Phrankenstein Phaucets

Sweet potato starts in the kitchen window.

You may remember last summer and the stunning cardboard patio flooring we had…eh? No? Well, no worries. There has been an upgrade. We now have a few pavers and an herb bed instead. As always a garden and its associated accoutrements are a work in progress. The herb bed will fill in by next year or the one after. Right now it contains thyme, dill, lovage, French tarragon (which I plan to baby along and keep alive through the winter), parsley, chives, Mexican oregano, sage, lemongrass, lavender and a smattering of marigolds, ageratum and some kinda posey thing to fill in while the herbs are thinking about it.

This bed also has a lovely vintage headboard and footboard (still to be placed). In fact this frame belonged to the very bed my parents slept in on their wedding night. I was conceived here, and my brother too. Isn’t that an unexpected story.

the herb bed

We still need to place the footboard, add a couple of (surprise) decorative elements, solar twinkle lights and wait patiently for the herbs to take over. Meanwhile I have been taking snips here and there to grace my cooking. Fencing is a requirement as my two dogs, Rover and Sissy, know not what a boundary is unless it bumps them in the snout. Surprisingly they do not jump over anything taller than their own knees.

Does anyone have a suggestion for what to plant in the two chimney flue pieces? Realize it gets very hot in this area of the yard. Meanwhile I am chucking small rocks in as fill.

We also have rosemary, fennel, cilantro/coriander, a few basil, garlic chives, Greek oregano and three kinds of mint – garden mint, peppermint and mojito mint. I have not been able to find epazote locally but Joey at Crossroads says he may start some next year so there is hope.

My outdoor kitchen finally has a start point! True it is a temporary faucet but one that can be used to rinse off veggies before they come into the house. There will be a side table with four of those ceramic tiles as the top (they came from the Restore and were a song). Gene also found an industrial dish machine drain rack to incorporate into the set up. I can drain rinsed veggies there to drip dry/er before heading in the house. In the meanwhile the patio table fills in just fine. A better faucet and a drain pipe to carry away the water and it will be functional. This is going to save me a lot of mess in the kitchen.

Gene rinsing out his unders… no wait – cleaning my outdoor kitchen sink – once again in his garden uniform of t-shirt and briefs.

Here we have what has become the Frankenstein of Faucets. A temporary condition I am told. Time will tell. I think it will actually get worse by the time he hooks up a few more things to the whole mess. Stay tuned.

The summer garden is all planted with the exception of the second variety of corn and perhaps pole beans. For sure more bush beans soon as a bed is empty. But otherwise it is all planted!

We have many tomatoes – Black Krim, Green Zebra and Celebrity – peppers  – Thai, pablano, lemon drop, jalapeno, red & yellow bells, pepperoncini (thank you Marideth!) and banana. I am sorry to miss the Jimmy Nardelos and Marconi this year. We have ping tung eggplants, Genovese basil, English peas finishing up, potatoes, beets, yellow & red onions, Contender bush beans, Danvers half long carrots and Little Fingers, big white radish, strawberries, zucchini & yellow squash, first year blackberries, kale, tomatillos, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, okra, cucumbers, muskmelon, and a stand of ginger. Have I missed anything?

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It’s near time to pickle beets and can potatoes. I expect a bit of a lull while we then wait for the summer crops to mature. The wait will give us good opportunity to clear the freezer of the last of last years frozen produce.

Adieu for today – I must cook the greens and dress the tomatoes with compost.

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Tall Tales From The Kitchen

And a recipe.

A couple of days ago I went looking around for some “chicken inspiration”. Mostly on Pinterest and a general Google search. I ran across this recipe and it inspired me to create something similar but different in my own kitchen.

By the way… we harvested the last of the broccoli a couple of days ago and even though we have had broccoli every day for more than a week we are not tired of it yet! I am savoring every single one of the absolute best broccoli I have ever grown and all without pesticides. Row cover was the secret. Cover those broccoli plants up as soon as they go in the ground! And keep them covered. Peek in once in a while to see how they are doing. So anyway there were 15 big perfect heads over about a weeks time and several of them are still in the fridge.

Nothing beats a perfectly fresh head of broccoli right out of the garden, and when it is that fresh it will keep for a week without any sign of aging. There is enough for three more meals one of which will be cream of broccoli soup, then a stir fry with the near last snow peas and likely a pot of steamed broccoli topped with some bits of sharp cheese.

I do have a chicken recipe coming.

Those February potatoes made it through this snow storm covered with loose straw.

