Time On My Hands ! ? What…

I never have time to spare. Never. But today there I was sitting at the kitchen table playing solitaire in the middle of the day. For about an hour. Then I wandered off to find some other aimless activity. I edited some photos, realized the garden should have been photographed today but now the light is gone, tasted tonight’s soup again, looked in the laundry bin and finally found myself at the computer. Here. Right here typing away for you.

You can see pictures of the garden that I posted five days ago  here. It seems things have nearly doubled in size since then! Finally we have had some spring rains and moderate weather, sorta.

I am troubled by a recipe. You may know I seldom use a recipe or if I do it gets tweaked radically. You may know that I consider a recipe a mere suggestion. So why would I be troubled by a recipe? Well.

When we were out west in February my sister made what she called California Rolls. They were DELICious! I loved everything about them. Perfection in a tortilla. With fresh crisp veggy things and a bit of protein. I figured they could be duplicated easy enough. I could see what was in them. Simple. Right. ? No.

The ingredients seemed a bit scanty once rolled up. Maybe about 25% more “stuff” altogether.

I made what I thought was a reasonable facsimile. They were awful! Boring! Drab. The most ho-hum food to grace my kitchen in quite a while (oh please don’t mention that week and a half spell I couldn’t cook anything decent a while back… it happens to all of us). These faux California Rolls tasted like ground up cardboard. Really.

So I asked Pam (my sister) to send the exact recipe and I planned on following it. Which I did. What… do they have extra special deliciouso avocados in Arizona? Or better spicy sprouts? Is their something I should be adding to the mayo that no one is telling me about?

These too were very close to average. The underside of average. Less than. Edible and way better than the first time. But not good enough to make them again.

Here is the recipe. I hope you make suggestions.

California Rolls

Dice a tomato and set it aside to drain

Dice 2 green onions, set aside

Mash an avocado with 1 tablespoon of sour cream or mayo and a 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt (I added some pepper here)

Spread the mash on 6 tortillas (I used 4) to within 1/2 inch of the edges

Cover with lettuce leaves or other light greens

Cover with sliced deli turkey or ham

Top with sprouts (I used a spicy mix)

Sprinkle with tomato, onion and some shredded cheese

Optional: bacon bits, diced cucumber, shredded radish (that’s my idea:) )

Roll up tightly and cut in half or thirds. Happy dining!

I used crumbled bacon, but not the deli meat (ugh). No other changes. I would have liked the shredded radish – we use that a lot on veggy sandwiches.

They just turned out like crap and I do not know why. Please offer suggestions!!

Thanks. Bonnie appetite ya’all!

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A Basket Collection

I have discovered that of the dozens and dozens of baskets in my home only a few are of any real interest, and that I know very little about basketry. Many of mine are mass produced and from China. Nonetheless they are useful and beautiful. I have also discovered they all need a good dusting and a wash and even a few repairs. Here we have some of my favorites.

Decorative reclaimed wire basket by Kitty Chrysalis. She does beautiful work mostly in copper but also uses many other wires. Kitty is an Ozark basket maker currently living in Europe. Nearly twenty years ago I first saw one of Kitty’s baskets at the Yellow House in West Plains, MO. They were far too expensive for my budget at the time. Size – 8 1/2 X 7 X 3 inches tall.

I have a few white oak baskets collected over the years, the oldest being from 1980.

A full size laundry basket, there are two of these and they have been at hard labor for 47 years. Size – 20 X 16 inches tall.

The lamp shade on the left is also one of a pair. It was acquired the same year as the laundry basket. Size – 12 X 9 1/4 inches tall. Laundry basket and lamp shade were purchased at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The flat coiled basket on the right was found at a yard sale some years ago. Size – 22 inches.

 

Large white oak basket. Size – 23 X 16 X 16 inches tall.

Two white oak berry baskets completed by Gene and myself at the Show-Me Folk School, Basketmaking workshop. Size – 9 X 13 X 9 inches tall.

Coiled basket. Size – 13 X 8 inches tall.

