Garlic



Of the 98 garlic cloves planted last fall, 42 survived, and they are small. I think it is because we had a fairly dry Spring. They’ve been pulled, braided, and are drying as we speak. It is time to admit that the Patch is slowly going away. We have 2 plum tomatoes, 2 broccoli, 1 yellow squash, 2 zucchini, 1 hot pepper, 3 cukes and some herbs. That’s it.

We love our fresh vegetables, and I hate to admit this, but we aren’t getting any younger and don’t enjoy the labor as much as we used to. The string of surgeries every summer that I’ve experienced the last few years and then the stupid knee injury (“Thanks Woodrow! Dumb dog) last year has basically given the weeds and scrub the opportunity to take hold. Now that I’ve gotten a little break health-wise (knock on wood!), I’m completely driven to take back some of our property and bring it to its former glory. Actually, the plans are way better than former glory. But they’re back-breaking. And they don’t involve vegetables.

So, keeping that in mind, we went rock shopping last weekend. You read that right. Rocks. Oh there are so many types of rocks, from stone dust (technically still rocks, just tiny), all the way up to Stone Henge. We’re moving from bark mulch to rocks in all our gardens. Why? Because bark mulch is just a poisonous tick playground. “Yes, Jenn, but you guys have chickens. Don’t they eat ticks?” Yes, we do, dearest reader, we now have 14 with the new babies. However, chickens scratch to get at the ticks and kick the bark mulch into the lawn and driveway and make an absolute mess. So, no more bark mulch. ROCKS. Pebbles and rocks, rocks and pebbles. Besides, it’s all chemicals. Ugh. Anyway. Rocks. That is what our Summer of ’17 is all about.

  • Reshape garden beds by digging up the grass along the edges
  • Toss grass chunks into garden cart
  • Drive tractor with said garden cart to side of property (new garden bed)
  • Gently place sod with grass-side down so it composts into a new garden bed
  • Rinse and repeat until garden beds are in desired shape
  • Show Keith
  • Reshape it some more
  • Show Keith
  • Dig up plants
  • Place in pots
  • Lay down garden fabric
  • Re-plant the plants
  • Continue for 4 more garden beds

I have given us until Labor Day to turn our home into a rock garden oasis! Yes, I am taking before and after pictures! I promise there will be visuals.

 


What can I say? It has been over a year since I posted on the Patch. There are many reasons, but the main reason is that I had nothing to post about. Our gardens have been unloved for over a year. No sense looking back to go over why. I don’t feel like getting into it. Let’s just look forward. And there is so much to look forward to…namely the 98 garlic plants that I just put in the ground yesterday. Planting garlic is the coolest. Here’s what you do…

Buy organic bulbs of garlic. Break them up into cloves and plant each of those cloves. Easy, right? Not so fast. This is the DaisyPatch Farm we’re talking about. Actually, let’s be more specific…this is me we’re talking about. Nothing’s easy. The beds were full of weeds and a few of the wood boards that made up one of the raised beds were rotted and needed replacing. Sigh.

We had the boards and screws, but not the supporting brackets, so off to Home Depot. Keith came out to help when I got home. He fixed the bed while I:

  1. pulled weeds
  2. hoed the garden beds
  3. laid down landscape fabric on each bed
  4. arranged the garlic cloves
  5. cut an x in the fabric
  6. shoved the clove in the hole (stop thinking dirty)
  7. arranged soil over

Repeated 97 more times.

Previously, this would have been no sweat, but as I planted, I looked like Tucker on, “There’s Something About Mary”  when he dropped his keys in Mary’s office (you would think there would have been a better link on YouTube – that was admittedly pretty hack!) thanks to the STUPID KNEE that Woodrow-the-beloved-bulldog-who-needs-a-helmet injured whilst we were playing bullfighter in the backyard this past winter.

The mosquitos feasted until after 7pm which is when I finally finished up.

Here’s the thing. A few years ago, I planted 65 garlic. They lasted 3 years. Just saying. So, who’s up for some scampi in, say, April?

 


I just made bruschetta and want to share the recipe. Before we go there, however, we need a lesson on how to pronounce, “bruschetta.” I used to say “BROO-shett-uh.”  That is incorrect. After ordering a delish rendition of bruschetta at Dolce Vita in Boston’s North End, I have learned to say it correctly. (If you get the chance to go there, GO! Franco rocks, and sings to the crowd. Much fun to be had by all!) 

Ready? Here we go…”Br(roll that ‘r’)oo-SKETT-tuh.” Now, kiss all your fingertips (and thumbtip, is that considered a finger in an example such as this? I think it is, but, whatever, all five of them) at the same time, then pull your hand away and flare your fingers out into a jazz hand. This is a terrible, stereotypical gesture I have learned from movies and television and I use it here without shame.

So, here is the DaisyPatch version of the Dolce Vita bruschetta.

