It was WARM!

For just a single day. But boy were we glad for it! Although it is only February and it’s likely we’ll experience a few more frosts between now and the official advent of Spring the arrival of our Heirloom seed packets + the first warm day in quite some time was just exciting enough to get us out in the garden doing some prep work.

Sample Seedling Packets

Sample Seedling Packets

The Garden plans around our house this year are truly the result of a community effort. My friend Liz helped map out every garden area in the yard and together we designed a tomato growing structure that we hope will double as a Winter Greenhouse of sorts.

The start of our Tomatoe Project +Greenhouse

The start of our Tomatoe Project +Greenhouse

My brother tweaked and massaged the ancient tiller into growling through the soil twice now. So incredibly satisfying to see the change in soil color since we first moved here! Used to be an anemic, malnourished gray clay and now actually has sections where rich blackness are showing through. The soil was so poor before it was rare to find an earth-worm and now it seems that the Veggie garden area is an earth-worm Kingdom!

Garden Soil Feb. 2011

Garden Soil Feb. 2011

The Doodlebug was thrilled to be out gardening and is proving to be a big help already. The one thing our main garden area produces better than earthworms is rocks. So Doodles primary job was to run back and forth picking up rocks. She also helped to form a bit of a row or two with her child sized shovel. Her favorite time though was the seed planting!

The Three Girls Working on Seedlings

The Three Girls Working on Seedlings

Doodlebug made her own label for *her* Seeds. Yes, that is an N for her first name!It looks like a Z but it’s really an N held sideways.

Doodlebugs N for her Seedlings

Doodlebugs N for her Seedlings

Liz came up with the brilliant idea of adding probiotics to our seedlings soil. We used Ultimate Defense because it has good soiled based organisms in it. Although we are using organic dirt to start our seedlings in we thought it would be a good idea to give it an extra boost of the “good” stuff.

Ultimate Defense

Ultimate Defense

Doodles Sprinkling Ultimate Defense on Seedling Soil

Doodles Sprinkling Ultimate Defense on Seedling Soil

The Sweet Peas are Planted and are officially the first veggies to go in the ground for this season. The first round of Seedlings are started and “the watch” to see which ones pop their little green heads through first has begun.

A highlight of our past week was visiting with dear friends of ours. I had the honor and privilege of being her Doula at the birth of her 4th child, a baby girl born the day after Christmas! This weekend we got to see them for the first time since she was born. All I can say is that she was blessed with a little Angel Baby both in looks and temperment! I’m not entirely sure she knows how to fuss in a proper way and I found it almost comical when she “tried” to fuss.

LotteBeth attempting to fuss

LotteBeth attempting to fuss

We all held and cuddled and held and cuddled her some more. It was baby-heaven!

Liz holding LotteBeth

Liz holding LotteBeth

She also has the most beautiful Gray eyes I’ve ever seen on a baby.

LotteBeths Beautiful Eyes

LotteBeths Beautiful Eyes

Now that we’ve all had our baby-fix for the day I’ll say good-bye. A busy day beckons and I’ve been ignoring it long enough. Anybody else started any garden things yet?

 

Bountiful Blessings CSA: Thankfulness

Yesterday we drove to pick up our CSA basket. Our Winter CSA is from Bountiful Blessings Farm and they have been doing what they do for 7 years now. I have been so impressed. Both by their set-up and farm layout, which is absolutely gorgeous! But also by who they are as people and the gentle care and respect they show each other, their customer’s and the land they manage.

Bountiful Blessings CSA

Bountiful Blessings CSA

There is such a sense of peace and beauty. I love visiting there just to pick up our veggies even though it is a 45 minute drive one way for us.

Little Donkey on the CSA Farm. So adorable!

Little Donkey on the CSA Farm. So adorable!

What has impressed me more than anything else though is the produce. I remember seeing one of their fields freshly tilled and wished I could run my fingers through the rich dark soil. They have obviously worked very hard at providing their soil with excellent nutrients and it shows in the uncharacteristic richness of color. But even that did not prepare me for how gorgeous, luscious, and amazingly good tasting vegetables they grow.

I took pictures of most of what came in our box this week. It seemed appropriate that I should write about bountiful good food that I am so very, VERY grateful for the day before Thanksgiving Day.

