Herbs



Husk Cherries

Lots of Husk Cherries

Garlic Chives and lots of bees

Acorn Squash

Hanging in the sun



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.


As I sat at the breakfast bar watching Keith prepare an evening snack last night (carbs were necessary, we were still recovering from the New Year’s Eve party), I was hit by a sudden thought, “It’s January 1st, 2011,” I said. “Yup” was his reply.

It was a short exchange, but full of meaning. Interesting, I didn’t ask it as a question. I just said it out loud as I realized it. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, I do not stay up until 2AM drinking champagne with best friends very often (although, hm, that sounds sort of nice. Add that to the resolution list!) 2010 flew by. It brought many ups and many downs, but overall, I am grateful and thankful for all that we have – health, home, friends, jobs, each other (yes, I am a sap and just choked up a little as I type this. Those who know me will not be suprised. Those who are just getting to know me through this little blog – let me introduce myself. My name is Jenn, and I am a sap. When Mr. Brady scolded Marcia for sneaking around when she was grounded, but she actually was mailing her nomination for him for Father of the Year, I bawled like a colicky infant. If someone gets engaged, even in a movie, forgedduboudit! Get the tissues.)

As I look forward to the new year in front of me, I find myself doing what I always do at this time. You know the resolutions, every magazine in the grocery check-out aisle around this time of year feeds to our desire to change, “Lose 10 Pounds in 7 Days Just by Changing Your Shampoo” or “Pluck Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You With These Revolutionary Tweezers” and of course, “Reduce Stress Like a Celebrity, Only Legally. Page 79 Shows You How.”

These aren’t the type of resolutions I want to make (although, one too many cookies has been ingested, so perhaps meneeds to rethink this…)

Anyway, changes will be along the lines of frugality and self-sufficiency. We plan to expand our little homestead, hopefully being able to build the coop and get chickens this year. (Yes, it’s definitely about eggs and meat, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that a small part of me wants to say “Dorking Cock” on a daily basis. It makes me giggle.)

I think I’m pretty good at it, but I would like to continue to recognize the beauty in every day and be thankful for what we have.

I would like to waste less. If we don’t eat it, it’ll go in the compost pile to be used on the garden. (And, yes, dear Erica, this does mean I plan to wash more ZipLoc bags than ever. I am NOT crazy, I just can’t stand the thought of all that plastic in the landfill just because I wanted convenience.)

I want to try more things…new plant varieties, new sports, new hobbies. I tried stained glass last year, but Keith tried to get me on the mountain bike with no luck, maybe this year is the year.

I am not going to go overboard here. I am realistic. These plans sound pretty good for now, although, maybe I’ll go get some of those tweezers…Happy New Year. Thanks for visiting the Daisy Patch.

*******

For those of you who need pictures, here are a few…

Basement Basil

Pineapple Sage

Flower Bud on a Christmas Cactus

DaisyMae


My Seed Catalog haiku…ahem…

Oh Seed Catalogs!

With all your varieties

Can’t we get them all?

As I pore over seed brochures, I need to recall lessons from last year when we overcrowded things a bit. (Ok, more than “a bit”). We also realized that we want more varieties of things. How the hell are we supposed to accomodate more types of veggies? We didn’t really have too much go to waste (except during the tomato blight).

So, what is a homesteader to do? I think the solution is to plant more varieties, but fewer plants of each. This way, we can try more things. Also, I need to add some things to the list that I forgot last year:

  • Zucchini
  • Sugar Pumpkins
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • and of course…daisies (although not a vegetable, I do find it necessary to have some daisies considering our homestead is called The Daisy Patch)

I need to plant fewer of the following:

  • Basil (I know, can you believe it? We had so much though.)
  • Lettuce
  • Green Peppers
  • Husk Cherries (WHAT? But you love those! True, but they naturally re-seeded themselves and grew all over the damn property and by the side of the road, there is NO reason we have to start as any this year.)
  • Scallions
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers – maybe just 1 less.

And more of…

  • Edamame (ONE LAST TIME and then THIS IS IT! If I don’t get them to work this year, I will NEVER try them again.)
  • Thyme
  • Salad tomatoes (We lost them to the blight and were left mostly with plum and Reistomate)
  • Potatoes

Now it is time for some new things. This is where I am stuck. I have no clue what we would like. We did not like Brussells Sprouts (thanks anyway, Doreen!) We did like Parsnips. So any recomendations for some newer things we might like? Please note they’ll need to be able to grow in the North East. Thanks!

And Merry Christmas (on a Christmas side note…I plan to bake like a fiend this week. I finished one knitting project, hope to finish another and still have some Christmas Shopping to do. It’s going to be a great week (I mean it – I love this stuff!))


