whats growing on?

With the burst of serious growth in the land around us, I have noticed that in my mumbling of plants I recognize, and constant looking up of those I don’t some little ears have been perking up and cueing in.  These little botanists have picked up more than I can recall sometimes!  We did a little scavenger hunt yesterday after a really ugly and long morning.  (I truly hate those type of mornings, but in the future I am promising myself I will stick my toes in the cold stream a little earlier… perhaps that will cool us all down a bit quicker.)  The boys found and checked off wild columbine, strawberry flowers, st. johns wort, spiderwort, a few types of ferns, and some stray jack in the pulpit fading quick in the warmer weather.  It was quite fun with lots of distractions along the way starting the day again on the right foot again.

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A peek through our back yard into the neighbors farm during the hunt, (our CSA purchase for the year too.. in case my efforts in the garden are a little off) and we were filled with wonder of what they are growing.  A lot of their crops are under the sheer white fabric that protects from insects and deer so well, keeping our suspense high.  We wandered over, careful to check for ticks periodically, and peeked under a few of the cylindrical tents to see what we could see.  Sweet peas, corn, brussels, squash, and pretty much everything you can imagine was already giant-sized, putting my little seedlings to shame.  But alas, they are professionals and I will not let that discourage me one bit!  It was quite good timing to get so curious anyhow for my cravings for fresh greens had turned into somewhat of an obsession.  The maple leaves and long blades of grass have even become so appealing they cause me to salivate on dewy warm mornings.  I was beginning to wonder if I had the deficiency causing pregnant women to crave dirt!  But luckily my want stopped at the green stuff, and as even more luck would have it, I got an email that I could pick up my first CSA share!  Oh pounds and pounds of greens were carted home in our little red wagon, and a whole pound between the four of us was devoured!  Seconds were had by even the little ones among us!  It felt wonderful to have a table full of food grown by either us or our neighbors.  Milk and eggs, spinach and mesclun lettuce.  What could be better on a late spring evening… Not much.

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As for my own garden, things are coming along!  Though my fear of nothing growing at all still reigns true, I am seeing some serious growth over the last few warm, wet nights.  Carrots have sprouted and are being thinned little bits a time, radishes and second batches of radishes are growing tall, potatoes are popping up and Jerusalem artichokes too, all the lettuce, peas, spinach, and onions are settling in quite nicely; Polka dotting my garden with green slivers that make me impossibly giddy.  My close observation of the soil, (some may say over the top obsessing) waiting for seedlings to emerge has come to an end.  Now the picking off of beetles and weeding will commence.  I placed some of that magical white fabric over the top of my squash in hopes that little yellow striped beetles will stay away… and so far it seems to be working!  I was informed, by the experts across the street, that those beetles really like a new plant, but will stay away from my grown squash a bit more, so not to worry.  Whew.

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Have I mentioned how proud I am of this almost complete fence my friendly husband made?  It is a sight to behold and now complete with a gate so the crazy chickens and dog and cats will keep out.

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I feel like a true gardener when I take my walk through the mulched path several times a day.  It is a passion we have all gotten involved in and that is my most favorite part!  Anything good growing in your neck of the woods?

the green grass grows all around

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The grass is so green these days sometimes I envy the cows for their fiber chomping stomachs.  The leaves are like suncatchers, little stars of new life filling up the forests canopy.  The wildflowers are becoming so plentiful I can’t keep up on trying to identify them all, and our days are spent outdoors from sun up until sometimes well after sundown.  And the garden, oh the garden is not ceasing to amaze me.  This inherited, cherished spot has a new surprise every walk I take.  Like my mama, I like to start my morning off with a cup of coffee and a walk through the dewy garden to see what I can see.

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After letting the big chickens out, and gathering the baby chicks and putting them in their fenced in area, I like to feel the morning light on my face.  The boys like to join me.  The cats trail behind, and the dog… oh the dog.  Since we brought home these multi colored egg laying hens we have noticed a steady decline in the number of eggs we were getting.  I was so confused, thinking perhaps it was due to them laying in odd places, or that two are very much broody having to be heaved off the nesting boxes several times a day, or maybe a critter stealing was them?  And then the culprit showed her smart little face.  Cloud, the tiny wonder, has been carefully carrying the eggs to a safe hideaway where she would down at least 3 a day.  No wonder she has not been eating her supper.  But oh her shiny coat….

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(Miles new job is walking her in the morning… while the hens to their thing… a job he very much enjoys)

The new vegetable garden is fully stocked.  I was over zealous I am sure, disregarding my earlier promises of starting this year off with hops and lavender only, considering how busy our new addition will make us later this summer.  I planted sweet peas, two types of lettuce, spinach, kuri squash, butternut squash, watermelon, zucchini, asparagus, carrots, kale, watermelon radishes, pole beans, onions, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, catnip, sorrel, some different herbs and a small cutting garden.  Whew.  It was a very, very, enjoyable process and we all love to study the earth for any signs of sprouting through the day.  The fence is in the works, and let me tell you, it is going to be a beauty.  This man of mine has been working so very hard.  If it’s not a broken washer, or a new part in a car, it’s the fence or the coop or a tree.  Since graduation, I believe his schedule has been stocked two-fold.  But, truth is he loves it.  We both do.  This is what we have been waiting for, for so very long.

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On sunday Miles and I found a good-sized patch of the beautiful and patiently awaited ostrich fern, better known as the fiddlehead!  We indulged tonight with gusto.  All four of us.  It is quite exciting for a person of any age to eat something so asparagus-y delicious and all curled up adorable that they paid not a penny for and plucked off with their own little fingers.  Today we plan on going back for more, perhaps enough to stock the freezer a bit too.

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There isn’t a lack of things to do these days.  I feel like if I don’t consciously think about it I will do nothing to prepare for this sweet little baby that is getting bigger and bigger as we speak.  There is knitting, and a dream of a quilt, and sorting clothes, trading in the car for a (gasp) mini van, and washing diapers… and well I have ten weeks to go!  There is still time.  Or at least I keep telling myself.

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Everything is happening so fast these days.  I want to hold on to these bugless, crisp, sunshiny days, with a sweet baby tucked inside me, two amazing little boys full of life and energy, and a very hard working partner by my side.   I don’t want them to end.

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roasted cabbage and a book review: An Everlasting Meal

I just harvested this cabbage

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sliced it into wedges, placed it in a cast iron pot with salt, olive oil and a red wine vinegar.  I put the cover on it and roasted it for 30 minutes until golden brown without and tender within.  Just like Tamar Adler told me to.

It was delicious.

Read An Everlasting Meal.  Trust me.  It is important.  I almost didn’t want to publicly announce it for the secrets and the advice in this -more than a cookbook/novel, but a way of eating and enjoying life- are so great that I wanted to keep them all for myself.  But that is silly and selfish and well, I know that this book has brought me so much happiness, and it would be wrong to do anything but pass that on to you.  Each night when reading it, I would be left salivating, inspired and downright hungry by the time my eyelids got heavy.  Each chapter is centered around a specific grouping of food.  She talks about an egg or a roast or a legume with such passion and poetry you suddenly remember how beautiful a thing it is to be able to prepare a simple meal.  And how enjoyable such a simple meal can be.  There are rarely fancy expensive ingredients mentioned, she focuses more on local seasonal affordable eating.  She is realistic and relatable, and she has a way of making you yearn for sardines in a way you will never believe.  So purchase it, savor it, place it among your cookbooks and refer back to it often.