1 loaf Italian bread (I bought a fresh loaf that was soft. You can buy the crusty kind (is that French? Well THAT won’t work. This is an Italian recipe) but I avoid the crusty kind because it shreds the roof of my mouth. Like Captain Crunch. Ouch. That stuff was painful. How did that get on the market in the first place, I ask you? That cereal inflicted injury. Did I digress?) Slice and then toast in the broiler until just lightly browned (too brown and we’ll get that shredded roof of the mouth thing again.)

1 clove garlic, minced

3-4 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme – removed from the stem

1 shallot (or a teensy red onion), chopped

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

coarse salt

fresh ground pepper

*Note- I don’t measure. I completely eyeballed it, but I think that looks about right.

Mix the garlic, tomatoes, shallot, basil, thyme in a bowl. Add olive oil. Let sit.

Reduce the balsamic vinegar in a pan over the stove until it starts to look thick. Cool. It will get a bit thicker as it cools. You want it thick like honey.

When you are ready to serve, put the veggie mixings on the toasted bread, salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with a little balsamic. Serve it up.

And say it with me. Bruschetta. (Don’t forget the hand gesture – kiss, pull, jazz). Molto bene.

(Author note: I am exceptionally proud of these. All veggies and herbs were ours. And they were delicioso.)


My garlic haiku…ahem…

The dream of garlic

Fragrancing my dinner plate

The smell of comfort

It is time to harvest the garlic. How do I know? They told me. Well, not in words, although, I am sure you, gentle reader, (if you have been reading this little site) would not be surprised if I confessed the vegetables spoke to me. Once 1/3 of the tops of the greens are yellow, pull ’em out baby.

Here’s the process.

1. Notice the yellowed, droopy tops.

2. Holding your hand at the base of the greens, gently pull the greens upward. If it is holding firm, you might need to loosen the soil around the bulb. I use a gloved finger, not wanting to spear the bulb with my trowel. This is easier on a dry day.

3. Gently lay all the bulbs, with their tops, in a cool, dry place, preferably up off the ground. We have a hammock that is strung between 2 trees and I have found that to be the perfect location. Don’t bounce them around a lot. They’re easily bruised at this stage.

4. Let them set. I leave them on the hammock overnight (as long as it doesn’t rain). This setting will get the papery husks to dry a bit. Don’t peel them! That will protect the bulbs. Peel them when you are ready to eat.

5. Carefully brush the dirt from the bulbs. A paint brush easily does the trick. It is ok if they still have a bit of dirt on them. You don’t want to fuss too much.

6. Braid them up. Tie at the top of the braid and hang them from the ceiling in a cool, dark place.

7. To use them, snip from the braid.

Shallots


It has been a long time since I wrote a haiku. Here we go…ahem…

Fragrant garlic scapes

Unsure how to cook with you

Had no luck before

When we were part of the CSA (that failed experiment I’ve mentioned before), we were introduced to garlic scapes. They are the flower and stem of a garlic bulb that farmers remove so that the plant directs its energy toward the bulb and not the flower. The bulb is the goodness (but I know I don’t have to tell YOU that, gentle reader). Anyhoo, the CSA sent us home with scapes for a few weeks in a row with mentions of, “Garlic Scape Pesto, mmmmmm.” Well, I tried to make that. The scapes were sort of grainy, even, dare I say, woody. They were still green, but, well, stiff and no matter how much I boiled or sauteed them, I didn’t like the texture of the pesto. It was like eating pasta with flavored, green wood shaving sauce. (I have this texture-thing with food. Bamboo shoots, for example, have been invented by Satan to ruin my food with their grainy, crunchy grittiness. Ewww. Putting fruit chunks in ice cream is equivalent, in my book, to boiling live kittens. Wrong. Very wrong. And gross. Powdered mashed potatoes…you get my point.)

So, the garlic scape pesto was inedible. Here we are and it is garlic scape season. They’re patiently sitting in the fridge, waiting to be transformed from deliciously garlicky flavor-sticks (they smell fantastic, like a combination of pea pods and super mild garlic) into something edible.

First, here’s the process of procuring a garlic scape.

Step 1. Notice the garlic scape.

Step 2. Cut and save the garlic scape.

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Step 3. Use the garlic scape. This is where I’m lost. I need to do some hunting for recipes. If you have one. Please share. If I find any that work, I will post them.

My February doldrums haiku…ahem…

Have the stomach flu

I’ve been knitting and **ting

For the last 2 days

Yup. I thought I’d bring you, my gentle readers, into my hell.  The 6 foot high snow bank (no lie) is a bit shorter and there are actually patches of ground for DaisyMae to use as her “spot.” The wind today is pretty gusty and although it looked a bit nice out earlier, I, alas, have been stuck inside. This stomach bug is just not fun. Rice, ginger ale, water and saltines have been my chosen menu for about 46 hours while I stayed home from work yesterday (sparing my co-workers in my day job from my condition) and alternated between sleeping (having snoozed only 2 hours the night before) and knitting a new hat for myself and, well, just plain bitching about how crappy I feel.

