Volunteers

Posted on July 1, 2015. Filed under: Just Fun, Photography, Poetry | Tags: , , , |

Black raspberries

Clear the weeds

Breathe and bask

Look up

Eye-popping

Forest gifts

Waiting for me

Wild black raspberries!

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Oregano and Lemon Thyme Harvest

Posted on September 11, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Plants - Oregano and Lemon Thyme

Free food – I love it!  Both these plants have come back for at least 4 years.  I just whack them down, dunk in a bucket of cold water, rinse and spin in the salad spinner.  Then lay out on paper towels in baskets and forget about them!  In a few weeks they are crispy.  Then it’s time to shove them into tins.  The oregano gets massaged to drop leaf parts into tomato sauce, pizzas, salads, eggs, you name it.  Same with the lemon thyme, which is a favorite on eggs.  It doesn’t get any easier than this!  These plants are completely neglected by me and the bugs in the garden.  Their high essential oil content protects them and me when I eat them!

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Garlic Harvest

Posted on August 6, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Plants - Garlic

Here’s the haul I made the other day!  Garlic is one of my favorite things to grow.  It is so easy and forgiving.  This year I didn’t weed, I didn’t even rake the leaves off of the bed in spring.  The garlic thrived in complete neglect.  My kind of plant!

Here’s what I did:

1.  I made a trip to Copper Kettle Farm near me to buy a few bulbs from their harvest last August.  You can find a local grower easily by doing an internet search for garlic growers or visit your local farmer’s market to find it for sale.

2.  In October, break apart the bulbs into individual cloves.  Prepare the planting bed by clearing of debris and weeds.  Hoe it if the ground is dry and hard.  Put a layer of compost on top if you have some ready to spread.

3.  Push the individual cloves into the ground about 3 inches apart and 2 inches deep.

4.  Water, and cover with something like straw or leaves.

5.  The cloves will begin to grow roots and get ready for the long winter.  If they start to grow little green shoots, just ignore this deviant behavior and it will go away!

6.  Ignore the bed until spring when you should rake off the covering.  A little water when it is dry is good, but they don’t really need anything.

7.  In June you will notice flower scapes developing on the green plants which look like curled whips at the tops of the plants with a sack at the end which would become the flower.  Because you don’t want the plant to put any energy into flower production, but rather building a nice big bulb below, you cut off these flower scapes.  Collect them, chop up and sauté in a little butter or olive oil for a delicious veggie!

8.  About mid-July the plants become about 1/2 browned.  This is harvest time!  Carefully dig up the bulbs, cut off the tops about 6 inches above the bulb and put them together in bunches or loosely in a box or bag to dry (cure).  I like to put them in the basement near the dehumidifier, my dad hangs bunches in his garage.  Whatever you like, basically you want air flow.  They are dried in about a month, but you can be using it fresh during this time too.  Drying it makes it last into the winter without spoilage.

9.  Save the biggest bulbs (I know, hard to do, but worth it) to replant in October.  Eat the rest!  Enjoy the freedom from cancer and a bunch of other ailments!

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The Evolving Garden

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , |

Plants - Garden View 1        Every day I draw sustenance from my garden.  Summer has finally arrived in southeast Wisconsin, it appears (one must remain cautious about a declaration like that.)  Here is the back bed a few days ago with the fern leaf peony and cushion spurge in full bloom.  The giant alliums are preparing to open in the back and the weeds haven’t taken over yet!

Plants - Garden View 2

Here is the same bed this morning after heavy rain last night.  The alliums are in full bloom now, if a bit wobbly after their beating and the peony has become just its gorgeous foliage.

I am looking forward to the standard peonies coming into bloom shortly here and I put in 3 new varieties in fall which I am eager to see.

Just to go outside this morning and breathe….ah!  Great way to start the day with lower blood pressure, lungs expanded by fresh moist air, eyes relaxing amid all that green.  Praise for the morning!

