Learning curves

Last summer slugs decimated the strawberry harvest from my garden. This year I was prepared. Or so I thought. I had a bag of diatomaceous earth stand by, and an old salt shaker to spread it around the plants. But there were no slugs. Instead, chipmunks discovered the strawberry patch and took a bite out of every single ripe strawberry. Continue reading

Citrus jam recipe redux

Except for salad greens, and family-size bags of carrots and frozen green beans, we buy almost no vegetables when we go food shopping. During the winter, we mostly eat the bounty from my garden that fills our freezer. At the supermarket, I often get a puzzled look from the cashier or the people in line behind me when I load those 5-pound bags on the conveyor belt. “Those are for our dog,” I say when someone asks. Continue reading

The art of the barter

In late July, my friend Lise gave me a large bag of wild blueberries that she and her boyfriend had picked. Picking wild blueberries, which taste unlike any of the cultivated varieties, is backbreaking and tedious. In exchange for the wild blueberries, I gave Lise a couple of jars of my homemade elderflower jelly.

Also by bartering, this summer I obtained other fresh local produce, including some horseradish I needed for pickling beets, and a load of peppers when my entire crop failed. I received all these bounties in exchange for my homemade jams, jellies and pickles. Continue reading

Breakfast fare for breakfast skippers

With the exception of breads, there are very few breakfast recipes on this blog. The simple reason is that I don’t eat breakfast. Yes, I know, it’s a bad habit but the fact is that I cannot stomach to eat anything early in the morning. My breakfast consists of a large mug of coffee with lots of hot frothed milk, basically an oversized cappuccino. Other people’s breakfast then becomes my lunch. Continue reading

As American as apple pie?

In the past few months I have thought a lot about the expression, “as American as apple pie.” Whether I was tossing and turning in bed during many sleepless nights, driving past homes with the American flag and an occasional Confederate flag, whether I was standing at the stove until late at night canning and preserving the harvest from my garden, or angrily digging up the soil and pulling weeds until I almost dropped in an attempt to vent and get away from too much news intake – it all seemed to be boiling down to one question: What is American? Continue reading

Canning season restart

With the days getting shorter, my motivation and energy for any canning or preserving is also shrinking. And frankly and thankfully, there is no real need for it. The freezer and the basement shelves are well stocked.

And I finally found time to get on my bike again. Yet coming back from a ride, I spotted a large bush full of ripe autumn olives, aka autumn berries, along our driveway. That was the end of the short break. The canner and pressure cooker, which had already been stored away, came back down. Continue reading

Apple Masala

Apple Masala Bread

A long and productive gardening season is winding down. After the first frost, the last peppers and tomatoes are ripening on trays indoors, the freezer is packed to the top, the basement shelves are filled with all kinds of canned goods, and the water-bath canner and all the other canning equipment has been put in storage. And I finally have time to get on my bike again.

Well not so fast…. From one of my bike rides I brought back a whole basket of windfall apples. Continue reading

I promise, I will feed you better!

Rhubarb lemonade

As a Master Gardener I should know. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have been skimping on fertilizing my own garden. That fact dawned on me last fall after attending a refresher training.

“Think about everything you harvest from the garden in a growing season. You must return the nutrients to the soil,” the speaker said. “There is nothing wrong with regularly fertilizing your garden but sometimes people who garden organically have this odd reluctance to do that.” Continue reading