This huge head of cabbage was converted into 3 quarts of cultured SaurKraut last night.

Huge head of crisp, mild cabbage

Huge head of crisp, mild cabbage

The Bok Choy was new to me. It tastes mild and slightly like Celery. I am using it in the place of Celery in my Thanksgiving meal preparations

Huge bunch of Bok Choy. Never seen it this big before!

Huge bunch of Bok Choy. Never seen it this big before!

Dark Greens. Not bitter at all. Incredible flavor! And, like everything else, huge

Dark Greens

Dark Greens

The large clump of Sage and Winter Squash came from the CSA. The pumpkins I hoarded from a friend’s fall wedding decorations.

CSA Squash and Fresh Sage

CSA Squash and Fresh Sage

One of the 3 heads of lettuce that came in the box. Sweet and tender

One of the 3 heads of lettuce that came in the box. Sweet and tender

CSA Grown Potatoes with a sprig of Sage

CSA Grown Potatoes with a sprig of Sage

Yams. Sooo sweet and delicate tasting.

Yams. Sooo sweet and delicate tasting.

Green Onions

Green Onions

Today I am thankful for the people who work so hard to provide nutrient rich, chemical free, incredible tasting vegetables to help feed and nourishing their communities.

I am thankful for the family that provides our raw milk. They live simple lives and get up early every single day to milk a cow and care for her needs and then share from that bounty so others can be nourished with safe, raw milk.

Thank you Farmer’s and Traditional Food Artisan’s everywhere who are working so very, very hard and dealing with inordinate hardships and difficulties to provide people like me with truly good food. Thank you for taking risks and dealing with too little time, too few resources, too little money, and at times a Government that makes it difficult to impossible for you to do what you do better than any large corporation ever could. Small scale Farmers are hero’s.

So to for you my Food and Farm Hero’s everywhere, a heart-felt Thank You. May God Bless your farms and families as you continue to the good work you have started.

Hey Kitchen! I’m HoooOOOOoooome!

I am back at home in TN and back in the saddle doing food prep for my little fambly. Please note the use of the word little. Cuz we are a small family. TheMan, Doodlebug and myself and none of us are typically big eaters. Even with the occasional staff person and my food-vacuum-cleaner of a brother partaking of our meals with us we still don’t go through massive piles of food.

I know this. I tell myself this. I remind myself of this multiple times when preparing food. And then when I survey the mounded heaps of steaming dishes when I’m all done I realize that yup. I did it again. I cooked enough food for a small army. It’s like my brain doesn’t compute how to cook any other way. So, unless the a fore mentioned vacuum cleaner happens along to suck up some of the leftovers my food prep for one big meal = lot’s of leftovers that will last us several more days and probably be turned into different meals.

As an example. Last night I baked a whole chicken. Encouraged it’s thawing along at a more rapid pace by placing it in a large metal bowl with hot sea salt water until it was thawed. Removed the pouch of internal organs and patted the chicken dry. In a large baking pan I drizzled a cooking oil mixture made out of Coconut, Safflower and Olive Oil (all three extra virgin/organic) and drizzled a bit over the chicken. Whole cloves of raw garlic along with firm pats of butter in alternating pattern were inserted under the skin and the innert cavity filled with a handful of whole, raw garlic. The outside and inside was heavily sprinkled with various seasonings. Along the bottom of the pan I spread the Chickens ‘gizzards’ or internal organs. And added another hand-ful of raw garlic. (I went through three whole heads of fresh garlic for this meal.) On top of the gizzards and garlic cloves went un-cooked Wild Rice with seasonings sprinkled over the top. On top of the wild rice the seasoned chicken was placed and a few cups of water poured on top of the rice. This baked covered for almost two hours. Uncovered for ten minutes to get a nice crispy skin and then was ready to serve.

Before serving if you choose to try this dish I would recommend fishing out the gizzards from the rice so that nobody gets an un pleasant surprise as they scoop things onto their plate (cough::SorryLizzy!!!::cough) The reason for their inclusion is to add extra flavor/nutrients to the whole dish. They will later be tossed into a stock pot for broth along with the bones from the leftovers.

