Whatever happened to Blotanical? November 1, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Blotanical, garden bloggers
Blotanical, a compendium of garden blogs, was a big reason why our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders were able to launch our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac. It gave us an audience of fellow gardening enthusiasts from all over the world, and gave us access to lots of wonderful gardening blogs. From South Africa to Australia, from Canada to California, we were suddenly seeing and connecting with bloggers we’d never have heard of without Blotanical.
We were grateful, but we were busy. So we didn’t check into the site as often as we might have. We did, however, check in often enough to see that its founder appeared to have abandoned it several years ago, promising a monstrous makeover, then simply freezing the site. Ever since, we’ve checked in every six months or so, and have found no new updates on this fantastic transformation. Then today, we checked in once again and were unable to get on to the site.
Is Blotanical dead? Does anyone know? What a shame. It was a wonderful way to connect garden bloggers.
Thinking outside the (greenhouse) box. October 30, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: custom greenhouses, greenhouse innovations, greenhouses, home greenhouses, Ken Burton, solar greenhouses
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood love the greenhouse our genius woodworking friend, Ken Burton, custom-designed and built for us when we bought our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. It’s big and bright, with a long in-ground raised bed on the low side and a long greenhouse bench on the high wall.
Ken’s goal was to make the greenhouse as solar-friendly as possible in our cold-winter climate. Glass covers the south-facing sloping wall, along with a glass window and glass door on the east and west sides. The north wall is white-painted wood to reflect the light pouring in from the south and to highlight the plants.
Under the bench, black-painted barrels hold water and act as solar collectors. And behind the north wall, a hayloft adds extra insulation in the form of straw bales for our chickenyard, while we stack wood for our woodstove beneath the loft, which also serves as added insulation..
But we think Ken’s most brilliant innovation was to use the sliding glass doors normally used for deck or patio doors as the long windows on the south-facing, sloping side. They’re double-paned for insulation and let in a ton of light. Over and below them, Ken added rows of screened pull-down windows so we could open them for fresh air and circulation (we also open the screened end-wall window and glass door).
The other day, as Silence and I were furiously hauling our bazillion plants back from the deck to the greenhouse for the winter (it’s already been in the 20s here at night, a real aberration, as we can usually leave the plants out well into November), our friend Ben was struck by an idea. Not a MacArthur “genius award”-worthy idea, no doubt, but still.
Our sliding glass doors that lead to our deck are designed so that one slides over the other, and if you wish, you can pull a full-length screen over the open door to let in fresh air. So why couldn’t you design a greenhouse wall of sliding glass doors that do that, too? One door would be fixed in place, and the other would move over it, and you could pull the screens to let in tons of fresh air to circulate, make sure the greenhouse didn’t overheat in summer, and combat fungal diseases and the like, without letting in bugs.
Three sets of doors would be plenty for most home gardeners, and what a gain in greenhouse circulation! Our greenhouse is still going strong, but if we ever need an update, we’ll see what Ken thinks about this idea. Meanwhile, what do you think about it?
Fall bulbs for spring bloom. October 26, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in gardening.
Tags: bulb planting, bulbs, fall bulb planting, garden gift certificates, Pastel Stretch Tulip Mix, The Works, White Flower Farm
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Silence Dogood here. For many years, I’ve wanted to plant White Flower Farm’s naturalizing daffodil mix called “The Works.” You get 100 bulbs of at least 30 varieties of daffodils. As anyone who grows daffodils knows, they’re long-lived, trouble-free, and deer-proof. Also squirrel-proof. Nobody and nothing is going to bother those poisonous bulbs, and they multiply all on their own every year.
There’s just one little problem, besides the fact that you have to plant them: You have to plant them in fall. As in, now, when it’s hitting 29 degrees at night here in our part of scenic PA. Not exactly planting weather, if you ask me, and totally counterintuitive for spring-blooming bulbs.
I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way. I was sitting in an examining room with our friend Ben this morning, waiting for his doctor to appear, when a pair of staff members came in and apologized for having to use the computer to call up someone’s schedule. I said it was no problem, we’d just been talking about daffodil bulbs. At which point one of the staffers said that she’d always wanted to plant daffodils and tulips but never seemed to get around to it, since it seemed like they should be planted in spring.
I told her that the one surefire daffodil you could plant in spring was the little, cheerful yellow ‘Tete-a-Tete’ that’s sold in pots all over the place every spring. You can enjoy the show indoors, plant out the pot’s contents when bloom is over, and the hardy little bulbs will return year after year to brighten your yard with their delightful blooms.
