Tuesday, September 6, 2011

seasonal eating: stuffed acorn squash

i love following the palate of the season. there is a real connection made with farmers & the landscape when enjoying in-season foods. tonight's dinner was just that & delicious, too- acorn squash stuffed with sausage from the farm, carrots, yellow squash & garlic. paired with frozen peas, this meal was quick, which allowed for a few more hours spent outside enjoying this cool relief.

stuffed acorn squash
adapted slightly from simply in season
serves 4

2 medium acorn squash
cut squash in half. remove seeds with a spoon. place cut side down on a greased baking sheet. bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes until soft. remove from oven & set aside.

1 lb. sausage
3 cloves garlic (minced)
4 carrots (shredded)
2 yellow squash (cubed)
1 stale slice of bread
3 tbsp. brown sugar

saute sausage until cooked through. mix garlic, carrots, & yellow squash in bowl. add to pan with sausage, cover & simmer for 15 minutes. stuff filling into acorn squash. tear up bread & place on top. sprinkle brown sugar on top. bake at 375F for 10 minutes. add a dab of butter on top when serving.


Friday, September 2, 2011


i adore kale.
i can honestly say it is one of my favorite vegetables.
i enjoy red russian, and curly but i have a extra fondness for dinosaur or lacianato kale.
i love it's blue-green color and it's towering stature in the garden.
i used to always cook kale but was once at a picnic where a friend had brought a raw kale salad that was absolutely delicious.
i could not stop eating it to the point that i was a bit embarrassed after the third helping.
of course i jumped at the offering of bringing home the leftovers that night and found that it tasted even better the next day.
i have since altered the recipe to our liking.

kale salad
1 large bunch kale rinsed, de-stemmed and chopped up fine (curly or lacianato)
2 or 3 carrots shredded
1 red pepper diced
1 cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup olive oil
1 small shallot minced
3 tbs fresh ginger root, peeled then minced
1 clove garlic sliced
3 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs toasted sesame oil
3 tbs chopped cilantro
zest of 1 lime
black pepper and salt to taste

combine ingredients and dress.
it tastes best if it can sit for an hour before eating
but i have been impatient and have also enjoyed it right away.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trying something new, gomphrena

This year we expanded our planting space to improve a strip of land behind my studio. It's by the alley, where the trash gets picked up and honestly has never been tended. We killed the weeds by covering the area with epdm rubber, (which we had leftover from construction projects) and leaving it there for several weeks. Old carpets could also have been used. Then we raked out the dead weeds and removed the gravel to prepare to plant. The soil isn't great back there but it's suitable for flowers. This season we got it partially planted and hope to completely fill it next year. For now a section is filled with zinnias and globe amaranth, or gomphrena. I had never grown globe amaranth before but really am enjoying them. And they are great for this spot, as it is very sunny and dry, and they tolerate drought and heat, which we have certainly had in abundance this summer. I want to harvest some to dry but for now will tuck a few into zinnia bouquets.
Another new plant we're trying this year is delicata squash. Which I hope to talk about here soon.

Did you try something new in the garden this season?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

irene, cabbage worms and hornworms, and surprises


last saturday before irene hit vermont, my husband and i checked in on our gardens and harvested what we could. dried dill seed, small ears of corn, zucchini, and a luffa sponge that we thought for a split-second was a zucchini. by the time we realized what it was, we had cut it and put it in our basket.

it's always good to inspect your gardens regularly, impending storm or not, as you might stumble upon something like a hornworm that can really wreak havoc. we've had a time with the hornworms this year, finding them on green peppers and potatoes as well as tomatoes.

cabbage worm evidence

we also found evidence of the dreaded cabbage worm.


can you see them? they blend in so well.

so, we stopped harvesting and made a hot pepper spray for our brassicas.

hot pepper spray

you can find a similar recipe here.

we also found some wonderful surprises while on our rounds.

striped dahlia

after two years of trying, i finally have a peppermint stripe dahlia. isn't it a beauty?


we've had this orange tree for years. it's traveled with us to denver, north carolina, and then vermont and has never produced fruit until this year. talk about surprising!

even though our gardens made it through the storm fine, others in my community were not as lucky. one of my favorite farms lost everything due to five foot flood waters. the entire state has been affected. please keep vermonters in your thoughts. it's been a difficult week.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

freezing greens

swiss chard has been the biggest success in the garden this year. i started my chard from seed in the early spring months at our old home in missouri. i planted them in my spring garden & then dug them up & re-planted them in pots. after traveling across state lines & surviving 115 degree summers, i'd say my swiss chard plants are troopers.

we are still harvesting basket fulls of chard for our summer dinners, but the chard just seems to keep growing. for that reason, i decided it was necessary to preserve some of our chard for later. i always pinch myself in the grocery store, wishing i had saved some of my greens, when purchasing kale, swiss chard & spinach during the winter months.

after some research & experimenting, i found that blanching & freezing greens (swiss chard, collards, kale, spinach, etc.) is the easiest & quickest way to preserve your harvest:

1. gather your greens.

