Sunday, August 16, 2015

#eatlocalutah Day 1

Eat Local Week!  This challenge is supposed to run 8/12-8-19.  Lets face it, as a working mom with little kids, for us it starts on Saturday.

South Salt Lake Succotash

1/4 white onion chopped
2 cups diced sumer squash
2 cups sweet corn (about 3 ears depending on size)
1 cup chopped tomatoes, salted and drained
1/2 cup fava beans (this is the yield from 1 lb whole beans in pods)
Salt and chili powder to taste
Squeeze of lime juice.
Grape Seed oil

Chop your tomatoes, sprinkle about 1/8 tsp salt and toss.  Then place in colander to drain while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  This will concentrate your tomato flavor and make the recipe less watery.  
Heat sauté pan to medium and add about 1 tbsp grape seed oil,  Once hot, add onions and cook until almost brown.  Add summer squash and cook until tender and warmed through.  Add corn, tomatoes, fava beans.  Cook a few minutes, until heated through and then add salt and chili powder to taste and last thing add a squeeze of lime.  

Dig in.  I suggest having some crusty bread or biscuits on hand to mop up the juices.

We served our Succotash with bacon cheddar brats from Clifford Farm.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

For the Bees

Every good gardener needs bees.  However, more and more, we are hearing warnings about collapsing populations of wild and honeybees.  What is a gardener to do?  Given that I don't have any control over large scale use of pesticides, mites, or weather I have decided to control the one thing I can - my backyard.
After some reading and consultation with my local extension office I've modified my backyard bee habitat.

I've let 5 leeks that share a bed with my papers to go flower.  Bees love onion flowers and the hopeful byproduct will be some leek seeds.

Afghan sesame, while not a local plant, bees really like to hang out in these long white flowers.

Spearmint.  OK this isn't new to my garden, but I'm giving it a bit more irrigation love to promote flowers.  And you've got it, the bees are digging it.

I'm also allowing some of the border areas which I would normally be more finicky about mowing get tall and I have left a couple of old logs with holes in them around.  Mason and wild bumble bees have been hanging out in these areas and joining the pollination party.  They are pretty tough to photograph so I don't have any pics to share.

So far I'd say my yields are improving substantially.  This is awesome, but is keeping me busy.  Pics of fruit tomorrow.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Flowers out of Chaos

The world can be a chaotic place, just listen to the news every day.  The chaos all around us can be very unsettling, paralyzing.  But sometimes random disorganized chaos can be good, even healing.  Meet chamomile.

2 years ago I grew 1 small German chamomile plant. I forgot to water it and it died.  Last summer I accidentally kicked over the pot where it had been and in my postpartum sleep deprived haze, just sort of swept what I thought was some spent potting soil to the edge of my garden beds.  
Then it rained this spring and I mean it really rained.  This is what rose out of the chaos - beautiful, fragrant, healing flowers.

The medicinal properties of chamomile include but are not limited to:
-calming anxiety
-soothing gastrointestinal upset
-decreasing inflammation

Did I mention its a pretty plant that also smells nice?

It has been a timely reminder that the good, beautiful bits of this world are all around us, if we will only let them germinate and grow.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Food Karma

One of my favorite things about growing a big garden has been the ability to share the resulting fruits and vegetables with friends and family.  I love the smiles that greet me when I show up with a jar of pickles, or jam or a bag of cherry tomatoes.
It seems that this summer, we experienced fruit karma for our sharing efforts.

 First, several boxes of plums showed up at our doorstep (Thanks Summer and Rory)We ate many and dehydrated many more for eating this fall and winter.

Then our little peach tree which was all but dead when we moved into our house 9 years ago decided to have a stellar year.

And so we added peach preserves to our winter stash.

This box of pears showed up at my desk at work (Thanks Devlin!) So we dehydrated pears, which I'd never even had before, but turn out to be delicious.