Since our CSA Veggies have accumulated into heaps of beautiful bounty that had begun to wither and was bordering on going bad I had to do something fast that would use up almost all of them. This time of year we get a lot of greens. A LOT of greens. And my family isn’t all that crazy about greens. So I have to get creative. Stir Fry using a friends borrowed Wok has been the solution to this problem. With enough seasonings piled on the strong tasting greens are subdued into something edible by the pickier among us. So I chopped up four odd looking squash (the other thing about CSA veggies is occasionally you have no idea what something is so some experimenting is required), three heads of Chinese Cabbage, A bag of Cabbage Greens and two clumps of mixed greens. The primary problem when I do a stir fry is that I don’t measure. And I do not yet possess a good enough grasp of Asian seasonings to use them well in my typical slap dash dump a little of this and that manner of cooking. So last night crisis hit when I realized I had added way too much Lemongrass essential oil. Potatoes were added to the stir Fry in large chunks to help absorb the excess flavor. Whole Cloves of Garlic were thrown in amongst everything else to try to balance out flavors. This and that was hurled in along with a can or so of Coconut Milk turning it into less of a stir fry and more of a chunky soup. But, in the end a balanced and delicious dish was the end result and I might have even been able to act like I had planned it that way all along except that in my panic all available people had been roped in as tasters and witnessed the seasoning panic. (ahem) Note to self: Panic quietly and discreetly next time so you can appear as though you actually meant to serve Coconut Thai Stir Fry Soup for supper.

Also in the food lineup last night was Sweet potatoes and wild yams. I literally have a huge drawer full of these yummy tubers in my fridge. Both CSA’s we are part of (Summer and Winter they have a few weeks of overlap) have been quite generous with them so I’ve been getting double rations.  TheMan hates these little orange delicacies so it’s up to me and the Doodlebug and any random guests I can coax into helping me eat them. Last night I thin sliced a 13×9″ pyrex baking dish full of sweet taters and yams and thickly sprinkled layers of Heavenly Sugar, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Allspice over them. Interspersed pats of butter over the whole thing, dashed a few drops of Ginger and Orange Essential Oil and popped the whole thing in the oven. It came out delicious! Next time I think I’ll add some Coconut Milk or regular Cream to it for some added flavor/creaminess.

After supper was over I went into leftover-meal prep for tomorrow mode. Extracted all the meat off of the chicken bones and along with the skin put it in a mixture of spices water and vinegar on the stove to turn into stock over the next couple of days. The leftover chicken was torn into chunks and dropped into the crock pot along with the leftover rice. The soupish stir fry was dumped on top and extra coconut milk added to the whole thing. I set it on low and went to bed. This morning I had leftover sweet potatoes for breakfast. Today we had a delicious soup for lunch that was a perfect marriage of seasonings.

 

(Happy sigh) I love good food. I love my kitchen and it’s oh so good to be home. =)

Fall Dish= The SweetNSpicy Color Orange

Fall Sky

Fall Sky

I’m stealing a few minutes out of a Conference in Chicago to write up this quickie recipe that has been a staple in my kitchen over the past couple of weeks. With the arrival of Fall so comes the season of those pleasant shades of yellows, oranges and browns generously offered for free by Nature. My new favorite quick, easy and yummy fallishly lovely orange dish combines Sweet Potatoes and hard Winter Squash. With an emphasis on SIMPLE this is a very easy dish that is sugar and gluten free.

SweetNSpicy Orange: A fall Treat or Side Dish

2 Medium sized all natural or organically grown Sweet potatoes peeled and diced

1 Medium to Large sized all natural or organically grown Winter Squash peeled, seeds scraped out and diced

1 (or 1/2 to 1 cup of) Grass-Fed Butter. If it is unsalted sprinkle a few dashes of Salt over the diced orangeness in the pan.

Honey as needed

Cinnamon to Taste

Cayenne Pinch or so (Optional!)

Evenly toss together and spread across the bottom of a 9×13 Pyrex or other casserole dish type pan. Dice the butter into chunks and blob evenly on top of the chopped veggies. Put a few dollups of honey (I usually space about three across the pan) Generously sprinkle with cinnamon and if you are brave enough add a bit of cayenne. Adds an extra pizazz on the spicy side to the dish if your taste buds are so inclined. Toss it all together in the pan and slide into a 350 Oven.