I, however, had finally reached a tipping point. White Flower Farm was offering “The Works” at an unbelievable discount: $56 for 100 bulbs, the cheapest I’d ever seen it. But that wasn’t all. They also had a special deal on their “Pastel Stretch Tulip Mix”—100 bulbs of at least 50 different cream, primrose yellow, ivory, pink, peach, soft orange, white, rose, and lavender tulips for $59. It was time to have a serious discussion with OFB.
Most people think that to plant bulbs, you need a bulb planter, a conelike device that you shove into the soil and twist, removing enough soil to allow you to drop in a single bulb, at which point you upend the planter and dump the soil back into the hole on top of the bulb. Want to do this 200 times, while bent double on a freezing fall morning? I didn’t think so.
Fortunately, there’s a much easier alternative: trenching. Take your favorite garden spade and dig a 12-inch-wide, 6-inch-deep trench where you want to plant your bulbs. Then place the bulbs in the trench, narrow end up, 3 to 15 inches apart, depending on what sort of show you want in subsequent years, and cover them with the spaded soil, tamping it down to firm it snugly around the bulbs. No fuss, no muss, as long as somebody’s willing to dig the g-d trenches, which is where OFB came in.
“Ben, would you be willing to dig a few trenches in the front yard so I could plant some daffodils and tulips? I love the daffodil display in front of our island bed and alongside the house, and would love to extend that and plant bulbs around our parking square to brighten our spring show.”
“Trenches?!! Say what?!!”
I patiently explained that surely carting him to the eye surgeon and to work 300,000 times might warrant his digging a few trenches in return. Even OFB couldn’t argue with that.
What I didn’t tell him is the problem with tulips. Unlike daffodils, tulip bulbs aren’t poisonous, and squirrels love them. But they’re also not true perennials. Even the so-called perennial tulips bloom at best for 5 years, while daffodils are true perennials, blooming decade after decade with no care whatever. The “Pastel Stretch Tulip Mix” I had my eye on would probably bloom for two years, if that.
So why plant tulips at all? In my case, the answer was simple, and so luxuriously indulgent: My brother had given me a White Flower Farm gift certificate for Christmas several years ago, and it covered the cost of both “The Works” naturalizing daffodil mix, the “Pastel Stretch Tulip Mix,” and shipping and handling, and left me with a $32 credit. In other words, I could revel in a year or two of beautiful tulips for free, not to mention a lifetime of daffodils.
While White Flower Farm is having incredible deals on bulbs, I suggest that you check them out online (www.whiteflowerfarm.com). It’s not too late to bring spring beauty to your landscape! And I also think a WFF gift certificate to an ardent gardener in your family is a wonderful idea. Like me, they may wait a while to use it, but when they do, the pleasure and appreciation will be boundless.
‘Til next time,
Cold days, warm appetizers. October 23, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes.
Tags: fall appetizers, hot appetizers, winter appetizers
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Silence Dogood here. We’re still a week away from November, and the weather this week is dipping to 32 and 30 degrees F. at night here in our part of scenic PA. Baby, it’s cold outside!
Yes, we’ve hauled all our plants back inside or into the greenhouse, along with our earthworm composter and water-garden plants. We’ve put up our birdfeeders and cleaned out our raised beds (sob). We still have to plant our garlic and ornamental bulbs, but everything else that needs to be in the ground is there. And we’ve put the “mufflers” on our sole window a/c and our outdoor faucet.
Still, our friend Ben and I aren’t ready for freezing and sub-freezing temperatures. What happened to fall, our most treasured season, when the colors of the leaves and the clear blue of the sky combine to form an incomparable, soul-lifting beauty, when you can sit out on the deck to watch the sunset and enjoy the blaze from the firepit and not even be cold?
Brrr. Cold is certainly the operative word around here. And the last thing I want when it’s cold outside and I’m cold inside is cold food. Suddenly, the thought of gazpacho and guacamole and Caprese salad and yogurt and all those other yummy hot-season dishes give me cold chills. So you can imagine how appalled I was to turn on my computer this morning and see an article devoted to “quick, easy, no-cook” foods! Sure enough, these foods were all cold. Brrrrr!!!