1 3-lb roaster chicken

Butter

Fresh Thyme and Rosemary

Carrots

Butternut Squash

Parsnips

Potatoes

*Preheat oven to 375.  You know the drill – remove giblets, wash and salt the cavity. Pat the chicken dry.  Cut 4 slices of butter and rub between skin and breast. (I leave butter chunks under there). Salt and pepper the outside. Take a bunch of thyme and a sprig of rosemary and stuff in the cavity (remember, you have to get it out after, so “place it” versus “stuff it” might be better way of wording it.)

Put in the meat thermometer and roast. Don’t cover it, well, maybe some foil on the ends of the drumsticks.

While it’s in there, chop the veggies to unif0rm size. Throw in a casserole dish. More pats of butter on top and sprinkle brown sugar-(not a ton, maybe 3 tbsp) on top. Put in next to the bird. Cook until chicken is internal temp of 180. Veggies should be not squishy soft, but soft (like, no knife soft). During cooking time, give the veggies a stir every once in a while.

Make gravy with pan drippings. Enjoy that warm satisfaction deep in the belly that you grew a lot of this meal yourself, being thankful that someone else knows how to kill chickens for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ps…sorry no pictures, it went in my belly too fast!


My November gardening haiku…ahem…

Useful frost blankets

Thanks for keeping the ground warm

So veggies can grow

It is almost Thanksgiving and I snipped baby greens and pulled some carrots last night for dinner. How cool is that? Technically, 27f cool.  That has been our lowest nighttime temp and there’s no sign of distress. I have the carrots tucked into salt marsh hay (god that shit is like velcro. I got it over 1 month ago and continue to pick the strands from my trunk. Lesson? Line the ENTIRE trunk with plastic next time, do not just lay down one piece and expect the trunk to be sparkling clean after bringing home a bale of salt marsh hay).

Tonight’s dinner: Crispy Chicken with Soba Noodle salad (containing our carrots!) Tomorrow we will be having roasted root vegetables with a Shiitake mushroom risotto. Yum.

Let’s go for a Winter walk in the Kitchen Garden..

Mixed greens in the foreground. Varietals in the back.

 

Golden Oregano

Catnip

I had some Dusty Miller in a pot with Dracaena in the strawberry patch. I like how the grey/silver looks against the red strawberry leaves.

Kind of a neat variety of carrot (my way of saying, I don't remember...)

Garlic Chive seeds just hanging out in the dead flowers.

Daisy Mae (a.k.a. PooperDoopers) hanging out under my feet as I blog at the breakfast bar.


I mean, it always feels good to eat, but somehow, it just feels better when you grew it yourself. We’ve been eating the veggies we picked and preserved. Here is a dinner Keith made. Halibut, our potatoes, our parsnips and our tomatoes and tomato sauce. Oh, and our herbs (and yes, he always arranges the plate artfully, not just for the blog photo! I love that. DaisyPatchFarm Bistro serves up some beautiful plates!)

 So, to the left are our fingerling potatoes, the parsnip is in the middle and (another I forget the type isn’t that awful? I’m too lazy right now to go get our gardening notes) potato. The tomatoes were reduced and added to our sauce with some herbs and the halibut was pan-seared. That’s our parsley too. Can I just say?  It was pretty damn good.  Of course, the fingerling potato looks like a doody and the parsnip looks like the finger of a dead person, but who cares? Nummy.


This will be a picture-less post, but I promise you, it will have the same humor throughout, I am just too damn-ass tired to get the camera and plug it in. Sorry, but read on if you care, this post has been festering in my head all day.

The garden is in. Here’s a breakdown:

Growing: Lettuce -(I plant more seed every few week) Red Salad Bowl, Drunken Woman, Bibb, Green Leaf, (I think some more, again, too tired to get my ass up and check the seed packets); Spinach; Arugula; Garlic, Red Onions, Bush Beans – 2 kinds; Snap Peas; Edamame (yippee!); Tomatoes – Reistomate (supposedly it is like little cherry tomatoes that grow together in a cluster), Sweet Baby Girl, Roma, Striped Roma, Marmande, Red Grape; Husk Cherry; Bell Pepper; Bulgarian Carrot, Indian PC151 and Tepin hot peppers.   

Herbs: Chives; Garlic Chives; Catnip; Oregano; Golden Oregano; Basil (a lot!); Cilantro (not enough!); Thyme; Italian Parsley; Dill; Rosemary.

Fruit: Strawberries; Raspberries.

