Archive for August, 2012

July’s challenge was about winter gardening and seed saving. Challenges included:

1. Winter gardening

2. Planting carrots for the fall/winter

3. Saving seeds

I missed the deadline for the link-up to the website (here if you want to check out what others have done), but here’s what I’ve done:

1. Winter gardening

Kale and broccoli for transplanting in a few weeks.

Kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts and some herbs for indoors.


I reseeded my polyculture beds with greens and other cold weather veggies.

Lettuce and arugula for the fall inside my bean tepee.


2. Carrot bed

Carrots and a few other goodies seeds and (hopefully) germinating. The sticks etc are to keep the cats out.

3. Saving seeds

I have saved some chive seeds and plan to try to get some lettuce seeds. I’ve let some of it bolt and I’m waiting for seeds to set. I also plan to save tomato, pepper and cucumber seeds, but I am afraid some are hybrid, so we’ll see. The corn is definitely a saver as are beans.

August challenge is out – preserving food. Whew, I have a head start on that one!!

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Monday Menu

The great thing about summer and all the vegetables available is that you don’t really have to do anything complicated or labor-intensive to have a great meal. I suppose the most work in this whole dinner was slicing the vegetables… Even the cooking took less than about 10 minutes!


Tomato*, mozzarella and basil* salad

Green salad of lettuce° and cucumber*

Grown-up additions to salad: baby chard*, beet*, turnip* and arugula* greens

Yellow squash* and onions°

Corn on the cob°

The first salad is a classic combination, but with tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden it is sublime!

When I was a kid, we used to have zucchini quite often in the summer and we always had it the same way, sliced into  rounds and  sauteed with onions, then topped with melted American cheese. I made this version without cheese and loved pairing the yellow squash with the red onion.

Simple but delicious!

The corn on the cob was a disappointment. I got it at the farmer’s market so it was pretty fresh, but it is not the Jersey sweet corn we enjoyed back home. Still, it wasn’t bad and I think the leftover corn will make great fritters! And we got to use our special corn on the cob boats with cob holders. Last summer when they saw these for the first time in the US, the girls thought these were the neatest things they’d ever seen. So we brought a set back with us!

Classic, cheap, plastic, kitsch…

Oh, the green salad was not photo-worthy. Just salad and cut up cucumbers. I ate the additional grown-up greens too fast to photograph them!

Hope you enjoyed your dinner tonight!

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Well, it’s not really wild, is it? It’s more like feral…escaped from cultivation, neglected, fending for itself.

Country roads here are lined with fruit and nut trees, a tradition from the past now becoming rarer. New plantings seem to be Norway maple or other ornamental trees. But there are plenty of old plantings left and that is what we look for on our fruit foraging expeditions. We try to find them along little-used back roads, or set back from the roads as the exhaust from traffic is not something I want to be consuming on my fruit.

On this day we were after wild plums. Last year we found a couple of great trees on the road from Tuchomerice to Pazdrna, but those either didn’t set fruit this year or someone beat us to it! We did find a few loaded trees in that vicinity, though, and set to picking.

Yellow Mirabelle plums.

The girls, however, were hoping for apples. We found some, but it’s a bit early.

The roads are lined with fruit trees.

I think the the girls like climbing more than the fruit itself!

The fruits of our labors.

Why do we do this? First off, it’s thrilling to come home loaded with full buckets of delicious, free fruit, and the question of legality only adds to the thrill. We don’t pick from trees that clearly belong to someone, or we’d certainly ask if we did. But these trees are along roads and paths, the fruit just seems to drop and rot year after year, so we figure we might as well help ourselves. I wouldn’t know who to ask, anyway, and most people passing by don’t seem shocked or outraged. So, we figure it’s okay. But we listen for police sirens…

Secondly, spending the day with the kids in the countryside is lovely. The birds sing, the crickets chirp, the sun shines, the breeze blows, the Czech countryside is beautiful…what’s not to like?

And thirdly, we eat it all winter long…

Plum jam, apple sauce and tkhemali.

Grand total: 5 quarts and 1 pint of apple sauce, 14pints and 1 quart of wild plum jam, and 10 beautiful jars of tkhemali. Tkhemali is a Georgian condiment, sort of a plum ketchup, made by friend and neighbor Andrea. Hopefully she will do a guest post soon and explain how to make it (hint, hint).

We’re off to the woods for blackberries soon and more apples in month or two!

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Worm Wrangling

They’re ornery critters, them worms.

Sure, they make great compost, but so far I can’t use it because I can’t get them to vacate the compost and move on to greener pastures.

First attempt…

They don’t like bright light, so I thought I could chase them out of the compost right under the pizza boxes where fresh carrot peelings and old chard leaves await them. But no, they wouldn’t budge.

The latest set up:

Lots and lots of chard and lettuce leaves on top in the hopes they migrate up.

If this doesn’t work, I am planning to make lots of little lassoes out of embroidery floss. I’ll keep you posted.

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The First Tomatoes

Nothing matches the excitement of the first tomatoes of the season! After all, tomatoes were the reason I started to garden in the first place! Never mind that my precious prizes have been ravished by disease in the last two years…I am ever hopeful that someday I will grow bushels of tomatoes. For now, I’m happy with the first few!

The very first ripe tomatoes!

Big red tomato on the way…fingers crossed!

A velvet cushion would be going a bit too far…but they look lovely on my dish towel.

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Monday Menu…on summer time

Yes, I know it is Wednesday. Although I am enjoying the fact that I have to stop and think to figure out what day it is. Don’t you love summer vacation?!

Here’s a dish I made for lunch yesterday because I barely remember what we had on Monday (that’s not summer vacation forgetting, that’s just pure getting old forgetting!).

Pasta° with Sage* Oil and Goat Cheese°

It’s fresh whole wheat pasta from the farmer’s market with sage oil drizzled on top, goat cheese crumbled on top and the lightly roasted seeds and nuts that come with the pasta sprinkled on top.

Sage oil is made by infusing about a cup of sage leaves in a cup of olive oil by heating them gently on the stove for 10-15 minutes and then letting it sit a little while. Strain out the leaves and bottle. Use generously. Delicious!


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