Bake until tender. You can re-toss/re-coat the chunks in the melted butter/honey mixture half way through baking to ensure an even coating of flavor.

Enjoy! =)

Fall Country Road

Fall Country Road

Easy-Peasy: The Confession of a Compromising Traditionalist

Sooo…Far from the Traditional Foods Diva I hope, dream and aspire to be my reality lately has been more along the lines of frazzled house-wife doing good to get food. Any food. Cooked and on the table for my family to eat.

I am attempting to come to term’s with this new and hopefully temporary phase of my life. This ‘phase’ where there is literally no time to spend preparing the from scratch spread’s I have been known to produce in times past.  Not just from scratch foods, but also foods that are the kindest to my budget. Right now, compromise is what is getting me through.

There has been guilt. A lot. Here I am blogging about traditional foods. Or SUPPOSED to be blogging about traditional foods and I am doing next to nothing with traditional, from scratch food preparations lately. So I’ve been hiding from my blog. Today however it was decided that I should write about my current kitchen Motto which is “Easy-Peasy” Don’t laugh. That’s a real term in my world. The yardstick with which I  measure any and all kitchen or food related projects.

Here is a break-down of what easy-peasy means in my life right now.

Easy-Peasy means buying cultured butter from grass-fed cow’s for our daughter. I found it at Whole Foods as a “limited time” item. Since it’s limited I bought several packages and put the extra’s in the freezer. Don’t know how long this seasion of my life is going to last where even making a single batch of my own butter is unrealistic but just incase it’s longer than I hope it is, There’s the freezer stash. This particular butter is so expensive my husband and I don’t eat it but use it for Doodlebug since it is especially important for growing children to have cultured butter.  TheMan and I, and most of our house-guests use sea-salted butter purchased from Trader Joe’s that is from pastured cow’s but not cultured. It’s a lot cheaper.

Easy-Peasy means I’m not making my own yogurt right now from our (cheap) raw milk. I’m buying the full fat, cream on top, organic, grass-fed (when I can find it) by the quart or cup or whatever I can get my hands on for sale. I prefer the cups right now because they are the perfect serving size for Doodlebug and she has gotten to where she can help herself to it now which means I don’t have to take the time to serve it up and break the flow of momentum with whatever else I’m doing.

Easy-Peasy means my home Kombucha operation got shut down until further notice. Instead of drinking it by the gallon we now drink it by the carefully rationed bottle full. I had forgotten how very expensive Kombucha is to buy! So it’s now the occasional, rare actually, treat.

Easy-peasy means the crock pot hardly see’s a day of rest anymore. I do a huge thing of dried organic beans in it about once a week and season them heavily. We then add the beans in some way as an accent or the main feature to meals all during the rest of the week. It’s cheap, it’s fast and I don’t have to stand over it for hours getting it just right. Just to clarify, these are not beans I took the time to sprout. They are thoroughly soaked in Whey water but once the Whey runs out it’ll just be soaked in plain ol’ water again like in the olden times before I knew what Whey was. =P If the bean’s aren’t taking up crock pot space bone broth is. If it isn’t bone broth it’s soup with bean and broth in it. If it isn’t soup it’s roast an if it isn’t roast…well, you get the idea. My easy-peasy life relies heavily on the crock pot.

Easy-peasy means I am not learning how to make my own gluten free recipes with all the failures and tweakings that go along with that process. Instead I am buying gluten free mixes (after carefully vetting for other undesirable ingredients first) Hands down my favorites for both price, taste and ingredient listings are from Trader Joe’s. If you substitute Organic, Extra Virgin Coconut oil and coconut milk in the place of water and veggie oil in their Brownie Mix it produces moist, gooey brownies that are to DIE for. I never knew a mix could taste that good. Oh and extra Vanilla. Don’t forget the extra splash of Vanilla. Trader Joe’s gluten free Pancake and Waffle mix is also delicious for both of those items but can be converted as well into a crumb topping for cobblers and other delicious gluten free items. Quite the versatile base mix.