Seeds just put in: Green Onions; Parsnip; Carrot (I’ll re-seed those every week), more Bush Beans, Broccoli; Beets; Cucumber – 3 varieties

Sounds great, right? Sounds like a wonderful bounty of veggie, herb and fruit goodness, doesn’t it? I can hear it now, “Oh my! Look at all the food you have canned, you’ll be eating all winter!”

So why am I so PISSED OFF? I’ll tell you why. Any self-respecting gardner should have figured it out by now. Go back, read that again. Anything missing?

I FORGOT THE GODDAMNED ZUCCHINI!!!!!!! What the hell? I should just shut the laptop, put on the fucking mucks for the last time and stomp through the gardens, putting a stop to this whole bloody experiment. FOR SHAME, Jenn, FOR SHAME (said in that whispery, condesceding voice. Can you hear it? Listen very closely, it’s there, shaking it’s head in disgust). The problem is, we didn’t plan, we just bought seeds that sounded good, and, well, shit, I forget the damned zucchini, (Oh, but I remembered Shit! Keith did anyway. He reminded me to put a pinch of the guano-in-the-white-bag in the back-fill soil when I planted the tomatoes and the guano-in-the-plastic bag in when I planted everything else.)

“So, what’s the big deal? Why not plant some, Jenn? Don’t give yourself such a hard time. It’s only Mid-May, there’s plenty of time.”  Yeah, well, shut up, annoying positive voice! We’re out of room. I had to pull the Asparagus (planted last week) to make room for the Peppers. 12 Asparagus roots are now hanging in a Valentine-heart-decorated gift bag from the basement rafters. (I told you I was a hoarder, right? Yes, I have an entire collection of gift bags, gift wrap and ribbon for every occasion.) I know that is a random place, but I won’t 1) lose them or 2) forget them if they’re there.

I even discussed zucchini and butternut squash here, in this blog and still forgot them. So, what lesson did I learn? Whatever, I’m too pissed at myself to try to make this into a lesson (the condescending voice just switched into that nasal, mocking voice).

So now what? We are out of wood to build another bed (yes, I said, ‘wood’), I don’t want to put it in our flower beds (I just re-landscaped the front of our house last year and don’t want to mess with it cuz I think it looks pretty if I do say so myself), we don’t have a truck to get more supplies to build more beds, and we can’t just plant it in the ground – beneath our grass/dandelion/ajuga lawn is a very thick layer of nothing but clay. Nothing grows in that!

I think that I have a small amount of either ADD (I am not mocking it, I really wonder!) or something, because that sentence about our clay soil structure just made that scene from Ghost flash through my head. Just for a second, but it was long enough to make me stop, ask myself how I even ALLOWED myself to have the scene from GHOST appear in the first place. That is embarrassing. I will not have chocolate tomorrow in penance.

Source: Wikipedia (Oh look, a picture!)

So, when I realized this morning that I had forgotten the zucchini, I tried to reason with myself (as insane people do sometimes, right?) telling myself, “We don’t really need zucchini. It’s overrated” and “It’ll be plentiful at the Farmers’ Market, go support your fellow farmers even though you can’t call yourself that anymore you silly little gardener” and then it hit me. It’ll be ok.

I have 13 quart-sized ziploc bags of last year’s zucchini, carefully blanched and shredded, hoarded in the basement freezer.


It feels warm. It feels like SPRING. We are anxious to get the 250+ plants in the ground. Folks, these are not seedlings, these pots range in size from 4inches to 1 gallon and our tallest tomato plant is already 3.5 feet tall, tied to bamboo stakes.

We moved them all outside into the greenhouse. With typical New England Spring moodiness, Mother Nature has given us 73 and 48 degree days, back to back. So, greenhouse sides have been up and down more often than that guy and that dog on the YouTube video.

So, now we’re debating. Things look very GREEN outside, but we’re expecting 38 degree nights early next week. Do we plant or keep them in the greenhouse for another week? I think we’ll keep them in the house. The problem is, they’re tipping over and many of them need to be repotted. Grumble. I was hoping to avoid that.

 At least the big ole grow light in the basement is off. I mean, it was on a timer, but that baby had been going since February. I went outside and watched the electricity meter turn as flashes of that scene in Christmas Vacation went through my head. It was slow, but there it was – spinning up the bill. So much for going off the grid. Hopefully we’ll figure out this greenhouse thing and be able to start plants in there next winter. You know, use Mother Nature and all…

Dinner tonight…beef shanks, herbed wild rice with our garlic chives and parsley and a yummy little salad with feta cheese and lettuce/arugula seedlings I thinned from the Chef’s Garden. Yum.

Oh, by the way, this video (click here) just made me cry. I am such a sap.