It’s not that I forgo all cold foods when the temperatures drop. I simply change the focus by adding richness. I’ll happily serve cold appetizers like my famous endive boats (Belgian endive leaves stuffed with blue, feta, and/or gorgonzola cheese, craisins (dried cranberries), pecan pieces, and cracked black pepper). An assortment of cheeses, crackers, and olives is a great warm-up to a hot meal; so is cheese and crackers paired with sliced apples or dried apricots, or cheese, nuts, and dried fruit.
A crusty baguette sliced and served with dipping oil (extra-virgin olive oil infused with lots of minced fresh garlic, herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and Trocomare or RealSalt or sea salt) will warm the coldest night. But there are so many luscious hot appetizers for the cold season as well:
* Popcorn. Simple hot popcorn with melted butter and salt, or with herbs and cheese if you prefer, is a welcome cold-weather treat, especially when served with a stemaing mug of apple cider.
* Baked Brie. Oh, yum!!! Topped with pecans, with brown sugar, with orange marmalade, with pepper jelly, or with the topping of your choosing, and served up molten with a sliced baguette or table water crackers, this melt-in-your-mouth treat is irresistible.
* Fondue. Okay, I’ve never had fondue. I think it skipped my generation. But there’s a fondue restaurant in a city near us, and one day, maybe I’ll finally try it. I haven’t so far because I think of fondue as an appetizer: skewered baguette chunks dipped in melted Swiss cheese, not a meal in itself. Somehow I’d rather have slices of buttered, toasted baguette covered with melted Jarlsberg. Add some orange marmalade or apricot jam between the buttered baguette and the melted Jarlsberg and oh, my!
* Roasted veggies. Okay, here’s the simplest hot appetizer of all, because it can be made ahead. Roast a medley of veggies—thinly sliced or diced sweet onion, mushrooms, red, orange, and/or yellow bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli—with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and some fresh-cracked pepper and salt. Now you can toss them with hot penne pasta and Parmesan, stir them into a frittata, or even use them to top a pizza.
What do you enjoy when it gets cold outside?
I’ll talk about more hot food for cold nights in upcoming posts.
‘Til next time,
How to tell if a pawpaw’s ripe. October 10, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading.
Tags: eating pawpaws, pawpaws, ripe pawpaws, what to do with ripe pawpaws, zebra swallowtails
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I have quite the little pawpaw grove here at Hawk’s Haven, the cottage home we share in the precise middle of nowhere, PA. We planted three different varieties in the hope of getting a good crop (pawpaws need a second variety to cross-pollinate in order to set fruit), and last year, for the first time, we finally got some fruit. But before we could harvest them, the critters made off with them all.
This confused us, since the wily wildlife here at Hawk’s Haven usually strikes our berries and other fruiting plants the second they’re fully ripe, but not a second before. And these pawpaws were still green!
We’d become intrigued by pawpaws, a native fruit also known as “banana custard” because of its texture and flavor, when a friend brought us some ripe fruit from her trees a number of years ago. The big fruits are oblong and about the size of the small yellow mangoes you sometimes find alongside the large variety in the produce aisle. They have golden yellow flesh and large black seeds, which are easy to remove. Then you can scoop the flesh out and eat it as is, add it to muffins, cookies or bread (a la banana bread), or use it to flavor homemade ice cream.
The pawpaws Deb brought us had a noticeable yellow flush over the green skin, and we were waiting for our fruit to change color when it vanished. This year, we have a bumper crop of pawpaws, and OFB and I are eager to get a few for ourselves this time. But, once again, they’re still green. So you can imagine our shock when our friend Leslie stopped over and announced that our pawpaws were ripe and, in fact, she’d just eaten two of them!
“But Leslie, they’re still green!” I exclaimed.
“They’re definitely ripe, or at least the ones that have started to soften up are,” she responded. “They’re delicious! You’d better get out there and pick some.”
What the bleep was going on? I went online and Googled “when are pawpaws ripe.” Sure enough, it turns out that the skin of some pawpaw varieties will blush yellow when ripe, but others just stay green. Ways to tell if the green ones are ripe include checking for a slight give when pressed, like a ripe mango; putting your nose up against the fruit and seeing if you can detect a fragrance; and twisting the stem sideways to see if it detaches easily from the tree. Other folks just wait for the fruit to fall, then harvest it quickly before something else does.
