garden :: kitchen

the garden is shifting over to a late summer/early fall garden.  flowers are covered with bees and gorgeous blooms, the garlic is cured, the onions are drying, beans are coming on strong still and the squashes and pumpkins are succumbing to powdery mildew.  the tomatillos look good and the okra is almost ready for me to pick a little bit (there isn't much out there, just 8 or 10 plants) so I can try to pickle some.  I'd like to do the same with some of our beets.  the tomatoes are still looking good, and I've got my fingers crossed against the blight this year.  we've got fewer tomato plants than usual this year (maybe a dozen or so) what with all of our own starts not amounting to much with the late start and little care they got early in the spring when my mother was so sick and there was little time to plan for and ready the garden.  we ended up being given several happy and healthy starts from a farmer friend, and while they are some of the tastiest and most colorful tomatoes I've ever grown, I may have to supplement what we've got with some others for canning as about half of them are cherry varieties.  (oh but wouldn't a tomato sauce made just with sun golds be amazing?)

in terms of fruit, the melons are ready, we're still munching quite a few blueberries, and the strawberries are flowering again and giving up just a few sweet little berries here and there.  one of our two apple trees has about 8 or 9 apples on it and the couple we've tasted so far were quite delicious.  the peach, pear and plum trees are yet to fruit, as is the blackberry.  our elderberries were looking pretty good but the birds were on them immediately and I figured since I've still got nearly half a pound of dried berries left from what I bought last year for syrup making, I'd let the birds have them and net them next year.  I expect we'll have a second fruiting with the raspberries again as we did last year, but I remember (not fondly) how very quickly the fall raspberries get taken over by the spotted wing drosophila (little flies that lay their babies in the berries as soon as they start to ripen- how mean is that?).

recently sown seeds are sprouting (kale, beets, lettuces, carrots, radishes, chard) and I'm heading out to seed more broccoli raab and pac choi.

I thought the chickens would enjoy having their coop fancied up a bit with a nice new sign.  plus it will help in case we forget where the coop is, of course.

I didn't take many photos in the kitchen this week~  it's been toast with blueberry jam or yogurt with blueberries and honey for breakfast,  snack trays (cheese, crackers, veggies and such) for lunch, and a mix of garden goodness (heavy on the salads and greens), Chinese takeout, and a squash casserole my dad pawned off on me (given to him by a neighbor but "what was he going to do?" with a whole casserole?) for dinner.  there was also some more canning- dilly beans and curried zucchini pickles.  next up, more dilly beans and hopefully some pickled beets and okra.

*joining along with both Amanda and Heather for their garden and kitchen series.



let's just say that we went out with a bang this final weekend of summer break.  Friday was time at the splash fountain in town, a canning session wherein more dilly beans and some curried zucchini pickles were made, and then a wonderful, lively, and all around delicious evening as a dear friend of mine welcomed a friend of hers to town and wanted to introduce her to some folks she thought may be kindred spirits.  so nice to now call the lovely Beth something like a neighbor.  Saturday started with a bike ride to ballet class only to find out there was no class, so Claire gave papa and I a quick lesson of our own on the deck outside of the studio.  apparently, just about every move is called an arabesque, if you ask her.

next stop: market.  I really should bring my camera to the market (and the splash fountain) sometime, but I always hesitate to pack it in the panniers on my bike, worried that it'll get too jostled.  and so the memories just live in my mind instead.  an almost cool, noticeably-turning-towards-brisk-as-August-winds-down kind of morning, with iced coffee and plums and an apricot croissant eaten in the sunshine with my two main squeezes.  we sat for a bit and then rode back home, where I worked in the garden until papa told me it was time to get a move on so we could get to the fire department picnic.  which by the way was held at a nearby boys' summer camp.  where they had things like a lake.  and canoes and kayaks and stand up paddle boards.  and zip lines and water slides and diving boards and a big thing they called a 'blob' that you jump on and/or lay on and have someone bounce you off of into the water.  but to me it looked like a sore neck, so I didn't bounce.  no blob action for this mama.  but I most enjoyed the stand up paddle board, (what! fun!) both by myself and as I paddled a most often lounging-like-a-queen Claire around the lake.  there was funnel cake.  ours wasn't particularly pretty, but it was tasty.  oh so tasty.  hours later I still could feel the sugary, oily mass of it just kinda hanging out in my belly.  ooph.

so here's something about this man of mine-  he's perhaps what some would call adventurous.  energetic.  this is maybe a bit obvious when you consider the careers he has had (arborist, fire fighter). I'd say a risk-taker, but I stop short there because he's quite smart about knowing his limits (though he doesn't seem to have any, really) and taking necessary precautions.  if someone mentions something fun to him, or he sees someone else do something kinda neat, well he's all about it.  he spent most of the afternoon swimming and diving, swinging off of the rope swing, helping run the zip line, and getting into just about any and everything he could on that lake.  and when the camp director, a friend of ours, mentioned how they occasionally let some of the campers ride mountain bikes off the dock, well....... that was that.  not much time passed before he was getting someone to help him drag the ramp down to the lake.

me?  I just want a stand up paddle board.

Sunday was french toast for breakfast, the happy news that our first renters were extremely pleased with the house, a bit of much-needed cleaning up, and a late afternoon meet up with friends at a local swimming hole that was new to me even though it is not even a mile down the road (what?!).  it took all three of us a loooong time to work up the nerve to get all the way in, but once we did it was wonderful.  so, so exhilarating and refreshing.

we came home after swimming in the very cold mountain creek to a roast ready in the oven.  potatoes and greens from the garden.  ice cream cones.  a fire in the fire pit and why not?  s'mores.  because nothing says the end of the last weekend before a return to work and such like non stop water play and extra desserts.  what with the swimming and the fire and the s'mores, it almost seemed like we were off camping somewhere.  except with a roast, our bathroom, and our soft beds very nearby.

goodbye, summer break.  though you played out differently than how I thought you might have, I enjoyed you very much, and I'm glad I let myself be surprised by you in pleasant ways and go with the flow a good bit.  because there is goodness every, every, everywhere if you are looking for it.

