Easy As Cake

Hmmmm… I wrote this on January 7, 2017 and never did post it. So here it is now. And to top that off I will even throw in a recent photo of our onions! They were all harvested last week because we discovered the begginngs of a thrip invasion and that was followed by another aphid attack. There is no end to it. Gene ordered, received and distributed a batch of lacewings because ladybugs are in short supply this year. It seems ladybugs are wild harvested in the Rocky Mountains and they just are not present. That concerns me almost as much as the thrips especially with the corn being knee high and all.

The largest onions are weighing in at around a pound each. More onion talk later. I am so excited to have grown great onions!

And now – the January article.

I have been mulling over at least a dozen ideas today on topics to blog about. Pie, cake, failure of the fall garden, lack of a winter garden, leeks, winter meals, a new garden bed – well you get the idea – they have all been swimming around there and it is just too much. Besides that I don’t have a single new photo to share. How boring is a blog post without pictures!? Pretty boring.

Lack of new photos has been not pure laziness but lack of sunshine aka inspiration. I really like natural light and do not have the time or inclination to set up special lighting for kitchen or garden photos. Maybe it is laziness…

We officially started the 2017 gardening season today by assessing the yard and garden, and throwing together a new and very small bed. Yes! I built a new garden bed today. In an out of the way spot there had lain several spent bales of straw and they and the soil below were perfect for a short narrow bed. So. There it is. Done except for some amendments – worm castings and a little blood and bone meal. Heaped on plenty of winter compost and with rain coming soon it will be ready to plant when the new kale plants are ready.

Speaking of fresh kale plants – tomorrow I will set up a mini greenhouse on the south patio with jugs of black water and a lean-to glass front. Simple. Having recently ran across a short article on winter sowing for spring and summer I am inspired to give it a try. You will hear more about that and if the sun will shine a little bit tomorrow, pictures also.

Someone recently said to me “…oh it’s such a simple cake to make…” in reference to a cake I make once a year and LOVE (it’s that Poppy Seed Cake Gene likes for his birthday).  But simple? I ain’t so sure about that. A simple cake is the one on page 67 of my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book circa early 1970’s titled Busy-Day Cake. Throw out the word sift, count the number of bowls – one – count ’em – one, and the word simple comes to my mind. Unlike the aforementioned cake requiring 4 bowls, several glass measuring cups, regular measuring cups, two mixers, a bundt pan (that never seems to be greased enough), and countless spatulas and other accoutrements – simple is not a word this cake can claim.

The Busy-Day Cake has a pleasant flavor and a rustic crumb. Perfect. Especially if you want to make it a pineapple upside down.

I know there must be more complicated cakes in the world. In fact I still fantasize about making the Black Forest Cake on page 73 of the same cook book. The instructions are a full half page and in 1972 ingredients like kirsch and almond extract were not part of my baking reality! So intimidating I still haven’t made it.

Since we are discussing dessert how about pie. I will admit to being a total snob when it comes to pie crust. This will offend almost everyone I know who makes pie but… I have never met a pie crust I liked beyond my Mother’s pie crust. And she taught me. Her pie crust is so light and flakey and delicate and tender. It almost melts in your mouth. Mine is a close second (usually. You know we all have our days). I’m confident Mom used lard while growing up and did I mention she learned to bake on a wood fired stove? But Crisco was the only thing I ever saw go into her pie crust. Not butter flavored Crisco but plain old Crisco. Nothing else would do. Well I was a Crisco gal too. Until I started making my own heirloom field raised lard rendered right in my own back porch by myself and Gene. Now I am a lard pie crust kinda gal. And my pie crust is almost as good as my Mom’s but not quite.

Don’t ask me how that store bought crust is next time we’re at a pot luck or how that dry as a bone stick in yer craw faux crust is because it is not my cup of tea. If I have offended you well come on over and we will have us a pie crust making session. It’s all technique. And ingredients. Don’t skimp on the grease. Pie crust is not a health food.

Okay that’s enough about pie.

The fall garden was a near fail. Too hot too long, too cold, too late, too much rain and not enough. What is thriving is the alliums. Garlic, shallots, green onions and leeks. There are leeks I planted from seed about eight months ago, and about a hundred leeks from Pat, and some more from seed ready to go into the ground. Sounds like a lot of leeks but as a side vegetable we can easily consume eight to ten in one meal. As an aside we just ordered a few bunches of onions from Dixondale Farms and are looking forward to our first foray into real onion growing. A tiny lettuce patch has made it through the cold and gave us salad once a week. And a dozen kale plants once again peeking out from the thick leaf mulch. There are two surviving Brussels Sprouts under cover of milk jug still holding their own. Ah! I really tiny patch of parsnips that finally germinated under a plastic dome are several inches high! This is the first time I have gotten parsnips to actually germinate!

I guess that doesn’t really sound like a fail does it? Except for the broccoli, cabbage, carrots, choy, peas. I missed those.


So that was the January post! It’s June and I am already planning this year’s fall garden. How about you?


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