Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 2012 Garden Still Lives!

The 2012 garden year is in the books and it certainly was a mixed bag.  There was serious flooding in June that proved detrimental to some crops followed by a hot and dry summer that was beneficial to others.  That is as it usually is.  Every year certain crops in the vegetable garden do better than others simply due to the weather.  The weather here is crazy sometimes (and seemingly more extreme every year) so risk management is essential.  It is imperative to have all your bases covered by growing cool season as well as warm season crops.

Everyone loves the fresh produce you get during the summer from the garden.  It is what most casual gardeners equate with having a vegetable garden.  For me, it's different.  I devote a large portion of the garden to "commodity" crops.  Things I use in the kitchen regularly.  Onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots are all kitchen staples used almost daily and it is great to be able to use ones you've grown yourself throughout the winter.  Nothing gives me more satisfaction than preparing a meal almost entirely from things I've grown.  Here are a few examples from recent meals.

'German Butterball' potatoes, 'Gladiator' parsnips (not pictured), and thyme that was harvested on New Years Day.

The thyme is used in the herb crust along with
store bought parsley for the rack of lamb.
The New Years Day meal.       The process and the finished dish.

Herb-crusted Rack of Lamb with Roasted Garlic, Parsnip, and Potato mash

A cold winters day in mid January inspired me to prepare the hearty and classic French dish, Boeuf Bourguignon, with, of course, vegetable staples from the garden.

The veggies

Shallots, 'Atomic Red' carrots, 'Copra' & 'Red Zeppelin' onions, 'Premium Northern White' hardneck garlic and a mixture of smaller sized potatoes  are all used in the dish. The bread below has absolutely nothing to do with the garden but it was an integral part of the meal so I included some photos.

The loaves just before going into the oven

The finished loaves

The finished dish: Boeuf Bourguignon with all the accoutrements served over Mixed Potato Mash made with warm cream infused with garlic, bay and thyme

Preparing meals from vegetables I've grown is one of the great joys of my life.  There is something about nurturing a crop from start to finish and investing your own sweat and yes, sometimes even blood, into it that makes these meals taste even better.  Last year's garden is still alive indeed.  It is very satisfying. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bird ... and dog

I love seeing pileated woodpeckers. This one was grabbing a suet snack before the wind kicked up and the temperature plummeted.

And I love watching the Silly Dog enjoying a walk in fresh snow.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seventh Day January: Weekend

 The woods behind the back garden.
Seventh Day January 2013 is brought to you by the weekend of Jan. 5-6. It's quiet out there, and we could use more snow. But easy access into the woods is nice. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A new leaf?

Will this be the year when I finally try my hand at casting leaves using hypertufa? This giant leaf is perched on a log pedestal in a garden on last summer's Secret Garden Tour.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Garden tour inspiration


It's a day for looking ahead and looking back. Despite the cold that reaches deep into the bone, I'm thinking about spring and how the garden will evolve this year. For inspiration, I'm recalling the Secret Garden Tour hosted by the Lake County Master Gardeners last July. My favorite garden on the tour was the first one, a typically-sized backyard in town that was anything but typical. Kathy, our host, showed off a yard with minimal lawn and wide, raised beds. But what was really charming were the bits and pieces of old bedsprings, mailboxes and other "found sculpture." Kathy has a good eye for adding surprise without going overboard.  
 Squash grows out of this heavy metal cauldron that also would be suitable for a witch's brew.