And by the way again… you might remember those potatoes we planted on February 5. We are eating potatoes now! The best darn potatoes in the Ozarks! You might not know this but a new potato has this sound. The sound is similar to a perfectly ripe watermelon being pierced by a big sharp knife and then the melon kind of splits and bursts open. Crackles. Well a fresh out of the ground new potato sounds kinda like that. Crisp and full of moisture. The skin is paper-thin and they smell like clean earth and potato.

We harvested about nine plants this afternoon. Half of them were fist size and bigger and the rest would have benefitted from staying put another week. I was afraid the ground was too wet and they would rot. But seeing how good a job the raised beds are doing I am now assured the rest can stay right where they are a little longer and bulk up some more. Fourteen pounds today. Not bad.

For lunch today we had stir fry snow peas and onions followed by a frozen watermelon/banana/oj yogurt smoothie. It was good. The snow peas have slowed way down. If they can hold out one more too warm day they might flower again and give us another flush of peas with the cooler temps next week. They have been delicious!

So maybe you looked over the recipe I mentioned earlier. I had most of the ingredients – all but the cream. Cream is not something I keep on hand. We just don’t use it much. So I made some substitutions and alterations… etc. You know the Moonmooring kitchen motto – do what you will.

So this is what I did.

Sarah’s Chicken, Mushroom Saute in Cream Sauce Recipe

I thawed a small turkey breast left from last fall’s Peace Valley Poultry purchase. When it was still partially frozen I sliced it across the grain into about 6 cutlets, laid them out, and finished thawing in the fridge. The turkey breast weighed about a pound.

I then sliced an 8 ounce package of big crimini mushrooms from Ozark Organics  and sautéed them in 2 tablespoons of butter along with 2 large chopped green onions (really big green onions okay), 3 cloves of (our very own) minced garlic and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a couple basil leaves, couple green stems of oregano and a pinch of red pepper flakes. These seasonings are just suggestions. Stop cooking the mushroom/onion mixture when they give up their mushroom juices. Set this mushroom mixture aside off the heat for now.

I dredged the turkey breast cutlets in flour and salt and pepper.

In a wide skillet I heated about 1/4 cup of peanut oil (use what you want) and fried the cutlets about 2 – 3 minutes on each side. They will not be done. That is okay. Remove the cutlets to a plate and scrape any bits up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add about 3 – 4 tablespoons of leftover flour and stir it into the hot oil. If you need a little more oil feel free to add it. Cook on low for a few minutes.

Stir in one 14 ounce can of evaporated milk, 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook until bubbly. You should have a light gravy. Gently add the turkey cutlets to the skillet with the sauce. Top with the mushroom mixture, settle the ingredients in with that wooden spoon. Bring to a low simmer. Cover tightly, lower the heat and let it simmer gently for about fifteen to twenty minutes or until the turkey is free of pink juices.

Meanwhile I had Gene scrubbing all the tiniest new potatoes and then simmered them a few minutes until tender. You can drain and add them to the skillet with the turkey cutlets or serve them on the side.

I also steamed two big handfuls of fresh broccoli for exactly 3 minutes, drained, then tossed with a heaping tablespoon of melted butter.

Serve.

Serve up that whole mess of deliciousness onto big warm plates while it is piping hot and enjoy the bounty of spring!

And this is what dinner looked like. Oh that is a messy looking plate.

This might sound like a lot of steps and kind of complicated but it really was not. And it was very tasty! We loved it.

Chicken Joints – only in the Ozarks – true story. And if you are inclined to check out the Moonmooring original Chicken Pot Pie recipe here it is.

Bonnie appetite ya’all!

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This Week In The Garden

We are shoppin’! In the garden of course.

What a pleasure to go out each morning and see what the garden is offering for the day’s meals.

We ate these warm from the garden after giving them a quick rinse. So tender and sweet.

Row cover is the only way to go. Not a bug in sight.

There should be some new potatoes next week to go with these leeks for a soup. Giant Musselburgh

I have learned a lot about growing leeks this past year. Having seen all the stages from seed to finished product I think I have a handle on the life cycle and when and how to plant. Overall the harvest was outstanding for a first major attempt. We grew a handful of Autumn Giants and about 85 Musselburgh – both successfully.

The garlic should have been dug a week earlier but I could not believe it was REALLY ready so early in the season. Lesson learned.

AND… the lettuce, radish and choy are done for the most part. We are eating leeks, onions, kale, snow peas, broccoli, kohlrabi and strawberries. Almost ready, potatoes, carrots and beets. Still to come – the list is too  l o n g.