Not that we begrudge our wildlife their share of pawpaws. The reason we grow them is that their leaves are the sole food of the caterpillars that become the gorgeous zebra swallowtail butterflies. We love butterflies, so we grow pawpaws for the zebra swallowtails and milkweeds for the monarch butterfly caterpillars. We just wish the critters would leave a few pawpaws for us to enjoy!
If it ever stops raining, we’ll be out there checking for ripe fruit. OFB and I will probably go for the scoop-and-eat method rather than making bread or ice cream. One final warning from the web: Apparently pawpaws can go from lusciously ripe to black-skinned and inedible within days. So once you pick them, eat them ASAP or scoop and freeze the flesh to use later.
‘Til next time,
Reviving wilted kale. October 7, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: cooking with kale, kale, keeping kale fresh, reviving wilted kale
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Silence Dogood here. I love kale. I love kale raw in salads and cooked, sauteed in olive oil with garlic and onions, steam-cooked in the drops of water from rinsing the leaves and splashed with balsamic vinegar just before serving, added to pasta dishes or soups, or tucked into phyllo pastry spanakopita-style. Yum!
Admittedly, I wasn’t always a kale fan. Where I grew up in the South, kale was unheard of. I was the best speller in my elementary school, able to spell “chandelier” by age six. I always looked forward to spelling bees. But when my Northern teacher gave me “kale” to spell at one bee (something I’m sure she thought was a no-brainer), I was totally stumped. After pondering this for some time and deciding that it must be a Celtic word (think ceilidh, pronounced “caylee”), I ventured “cail.” Fail! “Don’t you know what kale is?!” my horrified teacher asked. Well, no, as a matter of fact.
But now I do. And kale is the perfect fall/winter green, so I was crushed this past weekend to see a big bin marked “Kale” at a local Mennonite farm stand with just two wilted leaf remnants. Rats! Foiled again.
Then I saw a guy at the checkout stand with a giant armful of gorgeous kale. “Ah, so you’re the one who got all the kale!” I blurted out. “Well, there was a big bunch outside last time I looked,” he said. Outside? I was out the door before you could spell “kale,” and sure enough, there was a big bunch in an outside bin. A bunch with impressive curly leaves and long stems. A bunch that was still attached to its base, something I’d never before seen.
The problem was, it looked tired. It had clearly been harvested the same day that I visited the stand, but had been sitting in an open (though shaded) bin all day. But I had an idea for a way to revive those still-scrumptious-looking leaves, so seizing the bunch, I returned to the checkout stand. I thanked the guy, who was still there, and said I’d just need to revive the kale a bit. “Oh,” he said, “I just wrap the stems in damp paper towels and they stay fresh for days.”
This is, in fact, a great technique for herbs and stemmed greens like kale and chard that are already hydrated and plump. But my kale needed more than a damp paper towel or two to return to full, fresh life. Sort of the difference between a breather and CPR.
When I got my bunch of kale home, I reluctantly cut it off at the base and plunged the stems into a deep bowl of room-temperature water (I used the bowl from my rice cooker), just as you’d cut the bottoms off flower stems and then plunge them into a vase of water. I set the bowl in the sink and made sure all the kale stems were in the water and were propped up so they wouldn’t fall out of the bowl.
I knew my technique was working when our friend Ben, who had seen the initial bunch of kale, wandered into my office a couple of hours later and demanded to know what on earth I’d done to the kale. “Have you seen it?! It’s taking over the sink! It’s going to be coming for us at any moment!!!”
Heading to the kitchen, I saw what OFB meant. The formerly lackluster kale was now fully expanded, glossy, hydrated, happy. The transformation was incredible. And all it took was to create a cut-kale arrangement!
Now I’m ready to make all those salads and sautees and other scrumptious dishes. And I know my kale will be the best money can buy. Should you end up with a bunch of less-than-fresh kale, keep this technique in mind. And if your kale (or chard or whatever) looks great but you’re not going to use it for a day or two, wrapping the stem ends in damp paper towels is an excellent method to keep the leaves fresh and hydrated.
‘Til next time,
The catalogs are coming! October 1, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
Tags: catalogues, cheese catalogs, Christmas catalogs, Cowgirl Creamery, fall catalogs, garden catalogs, Gethsemani Farms, Logee's, White Flower Farm
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What a tempting and terrible time to be a gardener and food lover. Silence Dogood here. It’s that time of year, the time for fall planting, the time leading up to Christmas, the time when garden and food catalogs start filling our mailboxes and e-mail.