2. wash your greens.

3. cut off & remove stems & other blemishes from leaves.

4. bring large pot (3/4 full of water) to a full boil. submerge greens into pot & keep in pot for three minutes.

5. once those greens have been in the pot for three minutes, drain & add to a large bowl full of ice water for three minutes.

6. drain & add to plastic freezer bag. remove air from bag (tip: use a straw & suck out air). make sure to label bag with name of greens & date.

7. place in freezer for later use!

happy freezing, friends!

Monday, August 29, 2011




i'm always amazed at how plants do what they need to do to survive... tomatoes growing in the cracks between bricks in my garden.  beans climbing up anything that will hold them.  they are so resilient.  when there is not enough water, they conserve what they have.  when the are stressed, there are scars, but they endure.  there is a lot we can learn from the plants around us.

ps: i'm happy to be posting on mondays now, and shari will be here on wednesdays from now on. have a great week friends!

Friday, August 26, 2011


it's so nice to be back.
what a great week of posts last week!
a big hug and a thanks to all of our guests.

we have had loads of rain here and more to come
so the garden is large and lush these days.
the hens are happy in their new home
and our banty has begun to lay sweet tiny eggs.
we have harvested our first pear of the season.
and watermelons are growing on our front stoop.
i have plans to start a new rock wall this weekend, if i don't get washed away.
i love this time of year.
fall is in the air
but there is still so much to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

harvesting beans




so here is the follow up post to the growing beans post from earlier this season.  after all that work, i am reaping the benefits of my bean extravaganza.  so far, i have harvested almost all of the tiger's eye beans (the orange/red ones), and less than half of the calypso beans (the black and white ones).  i've also picked a couple of pounds of the purple pod pole and sultan's golden crescent fresh beans.  i still have october beans and hutterite soup beans that i saved from last year as well.

growing dry beans is one of the easiest things to do in your garden, since they are so low maintenance.  just make sure they are decently watered while they are growing, and just leave them on the plants until they are fully crispy.  shell the beans, spread them out on a baking tray, and bake in the oven on the lowest setting for 10-15 minutes to make sure there are no weevils or other itty bitty critters enjoying your beans.  one new technique that i tried this year was rolling the bean seeds in rhizobium powder prior to planting.  this is supposed to increase yields by up to 100%, but honestly, i saw no difference [at least in the ones i've harvested so far].  i'd love to hear if anyone has different experience with this. 

here are a few sources for heirloom bean recipes:
:: seed savers heritage farm bean salad (this is where i purchase my bean seeds)
:: rancho gordo  (both rancho gordo and seed savers also sell heirloom beans for cooking if you don't want to grow your own).  they also have a whole book of heirloom bean recipes!
:: 101 cookbooks heirloom beans and seitan recipe
:: becky and the beanstalk (i made this hutterite bean soup last winter)

do you have any favorite heirloom bean recipes or tips?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

planning for the changing season

hello! it feels so good to be back.
thank you to all of the wonderful guests last week! i really enjoyed it.

the month of august is so special in so many ways. days are growing cooler, summer is savored, fall is nearing & the harvest is plentiful. in our home, august also comes with many long days of preserving, freezing, working outside & preparing for the changing season. here's a little peek at our list:

home & garden list
- peach jam
- pickles
- watermelon rind preserves
-freeze tomatoes
-build chicken coop
-plan for fall garden

to manage it all, we make lists. lots of lists. we also (try to) keep things organized so as to not miss a date or forget to do something before it is too late.

for our fall garden, we keep a large chalkboard in our living room to remind us daily of what needs to be accomplished. we write down dates for transplanting or directly seeding & a map of where those seeds or starts need to be planted in the garden.

i also keep a journal of successes & failures from the season to keep, along with ideas to try next year. this is a place to keep favorite preserving recipes, too. this helps to keep me sane & not make the same mistake each year.

finally, it is equally important to be realistic about what can be accomplished on any given day in the garden. if those tomatoes are nearing their end & you do not have time to make some sauce for canning, make room for them in your dinner that night. don't worry, there are still tomatoes ripening on the vine for your winter canning.