*weekending along with Karen


in my kitchen

a lot of blueberries~ blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry jam on yogurt...... yum yum.

both the pancakes and the muffins are recipes I've fine tuned for us from the Laurel's Kitchen Cookbook and Laurel's Bread Book.  I find as long as I keep the wet and dry ratios the same as called for I can play as much as I want, and I've gotten to where my pancakes and muffins are just how I like them.

there was our first batch of kimchi, made from a recipe shared with us by a friend.  she's Korean, so I'm thinking she knows what she's doing.  many more batches to come, and perhaps some sauerkraut as well as we've got about ten heads of cabbage still to use.  I think we'll have fun tweaking this recipe as well, adding some carrots, maybe adjusting the thai chili flakes and salt to suit our personal tastes.

it seems that in these glory days of the garden, the majority of meals end up being either brown rice or pasta topped with a mix of garden veggies.  kale, chard, onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, beans... all from the garden, mixed up and cooked with a bit of olive oil and topped with some hot sauce and maybe a fried egg.  I'd happily eat that over and over.

and then.  well, and then there is lavender coconut tapioca pudding.  those are not bugs on top of that pudding, I assure you- they are lavender flowers.  I was introduced to this sweetest of puddings by a friend who often (by request) brings it to my swaps that I host here at home.  and always, when she brings it, I end up eating some for breakfast the morning after.  it's amazing.  coconut milk (the full fat kind), lavender, a pinch of salt, some tapioca, and a little sweetener (I used maple syrup since we've got so much) and voila!  deliciousness.  the recipe is here.

and that about wraps it up.

joining Heather and friends for her This Week in My Kitchen blog hop.


swap (comings and goings)

sent out: one jar of honey, one jar of raspberry jam, some garlic from the garden, a pair of crocheted cotton dishcloths, and a couple of handmade collage notecards.  My swap partner should receive her goodies on Wednesday, and I sure hope she likes them!

incoming:  Kerrie at Wild Mae sent me the nicest package~ three etched monogrammed drinking glasses (mason jar glasses at that!), one for each of us, with the sweetest cut-out lids and straws that look like paper birches.  she also tucked in a stack of hand-painted postcards, one of which was immediately claimed by Claire so that she could send nana a note that said "happy holiday, nana!".

Kerrie, thank you.  it was so thoughtful to include all three of us in your generous and beautiful package.  I love it all!

there was a second box in the mail that day- Kim from Mothering with Mindfulness saw fit to send a little something my way as well so it really kinda felt like Christmas.  a jar filled with dried nettle leaves from her garden and adorned with a hand knit cozy, hand salve, a sweet card, and an adorable little owl that her husband made out of a piece of black walnut.

love it, love it, love it~  thank you Kim! (and thank you Kim's husband!)

hosting this second online swap has been a lot of fun~  it's a different (obviously) vibe and atmosphere from the ones I host at home, and there's something sweetly vulnerable and exciting about exchanging these handmade goodies with folks we don't really know all over the country and beyond.  I continue to be so pleasantly surprised by the amount of time and energy everyone puts into their packages, and touched by the thoughtfulness and attention to details.  I've heard from a few folks who haven't quite sent their packages off yet due to this or that (mostly summertime busy-ness, and some because of waiting on this or that item or because the summer brought along very unexpected family emergencies), so know that if you haven't gotten yours yet, it is on the way!  we all understand how hectic life can get, so no huge worries there, but do let me know if I need to contact your swap recipient to let them know a bit of a delay is to be expected.

I'm feeling like we're about due for another live and in person swap, and I look forward to getting the ball rolling on that soon.  If you think you'd like to host your own swap at home and are interested in some pointers on getting started, please read the article I wrote for Grounded magazine, here.

thanks to everyone who participated in this summer swap for making it all possible!  can't wait to keep seeing the photos roll in as you receive your gifts in the mail!

*had to edit to add this last photo- I received a surprise thank you in the mail today from Summer at Summer Plays House~ a hand sewn trivet, coaster, and a hand painted peg doll of (and for) Claire. thank you Summer!


the good kinda blues

oh yes, it's blueberry time.  by the handful, the mouthful, in our yogurt and our oats, gobbled here and there and cooked down into jam and pies...... mmmm mmmmm.

so far, a couple bowlfuls from the house next door and two gallons from our favorite local picking spot.
a batch of jam, a blueberry galette and a couple bags in the freezer happened pretty immediately.  I feel it worthy to note that minutes after I pulled the galette out of the oven I found myself on a blanket at the park listening to music, two blankets down from the author of the pie book I used!  it wasn't incredibly surprising to find myself in such close proximity to local homestead-y author Ashley English~ after all, she lives nearby and we'd met a few weeks earlier at the very same park.  she participated in my previous blog swap, so we'd communicated in the past a bit.  but still, it seemed pretty serendipitous, what with the pie and all.  so I plopped down next to her for a few and told her so.

breakfast the following morning for the little one and I was blueberry pie and tea.  because of course that's what you eat for breakfast when you wake up and it's all cinnamon-y and delicious and practically screaming to you from the countertop.  and then there was toast smeared heavily with still-warm jam later that afternoon.

I'm hoping for a couple more gallons before the season is over.  we shall see.