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Gearing Up to Have a Plant Sale

Posted on April 24, 2013. Filed under: Exercise, Health, Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Plants - sale 1

Having a plant sale is a great way to get some exercise outside and do some gardening really early in the season.  It motivates me to get the raking done, see which plants are already up, and do some dividing.  For the last 3 years my dad and I have had a plant sale at his home.  He sells off his many extra tomato and pepper plants he raised from seed and I sell off all my perennial divisions.  Every year we are astounded at how much money we make.  Last year was the most, I took in $350 and my dad did something like $250.  This is in only 2 days!  The pictures show my growing stock for sale.  I started with cushion spurge and pachysandra because they were some of the first plants up and also my sister has asked for a cushion spurge.

Plants - sale 2Next I added some daylillies, corydalis, and bleeding heart.

Today I started organizing on trays because I now have more bleeding heart and a whole tray of lamb’s ear.  At $1 or $2 per pot, the potential dollars are adding up and my garden beds are getting spruced up nicely as the nice days are beginning to be more often.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress!Plants - sale 3

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Tool Talk

Posted on March 9, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple | Tags: , , , , , , |

Food - Marble Platter

Today I’m highlighting 3 tools in my kitchen which have become indispensible to me.  The first is this slab of marble.  I actually have several of these in different shapes and sizes.  I have this big 15″ round that used to be a table top because I can see the square glue mark on the bottom of where the base was attached.  I have a 12″ round just like this and a long rectangular piece that lives as a backsplash on my stove.  Why are these indispensible?  Ok, here’s how I use them:  as seen here they make beautiful cold platters for cheese.  Being very dense stone they retain cold extremely well.  So when you freeze or refrigerate them and then put cold food on them everything stays fresh for a lot longer.  They also make great bases for crockpots.  I like a little distance between my countertop and the heat of the crockpot and these do the trick.  This big one lives in the middle of my kitchen table on top of a little plastic turntable which makes a great focal point and serving area.  The big rectangular piece is my instant dough-rolling surface.  Nothing sticks when it comes out of the fridge nice and cold, just like pastry dough likes it.  Here’s the best part:  All three were picked up at resale shops for between $2.99 and $4.99!

Food - Marble Mortar and Pestle

Next up is my granite mortar and pestle.  This puppy came brand new, but from T.J. Maxx for $12.99.  Really cheap for such a quality piece.  It’s one solid piece of stone for each part.  Smooth and nice to touch except in the roughened inside of the bowl and the end of the pestle where some roughness really helps out with the grinding.  Here it is at work around Christmastime when I ground down some candycanes for white chocolate bark.  This comes in handy for grinding whole fresh spices like cloves and peppercorns, but also for parsley/garlic/lemon mixtures and fresh guacamole.  It works better than an electric machine for these tasks because if you do the candycanes, for instance, in a food processor it will produce a fine mist of sugar that flies around coating every surface in sight when you open it up.  I haven’t used it constantly, but when I do it’s the perfect tool I wouldn’t want to be without.

Food - Kitchen ScissorsLastly for today is my kitchen scissors.  This one came to me free at a rummage sale.  I saw it languishing in the free box and it was a bit rusty and very hard to close.  Ah, what are people thinking, not caring for a tool such as this?  I snagged it faster than lightning, double-checked with the lady that it was meant to be in the free box, and smiled to myself.  It’s a Pampered Chef set, certainly not the highest quality, but they retail for $15.  And with a little care they’d be quite useful.  I cleaned them up with some scouring powder, hot water and soap, then gave them a little olive oil around the center and whah-lah!  Good as new!  These joined my other high-quality German pair and the two scissors handle anything I give them. They cut swiftly and easily through fish filets, chicken bones, and tough packaging but also handle snipping herbs into tiny pieces.  This pair is the rough and tumble of the two.  It accompanies me on my garden harvesting forays and it cuts kale leaves, chocolate mint, lettuces, you name it!  I don’t feel as worried about losing them because I paid nothing, but truth be told, I’d be sad if my pocket turned up empty one day!

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