White Flower Farm. Logee’s. Horticulture Color Blends. Gethsemani Farms. Cowgirl Creamery. Peony’s Envy. Rare Find Nursery. Yow!!! When I see those gorgeous bulbs, peonies, and shrubs, when I see and read about the flavor of all those fabulous cheeses, well… I just want everything. And I know it’s urgent to plant things as early in fall as possible to give them time to put down a good root system before winter, not to mention that many cheeses are seasonal and sell out quickly. The heat is on! Can you relate?
I’ve always thought it was a cruel trick of fate that spring-flowering bulbs typically need to be planted in autumn. After all, you’re not exactly focused on daffodils and the like when the air is bright and crisp and you’re trying to find pumpkins and mums for fall decorating and enjoying the gorgeous fall leaf display. But worse still, all your own bulbs are long dormant, and you’re all too likely to chop into them while trying to add new bulbs. It’s not fair!!!
Still, I can’t help looking at daffodils and pastel tulip mixes and the like in White Flower Farm’s fall bulb catalog and drooling helplessly, like our black German shepherd, Shiloh, when I’m eating a cheese stick and she desperately wants a piece. (Don’t worry, she always gets the last bite.) I’m dying to order container edibles from Logee’s, like the ‘Day’ avocado and the variegated vanilla orchid (source of vanilla beans). Peonies are my favorite flowers. And checking out the gorgeous, colorful displays of foliage and berries on the shrubs in my area this time of year turns me a brilliant spring green. Why aren’t we growing those?!!
Then, with today’s mail, came the most dreadful blow (at least, as far as our bank account is concerned) of all: White Flower Farm’s Christmas catalog. It’s the first of October, for mercy’s sake, yet here it was, with everything I love in a single catalog.
There were the amaryllis, tempting me with stunning new varieties. I’ll admit, I normally can’t bear the beautiful paperwhites because I find the fragrance overwhelming (where others smell heaven, I smell underlying decay, as with Madonna lilies). But WFF was featuring some yellow-flowered types, and I was very tempted to try them and see if they’re less overpowering. And of course, there was an incredibly alluring assortment of fresh wreaths, table-toppers, door swags, and the like.
But what really killed me was that they’d added artisanal New England cheese assortments (and local maple syrup and artisanal honeys) to their catalog, even the best-looking homemade caramel I’d ever seen. Not to mention luscious citrus, a great assortment including blood oranges, ruby grapefruit, honeybell tangerines, Meyer lemons, and Cara Cara oranges.
Ow! They say the Devil’s in the details, but I think he must be lurking in those photographs and descriptions. My birthday’s coming up. Maybe I’ll just ask our friend Ben for one of each…
‘Til next time,
Why grow native plants? September 26, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading.
Tags: butterflies, milkweed, monarch butterflies, native plants, nurturing life, pawpaws, pollinators, zebra swallowtails
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Silence Dogood here. Sitting on my deck yesterday afternoon, I saw the clearest explanation possible for why we should choose to plant the often plainer native plants, or allow them to live and thrive on our properties, when much more stunning cultivated varieties (known in horticulture as cultivars) and species are available.
I’m by no means a native-plant purist. I love my peonies, irises, roses, spring bulbs, chrysanthemums, hostas, Japanese maples, you name it. But I make room for the natives alongside the others: the asters and goldenrods, the gorgeous white-flowered nettles, the milkweeds, the pawpaws, the rudbeckias (black-eyed Susans), the jewelweed along our creek.
Why? Well, because they support life. Last week, at our farmers’ market, I bought some stunning cultivated asters and mums, rich and full, bursting with purple, cream-and-yellow, and red blooms. I wanted to add some color to our deck and eventually plant them out in our yard. Wow, were they colorful!
So there I was, sitting out on the deck enjoying the beautiful afternoon, as the sun began its descent and lit up the leaves of our trees and the foliage of our deck plants. It also happened to light up the blooms of native asters, much paler and lankier than the ones on the deck. And I could see that the blooms were teeming with life, as bees and other insects swarmed over them, collecting pollen and sipping nectar. Looking to the side of the deck, I saw bumblebees galore visiting the orange jewelweed blossoms. Nearby, the white blooms of the nettles were alive with insects.
Meanwhile, there was not a creature to be seen on the souped-up asters or mums on the deck, despite the wealth of flowers. Not one.