Easy-peasy means I am buying sprouted grain bread from Whole Foods for TheMan and Doodlebug (and household guests) to eat instead of making my own. I’ve found two types at Whole Foods that I am comfortable enough with their ingredient listings to do this guilt free. Easy-Peasy means I am buying my own gluten free bread from Whole Foods as well. Since it does cost more for bread bought vs. made we eat less of it and more cheap brown rice and quinoa as filler grains.

Easy-peasy means my veggie garden is now returning to the yard from whence it came with nothing edible growing in it at all. This makes me sad and I hope gardening returns to my life soon. It’s been fun to dabble in gardening and eating what was grown here on our own property by our own hands is especially satisfying.

Easy-peasy means I am going to stop blogging and go pack for a week long business trip to Chicago. Oh wait, nevermind, that is one of the things forcing me to do everything else easy-peasy!

Until next time,

Sincerely,

Love,

Hugs,

Fond thoughts and wishes,

God Bless,

The De-Railed-Detained and otherwise Distracted Traditional Foods Adventurer

Me N The Doodlebug

Me N The Doodlebug


Fail(s)

Way back when I first started this blog I promised to post successes as well as failures. Although not purposefully, I’ve been falling down on the fail confessions lately. It’s just so much more exciting to write and share about something that actually WORKS vs. something that definitely doesn’t. =P

I haven’t had too many horrible fails in the realm of cooking traditional foods with no limitations on available ingredients.  Meaning, I’ve had the luxury of using the “ideal” or “best recommended” ingredient without having to seriously modify things in deference to food allergies. The new realm of Gluten free cooking however seems to have brought out the “fail” big time. Part of it is I’m just rebel enough not to follow the tried and true paths carefully carved out before me by gluten-free kitcheonistas that have gone on before. Just seems too…easy? So, I’ve been trying to plow my own way and experiencing quite a few fails along the way.

So to spare any of you that feel the urge to experiment with this or that let me share some of the not-so-great things that have happened in my kitchen the past few weeks.

Just last night ~ Fried Okra. Normally I season some wheat flour, toss the freshly diced okra in it, allow it to “sit” for a while so the slimy juice stuff binds with the flour to form a nice light crust when fried. So last night I tried the same routine with gluten free sorghum flour. It did *not* stick to the okra very well and fell of in it’s entirety when frying was attempted. Next time will try it with a binder like a light egg coating, or a light batter made with the flour before frying and hope that sticks better. Or maybe I’ll just find a tried and true gluten free recipe somewhere for fried Okra and play it safe. But only as a last resort, of course.

Sorghum flour Fail 1 was shortly followed by Sorghum flour Fail 2 ~ I took the seasoned leftover Sorghum flour after the okra had used what it needed. Added some raw cream and patted it out into a little dough patty. The rest of the family was having grilled cheese crisps on whole wheat tortillas and I was feeling a bit left out. The little dough patty was set upon the cast iron skillet with some butter to cook. It promptly began to fall apart. With some skillful persuasion with my spatula while cooking it managed to semi stay intact enough to  make it to my plate. With melted cheese on top it was Ok. Not a miserable fail but certainly not what I was going for either. Again, gotta work on figuring out effective binders for gluten free flours.

~Over-zealous-Culturing~ I made a batch of whole, raw milk yogurt the other evening. It’s been a habit of mine to add extra good bacteria in addition to the yogurt starter and the great bacteria that is already in high quality raw milk. A couple of capsules of Colostrum assures that the end yogurt is thicker and not as runny as it would be otherwise and a Capsule of the Pro-biotic blend Tummy Tune Up for good measure. Over-kill if you will. This has not backfired on me until recently and I ended up with thick, custardy, bubbly yogurt/cream cheese-ish globs coming through the top of the cloth I had rubber banded to the gallon jug.  The flavor was rich and since it was already halfway there I went ahead and made yogurt cheese out of it. Still. Totally qualifies as a yogurt making “fail”

