Middle Eastern Food" by Claudia Roden. Years ago we heard her at the Book and the Cook . So far I have made: (with adjustments)
Kofta Meshwaya (grilled ground meat on skewers)
1 Lb ground lamb, beef or chicken
1 onion finely grated
1 tsp Ras El Hanout (or similar middle eastern seasoning)
1 Tbs Chopped fresh herbs including marjoram oregano and rosemary
salt and pepper
Mix finely ground meat with onions herbs and seasonings and knead vigorously till smooth and pasty. (The recipe says shape small lumps around flat skewers. this sort of worked) I sprayed a piece of foil with non stick spray and put the skewers on this, turning them carefully with a spatula after 5 minutes or so)
When they were browned I served them with squash , yogurt, and rice pilaf. Tasty!
Friday, July 31, 2009
Here's Bertie Wooster the canine gardener. The temperature was about 70 degrees colder when I took this picture. Being a Norwegian Elkhound, Bertie likes the cold weather. When we first brought him home from California 4 summers ago,he spent most of his time indoors laying on the AC ducts as he couldn't cope with the Pennsylvania heat and humidty. (Sort of like me)When he got too big to fit under an end table to cool off, (we learned this when the table with him under it and various cactii and orchids on top of it, fell on its side as he tried to weasel out)he camped out next to a duct in the kitchen and still does when its hot and sticky as it is today. As a garden assitant, Bertie has some prerequisite skills being an excellent digger and cultivator. The problem is how to channel this digging to my advantage. So far I haven;t been able to work out how to train voles to reside in areas where I would like to plant perennials or vegetables that I have grown from seed. We finally had to fence off the perennial bed so plants would survive their first season-watching him, with a nose covered in mud, racing around the back yard with a lespedeza bush just obtained from the Hardy Plant society was a pitiful sight. Occasionally, he still breaks in, with the net result that I still loose plants- such as a huge heavy metal grass tipped on its side (he was sure a vole or bug was under there someplace). He then cannot work out how to get back out. Net net, I am in there in a rain coat coated with mud trying to lift him over the fence. A gate would be nice. So the weeding gets neglected because its too hard to get inside the fence. Right now Aster tatarica is blooming-they are huge and impressive, even behind a fence.