I love plants that support all life, not just our life. I allow milkweeds to flourish here because they provide food for monarch butterfly larvae, not just because their flowers are amazing. I grow pawpaws because they provide food for zebra swallowtail larvae, not just because their fruits are so delicious they’re known as “banana custard.” I allow red cedars, generally viewed as a weed tree, to grow here because they provide food and shelter for birds in winter. And I love the clover that grows in our lawn, adding beauty and inviting bees.
I hate it when the nuts crash down from our black walnut, butternut, and shagbark hickory trees every fall. I’m always convinced one of them is going to brain me or our friend Ben or our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, or cause us to slip and break our necks in the dark. Yet these trees provide a wealth of food for squirrels and other local wildlife, just as winter is closing in and they need to build up fat reserves to survive.
Seeing those native asters, lit by the sun, inviting so much life, and seeing the sterile though much more showy version on our deck, really brought the point home to me. Life isn’t just about us. It’s about sharing our beautiful earth. And providing food and shelter for our fellow creatures, rather than creating a sterile landscape solely for our own enjoyment, is the way to do that. No, we don’t have to plant exclusively native plants. Yes, we can allow natives to share our yards with the exotics and cultivated varieties we choose to add for show. In the end, we’ll all be better off.
‘Til next time,
End of summer saute. September 1, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, recipes.
Tags: late summer recipes, summer veggie recipe, vegetarian recipes, vegetarian recipes for summer, veggies with pasta, veggies with rice
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Silence Dogood here. As summer shades into fall, relishing the vegetables that define summer becomes suddenly urgent. Here’s an easy dish you can make to put these luscious veggies front and center on your plate. Go for it!
Sauteed Veggies on Pasta or Rice
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla type), diced
1 large orange or yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
1 small box button mushroons, sliced
2-4 yellow crookneck or straightneck yellow summer squash, sliced thin
3 ears white corn, kernels scraped from ears, or 1 package frozen white corn
1-2 cups fresh lima beans, shucked, or 1 package frozen large limas (aka butter beans)
1-2 handfuls each fresh green beans and yellow wax beans, ends removed and halved diagonally
fresh basil, dried oregano, dried thyme to taste
salt and fresh-cracked black pepper to taste
Butter and extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh mozzarella, crumbled feta, or Gorgonzola to taste
1 carton veggie stock/broth
spaghetti or basmati rice
Heat plenty of butter and olive oil in a deep, heavy pan, such as a Dutch oven. (I love my LeCreuset Dutch ovens.) Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on to boil if you’re making spaghetti. Once the butter has melted, add lots of salt (we like RealSalt), fresh-cracked black pepper, oregano, thyme, and basil. Then add the diced onion and stir until the onion clarifies.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Add the diced bell pepper. Add the summer squash, corn, lima beans, and green and yellow wax beans. If the pot starts to dry out, add some veggie stock/broth to keep everything juicy. (If you skimped on the butter and olive oil, you can add more of them at this point, too. Don’t be shy!)
When the water in the pasta pot comes to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook ’til al dente. If making rice instead, put in in the rice cooker, following directions, or cook it on the stove following directions. Keep an eye on the veggies so they don’t overcook or dry out while the spaghetti or rice cooks; the minute the beans look just tender but are still brightly colored, turn the burner under the veggies off and put the lid on them.
I love these summer veggies either way, over rice or pasta, topped with a little cheese and served with a big, hearty tossed salad. Yum! Try it and see what you think.
‘Til next time,
You know you don’t get out much when… August 20, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in critters, gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: blog humor, garden humor, garden spiders, orb weavers, spiders
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I recently returned from a trip to our native Nashville and to Bardstown, KY (in the heart of bourbon country). Naturally, we’d taken OFB’s larger and more road-worthy car, leaving my brave but battered little red VW Golf idle in our parking square.
Once we’d returned, we’ve been running errands together and recovering from our trip (along with our beloved black German shepherd, Shiloh, who’s always totally wiped out after being boarded). In other words, loafing. I haven’t seen the need to head out on my own, so the little red car has remained in place.
You can imagine my amusement when I went out to get the mail this afternoon and saw that a big, bold garden spider, the yellow-and-black orb weaver (Argiope aurantia), had woven its elaborate web from one tire to the daylily row alongside! I couldn’t wait until OFB returned so I could show him. We love these showy spiders, and it was the first one I’d seen so far this year.
I guess it’s time to move the spider to a safer location and fire up the old VW before the tires start to rot…
‘Til next time,