This gourd and pine needle basket was made by a native American woman named Lara and given to me. It is decorated with abalone chips. Size – 8 X 7 inches tall.

I acquired this basket from an aunt when she died some years ago. Size – 15 X 7 1/2 inches tall.

These three baskets are some of my favorites. They have done many jobs including trash receptacle, laundry hamper and misc. storage. I purchased them in 1974 in the produce section of a grocery store  in California for .50cents to $1.50 each. One of them originally had a lid but it became lost. Size – largest one is 12 X 20 inches tall.

Seemingly very old basket with a wooden bottom it is the perfect size and is used as a trash receptacle. Size – 11 X 11 1/2 inches tall.

The remainder of these baskets are mass produced (probably in China as so many are). They each have been used for many years.

Modern square basket. Size – 23 X 17 1/2 X 22 inches tall.

Purchased at Dauphin Island this basket appears to be made from grape or other vines. I like the rough texture. Size – 11 1/2 X 5 inches tall.

Another common mass produced basket. Size – 19 X 13 1/2 X 17 inches tall.

Large round shallow basket, mass produced. Size – 18 1/2 X 8 inches tall.

 

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April In The Garden

The narcissus started blooming a couple of days ago.

Every spring I get so excited watching things bud out and bloom, poke their little heads up out of the ground and bear leaves to eat that you might think it was the first spring I have ever experienced. Every year it’s the same.

We didn’t start anything from seed this year instead focusing on finalizing the garden beds and walkways in the “Cornfield” plot, bricking some pathways and dividing hundreds of bulbs.

I will soon get baby plants from our local grower at Crossroads Garden and transplant to bigger pots before putting them in the ground. It will be pretty standard fare again this year. Tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers. You know the drill – summer stuff.

My first successful carrots.

In the meantime we have been enjoying some lettuces, green onions, choy, kale, leeks, carrots, radishes and fresh herbs. We also had a great little harvest of parsnips for the first time ever. I found that covering parsnip seeds with a clear plastic tub (aka cloche) to keep in the moisture ensured they germinate faster. It only took about one week for them to sprout last fall and they overwintered well.

The obligatory pea photo. You know peas are my favorite thing to plant and talk about!

Some stray weeds, I mean delicate flowers, growing in a crevice.

These are the potato plants. They have quadrupled in size the last few weeks.

If you look close you can see the flowers about to bloom on the potatoes.

The “Cornfield” plot. Permanent raised beds this year and the dug out walkways are getting filled with sawdust for weed control.

What’s growing right now?, kohlrabi, kale, green and bulbing onions, garlic, leeks, chives, Brussels Sprouts (unless they bolt), beets, broccoli, English and snow peas, potatoes, radish, lettuce, pak choy, cilantro, fennel, parsley.

What’s come and gone?, parsnips, carrots, shallots and half the leeks.

What’s in the plan?, all those luscious traditional summer nightshades, squash, beans, okra, corn and perhaps a few sweet potatoes. Maybe some melons.

What does your summer garden plan include?

 

 

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About Those Potatoes…

It’s official, spring has taken the upper hand in this neck of the Ozarks. One minute it was definitively winter, then we had a 90 degree (F) day, then four inches of snow, then it was spring. Rain, tree frogs, gentle breezes, intermittent sunshine, more rain. Have I mentioned rain? We have measured almost thirteen inches of rain here at Moonmooring in March. Even with the garden on a slope and raised beds there was standing water in pathways this morning after an overnight rain measuring 3.1 inches and the night before it was 1.9 inches. Gads.

A stray mushroom. With all the rain we have gotten they are popping up everywhere on sunny days.

I am having a hard time remembering it is only March. Each day my garden brain thinks I am too far behind – I should have more things planted – weed – till – fertilize – compost – plant – why aren’t the beans and tomatoes and squash ready to go in the ground?! Oh yea. It’s still March.

Late last summer turning toward fall I vowed to put the deep summer crops – tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplants and such – in much later and nurture them into the late fall. The eggplants sure are happier when you do that. And my best tomato plant was a broken Black Krim limb that I stuck in the ground in July and covered with a shade box. That single plant produced the absolute best and most beautiful tomatoes I have ever grown. All eighteen pounds of them harvested in November.