And then to our surprise while out on a hike 1 morning we came upon "wild" apples.  Turns out those pioneers left some tasty treats behind.  These were sauced and served up to this little guy

So Thanks to all for filling up our winter pantry and don't be surprised if some home made goods show up at your house or office some time soon.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Spring-Summer, where did the time go?

Well here we are again, back on the blog.  Yes, I've been absent.  This spring, I harvested one of these.

And wouldn't you know it, he has already grown like a weed ...
 4 months did fly by.  So yes, I have a modest garden planted.  And yes, we did make some significant harvests already.

The spring spinach was bountiful, and is perhaps part of what has bolstered the growth of the above sprouting human who by the way has turned out to be right at home in the garden.

This was at least a month ago, probably longer.  We are well on out way to a successful growing season so more on that soon.  Just needed to dip a toe into the blog world before I jumped all the way in.

Coming soon … tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, grapes.

-JG and boys.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Seeing Red

It has been a bountiful summer harvest in our garden, so much so that our kitchen table looked like this earlier in the week.  The tomato plants have gone into overdrive.

We ate, shared, and ate some more but it was clear that some food preservation efforts were going to need to happen.  I've always wanted to make Tomato Paste (link to original recipe), so today I did.

I started with 5 pounds of plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped.  I used Principe Borghesi Sun-Drying Tomatoes.

I added 1/4 cup of olive oil to a non-reactive saucepan and heated and then added the tomatoes, about 1/2 tsp of salt, and cooked until soft, about 8 minutes.

Then I pressed these through the finest screen on my food mill.  I employed the household muscle, of course.

This produced about 7 cups of tomato puree

I spread 2 TBSP of olive oil onto a sheet pan, and carefully poured the puree into the pan and then placed into the oven.  
I regularly stirred the puree with a spatula and after 2 hours and 15 minutes I had tomato paste.
Bam!  1 cup of tomato paste.
I'll store this in the freezer and use as needed.  PS the taste test was as good as the costly Italian stuff in the tube.

We processed another 10 lbs of tomatoes into a seasoned tomato sauce which we canned and put up for storage.  
All in all, a very satisfying day.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Gardening

This weekend Carson and I are home alone.  The weather here is stellar and we've taken advantage of getting a lot done in the garden.

May 4th Garden view
As you can see, this garden is hard at work already with the aid of some season extension.

In the foreground is a bed that we overwintered.  This weekend we will work on harvesting the bulk of the carrots and will probably remove the Parsley looking to bolt soon.  We'll leave the lettuce in the middle row and mulch around in order to prep this bed for tomatoes.  The funky flowering plant on right is Mache.  I'm going to try and leave one in place to see if it will set seed.

Here is a closer look at the far bed, the greens are coming along nicely.

As I was saying, Carson and I are home alone so he is working with me in the garden today, sort of doing his own thing though.

I can't believe how big he is and how careful he really tries to be in the garden, walking a little slower, asking before he eats something that he doesn't recognize.  It got me wondering how this happens and I came across this photo.

This is Carson at 8 months old, almost exactly 3 years ago.  Pretty much from the time he could sit up, he has spent time in the garden absorbing sights, smells, and sounds.  I'm sure I've been yammering on to him about what I'm doing the whole time.

So, getting back to the May garden, this is what I'm harvesting.

Swiss Chard, Red leaf lettuce, Oak Leaf lettuce, Frisee.

Sweet and crunchy overwintered carrots.

Perhaps the carrot swiping child is the other harvest.  I suppose the seeds we sow often surprise us.

Winter, finally (and seriously)

I planned to start this blog last spring as my garden flew into action, but then got into the actual work of gardening and abandoned the task. However, today its winter, really winter. I'm wearing long underwear and sitting under a blanket and I'm still cold.
Today is the shortest day of the year so from here on in it gets better. I look forward to longer days, that's for sure. But I'll also tuck in and enjoy winter's freeze and snow, it does mean skiing after all. Maybe more importantly is the snow pack - without snow there isn't water for the West.
The end of the year and the solstice are a good time to think back on the last 365. I have no reason to complain and feel really lucky about the last year and really hopeful about the year to come.