Over-Cultured Raw Milk Yogurt Bubbling out the Top of Gallon Jug

Over-Cultured Raw Milk Yogurt Bubbling out the Top of Gallon Jug

~Baked Squash~ There are a few success recipes/formulations of this that came out of my experiments for another blog-post. But, the “fail” deserves to be mentioned here. For several weeks our CSA baskets have had a delicious, mild summer squash unlike anything I’ve ever used before. The first week I thin sliced it, layered it in a glass pyrex baking dish. Each layer was given a drizzle of Organic Olive Oil, or a few pats of butter, and generously sprinkled with seasonings. Put into the oven and baked the end result was delicious. Never one to leave a good thing alone I decided that although it was really good that way, Cheese would take it to a whole new level. The next week’s squash experiment included a handful of shredded pepper-jack cheese on top. That DID take it to a whole new level of decadence so I went truly wild next time. Dolluped among the layers of seasonings was some Salsa, just a little…And to top the whole heavenly thing off, fresh, whole mozzarella cheese. The kind that comes still floating like a creamy bubble of pleasure in a protective blanket of whey. Thick slices of this stuff were carefully arranged on top and then baked.  Excitedly anticipating the crowning achievement of my previous squash dishes it was very sad when I poked the fork in for the first bite. The mozzarella had become very rubbery/over-baked and seemed to have had a bad reaction with the Salsa/juices from the squash. My one consolation was that at least it was flavorful, if a total fail on the texture side of things.

Squash layered in pan with Whole Milk Motzarella Cheese thick sliced and layered on top

Squash layered in pan with Whole Milk mozzarella Cheese thick sliced and layered on top

Over-baked Motzarella Cheese topped Squash. Flavor great. Texture not-so-much

Over-baked mozzarella Cheese topped Squash. Flavor great. Texture not-so-much

Now you are all caught up on my most recent not-so-great kitchen projects. Next post shall feature something fail proof and yummy! =D

Home again Home again Jiggity Jog

We are back in TN after a whirlwind trip to CA. It was my first time to visit CA and a highlight was Yosemite National Park! We were only able to spend a single afternoon driving around trying to avoid the New Yorkesque Traffic Jams in front of such breath taking displays  as El Capitan.

Despite the crowded driving conditions, limited time, a temporarily broken auto focus on my camera and a super cranky toddler I still managed to shoot what I consider to be pretty cool photo’s under the circumstances. Of course, a blind man with a camera phone could shoot spectacular pictures with such staggering beauty everywhere one turned.

View from the road through the trees to yon far mountains

View from the road through the trees to yon far mountains

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Spectacular View, burned ridge on the left

Spectacular View, burned ridge on the left

Cloud Puffs looked like Indian Signals from the mountain top

Cloud Puffs looked like Indian Signals from the mountain top

As my previous post explained the purpose of our trip to CA was the potential adoption of a baby girl. We went, we met the Grandmother and subsequently the Birth Mom. I was able to be with the Birth Mom (per her invitation) before and after the C section. She had a beautiful baby girl. Minutes after she was born I was allowed to hold her along with her Grandmother before she was whisked back to the nursery. I spent a precious few hours with the Birth Mom and BabyGirl during recovery. Changed baby girl’s diaper and held her close while her Mom slept. The Birth Mom confirmed her final decision to keep her baby girl and I said my good-bye’s. It was hard to leave CA without her. There are many things in the situation that in my limited perspective cause me worry and concern for the future of that sweet baby girl. We are keeping her covered in prayer and trust that God will be her protection and safety.  All in all it was an amazing experience and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Walking through something like that with perfect strangers and coming out on the other side as friends is an incredible thing. Please pray with me for this little one and her Mom over the next few weeks. There are many circumstances in their lives that they will need God’s grace to weather.

Newborn BabyGirl with her long fingered hands clasped by her face

Newborn BabyGirl with her long fingered hands clasped by her face

The Doodlebug asked when we got back to TN where her baby sister was. We explained again that she was with her Birth Mom and that we would ask God to bring us a baby. The next night the Doodlebug prayed so sweetly and so sincerely for a baby sister. It was one of the first times I have heard her pray and tears filled my eyes. We are going to continue on our Home Study path and trust that God will bring a baby into our lives to love in person for the long run. BabyGirl in CA will always be loved and hold a special place in our hearts even if she never shared our home.