What is your favorite thing to eat fresh from the garden?

 

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A Rain Update

… and other Miss Alanie

April saw approximately 16 inches of rain at Moonmooring. That’s a bit more than normal. Twelve of that was in the last ten days of April. In the last thirty-six hours we have had another 6.9 inches. There is standing water in the walkways and the raised beds in both garden areas and the ground is deeply spongy. It’s a good thing the grass is so thick! It seems all that is holding the ground in place.

I’ve never heard my waterfall roar like it is today. Nearly deafening out there.

It has rained seven more inches here at Moonmooring since yesterday morning. I wish there was a picture but the ground is so unstable down the hill.

I fear this much rain has washed all the nutrients from the soil. The weather report looks good through the weekend and even next week so we will make some compost tea and do a thorough foliar feed to everything and add some Azomite. The soil is so compacted the earthworms, which are in abundance, have got their work cut out for them.

We dug the garlic bed Sunday afternoon before it started raining again because they were ready. In fact they should have been dug some sooner as several were over mature but still edible. Our twelve foot buffet is lined with brown paper and garlic with a fan blowing nearby to encourage the drying process. The house smells heavenly! If you like garlic.

The potato plants are huge and flowering more hugely. If they don’t rot in the ground it should be a bumper crop and those too will line the floor on cardboard or paper in a store-room or the living room until dry. Still several more weeks to harvest if they last that long in the ground.

I feel fortunate to have so many leeks. Once again thank you Pat 🙂 They are now maturing to the point that they are creating baby leek slips that can be planted. So, dig a leek, plant a leek! Sometimes several even. What a way to garden! You may remember them to be Musselburgh. I have only been growing leeks for about a year now and this is some of the first of the Musselburgh harvests and they have begun to have baby leeks present when I dig them. Not knowing how they will fare over the spring and summer I am replanting every one as it appears. Who knows. Even if they are small it will be worth the time and space as that is small in comparison to many things.

Tonight we will dine on omelets with a saute of mushroom and leek topping. Gene came home with five dozen eggs as our local farmer, Joey, had a glut of fresh eggs. There will be plenty of eggs on the menu for a couple of weeks!

The cilantro is going to seed mainly because of the extremes in temperature. It will easily reseed though and provide us another crop soon. I discovered this recipe for Creamy Jalapeno Sauce and it is soooo delicious! Maybe I should see how it freezes before all the cilantro is gone. I am using frozen whole jalapenos from last fall.

We have had all the green onions one can eat and they are bulbing up nicely. We will need to get some more nitrogen on them as it has probably all washed out in the last couple weeks.

There is a good row of beets doing well. The experimental kohlrabis is fattening up nicely. What a fun plant to watch grow. We have never grown or eaten kohlrabi before so only planted a half-dozen from starts. If we like them you can bet there will be more next spring.

In the last week the broccoli has made heads three inches wide so broccoli soup soon!

We had pea sandwiches for lunch today. Yes. Pea sandwiches. Take about 4 ounces (a couple big handfuls) of fresh snow peas and rough chop then throw them into the food processor along with one or two green onions (tops and all), a few marinated artichokes (maybe a very small jar or to taste). Run the processor until it is in tiny bits. Turn out into a bowl and add a glob of mayo, some black pepper and a good dose of fresh dill weed. This is best if you can let it sit a few hours but it was delicious right away. Let the sky be the limit! Add what herbs or veggies you like. Raw. We have made it with the addition of radish, carrots and/or salad turnips. Any herbs that you like will work. Taste as you go so it doesn’t get out of hand. This we pile generously onto lightly toasted bread with a thin slice of Swiss cheese and a handful of sprouts. A bowl of home-made tomato soup canned last fall rounded out our lunch today.

I wish there were pictures to share with you! But the light has been so poor and I just cannot stand to give you any more of those flat pasty pics. And I do not have the time nor the inclination to work with lighting. Ugh. So stay high and dry and know that some people are begging for a bit of rain and some are begging for a bit of dry.

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Visiting Maranatha Farm

We find ourselves visiting Maranatha Farm near Rover, MO where friends Skip and Mary live and work. This is my first visit – a most peaceful and inspiring garden experience. Thirty years of heart-felt dedication and work by Mary and Skip have made Maranatha the showcase that it is.

Ever the worker, we meet up with Mary who is elbow deep in a wheelbarrow full of potting mixture and a mass of sweet potato starts all under the shade of a tremendous oak. A little direction from Mary and we set off on our self guided tour.