I looked outside at our garden, still buried under about 3 feet of snow and wondered how soon it will be before I’m digging again. We had our sundried tomatoes in a neat little vegetarian dish last week. What will we be eating at this time next year (can you tell I have food on the brain? The bland diet is just so, what’s the word? Boring?) We plan to have the greenhouse completed, so will I finally be able to trudge out and pick greens even though it’s Winter? Will we have canned or frozen enough veggies to eat throughout the year? Gosh, I hope so. I like that we still have some things left in the pantry and freezer: 1/2 bottle of maple syrup; herbs; ketchup; tomato sauce; sundried tomatoes; garlic; green beans; carrots; shallots. I was hoping we’d be able to use our veggies in at least every home-cooked meal throughout the non-growing season. We’re not quite there (sometimes, you just crave spaghetti with parm and butter and nothing else), but we’re pretty close. To take my mind off my misery, I thought I’d share…here’s that neat little vegetarian dish (a bit modified from the original which was something we ate once and tried our best to copy).

(Without measurements. Use the force, Luke.) (There! She did it again. She stuck in a Star Wars reference in her gardening blog. HOW DOES SHE DO IT?)

Pie Crust for 2 pies

About a cup of sundried tomatoes, boiled until soft, then drained and pureed.

1 can of artichoke hearts (unmarinated). Drain and chop.

Roasted red peppers, chopped

Shredded mozzarella

1 container ricotta

Grated Parmesan

2 eggs

Heat oven to 350

Put 1 crust in pie plate for pie bottom.

Spread sundried tomato paste on bottom of crust

Mix ricotta with 1 egg, some ground pepper and some grated parm (you know, like lasagne) (We are low sodium here in the DaisyPatch household, so feel free to add a pinch of salt if your taste desires, but try it without, there’s enough flavor in here, you migh be able to skip it.)

Spread ricotta mixture on top of tomato paste.

Sprinkle (ok, pour) shredded mozzarella over ricotta.

Layer on chopped artichokes.

Layer on chopped red peppers (scarce, or you’ll be dying of heartburn 2 hours later, TRUST ME!)

More mozzarella (can you ever have too much?)

Put the other pie crust on top and, using the other egg that you’ve beaten with a fork (and called a few names because it doesn’t know its place and didn’t listen to you like good eggs should), brush the egg over the crust.

Bake in the oven until top is golden brown.

Enjoy while I go make myself some rice. (OH! and Keith just poured himself some of our favorite wine! This is torture.)

~By the way, you can subscribe to this blog if you like. I won’t mind. This way, when I update, it will get emailed to you. I don’t sell the email addresses or anything.


My Homemade Pizza Haiku…ahem…

A kick-ass pizza

Made with veggies from the Patch

And some artichokes

~

Pizza dough

Can of artichoke hearts

2 heads of garlic

tomatoes

goat cheese

balsamic vinegar

Roast the garlic bulbs (cut the tops off, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes until fork-tender). Put one aside to nibble from while you’re making the rest of the pizza. Squish out the garlic from the other once once it’s cooled and mash with a fork.

Take the pizza dough out of the package (I know, I know, we could discuss the merits of making your own pizza dough right here, but c’mon, get real. We don’t grow wheat. I mean, we could mix some flour and water together, stick it on the window sill to ferment, thus creating our own yeast base but by the time we’ve harvested and ground the wheat and grew some yeast, I would have killed a litter of small puppies and eaten them raw out of hunger, so let’s just go with the convenience of store-bought dough, m’kay?) Oil the pizza pan and stretch the dough out on the pan.

Slice up the tomatoes, drain and slice the artichokes.  Scatter on top of the pizza dough. Crumble up the goat cheese and sprinkle it on top. Eat some goat cheese, you know, to make sure it’s ok.

Put it in the oven and bake that baby for 8-10 minutes…

(He made the pizza, so I’ve been checking on the steps he took…here’s what happened next…)

Me: Wait – Keith, honey, how hot was the oven.

Him: Hot.

Me: Yeah, but how hot? I’m putting in a recipe.

Him: Oh, 500

Him: Wait! Make it 485. Be different.

Boil down the balsamic vinegar until it is a syrup while the pizza is baking. Cool it. (The syrup. You’re fine.)

When it is done, take it out, drizzle on the vinegar, cut it and, then you can do what I did and make it pose for photos.

Ooh, artsy!

~

Ok, time to be honest here. In order to do what I did, you could read the text on your phone requesting you pick up artichokes, stop at the store and pick up a can of artichokes, arrive home with said artichokes, then wait patiently while someone else makes this delicious dish. Once the pie has been removed from the oven, you then make the garlicky-breath-owning chef wait while you pose the pizza in several different ways and take pictures, first without a flash, then with a flash, then try to get artsy by just pulling out once slice ever so carefully and taking more photos, first without a flash, then with a flash until you are finally reminded that the pizza is getting cool and that you’ve probably taken enough photos of said pizza and it was time to eat.

Enjoy!

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