We hit the ground running upon our return with many things needing attention immediately. The garden is overgrown by weeds. My tomatoes planned a coup and overtook the measly bamboo supports I had rigged before I left. The cucumbers plants are loving the experimental cages I had them climb this year and are growing gigantic mutant large cukes seemingly overnight, completely by passing the intermediate perfectly sized harvest stage and leaping right from babyhood into overgrown chubby adulthood within hours. I never got the rest of the garden planted so no corn or okra. The lettuce has all gone to seed and it’s time to plant another batch of it in the shady parts of the garden. One thing I love about TN is the ability to grow lettuce 3 out of the 4 seasons. With the addition of the wooden frame and plastic I might be able to stretch it all the way through all four seasons this year which would be VERY neat. Fresh lettuce from the garden in January? Yes, please!

I plan on blogging about some of the cool food we experienced in CA. Absolutely love the emphasis on fruits, veggies and overall freshness! It is now 2 AM and time for me to stop rambling. Just a quick thank you in closing for those of us who faithfully prayed for us through the journey to CA and the experience with BabyGirl. God was so faithful down to the last details in a situation that by all rights should have been more difficult than we could have stood to go through in our own strength. Instead we were sustained by that miraculous peace and confidence.

Since it’s technically Sunday already may you have a wonderful day of rest and restoration in preparation for the week to come. =)

Garden Dreams

I grew up with a Mom that was (and still is) and incredible gardener. Although I don’t think she’s ever gotten that officious title of Master Gardener, she truly is one and has the extensive gardens to prove it. She has that uncanny ability to take a scrawny, dead looking twig and infuse life into it to the point that the next thing you know this huge plant bursting with color and vitality where a stick used to be. I seem to have inherited the polar opposite ability. Not sure which side of the family tree to blame my black thumb on so it shall remain an unclaimed orphan. Unlike my Mom my gardening skills lie in the realm of taking perfectly hearty and healthy plans and turning them into dry, dead twigs.

So, I dream. I dream of a gorgeous yard filled with beautifully arranged flower beds. I dream of that organic, mostly weed free garden erupting with fresh produce. I dream of window boxes with colorful flowers dancing in the breeze. Of culinary herb beds just outside my kitchen door.

In the three years since we moved to TN I have managed to grow some things. I wouldn’t exactly say anything I grow thrives per say but at least it isn’t dead within a matter of weeks and occasionally manages to produce what it is intended to produce. After three years of working on the soil, weeding like crazy I have for the first time a garden that is day dream worthy.  It survived the flood without being washed away and decided to erupt in glorious growth with all the water! Just don’t look too close. The weeds are still ever present, and some of the plants have gone rogue but it’s so beautiful and so alive I love it anyway.

Thought I would share some of my favorite photo’s which are something like documentation of personal triumphs for me. Each plant that is alive is a victory!

Cabbage destined for cultured saurkraut

Cabbage destined for cultured saurkraut

Herb Garden with Fountain in the middle

Herb Garden with Fountain in the middle

My herb garden has been a challenge. Some herbs have gone crazy taking up way more than their fair share of space while others struggle along clinging to life.

One of the wee herbs struggling for life: Borage

One of the wee herbs struggling for life: Borage

Chamomile

Chamomile

Bumble Bee Partaking of green Sage bloom. Apparently Sage is super hardy because I can't kill it and it's thriving on neglect.

Bumble Bee Partaking of green Sage bloom. Apparently Sage is super hardy because I can't kill it and it's thriving on neglect.

Cilantro gone wild! Never knew Cilantro would grow into such beautiful, feathery blooms.

Cilantro gone wild! Never knew Cilantro would grow into such beautiful, feathery blooms.

Rue! Glorious Rue! This grows wild in some places. Has the most delectable smell. Is a medicinal Herb.

Rue! Glorious Rue! This grows wild in some places. Has the most delectable smell. Is a medicinal Herb.

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

Wee Cucumber with it's blossom still attached

Wee Cucumber with it's blossom still attached

Veggie Garden and back yard overview

Veggie Garden and back yard overview

I hope to be sharing recipes and research as I learn how to harvest and use the various herbs and veggies. In the meantime does anybody have an incredible (preferably cultured??) recipe for Green Tomato Chutney? I’ve never made it before but would like to try.