I say be creative and flexible and think outside the window box. We overwintered leeks, onions, garlic (of course), shallots, kale, parsnips, carrots, radish, cilantro and lettuce. Not a lot but enough to munch on here and there. Several things I had planned did not make it though. No cabbage nor fall broccoli or peas and the kale was less than thrilled (I think it was just a bad spot for kale).

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With the ground as saturated as it was this morning Gene and I spent our day dealing with some kitchen tasks. Between the two of us we started some sprouts, sauerkraut, fermented horseradish, vinegar, made some garlic chive poppy seed dressing, cut and dehydrated cilantro and garlic chives and are getting ready to eat a pizza.

Here is a look at the garden this day.

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So… about those potatoes.

These potato plants are robust and have outsmarted some pretty cold weather and snow.

We acquired a fifty pound bag of unknown potatoes grown in a north central state late last fall with the intention of eating them through the winter and canning about half of them. By the time I got around to making time for canning they had sprouted like crazy. Big beefy sprouts sticking out all over the place. So I salvaged, blanched and froze what I could and we prepped sixty big pieces to plant. They went in the ground on February 5. That’s mighty early for planting potatoes in zone 7a. It was either plant them or compost them so planting it was.

These potatoes have been snowed on (4 1/2 inches), suffered four nights in the 20’s and received over 16 inches of rain since planting. I thought they froze out with the snow and freeze. They lost all their leaves and I had to just let it go. A week later Gene told me I might want to look in on them and sure enough all but two plants have replaced all their leaves. They are lovely. I hope they have enough juice to make potatoes!

To be fair, we did cover them with about eighteen inches of loose straw and plastic for the few days it was coldest. Snow is a good insulator.

I could talk for days about garden plans but will save it for later.

What is happening in YOUR garden this spring?

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A Birthdate Day

img_2512It all started with that long leisurely coffee kinda morning I love so much. It segued into a short drive to Chloride where we found ourselves climbing the impassable road to the murals of Roy Purcell on a big rock facing. It is rare that I make a trip to Arizona without a visit to the murals. We passed by a few people in 4 wheel drives and a lone jogger/walker who made the jaunt daily she said.

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It was well worth the climb and Gene enjoyed sharing one of my favorite spots on the planet.

We had lunch back in Kingman at the small “The Taco Place” where I ordered a chili verde burritos and Gene had two tacos, one fish and one adobado. They make every single thing from scratch at this taco stand from the menudo to the rice pudding including the fillings, sauces and salsas, and even the corn and flour tortillas. The food was heavenly. Do not expect atmosphere. Unless you enjoy a cold stiff breeze in the shade on a chill February afternoon. After all it is designed with the idea of shielding diners from the summer sun. We might go back again today for more tacos and rice pudding.

We drove around marvelling at the massive growth like that of most desert towns on the main drag of the USA on I-40. Then past the home of my late childhood.

A late afternoon nap refreshed us and we went out with my sister (hi Pam!) for guess what!!? Wait for it… MORE Mexican food. And margaritas!! Yum!!

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Brief visits with two of my three lovely nieces rounded the day out.

We brought home leftovers because you know, way too much food. Those leftovers will magically turn into tonight’s dinner. Which I WILL photograph before we eat it up.

A happy day indeed.

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Rummaging Around the Garden

We had a warm spell over the last few days and I rummaged around the garden this morning to see what was happening. You may remember my noise about total fail of the fall garden. But as you can see there was enough to make a mighty fine stir fry for lunch.

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Summer dreams

Summer dreams

I found a mess of pak choy about to go to seed from the too warm weather, a handful of radishes with nice greens on top, took a handful of parsnip tops, a bunch of baby kale, an onion, a leek, an immature shallot and a fistful of garlic chives along with several stems of cilantro. There was lettuce enough for taco salad but that will be for tomorrow.