Maranatha has three distinct gardens – each flowing from one to the next – the Japanese Garden, the flower garden and the vegetable garden.

I choose to count four gardens though and call the spectacular garden gongs about the place a garden all their own. The huge gongs resonate gentle musical tones from nowhere and everywhere all at once and forever and add an element of tranquility to this visit.

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I particularly enjoy the Japanese Garden sitting area with its deep gentle wood bench, a clear view of the lantern, and the rich lulling gongs. There is a scent of damp earth, moss and cedar on this clear Ozark day. After a lengthy meditation I pull myself away from the spot in order to visit the rest of the garden.

Impeccably maintained wisteria past its bloom.

 Many quiet places to sit and take it all in.

The abundance of flowers creates lush and vibrant views.

My favorite flowers are the immense four foot tall poppies inside the greenhouse.

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Remember to check out the stand of timber bamboo. Skip and Mary use it for structural elements throughout the gardens.

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Contact Information

RR 81 Box 119, Koshkonong, Mo. 65692.
Phone# (417) 764-3698
7thdaymb@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/Maranatha-Farms-110735465613500/

__________________________________

And from me to you… om…

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How I Became a Snake Handler – and finally a garden update

Baby Rat snake? Anyone?

I carried a snake in my hands today. Yep. First time. And then I screamed and did a little dance! It was startling to have that little thing squiggle out of my hands and the loose damp straw I was carrying to a big pot of marigolds. Me and snakes are not the best of friends. Never have been. But now I have carried one and lived to tell about it. One time snake handling was plenty.

 

I bet you are here for the garden update!?

Yesterday we up-potted dozens of flowers and herbs.

Last fall these leeks were merely wisps of green. Thank you Pat H for encouraging me to plant these. And for the wisps!

After cleaning these three leeks weighed in at just a pound. They were making baby leeks too. The variety is Giant Musselburgh. I replanted the baby slips.

One of the potato rows – planted on February 5 it was a gamble at best. We covered it with a lot of loose straw and a plastic tarp during freezing and snowy days.

A three foot bed of radish and pak choy. The radish will be out by the time the choy is full size.

The obligatory “pea” photo. Spring peas are my all time favorite. You might already know that.

Onions, choy and a patch of lettuce. Gone are the radish.

No broccoli heads yet but the plants are looking good! I covered them with row cover immediately after planting and have avoided cabbage worms.

Not much height from the Brussels Sprouts. A late start and wildly fluctuating temperatures have caused them to try to bolt. Not ready to give up yet! Small sprouts on the lower branches. If we can keep them alive through the summer they should make sprouts then. And I will start more seeds late summer.

The garlic is feeling somewhat rushed with all the high and low temps. It will probably come out of the ground early this year.

Cilantro has officially taken hold of this bed and reseeded itself quite successfully this year. This makes me happy!

Totally opposite nutritional requirements – many sources suggested planting beets among onions. So I did. Hopefully the beets will be ready long before the onions need another shot of nitrogen.

The Hugelkultur bed is about as ready as it is going to be. Soon we plant watermelons on it. This will be the first planting after a year and a half (?) of resting.

Overview of the Cornfield plot. We added the sides for raised beds and Gene is putting a thick layer of sawdust in the pathways. No mowing and little maintenance there!

Overview of the Kitchen Garden plot.

Notice those sleds if you will. Real handy for moving a lot of small potted plants. We can even drag them into the house if need be. Upcycle.

This visitor doesn’t move nearly as fast as some of the others!

With all the rain mushrooms just keep popping up all over the place. One more thing I do not attempt to identify.

At Gene’s insistence we planted some of these “things”. I got used to them. They do add a splash of color. Ok – they are pretty. There, I’ve said it.

We will have a few strawberries this year and I expect more this fall and next spring. Nothing like home grown!

How grows your garden?

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Eager For Summer

Today I temp you with summer food photos.

Yellow squash fried and ready to eat!

Eighteen big slices. Ready to bread and fry.

These happen to be zucchinni and they are every bit as delicious as yellow squash. Dip in flour, then egg then bread crumbs or your favorite breading.

Sizzling in hot coconut oil till crispy and tender. I like mine with a side of horseradish sauce.

A quick rustic meal – hot buttered noodles with fresh garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil, wilted baby greens and cherry tomatoes.

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We are still enjoying the early salad makings especially the spring peas, radish, lettuce onions, pak choy and all the fresh herbs but summertime is calling! I will be furiously planting next week and hoping for a little less rain than the weather person is calling for.

How are your garden plans?

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