I rinsed and dried all the leafy matter and chopped everything small to make an allium and greens stir fry. There was already cooked rice in the fridge and I opened a jar of chicken broth for a sauce.

To the 2 cups of broth I added a 1/2 cup water, 2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch, a pinch of brown sugar, turmeric, a splash of Braggs Liquid Aminos, a dollop of bean paste, some ginger, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 2 heaping tablespoons of my Thai pepper sauce, and a few drops of sesame oil. It was stirred until bubbly then a small drizzle of fish sauce to top it off. Gene was busy shelling peanuts to top the whole mess with.

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cucumber flowers

I heated a glug of peanut oil in a hot wok and threw in the alliums, kale and sliced radishes. Cooked that for one minute then added the remaining greens and cooked for one more minute only. The sauce was poured over it all and the heat was turned off.

We put the rice in flat bowls, divided the stir fry with sauce between the two of us and topped it with the cilantro, chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime.

Ohmagosh! It was delish! So delish that I failed to take a photo. I am so sorry!! It was reallyreally good – you know that first greens of the spring kinda good.

I’m having a difficult time getting excited about the garden this year but have to keep reminding myself it isn’t even Valentines Day yet! Yes we have potatoes and peas in and yes there seems to be lettuce and a few little bits of this and that but it is EARLY still. So I will read seed catalogs a while longer and make more allium and greens stir fry while I wait for high summer.

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Adieu,

signature, Sarah

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We. Are. Gardening.

img_0511Yes we are (gardening) and people may say we are crazy and maybe we are but the long term weather reports look GOOOD. So good that we have put in the potatoes, a row of snow peas and expect to plant English peas and onions soon.

The potatoes have been planted in a sunny protected bed on the south side of a slope and mounded with plenty of loose straw. With just a tiny bit of luck we can keep them from freezing and will have early early potatoes (yes I said early early). I know not what variety they are as we bought this huge bag of seconds from our local grocery last fall for a song and the leftovers have so beautifully sprouted I cannot believe they were irradiated. So. Not organic but not radioactive either.

To expound a bit more, most of them are planted under that foot and a half of chipped bark we laid around the cornfield about a year ago. That stuff is really composting down nicely and there is real dirt under all of it. Hopefully it will be ready to take a garlic patch this fall. I’m all about experimenting in the garden – but never reinventing  the wheel.

The snow peas are only a week or so earlier than ever before as I usually try to plant them by Valentines Day – once even in the snow! That was a funny moment. Planting peas in the snow. Truth be told it was just flurries.

Gene is currently working on shoring up the raised beds in the cornfield in a more permanent manner and then the English peas and onions will go in. Last fall we tried English peas but it just didn’t work out. Several problems.

first successful parsnips

first successful parsnips

“What made it through the winter?” you might ask. Two out of nine Brussels sprouts plants look real promising as do seven out of ten kale. A small patch of parsnips and a smaller patch of pak choi ready to pick soon. And a patch of lettuce that we have been able to munch on through the winter.

Of course the garlic is swell. And you may remember the leeks. There are leeks ready to eat that I started from seed in the fall of 2015 (yes that is correct 2015) and the 100 +/- leek slips from Pat are doing very nicely as are the shallots. I will plant a lot more shallots next year!

We are officially naming this year 2017 the “Year of the Allium”. Last year was “Year of the Summer Squash”.

img_2335This sink was framed in for the outdoor kitchen. There are a lot of great outdoor kitchen ideas on Pinterest and you can follow my Rustic Outdoor Kitchen board here. More to come. We had our hands on a marvelous big old cast iron sink but let it slip through our fingers so this is what we ended up with from the Restore in West Plains.

And most recently Gene built this mini green house (see below) on the south wall patio. It works! The temps are quite warm inside. Maybe too warm on a sunny day. Still needs some tweaking and if it doesn’t get too warm too soon I will put some baby plants in there.

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Seed catalogs are flying into the mailbox regularly and plans are well under way for spring and summer gardening. What is your favorite garden catalog? What would you like to grow that you have never grown before?

signature, Sarah

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